Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
An article on the front page of the September 27, 2017, edition of the Wall Street Journal caught my eye. You might find it interesting. It was all about the slow diminishing in membership of the American Legion (an organization for veterans of the armed forces) and how some of the newer members of American Legion Post 43 are changing the perception of the legion. Here are some of the salient parts of the article:
“Here are words not often seen together in a sentence: American Legion and cool.
The young guns who have seized control of American Legion Post 43 are trying to fuse them together in the minds of a new generation of combat veterans . . . .
The American Legion has an image problem. Though the group is immersed in good works, its name summons visions of crotchety vets nursing beers in linoleum-floored posts. An ‘old-timey funny-hat club.’
At one California Legion convention, [one of the new members stated that he] was aghast the program mostly featured ads for hospices and cemeteries. [The member stated that the message was] ‘Welcome to the American Legion – prepare to die.’
There was little effort to make the Post a social center.”
Well, it should. This article could very well be talking about Odd Fellowship. There are Odd Fellows and Rebekah Lodges where the average age of members hovers around 70, and where a major item of discussion is the ubiquitous agenda item: Members Sick and in Distress. The Masons run hospitals for children. Odd Fellowship is an organization which, at the Sovereign Grand Lodge level, favors the Arthritis Foundation and Visual Research. We own cemeteries.
The new members of American Legion Post 43 set a goal of doubling membership. The meeting hall was completely renovated. They ratcheted up the social aspects – trying new things like Karaoke nights and comedy nights, forming running clubs and shooting clubs. They started a website so that vets could join by clicking any paying dues by credit card. The results were amazing. The number of new members who joined did not just double – it increased ten-fold.
Declining membership is a challenge faced not just by the Odd Fellows and Rebekahs, but by most lodges, organizations and clubs. Men and women in 2017 have different challenges than men and women in 1917. Organizations that recognize this simple fact, and reinvent themselves, will thrive in the new Century. Organizations that fail to recognize this will continue the steady decline in membership. And a steady decline can only end one way . . . .
F – L – T
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California
This past August, many of us from the state of California made the trip to our Sovereign Grand Lodge, meeting in St. Louis, MO. One of the remarkable things about our order is the constant renewal of friendship with those we know, and new members we meet. Sovereign Grand Lodge Sessions are full of get togethers for various committees and branches of the order. The proceedings handbook is very informative as to membership counts, assets, liabilities, and many other facets of our order. One of the first steps we all must take in revising our order and moving forward is to not do so blindly. When a member is present at a convention, it is difficult if not impossible to imagine the scope of a jurisdiction. Of course, this can be a good thing, because no jurisdiction should be treated less than any other.
On the negative side, there are several things almost all in attendance take note of, but is difficult to change without universal support. For example, unlike our own Grand Lodge Sessions, at Sovereign Grand Lodge, all legislation is discussed primarily in committees outside of sessions, and then only voted on in sessions. The problem with this is that the Sovereign Grand Representatives often have an incomplete and generally inaccurate view of the legislation. Of course, the glaring example of this fact came this year in the form of the increase of our Per Capita. The finance committee did give a report on the need for the raise, but many felt that the premise for the raise was not explained sufficiently. Sadly, although the initial request of a $5.00 increase yearly for 5 years was voted down, the amended request for a $5.00 increase yearly for 2 years passed. Some representatives seemed to feel that this was apparently an acceptable modification, but I personally felt that in a way we were being fed the same slow poison, just because it could easily be amended next year.
Also, the ugly reality of our order, is that while our own state is now growing, other states are shrinking, and some are shrinking fast. There are a multitude of reasons for this; specifically, a largely elderly membership, adherence to tired ritual dress and behaviors, ignorance of an outside changing world, and many other easily proven facts, but the results bear the facts out just by the virtue of the membership lists. The real problem with this is the order is becoming a convoluted quagmire, guided just as much by representatives of failing states as those in successful ones. The state of California, with some 4,000 members, has the same representation at SGL as states with less than 200 members! California presented legislation that would remedy this, but unfortunately, this failed, even though I felt it was imperative to speak on this issue. To be blunt (and I did seem to get agreement on this from many) without change representation will soon sink even more. We need to revamp this but also need to realize that no one wants to lose representation, while ensuring that larger jurisdictions receive at least more equal representation. I did take the opportunity to discuss this with Brother Terry Barrett, Sovereign Grand Secretary, and I am happy that he also is in favor of a modification of representation. He has written a new piece of legislation for next year, that may pass. What will help it pass will be to include other larger jurisdictions receiving more representation as well.
