Everyone on the island knows the Grange as that building where all important events (that aren’t held at the school, church or library) are held. Some are aware that there is an organization functioning out of the Grange that puts on a pancake feed, salmon feed, offers some scholarships, provides dictionaries for school kids and collects aluminum cans. Most, maybe even a lot of the members of the Grange, are unaware of the long and important history of The National Grange of the Order of the Patrons of Husbandry.
The Grange started as a farmer organization after the Civil War but really didn’t catch fire until the Panic of 1873 which was the country’s first great depression—renamed “The Long Depression” after the Depression of the 1930’s glommed onto the title of “great.” Debt burdened farmers were hurt by tight money and a depression in the silver market, so it made sense for farm families to band together to lobby and campaign for their common well-being. At its peak there were a million members advocating against such things as railroad monopolies and for free rural delivery. (Support of the Post Office is still important to the Grange).
As the family farm declined, so did Grange membership resulting in fewer and older members. Granges like the Lummi Island Grange deemphasized farming as their primary focus and began to operate more like a service club to benefit the community.
We joined the Grange because it is made up of a group of people on the island worth being associated with who were actively trying to make a difference in the community. From a Transition standpoint, the Grange meets all the requirements of a group that will provide support to the community in any kind of a crisis.
And, I predict that our Grange will soon begin to take initiatives promote and improve food security for the island and assist people to regain lost skills.
The Grange is an organization with tremendous potential to affect island life and what happens here in the future. And, for this reason alone I would urge islanders, particularly younger islanders, to consider joining the Grange.