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4:30 to 6:00: Grange meeting in the Main Hall
January 4 @ 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm
An event every 2 months that begins at 4:30pm on day First of the month, repeating indefinitely
On odd-numbered months, we hold a full, official Grange meeting, complete with officers wearing sashes, sitting in their assigned locations.
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!