In Our Opinion: Deer Lagoon Grange’s membership should be open to all

The Deer Lagoon Grange has become an unlikely focal point in the culture war on South Whidbey.

The foofaraw began last fall when some members of the Washington Three Percent, a conservative group with a predilection for guns and disdain for masks, joined the Grange, causing concerns about a takeover.

An effort by hundreds of residents seeking to “Reclaim the Grange” followed. A petition warns that there’s “no place for anti-government extremism and violence on South Whidbey” and yearns for a return to the Grange’s mission “to strengthen individuals, families and communities through grassroots action, service, education, advocacy and agriculture awareness.”

Reclaim the Grange people and others concerned about the direction of the Grange applied to join the organization. They have been frozen out. While the Grange is supposed to make decisions about applicants at each monthly meeting, mysteriously, nothing has happened for months.

Chuck Prochaska, the Grange master, has been the heart and soul of the Grange for years, leading a successful fundraising effort a decade ago to renovate the historic structure not far from Bayview. The Grange has been an important part of the Whidbey Island Fair for many years and Prochaska and his wife were grand marshals of the parade two years ago.

He defends the new members of the Grange and feels under attack by the Reclaim the Grange folks. He indicated that people who signed the petition should probably not be allowed to be members if their desire is to “destroy” or “take over” the Grange.

It’s understandable that his feelings are hurt after all he’s done for the community. The petition is unnecessarily hyperbolic in spots, but it represents the will of community members who don’t want to see a long-standing and important community organization co-opted by a small number of people with a political agenda anathema to them.

People remember the Grange for free dictionaries given to school children, classes on organic food growing and beer brewing, arts and crafts events, creative writing contests, Zydeco dances and homespun cookbook fundraisers. These are the good parts of small-town values.

A demand for inclusiveness should not be confused with “cancel culture.” New members should clearly be welcome to the Grange. It would be the height of irresponsibility and unfairness to create a litmus test for membership based on what people think about one conservative group.

Inviting new members might lead to contentious situations, but it will ultimately be energizing and will only be good for the Grange and the community.

People learn to work together by working together.

More in Opinion

Smaller, safer nuclear reactors in works for Hanford reservation

It isn’t often we hear good news from the Hanford, but the… Continue reading

Sound Off: Workshop a chance to learn about racist societal structures

As our nation struggles with current and past racial injustices, it is… Continue reading

In Our Opinion: Deer Lagoon Grange’s membership should be open to all

The Deer Lagoon Grange has become an unlikely focal point in the… Continue reading

In Our Opinion: Seek public input, avoid consultants in spending stimulus money

It appears that government officials on Whidbey will have a lot of… Continue reading

In Our Opinion: Central Whidbey location is right for homeless shelter

Since 2017, the Haven has offered a warm, safe place to sleep… Continue reading

Sound Off: Working to strengthen WhidbeyHealth’s financial position

The declaration of a global pandemic was made just over a year… Continue reading

From the Publisher: Times are changing, and so is our mode of newspaper delivery

When you’re nearly 130 years old, you have to adapt to the… Continue reading

In Our Opinion: Those fighting for racial equality should focus on county government

It’s a little ironic, but perhaps not surprising, that so much of… Continue reading

Sound Off: State must help with fallout from ‘extraordinary opinion’

On Feb. 25, the Washington Supreme Court issued an extraordinary opinion with… Continue reading

In Our Opinion: Deer and loathing in Coupeville: Some possible solutions

To many Coupeville residents, the resident black-tail deer are no longer the… Continue reading

Rockin’ A Hard Place | The Rock got great help to take care of itself when needed most

We Rock dwellers enjoy the distance we have from America. It takes… Continue reading

In Our Opinion: Letters to schools misguided but should spur reflection

Both the Oak Harbor and the South Whidbey School districts were recently… Continue reading