Here are the actions the State Grange session on Oct. 18th took on the Resolutions proposed by various Community Granges around the state. If you have questions, please feel free to contact Tim Swartz, President of Capital City Grange: firstname.lastname@example.org. I was the lone Delegate to the 2020 State Grange session held at the Capital City Grange.
Grange Notes by Tim Swartz, Grange President (with everyone’s help), September 11, 2020
Saturday evening–(almost) a contradance in your home
These days, technology can do some amazing things…like dance concerts in your home! The Contra Dance Umbrella is sponsoring their annual fundraiser for the Grange by presenting Pete’s Posse via Zoom, so you can enjoy the music of this great band, and waltz and contra dance together–and (if you can) support the Grange! We’d all love to be together for this sort of event, but instead we get to enjoy hot music this way!
This concert is free and open to everyone, but as with other CDU fundraisers, some very generous Grange supporters have pledged $2,000 for the dance and Grange communities to match, to keep the Grange solvent in this time of very low rentals. To match these “Challenge” pledges, links to donate, will be posted during the concert!
Here’s the link: https://tiny.cc/PosseZoom The Zoom will open at 7:15 to let us all get connected and ready for music from 7:30 to 9:00 PM! The Posse has quite a bit experience playing this way, and will be at their own undisclosed location in Burlington.
All of you who have heard Oliver Scanlon, Pete Sutherland and Tristan Henderson (left to right in the picture) play know their wide range of musical chops, ranging from original instrumentals, a capella arrangements, contra dance tunes and waltzes–and the occasional tongue-in-cheek rewriting of folk tunes, like their paean “Thai Iced Tea”. We are honored that they were happy to jump at this opportunity to play for the benefit of the Capital City Grange.
The Zoom link is also posted on the Grange website calendar listing: http://capitalcitygrange.org/
Auction starts Sunday: Keeping Marj’s skirts dancing!
After you’ve listened to the dance music from Pete Sutherland and the Posse on Saturday night, check out the online auction of the contra-dance skirt collection left to us by Marj Power. Working with the Old Socialist Labor Hall in Barre–where Marj was one of the original group that worked to conserve and rehabilitate this National Historic Landmark–we are auctioning off about 40 skirts that Marj wore to dances, plus festival T-shirts, a couple of pairs of dance shoes, some bandannas and handkerchiefs (also used at dances), and even a crock-pot set she used to bring potluck dinner soups and entrees! The Labor Hall is offering T-shirts, books and sweatshirts as well.
You can visit and browse all of these items now at: https://www.32auctions.com/
The auction will run until Sept. 30th; items you’ve won will be available for pickup at the Grange Hall on Saturday, Oct. 3rd, from 3-6:00 PM. Or we can mail them to you for an additional $12.00.
We encourage you to bid early and often, in memory of Marj, and to support these 2 community organizations that she loved so much. We certainly look forward to seeing Marj’s skirts, shirts, etc. on the Grange Hall dance floor….someday lots of us will be back there!
Many thanks to Elizabeth Templeton, from the dance community and the Friends of the Capital City Grange Hall, and to Ruth Ruttenberg, President of the Labor Hall for their work organizing the auction and uploading all the photos and information!
Les Skinner obituary
Leslie Arnold Skinner Jr., 92, passed away Aug. 26, 2020, at his home in Northfield, Vermont. The oldest of seven children, Leslie was born March 18, 1928, in Melrose, Massachusetts, to Leslie A. Skinner and Hazel Vassar (Cook) Skinner. A member of the Oliver Ames High School class of 1945, he furthered his education by taking courses at Massasoit College, Fitchburg and Bridgewater State Colleges, and Boston School of Anatomy. He served an apprenticeship as funeral director and embalmer with Ellis Delano of Brockton, whose daughter became his second wife. He married Bernice M. Baker in 1954 and they had two sons. Divorced in 1978, he later married Phyllis Jean Delano.
He liked machinery, especially automobiles, and owned many antique classics over the years. In 1950, he bought Earle’s Hudson dealership in South Easton, Massachusetts, added GMC trucks and ran it as Skinner Motor Sales for three years. Next he worked in the experimental department of Pratt & Whitney in Hartford, Connecticut, and later became service manager at Jannell Ford in Weymouth, Massachusetts, for 28 years. He then taught at Southeastern Regional Vocational High School in South Easton, Massachusetts, and having gone full circle, had been with Kingston Funeral Home in Northfield after moving to Vermont in 1990.