In August, there was seemingly very smart legislation presented via the jurisdiction of California to the representatives of SGL, to increase the number of representatives for every jurisdiction, but it was defeated. This would have been at no additional cost to SGL, and each jurisdiction would have had the option of adding more representatives to SGL, thus reducing the workload on the same existing representatives. Either they believed the workload was getting lighter each year and there was no need to have additional reps or they were happy with the year-by-year reduced numbers. In 2016, there were 119 reps. In 2017, there were only 113 reps and Sovereign Grand Lodge predicted further decreases.
The number has steadily declined and is on the same pace as the rest of the Order. Twenty minutes after the representatives voted not to increase the number of representatives, a gentleman (a rep), whom I shall not name, came to the mic and stated that each committee was so busy they could not find the time to attend other committee meetings and collaborate in discussing legislation which is assigned to multiple committees. He stated they lacked the time available because the committees were too busy. Here’s a thought! Perhaps with the added reps, the workload would have been reduced. What a concept!
As I have written in previous messages, the idea of having legislation sit dormant for nearly two years because it deals “with the almighty code” or the “sacred Ritual” is ridiculous. It is an outdated scheme to affect needed change and to keep up – I mean CATCH UP – with what changes we must make to save this Order. There have been plenty of suggestions and presented legislation to modernize and to move forward to grow this Order, but it gets killed primarily because of the delaying mechanism utilized to present items for a vote. Why this self-imposed “laying over of bills”? Why not an immediate, same session approval or disapproval? These methods of delaying allow prejudicial influences to kill important legislation and rarely works in favor of passing any changes.
The recent dues increase, which every member has a right to speak against or in favor, as it personally affects our pocket books, is one of the worst votes by a misinformed group of representatives we have ever seen. If one reads the legislation, the dues increase is nothing but a punishment on the membership, for not growing the Order. It is also a steep increase to many members, a total of $10.00 for two years. Then, the Rebekahs were included in this retaliatory measure as well, as they must pay $10.00 over a two-year period, too! Furthermore, no Rebekahs were given an opportunity to come to the mic and speak on the matter. They probably didn’t even know that it was on for a vote. But, their dues were arbitrarily increased as well. If a member belongs to both the Odd Fellows and Rebekahs, which many do, that equates to a $20.00 increase. For our members who are retired or on limited incomes or those simply having a tough time financially, this can be a burden. The fact that the Finance Committee for the SGL could not respond to what the money would be used for, when called upon during the discussion of the increase, should have been a red-flag to anyone and everyone in the room. The fact that SGL did not need the money, as is evident in the bill, should have been a red-flag. So, what happens to the money? Who does it go to? How is it going to be spent? We can’t believe most of the reps voted on something without knowing where the money was going or where it was going to be used. Well, perhaps given the method in which legislation is discussed behind closed doors, presented in a slight of hand manner, and then passed without adequate discussion, we can believe it.
Brothers and sisters, we must open our eyes and be aware of what is going on around us. We must be more progressive in our thoughts and ideas to save this wonderful Order. Some of us have been working for the Order for a very long time. We want to see it go on for another 200 years. If we are not more attentive to bad legislation, backroom dealings, and fiscal irresponsibility this Order may not survive.
In Friendship, Love, and Truth, Peter Sellars and Rick Boyles
I am a member of Santa Rosa Lodge #53 and I’ve been following your DMC newsletter for a while now. In particular, your most recent communication of September 30 resonated very strongly with me, as I reflect back on some of the events that have transpired of late within our Lodge and how they seem to fit quite well into the above concept/idea (“the stool”), that you continue to highlight in your newsletters. And please know that I’m certainly not trying to be self-serving with regard to our Lodge in bringing an awareness of its endeavors to you, as I realize that there are many Lodge’s who are strong in their membership and diligent and focused when to comes to what they attempt to accomplish as a fraternal organization. So with that in mind, I share with you – with a degree of humility of course – some of what’s been going on at our Lodge recently.
