Grange Notes by Tim Swartz, Grange President (with everyone’s help) September 22, 2023
We’re happy to have our Hall be used for a couple of special arts events, both also designed to bring communities together.
Friday evening: Healing Together, a combination of community art project and a concert of new lullabies created for this event. This event is free and open to all. Musicians featured include Mary Bonhag, Evan Premo, Colin McCaffrey, Marianne Donahue Perchlik, David Ruffin and Andric Severance.
Schedule: the Community Art Project will be worked on from 5:30 to 6:30 PM, and the concert will start at 6:30, with more art work after the concert.
For more info, and to RSVP (which will be appreciated), click here.
Saturday evening: I Love What You’re Doing, a Dance Showcase will present a medley of works in contemporary Swing, Samba, Theater, Tango and Belly Dance by over 15 brilliant Central Vermont Artists. Admission is by donation, accepted to benefit the Montpelier Strong Recovery Fund! This event is sponsored by the Vermont Dance Alliance; there’s more info available here.
But wait, there’s more!
Also happening at our Grange Hall, for the rest of September and parts of October, there are rehearsals for the “Thriller Flash Mob”, a group that has performed on Halloween in Montpelier for several years. If you want to join, check out the Calendar listing, and email the organizer for the “mob”, Emma Manion to find out how to join in.
I’m happy to publicize all of these events as a great illustration of how important our Hall is to local arts & culture organizations–but you’ll see lots more on our website calendar, of course.
September Grange meeting: lots to talk about!
- VT State Grange Annual Session will be held in Middlebury, on Oct. 27 and 28. Our Grange will send Tim Swartz and Liz Benjamin to this year’s gathering. One of our prime tasks will be to discuss and improve a dozen proposed resolutions submitted by a variety of Granges from around Vermont. You can check out the resolutions and send us your input on what’s good or not-so-good about them, to advise us. A download link for a PDF of them is available on our website, here.
- We are planning ahead: we’d like to revive the Grange Cooking Contest for the May 2024 meeting. In the past, we’ve recruited local “Celebrity Judges” to help us evaluate entries. What we really need is someone to help us publicize this event–which is open to both Grange members and non-members, recruit some judges, and come up with 3 prizes. I have just checked the State Program Book, and I see that the planned cooking contest is…a dish including 1-2 cups of Cabot Cheese. For our contest, we will accept other types of cheese, so we can include cooks who can’t eat cow’s milk cheeses. So consider sheep’s milk, goat’s milk, or plant-based cheeses too! Start your experiments now…and let us know who will step forward to organize this fun contest.
- Treasurer’s report: because we are quite busy with rentals, our bank accounts are–for us–relatively healthy. We went over the loans we are paying to the State Grange (much appreciated!), and feel pretty confident going into the winter.
- Hall report: We have had a first coat of paint on our Original Entrance foyer and stairway by a volunteer–another coat is needed. There are several other small projects which can be handled by “handy” volunteers–please contact me! We also discussed our readiness for heating season (our chimney has been re-pointed, the furnace cleaned and the pellet bin was recently filled).
- Rental report: as noted, we are quite busy. Some of this is meetings and rehearsals that have been displaced from former venues in Montpelier, which is an unfortunate way to gain business. Merry has worked with various organizations to arrange–in some cases–barter arrangements to help non-profit organizations. An example is the newly painted bathroom on the main floor, which looks great!
- Website report: as described in the previous Grange Notes, the website has experienced several lingering problems which seem to be related to updates to various parts of our website–especially the Calendar. I have really been struggling to figure out what is going on. Since I have zero training in website management, this has been very stressful for yours truly. In August, we were advised by a web-savvy contact to sign up for website hosting and management by WPEngine.com, and decided to do so. They will take care of routine monitoring and maintenance, including installation of all updates, as well as offering very good Support services. While it will cost us a few hundred dollars more per year, this should improve the performance of the website, and reduce stress on me considerably. The Grange meeting approved this decision retroactively, I’m happy to say! We would still like to find someone who can help manage the content on our website, which has not been renovated since we set it up in 2014.
- Programs: we had a good discussion about themes for the bi-monthly public programs we offer on even-numbered months from October to June. Our lively conversation focused on ways to draw on all of the talented groups that use our Hall, and local non-profits that focus on things like ways to mitigate the flooding that has dominated our summer, and resources for housing issues–which of course have been exacerbated by the flooding and its displacement of renters and homeowners. I’ll be sending out an announcement about the program for the Oct. 7th Grange meeting soon–stay tuned!
- Community Service: see below for our current major project–and see above for examples of how our Hall is a multi-faceted community service project all year ’round.
Handing out gift cards from our Challenge Fundraiser
All of our donors to the Challenge Fundraiser jointly run by the Montpelier Contra Dance and the Friends of the Capital City Grange Hall made it possible for the Grange to hand out gift cards, last Monday evening, to well over half of the 41 families who were flooded out of two mobile home parks in Berlin on July 10th. Both were located on the banks of the Stevens Branch of the Winooski River. The homes there have all been condemned, so these folks have suffered really major financial losses–and all of the social losses and disruption that come with the loss of their homes as well.
Our contributions to the families are not large–the $2700 raised for them amounted to a $65 gift card for each family when spread over 41 households–but was very much appreciated. I gave them out at a meeting organized by the Governor’s office for these residents–and a number of them told me this was actually the first real monetary aid they have gotten. The meeting was called to discuss the best steps to get State and FEMA aid to these families. It has evidently already been a slow and painful process for families that have had to take refuge with friends, family members and wherever they can land, spread throughout Central Vermont and beyond.
For a more complete report on the State of Vermont’s efforts to speed up aid–and the limits on that aid–please click on this VT Public report on the meeting.
The remaining families will be able to pick up their gift cards from Corinne Cooper, who was among those flooded out of the Berlin Mobile Home Park, at her office at the UVM Extension Service at 327 US Rt. 302 (Barre-Montpelier Rd). Corinne, as I’ve said before, has been a huge help to us by coming up with the list of all the families, and has been working to connect the residents with all sources of aid since the flooding.
The picture shows a home from River Run Manor mobile home park, as of Sept. 19.