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 also 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.
At our Grange, the Closing is followed by a re-arrangement of the Hall in preparation for a “Program” starting about 5:30. These are arranged by the “Lecturer” of the Grange, and are designed provide information and entertainment for Grange members. They may include showing a film or video, or a lecture or other presentation by an expert in some field, or a baking contest—every year the Grange sponsors one. Programs have included discussions about health insurance changes, proposed amendments to counteract the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” decision, changes to the Bottle Bill, showing of the film on the building of the Grange Hall, sing-alongs, and many more. We welcome anyone who is interested—like all Grange activities, the Programs are free and open to the public–no passwords are required.
Following the Program, we set up chairs and tables in the Hall (on protective floor covering mats) for a potluck dinner. Of all the traditions of the Grange, few are more sincerely enjoyed than potluck dinners where members and friends share their favorite dishes! We use the dishes and silverware from the Hall’s cabinets, and all pitch in on cleaning up and washing dishes afterward.
Meetings are held on the first Saturday of each month except July and August—with occasional changes to the 3rd Saturday to avoid conflicts with holiday weekends and other competing events. Meetings are posted on the Calendar page of this CCG website: www.capitalcitygrange.org/events. We hope you’ll join us for a meeting, and then join us as a Grange member!