ALBERTA WORKSHOP BANFF
APRIL 19, 20, 21, 1991
Grabbing the Future 2
Dr. W. R. Pellow
Part II External Influences
Yesterday we looked at four basic internal aspects that would improve our meetings. We only scratched the surface. We are here to try and put some fire in Masonry — to ignite some Masonic pride in ourselves — to start the pot boiling on the front burners and come up with a menu palatable for all Masons. We can do it, but. It takes thought — it takes time — it takes work! It takes cooperation and participation.
Beaver story — trying to start the boat.
Now, let's look into the future and select some prime targets that externally affect our fraternity. What can we do today?? You have heard the old saying:
"United we stand, divided we fall",
Well it is a fact — how united are we in Masonry?
Think about it. It is a certainty we all went through the same ritual, the same degree work — we all answered the three basic questions satisfactorily or we wouldn't be here. Yes, we are to some degree of a kindred spirit and very similar. But there are cracks in the fuselage of Freemasonry that, if left neglected, could lift the roof off the whole organization. I see you pondering, wondering ... What cracks?
What about the whitewashing we took by the Church of England — various fundamentalists and other uninformed church officials? This resurfaced during my year as G.M. Like so many, I wanted to defend my craft strike out with rebuttals — squelch the accusers — point out their errors and weaknesses in their platforms. I did not. I heeded the advice of the late M.W. Bro. William wright, the then dean of our P.G.M.'s. He advised to let the fires burn out, let the winds die down and let the wild detractors retire into the multitude or seek out another cause to challenge. He was absolutely on target for it happened as he counselled. Incidentally, Bro. Wright was an Archbishop in the Anglican Church.
We are responsible for much of the anxiety that is created. Why do so many refer to Masonry as a cult or a religious order? Within our tyled doors, we invoke a blessing to god in all three degrees. We lay a V.S.L. on an altar — the central focal point of our lodgeroom. We profess a belief in god else we can not become a member. I find no fault in any of the above. We do shoot ourselves in the foot when we call our lodge a temple. A temple conotes an edifice for religious worship. Repeated use of the word "temple" to describe our meeting places is so common place in our vocabulary, most — of us think little of its use. The dictionary defines "temple" and allocates at least 4 religious uses. Lodge is defined as a home for beavers and a meeting place for Masons.
I still pick up my regalia bag to go to lodge, not to go to a temple. But what does John Q. Public think? Now that we are on the subject of religion, why not keep the invocations of banquets and socials secular? Inform those delivering the benedictions to keep them universal in nature. So often I have sat in lodge with my Jewish brethren and a Christian blessing is delivered. I wonder why? Why are we so inconsiderate and ill-mannered?
Secrecy — if you have ever had the pleasure or displeasure of being interviewed by the media, there are two common questions that must be answered: (a) why can't women join Masonry?, and (b) what are the secrets and why all the secrecy?
The Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario have set a policy that only certain Masons should speak on behalf of the craft for media interviews. We have a professional public relations executive (a member) appointed to our board of general purposes who has prepared 40 stock answers for the reoccurring questions that will be asked in an interview.
The uninformed or ill-prepared Mason at an interview can set Masonry behind 50 years, no matter how golden his intentions may be.
Much of our barren image again is our fault. Examine the typical Masonic lodge — no windows — and if they have windows, many are seen covered with plywood, and because blue is the colour of craft Masonry, they were painted blue — not to be undone by some Masonic artist draws a square and compass on the blue painted plywood, usually done with a phosphorescent aluminum. I think any building with windows boarded with plywood represents deteroration, deactivation and depreciation — simply exhibits no class — none!
It's time to rip the plywood off the windows. It's time to improve our public relations, public image and our community image. If you are designing a new lodge building, use windows not plywood, plywood is killing us!
We spoke briefly yesterday that each Masonic lodge should apoint a lodge building committee with two chairmen, one for the interior of the building and another for the exterior of the building. The exterior building committee would be responsible not only for the paint and polish of the exterior of the building, but for the care of the grounds and landscaping.
Looking after painting the fences, sweeping and edging the sidewalks, the parking lot, shovelling the walks, attending to the flag or flags, the lawns, and the planting of flowers, shrubs and trees. Our Masonic real estate should be among the landmarks in your community — that would stimulate the tour bus operators to say: "and on your left is the Masonic lodge". The care of the exterior of the lodge should be duty rostered by the W.M. On a 12 month schedule. The results would be unparalleled. And think how many more Masons you could keep activated!
Every Masonic lodge should be identified by a standard approved Masonic lodge identification sign. This sign should be illuminated from dusk to midnight, 7 days of the week. All signs should be of uniform design. Why uniform?? Macdonald's is known for its twin arches — all their signs are uniform and recognizable — and haven't they been successful?? But don't we have a better product to sell than hamburgers??
The Grand Lodge of Ontario has a subsidized program for constituent lodges to put this message across to the public with standardized lodge signage.
A young man walking by a Masonic lodge will form a positive impression of Masonry if our Masonic real estate looks appealing and reflects the pride of its membership.
