Monday, August 30, 2010

Alaska and New Frontiers

I spent the past Weekend in Alaska and it was memorable for a number of reasons.

The next to last "conversation with Grange members" meeting was held in Palmer and eleven members were present. As normal, there were many questions and comments from the members as they participated in the meeting. The duties of the officers, state of the National Grange, and the update on our name protection efforts were all new information to many of the Alaska members. They were pleased to see how National Grange has worked to help them and keep them informed about issues that affect all Granges.

The sixth degree was then conferred that evening to eleven Alaska members following the Fifth Degree obligation ceremony. It was truly a positive and inspiring way to conclude the day's activities.

We had 17 individuals on the team from 9 different states. The team did an outstanding job, with all team members having memorized their parts and they appeared to have worked together for years rather than just having had one practice that afternoon.

Errol Briggs, Master of the team, presented a gavel to the Alaska State Grange as a remembrance to the event. John Porrier, State Master, accepted the gavel and spoke how it was the first piece of history that the State Grange owns. It will now travel through the state until it has visited each of the seven Granges.

Brother Lester Gibbs, Chaplain of the team, presented each new sixth degree member with a pin from the Vermont State Grange. Also I presented brother Porrier with a set of sixth degree manuals so that in the future the Alaska State Grange could properly open and confer the degree themselves.

I am so proud of the fact that our members chose to come to Alaska to be a part of this first ever conferral. The team consisted of M-Errol Briggs, VT; O-Bob White, OH; L-Celia Luttrell, OR; S-Don Johnson, ID; AS-Mark Noah, OR; LAS-Susan Noah, OR; Ch-Lester Gibbs, VT; T-Gaye Hunt, AK; Sec-Mary Reinke, WI; GK-Norm Keller, IL; C-Joan While, OH; P-Betsy Huber, PA; F-Henrietta Keller, IL; Executive Committee-Alan Arner, WI; Barbara Chambers, VT; Clara Scott, MT; and Pianist-Mary Johnson, ID. If you want to get a detailed report as one of these members for their opinion of the day's activities.

Alaska is still viewed by some as a frontier and as far as our organization goes they will not be the last frontier. We are working to start Granges in Missouri, Nevada, and Arkansas at this time. Each new Grange, both Community and State, creates a new frontier for our members. New projects, new activities, and most importantly, new members are created with each new Grange.

The benefit of a new frontier is that they bring new energy and ideas into the existing Granges many of which are over a hundred years old. This blend of new and old invigorates our organization and ensures our continued growth.

I hope your memories of this past weekend are as good as those who went to Alaska and experienced a new frontier.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


This has been an interesting month. It seems that I've been dealing with a number of problems that originate with people not talking to each other.

It is crucial that people talk to each other, especially when one party has some authority. It is never healthy for people or for organizations not to communicate.

It appears that when many people decide that when they are not going to talk to someone else, they also stop listening to them. At that point how do we think we are going to solve the problem?

The next step often is that one or both start complaining or even making accusations to others without talking to the person they need to be talking to. Fairly quickly it becomes a "whose side are you on" situation.

I've seen Granges, churches, and even entire communities divided over issues that started because someone quit talking to someone else. Who wins in these cases? Usually no one wins. Someone may drop a membership or even choose to move out of the area, but did anyone actually win? The sad thing is in these extreme cases, often both feuding parties actually want similar things and they just let things get carried away by not communicating.

People in the Grange have an obligation to help each other. If two people quit talking to each other, others should counsel them to clear the air and find a solution. Those who care about the cause or organization need to show their leadership or they risk losing the things they care about because others are not talking.

It is my experience that as long as people are willing to talk, there is a chance of finding solutions to whatever challenge is facing us. It is when we stop talking and listening that we start to lose.

Let each of us remind ourselves now and again, that we need to talk to others and listen to what they have to say.