The Masonic Information Center is a committee recognized by the Conference of Grand Masters in North America, and the Twain Award winners were announced at the Conference in Anaheim in February. The MIC was originally funded in 1993 by John J. Robinson, author of Born In Blood, who was not a Mason at the time. Robinson gave a grant to start the Center in order to provide information to both Masons and non-Masons, and to respond to critics of the fraternity. The Center operates as part of the Masonic Service Association of North America. For more about the Twain Award, see here. Congratulations to the 2008 winners:
Helion Lodge #1, Huntsville, Alabama
Epes Randolph Lodge #32, Tucson, Arizona
Springville Lodge #153, Powder Springs, Georgia
Burnside Lodge #634, Burnside, Kentucky
Bewleyville Lodge #228, Bewleyville, Kentucky
Maine Lodge of Research, Portland, Maine
St. Aspinquid Lodge #198, York, Maine
Vienna Lodge #205, Clio, Michigan
George W. Lininger Lodge #268, Omaha, Nebraska
Omadi Lodge #5, South Sioux City, Nebraska
Nellis Lodge #46, Las Vegas, Nevada
Trenton-Cyrus Lodge #5, Pennington, New Jersey
Nutley Lodge #25, Nutley, New Jersey
La Fraternidad Lodge #387, New York, New York
Clifford Duell Lodge #756, Fayetteville, North Carolina
Frontier Lodge #48, Stillwater, Oklahoma
Albert Pike Lodge #162, Guthrie, Oklahoma
Jeptha Lodge #121, Hudson, South Dakota
Bethel Lodge #194, Prospect, Tennessee
Frontier Lodge #28, West Columbia, Texas
Hay Market Lodge #313, Haymarket, Virginia
Sequim Lodge #213, Sequim, Washington
Eureka Lodge #20, Seattle, Washington
Lynden Lodge #56, Ferndale, Washington
The criteria for the Twain Award is designed to motivate lodges to plan its future and improve itself with meaningful activities that serve the needs of its own members. There's no checklist, no defined roadmap of specific items that get crossed off when completed. The goal is to motivate lodges to act for their own good, and the good of their community, and to do it in a thought out manner. The website has much information on it, but it does list suggested activities and ideas that every lodge ought to be considering, regardless of whether they are trying for an award or not.
Frustrated lodge officers are frequently hunting the silver bullet, the Big Fix that will fill their lodges and make them active and relevant to their members. The truth is, it's different for every lodge. This list is one place to start. If you've heard me speak at a lodge or grand lodge, you've heard me say over and over. Try everything, and when that doesn't work, try something else. But start by making your lodge a place YOU can't wait to come to every month, every week.
The MIC has a list of suggestions for lodges to use as a starting place to rejuvenate themselves, and while I don't want to reprint their whole website here, their suggestions are thoughtful ones:
- Apply concepts of education and self-improvements to current print and non-print communications tools of individual lodges, Grand Lodges, and national Masonic organizations and societies.
- Improve the environment of lodge-based fellowship; refresh the look of the lodge; welcome new members; improve presentation skills; provide mentoring to study degrees; strengthen communications skills.
- Organize group activities based on education and self-improvement that can enrich lodge-centered fellowship such as: welcoming committees, lodge renovation and clean up campaigns, leadership development conferences, mentor meetings, workshops on such things as Masonic ritual, history, symbolism, architectural works, art, and cultural works.
- Initiate workshops on Masonic personal growth topics such as leadership, stewardship, ethics, philosophy, and spirituality.
- Call on local educational faculty to present on topics that enrich the body, mind, and spirit of the brothers.
- Tap the talents of individual members and build a community of experts to help facilitate Masons to improve themselves and their community.
- Improve community accessibility to Masonry through public outreach activities and program or group hosting, tutoring, and mentoring.
- Offer Masonic recognition and incentive programs for educational initiatives, visitor programs and Chamber of Commerce presentations.
- Honor the Mason within yourself.
- Communicate regularly with neighboring lodges.