Feb 182018

Amazon Smiles LOgoA big thank you to all the Grangers who made purchases on Amazon in October, November, and December and chose the Maine Grange Foundation as your charity. While it is a relatively small amount, all monies raised this way will be paid once a year in June to the Educational Aid Fund. Many Grange families have received scholarships from this fund and your continued support is noteworthy.

Please encourage your fellow Grangers, friends and family members to make the Maine Grange Foundation their charity of choice when shopping on Amazon Smile. Please remember it must be AmazonSmile and not just Amazon for the charity to receive your support. This is at no cost to you.

I challenge you to see if we can double this amount in the next quarter. Download the Amazon Smiles Program Flyer, post it on your Bulletin Board and make copies for your members. Thanks for all that you do to support Granges and Grangers in Maine.

Shop Amazon Smiles

Feb 182018

Short messages from your Communications Department

The February Bulletin is now available on the website! Get your copy: MSG Bulletin February 2018. While all of the content has also appeared as posts on the site, it’s a great summary and could be printed (legal-size paper) and posted on your Grange Bulletin Board and handed out to members.

While it doesn’t quite qualify as “going viral,” there are some comments posted on this month’s “Exploring Traditions…” column. Check out the discussion by clicking the responses link just under the title on the righthand side of the post. (You can comment on any post this way.) It is especially rewarding to hear that this has helped “explain the Grange’s relevance in this fast-paced society.”

Don’t forget that Grange Month is fast approaching… additional information and some resources are available in this post. If you plan to include a Community Citizen Award, you’ll want to order it soon!

Coming soon! Information on the first quarter results of the Amazon Smiles Program… and some information about how Valley Grange “hired” a bunch of “ad managers.”

What’s happening at your Grange? Inquiring minds want to know… photos are encouraged! (Attach them to an email.) Please understand that I do not have time to search Facebook for posts–as most regular Facebook users know, they have recently changed their algorithms and I may not even see your post. When you post news to Facebook, copy the post and paste it into an email addressed to the webmaster. It only takes a few seconds.  The best way to distribute your Grange news is still through this website, where we don’t use algorithms to decide what others should see. It’s available to all–especially subscribers!

Email the Maine State Grange Webmaster Subscribe to Maine State Grange Website!


Feb 172018

Thanks to Harraseeket Grange in Freeport and member Sebastian Meade for a great idea! Harraseeket is now including a drawing (a photo would also work) of their hall on all their flyers and promotional materials, “so [the hall] starts to become recognized from a distance.”

In a word, “awesome!”

This particular drawing was done by Sebastian who also runs a business called buttonspinzandthingz.com — he does things like buttons, magnets, and original artwork. Small quantities are available…

Another step that Harraseeket Grange has taken is to include “Freeport” in their name… if your Grange isn’t named the same as your community, that might something to consider.

This might also be a good opportunity to remind you of the importance of knowing a street address (911) for your Grange. Not only does it help visitors set their GPS unit, it will be critical in the event of an emergency.

Oh, by the way, Sebastian holds two offices in his Grange: Assistant Steward and Building Agent. How’s that for another great idea!?

What other exciting ideas are out there?!

Feb 162018

Grange Month is fast approaching.  Have you made plans yet? Have you ordered your Certificates and/or Plaques you may need? Have you invited your guests?  It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant as long as you celebrate the Grange.  Have a discussion within your own membership – What is the Grange – What the Grange means to me – What are the benefits of being a Grange member – What are the benefits of having a Grange in your community – Do we need to rethink our goals and purposes – Why did you join – Why are you needed in the Grange and the Community?  There are no right or wrong answers but be respectful of everyone’s opinion.

