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4:30 to 6:00: Grange meeting in the Main Hall
September 19 @ 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm
In odd-numbered months, we hold a full, official Grange meeting, complete with officers wearing sashes, sitting in their assigned locations. Since the “first Saturday” in September comes on Labor Day weekend, we will be holding our meeting for this month on the 3rd Saturday.
Here in 2020, in the continuing crisis of the Coronavirus, the September meeting will be held in person for people that feel comfortable coming to the Hall, and by Zoom for everyone who prefers to join us that way. We’ll be discussing how the previous weekend fund-raiser has helped us to meet our upcoming bills while rentals are still low. We’ll be catching up on how we are all surviving the restrictions of the pandemic and the economic slowdown that has resulted.
This month, we will also be holding a remembrance service for two long-time members who passed away this summer: Marj Power and Les Skinner. The Grange ritual of “Draping the Charter” gives us an opportunity to honor our members who have passed away, and to reminisce about their strong impact on the Grange.
Marj was a vital part of the involvement of Grange users–contra dancers and others–in being part of the Grange, starting in 2005. She served as our “Lecturer” from 2006 to 2019. She passed away from a fast-moving form of leukemia on July 25, 2020.
Les Skinner was Master of the Grange from 1992 to 2006; during his tenure, he kept the Grange alive, including welcoming affiliate members from North Branch Grange in Worcester. He also took on the task of getting the 70 new members who joined the Grange in 2005 integrated into the organization. With his sense of humor, willingness to try new ideas, and to trust the “new Grangers”, he made it easy for some of us to take on the responsibilities of Grange offices and keep the Grange going.
Both of these folks leave big shoes for us to fill!
In the past–pre COVID–we used to follow our meetings with a Community Potluck dinner–we have put this tasty tradition on hiatus, and look forward to being able to share food and socializing again!
Here is the Zoom link information for this meeting:
What happens at a Grange meeting?
A Grange meeting might seem intimidating, before you check one out yourself, because it seems a little mysterious and full of “Grange Ritual”. Let’s describe a bit of what goes on, to take away the mystery.
We do have a ritual opening and closing process, adapted by our Community Grange a few years ago to be a little more stream-lined than the ritual outlined in the Grange manual. Our Opening serves as a formal introduction to the “work of the day”–the agenda of reports and discussions which all Community Granges are expected to go through. It always includes singing—of the National Anthem or an alternative, and of an opening song chosen by our Grange Musician. Singing together is one of the fun parts! The opening also inlcudes a performance of the “Grange Salutation” which reminds us of the ideals that Grange Members are to live by—Faith, Hope, Charity and Fidelity.
Next, we start work on the agenda, which includes reports on Agriculture and Legislative matters. In our Grange, which does not currently include any active farmers, but does include many with an interest in locally-grown food and the localvore movement, the Agriculture report often includes discussions of farmers’ markets, schools supplying themselves with local foods, and ways that people can preserve food for off-season storage, climate change, state and national food polices, and so on. The Legislative report follows the health-care system debates in Vermont, the “hot issues” on the legislative table, the actions of the Governor, and describes the internal workings of the political system.
We also have a report on Health Concerns from a working nurse about issues she sees in her practice with Central VT Home Health & Hospice, and in her reading about health-care. We hear from our Secretary, who is a former VT State Grange Chair for Home Economics, about upcoming knitting and sewing contests, or the annual baking contest.
We have a report on the Hall, which is such a large part of our activities, as well of our expenses. We talk about problems that need addressing, and about plans for the future improvement of the Hall. This responsibility is shared with the “Friends of the Capital City Grange Hall”, which was set up to focus on Hall projects and ways to fund them.
Every meeting includes a Treasurer’s report, which lets us know how the Grange’s bank accounts are doing, what the prospects are for rental income, and upcoming expenses. Members have the opportunity to question the Treasurer about details, and financial decisions being taken, before the report is accepted by the membership.
“Suggestions for the Good of the Order” is a regular item of discussion, as we continue to figure out how to be a Grange in the 21st century. We are in a Grange Hall which is not a central meeting place for a farm community, but is rather on the outskirts of a (small) state capital. We draw hundreds of people from long distances to use our community Hall as a meeting place, dance hall and performance space. We work on building our relationship with the Town of Berlin, for which we serve as a vital meeting-place for Town residents, families, and organizations. The Town itself also holds public hearings and meetings in our Hall.
During the meeting, members who are present may suggest a motion to commit the Grange to a project, express an opinion, send a letter or make a contribution. Members are given the opportunity to discuss all aspects, before the Grange votes for or against the resolution. Grange meetings are run on Roberts’ Rules of Order, and are designed as a forum for civil discussion and debate, in which all can have their say and be equal in decision-making. We’re happy to support projects when there is someone who cares to follow through on the outcome, so bring your ideas!
Each meeting also asks if any Grange members are “sick or in distress”, and if so, may direct Flora (one of the 3 Graces) to send a card, fruit and/or flowers. Or someone may volunteer to visit and help out.
After completing the agenda, the meeting closes with a little more ritual. It always includes a closing song in which all can join, and the Grange Salutation affirming our commitment to Faith, Hope, Charity and Fidelity.
Then, we move the furniture around, put away the sashes, special stations, staves for officers, and re-arrange the chairs for the “Community Potluck” that starts about 6:00–we always have good food and people to join us, and hope that you will too!