Grange Notes by Tim Swartz, Grange President (with everyone’s help) December 19, 2021
December Grange meeting Program:
Patty Manning puts us in touch with Native solstice traditions
Northfield resident Patty Manning, a Wampanoag descendant, gave a large group of attendees (in person and online, about 40 total) an introduction to Native American traditions about the solstice and the cycle of the seasons. Patty appeared via Zoom from her family home.
Patty showed us one of the types of “Sacred Circle” symbols that illustrate the cycles of seasons and life, qualities and emotions that we encounter through the year. The illustration above is not exactly like the one she showed us in her Zoom presentation, but it repeats the same sets of descriptions. An online search for “Sacred Circle” or “Medicine Wheel” will show you many variations, coming from many tribal backgrounds.
As Patty described it, as we approach the Winter Solstice, we–the world, the people and all living things are passing out of the black Autumn quadrant and season, associated with the West, Adulthood, the Body and the other aspects, and are heading to the white Winter quadrant, associated with the North, Old Age, Wisdom, Night, and the Mind.
The winter is a time of turning inward, retreating from the world, hibernating, conserving energy–and also purifying ourselves in preparation for the rebirth that comes with spring. Winter Solstice celebrations can come in many forms, including bonfires, pipe ceremonies, drumming, outdoor singing and sweat-lodges. In the time of COVID, though, sweat lodges have been discontinued, for obvious reasons. Indian elders recommend taking part in the other types of ceremonies, as we take care of the health of our communities by avoiding risky activities.
Asked to talk about the songs that might be sung, Patty sang one–and you can hear her whole presentation, including her song and the many questions which she answered and discussed with both online and in-person attendees, by checking out the recording which Carl Etnier made of the program. It is posted at the Grange website Calendar event listing. Please be patient with the first minute or so of the recording, which starts after Patty has started talking, leading to a bit of confusion. It all straightens out quickly.
People attending were eager to know more about all aspects of the Native understandings of the annual cycles, their relationship to human activities and spirituality, and the way these practices have been passed down.
Patty explained that the tribe from which her Native roots spring, the Wampanoag, was one of the first tribes to have their cultures decimated by the invasion of Europeans into their homeland, which included all of present-day southeastern Massachusetts and Eastern Rhode Island. It is only recently that elders have come from western tribes to renew the cultural teachings of the Wampanoag, Abenaki and other eastern tribes. This is why Patty has learned the Lakota ceremonies and spiritual ways, and cites Lakota elders as her mentors. She talked about how universal these beliefs and practices are among many Indian tribes–this is not a “foreign” set of beliefs.
I certainly can’t convey all of Patty’s messages, and urge you to follow the link given above, to see and hear her for yourself. Below is a picture of Patty, on screen, and nearly 20 attendees in the Grange Hall!
Just Food Hub kicks off sales of Equal Exchange foodstuffs–and benefits the Grange!
December 4th marked the beginning of Just Food Hub delivering pre-ordered food items, mostly Equal Exchange items, at Grange meetings. A few orders were delivered, and more items sold on the spot–see the picture below–and resulted in a check being delivered on the spot to the Grange! We greatly appreciate Sue and John Morris and their associates who are putting their time and energy into this project. The next delivery will be at the January Grange Meeting, which will be on the 3rd Saturday, 1/15/22 (we move the meeting from the 1st to the 3rd Saturday when a holiday like Jan. 1 coincides with the 1st Saturday). You can order online up to about 1 week before the delivery date, online at: https://capitalcitygrange.
Potluck dinner, beating the arrival of Omicron
We took a bit of a chance by deciding to hold an in-person potluck dinner on Dec. 4th–right around the time that it was becoming clear that the Omicron variant of COVID would soon be showing up in the US. Using the RAFBs (Room Air Filtration Boxes–see below for more info), about 15 of us enjoyed a social get-together. All present were vaccinated, so we felt that it was a minimal risk under the circumstances. The usual array of tasty food was available, and so were many of the people who have joined us, including 3 that car-pooled down from the Burlington area just for the potluck, as well as people who stayed after attending the program.
Our next Grange meeting will be on the 3rd Saturday of January, 1/15/22. We will wait to see if it makes sense to have a potluck dinner, based on VT infection rates, the effects of Omicron, etc. If we decide it is reasonable to even have a potluck, we will again ask only vaccinated people to take part. We continue to support the vaccination and booster campaigns, and urge that all Grange members and friends protect themselves and the rest of us by keeping up with vaccinations!
Monitoring the air quality while using our RAFBs
We have the use of an “Air Quality Monitor”, thanks to Mike Ziegler, a long-time supporter of the Grange and a member of the board of the Friends of the Capital City Grange Hall. Mike is an instrument maker and woodworker–long-time readers may remember that he made a mandolin from pieces of the old Grange floor. which was replaced in 2012! Mike purchased the particle counter shown in the photo above, to check the dust levels in his home workshop. He also–independently–
As you can see in the picture, I set it up on one of the benches in the Main Hall. It is currently logging readings there. It shows the count of “small particles” (the left-hand number) which are .5 microns or larger, and “large particles” (on the right) in real-time, and also records a number every minute–and it keeps doing that for about a week.
Working in the lower level of Hall on Dec. 9th, after starting the monitor there, I was able to see from the display that with 2 of the RAFBs running for about an hour, small particle counts dropped from about 1170 per cubic foot (pcf) down to about 790 pcf in that time. By the next time I was there for Kids Trade & Play on 9/11, the count was down below 400 pcf. All this was very encouraging! I look forward to seeing the results for a few days of events.
We are urging all Hall users to turn on the RAFBs during events–especially if you are not sure if all participants are fully vaccinated. With the advent of the Omicron variant of COVID, we want to do everything we can to reduce the chance of virus transmission at the Hall.
FCCGH end-of-year fundraiser continues!
The Friends of the Capital City Grange Hall are seeing more generous donations come in, in the annual end-of-year fundraising appeal. The new exhaust fan above the Main Hall, the new doors at the original entrance, and the RAFBs were all financed by the Friends of the Capital City Grange Hall, Inc., the 501(c)(3) charitable corporation that helps the Grange to plan and run projects, raises funds for improvements, and applies for grants to help finance them. Every year, like many other charities, the FCCGH sends out a fund-raising letter to people who have donated before. This year’s campaign began with letters sent out in late November–and a number of checks have already come in! If you feel left out because you haven’t gotten one, don’t worry! You can donate anytime by using the PayPal link on the Grange website: http://capitalcitygrange.org/
Donated funds will be used to finance projects we do ourselves, and to match grant money for large projects–like the replacement of the Grange Hall dance floor in 2012, the new bathrooms in 2015, and the insulation and wall/ceiling floor surface upgrades completed in the lower level in early 2020! We hope you can help us get ready for our next big improvement–which we hope will be a professionally designed ventilation system to improve air quality throughout the Hall. We’ve started getting quotes…
…and we have lots more improvements we’d like to make! Among the items on the list: a lift to allow people who can’t use the stairs to come down to the lower level, a complete renovation of the kitchen–we think our Hall can be an even more accessible and useful Community Hall! If you’d like to help us financially, that would be great–just follow the link above!