The Future

education, History, Montana, People, Uncategorized, Whitefish, Montana
Missoula, Montana

What a difference patience, wisdom and maturity add to any situation.  This has been the summer of waiting for those first reactions to pass. There is power in letting fierce emotion blast through your consciousness and waiting for the right and true response to develop.  Caught between the poles of getting things done and getting things correct is a sweet spot that allows for you to be genuine.

This summer I bought a good microphone.  A Podcast is coming. No great theme, no great mission.  Me talking to people. I love good stories, interesting people and intelligent arguments.  Stay tuned.  

Stacks

Uncategorized

Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library.  The only entrance requirement is interest.  

Lady Bird JohnsonOne of the great joys of my life is to be set free in the University Library.  These past two days I’ve been on the campus of the University of Montana, Missoula, Montana.  The Maureen and Mike Mansfield library contain five stories of absolute bliss.  Perhaps as the son of a career library employee, my heart is always in the hushed confines and stillness of the stacks.  

A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. 

Shelby Foote
Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, University of Montana, Missoula, Montana.

As an undergraduate my most frequent place of refuge was the  McConnell Library where I would spend hours in the stacks.  Running my fingers over the spines of old books that had not been checked out in decades.  I’d delight in biographies of long-forgotten Virginia Governors, the many volumes of lost cause Civil War History.  Like a drunkard, I’d wander through the stacks knowing that a book that would draw me in for hours was waiting to be discovered.  How many times did my suffering girlfriends have to wait for me because I’d lost any sense of time in the musty silent basements?  

Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries. 

 ~Quoted in The Whole Earth Catalog, 1980 edition

It was in my senior year of undergrad that I was assigned a term paper for a class.  I don’t remember the prompt or the topic.  One day I had taken down a volume of bound New Yorker Magazines and came across a story about Ben Linder, an American who was killed fighting in Nicaragua during the 1980s Civil War.  From there it was off to the New York Times Microfilm and slowly a paper came together.  

The beauty of living in the stacks is to the right or left of the book you sought could be a related book that would lead you off on unanticipated and wonderful detours.  It was an education that targeted Google searches will never give you.  Will my children ever find the joy of a quiet library the way I did?

Access

Uncategorized

I went to high school in the suburbs of Washington, the District of Columbia.  Though I was always near the seat of government, in a city of millions the chance to interact with political leaders was limited to state funerals, watching Marine One fly around, inaugurations and random motorcades.

Then I moved to Montana.  In Montana, our leaders are in our leaders on the state and national level are highly accessible.  You need to find out where they will be, go there and talk to them. Every year I spend a lot of time talking about the founding of the nation and the ideals of the Constitution especially.  One of the things that I always think of when I teach James Madison’s Federalist Paper#10 is that he is really describing Montana. The ability for good leaders to start on the local level, the idea that small communities can play an important role in national policy are the picture of Montana politics.  For good or bad we have Senators and Representatives, Governors and Commissioners who wield great power.  That power is accessible.  Go find it.  

Right to left, United States Senator Jon Tester,  House of Representative Candidate Kathleen Williams, Montana Governor Steve Bullock, Clerk of the Montana Supreme Court candidate Rex Rink, the author of this post and his administrative assistant.