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Grange Growth: Litchfield Grange Lessons Learned

By Todd A. Gelineau, Litchfield Scout

  AUGUST 7, 2014 --

It’s been a long but rewarding summer as your Scout for the new Litchfield Grange.  I am pleased to report that as of this writing we are VERY close to being able to call an organizational meeting.  There are two public events remaining on our schedule – an appearance at the Main Street Marketplace in downtown Torrington (July 31) and a recently added appearance at the Morris MarketPlace at South Farm in Morris on Aug. 10.

My process for each public event has been to set up an information booth and to engage as many people as possible in a discussion about the Grange.  Often the discussion is short, but it’s those few conversations where you can see the person’s eyes light up and take a genuine interest in the Grange that makes it all worthwhile!  We ask any interested persons to fill out an information sheet which will then be used to send them a personal invitation to the organizational meeting.

Brothers and Sisters, this is NOT a difficult thing to do!  Any Grange, any member, or any group of members can set up an informational table/booth at a community gathering and do exactly what we are doing in Litchfield.  It does take some time planning and actually being at the event but the rewards can be incredible.

As a direct result of our participation in the Litchfield Hills Farm Fresh Market in late June and July we received front page coverage in both editions of the Waterbury Sunday Republican and we received an invitation to speak at the Northwest Connecticut Economic Development Corporation.  The newspaper article resulted in phone calls and emails from people interested in joining Litchfield Grange.  The NW CT Economic Development meeting resulted in four new contacts that may result in new projects for Litchfield Grange, Granges in Mountain County Pomona and the State Grange.  We also made contact with the owner of South Farm where the Morris MarketPlace is held each Sunday.  Until this meeting I was completely unaware of this market that routinely has over 500 people in attendance each week—definitely where the Litchfield Grange info. booth should make an appearance!

There’s nothing about what we are doing in Litchfield that has been made any easier by being the State Grange heading up this drive.  In fact, it really is a liability that we constantly have to overcome.  Litchfield is a very private and protective community and you really have to work to gain the confidence of its residents.

The greatest advantage EVERY Grange has that Litchfield does not have is an active group of Grange members to go out in the community and promote their Grange.  You have a Charter, you have a meeting place, you have members and you have a history.  All of these things should be used to the greatest advantage to promote your Grange and create growth.

In Litchfield we have a building with no active members and a suspended Charter.  If we can get so close to re-opening a Grange with what we have, you can certainly do it with everything that you already have!

With any luck, every person who signed up for more information will come to the organizational meeting and we will have the pleasure of announcing the new Litchfield Grange in an upcoming issue.

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