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Happy Spring! With spring comes a sense of renewal as the buds start coming out on the trees and early flowers begin to bloom. As a result of our fairly mild winter, this may already be happening for some of you. My main focus this issue is with regard to Grange Month in April. You may have already started to plan activities your Grange will be hosting or be involved in during April, but if not, March provides the opportunity to get those plans made. The traditional ideas used in the past were open houses or meetings for the community, press releases to local newspapers, displays of Grange work at libraries, but I challenge your Grange to be creative to find new ways to promote your Grange. This is not a task only for Lecturers, but for the entire membership.
As you can see in the new visual above, the National Grange emphasis for the next two years will be Grange Strong: Rooted, Resilient, United. The National Grange Communication Director, Phil Vonada, provided information regarding these words. These may be used as a theme not only for a Grange Month event, but also throughout the year for additional activities. I list a few ideas, and you may come up with more/better ones for your particular Grange setting. 
  • Grange Strong: Highlight strengths of your Grange and your Grange members – your community event, 
  • Newspaper, …
  • Rooted: The word coordinates with Grange roots. In what ways has your Grange put down roots for the 
  • benefit of your community? How has it made a difference? 
  • Resilient: Given that Michigan State Grange is over 150 years old, provide information about how your
  • Grange in its longevity has worked to make your community better and stronger – perhaps through a variety of community service activities. 
  • United: This can have a very broad connotation – united with other Granges in your area; united within 
  • your Grange involving mixtures of ages, ideas; united with other community organizations, united with National Grange initiatives. 

During Grange Month, on April 10, I have the opportunity to provide a virtual program in the Historical Society of Michigan “History Hounds Lecture Series”. The program is at 7 pm. Individuals may register at https://www.hsmichigan.org/programs/history-hounds. There is a $7 fee for non-members. This event will be a one-hour event, with questions/answers at the end. This is the organization that the Michigan State Grange received a plaque commemorating 150 years of existence.

A few special dates to remember: March 11 – Daylight Savings time begins (2 am), St. Patrick’s Day – March 17, March 19 - first day of Spring; Holy Week (Christian) begins March 24; Ramadan begins March 10 at sundown. On the less well-known side is March 1 – National Share a Smile Day and World Compliment Day; March 19 – Let’s Laugh Day; April 11 – National Pet Day; April 15 – Tax Day; Passover (Jewish) begins April 22. 

It’s that time of the year that we consider what we have done, what we want to start to do, and what we want to continue doing in the coming year. This process, for me, begins with developing the coming year’s Michigan State Grange Lecturer’s Program. What stays in? What should be retired? What new contests might be fun for members to enter in the coming year? This year, we listened to several comments we received regarding last year’s contests that should be changed, and so we did make changes with regard to those comments.
The new contest that I want to highlight in this Michigan Grange News is “Traditional or Unusual Family Recipe Contest”. I am quite excited about this contest, and since Grangers are known for food and potlucks, it seemed that this could create some interest. We tend to hear a lot about people’s special recipes around Christmas, so thinking if you made any of those in December might be a place to start. I started thinking of what possibilities are for my family, and you may have some of the same questions I had. Should I pick a recipe we currently make? Should I choose a recipe from my childhood that we still talk about, possibly made by my grandmothers? Should it be dessert, vegetables, meat, ….? Any of these are fine. Even canned items could work. I hope to see a large variety. The judging criteria are: 1) uniqueness of entry, and 2) presentation of entry. These criteria may help you decide which recipe to choose. 

​The entry is to consist of a) the recipe and directions for making; b) 1-2 paragraphs description about the recipe. This might include how long your family has made this recipe, if it is only served at a special event, who the originator of this recipe is if known, why your family thinks this recipe is special and/or unique, etc.; and c) optional photo. The entry will be displayed on card stock like a poster. The “paragraphs” may be presented as bullet points, and need not be in full sentence form. All may be handwritten. Since presentation is part of the judging criteria, feel free to add creativity to your entry. This might include adding some color with borders or simply items mounted on colored paper. If a photo is not possible, you might be able to find a similar item from a magazine. I did not specify a size requirement, but the smallest might be 8 ½” X 11, and the largest, probably twice that size. These sizes are guidelines, so that you have an idea of what we are thinking.

​I am hoping that there are enough entries in this contest so that I can gather them into a small cookbook to be distributed the following year at State Grange and/or made available at the Michigan State Grange website. Lecturers might want to have all members bring their recipes to a meeting to share. You might have just the recipe brought, or you could have them bring a completed entry. Have fun with this contest!
Save the 2024 Program Book from this Michigan Grange News 
The Program Book is where the Lecturer’s programs are detailed. I will be highlighting parts of the program in each newsletter and in Michigan Grange News articles. Check it out, and consider ways that you could promote these contests to your Grange members. Remember - Grange friends that are not yet members may enter all contests as well. In addition, children are encouraged to enter the contests, whether your Grange has a Junior Grange or not.