Make Bozeman Great Again
by Angie Ripple
This is an article for the old school Bozemanite. If you just moved here (this is subjective, you’ve probably already noticed your aren’t considered a local until you’ve been here at least 5.76 years), or if you are passing through you should probably just skip this piece and move on to another fascinating article about Bozeman history, or Montana music, or our awesome events calendar. I’m going to address those of you who have lived in Bozeman a long while like myself (21 years), who are native Montanans, and/or who have a vested interest in our community.
Change is in the air, and has been for quite some time, old school folks don’t always accept change very easily, present company included, it’s hard. What’s hard about a town changing or transforming is that the old stuff, the stuff you’ve come accustomed to, or really like may go away. The new stuff coming in place of the old stuff may not be as great as the stuff it’s replacing. For me open space, farm fields and old buildings being transformed into new cookie cutter neighborhoods or high priced high rise apartments is hard. For you it may be that your quiet space has become less quiet, or your trail has too much poo on it, or your secret fishing spot isn’t so secret anymore. There is no easy answer to the difficulties of change, but the answer is not apathy.
So, to make Bozeman great again I propose that it starts with you. You can start off easy, with a wave. Simply put your hand in the air and wave at the next traveler you see on the road you drive the most. You can start on your own street, move on to the next thoroughfare. You don’t have to wave at everyone on Huffine Lane or East Main, that would probably be weird, but waving to passersby is a Montana thing that Bozeman ought not forget or remove from our travel.
Next, if you care about a place invest in it. Investment doesn’t have to mean money, if you enjoy a park for instance clean it up, or if you don’t like seeing poo on a trail pick it up. Investment in places you care about or enjoy can mean spending money, if you enjoy a restaurant you can frequent it and make sure they stay in business. If there is a particular nonprofit service that means a lot to you you can donate your time or money to help them continue their services.
Beyond parks, trails and local businesses are historic landmarks, buildings and places. Pulling from Courtney Kramer’s last article for Bozeman Magazine (Dec 2015) Bozeman and Gallatin County are home to some of the earliest, and most interesting, historic sites in our state. Yet, curiously, Bozeman’s residents don’t have an established historic preservation organization to advocate for the protection of our cultural resources. There are several small groups focused on Bozeman history and preservation, but none of these groups yet have the community support to fully participate in the public process for cultural resource advocacy. Additionally, Bozeman’s license plate, which features historic Main Street buildings against a backdrop of the Bridger Mountain range creates revenue which goes to the City’s General Fund, not a historic preservation fund. The license plate translates to a symbol of Bozeman’s current relationship with our community’s cultural resources. We’re more than happy to take the revenue generated from heritage tourism and license plates with pretty pictures of old buildings on them. But we’re much less enthusiastic about reinvesting in the identification of cultural resources, financial aid to owners of historic properties or protection of historic properties. Again, no room for apathy! Invest your time participating in The Bozeman Historic Preservation Advisory Board, The Extreme Historic Project, The Friends of the Story Mansion, or create Bozeman’s own Citizens for Preservation and Restoration Alliance.
The City of Bozeman is currently running a series of events called The Strategic Plan Community Workshops (read Kris Drummond’s article). Bozemanites have been given an open invitation to tell the City what it is they want Bozeman to become. Please don’t ignore your chance to be the change.