Grange Notes from Tim Swartz, Grange President (with everyone’s help), March 17, 2019
Drinking safely at the Grange Hall
At the Grange, safety is a priority! Rental Agent Merry Shernock decided it was time to keep tabs on the water which comes from our deep well at the Hall, so in January she brought a proposal to the Grange meeting to get it tested again. She had one test done several years ago, and our water tested very well in terms of having no bacterial condemnation at t hat time. This year, she contacted the Dept. of Public Health, and the helpful people there helped her figure out what we should be testing for, as a public building where people drink the water. In the end, we tested for bacteria again, plus for heavy metals and radiation. We also got a radon detector, which is sitting out of the way on a shelf in the kitchen for a few months.
We are pleased to report that we are waaay below all the limits on every contaminant.
So drink up! There is no excuse to not keep your body hydrated when you are at the Grange Hall!
What Do You Hear?
On February 23rd, an enthusiastic crew of volunteer did final assembly on and hung 18 acoustic panels, 24″ x 48″ on the south wall of the Grange Hall, opposite the stage–see the picture above. These panels, filled with rockwool acoustic pads 2″ thick, and covered with fire-resistant, acoustically transparent fabric, are designed to reduce “reverb”–the echoes that can interfere with hearing clearly in the Hall.
What do you hear? That’s what we want to know! Now that we have about 1/3 of this wall covered with acoustically-absorbent panels, is there a change in the sound quality of the Hall?
We’ve heard from the BarreTones, the women’s barbershop harmony singing group that rehearses in the Hall that they can’t yet hear much difference.
At the CDU dance on Mar. 2nd, a number of people reported “some” difference, especially near the wall with the panels, opposite the stage.
We’re hoping that this reduces the “reverb” of our notoriously “live” Main Hall. We want to hear from people who use the Hall for a variety of purposes–dances, meetings, church services, singing, instrumental music, and more. We’ll reach out to various regular users, and also want comments from everyone who uses the Hall. Email Tim at firstname.lastname@example.org , or Patty, at FCCGHVT@gmail.comand let us know how it sounds to you.
We’ve got 6 more panels we can hang in the Hall, and we’re ready to build more, and hang them in other parts of the Hall if these do what we hope they will.
The Friends of the Capital City Grange Hall is now looking at plans to add panels on the side walls of the Grange, putting panels above the windows and between them. This will more than triple the square feet of acousticly absorbent panels on the walls. We expect this to make even more difference, obviously!
We’ll post info about when we’ll do our next work-day to complete panel assembly, covering with fabric and hanging on the walls when we have it set up–stay tuned!
March Grange meeting moves forward on meeting improvements and more
We spent a fair amount of time discussing ways to attract more people to active involvement in the Grange. There are–literally–thousands of people who visit the Grange every year for family events, performances, church services, dances, classes, workshops and more. Yet month after month, we have the same dozen or so people sitting at the Grange meeting, enjoying spending time together, and feeling our way through decisions about how to run a Grange in the 21st century. We all like getting together–but at some point we are going to need to get some new folks involved, if we are to keep this outfit going!
Our biggest asset, of course, is our Grange Hall, and keeping the building in good shape is one of the main ways that people contribute time and money–see for example the acoustic panel installation reported above.
Providing the Hall for use by Berlin community use, and for rental by people from a much wider area has for a long time been a large part of the “community service” which is one of the primary purposes of the nationwide, all-volunteer Grange movement over the last 150+ years. In our area, we offer an attractive (and getting more so), affordable, accessible and affordable venue for all sorts of events–just look at the Calendar.
Our monthly meetings are one way to be part of keeping the Grange going. At them, we follow our version of the Grange rituals, which we’ve simplified to speed up the pace of the meetings–no passwords, reduced versions of the 19th century rhetoric–and we’ve tried to combine our business meetings with open-to-the-public programs on a wide variety of topics, followed by a “community potluck”.
We’d like the Grange meetings to be events that lots of people are interested in. We’d like to have more people interested in how the Grange works, and in taking part in the projects we take on, and in helping us make decisions about projects to take on, where to invest money, and whom to support.
We also recognized that there are a lot of people really dedicated to supporting the Grange and the Hall, who don’t come to meetings–the many people who donate to the Friends, who take part in projects–the acoustic panels are the most recent example, the less-visible people like Tova Cohen, who posts all the CDU contra dances on the website Calendar, and many more.