He was active in Grange circles, a past master of Easton Grange, Brockton Grange and Capital City Grange. As a Mason, he was a past master of Satucket Lodge F&AM, past president of the Tri Town Temple Association and a past master of the Brockton Masonic Lodge of Instruction in Massachusetts. He was a Royal Arch Mason, a Tall Cedar of Lebanon, and a member of The Grand Order of the Sword of Bunker Hill. For many years, he was the secretary of DeWitt Clinton Lodge and an officer in Naomi Chapter, Order Of The Eastern Star in Northfield. He was a past president of the South Shore Antique Auto Club in Massachusetts, and a past treasurer of the Vermont Automobile Enthusiasts.
He served on the Board of Zoning in Northfield and as an auditor. He was an active member and officer of the Northfield Rotary Club and served on the board of the United Methodist Church in Northfield. Although he spent much of his life in Massachusetts, he thought of himself as a Vermonter spending much of his youth on Grandpa’s farm on Skinner Hill Road in Bakersfield. Les enjoyed camping trips in his motor home and liked to travel as long as it was on the ground or by boat. His grandchildren were a particular joy, four boys and the redhead, Sarah. Les is survived by his wife, Phyllis of Northfield; two sons, Wayne Douglas Skinner of Central Square, New York, and Steven Nelson Skinner of Northfield; a brother, Russell Skinner; and five grandchildren, Nelson, Sarah, Andrew, Kevin and Joseph. He was predeceased by his parents; four brothers, Franklin, Donald, Paul and Kenneth; a sister, Caroline; and a half-sister, Phyllis.
A graveside and burial service in Celebration of his Life will be conducted Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020, at 1 p.m. in Mount Hope Cemetery in Northfield. Evelyn Doyon, lay minister of the United Methodist Church of Northfield, will lead the service. Friends may call at the Kingston Funeral Home, 35 Slate Ave., Northfield, on Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, from 2 to 6 p.m. Members of DeWitt Clinton Lodge, F&AM in Northfield will conduct the Masonic Memorial Service at 5:30 p.m. during the calling hours. The adherence of COVID-19 restrictions are encouraged. In lieu of flowers, mail donations in his memory to Central VT Home Health and Hospice, 600 Granger Rd., Barre, VT 05641.
September meeting: 3rd Saturday = 9/19
As usual–the first Saturday of September comes on Labor Day Weekend–even this year, we expect that people will have other things on their minds besides Grange meetings, so we’ll move the meeting to the 3rd Saturday, from 4:30 to 6:00 PM. We’ll do another combination of in-person and Zoom meeting
By then, we’ll know how the fundraiser went (see above), and we’ll have a better idea how the Grange will survive the winter financially. We also expect to have much more information on ventilation options for the Grange Hall: we’ve realized that to reduce the chances of COVID infection once the windows need to be closed–and to provide good ventilation downstairs–we need to provide mechanical ventilation bringing in fresh air. To keep from draining the heated air from the Grange Hall, we’ll need some kind of heat-recovery ventilation system. We recently had a good consultation with an architect who designs–among other things–school buildings, Cam Featherstonhaugh. Cam gave us good general information about options; we are pursuing estimates from a couple of design-build ventilation contractors. Merry has also contacted State Rep. Anne Donahue about state aid for facilities like ours to deal with COVID requirements, and we have hopes that a grant program may become available to help us with the costs.
We will also be honoring the memories of both Les Skinner and Marj Power by performing the Grange ceremony of “Draping the Charter”. This will provide us a formal opportunity for reminiscing about their lives and their (substantial) contributions to our Grange. We hope that people will join us–live or by Zoom–for this as well as the rest of the Grange meeting. The Zoom link will be posted on the Grange meeting listing on the website Calendar: www.capitalcitygrange.org/
It is our pleasure to inform you that Capital City Grange has been selected for the 2019 Best of Berlin Awards in the category of Volunteer Organization.
For details and more information please view our website:
2019 Best of Berlin Awards – Volunteer Organization
If you are unable to view the link above, please copy and paste the following into your web browser:
Berlin Business Recognition
The Contra Dance Umbrella has decided that we will begin a transition to using the non-gendered role terms, starting in July 2019. For the rest of the year, we’ll have a mix of “Larks & Ravens” and “Gents & Ladies” dances. Each dance will have a note about what to expect, on the flyers and in the listings here on the Grange website.
Beginning in January, 2020, we will be shifting to using these terms at all of our dances.
You may be wondering “why are we making this change?” We made trials of these terms at the 3 dances in March of 2019, and got clear preferences for these non-gendered role terms. The survey results are shown on charts at the end of the “FAQ” below.
CDU member Dana Dwinell-Yardley has adapted a flyer of “FAQs”–frequently asked questions–about this:
Larks & Ravens FAQ
With thanks to the Oberlin Contra Dance Club
What the heck is going on?
Starting in July 2019, the Montpelier dance will be transitioning to using the terms Larks and Ravens to replace Gents and Ladies. Larks stand on the left after a swing, and Ravens stand on the right. The change of terms is the only difference — nothing else about the dance will change.
