Grange Notes by Tim Swartz, Grange President (with everyone’s help) September 25, 2019
Happy Fall to all! We enjoy a good harvest of crops, potluck dinners and discussion.
As cooler, drier weather comes in, like lots of Vermonters the Grange is getting ready for colder weather–and we are enjoying the bounty of the season at our dinners together. The September meeting on the 21st, which was delayed to avoid conflicts with the State Grange Fall Festival (see the photo below) let us catch up on summer news, and was followed by an outdoor Community Potluck dinner on the ADA entrance porch. We enjoyed the usual wide and tasty variety of home-made dishes, including several with home-grown ingredents. More can be expected at the potluck after our next meeting on October 5th.
The October meeting will also be the first of our “extended program” meetings, starting with a Grange Executive meeting from 4:30 to 5:00 (still open to everyone, but limited to business matters and held without the Grange ritual), followed by an hour-long presentation by a member of Equal Exchange, the cooperatively run non-profit food importer which helped start the Fair Trade food movement–see below for more. We (and the presenter) expect lots of questions and discussion from Grange members & friends, and we welcome new folks to join us!
That presentation and discussion will be followed by a Community Potluck–we can hope for more outdoor-eating weather, but will be prepared to set up our tables indoors. Harvest-time bounty should be part of lots of dishes by then–as well as surrounding fall foliage.
Our September meeting also welcomed a new member, Carl Etnier, who is taking over the duties of scheduling programs from Marj Power, who has held the Grange position of Lecturer since 2006. Marj brought in many good speakers over the years–ranging from Dr. Deb Richter and Rep. Topper McFaun on Universal Health Care, to Town Forests and their importance, to Everybody Wins, to the Vermont Milk Co., to one discussing the dangers of “No Child Left Behind” and its emphasis on standardized testing. As Marj has taken on more responsibilities at the Old Socialist Labor Hall in Barre, and acquired grandchildren, she has been looking for some relief in her Grange responsibilities. She expressed only enthusiasm for the choice of Carl as her replacement as Lecturer.
Carl is a well-known advocate for local, sustainable agriculture, for bicycle commuting, columns in VT Digger, the Times-Argus and others over the years. He’s on the East Montpelier Selectboard, too. One of his major involvements is with WGDR, where he has hosts the “Relocalizing Vermont” radio show on Thursdays, 9:00 to 10:30. He will be able to use this show as part of publicizing the programs at the Grange. We’re glad to have him on board! We will do a “New Member Obligation” ceremony to welcome him to the Grange at our November meeting.
New research on daily steps was also revealed at our September meeting, by our “Health” specialist, RN Phyllis Skinner. She reported that researchers have explored the benefits of the “10,000 steps” usually recommended. Using actual human beings, they found that “substantial benefits” for cardiac health came from 4,400 steps per day, and that benefits “topped out” at 7,500. In some ways the most interesting finding is that the 10,000 recommendation came from Japanese makers of a pedometer…and that the character for “10,000” resembles a person walking, making that number a good selling point
Equal Exchange–building bridges to the people who grow the food
As noted above, this is the first of our “expanded programs”, from 5:00 to 6:00 on Oct. 5th. The public is invited to join us!
In the wider food system corporations control everything from seeds, to supply and prices. Join Danielle Robidoux from Equal Exchange in building a vibrant community that challenges the status quo, and business as usual. There will be a short presentation on Equal Exchange’s organizing work, the steps that have led us here, and how you can get involved in imagining a better food system. Our event will focus on discussion and how your participation as an individual is integral to this work in building a successful alternative trade organization for years to come. Bio: 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. 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!
Find out how she felt….at the Wool Festival
The annual Wool Festival, at the Tunbridge Fairgrounds, on Oct. 5 and 6 will feature art work made on rectangles of felt. The picture above shows one made by Grange Chaplain Alison Forrest, who is a weaver, knitter and fiber artist, among other skills. Her work will be part of a display of over 20 artists’ work based on the same size rectangle of felt.
