Grange Notes by Tim Swartz, Grange President (with everyone’s help), October 3, 2019
Equal Exchange–bringing some of their coffee and tea to drink, and chocolates to sample!
We’re pretty sure all of you who read these Grange Notes eat; the popularity of our monthly potluck dinners reinforces that. So we are especially pleased to present a program about food, and the food system, and how it can be improved. This is the first of our alternate month longer programs, and we think the extra time for discussion this will allow is a good fit. Because we know that people not only like to eat, they have opinions about food, how it is grown, how it is distributed, how much it costs, and its impact on everyone’s life. Come to the Grange for a presentation and discussion, from 5:00 to 6:00 PM, on Saturday, Oct. 5th!
Many of us will have recognized the logo above, which is on quite a few packages of coffee, bulk bins of coffee, packages of chocolate and tea in local co-ops and food stores. You may know, in general, what “Fairly Traded” means on that label–that the farmers who grew the crops are getting a reasonable return on their labor. That is because Equal Exchange is set up to guarantee that by dealing directly with the farmers.
What you probably don’t know is the dedicated people behind that label, who jointly own Equal Exchange as a co-operative. We’re luck to have one of them coming to visit us:
Danielle Robidoux has been an organizer at Equal Exchange for the past 3 years. A long-time food activist with a Masters in International Relations and Economic Development at Umass Boston, Danielle manages a community of 4,000 food activists across the US as part of Equal Exchange’s network. She is co-host of the Equal Exchange podcast The Stories Behind Our Food. Danielle has been one of the main organizers of Equal Exchange’s yearly Summits bringing together producer partners internationally, citizen-consumers, and worker-owners of Equal Exchange to sit around one table and grapple with issues plaguing our food system.
Danielle will be talking to us about the history of Equal Exchange and what they have been doing in the over 30 years they have been in business.
She will also talk about their wider goals of making changes in the food system. As part of their mission to improve the lives of farmers around the world, they see the current system as dominated by large corporations–from seeds to fertilizers to agricultural chemicals to marketing and transporting agricultural products to market. What should change about this sort of dominance? What can be done to change it? Come on Saturday and let’s talk about it with someone who is directly involved in making changes.
Fun fact: one of the major campaigns of the Grange, after its founding in 1867 was using the power of rural people united in the Grange to challenge the power of the railroads in transporting their harvests and controlling prices for transport and sale. We’re going back to our roots with this issue! Equal Exchange: This organization was founded 30 years ago, to make “a closer connection between people and the farmers we all rely on”. The 3 founders wanted to provide “fairness to farmers” by removing many of the middlemen, providing fair, direct payment to the people who produce the food, rather than profits to those who just pass it on. They work with democratically run farmer co-ops, purchasing coffee beans, cocoa and tea directly. Equal Exchange, a cooperatively run, worker owned business itself, processes, packages and distributes the fairly-traded products to food co-0ps and other customers in the United States. Equal Exchange U.S. partners with Equal Exhange U.K., La Siembre (Canada), and Oke USA, which imports fair-trade bananas. For more information about all of these organizations, visit equalexchange.coop. Come to the presentation by Danielle Robidoux to ask questions and learn more!
And after the discussion…a potluck dinner!
In keeping with our theme of food, we encourage you to join us after the presentation by Danielle, for a Community Potluck dinner. Our post-Grange meeting potlucks have drawn a lot of people to share a lot of food over the years. Bring a dish to share (you can heat it up in our microwave or ovens in the kitchen downstairs), or a salad, beverage, chips, bread, cheese, dips, or whatever you’d like to–we generally have a good variety for all parts of the meal, and it’s all delicious.
Since you need to eat dinner anyway, make it a social occasion with your friends, neighbors and people you haven’t met yet. We have all the plates, bowls and utensils we need–we wash the dishes together afterwards too. Hope to see you there!
And starting a little later….the Fun-Raiser! see more info (and more food) below.
Reminder: Challenge Fun-raiser: finishing up on Oct. 5th!
This Saturday evening, we hope you will join the CDU and the dance community to support the Friends of the Capital City Grange Hall. The Oct. 5th dance will be the finale of this year’s “Challenge” fundraiser to raise money for improvements to the Grange Hall. The Friends have gotten some very dedicated contributors to pledge $2,000 this year, for the Grange and dance communities to match.
If you don’t know the Friends, you should know at least the initials which you can put on your donation check: FCCGH. You should know that your contributions are tax-deductible, since it’s a 501(c)(3) organization. And you should know that the Friends is not only non-profit, it’s all-volunteer–and all-dedicated to helping the Grange to renovate and improve the Grange Hall, which so many community members and organizations enjoy.
The work of the FCCGH has brought us a new dance floor in 2012, new windows, new fire exits and bathrooms in 2014 & 2015, all through grants which the Friends have gotten. This year, a grant from the VT Arts Council will finance a major renovation of the lower level, with water-leak remediation, wall and rim-joist insulation, a dehumidifier, new walls, ceiling panels and carpet tiles. The Friends have to match the grant funding, though!
Every dollar the Fun-Raiser brings in will go to renovation projects like these, that make the Grange stronger, more attractive, more sustainable and less expensive to maintain.
We try to make donating a fun experience–without raising the price for the dance, this especially festive Fun-Raiser Finale at the Oct. 5th dance will feature holiday lights, a tote-board to watch the donations mount, and a great “dessert potluck” at the break. The treats will feature Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and lots of tasty home-made sweet and savory snacks–contact Dana Dwinell-Yardley if you want to bring in a dessert, or just bring it in…and drop off a few bucks as you sample from the spread. There are a couple of pictures from last year below, showing the hunger and enthusiasm of the crowd!
Also, Rob Nichols, who has been a very dedicated supporter, will bring in even more of the lovely house-plants he has raised at his home. He raises them just to give them away to donors at this fund-raiser finale! I’ve put a picture of some examples from last year below as well. Feel free to donate even more than Rob’s suggested contribution levels!
Future projectsfor the FCCGH will include more hall improvements–for both sets of entry doors, even better acoustics, a wheelchair lift to the basement and stage, heating system upgrades and more. You can bring cash or checks to the dances, or donate online, with your credit card or Paypal account–we try to make it easy!
The Grange and the Friends keep improving with everyone’s help! Learn more at the Grange Website.
Baking workshop coming in November: Sweet Treats the Quebecois way
You can find out how to make Poor Man’s Pudding without being poor, and Nun’s Farts, even if you don’t have a nun handy, at the next Grange kitchen workshop.
Mark your calendars, and sign up soon–Nov. 9th from 1:00 to 4:30 will be your chance to learn the arts of Quebecois holiday treats, and to enjoy eating them too! Jacinthe Pellerin, who came to our previous Indian Cooking workshops will be the teacher, and everyone gets to pitch in. Space will be limited to 12 people! Suggested donation of $20.00, to cover the costs of the workshop.
To reserve your place, please email email@example.com, or leave a message with name, phone number & email address on the Grange phone voicemail: 802-229-9425.