From July to January, some dances may be called with Larks and Ravens and some with Gents and Ladies. We will publicize the terms used at each dance. By January 2020, we will be using Larks & Ravens 100% of the time.
How did this decision get made?
In March 2019, the organizing committee ran a trial of Larks & Ravens role terms. We surveyed dancers and asked for feedback. We also ran a survey at the April 6 dance, which was called using Gents & Ladies.
Our community was strongly in favor of making this change.
- 75% of March dancers (192 surveys total) liked or loved dancing to Larks & Ravens, and another 13% were neutral.
- 83% were in favor of the Montpelier dance switching to Larks & Ravens or had no preference.
- Only 13% preferred to attend dances called using Gents & Ladies.
- April 6 had a much smaller survey sample (20 surveys vs 192 in March), but the numbers were fairly similar, with 70% of respondents saying no or no preference to keeping Gents & Ladies as our terms.
The organizing committee met in April to review the surveys and discuss additional comments received. We came to a consensus decision to transition to Larks & Ravens, as described at left.
What’s wrong with Gents and Ladies?
While it’s generally understood that your dance role says nothing about your gender, this does not change the fact that Gents and Ladies are inherently gendered terms. Because of this, many dancers feel pressure to dance a specific role. In addition, use of this terminology implies that men are Gents and women are Ladies by default, which is not true. While contra dance roles were strictly gendered in the past, Gents and Ladies no longer describe the roles as they are in our community today.
This is not just an issue of semantics. Some members of the community find the use of Gents and Ladies to be awkward, exclusionary, and even hurtful. Transgender and gender non-conforming people can be particularly affected by this issue. With this switch to gender-free terms, we hope to make the Montpelier dance even more welcoming and inclusive.
Have other dance communities started using gender-free language?
Yes! Many communities on the East and West coasts have permanently switched to gender-free language. Most recently, the popular BIDA dance in Boston recently made the change, as well as the dances in Amherst, MA, Portland, ME, Providence, RI, and New York, NY. See a full list at trycontra.com/gender-free.
In Burlington, Queen City Contras and the Mad Robin dance are both discussing a change to Larks and Ravens, and offering occasional evenings of Larks and Ravens.
What’s wrong with Leads and Follows?
While it is an obvious choice for role terms in couple dancing, Leads and Follows works poorly for contra dance. First of all, Leads and Follows implies a dynamic of leading and following which, unlike other social dance forms, is not emphasized in contra dance. Also, Leads and Follows implies a power dynamic between the two roles, even more so than Ladies and Gents.
If this issue weren’t enough, the terms Leads and Follows are awkward and confusing to call. For example, consider the calls: “Follows lead a hey for four” or “Leads, follow the Follows” or “Leads up, Follows down.” Again, this is not an issue for other dance forms.
Why Larks and Ravens? These terms are kind of odd/quirky/fanciful.
Larks and Ravens are by far the most popular terms used in gender-free contra dances today. The main reason for their popularity is that they are related directly to the roles: The Lark starts with the letter ‘L’ and stands on the left after a swing, while the Raven starts with ‘R’ and stands on the right. After all, where you stand is the main difference between the two roles.
Additionally, Larks is the same number of syllables as Gents, and Ravens is the same number of syllables as Ladies, making the transition easier. The words are not used in other contra dance calls, meaning that there is unlikely to be confusion. Most importantly, there is no implied power dynamics or gender/sexual connotations.
That being said, we get it — the terms are kind of weird. They are not perfect! If you have other ideas, please let us know.
What happens now?
Enjoy the dance! If the terms feel liberating, feel free to experiment with roles that you’re not used to. If the terms feel kind of awkward, don’t worry — only words have changed, nothing else!
If you have always been a Lady and you want to keep dancing as a Lady, just keep on dancing as a Raven; if you want to keep dancing as a Gent, simply dance as a Lark. Just be sure to ask your partner what role they’d prefer, if any.
I have thoughts/feelings/opinions about this change. How do I make my voice heard?
Come to our community conversation and potluck on Saturday, June 15! Potluck dinner 5:30-6:30, discussion 6:30-8 pm.
Please also feel free to speak to an organizer. We’d love to hear what you think.
Montpelier Contra Dance Umbrella:
Alice Smolinsky, Dana Dwinell-Yardley,
Emma Schoenberg, Jody Pettersen,
Kurt Giavara, Patty Giavara,
Tim Swartz, and Thomas Weiss
There will be printed copies of this flyer at the front desk–and please do give us feedback, either in person, or with a note in the “Feedback” box. We really do want to know how this works for all types of dancers.
Grange Notes by Tim Swartz, Grange President (with everyone’s help) February 6, 2019
The Grange sign tells the story
The snow has melted down a bit, but it was still easy to reach the top–without a stepladder–to mount the new sign for Dance, Sing & Jump Around above the one for Kids Trade & Play on Sunday afternoon.
