Where do we expect to see the Grange in the next 10 years?
Presented in writing by Genie Harden at the Lane Pomona Meeting, January 1, 2014
Sisters and Brothers,
Glenn and I have been Grange members for almost 10 years now. We have learned a lot and speaking for myself at least, grown a lot. I’ve grown to appreciate people who have come from different backgrounds, who have different values and perspectives. Many members here come from an agricultural background, and are too familiar with the hard work and debt that drove the following generation into more lucrative, less taxing vocations. Glenn and I, like so many other members, have not come from agricultural backgrounds, and instead were raised in the suburbs and cities, and come back to the land. It wasn’t that we planned on becoming back-to-the-landers, it seemed to happen rather incrementally.
What is a back-to-the-lander? And why “back” if we didn’t start there in the first place? Something called me, a combination of a growing knowledge base about our industrial food system, curiosity and a deep down faith, perhaps it was grace. I asked myself – CAN I eat well and feed my family, withOUT doing harm to others? Is war and pollution and disease really a necessary evil? Should clean air, water, and soil really be collateral damage in the name of business as usual? Does a “strong economy” really signify a happy, healthy human society? Is my personal happiness worth the hardship of others?
So we embarked on an exploratory path, putting one foot in front of the other, planting, building, tending livestock, until we’ve come to the point where we have to remind ourselves to work for money to pay the taxes and the internet. While discovering the magic and mystery of the earth, we found it easy to forego certain luxuries such as vacations, health insurance, new clothes, nights out on the town. The work in name of the Earth became more than just fulfilling – it became almost addictive. Over the years of observation I’ve come to understand the scale of economy of the earth. While not the same everywhere, we find that on our precious Earth there is a balance, a harmony, a true economy not based on human contrivance, which includes life and death in equal measure. Whether you want to give credit to a Christian God or Evolution, I can see it either way – I began to experience first hand a connectivity to all living things, and an objectivity which didn’t give my personal comfort level, convenience or mindless entertainment any more weight than that of an earthworm. I discovered that dying is not the worst thing that could happen to me, but that not caring for the Earth would be. I am alarmed to know that our oceans are dying, and that we are witnessing today one of the three great extinctions on our planet, and that most of that is due to our collective insatiable hunger for more, more and more. There has never been a more urgent time in human history to abandon the arrogance and ignorance of “individualism” as a philosophical platform.
The Grange literature says it all. I urge Grange members to reread the words of the Grange literature, and somehow make it relevant – because it is in the interest of the Order, and in the interest of our families, communities, nation, and the world. We are beseeched to educate ourselves, to tend the soil, which means observing it, learning about it, putting our hand in it, understanding it, and protecting it from the degradation of our farming practices. We are beseeched to value nature, not be at war with it. We are beseeched not to over-crop, which would be hard to maintain without doing more harm. We are beseeched to work hard and not look for the easy way out. It takes effort, it takes sacrifice, but in a dedicated community, it brings huge satisfaction. I hope to see the grange take a back-to-the-lander turn, on the path swathed by the California Grange, and so many new grange members across the country, who are positively aching to see the Grange take a courageous stance in living its own words.
Spencer Creek Grange #855