In addition, the festival will feature wool in all forms–on actual sheep and goats, fleeces, yarn, felted, spun and fiber-artistically arranged. There will be over 70 vendors of food, wool products, shearing tools and much more. Demonstrations of sheep-herding & shearing! Willow basket weaving! The list goes on…check it all out at the Wool Festival website, and when you go, remember to look for Alison’s artwork!
Basement Improvement project: coming in December!
The Friends of the Capital City Grange Hall, besides raising money with our Challenge Fun-Raiser (see below) is also getting the schedule for the work to be done figured out.
At this point, it looks as if we will start in mid-December, just after Kids Trade & Play finishes their Dec. 14th clothing exchange. The first batch of work–Northern Basements installing interior drainage, sump & sump pump with outside drain, plus dehumidifier–will get done before the Dec. 21st contra dance. Dancers will be able to use the basement for coat and shoe changing, plus access to the bathrooms, of course! After that weekend, Northern Basements will come back in and install the foam panels on the walls, and foam the rim joists. While we need to keep the Grange Hall vacant for 24 hours after the foaming, there should be no lingering fumes to speak of.
After that, the most disruptive work will be done–but lots left to do. Electrical rough-in, sheetrocking, joint-compound work, fiber-glass reinforced panels (FRPs) to be installed over the sheetrock to provide durable, easy-to-clean surfaces, ceiling panels to be installed, carpet tiles to be put down–and other trim, painting and miscellaneous carpentry. We expect to be able to schedule these without significant disruption of the many groups that call the Grange Hall “home”.
In the end, we’ll have a much more attractive and comfortable downstairs level, ready for even more activities.
We are going to need volunteersto do painting, help moving sheetrock and FRPs into the building, etc. If you can help out, please email me, Tim Swartz, and let me know! It will be especially helpful if you have time on weekdays to help unload deliveries, but we will need a variety of help. More specifics to come as we figure out the whole schedule.
Challenge Fun-raiser: the excitement builds to a peak on Oct. 5th!
By now, we are pretty sure you know that every year, the CDU joins with the Friends of the Capital City Grange Hall to raise money for improvements to the Grange Hall. Generous folks who can afford it have pledged nearly $2,000 this year, for the Grange and dance communities to match.
We suspect you already know who the Friends are, even if it’s only the initials: FCCGH. You likely know that your contributions are tax-deductible, even, since it’s a 501(c)(3) organization. And we hope that you enjoy–as we do–the improvements the Friends have carried out. If you’re a Grange Hall user, you enjoy acoustic improvements in the main Hall, the bathrooms, the “new” dance floor, and the windows upstairs and down…and soon, a renovated basement which will also save us money on our heating bills.
Since every penny goes to support these improvements, we hope you will pitch in with the many others who help us get the funds raised.
We try to make it a fun experience–without raising the price for the dance, we are holding an especially festive Fun-Raiser Finale at the Oct. 5th dance. There, the excitement will mount as the tote board shows our progress to match the challenge donations. There will be a great “dessert potluck” at the break, including Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and lots of tasty home-made treats–contact Dana Dwinell-Yardley if you want to bring in a dessert…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, all during September, people have been donating in exchange for the beautiful house-plants grown by Rob Nichols, who has been a very dedicated supporter, raising plants at his home and bringing them in. 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!
All the donations go to meet the challenge, and will be used for more hall improvements–we’re looking at door improvements, acoustic improvements, a wheelchair lift to the basement and stage, 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.
Music-making at the Fall Festival
Many thanks to Robin Russell, who put together a very talented group of musicians to play for some dancing at the VT State Grange Fall Festival, on Sept. 7th. From the left, the stage was full of: Carl Ellis (harmonica), Mike Fiorillo (guitar), David Carpenter (fiddle), Jason Bergman (fiddle), April Werner (piano) and Robin (accordion). When she wasn’t playing, Robin led the dancing on the floor–though we had a small turnout of dancers, we all had a fun time!
Next year, we’re talking about holding the dancing in the afternoon, when folks have more energy, I’ll spread the word when the time comes.