Grange Notes by Tim Swartz, Grange President (with everyone’s help) November 5, 2022
Saturday: Grange meeting agenda
- Tax Abatement received! Merry and I attended a meeting of the Town of Berlin Board of Abatement on Oct. 19th, and were very pleased to get a unanimous vote by the board, in favor of granting us a full abatement of the Education Property Tax which the Selectboard had decided to bill us for. Come and hear the details!
- Time for the next petition drive! We and the Town of Berlin are hoping for and expecting an in-person Town Meeting next March, and the Grange needs to get an article asking for a 5-year extension of full tax exemption (from Municipal and Education property taxes) from the voters of the Town. To do that, we will need to gather around 150 signatures on petitions with the full text on them. Can you help us out? Do you know Berlin residents who could help us? Come and discuss–or reply to Tim: firstname.lastname@example.org if you can’t make it, but want to help out.
- Pellet furnace update: after a few new-system glitches, and a visit from the tech who installed the system, and a delivery of 3-1/2 tons of pellets, the system seems to be working well. Given the current costs of the heating oil we used to use, we’re happy to be buying wood pellets.
- Finances: while we breathe a sigh of relief to not be liable for $5,710 in property taxes, or be paying for heating oil, we still face rising costs for everything else. We’ll look at our current condition and the projections for the winter costs and other bills we face.
- Rental report: one reason for hope for our finances is that our website Calendar has been filling up–we’ll hear more from Merry Shernock, our (volunteer) Rental Agent as well as Treasurer.
- Project UpLift: We’ve started detailed planning for the installation of the wheelchair/platform lift and have gotten a construction loan from the VT State Grange. Come hear the latest info!
- Grange History comes to light: Patty Giavara has dug into the archives of Grange records kept in the attic, and has unearthed a few tidbits about the Grange Hall, as well as some info about tax exemptions of the past! She’ll report on what she’s found, and how it could help us get access to historical preservation grant opportunities.
- State Grange report: Patty Giavara and I attended the Oct. 14-15 “Annual Session” of the VT State Grange; we’ll report on Resolution voting and other take-aways.
October Grange Program: Feel Good Action
He started off with some history and discussion of FGA’s mission:
- The mission: support improvements in social justice and environmental health.
- The target audience: young women, young people of color, young LGBTQIA folks–75% of these support the issues which are FGA’s mission. And 75% of them don’t follow “traditional media”.
- On the other hand, 95% of them are on social media. So–FGA reaches out to them where they are, to turn them from “Viewers into Voters”.
- They do this by working with “micro-influencers”–people who have an established following on social media, in many different niches. Working with them, FGA helps craft authentic messages about how voting supports the issues which the target audiences care about. Every message is accompanied by a link to FGA’s “Voter tools”, so that users can easily and immediately register to vote, get a mail-in ballot or find their polling place.
- Every message has an attached “data tag” that allows FGA to track and optimize the performance of their messages. For example, for the 2020 election, they hired a research firm to find out what happened when people were exposed to their messages: median age was 22 years old, 72% were women, 31% were BIPOC, 39% were newly registered, and 80% of them voted. Pretty impressive, IMO!
- Also, in just the week before Andy spoke with us, 10,000 people took action about voting–registering, checking voting options, finding out about polling places and early ballots, all following links from their influencers.
- Andy emphasized that they are only interested in measurable actions.
- Andy also showed us photos and video of a “typical” micro-influencer, and described how they built up a relationship with her, how they developed a link with a code to allow viewers to click it to both register to vote (via the Arizona Secretary of State’s office, in this case) and report that to FGA.
- How much does it cost? FGA says that it is less than $4 per voter–relatively cheap to motivate people who actually vote.
- As you might imagine, FGA makes it easy to donate to support them–go to the FeelGoodAction.org website. They are raising $1.5 million this year.
- They are a 501(c)(3) non-partisan charity organization, so contributions are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law.
Just Food Hub: Raising money for the Grange!
This organization, run by Grange members and supporters, sells good food, fairly traded, from small farms around the globe! And orders placed through the special URL below create donations to the Grange, as well as giving you access to tasty choices from around the world. Most of their offerings come from Equal Exchange, and all are from farms like the one featured in this report:
This special URL brings you to a page where you can order items that support small farms like this one, and also support nonprofit community groups, including the Grange! You can learn more about their mission and their values, as well as their products on the website.
Many thanks to Just Food Hub for their support and their good works!