Grange Notes: March 2013

March 2nd Grange meeting: legislative issues report, and more
Organic agriculture exhibit at the Pavilion
Tuned and rebuilt piano keeping the music going in the Grange
Lots of events in March keeping the Hall busy!
Program on March 2nd—getting ready for Post-Peak-Oil
Quick survey

March 2nd Grange meeting: legislative issues report, and more: Each Grange meeting features reports on government issues, both in the legislature and on the larger political scene. This month's Grange meeting included several discussions that relate to that general theme, so I'll group them together, along with another Grange-endorsed issue:
GMO labeling bill in the legislature: at our meeting in December, we heard from Andrea Sharp, of Rural VT about the prospects for this bill, which calls for labeling of products including G(enetically) M(odified) O(rganisms) sold in VT. This bill is about to come up in the legislature, and advocates including Rural VT are urging those who support it to contact their local representatives. Lobbyists for agribusiness like Monsanto are paid to promote their interests, but our Vermont representatives and senators also welcome the expressions of their constituents—so if you have an opinion, please make a call or send an email! Rural VT's perspective is at: http://www.ruralvermont.org/vtrighttoknowgmo/
Bottle bill hearing on Mar. 12: Our Grange, and the State Grange voted to support expansion of the VT bottle deposit law to other containers; the legislature is considering that—but also considering proposals to do away with deposits entirely. There will be a hearing on Tuesday, Mar. 12th from 5:30 to 7:00 where citizens' testimony will be heard—another opportunity for Grange members and friends to make their voices heard. The hearing will take place at the Pavilion Auditorium, at 109 State St. in Montpelier. For more information, go to the VPIRG website: http://www.vpirg.org/bottlebill/
Health-care costs rising: Our Health Concerns reporter, Phyllis Skinner, reported on a Time Magazine focus issue on the vast increases in health-care costs, compared to outcomes. The issue brought up many of the statistics which have been brought to us by Dr. Deb Richter and others who have provided information on the campaign to bring single-payer health insurance to VT. Phyllis predicts this publicity will spread the debate on controlling health-care costs to a bigger arena than Vermont. The meeting asked Marj Power to arrange another program to explore the state of the health-care this fall, when it will be more clear, what the direction of Federal policy is. VT State legislative committees have been crafting the policies which will implement the single-payer system, expected to take full effect in 2017; by then the committees will be reporting. We'll hear more then!

Other discussions at the meeting included news about knitting: Grange members and friends who like to knit and are looking for a project are invited to contribute to a “mitten tree” at the 2014 National Grange meeting to be held in NH. So, what does this mean? The Grange is collecting knitted or sewn mittens, scarves and hats to be displayed on a tree, and then donated to worthy charities. Grange Home Ec chair Charles Martin has yarn for those who need it, or use your own! Contact me if you can participate; I'll give periodic reminders over the next year or so.

Organic agriculture exhibit at the Pavilion: Grange members from across the state have been invited to “Plowing Old Ground: Vermont's Organic Pioneers”, an exhibit at the VT Historical Society Museum at the Pavilion building in Montpelier, on State St. Check out the poster attached to the email version of these Notes, or see the poster at the Grange.
This exhibit features photographs and oral history about the wave of new organic farmers who came to Vermont in the 1970s, many of them still active farmers.
There will be a reception on Saturday, Mar. 16th from 2:30 to 4:30, which several of us will attend, and we invite others to join us!
Merry Shernock and Alison Forrest are looking into whether our Grange could have an information table at the reception, to let people know about our long-time support for farmers and rural life.
Update: Capital City Grange at the VT History exhibit on Organic Farming Pioneers: Merry and Alison have made arrangements to put up an information table about the Grange and the Capital City Grange in particular, at the opening reception for the “Plowing Old Ground—Vermont's Organic Farming Pioneers”, on Saturday March 16th, from 2:30 to 4:30 at the Pavilion Building, 109 State St. Montpelier, at the VT Historical Society museum.
Who else would like to help us get the word out about the Grange? We have an opportunity to meet with other people coming to this event, who want to support Vermont's rural/small town culture and economy, as does the Grange.

Tuned and rebuilt piano keeps the music going in the Grange: in my last Grange Notes, I told about our acquisition of a “new” piano. I'm pleased to report that the repairs and tuning needed were completed in time for the piano to be used at the English-Scottish dance on Feb. 23rd, and then again last night by Grange Musician Bill Spear. Everyone who has played it (several musically talented Grangers as well as other professional musicians) has been pleased with the sound and feel of the Ivers & Pond instrument.
What happens to the old piano? Reminder, we're still looking for a new home for it. Even if it’s not great, there is lots of music still in it. If we can find a Grange member or friend who can move it, the price is right—Free! I’ll see if I can find people to help load it on a truck. Just give me a call or an email! We’ll have to get it out of the building by the Ides of March—in other words, by March 15th for those of you who remember your Julius Caesar.

