SAN JUAN ISLAND GRANGE: A Community of Growers since 1931.

2013-09-25 16.59.15MISSION: To support a resilient community of growers, makers, and keepers, to foster social and political engagement, and to maintain our Hall as a home for celebrations and programs.

Resilient Community: Grange members grow food and fiber, make music and artifacts, keep house and livestock. Likewise do we grow in our skills and knowledge, make a meaningful life for our families, and keep this island in good health for future generations.  In our programs we learn and teach the skills of living in this special place, because we believe that a resilient community skilled in the arts of living can weather whatever  storms the future may bring.

Engagement: The Grange is political, but not partisan. We take stands on issues, not on candidates. For instance, in 2012 San Juan Island Grange #966 endorsed the initiative to ban the growing of GMO crops in our county. We also believe that a community that plays together stays together, so we make sure we have plenty of potlucks and other social events on our calendar.

Maintain our Hall: We are known to the public by the San Juan Island Grange Hall in Friday Harbor, a beautiful wooden building originally built as a church in the 1880′s. Recognizing its value to our island community, we vow to take care of it so that it can serve its function as a cultural venue for years to come.

We meet on the first Wednesday of each month at 7:00 at the Grange Hall at 152 First Street North in Friday Harbor. Visitors are welcome.





Lara Whitely Binder

Impact Adaptation: Lara Whitely Binder
Outreach Specialist, Climate Impacts Group and Center for Science in the Earth System, University of Washington. 7 p.m. San Juan Island Grange Hall, Thursday July 24.

In the latest in the Climate Action Imperative lecture series, Lara Whitely Binder will give a presentation on how Pacific Northwest communities can prepare for climate change.

This is a free event cosponsored by San Juan Island Grange.


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Climate change is having an increasingly strong impact on our ability to grow food, around the worldclimate-change-art and here on our island. Find out more at an illustrated talk by Washington State University researcher Chad Kruger at Friday Harbor Brickworks on Thursday July 10 at 7PM.

He will cover production practices that deal with environmental challenges including the changing climate and talk about recent research.

This is the third presentation in the series of programs called “The Climate Action Imperative: Understanding Impacts & Making Choices” offered this summer and fall at Brickworks, San Juan Island Grange Hall, and other venues.

As with all talks in the series, Kruger’s presentation will be followed by a discussion.

Series co-sponsors are: San Juan Island National Historical Park, Madrona Institute, San Juan Islands Conservation District, The League of Women Voters of the San Juans, San Juan Island Library, San Juan Nature Institute, San Juan County Marine Resources Committee, Northwest Straits Foundation, Stewardship Network of the San Juan Islands, Washington State University Extension Service, San Juan Island Grange #966 and the Agricultural Resources Committee of the San Juan Islands.

The next scheduled speaker is Lara Whitely Binder, Outreach Specialist for Climate Impacts Group and Center for Science in the Earth System at the University of Washington. The program is scheduled at 7 p.m., July 24 at the San Juan Island Grange Hall.

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We won more awards at the convention: Val White won a Best in Class ribbon for her scarf, and Boyd Pratt won a Distinguished Lecturer plaque for his programs. Way to go team!

The legislative session of the 125th Washington State Grange Convention wrapped up yesterday. This fascinating process is a People’s Congress where we introduce bills created at the local Granges, serve on committees to recommend passage or rejection or amendment, argue their merits in general session, wrangle over amendments, and then vote them up or down.

San Juan Island Grange #966 presented three resolutions. One was an internal bill dealing with dues for businesses. One called on the Feds to tax capital gains at the same rate as wages. And one asked the State Grange to call for a moratorium on coal and oil terminals. Only the dues resolution passed.

Our friends at Friday Harbor Grange #225 presented a bill that passed with amendments to read, “Resolved that farmers and gardeners have the right to save, retain and protect their private seed stock for their own planting. Additionally, farmers and gardeners should be exempt from cross-pollination claims by those who have created and failed to control the spread of proprietary seeds”. This resolution, and a similar one from Stevenson Grange #121 that was rejected, brought on a good discussion of the need for protection from Monsanto’s lawyers. Congratulations, Friday Harbor!

In other bills, the Washington State Grange decided to adopt language opposing “big dumb buffers” along streams and opposing FDA rules against the feeding of spent brewers grains to livestock.

The Grange rejected a call to require federal officials to have 18th century dictionaries on hand when they are reading or interpreting the US Constitution (a resolution I liken to calling on all federal officials to henceforth “wear dunce caps”). It also rejected a resolution to abolish the 17th Amendment. As you may recall from civics class the 17th Amendment set up direct election of US Senators by the people, to replace the original method of appointment by state legislatures. The committee that recommended rejection pointed out that the Grange was instrumental in getting the 17th Amendment passed and should not support the undoing of its own work.

All-in-all, it was a satisfying, though sometimes frustrating, experience in democracy. It is a lot of hard work to create policy with people with different political philosophies, but that’s what the Grange is all about.



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Katy's entriesAt the Washington State Grange Convention Katy Nollman won a First Place ribbon for her knit cap-and-mitten set. Way to go Katy!

Our resolution to remove the upper limit how much community Granges can charge for an Associate Membership for businesses or non-profits passed and will go on to the National Grange Convention. If it passes at National, we will be contacting local groups who want to be publicly associated with us and our mission about paying for that privilege. I will report on more of the legislative work tomorrow.

