(Editor Note:) The message below was sent to us as a response to the August 28, 2017 post “What the Odd Fellows of Tomorrow Could Look Like”.
Submission by Billy Sanderson, An Initiatory Degree member with Columbia #2 in Victoria, BC, Canada.
Dear Brother Ainslie, I enjoyed the post on the vision of the Order’s future. My response doesn’t fit in the comments section because is reads as a collection of points and thoughts in support of your view. Let me know if you’d like to exchange further.
About the “new generation”
– The first message we often provide to potential lodge candidates is “this is what we do as Odd Fellows”. What is so important to the “new generation” (especially those I work with in tech) is the follow-up message such, as “and this is what we can be with you”. It is hard to craft this message as it is extremely individual, but it is the way the Order’s message can be heard and understood by those people who you have described as needing what the Order can give them.
– As current members, we should be aware of skepticism by some “youth”
about all things old or traditional or fading away (like many see the
Order). It was not until I turned 50 that I sought out what I thought I was
missing. I asked many questions. The members I asked were patient
with me. Eventually, I found what my lodge and I could give each other.
– Our rituals related to degrees are traditional, historically important and often fun to perform. I sense that the Initiatory ceremony splits new members into groups:
- Those who understand their meanings of the symbols and message.
- Those who like them for their history, oddity, or Harry Potter-ness; (groups 1 and 2 often overlap).
- Those who don’t get them on first take, or think that it happens all the time and then they disappear.
All these groups hold good people with the value to help and serve our missions. To the Membership committees: Get new members involved early to help them stay.
Types of leaders and mentors:
– Lodges should recruit leaders who can be part of the lodge’s missions. Look for community leadership and maybe some who don’t fall into “odd ones out” category. I can imagine that having the stereo-typical “angry football coach” is not the personality those you describe would like to share a lodge with, but the right type of coach has experience with mentoring and guiding.
This is my best example:
– Depending on your lodge ask yourself: Do we advocate “Learning by
doing” vs “Learning by teaching”? The latter sounds like school, or church to
me, and maybe others as well. Could that be a turn off to some? Maybe
teachings can be built in to meetings. This was a discussion I had with
members before I knew Odd Fellowship it was right for me. I found that being
accepted and needed in the lodge’s work has grab a hold of me tightly.
– It is hard to say that some lodges are going to have to fade away, but before they do Districts should step in to find the leaders and valuable members in those lodges before they disappear. Get their insight, spread it around, and if possible help their move to other lodges.
– Mentorship is going to be so important in the Orders long into the future. A simple example of a way to start is the women of Bastion #4 here in Victoria have “Bastion Buddies” (see Below for official description) who are non-sponsoring members who are teamed up with each new Initiate. Building the network quicker and answering more questions about the lodge and Order.
I enjoy every post at Heart In Hand and thank you for helping me craft my comments into a post.
What is Bastion Buddies?
After the membership committee approves new members, before initiation, we partner them with an established member. We take into account who sponsored the initiative as this is most often a friend and we can give them a complimentary member who they won’t know to broaden their circle from the start. We wanted the new people to get the most out of the Lodge and not be clingy with their sponsor. The old guard also need to engage with new members right from their start – so they don’t feel out of touch with membership after a couple of years.
Your B4 Buddy is responsible for the initiate throughout the first year; to answer questions about Oddfellowship and activities and to be a friendly face or ‘wingman’ at events. They keep in touch to help the newbie attend and engage with the group. At times we have used the buddies to simplify activities that work in pairs. A couple of times we have donated time or money together as buddy pairs.
So far the system has worked quite well. Volunteers from current members are solicited and then pairing up people in a selection system based on the interviewers opinion of best fit.