Letter to the editor: The state of the grange

Letter to the editor: The state of the grange

Annie Waters from the Little Lake Grange weighs in on the current grange discussion.


Dear Editor,

We have maintained for years these old Granges. The buildings need constant repair; the community depends on these halls for getting together and entertaining our communities as we do so well in our rural county. Little Lake [Willits] Grange is no exception, and we have lovingly rehabbed our building. As I write, solar is being installed on the roof. The direction for many California Granges is sustainability.

In December of 2015 LLG [Little Lake Grange] voted to stay as a Grange, although the promise of a new organization being created – wanting to replace the California State Grange – called the “Guild” – beckoned to us with promises of continuity, and loyalty to a charismatic leader.

Negative press about the Grange does not serve any of us. Is it now the intention of a few people who do not find the Grange to be a place for them – to attack the Grange for purposes of destroying it?  Could 100 years of Grange legacy at Redwood Valley Grange be thrown away in 5 years?   Who are the people who want to destroy the name of that Grange?  I believe you will find that a few who joined only a year or so ago are responsible for most of the current trouble. Uninformed and misguided. Can these people please stand down and let us have our Grange halls as we did a few years ago?

Grangers want and will continue to maintain their local Grange Hall and continue the traditions of the people who began that Grange and donated or volunteered to build it long ago. Community service. Bringing people together for food and fun. We want everyone to join us, find the joy in being together, working together, building relationships.

The Grange is also continuing the movement that began at the grass roots level 150 years ago with a goal of defending the small farmer who was striving to get products to market in an economically reasonable way.

Despite shouts to the contrary, our halls need no protection from the State Grange.

What is a fact, is that the title to our buildings are listed in the name of the local Grange. For example, the deed to Redwood Valley Grange says (or did say for 100 years until someone tried to change it recently) the property belongs to “the Redwood Valley Grange.” Period. Not some person or a group of people or the State Grange or any other organization like this newly hatched “Guild.”

The building is supposed to be kept as a Grange. Maintained by Grangers. Used by the community as a Grange Hall. Just like has been done for a hundred years. I would add that the individual Grange’s articles of incorporation tie them to the National Grange’s bylaws.

The Grange bylaws at every level are very clear on the relationship of the Grange and properties, and also clearly state what happens if a building reverts to the State Grange in case of a loss of membership. Bylaws explained: The State Grange has to maintain the expenses of a large public building for 7 years and then keep the money in a trust fund for another 7 years, until finally in 14 years the money can be used to help buy another Grange in the area or do improvements on a neighboring Grange Hall. The State Master wants to stop the past cannibalization and liquidation of property in order to fulfill other budget needs. Fourteen years to profit by some sale? Hardly. The State Grange shells out a lot to save these buildings for 7 years in case someone wants to reorganize it!

What started as an unfortunate and simple problem years ago could have been mediated, but that didn’t happen, and so here we are now. Mistakes have been on made on both sides. There will be no winner.

If a motorcycle club or any other group wanted to have a place to do their thing they could join a Grange Hall & try to take it over. A few years down the line they might want to sell it and who knows what happens with the money. The Grange system specifically is designed to preserve from one generation to another the contribution that many generations of Grangers have made to their local hall/community. Those Grangers’ efforts were made to pass their good work onto future generations. The beauty of the Grange is that its structure preserves and supports that intention.

Let us repeat that the 12 month old (filed on June 23, 2016) newly minted organization called the “Guild” can of course use Grange halls, just as every other community group does; they just can’t take them away from the 150 year old organization that is the Grange, that has maintained them for so long and well. The “Guild” needs to find a way to come into relationship and respecting our Grange property and traditions. Remember the Obligation we all made when we joined.

Fault for this fight lies with neither Grange nor Guild exclusively, but rather with a lack of trust on the part of some individuals in each group. Unfortunately, this means that the efforts of communities are being spent dealing with this difference of opinion instead of making things happen to benefit their whole community. The California State Grange website has court documents, unfiltered, that explain much of the information and facts in this situation. http://www.castategrange.org/Legal_CourtDocs.html

Who am I? I am a 11 year long Grange member, have held many offices in the Willits Grange.

Annie Waters, Little Lake Grange, Willits

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