The guest speaker was a Republican legislator on the Transportation Committee in Olympia who seemed to be saying he wanted to pave farmland and turn it into industrial parks, and that the highways are for freight trucking, not for people who need to get to work. His suggestion about how to deal with environmental problems was to cut the State Department of Ecology rule-writing staff down to five guys with dull pencils. It was all I could do to keep Anita in the room.

Anita and I are back in our hotel room after the talent show. It was a lot of fun, with impromptu speaking and prepared speech contests, and a showcase of singers and variety acts. Makes me think we should have a variety show at our Grange Hall now and then.

Stay tuned. More venting tomorrow!


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Nina's hatsNina LeBaron wins two Best in Class ribbons for her felt work at the Washington State Grange Convention. Congratulations, Nina!

In other news, our resolution for the State Grange to support a moratorium on coal and oil terminals went down to defeat. I said there was a time when the Grange was not afraid to take on the railroads in order to protect the interests of its members. I said that it is wrong to ship coal past our beautiful islands, threatening our shellfish farms and fishing families, in order to burn it in Asia so that they can undercut our industry, and at the same time mess up our weather so much it will make farming harder.

It was too much a one-size-fits all approach, said one delegate who was opposed to it. Another mentioned all the jobs at stake.

Mary Repar of Stevenson Grange #121 supported it, expressing concerns about all the trains that will clog up her small town on the Columbia River. Thanks again, Mary! You can find them on Facebook:

Stevenson Grange offered a Living Wage resolution  It gave me a chance to talk about how we are on the cusp of losing the basic equality that has made our country work, that now income disparity is leading to unequal access to civic participation in the political process. I warned that as an advocate for the common person, the Grange would lose out if this continued. The resolution was labelled by a couple delegates as “communism” and one guy said that if you want to make more money, move to North Dakota. The resolution failed.

Friday Harbor Grange and Stevenson Grange have good resolutions yet to come. I’ll let you know how they go.

On our way out to dinner with friends. Talk to you all later.

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Gift-of-the-Grange-header-650x197State Grange Master Duane Hamp opened this day of the convention with his external speech, meant for sharing with the public. So here it is brief:

Solve transportation issues in ways that favor rural market roads over urban projects and do not increase the price of fuel. Solve educational funding by cutting fat out of the budget. Solve our current slow economic growth by making our state good for business. Solve the climate change problem in ways that do not increase the price of fuel. Solve the problem of wolves by removing them from federal protection. Honor veterans by flying them to Washington D.C. to visit memorials. Protect the Constitution by insisting that it meant all along to give individuals the right to bear arms.

One bright light in the Masters message this morning was Grange support for Open Space/Current Use Tax improvements to help working farms and ranches stay in production.  Master Hamp said, “The Grange, along with most of the major agricultural organizations in the state have joined forces to develop an economic impact study that clearly displays the economic benefit to the state these agricultural-based tax preferences create”. I say thank you Master Hamp and maybe we can enlist the State Grange to help us with our County Assessor.

Our resolution for the IRS to tax capital gains and wages equally went down to defeat. I gave a little speech that said our Constitution was based on the idea of equal treatment regardless of our source of income. Mary Repar of Stevenson Grange #121 came to our defense. Thanks, Mary! According to the committee that recommended rejection, our language “to classify all income equally” was too broad, and pointed out types of income that should actually be taxed at lower rates.

Krist Novoselic, Master of Grays River Grange, won acceptance for their resolution to have the State of Washington reserve more Columbia River salmon for commercial harvest, rather than the planned reallocation to sport fishing.

Legislative work resumes tomorrow morning, so I’ll more to report soon.



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Site of the first Washington State Grange Convention

Site of the first Washington State Grange Convention

Anita and I are at the 125th Washington State Grange Convention in Vancouver Washington all week, and I will try to post every evening.

On the boat I got to practice my “elevator speech” to answer a local farmer’s question about what the Grange is. I stumbled through the advocacy for farmers bit, the cooperative purchasing of farm supplies, the social aspects. He said, “Sounds kinda grassroots”, and asked when the meetings are.

Speaking of advocacy, the program last Wednesday at our Grange Hall on Current Use Taxation for Farm and Agriculture was well attended. Carla Higginson and Jamie Grifo laid down a very compelling case that the state tax laws are being interpreted by the County Assessor in ways that make agriculture more difficult. The presentation was well reasoned and well delivered, but not exactly balanced, with only one side of the controversy speaking. I have two things to say about that. One is that we are advocates for growers, not a neutral debating society. When the Assessor’s stated desire to reduce taxes in general goes head-to-head with the survival of our farms, you can sure which side we’ll be on. The other is that we talked about inviting Chief Appraiser John Kulseth, who is running for the job of County Assessor, to address the Grange about his policies should he be elected to the post this fall. While the Grange does not take stands on candidates or parties, we do take stands on policy, and Mr. Kulseth as Assessor will be in a position to set policy that improves or degrades our ability to feed ourselves. So it will be interesting to see what he has to say.

The big event of this first day of the convention was the reenactment of the first convention of Washington State Grange in 1899. Grangers dressed in 19th century garb used the official transcript of the first convention to act out the creation of the State Grange and the adoption of the first resolutions. One of the resolutions called for rejection of the proposed Washington State Constitution (the Washington State Grange predates the creation of Washington State) on the grounds that it was too difficult to amend it to reflect the will of the people. Another resolution called on all candidates for State office to answer questions regarding their stands on railroad regulations and Women’s Suffrage, among others.

The legislative work starts tomorrow morning. Our Grange has three resolutions for consideration. I’ll keep you posted on how they fare.