Regarding the charitable aspect of our Lodge, we recently made a donation (actually, a few) to a local organization located here in Santa Rosa – “The Living Room” – that provides daytime support services to homeless and at-risk women and their children – they were indeed very grateful for our support and we are considering taking a tour of their campus in the near future. We are also planning a golf tournament fundraiser to be held the last Saturday in October at a local course, which will be a benefit for the “Save the Children” foundation; we were actually able to secure some radio air time to bring attention to the event – which is being broadcast in several different areas around Northern California. This will, of course, not only serve as a way to hopefully bring in a number of participants – but it will also bring attention to our Lodge specifically, within the context of this charitable pursuit.
We regularly receive solicitations from other, local charitable organizations (such as our local Food Bank) and while we certainly understand that we must exercise some level of financial prudence with the money that we consider sending to those who request it of us – we are definitely open to at least considering what assistance we might be able to provide to these groups/causes. We offered our Lodge Hall for a fundraising event in late August, for a woman whose ex-husband tragically killed himself and their 2 young children (they actually lived not far from the Lodge) and not only was a fair amount of money raised – but our participation was made reference to more than once within our local newspaper. And while our interest in helping out the situation certainly wasn’t driven by a desire for media attention, I would submit that having that take place is definitely a positive reflection on Lodge 53 and further, the Odd Fellows as a whole. And of course as you may already be aware, we sent a donation of $10,000 to the Texas Grand Lodge on the heels of Hurricane Harvey, to assist in their relief efforts with regard to their Houston-area Lodges – and we recently received a letter from them expressing their significant gratitude and appreciation for our gesture, along with feedback that the money was able to go very promptly to those Lodges impacted by the storm and its aftermath and was indeed put to good use right away.
As to the Social “leg” of the stool, we have been having monthly events for some time now – and not only has the attendance has been very strong (I believe that we had close to 100 people at last week’s “Oktoberfest”, for example), but we continue to find that a number of those who come to the events are not actually Odd Fellows. Which isn’t to suggest that we don’t get a strong showing of Lodge members – but obviously, the word is getting out that what’s taking place at our Hall on Pacific Avenue in Santa Rosa on the 4th Wednesdays of the month is worth taking the time to be a part of. To that end, we’ve been able to bring in some new members from these events and we see no reason that this trend won’t continue. Also, just to circle back to the Charitable/Community-minded leg of the “stool”, at these Socials we always try to have one particular local organization represented and acknowledged – either in having a representative of the charity present (and if that’s the case, we ask them to give a brief overview of their organization), or at the very least, we make sure that some of the money that we collect – for a raffle for example – will benefit the organization. An example of this would be an organization that sent a couple of representatives to a Social not too long ago, one which provides housing for homeless youth, as well as a number of counseling and support services. So again, we’re certainly enjoying each other’s company and enjoying the events themselves – but we are very conscious of our Mission while planning and executing them.
One note – there are many people who are instrumental in putting these wonderful gatherings together – but frankly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t specifically acknowledge 2 of our members in particular, Laurie Crum and Karen Amandoli – who are very often the driving forces behind the success of these events (and of course, there’s also a special “shout out” to Gundy Feil – who worked for weeks as to the food preparation for the last week’s Oktobertfest – and it was very good food, no doubt!).
And so that brings us to the “History” leg of the stool – and that is certainly an aspect of our Order that is important within our Lodge; we have many pictures throughout our Lodge that go back a number of years, as it’s been a part of Santa Rosa for a long time. And we are mindful of this history and we understand its significance. We also have regalia that has been in the Lodge for some time and we’ve even come across Minutes of meetings from long ago (such that they were hand-written, on a type of paper that probably doesn’t exist anymore). In fact as a somewhat lighter example of this facet of our Lodge in particular, I just recently learned that there are some who believe that our Lodge might actually be haunted – and while that may or may not be true (and mind you, I don’t consider myself to be any kind of an expert on the Paranormal), it stands to reason that if there’s any accuracy to this claim – it serves as another example of a “rich” history (after all, you generally don’t hear about newer buildings – or those which don’t possess an historical significance of some kind – as being haunted, right?). But again, we have an awareness of our history – and absolutely a respect for it.