We’ve seen impressive growth in the number of families who come to donate out-grown, but still good kids’ clothing and pick up equally good larger-size clothing, toys and gear at the KT&P on 2nd Saturday mornings–from 9:30 to 11:30 as the sign says. On January 12th, there were about 100 people of all sizes, on a frigid day! The exchange features clothing for newborns through Junior 10 sizes, plus shoes, books, toys and maternity needs. Or you can just stop by for coffee or tea, and socialize while kids play, and get information about community resources for families. A small donation of $3.00 per family is asked to cover overhead, but no one will be turned away. Make it a family outing, and come visit!
Then on Sunday afternoon, from 3:00PM to 4:30PM, DS&JA makes its Sunday debut at the Grange Hall. We welcome this series, which has been running for about 3 years in Plainfield, to use our larger venue, with much more parking. Dances for kids of all ages, including circle & line dances plus singing games will be taught by Liz Benjamin and Stan Carlson. Music this weekend will be by Katie Trautz & her students! FREE for kids, $5 donation per adult requested–no one will be turned away! If you don’t have a kid lying around the house, borrow one.
Keep up to date with these events, and many more by checking out the Calendar on the Grange website: www.capitalcitygrange.org (special note: there’s still more going on this weekend in addition to these fine events, which are directly sp0nsored by the CCG!)
Groundhog Day meeting ends on time!
If like me, you enjoyed the movie with that name, you’ll know why I mention this fact…almost everyone arrived on time and we finished up in time for a great potluck dinner, with a birthday party joining us, no less!
Our meeting included a variety of good news:
- We have a new regular tenant, the VT Youth Theater, who have invested in helping us renovate the Grange Closet, to make room for their needs while still providing storage for Grange meeting paraphernalia. The VYT is a non-profit which provides high-quality theater training to kids from 5 to 18. To learn more, check their website: VT Youth Theater Contact Mary List-Wheeler, their director for more info.
- We will host another Cooking Workshop, date TBD, building on the success of “Delna’s Farmers’ Market Favorites” last year. 15 people had a great time, and cooked tasty Indian food at that one. At the next one, our talented teacher, Delna, will be teaching participants to make Chicken Biryani, in a “more advanced” class. Keep in touch for details!
- Building relationships with arts groups is one way we show how we serve the community by providing this venue. We think it will help the Friends of the Capital City Grange Hall in their next grant application to the VT Arts Council. Thanks to Merry Shernock for working with the VYT, as well as DS&JA!
- Acoustic panels are on their way! The FCCGH has ordered materials for at least 18 panels. Kurt Giavara and Tim Swartz will be putting the frames together in the next week or two, and the FCCGH will schedule a work party to fill them with acoustic batting, cover them with fabric, and hang them on the “old entrance” end of the Main Hall. We’ll be looking for feedback on the impact these make, for the many types of activities that call the Grange Hall home. We will be consulting with the various dance, singing and meeting groups to see how we can continue to improve the acoustics of the Hall.
- The “Repair Cafe” organizers from the Central VT Solid Waste Management District and the Onion River Exchange time-bank are very interested in holding another event at our Hall. Since we are so booked up, we couldn’t find an open date that worked for them in March, so they will hold one elsewhere, and will look for a future date to hold a Repair Cafe at the Grange Hall.
- Our arrangement with the Town of Berlin to be tax-exempt with regard to property taxes has been a continued boon to our finances, as was demonstrated as Treasurer Merry showed us the Grange financial records. She uses QuickBooks Online, and was able to project the data for Grange Meeting attendees to see. We have been able to invest in the Grange Hall, as we did last year–installing an on-demand water heater, pumping out the septic tank, re-grading the driveway and continuing our improvements around the ADA entrance. Instead of needing help from fund-raisers to pay our bills, we are able to keep on top of expenses even while putting money into improvements.
- We have hosted about 72 no-charge “rentals” of the Hall for Berlin families, individuals and organizations since getting the tax exemption in March, 2016, right about at the 2-per month figure we projected as our commitment.
Our meeting was followed by the Monthly Community Potluck Dinner,
once again full of treats, included the usual variety of tasty treats,
from roast leg of lamb, to green salad, lima beans, crown roast, chicken
with sauce, brownies, bread, pasta salad–and a birthday party! We
were pleased to share food and fun with the guest of honor, Harvest, who
is turning 12, and her friends and family. She asked to have her party
at the Grange potluck, and then at the contra dance following! The
dancers sang Happy Birthday with gusto, and ate up the birthday cakes at the break with equal enthusiasm.
We never know exactly what will show up at our potluck dinners. Put the next one, on March 2nd, on your calendar!