Grange Notes: Sept. 30, 2012
Fall Grange highlights:
“Challenge Dance” benefit on the 29th—big success!
Fundraising T-shirt sales begin
Meetings begin after summer hiatus
One more on the old floor
What we do at the meetings, and why
First program: Health Care Battleground
“Challenge Dance” benefit on the 29th—big success!: I'm extremely pleased to report that the challenge fundraiser sponsored by the Friends of the Capital City Grange, which culminated in a dance yesterday evening was a record-setting success. “Friends” chair Patty Giavara, who was the point person for fund-raising got a group of 15 loyal supporters to donate $2,000 before the start of the campaign, to be matched by the dance community—and that goal was achieved! The FCCGH raised a total of just about $4,000 with this campaign, an impressive testimony to the support the dance community provides to the Grange and the Hall.
As you know, the Grange needs this extra level of support this year, as we head into our flooring project—one week from today! In addition to supporting the operating expenses of the Grange, the money donated will help to offset the lost income from the Hall being closed from the afternoon of Oct. 7th through Nov. 3rd. Many thanks to everyone who donated, in large or small amounts.
In addition to raising the money, a great time was had by all, at a dance which featured Crowfoot playing their special brand of contra dance music, and Adina Gordon, calling a variety of dances, plus: a dessert potluck organized by Dana Dwinell-Yardley, with contributions from many Grange members and dancers, including ice cream donated by Ben & Jerry's, punch made by Dana (BTW, the special pink icecubes were made from rhubarb juice donated by Ann Pearce!), brownies, cookies, gingerbread hot from the oven, popcorn, vegan chocolate cake and much more. Carb-hungry dancers found much to revive their blood sugar for the second half of the dance—and made more generous donations to the contribution bowl!
Testimony that the dance was enjoyed is that there were 4 lines of dancers right up until the last contra dance of the evening.
Fundraising T-shirt sales begin: another feature of the dance was the first sales of the benefit T-shirt designed by Alison and Sam Forrest, which was sold for $25 each for this benefit. $17 each went to the benefit! We will keep having these shirts available for sale. The price will be $15 each from here on, to make them more affordable--$7 each from that price will go the Grange. Of course, additional donations will be appreciated!
This T-shirt, which features a dancing couple on floor-boards, is particularly designed to remind us of the floor project, and is available in a variety of sizes in men's and women's cuts. They will be available at the “last dance on the old floor” on Oct. 6th, and thereafter—we'll have more made if we run out of the “first printing”. It's a great way to show your support for the Grange and the Hall, here and at other dances!
Meetings begin after summer hiatus: with good weather holding on into the beginning of the fall, we had a small Grange business meeting on September 15th, small enough that we met in “executive session”, without the usual structure of Grange ritual.
We played “catch-up” with each other, discussing the important events in the lives of the 5 members present since we last met. The last couple of months have included, among the hard-core members present: Alison feeding a crew of 30 or 40 people working to build an “earth-ship” house in Huntington, as well as cooking for Camp Exclamation Point (Camp ! for short), a camp for the children of migrant farmworkers in Vermont. Tim O. went to England to take part in the graduation ceremonies for his son, who graduated with a double Masters' degree in math and chemistry. Gail went to England as well, taking part in a geomancy conference, including work at Stonehenge and other dramatic sites. Gail is also continuing to study and practice lacto-fermentation as a storage method for fresh vegetables without refrigeration. Marj reported on her visit to Kansas, where her granddaughter was born this summer. She took the opportunity to take part in the local county fair, where she and her daughter both won prizes—for watermelon and needlework respectively. She reports that the 107° heat and the poor quality of the dances made her happy to come home, though she is glad she was there for the new arrival, of course. I told about the move of the company for which I work from Northfield to Randolph, and the improvements we are making—in addition to being farther from any river that could flood us as the Dog River did thanks to Hurricane Irene. We are looking forward to more efficient production processes, and improvements in all areas of our operation as we have re-booted.
At our usual meetings, we get reports on the state of agriculture, and on legislative events of interest. While many of us had garden reports, our usual legislative reporter, Marj Power has been out of town, limiting her ability to keep track of Vermont politics and issues. She will give us more updates on developments in health care planning and other issues at our October meeting.
