Tuesday, March 19, 2013

An Idea for Lodges: the Free Little Library

Little Free Library #1967

For some reason, Masonic buildings seem to be on two ends of a spectrum. On one end, the building is imposing, i.e. the Detroit Masonic Temple. On the other end is a building like my lodge's, a facade that disappears into downtown. In both cases, the community can feel a bit put off. So, what do we do? A lot of lodges smartly host community events, meet at neighborhood functions, and perform other outreach ideas. But there are always more good ideas that we can employ.

One idea that is coming out of Hudson, Wisconsin that is garnering a lot of attention is the Little Free Library. The concept is relatively simple. A neighbor puts a box that resembles a dollhouse on top of a post. Inside the small house is a shelf or two of books. The books are donated by the community, including the Steward of the Little Free Library.

At least from all the articles, once the Little Free Library is installed, the community starts to come together. It becomes the community watercooler as people gather to see what books are there and to chat about what's going on in the neighborhood. The library is filled with an eclectic mix of donated books and the books are labeled with the phrase, "Take a Book, Leave a Book."

I was thinking about how this idea could be used by Masonic lodges, especially those with front lawns. Think about it. The Little Free Library could be filled with interesting Masonic tomes, books about self improvement, Dan Brown books, or whatever the lodge that meets there thinks is a cool idea. The Little Free Library is cheap to build and can be made with recycled material. The cost for registering it on the map is a paltry $34.95.

I think this idea is great. Just think, a nice looking box of books open to the community to share would be something unique and acceptable to the neighborhood. In one article I read, a comment is made that the Little Free Library is like a porch that extends to the street. I think this is a wonderful community outreach program that doesn't cost much money and would extend porch of King Solomon's Temple to the street. Let's make this happen.

What do you think? Should Masonic Lodges put Little Free Libraries in front of their temples? Leave a comment below.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Shrine Questions

I'm not ready to join anything big (monthly meetings or more). Between working nonstop at Lodge and in the York Rite and having a family and a job, I have very little free time. Yet, during one of my mindless thought experimentation sessions on the bus to work today, I actually found myself thinking about Shrine.

As I'm sure many American and Canadian Masons will attest, if you are a Freemason, at least once in your lifetime, you will receive a petition to join the Shrine. I have received three. My maternal grandfather was a Shriner but my paternal grandfather stayed away from Shrine. Each made a conscious decision concerning whether to join Shrine.

I'm not yet convinced to join Shrine. I'm not looking for a scotch and cigar club as I drink very little and never smoke. I don't like circuses (I'm still scared of clowns at 30 years of age). And if you ask my wife, she'll tell you that I'm just not a parade guy (too many years in marching band killed any joy in them). So I have to ask, is there anything else? I donate to the hospitals and I appreciate the Legion of Honor Degree Team but is there anything besides parties, cigars, parades, and clowns?

I started to think about clubs that would interest me. During one of the many petition situations, I was told that clubs were "the thing" when it comes to Shrine but they can get expensive. As I looked through the lists, not a lot was popping out at me.

"Parade, parade, parade... clowns [shivers], parade, parade, parade, ham radio, hmm... [writes down on pad]... parade, cigars... wow, not much."

Then I thought, "why not a club for gamers?" Nah, I play video games at home.

"Why not a tabletop RPG or Magic club?" Again, I play these at home. (Well, not these anymore since I have no friends who play them. Perhaps a +1 to Charisma?)

"Hmm, a Shrine movie club?" Maybe but still, probably not.


Every idea coming to me was something I did with my friends without requiring a "group" to organize them. We just did them.

I've been told that there's a lot of family activities, which is cool, but I really need more to jump in and join. I mean, are these family events something I could just do at my lodge? My lodge is already pretty open to family events as it is, what with family picnics, table lodges, and sweethearts' nights. Are the Shrine events that much better or significantly different?

And, I'm not trying to belittle Shrine. The hospitals are important and wonderful institutions dedicated to alleviating pain and suffering of kids. I just want to know if there's something for a guy like me outside of my yearly check to Shriners' Hospitals.

Help me out Shriners and non-Shriners. Why have you or haven't you joined Shrine? Comment below.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Jack White Explains Record Pressing and Secrets

I won't ruin the surprise. You'll hear it.

I think it's a pretty funny video overall.