In my very little spare time, I’ve been reading an excellent book about writing. One sentence I encountered recently kept me awake for a while. “Your readers don’t know anything.” That’s very good advice to those of us who are trying to communicate. And it is excellent advice to those of us who are involved in organizations that have their own language and vocabulary.
I think this goes beyond the five w’s that should be included in every press release to include making sure we explain things that may seem commonplace to us, but not to our readers who “don’t know anything.” What does it mean, for example, when we describe the Grange as a ‘fraternal’ organization?” Our readers might not know. (Fraternal comes from the word “fraternus” meaning brother. One dictionary defines it as “of or being a society associated in brotherly union, as for mutual aid or benefit.”)
We shouldn’t be condescending, certainly. But in our communication, it does make sense to consider the real possibility our reader or listener doesn’t know much.
I’m pleased to announce that much of the Grange year-end activity required of your Communications Department is nearing completion. We have updated the officer list on the Bulletin sidebar and website, revised the ODD Directory (listing all current officers, directors, and deputies), and posted all program books that have been made available. There’s still some “under the hood” stuff to do, but most people won’t notice it—and don’t need to anyway!
Let me remind folks that for the most part, I don’t generate what’s communicated, I am very dependent on others. I cannot share what I don’t know or don’t have. I wish every Granger in Maine would consider him/herself a reporter. A goal for this year is to increase the number of posts (stories) about Granges that are succeeding either with membership increases or events that are successful. No story is too small for our website. You don’t have to be an award-winning writer—we can use a photo and tell the story in a caption of a few sentences—that’s called a “cutline” in the media business.
While no story is too small for the website another reality is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to capture the attention of traditional media. Even my local reporters are telling me they are covering fewer and fewer events in person. I received some criticism during State Convention for “not having the television people there.” Please understand, media presence at events is getting more and more difficult to achieve. I attempted to explain to my critic that simply holding a convention isn’t newsworthy. I’m not sure I succeeded, so let me remind everyone that it is much easier and effective to make news than it is to write press releases.
The media business is changing in many ways and it’s truly a mixed bag. While the Internet makes sharing information and news relatively easy, traditional media is struggling to find its role in a digital world. I can attest that some reporters subscribe to the Maine State Grange website as a source of news tips and leads. If you want to attract the media, telling your story on it might be a great way to start!
“The Grange Way” is the newly announced theme by National Master Betsy Huber in Spokane at the very successful National convention. As our Grange year begins once again, I can only stress the importance of following our obligation, lessons, and precepts in all our Grange work. Our Grange, communities, state, and nation need our ideals and support, as a group, in order to continue to grow. Setting our personal issues aside is the only way to accomplish this goal. We can each have an opinion, but each should be willing to listen and hear other opinions as well.
The ideas that each of you starts in your own Granges as a Grassroots organization have been presented on the floor to the National Grange as a resolution. Each is assigned to a committee, the committee discusses it, makes a recommendation then it is brought in front of the whole delegate body for more discussion and action. It is the same valuable process that we use in our own Granges. Many of the 142 resolutions will be sent on to the Legislature for action.
I would like to congratulate Bangor Grange for receiving second place for Community Service and the Gowen family for Grange Legacy Family Recognition.
I will keep this article short as I know I am pushing the deadline. I had more to say but the information is being sent home by mail. So until next time. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families.
It has been a busy here at State Grange Headquarters as we are transitioning to new officers. I would like to welcome, Sherry Harriman, Master; Adrian (Mike) Griffin, Overseer; Steven Haycock, Steward; Richard (Rick) Grotton, Assistant Steward; Gladys Chapman, Chaplain; Victoria (Vicki) Huff, Treasurer; Henry Morton, Gatekeeper; Christine Hebert, Ceres; and Steven Verrill and James Owens, Executive Committee Members of the Maine State Grange.
PLEASE READ AS THIS IS IMPORTANT!
Roster time is right around the corner and I have some Roster Information that I need to receive to make the information complete. I am listing the following Pomona Granges and Subordinate Granges that I have not received. You may email the following information to me at mainestategrangemyfairpointnet (mainestategrangemyfairpointnet) . This year I am asking for our Subordinate Grange’s physical address; contact person and number; meeting day and time; whether or not you have early refreshments or a supper (potluck or paid); the name, address, telephone number and email address of the following: Master, Lecturer, Secretary and CWA Chairperson.