There is also a lot of mostly-invisible work that keeps our organization solvent and running–clearing snow from entrances, communicating with potential tenants, doing the bookkeeping, working with the State Grange to keep in good standing, putting publicity in local media about Grange events, arranging the programs, keeping Grange minute meetings and other records, setting the thermostat for heating the Hall in the winter. At this point, the same people have been doing these jobs for a long time–for decades in many cases. None of us are getting any younger, and some of us would like to get a break.
So how do we get people involved in those sorts of work? Part of it could be encouraged if more people came to the meetings and see the work going on, or at least the results.
We’d like the programs, also, to be ones that educate Grange members and community members about topics that affect the community–about agriculture (the Grange was started for farmers, after all!), advocacy organizations, participatory music (sing-alongs!), and opportunities for involvement in community services. We agreed in our discussions that we think that having face-to-face discussion and interaction add depth that is not available by doing research on the Internet. As our Grange Musician, Mat said, “will it work in my yard?” is a question that can’t necessarily be answered by the internet!
In our experience, we find we are rushing through the meeting and the program, to make time for the potluck before the contra dance set-up needs to start. It’s hard to find speakers who can provide a meaningful program, with time for the discussion and questions which are often the most informative and enjoyable part. The opportunity to do that is part of what distinguishes these live programs from electronic options like looking up a website.
So–one firm idea that came up in our discussions of all these issues is shifting to having longer programs in some months, alternating with full Grange meetings. The idea would be to promote attendance at more interesting Grange programs, and having more relaxed time at business meetings to go into more depth. We always enjoy having time for another song together, if we make sure we have the time!
Just as I mentioned in connection with the programs, we continue to believe that having actual, face-to-face meetings adds to the quality of our connection, and to the decisions we make, which in turn keep the Capital City Grange a vital, committed community organization.
These notes are just my own take on our discussions–we covered a lot of ground, and I’m doing my best to summarize some of what we talked about.
We will be continuing our discussions of these issues, and our ideas about improving our meetings, our programs, and the Grange in general at the April 6th meeting. Please join us and help us figure these things out. We know you are interested in what happens at the Grange–that’s why you have read through this long notes!
P.S.–we will continue to have monthly potluck dinners–and we’re talking about having a mid-summer dinner at the Grange–so keep in touch. As you can tell, Grangers like to cook and eat!
Traditional Parsi Indian Cooking workshop, next Sunday–few spaces left!
Delna taught some very satisfied cooks how to makes a number of basic Indian dishes last year. Next Sunday, March 24th, she is back to do a more advanced cooking workshop, from 2:00 to 6:00. The main dish for this one will be Chicken Biriyani, accompanied by rice, a dal (legume) dish and Kachumba, a vegetable dish.
We can only accommodate 12 people for this workshop, so sign up soon to reserve your spot. Send an email to Merry Shernock if you want to be on the list! Suggested donation for this workshop is $20. This will cover all the ingredients and supplies. Come as singles, couples, multi-generational pairs or trios, but get in touch quickly!
Those with dietary limitations note: this workshop will include chicken, as you might guess, and also cashew nuts, raisins and dairy ingredients.
Coming in May: even more food! Our annual
In 2019, the Grange Baking Contest will be “Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting–your recipe”–so it’s time to start testing your favorites. We’ll do the judging at our May Grange meeting, on May 4th.
Below are some pictures of spice cakes with cream cheese frosting which I found on the Interweb. What will yours look like? But more important–what will it taste like? What sort of texture will it have? Our CELEBRITY JUDGES will be giving their opinion.
Who is on the panel? This year, we will have:
Lynn Spencer, art teacher at the Berlin Elementary School, an accomplished baker who has made pies for Elly’s Farm Market, and curator of our Berlin student art displayed in the Main Hall.
Alec Ellsworth, fiddler and accordion playe, who plays with Katie Trautz in Chaque Fois, plus on his own. Alec is also head of maintenance for Hubbard Park in Montpelier.
Jacqueline Rieke, aka Nutty Steph, is the proprietor of the central VT granola bakery and producer of chocolate, including CBD-infused products.
How are you going to wow this lineup?