By Walter Boomsma (webmastermainestategrangeorg)
Maine State Grange Communications Director
I’m not sure it matters, really. But I do want to share with you a recent series of events and conversations that seemed to all lead to some important thoughts and a few ideas.
During a recent meeting of the Maine Grange Farmers’ Initiative, the committee got “on a roll” with some ideas–there were too many to list here. They included conversation about how Grange Halls are an essential asset to their communities. For example, we discussed Grange Halls might provide commercial kitchens–something needed by many small farmers. That led to some thoughts about how Grange Halls might contribute to reducing food insecurity–a wide topic, certainly.
Last summer, several Granges in Maine did “give and take tables” by making the food items customarily displayed at fairs that weren’t going to be held available for pick up at Grange Halls. These tables became a community effort with different organizations contributing to the tables.
We agreed that we need to consider “small” ideas (if there’s any such thing) as well as look at the bigger picture. A commercial kitchen might be viewed as a “big” effort; a “give and take table” is certainly a smaller scale idea.
Coincidentally (or maybe it was karma), the very next morning I received an email from the master of a Grange expressing some concerns that local restaurants are struggling for survival. He speculated “free and low-cost meals potentially become competition for those local restaurants.” Those local restaurants are just as much a part of our communities as the family living down the street.
Hmmm… how do we help all our neighbors, even the restaurants and local businesses. We’re all struggling, no doubt about that.
I was reminded of an old story about a child on an airplane flight who was just about totally out of control, bored, restless, screaming, causing a scene. No efforts seemed to calm him. Out of necessity, the flight attendant called for help from the cockpit.
The copilot came back, surveyed the scene, and took action. Using a paper plate, he created a pretend steering wheel and made levers and dials out of paper cups, explaining to the child he needed to help fly the plane. The child took his assignment seriously and became very focused on helping.
As the copilot left to return to the flight deck, one of the passengers thanked him for his help with “solving our problem.” The copilot smiled and explained. “I didn’t solve your problem–I solved his problem.”
The law of karma teaches that all of our thoughts, words and actions begin a chain of cause and effect, and that we will personally experience the impact of everything we cause. So just maybe, it’s time for us as Grangers to stop thinking, talking, and acting on our problems. Perhaps we can begin a new chain of cause and effect by thinking about the problems of our neighbors–the people next door, the businesses in our communities.
For example, could we “partner” with that struggling restaurant, using the Grange Hall parking lot as a place to distribute “Grab and Go” meals? Perhaps in exchange for handling the distribution, we receive a portion of the price of the meal? Could we create a “community event” at the restaurant with Grange Volunteers assisting?
I think it’s worthy of note that the young fellow on the plane responded to the copilot’s request to help fly the plane. Sometimes solving someone else’s problem includes getting help ourselves. We use fancy words like “collaboration, cooperation, connection,” but let’s not forget this is a great time for us all to help each other.