Here are the names of the Pomona and Subordinate Granges:
- Androscoggin Pomona 1
- Turner 23
- West Minot 42
- Deering 535
- Cumberland & Oxford Union Pomona 21
- Paugus 540
- Porter 569
- Excelsior Pomona 5
- North Jay 10
- Wilson 321
- Greenwood 363
- Schoodic 420
- Hancock Pomona 13
- Castine 250
- Ashland 247
- Cambridge 582
- East Sangerville 177
- Garland 76
- St. Albans 114
- Wayside 590
- Merriconeag 425
- West Bath Seaside 592
- Kennebec Valley 128
- Mt. Philip 545
- Waldo Pomona 12
- Branch Mills 336
- Seven Star 73
- Alexander 304
- Arlington 528
- York Pomona 14.
I am looking forward to receiving this information as information from last year’s Roster could be incorrect.
Membership lists are being updated and being forwarded to Secretaries for updating. I thank you all for your cooperation in getting this dauntless task completed.
I, with the State Master, will be planning Secretary Workshops in the coming year. We plan to have these workshops around the State so all secretaries have the opportunity to attend. More to come once plans are final.
I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving.
It has been a pleasure being your leader for the last couple of years. I have learned much and have matured. Since there are some other opportunities for me, it was best to step down now as I would not have had the time to fully devote to being the State Master. This would not have been fair to the Order or it’s membership should I have stayed another term. I want to thank you all for your support and help during my term and ask that you give that same support and help to our new Master. Sister Sherry is a great and experienced leader and there is no doubt she will do a great job.
Read the complete text of Rick’s Address at the 144th Maine State Grange Convention in the miscellaneous section of the Program Books and Information Page or download it directly: 2017 State Master’s Address.
The California State Grange, utilizing the National Grange 501(c)(3) Foundation has established the “2017 CA Fires Support Fund” to receive tax-deductible charitable donations. This Grange Charitable Fund will be used to provide support to those affected Members & Community/Pomona Granges having needs created by the wildfires. As of yesterday, no Grange Halls have been lost, but several Grange members have lost their homes.
California State Grange Master Ed Kominski describes one Grange, Redwood Valley Grange as having some “Amazing Patrons” and note the hall has been opened to start serving their community in conjunction with the Mendocino Sheriff’s Department and North Coast Opportunities and Animal Control. Among services being provided:
- The Hall will be open 10-6 every day until not needed and are providing Free Child Care
- Free Professional Crisis Counseling and referrals are available
- Lunch at 12:30 every while there is a community need.
- All day refreshments are available
- Town Meeting will be at the Grange – date TBD
- The hall is a place to come, share, play music, and game tables are available.
All this is being done by Grangers who are having their own personal struggles.
Maine Grangers can help by participating in the California State Grange Fundraiser. Kominski notes, “Support and funds are coming in great numbers. We have seen fantastic support but we need to reach more people.”
The California State Grange, utilizing the National Grange 501(c)(3) Foundation has established the “2017 CA Fires Support Fund” to receive tax-deductible charitable donations. This Grange Charitable Fund will be used to provide support to those affected Members & Community/Pomona Granges having needs created by the wildfires. Every donation of $25 or more will receive a t-shirt in appreciation for the generosity – “California Granges – Moving Together”
Here are a few excerpts from my Annual Report—you can read the entire report online or, if you are attending State Convention, in your information packet. As always, if you have any questions or suggestions, please let me know!
During the past year, I published twelve monthly Bulletins without missing a deadline. I am grateful to those directors and officers who regularly submit articles and support improving our internal communication.
The website is now in its seventh full year of operation in its current form. The objectives of the redesign in November 2010 were simple. Some of the more important included:
- To encourage prompt posting and maintenance of information and resources,
- To control that posting process with some level of moderation and quality control,
- To allows users to find basic information and resources (such as applications, manuals, etc.) readily, and
- To allow users to subscribe to the site and receive email versions of posts.