What does the exterior of your lodge portray??
Community entrance signs
If you were a visitor to your town or city, and you decided you would attend lodge there... Wouldn't a connunity entrance sign be a tremendous asset for letting interested people know a Masonic lodge is alive and vibrant in your community — and where and when you meet?
If all community entrance signs were of uniform design, colour, and size — the impact throughout the province would be astronomical!! New Zealand has Masonic lodge community signs on every highway and byway where the community boasts a Masonic lodge. Why can't we do this in Alberta and why can't we convince the other 9 provinces in Canada?? This is a super idea to inject a little gusto to enhance our image!
The problem of a uniform lodge or community sign: Must be financed. But finances are not our prime stumbling block.
You know what it is? It's our square and compass design. We are supposed to be a universal fraternity. To date we have allowed each lodge to choose tneir own logo design. The choice of design has been at the whim of dozens of Masons.
The time has come to unite under one banner and reinforce our solidarity with a standardized logo design.
One logo — one design.
Freemasonry has no registered trademark. In Ontario alone, 91,000 Masons have adopted a standard square and compass. Prior to 1988, we had at least forty different designs of the square and compasses circumventing the letter 'g'.
Alberta uses this same design to some extent, so does the G.L. Of Vermont, Washington State, Quebec, Iowa, and several other grand lodges — it can be seen in Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, and Saskatchewan — just watch it surface! Over a quarter of a million Masons have seen this design and are using it. Why not mandate one universal logo?
I have a dream that a universal square and compass circumventing the letter 'g' will be accepted, not only in Sanada, but in all corners of the globe weere Masons meet. With your assistance, these dreams for the future will become a reality.
And imagine the impact! But it's not a stone mason's square — neither are you — it's only symbolic. If your G.M. Permits, why not get on the band wagon today! I will leave camera-ready art graphics with your chairman.
Standardize and make uniform your logo, your community entrance signs and your lodge identification signs. Perhaps the G.L. Of Alberta will mandate this design.
How do we excite, motivate and create interest, in the community that Masonry is a extraordinary fraternity? We must let people know we exist!
(e.g.) can't find the lodge in Aurora (26 miles north of Toronto - lodge is beside the post office).
One of the best ways to create awareness is to hold an open house. Simultaneously insert some skilled, prepared facts about Masonry in your local newspaper.
Your best results for Alberta would be for all to agree on a specific month to address the media and conduct your open house. Spearhead this program with a concerted provincial program. Prepare, prepare, prepare! If you are to conduct any open house or put the image of Masonry before the public eye at any time, always prepare. Preparation assures success!
Nothing could reverse your efforts than an open house attended by 6 visiting Masons in an empty lodge room. The same goes for a Masonic divine service... But that's another story.
Four of five adjacent lodges may band together in their efforts.
What is an open house?
It's an opportunity to invite the public, the non-mason to attend your Masonic lodge — an opportunity for Masons to explain the grandeurs of Masonry and the benefits of membership. The format is kept simple:
- A brief, I say brief, historical background.
- The organization and administration of a lodge explained. (A walkabout)
- What we do, have done, will do — charities, benevolence highlighted.
- Benefits of membership.
- Questions and answers.
Allow ample time on the agenda for a relaxed question period.
When you have invited the town fathers, the clergy, your friends — which include your male friends, their wives and children, representatives from local organizations, etc .... Please, please, please be prepared! Plan your actions and activate your plans. This is a time to make progress — and carefully expedited, you will receive several petitions for membership.
Light refreshments should follow the program. Something a little more imaginative than donuts and coffee!
Socials of the lodge are often instigated or originated within the lodge but so often present an opportunity to enpand our community image outside the lodge.
These important events are not a saga for the past masters but an extremely important occasion to introduce younger members to the fun side of Masonry!
Be sure to especiaily invite them — they never assume they are to be in attendance — or will do so on their own.
At the annual dance, mix up the music. Some of the younger members were not even born when Guy Lombardo, Artie Shaw, The Dorseys, Glen Miller or Harry James were playing the big band sounds.
During my two years as G.M. at the district banquets, I used to invite all Masons who had been initiated within the past year to stand and be recognized. Their absence at these annual highlights in the Masonic social calendar were obvious. Why?!!
Many of us are so deep in tne forest we can not see the trees! Nor are we aware that this same forest is ablaze on the other stde of the hill;
Don't rush to the library to read Mackey or Coil's Encyclopedias on Masonry to discover a solution to your problems. Best — go home to your favorite quiet corner, do some self-introspection — come out of seclusion with a dozen genuine thoughts — put these thoughts to paper.
If others on yoor board of general purposes do likewise, and you throw all your ideas into the cooking not, imagine what a menu you can serve your membership!
Today we touched on external influences to "grab the future":
- The Detractors
- Public And Community Image
- The Media (Preparation For The Interview)
- Lodge Enhancement (Our Masonic Real Estate)
- Lodge Signage
- Community Entrance Signs
- Standard Universal Logo
- Open Houses
If it is to be — it is up to me and we may not have it all together, but together we have it all!