Nov 202020

By Walter Boomsma  (webmasteratmainestategrangedotorg)  
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.

And this was before COVID-19!
Nov 202020

I’ll admit I “stole” this off a Facebook Post… it seemed like a great idea for a virtual fundraiser that was run by Gold Trail Grange 452 in Coloma, California. From their website, you can derive a sense this is a community Grange in the truest sense. Like all of us, they are challenged by the pandemic. You can also visit the Coloma Gold Trail Grange Facebook Page to see what they’re up to.

Aug 102020

By Sherry Harriman  (SHarrimanattwcdotcom)  ,
Maine State Grange Master
207 490-1029

Our Subordinate and Pomona Granges are getting back in the swing little by little but with restrictions and adjustments being made to meetings and fund raising. 

I have been working on compiling the results from the Grange Surveys I have received so far. The information provided was for a typical year in their Granges.  This being decidedly a non-typical year many Granges have very limited activities and events. As your Grange gets more involved once again maybe you could use some of these great suggestions.

Community Service projects being reported on the surveys included:

Fuel assistance for those in need; roadside trash pick-up; flags provided for Veterans graves; assist animal shelter with food and bedding; provide building to food pantry; allow free use of the hall to community groups and informational meetings; provide meals for Veterans;? Words for Thirds; Christmas for families; Thanksgiving for families; farmers’ markets; assorted classes; 4-H; bee keepers; spinning; music programs; painting classes; poster contest; clothing drive and give-a-way; Halloween party; pumpkins & carving; fun Friday; backpacks for school; backpacks for snacks & meals; backpacks for trauma; teddy bears for law enforcement; scholarships; provide seeds to school children; area historical programs; wreaths for veterans; US flags in town for Memorial day; town signs; Scouts use hall; community meals; donations; food cards; donate household items; masks for Covid-19; cooking for home bound; make donations to Harvest Hills & Ronald McDonald House; public gardens; cemetery flowers & cleanup; town celebration; flag retirement ceremony; library support; Easter Egg hunt; breakfast with Santa; provide vegetable and flower plants; ?assist shut-ins; and donate toiletries to homeless shelter.

Fund Raising activities reported:

Hall rentals; public suppers; pancake breakfasts; fairs; flea markets; rentals; concerts; lectures; fair exhibit; food booth; quilting class; music jam; bottle drive; carnival games day; bake sales at town events; sell candy, cakes, jams, jellies, etc.; holiday fairs; craft fairs; raffles; bingo; lunches; food sale; plant sale; and shrub sale.

Be safe for the rest of the summer. We will see you soon.

Jul 112020

By Sherry Harriman  (SHarrimanattwcdotcom)  ,
Maine State Grange Master
207 490-1029

I have some great news for the Subordinate Granges. The Executive Committee and I have decided to assist with the financial strains due to the coronavirus. 

All Subordinate Granges will be exempt from paying quarterly dues to the Maine State Grange for September and December quarters. Letters have been sent to each Subordinate Grange Secretary this week. 

Your Grange must still send in the quarterly report forms as usual listing numbers, additions and losses as the State Grange is required to still pay dues to National.

Your Grange MUST pay March and June quarterly dues. 

We have made our plans for the 2020 State Grange Session. As you may have seen in an earlier post, we have made some major adjustments. A one-day session will be held Thursday, October 22, 2020, at Golden Harvest Grange in Carmel. We will open in the Sixth Degree at 9:00 am, lower to the Fourth degree and conduct the following business:

  • Secretary’s and Treasurer’s reports 
  • 2020-2021 Budget
  • Resolutions 
  • Memorial Service
  • Master’s Address – written report only 
  • Elect and install one Executive Committee member
  • Written reports of Officers and Directors 

The Maine State Grange will provide lunch of pizza and sandwiches to all at no charge. Departments will have ONE large basket each, if they wish, to be drawn at the end of the day.

