between here and there


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Speculating Place


Eighteen months ago, that’s my guess, the county roads of Bozeman Montana began to change in condition and quality. The quiet rural roads that we would drive as a back way in and out of town transitioned to the roads to the next neighborhood. And then the next. Today pastures and farms that were the wide open spaces that surrounded Bozeman are now covered over with homes and new roads that extend from “feeder” roads are no longer quiet country roads. Homes are made from over-night speculative structures presented as some version of Western style, ranch, ranch home, Dwell infused modern or modified craftsman….

I have heard that Bozeman is currently hovering at 105 percent occupancy. Which means to me that either families are waiting on the side of the road to move into their homes, or people are living in places beyond the capacity they were built for. I wonder what the interpreted occupancy of Manhattan would be if this ratio of habitation were considered. A big difference, one of many, between Manhattan and Bozeman is that one is an island with definite boundaries while the other is a large, flat valley floor open for modern speculation. Any thoughtful visions for the future of Bozeman are now run over by the madness that is brought from primarily using real estate as a mode for maximizing profit instead of understanding that what is built becomes the place, that is the town or city we live in. Without greater interest in what makes and becomes community we all lose the significance of the origin of the place we originally came to find. 

What is Bozeman to become? As I watch it quickly evolve from a unique western town to a suburban city, outweighed by its ill considered developments of homes and large company stores and franchised retail, I know I can no longer ignore the suburban development homes that were slowly accruing along the fringes a few years ago. 

The realtors report that the builders intend to build homes to an 80 percent occupancy before they stop building to maximize their profit in response to the multiple families that are arriving to Bozeman everyday as refugees who gave up hopefulness in their last place. Must we must accept that under considered speculation will mark the future that will be Bozeman? Are we to lose the organic quality of this place which emerged from a slowly brewed vision combined of thoughtful imagining of useful, inspired, integrated, grounded, heartfelt, responsive growth and development that made this small town unique, and often lauded as “one of the best small towns” to live in.
Is this my Not-In-My-Backyard rant? Maybe. The interpretation depends on your alignment with my concern. I am transplant who arrived almost twenty years ago. Bozeman was of course smaller then. There were many things and experiences I missed from larger cities, including those found in Manhattan (NYC). I am not against change, I am not against development or growth. I am against the growth of sameness that plagues so many smaller towns as they grown into small cities, or cities that expand into mega-environments of sameness. The sameness that comes directly from speculation and expansion of large planned retail developments that bring the same universally bland and consumptive exploits found everywhere. I am against the sameness that makes place disappear under commerce and greed. Sameness that makes where we live nowhere instead of somewhere.
Instead of bland speculation as the town of Bozeman takes its last breaths as a small town, can we instead aspire and require that what comes next springs from thoughtfulness, inventiveness, curiosity, inspiration, commitment, collaboration, and care; a place born of the diversity and richness of evolving culture and humanity that rests surrounded by the mountains and rivers and wildlife that brought most of us here in the first place.

Let it be a new Bozeman, not a lost Bozeman.

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Creative inspiration 

  
Creativity is always here. Even if we are busy with the rest of life’s needs. It creeps in the Windows, crawls between boards. It will open the door if left unlocked. The beginning of a vision for what we don’t always know. We can push the vision away , and if it keeps returning, pay attention. This one may really need to come into to being.

Why this inspiration and not another? We will never really know. But we can ask ourselves if we are up to the challenge of the translation to reality. We can take inspiration on and change the world, one bit at a time, for the better.


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snow and fire

picstitch-1How do we come to know a place? Exploration, play, living. ¬†I spent some time in the dwindling winter snow today, appreciating what remains. Hoping for more. And worrying about fire season this summer if more of the great white stuff doesn’t fall from the sky soon.


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Dreams for a Wetland

Dreams for a Wetland

Dreams for a Wetland

The Wetlands of Louisiana are failing. Our control of rivers and need for oil is the culprit. With action the wetlands health can be restored. To learn more check out the Environmental Defense Fund.

 


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Courage in Place

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I have recently been reminded of the root of the word courage. From the French corage, which means heart. When we love deeply, we find our courage. Today I am in the place of corage.

The spirit of New Orleans seeps into you if you give it a chance. It’s the reason visitors want to gather T-shirts and coasters and voodoo dolls, trinkets and beads and any other talisman before returning home, where their courage must be weak. New Orleans has a spirit of hopefulness beyond ordinary hope. It is a place where commitment and perseverance shine, where value of place and it’s specificity winds together with people and environ to make something that is not repeatable anywhere else . It is a place where tragedy is worn beside hope, and love next to hate, peace outshines war. It is a place where all that is good in us pushes back against all the potential negatives.

New Orleans shines with our humanness. As a place, it deeply contrasts my home of Montana, Which is why I value any visit here. It reminds me that beauty comes in all forms, that wildness so easily visible in the mountains and rivers and grasslands still survive within us as we stand up for our beliefs of what daily living should be like – and what we should commit to for the long haul.

Being here requires gumption expressed in many ways. Look into Bourbon street and recognize it’s bacchanalian presence. Early in the morning the night before is washed and swept away, and the stain of disregard remains. It only takes a walk to the next block to be deep in the neighborhood of respect and care, where sidewalks may be cracked and old, but are clean and free. In New Orleans a cordiality still remains as people cross paths, walk their dogs, say hello to strangers , contribute to the street with beautiful flowers cascading from baskets and balconies.

The point of all this life, is not to judge in relation to good, to single out, or hope that the bad May disappear. This hope is an unrealistic idealistic condition we should all recognize as impossible when we think about the qualities we hold within. The point of all this life, the place called New Orleans, is the manner in which it exists given the struggle of life . I feel in New Orleans a rise beyond good and bad, a rise of culture that’s potential moves toward the good in spite of the bad. To move beyond our strife toward a belief through courage and commitment to move toward grace.

We can see New Orleans in pictures. We can imagine, we can accept or judge. It may be a place that pushes against our beliefs , our senses, our taste at the tongue. But what I love about New Orleans is that it is real, striding, gathering, grasping, pushing on. Making itself new every morning yet remaining it’s singular self, giving me courage as it seeps Into me.