We continue to achieve those objectives. Site visits are slightly less for the most recent year but are trending up again for the last six months. There have been just over 26,000 site visits from September 1, 2016, through August 13, 2017—an average of over 2,150 per month and over 70 per day…
Looking ahead, there are several areas I recommend for focus next year. One is the “Exciting Granges and Grangers” category. The feedback I receive from you suggests that learning about other Granges and their successes is both motivating and helpful. This past year, some Granges decided to send representatives to other Granges who are reporting success to see first-hand “how they are doing it.” A priority for next year will be to encourage more success stories and contributions. As if to further support this, we’ve had several cases where the media has picked up those success stories from our website. I’ve also been contacted by media representatives in search of successes to report.
A second priority is expanding the “Resources for Grangers” feature of the website. While we don’t want to “clutter” the site, the goal of this feature is to provide Granges and Grangers with resources that may have value personally, provide programming and event ideas, or just be of general value. There are several challenges associated with this, but it does seem to be worthy of pursuit!
Obviously, these are both areas where your help is needed. Don’t underestimate the value of the things your Grange does. What may seem commonplace to you may be an exciting, brand new idea needed by another Grange. I admit that I get really excited when I receive an email from someone whose name I don’t recognize because I can’t wait to see what you’ve done. Photos are also great—and a photo or two with what we call a “cutline” can tell a story. (A cutline is media talk for the caption explaining the photo—usually a sentence or two.)
I believe the primary role of any state position or function is to support Subordinate and Pomona Granges. But communication is not a “one-person job.” Individuals, Community/Subordinate and Pomona Granges can best support our communications efforts by providing positive news and information.
I will also continue to encourage more open communication throughout our Order. We must generate interest and excitement among our communities, prospective members, and ourselves.
With that background, our greatest accomplishment in 2016-17 is also our greatest need for the coming year. We must continue to increase participation and information, working to build the Maine State Grange website as a “go to” place for members and friends who wish to learn more about our Order.
If there is anything I can do to help you and your Grange, please let me know.
Thank you for your continued confidence and support.
*For those with additional interest, Stop Teaching Me is an article I wrote on the topic of how today’s learners differ and what it means to real estate educators.
The year has passed quickly. State Grange is upon us once again upon us. Hope to see you there!!! Thank you to Manchester Grange members for hosting a 150th Birthday celebration on October 8. There were about 40 present on this very windy day who enjoyed a prepared lunch followed by entertainment by local Maine humorist, Gary Crocker. I then presented three Manchester members their fifty-year certificates. Thanks to all who attended. Guests came as far away as Limington.
Thank you to all Granges who have celebrated our very special birthday. It certainly is a milestone and that to be proud of by all members. Now, we need to work toward many more years of existence. For that to happen we need the right attitude, membership, being a doer, loyalty and to remember our lessons of Faith, Hope, Charity, Fidelity and Perseverance (for those who have taken their 5th Degree). Look at the list, what is there on the list we cannot do? Put all the ingredients together as a soup and serve. Difficult? Not if your Grange is one that works together no matter how small.
Thank you to West Minot and Harraseeket Granges for hosting the first four degrees over the past month. Also thanks to all the volunteers who made these successful. I have performed the Obligation Ceremony three times in the last month!!! Members are joining, albeit a few at a time, so welcome these new members into our Grange family, listen to their ideas and educate them on the traditions and rituals of our Order. We all need to listen to the Installing Officers words for each office. When we sit and wait our turn to be installed, really listen and let the message sink in. These passages explain the duties of each office.
Remember our Veterans every day and as Veterans Day approaches. Plan programs in their honor to give thanks for their service to their country and to keep us free.
The Lecturer’s Conference on Sept 30 was very informative. It was sad there were no entries in the Talent Contest again this year. Thank you to our State Lecturer, Margaret Morse on putting on a great conference. If you are a Subordinate or Pomona Lecturer, she has a program book with dates of Lecturer sponsored events for you. They will be available at State Session. Check with the delegates of your Grange. Please support her and enter the contests.
It is strange when something just pops in your head and you need to write it down. By no means am I a poet, however, the following kept popping into mind as I was writing this column. A message, perhaps? A poetry entry? Here goes:
“When the times are slow and nowhere to go, your members are few, so what do you do? One thought is to close but what if it grows? Is all lost, at what cost? We will smile and in a while, the sun will shine on yours and mine. We are not aware our answers are there, just waiting to share.”
