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Building FriendshipLodge33.org

June 21, 2007 2 comments

A decade ago, the term “mission creep” passed into the vernacular; it describes the all-too-common situation in which various elements are added to a project, until at some point one realizes that the original concept of the project is no longer relevant. This usually happens when one person after another suggests that it would be a good idea to add “just this one little thing” until all the resources are drained and the project itself becomes virtually unmanageable. I suspect that this is what happened with our own Grand Lodge website development.

I wasn’t in on the concept from the start, so I can only guess as to how it happened; but I have a suspicion that the idea to give all of the lodges in Connecticut their own website, and then to link them all started out as something pretty simple. I do know that several Masons put a lot of their own time, money, and energy into getting the project off the ground, and for that I salute them. It could not have been easy to explain to the various non-Internet savvy committee members along the way how things could or should work. Even those of us with some computer background are surprised by the number of obstacles to a smooth transition – after all, most of us merely see the web pages, and have no idea about the underlying code, the layers of protection, the database linking, and the updating of a hundred different websites.

I do know that last year at this time I was pretty disgusted with the Friendship Lodge website; several crashes had taken out all of our trestleboard data (the various dates and descriptions of events). In mid-summer, the Grand Lodge site was hacked, and even more data was lost. Worse, some of the computer geeks in Friendship had modified our site by adding things to the template that all of the lodges were using, and each crash meant that the modifications had to be re-created. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I started blogging because I wanted a place to announce events, put up pictures, and keep the members of the craft informed.

Fortunately, the Grand Lodge website problems have been resolved, and for the last several months the administrators have been doing a fantastic job of keeping things running. They’ve added some useful features, like a search function for the various lodge activities, and online copies of our newsletter The Connecticut Freemason. They have polls, and a section where one can download various policies and procedures, and tons of contact information, and links of various Masonic interest. That they have not linked to The Tao of Masonry is surely an oversight. Excellent work, brothers!

One of the few nits left to pick, however, is that all of the lodges use the same template; with a few exceptions, the site for each lodge looks exactly like the others. This has been the source of much aggravation and many sleepless nights to the l33t h4xx0rs at Friendship Lodge – a cadre of men in their 20’s who have been wanting to upgrade the plain-vanilla site. So, over the last week they formed a committee and launched a new site: www.friendshiplodge33.org. Our Junior Warden Eric Charette heads up the committee, and is joined by his brother Kyle, and two of our newest members, Bill Reyor and Eric Tetreault.

While there is still some fine-tuning to be done, they have done a fantastic job of getting the new site up and running. They’ve been using Joomla content management software, mainly because that’s what our own Grand Lodge site is using – we’re looking down the road to where we can (hopefully!) replace the standard template with the new site. The new site has a calendar that’s fed from the GL Friendship 33 calendar, a place for members to post news and event articles, a photo gallery, a user forum (including a “tiled” section) and they promised me that they would soon have our own Wiki module set up. I can foresee setting up a forum group for the DeMolay chapter and Rainbow chapter that meet in our lodge, too.

Right now the site is being hosted on Bro. Kyle’s own server, so some of the content loads more slowly than we’d like. But I’d like all of my readers to stop by and give us some feedback, especially those of you from Connecticut. If nothing else, stop to share a joke at the Humor forum.

www.friendshiplodge33.org

Masonic Scavenger Hunt!

June 20, 2007 1 comment

How about something Masonic that’s not about ritual, rules, regulations, Konspiracy theorists, or a complaint about the Shriners?

The Masonic Scavenger Hunt in Connecticut!

When I was a young’un, we would have neighborhood scavenger hunts on those warm summer nights when school was out. We would form into teams, and somebody – it always seemed to be one of the bossy older girls on the block – would hand out lists of the various items that we would have to scrounge up. Dog bones, bottle caps, soap cakes, safety pins, balloons, and other odd items figured heavily on those lists, and we would all scatter in different directions to search in open garages, knock on doors, and generally annoy the neighbors without children in our search for these useless treasures.

