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Around The Grange
Sonoma, CA Grange: Emphasis on Healthy Communities

By Joanne Sferrati, Sonoma News (1/10/11)

  FEBRUARY 2, 2011 --

Sonoma Valley Grange #407 was chartered in 1924 and acquired the property at 18627 Sonoma Highway in 1936. Since that time, the Grange has served the community as a center of social activity and civic engagement.

Over the years, as societal emphases changed from rural to urban and agricultural practices changed from family farms to corporate agribusiness, the Grange's influence diminished. Likewise, the Grange's level of community involvement has also diminished.

The Grange is a grass roots organization that began in 1867, in the aftermath of the Civil War. Rising from the fields and farmlands, we gathered on common ground to heal and support each other, work together, and honor traditional values.

We built halls across the rural landscape of America, inviting family, friends and neighbors to share the harvest from the fields and celebrate the bounty of life. For more than 140 years, we've preserved our founding principles of unity, liberty and charity. Cities and townships have grown up around our rural halls and the Grange has evolved into a community service organization with 10,000 members and 206 chapters across California. Grange halls are often the center of their community, providing opportunities, culture and education, entertainment, emergency shelter, and a meeting place where new friends are made and old friends are cherished.

Everyone is welcome to apply for membership in the Grange. Each member contributes at their own pace and level of participation. Each Grange decides how to best serve the community. Annual dues are minimal, and as a Grange member, you can use the hall as a private event venue for a small fee.

The Grange supports and advocates for healthy communities, family farms, local economies, cultural diversity, public schools and education, the arts, and a variety of charitable causes.

The Grange has lobbyists in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., and boasts a long history of successful legislative advocacy. Important issues discussed and decided at the community Grange level may become State or National Grange policy, and even legislation.

The Grange is family-friendly and has special programs for juniors, youth, young adults and women. The Grange was the first national organization to support and promote women as equal voting members. The Grange is non-partisan and non-denominational.

Today, the Grange is experiencing a revitalization as the principles of sustainability and local food production gain importance in our society. The hope and intention is that the Sonoma Valley Grange Hall will once again be a center for social activity and positive community engagement. To that end, look for lecture series on beekeeping, cheese making, brining olives, bread making, arts and crafts showcasing local artists, a master gardener series and local chefs, as well as a biannual flea market focusing on locally grown produce.

Although the Sonoma Valley Grange Hall shows the wear and tear of the years and the effects of deferred maintenance, the organization has begun rehabilitation and will continue to contribute to the improvement of the quality of life in the Springs corridor.


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