Archive for November 29th, 2007

by Jamee Greer

Roughly three hundred Missoulians came together for We Are Missoula, a rally in response to the recent anti-gay violence here in the Garden City. Monday’s rally began at five, and by 5:01 the L-shaped floor of my favorite establishment, the Badlander, began to fill with a perfect cross-section of Missoula.

Speakers from the political realm included Senators Christine Kaufman and Dave Wanzenried, Representative Michele Reinhart (an honest roll-model for young Montanans), Mayor Engen and County Commissioner Jean Curtiss… and statements were read from Montana Senators, Max Baucus and Jon Tester, as well as State Representative Diane Sands, who wasn’t able to make the event but wanted to show her continuing support for civil rights. Members of the Missoula Police Department, which has made amazing progress in working effectively and openly with the city’s queer community, made rounds through the crowd offering hugs of support and reminding folks of the importance in reporting every act of violence. Mayor Engen was first to take the stage, urging survivors to discuss their stories—and reminding the attackers that hate is not welcome in our town.

Many of the speakers centered on the importance of hate crimes legislation inclusive of gender identity and sexual orientation, something the Montana Legislature has been unable to pass despite efforts back into the early nineties.

Statements from both Montana Senators were read:

(Senator Tester’s statement was kept short and sweet)

In Montana, personal freedom isn’t a luxury. It’s a God-given right. Here—and any place where personal freedom and privacy are sacred—there’s no place for violence spurred on by hate or fear.

Know that I support legislation making attacks like these hate crimes. I’ve done it before. And I’ll do it again.

Montanans deserve no less. They see good in each other, do good for each other and respect each other despite their differences. That’s the Montana way.

(…and from Senator Baucus)

I’m sorry I can’t be with you in person, but I applaud your efforts. As Montanans and Americans, we value freedom and individual liberties. We respect those who have differing views, and we know that personal freedom and privacy is paramount.

That’s why I’ve supported hate crimes legislation in the Congress. And that’s why I stand with you today to make sure that no Montanan has to live in fear.

Jess Keith, a survivor of the attacks on November 4th, took the brave and courageous step of speaking before the crowd. She was introduced by her friend, Melissa Darnell, who made a trip up to Missoula for the rally from California. Reading her poem to the attackers, An Open Letter, Melissa thanked them for igniting a passion to fight such injustice, ending with:

to you I say:

your hate
your fear
your bigotry
your violence

empowers me
energizes me
encourages me
ignites me

and I am not alone.

Love.
Is.
Love.

and that is much
much
M U C H
stronger

than the f o u r
of you

(the piece is available in entirety on her blog.)

As a queer Montanan, I can’t begin to express the feeling of solidarity and support I felt standing with my fellow Missoulians. People were shocked. They were frightened. And they were full of resolve to make a difference in the lives of others they hardly knew anything about. There is still so much to be said of that evening, and so much more to be done in our struggle for civil rights. But I’ll end my first post on 4and20 with one realization from the rally,

I am not alone.

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by jhwygirl

This kind of things happens in Montana – I can recall two events of this sort over on a road by Thomson Falls in the recent past, say last winter or the winter before.

I can’t seem to find the stories, but I recall a mother and son having been stranded – and then another person doing the same thing on the same road in the space of a few weeks.

Yet another reason not to rely on in-car navigation systems.

If anyone has ever traveled that road that the not-so-hapless German tourist did – even in the summer – you have an idea of how absolutely damned lucky he is.

And then there is that winter thing in that part of the world.

It’s odd – but I had just dreamed of that road recently.

by Jay Stevens

Here’s an interesting report about Missoula ’s proposed Performing Arts Center in today’s Missoula Independent:

A lot can go wrong with a performing arts complex. When the small resort community of Bushkill, Pa. committed to build the $37 million Mountain Laurel Center, it envisioned regular performances by a major symphony orchestra, increased tourism, and more jobs.

Instead, the Mountain Laurel Center closed in 2003 after just seven performances, canceled the next year’s entire schedule as well, and pushed the local county government to default on $17 million worth of bonds.

Normally, a troubled Pennsylvania civic project would matter little to Missoulians, but the executive director of the Missoula Community Performing Arts Center, Amy Rue, served as the development director for the Mountain Laurel Center until shortly after it opened.

This is the first I’ve heard of this, although Stacy Rye mentioned it in the recent city council deliberations about the project.

To be fair to Rue, she was responsible only for raising private donations for the project, and the Pennsylvania center’s demise may have more to do with its remote location than anything she did, but it does raise questions about the ability of projects like these to actually make money, and benefit the communities they populate.

Just check out this blogger’s account of Richmond, VA’s experience with a Performing Arts Center (hat tip, Goof). Or this report on Duhram, NC’s PAC.

In fact, I’ve been doing Google searches for some time now looking for success stories for PACs. I’ve found a lot of links to stories on PACs that “expect,” “hope,” or “plan” on revitalizing urban areas. I’ve read articles that state, baldly, that building a PAC will revitalize a community, but without offering any evidence. But I’ve found no links to any PAC story that has actually been wildly successful, especially in a small town like Missoula .

The jury’s still out on this issue for me. But before we invest heavily in something like this, shouldn’t we know the success rate of other, similar ventures? Has anybody done a story on this? Or a report? Twenty million is a lot to throw away on a project.

Help me out. Throw me a link.




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