No, I didn’t forget anything. There will be no Sixth Degree, art or photo contest, department awards or presentations, banquet, or Ag. Luncheon. As you can see, it’s a very limited schedule. The schedule, area hotels, etc. will be posted to the web and all information will be mailed to the Granges in a couple of weeks.

Resolutions are required in our office no later than August 15, 2020. 

Officer and Department reports are due September 1, 2020, sent to me at my email address or home address. 

As we get closer to October, I will keep you advised of any additional changes that need to be made which may include any governor’s mandates. Have a safe summer.

Jun 112020

By Sherry Harriman  (SHarrimanattwcdotcom)  ,
Maine State Grange Master
207 490-1029

I have been trying to come up with something clever, different, or unique to express words of encouragement and genuine caring. Please know I am thinking of each of you and sending heartfelt wishes for the best. We need each other to keep going. Thank you, everyone, for any assistance you have so generously given to our fellow neighbors. Remember to thank those who have done something special for you.

For the past few months, owing to the COVID-19 virus, Grange meetings, many events & activities have been almost entirely suspended, but plans are being made to get back into the swing and active work during the coming months. With communities starting to reopen, there is still a need by individuals and groups to be involved, even in small groups.

Since public suppers may still be restricted, a few Granges have suggested fundraisers that can be done with the restrictions still in place. Either take orders in advance or advertise open to the public for pick up. Chicken pies go well or a couple of kinds beans baked in advance, put beans in pint or quart containers to sell. Make a batch of biscuits to go along with the meal. By making a few adjustments or changes in the way, we do things we can continue to be successful Granges. One of the biggest questions about any change is knowing when you should work toward change and when you should continue doing things the way they’ve always been done. The answer isn’t easy, but you can get help in deciding.

Over the years, change has made huge strides in the Grange. Change actually was the starter. If the founders hadn’t felt the need for betterment by change where would we be now, not just as an organization but community, state, and nation. The thought of “change” scares people more than change itself because we are surrounded constantly by change. Imagine life without change…it would be dull and boring. When the fear of change is strong, people are afraid to change, to try anything that is different.

May 102020

By Sherry Harriman  (SHarrimanattwcdotcom)  ,
Maine State Grange Master
207 490-1029

Granges are meeting virtually or by conference call, congratulations on taking the initiative to keep involved. Many Grangers are carrying out the traditions and principles of our Grange fraternity by continuing to assist our neighbors during this difficult time, I commend and thank each of you for all you are doing. Some areas will be starting to reopen activities, including in-person meetings.  Some areas are still restricted to what can and can not be done.  Many of us are following the Governor’s cautions by continuing to stay in place, wear masks, and keeping our distance from other people when we are out. Consider others’ concerns and be respectful of their opinions and needs.   

A positive attitude will help you overcome many difficulties that may arise during your term of office.? With a positive attitude, you gain confidence which will reflect to your members as you conduct your meetings. It will also help you achieve the goals you established when accepting this office.? Remember, one person cannot do it alone.? It takes teamwork, understanding, and leadership.? You become the leader of the Grange, and your positive attitude will reflect on everything that you attempt to do in the office to which you have been elected.”

Guidelines for Grange Leaders? Sesquicentennial Revised Edition

Guidelines for Grange Leaders? Sesquicentennial Revised Edition

Elections are generally held in June, please do the best you can to get your elections completed as soon as practical in June or a little later if needed.  Maine does require every Grange to have full elections every year.  A name or names must be presented, paper ballots cast and counted, the choice announced, and the results so recorded.   It is not allowed that the Secretary cast one vote for the entire Grange. After elections have been completed, send the roster information into the office even if the officers and committee people are still the same. 

A reminder to the Granges to return the completed Survey that I mailed directly to the Masters before September 1.  Thank you to the six Granges who have already replied. 

Many of you have had or currently have a subscription to GoodDay! magazine published quarterly by the National Grange. I would like to encourage each of you to renew or subscribe to this informative magazine.  Contact Amanda Brozana-Rios at National Grange at communicationsatnationalgrangedotorg  (communicationsatnationalgrangedotorg)  .   