In closing, I want to sincerely thank you for taking the time to read this. I’ve been an Odd Fellow for 20 years now and I can say without question that this time at Santa Rosa Lodge is about as stimulating and enjoyable as I’ve experienced in that 20-year span of being a part of the IOOF. I also believe that I can say with a high degree of confidence that many of our members feel the same – you can actually “feel” the dynamic of our Lodge as being a positive one, for what that’s worth. We are aware of the need to continue to grow our membership base – and I think that having a positive outlook on being a part of Lodge #53 will help us in doing so – after all, if you believe that you are a part of something special, then you are more likely to be an advocate of it as you share this belief with others who you come into contact with. I also feel its important to acknowledge those within our Lodge who have been members throughout the time when perhaps the above wasn’t the case, who nevertheless persevered in making sure that Santa Rosa #53 continued to be viable as a Lodge and important within our community – we certainly stand on their shoulders.
Perhaps one of the best examples that I can share with you as to the manner in which our Lodge is moving forward in this positive direction is at last Friday’s “Bowling Night”, which had in attendance 16 of our members. Not only did we all seem to be having a really good time – but as I was looking out over the 4 lanes that Lodge #53 occupied (and indeed, bowling shirts – along with nicknames – are definitely being considered), what struck me was the fact that we were all truly enjoying each others’ company. Yet, we were/are certainly a group of people who are “on paper” definitely different from each other. Our oldest bowlers were in their 70’s – and yet they were interacting with the youngest there, who are in their late 20’s/early 30’s; there were men, women, folks who work in drastically different fields from each other, those who very likely share different Political belief’s, some who ride motorcycles regularly – and those who wouldn’t do so for any reason whatsoever (that’d be me, in the interest of full disclosure) – but yet, none of that matters because we were having fun a lot of together. Frankly, I can’t think of a better example of the true spirit of Friendship, Love and Truth.
Santa Rosa Lodge #53
On Thursday, October 19th the Davis Odd Fellows welcomes national recording artist, Sarah Potenza.
After years of touring with her band Sarah & The Tall Boys, Sarah Potenza was chosen over 50,000 candidates to appear on t.v. series, The Voice. Judge Pharrell Williams’ reaction to Potenza’s on-air audition gives you a pretty good idea of the level of talent of this incredible singer. Williams’ immediately exclaimed, “You’re giving this generation something they’ve never seen before.” Potenza left the show as a top 20 finalist then headed to Nashville, where she quickly integrated into the local music scene, becoming a staple at the world-renowned Bluebird Café and the globally broadcast Music City Roots program. She continues to earn raves for her big voice, which seamlessly blends roots, rock and soul.NPR Music exclusively premiered the music video to Potenza’s debut album, ‘Monster’. Programmers have been supporting her gritty sound and unstoppable resolve, resulting in ‘Monster’ moving quickly up the Americana Radio chart.
NPR Music calls the album a “blistering, riff-propelled personal anthem,” while No Depression states, “You won’t find any gimmicks on MONSTER, just pure unadulterated rock and roll.” Sarah’s album also received rave reviews from Rolling Stone. In September 2016, the magazinenamed her one of the top 10 artists you need to know, stating “Potenza is to the Blues what Adele is to Pop.”
The Odd Fellows Hall is located at 415 2nd St. in downtown Davis. Doors open at 7p.m.; show starts at 7:30p.m. Ticketswill be available at the door for $20. There will be a no-host bar. For more information contact Juelie Roggli: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Four Course Prix Fixe Menu
Discounted to $53/person for parties of 6 or more (excludes tax/gratuity and alcoholic beverages)
*Newly Renovated No-Host Bar will open and highlighting
Premium wines, whiskey and draft beer for purchase*
Saturday, October 21st 5:30-8:30pm
415 2nd Street, Davis, Ca
Roasted Chestnut, Parsnip and Apple Soup
Caesar Salad with Focaccia Croutons topped with Poached Egg
Choice of Entree
Lamb Osso Bucco served with Rustic Smashed Potatoes
and Roasted Wild Mushrooms
Braised Chicken Legs with Honey and Five Spice, served with Herby Rice Pilaf with Pistachios and Almonds, and Brussel Sprouts
Poached Halibut in a White Wine and Tarragon Sauce served over Herby Rice Pilaf with Pistachios and Almonds, with Wilted Greens
Handmade Butternut Squash Raviolis served in a Brown Butter Sage Sauce served with Roasted Wild Mushrooms
Choice of Dessert
Lemon Meringue Tart
Blackberry Sorbet served with Shortbread Fingers
(No Menu Substitutions available) Seating is limited, reservations are required! Please call 530-758-4940 or email email@example.com for reservations.