The next step: Silverton Grange experiments with new training program

October 2018 Posted in Community, People
Silverton Grange's Nonviolent Communication event (2)

Silverton Grange members Rose Hope, Dorothy Ramig, Cayla Catino and Lennie Martin are among those seeking to keep the local grange vibrant and relevant to the needs of the community. Brenna Wiegand

By Brenna Wiegand

The local grange as a farmers’ organization has gone the way of the buggy whip and communities across the country are scrambling to find ways to keep local precincts alive while upholding its original tenets of supporting community, agriculture and education.

Silverton Grange Hall No. 748, founded in 1932, is no exception, and a core group of passionate people have been hammering out a plan to preserve their post and the building in which it is housed while honoring its agrarian roots.

Though towns and cities are not centered around the agricultural community to the degree they were in days of yore, at its heart the grange hall remains a place where families band together to improve the place where
they live.

“We were meeting in September and doing a revisioning for the Grange about what direction we wanted to go and looking at the National Grange and their mission and objectives,” Dorothy Ramig, 20-year Silverton Grange member said. “None of us are really into the farming part of the Grange but we all love food and we consider ourselves a green grange; we all support small farms and good farming practices.

“In our conversations one of our people said ‘What does Silverton need? What is not being offered here?’”

Between what is already offered in town and current events it was suggested that Silverton could use a place where people can have dialog in a safe environment.

“We all kind of went ‘Oooh’ and ‘Ahhh,’” Ramig said. “It resonated with everybody there.”

Shortly thereafter, Ramig was at a visioning retreat and met Tim Buckley of Salem who conducts trainings in nonviolent communication. He offered to do a free introductory evening to the 12-week course based on Marshall B. Rosenberg’s book, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life.

From there, interest will determine whether the Grange will offer the series.

“There’s national-level conflict; there’s state-level conflict and then there’s just our own little community; we have conflict which is a part of life,” Ramig said. “How we choose to deal with it is the next step.

“The Grange is reinventing itself, there are some things we want to keep; we want to keep our focus on environmental support and that’s why we call ourselves the green grange,” Ramig said. “Our new focus is to be a community of neighbors where people can come for dialog and events. We have a pretty good building and don’t want to lose it. We need to find a new way to get people interested in coming to use the building.”

The Grange is a few members shy of what it takes to stay viable with the National Grange and with more members the Grange can offer more events to the community.

The Grange recently hosted a candidates’ forum and holds a seed exchange in the spring. Past events include contra dances, cooking classes, public gardening and a pie auction in November to help repair the roof, but the sky’s the limit on what the Grange could mean to the community. Revenue may also be generated by renting out the facility for private events.

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