Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Vicky Dorvee

Left Hand Grange looking for new membership and stronger participation


January 12, 2018

Courtesy Photo

The Left Hand Grange No.9, organized in 1873, is a community service organization and the oldest active grange in Colorado.

At the heart of each community are places where locals gather -- newcomers are welcomed, food is shared, ideas are discussed, holidays are celebrated, accomplishments are acknowledged, information is disseminated and music is enjoyed.

The result is a coming together that brings a sense of being part of vibrant community. Left Hand Grange No. 9 fulfills all of these needs in Niwot.

Over 150 years ago, when the United States was primarily an agrarian society, people lived more isolated lives on farms or homesteads. Places that became the community hub were called granges. The Grange Movement was a direct outgrowth.

Left Hand Grange Hall is located in the distinctive two-story, white-washed building on the soutwest corner of Second Avenue and Franklin Street. Part of a national network of 3600 granges and first chartered in 1873, Left Hand Grange No. 9 is now the oldest active grange in Colorado, having outlived the first eight.

Initially, the purpose of the Grange revolved around agriculture. Today, the Grange hosts a diverse array of get-togethers: Niwot Rotary Club meetings, weekly Cub Scout and Boy Scout meetings, psychic fairs, craft sales, bridge games, open mic music events, Boulder County Commissioner meetings, Boulder County Transportation presentations, Niwot Historical Society speakers, Santa Claus appearances, knitting classes, book sales, private events for companies or other organizations, educational events, and a place for all community organizations to meet.

Renovated in 2009 in an effort spearheaded by the late Joe and Dorinda Dembroski, and constructed by the late Bob Parich, the building offers two spaces. The downstairs space is a large main room, which may be configured to a multitude of set ups for tables and chairs. The restrooms and a fully functioning kitchen are also downstairs. The upstairs area offers a stage and movie theater-type seating.

“A lot of people don’t know what the Grange is,” Left Hand Grange secretary Bruce Johnson said. “They don’t realize it’s more than just a building. I’ve always felt that the primary function of the Grange is that it’s the de facto community center of Niwot.”

Currently, Left Hand Grange has 37 paying members. However, only a handful of folks are actively participating. The core membership is about five people who regularly attend monthly meetings.

This small group is doing as much as possible to encourage existing members, as well as new members, to come to meetings and engage in discussions and decision-making to shore up the organization.

Courtesy Photo

Grange Treasurer, Sue Wilson, secretary, Brice Johnson, and general member, Kathy Koehler, pose in the main room of the Left Hand Grange.

Traditionally, monthly meetings were full-blown potlucks and social events. Today, meetings still involve a bit of noshing, but they are very informal, generally run one hour, and are focused on a more specific business agenda. Topics covered include all decisions needed to keep the organization running smoothly; building maintenance, the ongoing sponsorship of a Cub Scout pack and a Boy Scout troop, and other pertinent business. Fortunately, rents, membership dues and donations by Friends of the Grange who voluntarily support the organization, cover current financial needs so there is no need for fundraising.

“We’re a community service organization,” Treasurer Sue Wilson, said, “Our main purpose is to support the building as a community asset so groups can meet here and county commissioners can speak here.” Wilson has been involved with the Grange for nearly 20 years.

Johnson, who has been a member for almost 10 years and has held various positions on the executive committee, explained, “New members are always welcome and are essential to keeping the Grange a strong and viable part of Niwot.”

To become a member of, contribute to, or to reserve the Left Hand Grange go to http://www.LeftHandGrange.org.


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