During the year, we encourage you as members to come up with resolutions to be acted upon in some way or another.  Some are legislative, beneficial or helpful, regulate by-laws, some to make changes to an idea, some supportive and others against something.  Each of these resolutions is valuable to us as an organization, agree or disagree.  It was brought to my attention at the officers meeting back in December that these “ideas” are great, however after the initial discussion at the Grange where they originated, then the floor discussion at State Session, the idea is “noted in the records and placed on file” then promptly forgotten about. In many cases, the action recommended, is not done or followed through.  Even the sponsoring Grange doesn’t complete the task.  For example:  With the pedestrians being more vulnerable when walking after dark, why not purchase and hand out reflective vests.  Vests can be purchased at the dollar store.   This was only one of the resolutions voted on at state Grange.  Did anyone follow through with the purchase and distribution of the vests? Did the sponsoring Grange ACT on the resolution?  I encourage you to make these resolutions actually happen even on just a small scale.  Something to think about which will go along with Grange Month or whenever we work on it.

I do realize some of our Granges do not hold regular meetings in the winter time so communications get a little behind. During February important letters were sent to the secretaries of each Grange with more to come. Please ask your secretary to find these letters and read them at your next meeting.  The information, even though they may be dated January or February affects us all and should be part of your records, discussions and appropriate action taken.

I know I am repeating myself but feel the need to do so with another reminder about handling of Grange funds. There are still concerns and questions coming to me about the accountability of funds in the Grange.  The head of a committee raising funds, no matter what the funds are raised for or how they are raised, needs to report to the Grange.  The funds go through the secretary to the treasurer.  All expenditures you have for an event, project, bingo, refreshments, kitchen fund, food, supplies, yard sales, etc. need to be brought to the Grange with all receipts showing the purchase(s). If you are in charge of fund raising you should not just go set up an account/CD, etc. on your own, those funds still need to be reported to and go through the Grange.  That includes donations also.

We still have lots of special edition session theme t-shirts at HQ to assist with fund raising for the NE Regional hosting of National Session. If you are interested, get your “Unique as a Snowflake” shirts now, contact the office at 1-800-464-3421.  National session will be in Stowe, Vermont November 12-17, 2018.

Jan 292018

Click to enlarge image

I know we do not usually feature local Grange events as posts to the website, but I’m making an exception with this one. because it may well represent an exciting future of “local” Grange events on several points!

First, at least three Granges are involved in this Community Discussion being held on February 2, 2018. It’s obvious from the flyer that Kennebec Valley Grange is hosting and East Madison Grange is sponsoring. What’s not as obvious is that Halcyon Grange is also involved–Master Heather Retberg and Bonnie Preston will be sharing their experience and expertise as part of the discussion.

Second, there’s some creative scheduling involved with a potluck before and music following. That’s three different incentives and opportunities at Kennebec Valley Grange right in a row–and each truly does follow the “community” theme.

Along those same lines, Highland Lake Grange recently shared information about the Beekeeping Program they offered before their “regular” meeting. As an exciting epilogue, Master Dave McGowen reports that two folks who attended the Beekeeping Program “stuck around” after and expressed interest in information about joining the Grange!

These are great examples of “everybody wins” ideas and programming! We often talk about our “grassroots” and how there can be and are differences in Granges and their focus. But the opportunities for collaboration, cooperation, and creativity abound!

Certainly, our structure suggests this could happen at the Pomona Level–one of the purposes of the Pomona Grange is to provide an opportunity to share and support. If there’s diversity in our Pomona, would it make sense to do a Pomona Event that features every Grange? A piece of the event might be to set up tables for each subordinate/community Grange and invite the public to come and learn about all the Granges in the area. (The host Grange would best be the most geographically central.

But informal arrangements can also work extremely well based on shared interests or physical location. There’s an old example explaining synergy (the combining of energies) as two plus two equals five. When two Granges get together to collaborate and cooperate, one plus one equals three!

And remember, collaboration and cooperation are not limited to other Granges. Valley Grange is currently working on a spring event that will potentially include Project Linus, quilting clubs, and high schools.