But even though the first day of summer is upon us, this is not a post for waxing nostalgic about those bygone days; we’ve got our own Scavenger Hunt right here in Connecticut. VW Charles Tirrell – my District Grand Lecturer counterpart in the 4th District – is behind the idea for a scavenger hunt with a Masonic theme. No scrounging in your neighbor’s garage for an old bottle opener; you’ll be traveling with a digital camera and your GPS in order to spot Square & Compasses on buildings and old gravestones, paintings and statues of Masonic presidents, and various items with Masonic symbolism.

What: A photo scavenger hunt, where teams of 3-5 Freemasons will take photos around Connecticut of a Masonic nature. The brothers will then recongregate and compare their photos in a fun and brotherly manner.

When: June 30th, 2007

  • 1:00pm-2:00pm – Registration
  • 2:00pm-8:00pm – Scavenger Hunt
  • 8:00pm-11:00pm – Judging and Refreshments

Where: 30 Church St., North Haven, CT

Who: Freemasons (EAs, FCs or MMs)

Cost: $30 per team (includes pizza and beverage costs for after the hunt), $6 per person if you’re just attending the judging

Contact: For more information or to sign up a team or individual members (We will assign individual members to teams that are not full, so that everyone can play), email Charles Tirrell at chtirrell@yahoo.com

More details are available at their website:

http://masonicscavengerhuntinct.pbwiki.com/

This all-day event will end with pizza and fellowship; and unlike back in the old days, your parents won’t be calling for you to come home by dark.

Masonic Membership Reported on the Upswing

June 20, 2007 Leave a comment

Masons membership begins to grow again

Here’s an interesting article in the Wednesday June 20, 2007 edition of the Meriden Record Journal, a newspaper that supports the central Connecticut region.

The article plays on some of the more interesting preconceptions and stereotypes of the fraternity. For example:

“They are painted equally with the brush of geriatric decrepitude and secret handshakes. They ride around in little cars for charity, but their origins are rumored to lie in the soaring cathedrals of Europe, or even the pyramids of Egypt.”

I found it interesting that while most people don’t seem to associate the Freemason with the Shriners, this reporter manages to make a connection.

Even more ironic was this:

“Few people know a Mason, but everyone’s grandfather seemed to be one. “

If I were editing this, I think that I would change it to read “Few people realize that they know a Mason…”

On the more positive side, the article did mention some of the great work that we’ve been doing here in Connecticut over the past few years. Eagle-eyed observers will note that the article does mention Worshipful Master David Hubbs of Friendship Lodge No. 33 – my own mother lodge – and the collections for the troops overseas that we have spearheaded for the Year of Giving.

“One of the major activities of the Masons is charity on the local level, such as the 3.5 tons of personal items collected for U.S. troops overseas by the Southington temple, but they also involve themselves in large-scale donations and projects like funding Masonicare in Wallingford, which is considered one of the finest senior healthcare facilities in the country, and the $2 million they donate every day to charities worldwide.

“Masonicare, which services the general public, was started with an original investment of $332 in 1895. What was then a home for a few dozen people on a working farm has become a facility that produces $128 million in revenue every year and assists 3,000 patients a day. “

I know that some Masons object to this kind of publicity because it makes our fraternity look to be merely a charity or benevolent society. However, we must admit that the charitable acts are generally the first, if not the only facet of Freemasonry that most people ever see; not that we, as Masons, need to justify our actions to anyone. But if we are to continue to attract members, I’d certainly want the people in my neighborhood noticing an article like this, as opposed to, for example, articles about the mistreatment of animals at a Shriner’s circus.

The article, though, does point out that in many lodges membership is indeed growing. Friendship Lodge has added about sixteen new members in the last six months, most of them younger men who are joining because they are looking for a solid, established community organization and recognize the serious nature of the fraternity. While some lodges in the hinterlands of the state are still not doing as well as we would like to see, lodges in the more populated areas have been showing similar growth. I’m hoping that this will lead to a new generation of men “discovering” Masonry.

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