Grange Notes by Tim Swartz, Grange President (with everyone’s help), October 21, 2019
Thanks for the help: We’ve almost met the Challenge with our Fun-raiser, plus some ice cream!
We thank the contra-dance community for supporting the Friends of the Capital City Grange Hall, at the Oct. 5th dance, and then some more on Oct. 19th! The first dance in October was billed as the finale of this year’s “Challenge” fundraiser to raise money for improvements to the Grange Hall. Contributions at that dance brought the “matching contributions” up to $1,600, just a bit short of the $2,000 amount raised from generous early donors. Then, generous folks at the dance last Saturday contributed or pledged another $200, so we are just $200 short of our goal! We served most of the rest of the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, which they donated to the Friends for the fund-raising campaign at the break in the dance!
Thankfully, none of our “Challenge” donors has asked for the return of their contributions–so the Friends have been able to raise a total $3,800 to support the major renovation projects they organize in conjunction with the Grange. With your help we can get the rest of the way!
Besides Ben & Jerry’s we especially want to thank Rob Nichols for the beautiful potted plants given away for donations, folks who donated the pot-luck dessert sweets and savories, and a small crew of decorating volunteers that included my son Marty Swartz, plus Patty Giavara. But most of all, thank you! to everyone who donated. We’ll have donation containers available at future dances, in case you missed the chance at the last couple of dances–you can drop off cash or checks, or you canalwaysdonate online, with your credit card or Paypal account–we try to make it easy!
See below for preliminary schedule info for our next big Hall project, starting in December!
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.
The Grange and the Friends keep improving with everyone’s help! Learn more at the Grange Website.
Your dollars will be hard at work–starting in December!
We now have a schedule for the start of the major renovation of the basement: Following Kids Trade & Play on Dec. 14th, we’ll start to clear space along the walls, cut-back the suspended ceiling support frame, and get ready for the major contracted work.
Northern Basements will be working during Christmas week (starting Dec. 23) to:
- Jackhammer a drainage trough on the East wall, and under the stair landing, to catch the foundation leaks that happen periodically.
- Install drainage channel in the trough, leading to a new sump and sump pump, which will drain to the outside. It will be covered with new concrete.
- Install foam insulating panels on the cold, poured concrete walls everywhere except the kitchen.
- Foam the rim joists above the dropped ceiling, around the entire exterior (except the “new” bathrooms, where it was already done!).
- The Hall will be kept vacant for 24 hours after the foaming to allow any fumes to dissipate.
- Northern Basements will also provide a dehumidifier, to drain into the same sump. We’ll install that after the sheetrock and painting are done on the walls.
Following that, other contractors install new electrical outlets, sheetrock over the foam panels, install wainscot or full-height fiberglass reinforced panels, trim out the panels, and install carpet tiles in the basement–except the kitchen and bathrooms, as you might imagine!
We are counting on getting some volunteer help to keep our costs down–just like monetary donations, it all counts as “in-kind” matching for the grant money we will be receiving. If you can help with prep-work, clean-up work, putting in ceiling tiles, painting, or any other way, please email Tim Swartz to get on the list.
This whole project is being financed by a major grant from the VT Arts Council, which will cover half the cost–but we won’t receive that until after the project is done. We are very grateful to the Vermont State Grange, which is providing us with a no-interest construction loan–we’ll pay them back (with many thanks) as soon as we receive the grant money. The remaining half of the cost is covered thanks to donations from Grange users and supporters–people like you who want to keep improving our community Hall. We couldn’t do it without you!
Equal Exchange–taking the next steps beyond selling coffee, chocolate & tea!
Our October 5th presentation, the first in our bimonthly format of longer “programs”alternating with full Grange meetings, was, shall I say, a delicious experience.
Danielle Robidoux, an organizer with the co-operative, worker-owned company that is Equal Exchange, brought samples of chocolate varieties and nuts, a 5 pound bag of coffee, and interesting information about this Fair-Trade company, and their developing focus on ways to combat the consolidation of the food industry.
Equal Exchange was one of the founding organizations of the Fair Trade movement, which prioritizes fair pricing and cooperative relationships with small farmers and producer co-ops. They were founded over 30 years ago as a way to connect American consumers with food producers in developing countries. You can read more about their “Standards and Practices” for Fair Trade business here.
Since their founding in 1986, importing “Cafe Nica” from Nicaragua (then in the throes of throwing off a right-wing dictator, and subject to U.S. government intervention), Equal Exchange has become a major player in the importation of coffee, chocolate, teas, and most recently nuts and dried fruit–some of which we got to try out, thanks to Danielle’s samples! Throughout their growth and evolution, they have pushed themselves to adhere to their own standards: democratic involvement, fair and nurturing relationships with farmers, protection of farmworkers and their rights to organize, paying prices above the commercial market prices, and promotion of safe and sustainable farming practices. Equal Exchange formally became a worker-owned cooperative soon after its founding, so the people who work there are also the ones who make decisions about the organization’s policies, as well as being the ones to do better if the co-op prospers. This fits their principles that those doing the work should control the results of their hard work.