All our best regards to each and everyone of you.

May 032020

By Walter Boomsma
Communications Director

A digital visit to the “Stories of Maine: An Incomplete History” Exhibit at the Portland Museum of Art is now possible. It’s admittedly only a “partial view” of the complete gallery you can visit in person when the museum reopens.

As Communications Director, it was my honor to be invited to participate in the development of this gallery. If you scroll down to “Select Community Voices” and click on my photo, some of the Grange Hall photos that will hang in the gallery will be available for viewing. If you’d prefer, this link will take you straight to that page.

Let’s not focus on the limitations and restrictions we currently face. We can cultivate connections in many different ways and with many various organizations. How long has it been since someone in your Grange has contacted the local library, historical society, school, other civic organizations… and asked this question:

How can our Grange support and help you and our community?

Apr 242020

Fairview Grange means business! They quickly set up their Book Swap… we appreciate the photos! Who else can do this!? How soon can you get it done?

Short and to the point!
Familiar advice
Not pictured are the available hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. Note also that there’s Grange information and applications!

How cool would it be to have one of these on the porch of every Grange Hall in Maine? During the installation of officers, the lecturer is told, “Especially encourage the young and diffident to become writers, readers, and speakers…” Congratulations to Fairview Grange for this simple but effective method of doing just that! This is a wonderful example of something that demonstrates what the Grange is all about and supports the community.

There is a national program where you can register your “Little Free Library” so anyone can find it. There are also some great resources–you can actually get plans for building a “Book Sharing Box,” purchase ready made boxes, and find books at a discount.

Remember, it’s not the program that’s important–it’s the action–getting it done. I see no reason that you couldn’t start with a plastic tub and cover! Let me know when your Grange has one in place–we’ll start a list here on the website. Photos would be great! Don’t forget to promote it! If you’d like help writing a press release, let me know  (webmasteratmainestategrangedotorg)  .

Apr 222020

By Rick Watson,
Master, Fairview Grange

Webmaster’s Note: I cannot resist sharing these comments from Rick Watson, Master of Fairview Grange in Smithfield. One of the points made it the interview was that we need fewer programs and a lot more action. Thanks and congratulations to Rick and Fairview Grange for leading the way!

I so enjoyed the interview. You always give me something to think about. Yes, we are weak on some things, doing okay on others. So as we continue to work on and tinker with our little Fairview Grange your interview will help guide my actions.

Takeaways from today are using your Exploring Traditions for our Lecturers programs, and I think we will start a book swap–tomorrow!
We are placing a metal cabinet on the covered kitchen steps outside our Grange Hall. Directions on the door to reinforce hand sanitizer, which we will leave inside=and everything will be based on the honor system. We will promote it from our roadside changeable letter sign, email, and Facebook.

Hopefully, it becomes something people are interested in using. At worst, we tried something and had a new message on the sign.

I have been struggling with what to do to keep us gelled as members while the Coronavirus looms.

Also, this week I’m going to send a link to your interview and promote the book exchange in a message to our members.

I’ll send some pictures of the sign when we’re up and running.

Apr 172020

We were lucky enough to get a grant at the end of last year from the Belvedere Historic Preservation Fund of the Maine Community Foundation and more support from a long time Grange member so with most of the winter weather behind us, the work is now underway.  

In these pictures, you can see former Master Sam Alexander on the left and current Master Chuck Alexander on the right.  Sam is holding a board milled from a tree on his own property, duplicating the original construction in the 1916-1918 era where the boards for the original building construction came from the Alexander woodlot as well. This board and the others in the picture are going in to replace sub-flooring that has been damaged over time.  It’s unusual to be able to duplicate not only the same size and type of wood, but also the exact source of the original. 

In the second picture you can see the preliminary work on the new drainage system on the side of the Grange building. Next will be the roof coating and exterior painting. 

And the last picture shows Merriconeag Grange #425 Master Chuck Alexander in his favorite well-worn sweatshirt, proving that Grangers really can do it all!

Grangers can really do it all!