We also began discussing our need for new people to join us at Grange meetings, including filling some vacancies in the officers, who are elected every two years. See below for more info on what we do at our meetings, and why we need people to pitch in. Official elections will be held at our next meeting on Oct. 6th. And we talked about the upcoming Vermont State Grange annual meeting on Oct. 19-21, and having representatives to go to the discussions of Grange resolutions, and processing of State Grange business. I will be going on Friday evening and Saturday's sessions, but will need someone else to help represent Capital City Grange on Friday, when I need to be at work.
We also discussed the upcoming flooring replacement project, including plans by the Friends of the Capital City Grange Hall for fund-raising, flooring removal by volunteers, installation of the new flooring, and plans for alternate venues for some of the usual rental events.
What we do at the meetings, and why: The Grange has a long history of involving members in running the organization, and participating in helping to entertain and educate people in rural areas and small towns. As such, our meetings serve several purposes:
Mission: we discuss our mission of improving the quality of rural life for our members and the communities around us. Here we are in the 21st century: what is the role of the Grange in these times? We are unlike many Granges who are embedded in a small town: our Grange is outside Montpelier, and draws people from a broad area to Grange meetings, to the dance and other cultural events which take place in our Hall, to volunteer opportunities and other Grange activities. How can we keep involving people in Grange business and community service?
Information: as described above, we have regular reports from members with special interest in agriculture, in legislative matters (our Grange has been especially interested in discussing the movement to support “single-payer” health care insurance), and health concerns. This continues a long tradition of the Grange being an educational force for rural communities, an opportunity to learn about the governmental changes that can have an impact on all of our lives. We have lively discussions about all these matters—not just sitting and listening!
Business: as a Grange, we have a rental property to manage, the Hall. Besides the Hall being our biggest asset, we view providing a relatively low-cost venue for dance and music events, personal celebrations, public meetings, corporate or institutional trainings, and many other events as a major part of our mission of community service. We frequently discuss the best ways to market our Hall, and how to manage and improve it to make it more user-friendly, welcoming and convenient for the current regular users, and for others who could use this facility.
Currently, the Hall is used regularly—but there are still large blocks of time where it stands empty—take a look at the calendar on the Grange website: www.capitalcitygrange.org/Calendar to see how many more opportunities there are for community, business, government or personal uses of our facility.
We have a significant need for improvement in our amateur efforts to market the Hall, in setting rental costs, in monitoring and managing those rentals, and in figuring out how to make us more attractive to potential users. People with experience or an interest in marketing, advertising, budgeting and facilities management will certainly find a welcome from those of us who struggle with these issues.
The Grange Hall's business does not run itself—it takes active involvement by a group of volunteers who have decided this is an important institution which deserves our support, who see the potential for change and are willing to put in some time and energy.
Those of us who got actively involved as a consequence of involvement in the contra dance have found it a natural extension of the community feeling we get at the dances. As with contra dancing, the Grange only succeeds if people work together; you need to care about what happens with the whole group if you want to have a good time yourself. As with contra dancing, we constantly need to welcome newcomers, to bring in their energies to supplement those who have been doing this for a long time.
Grange meetings are an opportunity to meet and talk with people you may know from the dance floor in a different context, to work on projects that have a real impact on all of us who use the Hall, and to connect with the wider world of community service and public involvement. They are an opportunity to learn how to work with a group of friendly people who want to have an impact, in a collaborative effort.
I have pitched this appeal for involvement to folks from the contra dance community, who I know make up the majority of my email and address list—but I don't mean to imply those are the only ones who may be interested! The Grange is an organization that welcomes all those interested in being involved.
One more on the old floor: Our October meeting will be the last one on the original flooring in the main Hall; it will be followed by the last CDU dance on that floor that evening, and the last service held by the Montpelier Church of Christ on Sunday morning.
At that meeting, we will vote in our slate of officers, the official group who run the meetings, necessary to function as an organization. Officers include:
Master (aka President): I have filled this office since 2006—but I'd be willing to step aside if someone else wants this leadership position. I have learned on the job about ways to run meetings, involve others, and communicate what goes on—all valuable skills which I have found useful in other areas of my life, as well as the rewards of seeing positive changes in our organization and Hall.
Overseer (AKA Vice President): This office is currently vacant; our good friend Polly Howlett left big shoes to fill, and we still miss her. The Overseer can fill in for the Master when needed, and is a good position if you want to try out being a leader.