Danielle also talked about the next stages of activism being promoted by Equal Exchange, and offered ways for anyone interested to be become involved. In addition to supporting “authentic Free Trade”–more committed to purchasing from small farmers than plantation owners, and involving small farmers in the governance of trade–the organization is working to reduce monopolistic ownership of the food system, and its impact on farmworkers, small producers and consumers. Danielle shared information about the vast number of seemingly independent “small brands” that are actually part of large, multi-national corporations, and how this concentration of ownership is “sucking the oxygen” out of the independent food economy, including EE.
Among the immediate initiatives to counteract and reverse this trend, they are supporting the ” Food and Agribusiness Moratorium and Antitrust Review Act of 2019″. This legislation (S.1596/H.R. 2933) is designed to temporarily stop mergers and take-overs of food businesses, while carrying out a review of the impact of this trend on our food system, on the viability of small agriculture, small food distribution companies and consumer choice. For more information, and for ways to get involved, check out their Anti-Trust Review Act page. Danielle said that people can also email her for more info. She also sent a link to her presentation, with the slides about all of these issues.
On the Equal Exchange website, you can also find out much more about their history, their products–and how to get involved in any way you choose. As a Grange, we support people getting actively involved in public policy discussions, local, regional and federal government–this is just that sort of opportunity.
Our extended “program time” allowed a good amount of time for discussion, questions and more information; Danielle welcomed the chance to focus on the specific issues people wanted to know about. We were happy to have her stay for our Community Potluck Dinner afterward, at which discussions continued. She even stayed for a few contra-dances as well!
Keep posted for information on our next community-involvement program at our December 7th meeting!
It’s time to complete the acoustic panels! Join us on Sunday afternoon for a work party!
We had 26 panels to complete–now we have only 10 left to fill with acoustic batts, wrap with fabric and hang in the Grange Hall.
The panels we have already hung have made a noticeable difference–appreciated by Grange meeting attendees, and by the sound-people at contra dances. We’ll mount the last 10 panels above the windows, and expect a little more improvement.
We will supply staplers, cutting tools for the fabric, and hanging hardware. We’ll start at 1:00 PM, and work until 4:00 if it takes that long. Come and enjoy some shared work that will help us all! Next Sunday, Oct. 27th is the date.
Next Grange meeting: Nov. 2nd, 4:30 PM–with a Community Potluck at 6:00!
Our next meeting will be a full Grange meeting, with discussion of standard reports on the building, legislative affairs, agriculture, health concerns, etc. We’ll be getting some longer-term financial reports as well, looking at rental trends, utility costs (has our new water heater saved us money?), heating costs, and more. Part of having a Grange and a Hall is running a small business, and we need to look at our income and outgo to see how we are doing.
Happily, the Grange tradition also includes some sing-along opportunities during our meetings, so it’s not all poring over the ledgers; in face we do our best to have a bit of fun along the way.
I will also be reporting on the VT State Grange session, just concluded on Oct. 19th, and the fate of the resolutions which were proposed–you can see the proposed ones here.
We’ll be going over the schedule for the basement renovation (see above) in more detail, and making sure we have minimal impact on our regular Hall users in the process.
And we’ll be talking about plans for the next Program meeting on Dec. 7th.
And–as noted in the title, it will be time for another excellent Community Potluck dinner at 6:00–always a good variety of tasty food options. Bring your own contribution, be it a casserole or a jug of cider or a loaf of bread, it will be welcomed. There is always interesting conversation to be had, and friendly people to meet. You now you gotta eat anyway, come and join us!
Coming up: Holiday Food Box donations!
or, Merry got turkeys!
In 2018, we collected a great assemblage of holiday foods for donation to 6 needy families identified by Washington County Head Start, to help them enjoy the holiday season. We plan to do the same this year; Merry has already gotten Shaw’s to promise to sell us 6 frozen turkeys and hold them for us in their freezers!
Now all we need to do is collect more donations, of non-perishable food items, and also money so we can purchase more of the “fixings” that will go with the turkeys. Watch for donation boxes soon, and donation cans for this community service project too!
Sweet treats from Quebec on Nov. 9th–still time to sign up for the next baking workshop!
Our sign-up sheet is half-full, so contact us now to sign up to take part. Our previous kitchen workshops on bread-baking and Indian cooking have sold out, as well as being much enjoyed. Nov. 9th from 1:00 to 4:30 will be your chance to learn the arts of Quebecois holiday treats.
Jacinthe Pellerin, who learned from her mother and grandmother, will be our guide to learning how to make:
- Pouding Chomeur (Poor Man’s Pudding)
- Tarte au Sucre (Sugar Pie)
- Grandpere (Dumplings in Maple Syrup)
- Pete de Soeur (Nun’s Farts, we kid you not)
- Sucre a la Creme (Cream Fudge)
will be limited to 12 people! Suggested donation of $20.00, to cover
the costs of the workshop. This is a hands-on workshop, bring an apron
(we’ll supply a few too), and you will get to eat the treats too!
To reserve your place, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a message with name, phone number & email address on the Grange phone voicemail: 802-229-9425.