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

In Our Opinion: Island County’s pandemic bonuses are a smart idea, if legal

The latest federal stimulus plan, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021,… Continue reading

In Our Opinion: Welcome back, Whidbey Island Fair, how we missed ya

After a year marked by fear, divisiveness and distancing, attending the Whidbey… Continue reading

My garden.
On the Rock, we walk, wander and garden while the sun shines

During sunshine, we are outdoors walking our trails, wandering our beaches and tending our gardens.

In Our Opinion: Ships should follow same environmental rules as everyone else

Over the last year, giant hulking figures emitting low, intrusive rumbles have… Continue reading

In Our Opinion: It’s time for governor to put social distancing behind us

It’s time for the days of mandatory social distancing to come to… Continue reading

Sound Off: Coverage of clear-cutting on island doesn’t tell complete story

Your recent article, “Despite how it may seem, clear-cutting not increasing,” lacks… Continue reading

From the Editor: Press releases always welcome, but they are just the first step

People are a lot more savvy about how newspapers work than they… Continue reading

Manke
Sound Off: This is a time to renew our pledge to remember the fallen

For many, Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer. The end of… Continue reading

In Our Opinion: Illegal or not, Coupeville school board actions troubling

As role models for students, school boards should strive to follow the… Continue reading

In Our Opinion: With candidate filing week at hand, it’s time to run for office

The outcome of this year’s election could have a significant impact on… Continue reading

Sound Off: Rethinking proposed bans on natural gas

By Don Brunell Sometimes being first isn’t good. Such is the case… Continue reading

In Our Opinion: Disputes unmask extent of misinformation, confusion about face coverings

Together with social distancing, donning a face covering is proven to be… Continue reading