Share your stories! Do not underestimate your successes! Something as simple as how you schedule programs and meetings may trigger an idea that another Grange can use. Take photos of your successful events and send them for sharing.

Collaboration, cooperation, and creativity — another example of “the Grange Way.”

Email the Maine State Grange Webmaster Subscribe to Maine State Grange Website!

Jan 212018

The revised National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry Digest of Laws, 2018 Edition, that applies to all Granges of the Order, including Junior, Subordinate, State and Pomona’s, is available for free download on the National Grange website. Click below to save or print the PDF.

You may also order a printed copy of the Digest through the Grange Supply Store for $20 plus shipping.  It includes all 112 pages with cover hole-punched and bound in a three-ring binder that allows you to quickly slip in updated pages as they become available each year.

There were few changes in 2018, mainly regarding language about trusts, now referred to as custodial accounts. Please do take time to familiarize yourself with the Digest.

Download the 2018 National Digest


Jan 162018

Short messages from your Communications Department

We’ve just added a link to another subordinate/community Grange Facebook Page. Welcome, New Sharon Grange!

This might be a good opportunity to point out an “easy peasy” way to share Grange Information. I hope those who are responsible for Grange Facebook Pages also subscribe to the MSG Website! At the bottom of every post, you’ll find several social media icons. If you click the Facebook one, a window will open allowing you to share the post. You’ll need to change the setting at the top of that window from your timeline to the page you are responsible for. (You are also welcome to share it to your personal timeline, of course!) If I’m counting correctly, it’s about three mouse clicks to share the post. Those clicks might count as participation in the Communication Department’s “Plus Two” initiative–a focus on what we are doing right in the Grange.

Also as a reminder, I do check Facebook Pages created for subordinate/community Granges from time to time. If a page is not being kept current, I remove the link on the MSG website so we’re not doing the equivalent of sending people to a closed store! The same is true of websites. (National Grange Policy regarding websites and social media is included in the Communications Handbook.)

Some other recent additions to the site include

  • the National Grange Handout of twenty tips to retain members (National Grange Section)
  • an updated (every month) wishlist of the Veteran’s Administration (Community Service Section)
  • the January Bulletin (Communications Resources Section)

All this and more can be found on the “Program Books and Information Page.”

Subscribe to Maine State Grange Website!

Jan 152018

A mug WB

“You always get more of what you focus on!

 This fundamental management principle seems to have “popped up” a lot recently. The late Rita Pierson, a well-known educator in her presentation “Every Kid Needs a Champion” tells the story of a young fellow who took a math quiz. Out of twenty questions, he got eighteen wrong. At the top of his paper, she wrote “Plus Two” and drew a smiley face. When he received his paper, he approached her desk, the dialog went something like this:

“Ms. Pierson, is this an ‘F’?”


“Then why’d you write plus two and draw a smiley face?!”

“Because you got two right! You didn’t miss ‘em all! You are on the way! And won’t you do better next time…”

 He left the conversation encouraged and enthused, focused on the “two right” and the fact that his teacher had confidence in him. She points out that “eighteen wrong sucks the life out of you… plus two says “I ain’t all bad.’”

So how does this apply to communication? I think in two ways: what we talk about and how we talk about it? Eleanor Roosevelt said, “”Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” Obviously, there are times when each of those things bears conversation—but what is our focus? To apply this to our Grange, what are we discussing during our potluck suppers and meetings? I was at a supper once where two or three people dominated the conversation with their personal misfortunes and everything that was wrong with the organization, including the fact they weren’t getting new members. “Nobody has time… people aren’t interested in… it’s the Internet!” With that focus, will they? “Eighteen wrong sucks the life out of you.”