Anyways, have a great Autumn and Thanksgiving!
Bangor Grange presented Lt. Tim Cotton his Community Citizen Award at our meeting Tuesday. The following is his write-up the next day that he posted on Facebook:
“Sliding my thumb up and down the smudged and scratched glass of my Samsung phone allows a glimpse into the thoughts of my Facebook friends.
Most of my “Facebook friends” are actually my friends. Sure, there are one or two I don’t know very well, but for the most part they are my friends and I would not have added them to my motley crew if I didn’t believe we could talk for twenty minutes or so over a cup of coffee.
Today, one of my friends posted a simple statement; a question actually. “Where have all the good people gone?” I think it’s a question we all have, especially in times like these.
When the news-cycle bores it’s way into our lives like a Black and Decker hammer-drill, it is fairly easy to believe that the world has gone mad. I cannot deny that I believe the exact same thing sometimes. I certainly can’t promise you that tomorrow won’t bring us something worse than our country has experienced this week.
I can tell you that the good people are still here. On Tuesday night I met about 15 of them at the Bangor Grange Hall (#372).
Kindly, the group awarded me with a Community Service honor and plaque. I should note that I have done nothing to deserve such an honor from the Grange members. I should have been there sooner-thanking them. I am such a slacker.
Ann Staples (82 years young) organized a fundraiser for a man who was soon to die. He wanted to make sure his wife had a little something after he passed. The spaghetti dinner at their humble Grange raised over $5000 dollars in one evening. The man died on the night of the fundraiser, but he knew of it’s success before he passed.
Ann was not bragging about pulling it all together, she was telling me about it because she and her fellow Grange members were looking to do a project for our police department causes.
We talked over lasagna, homemade biscuits, beef pie, scalloped potatoes and freshly pressed Maine apple cider. Yes, I had seconds, on simple paper plates and mismatched silverware. Ann also organizes their weekly farmers market and helped local disadvantaged kids plant and care for a garden so they could have fresh vegetables. She has done this for years.
Ann was asking me what I needed while stuffing me with food to prepare me to receive MY award. Are you kidding me?
Grange Master Rolf Staples Sr. told me about the Christmas breakfast Grange #372 puts on for local kids. He told me some of the kids find the thought of a homemade breakfast with sausage, eggs, bacon, and pancakes far more appealing than the gifts they receive. He noted that some of the kids know nothing more than a Pop Tart and can of soda for typical morning nourishment. Who makes the breakfast? The ladies and gents of Grange #372, not me.
94-year old Mary Hunter knits tiny caps for premature infants. She also reminded me that she was at my wedding but that she didn’t dance.
She told me that she recalls my son has the same name as her dear departed husband and that she clearly remembers me changing my son’s name on his birth certificate two days after he was born. It’s true, I did. Purely to make his name roll off my tongue more easily. It’s a long story. Mary remembers. She is a member of Grange #372.
For years Mary and her husband visited area nursing homes with homemade crafts, provided gifts for the kids on the parade route at Hampden Children’s Day and did a myriad of other things for community causes.
There were many others. Some who had been members for a long time and one who had held leadership positions at Grange #372 since the early 1960s. He had cut some firewood that day and told me he loved the fall. I think the gentleman could have made quick work of me in an arm wrestling match, but it was his 82nd birthday so I would expect nothing less.
We stood for the Star Spangled Banner, posted Old Glory, and I was escorted to the podium for the reading of a very nice proclamation.
Each step across the sole-smoothed hardwood floor echoed the footsteps of the benevolent members who danced, wedded, and died here since 1904.
I was humbled with their kindness, uplifted by their hardscrabble homestead farm-raised ghosts. I envisioned the men and wives cleaning their nails and washing behind the kid’s ears for the Saturday night supper and dance.
Where have all the good people gone? I think they are still here.
If you have trouble finding them, put down the phone, lay off the rants, turn off the television, and become one of them. If you need to find an example of such goodness, check your local Grange Hall.
Keep your hands to yourself, leave other people’s things alone, and be kind to one another.
We will be here.”
Webmaster Note: “TC” maintains a Facebook Page for the Bangor Maine Police Department with that has “gone viral” and has thousands of followers around the country. You can read TC’s original post on Facebook.