Update on Mar. 10th: Grange piano—help getting it to a new home! I'm pleased to announce that we have found a new home for our old piano. I advertised it on Craigslist, and got several immediate responses. I had a couple of people look at it, and got an enthusiastic taker. I'm now asking if a few people would be willing to help me and Adam, the new owner, move the piano from the stage at the Grange Hall onto a truck and then unload it into Adam's first floor apartment, on Loomis St. in Montpelier—a short drive! We could do this at 6:30 on Saturday evening, Mar. 16th, before the CDU dance, or at about 1:30 on Sunday afternoon, Mar. 17th, before the Crowfoot/Will Mentor “advanced dance” which starts at 3:00.
Please contact me if you can help at either of these times—if someone has a pickup truck or van to move the piano, that would be great—if not, Adam is prepared to rent a U-Haul.

Lots of events in March keeping the Hall busy!: As we've been noticing, there are more and more events taking place at the Hall. March is no exception—besides the CDU dance last night and the Church of Christ meeting this morning, there will be extra dance events on 3 other weekends:
March 17th: on the Sunday following the CDU dance, an “advanced contra dance” will be held, with Crowfoot playing, and Will Mentor and Adina Gordon calling, 3:00 to 6:00.
March 23rd: the next in the “4th weekend” series will also feature Will Mentor calling to the music of the Homegrown Chestnuts, from 8:00 to 11:00 PM, with a dessert potluck at the break.
March 30th: a very popular band, Giant Robot Dance, will play for a “groove English country dance” with Adina Gordon calling, from 1:00 to 2:30, another “advanced contra” dance with Will Mentor (again!) from 3:00 to 5:00, and couples dancing from 5:00 to 5:30. A potluck dinner will follow, before the CDU dance with Will Mentor calling from 8:00 to 11:00.
Notice! The March 30th dances are likely to be quite crowded! The prospect of this first appearance of Giant Robot Dance at our Grange has been exciting many fans for months already. If you don't like crowded dances, this might not be for you. We're glad that there are lots of other choices in March...and April, and beyond...to satisfy the growing desire for more dance events. Check them all out, at www.capitalcitygrange.org

Program on March 2nd—getting ready for Post-Peak-Oil: Gail England described the Transition Town organization and its work over the past several years, as well as its history in other places around the world.
The original “transition town” was organized by Rob Hopkins, as part of a college project to investigate possible ways to survive social and economic dislocation which could arrive as a result of the passing of “peak oil”, whose results are expected to include severe price increases and breakdown of our economies that are built on relatively cheap fossil-fuel prices, or terrorist attacks on power generation, or other stresses and instabilities in our systems.
The organization focuses on “how to live in the future?”--how to set up resilient communities that can pool their resources to survive in the face of expected hard times. Transition Town Montpelier is one of the chapters; it has focused on “re-skilling” workshops, reviving older ways of building things, growing and preserving food, generating energy, heating water and many more. They are basing their interests on the fact that 75 or 100 years ago in Vermont, our forebears lived without the fossil-fuel economy's support, using local resources and skills.
Members of the Transition Town organization have also publicized the movement through the “Apple Corps” which has planted food gardens and permaculture plantings of berry bushes and fruit and nut trees on the Vermont State House lot, displacing some of the grass lawn. They have produced booklets on building root cellars as part of food storage strategies.
Gail emphasized that a major part of the Transition Town movement is having fun with neighbors and community members—it's not all about “preparing for disaster”. The key to working together to survive hard times is the ability to be involved on an ongoing basis with the others around us, so we are ready to work together. So collaborative fun is part of the plan as well as learning how to use a hand-scythe, darn socks, growing flax and grow your own vegetables. Speaking of vegetable gardening, people are planting “giving gardens” where anyone can go and pick vegetables when they need them.
The big project which this organization puts on each year is the “Village Building Convergence” in June. This conference is an opportunity to put on over 50 re-skilling workshops, about the topics mentioned above and many more. At this point, they are waiting to establish the location for this year's VBC—watch for it!

Quick survey: what would bring you to a Grange meeting? What activities or programs would get you involved,either at meetings or in other work groups? There are a lot more people on my email list than come to meetings; we'd like to see more of you! Email me with your thoughts; if you've read this far, I hope that you are interested!

Tim Swartz, Master (with everyone's help)
Capital City Grange #469
802-225-8921
swartztim15atgmail [dot] com

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