Some years ago when I was doing organizational consulting, I led a project team challenged to increase employee retention at a client company. People would work one day and quit. The company was actually having trouble maintaining production because they were worried about how many employees wouldn’t show up. They proudly displayed and shared all of the steps they had taken to resolve the problem including “exit interviews” with employees who quit. “Why are you leaving?” It was interesting data, but “You get more of what you focus on!” So we turned things upside down. One of our first recommendations was that we interview employees who had been with the company and ask what kept them there. We did some things that at first seemed crazy, but we knew we had to change the focus. We outlawed talking about absenteeism and posted the number present in the cafeteria every morning–not the number absent. We required supervisors to stand by the door at the end of the day and say goodnight to their employees and “see you tomorrow.” These are just a few examples. It worked.

Much like Ms. Pierson, if we’re going to talk about that quiz (the what), let’s focus on what was right (the how). There’s a big difference between trying to get less wrong and trying to get more right. If we’re going to talk about attendance, let’s focus on how many are present. If we’re going to talk about our Grange, let’s talk about the good stuff.

I’m challenging members to get behind a “Plus Two” drive which means we focus on what we’re doing right – no matter how insignificant it might seem to us—and submit reports and photos to the website. We have a few members (Granges) who do so dependably – our “Plus Two.” (I haven’t counted, but it’s more than two!) If you have a well-attended public supper, get somebody to snap a photo and submit it to the site. If your Grange does a community service project, tell us about it. If you get a repair done to your hall, share the news! When you take in new members, take a photo of them and send their names. If you need some help with ideas or writing, let me know!

The codfish lays ten thousand eggs,
The homely hen lays one.
The codfish never cackles
To tell you what she’s done.
And so we scorn the codfish,
While the humble hen we prize,
Which only goes to show you
That it pays to advertise.

Rita Pierson’s presentation is a TED Talk … I consider it a “must see” for teachers, parents–anyone who works with children! But it has application in all of life. You can watch the entire presentation on my website. It’s potentially life-changing and takes less than eight minutes!

Jan 132018

Hello everyone and Happy New Year. I have been working on reviewing, reviving, and rewriting some Guidelines for Grange Procedure. I have mailed this information packet out to the Subordinate and Pomona Masters this week. Please let me know, if you as Master, did not get it. I hope each of you will read through it and use it in your meetings. I hope you will find it helpful. If you have any comments or questions, please drop me a line. This is the general paperwork I shared with the Officers and Deputies at our meetings, but more detailed.

In these Guidelines you will find the following information and instructions:
• Suggestions and Instructions for Grange Procedure
• Information/instructions (short paragraphs) for a regular meeting
• Procedure / Opening in Full Form (Opening Bible, Taking the Word and Report; Presentation of the Flag; Presenting Applications or bill from Secretary to Master; Closing the Bible; Retiring the Flag; Presenting Honored Guests; Proper Order for Introducing Honored Guests)
• Procedure / Open Meeting — Opening and Closing the Grange
• Balloting Procedure for Applications
• Handling Motions and Voting Procedure
• Proper Language/Procedure Returning from Recess
• Procedure for Handling Grange Funds
• Samples: Secretary’s & Treasurer’s Receipts and Improved Order Book
• How Grange Policy is developed: It all begins in the Local Grange — Writing Resolutions, Resolutions becomes policy — How to handle resolutions (2 pages)
• Guidelines for Grange Loan Program
• Setting Goals and Five (5) Step Problem Solver
• Successful Granges are Led by People, Responsibilities of a Leader
• Considerations for Grange Leaders
• 20 Tips for Bolstering Membership Retention
• Maine State Grange Leadership Directory
• Order Form: Membership Recognition Seals & Certificates

Additional information: Deputies Instruction/Visitation Report for Grange Procedure; Basic Beginning Steps for Organizing or Reorganizing A Grange; Consolidation of Subordinate Granges; Procedure for Surrender of Charter; Suspension or Revocation of Charters; Sale, Encumbrance or Transfer of Real Property of Subordinate or Pomona Granges; Property of Granges Which Surrender Their Charter or Whose Charter Has Been Revoked; other material is available. A list of new items in the 2013 version of the Subordinate Grange Manual is included.