Secretary: Charles Martin has filled this position ably and cheerfully for many years, receiving and sending correspondence, maintaining membership records, writing the official minutes of meetings, etc. Charles has been battling illness over the last year, and I'm sure he'd be willing to work with someone else who is interested in helping out with these vital clerical functions.
Treasurer: Les Skinner has fulfilled this function for—literally—decades. Like Charles, I'm pretty sure he'd be happy to have a co-worker, at least. The Treasurer maintains the checkbook, bank accounts and CDs, pays bills, and presents a monthly accounting at our meetings.
Steward: Traditionally especially involved in the maintenance of the Hall, this role has been filled by Tim O'Dell for several years. As with all the offices, we all stay involved in the decision-making about changes and needs—and we can always use more help!
Chaplain: Alison Forrest has ably assisted in conducting the brief prayers which are part of our monthly meeting ritual, and in taking part in the occasional ceremony of “Draping the Charter” in honor of a Grange member who has passed away.
Lecturer: Marj Power has done a great job engaging speakers to join us for the “Programs” which follow our business meetings at 5:30 on many of our meeting days. She finds people involved in public life and advocacy who can inform and engage us in discussion of government and public issues.
Assistant Steward and Lady Assistant Steward: These ceremonial roles have been filled by Richard Decosta and Phyllis Skinner; they take part in conducting the parts of the normal rituals which mark our meetings, and which connect us to the past of the organization. The founders of the Grange found that having a ritual structure guided meetings to greater fellowship and organization. Our Grange has simplified the standard ceremonies (with the blessing of the State Grange) but we still frame our meetings with opening and closing rituals.
The Graces—Flora, Ceres & Pomona: These 3 representatives of (respectively) flowers, grains and fruits are designated to connect the ceremonies of the Grange with the various products of gardening and agriculture. In addition, Flora is especially charged with sending cards and greetings to members sick or in distress; Merry Shernock has presided in this capacity for a while. Gail England has served as Ceres, who has the special duty of taking part in the “Draping the Charter” ceremony mentioned above.
Gatekeeper: Originally designed to make sure that only Grange members with the correct credentials and password came in to the meeting, today the Gatekeeper is a “welcomer” who greets people who come to the meeting, helps them find a good place to sit, and helps them understand what is going on. Brian Appleberry has been willing to take this on when he comes to meetings; I'm sure he would cede this role to another friendly person who wants it!
Executive Committee: This group of 3 is supposed to consult about business and organizational matters in between meetings, and to advise the Master as needed. Very few matters are decided by only one person in this collaborative structure! Jody Pettersen, who is also our volunteer “Rental Agent” is the only current elected member; in practice I look for advice and support from the whole group of Officers whenever possible, and consult with anyone who can help if an “official decision” is needed between meetings.
In addition to the formal, individual responsibilities outlined above, the main responsibility is to show up at meetings as often as possible, and to actively take part in the discussions and votes on business matters which happen at them. The Grange follows Roberts' Rules in making decisions; our practice is to encourage everyone to speak and consider what others say in a respectful atmosphere. We try to reach consensus decisions whenever possible, but do vote to ratify decisions. If you come to our meetings, I hope you will find us welcoming and open to input. Check us out—first Saturday of most months (except July and August) starting at 4:30 PM.
First Program of the Fall season: Marj has lined up a presentation called:
Health Care Battleground - How to Make Sure Real Health Care Reform Actually Happens in Vermont
Peter Sterling, Executive Director of Vermont Leads, will talk about how to protect Vermont’s pioneering universal health care reform law from being derailed before it can be implemented.
Peter will begin his presentation and discussion at 5:30 on Oct. 6th, following our Grange business meeting. Join us for an opportunity to learn more about one of the main political issues in Vermont—and one which affects all of us. Our state is a leader in the movement to reduce administration costs and make health insurance more comprehensive and effective for all Vermonters by moving toward exclusively public financing and administration. There is much to be decided still about how this plays out, and in the way the rules are written.
Please join us as we learn about and discuss this important issue! As with all Grange events, this is free and open to the public.
Potluck dinner!: Our monthly shared dinners will continue on October 6th, starting around 6:30. Bring a dish to share (we all seem to like things made from the bounty of fresh produce available this time of year). You don't have to be a member, just interested in sharing and enjoying good food. It's a fine opportunity to meet people in a different atmosphere than at a Grange meeting, or on the dance floor.
Tim Swartz, Master (with everyone's help)
Capital City Grange #469
swartztim15gmail [dot] com