What makes a good neighbor? Is a neighbor someone who happens to live next door or on the adjoining acres? Is it the person you stop to chat with in the grocery store because your kids go to the same school? And can we say exactly what is the difference between a neighbor and a good neighbor? Neighbors in our community joined together on Thursday, April 30 at the LCHS Commons Area to have that conversation.
We have all seen many changes in the Tobacco Valley over the years as some new people move in and some of the valley’s young people move out after completing high school. More recently there has been a different type of change as more tourists pass through and there is an increase in part-time residents, those individuals who have a place in the valley as a second home. How do all these changes impact us as neighbors? And what role do the people who live in surrounding communities play in the development and preservation of the Tobacco Valley?
We collectively explored these and other questions in a public conversation guided by discussion facilitator, Lowell Jaeger from FVCC. Humanities Montana sponsored this event as part of this year's Hometown Humanities program. Hometown Humanities brings a year’s worth of humanities-based programming to a Montana community. This year Lincoln County was selected so Humanities Montana staff and community members met last fall to outline what activities would be brought to Libby, Troy and Eureka. Thanks to this program, we here in Eureka have had bookbinder Audra Loyal give a class, author Ken Burns discuss his book "Montana 1864", Mark Matthews lead a square dance and UM professor Samir Bitar give community talks on Islam. This event, "Community Conversation," was another valuable one and we were pleased to get so many voices at the table.
Lowell remarked that, "these guided discussions honor diverse perspectives and are a great way to bring people together for an hour of shared thoughts and surprising insights. Participants often rediscover how pleasing a meaningful conversation can be. And how much fun!".
About the Author: Rita Collins. I am a believer in the power of community and for now I call the Tobacco Valley home. I have lived in nine states and three counties and this community here amazes me - how people reach out to neighbors and even travelers. I've never lived in a place that demonstrates people caring for each other so well. And I've never lived in a place that has such a high percentage of talented musicians and artists. I work with the the Sunburst Community Service Foundation, a nonprofit that began in Eureka twenty years ago and now serves numerous communities in western Montana. And I just started a new business, St. Rita's Amazing Traveling Bookstore and Textual Apothecary. I never could have imagined life being this exciting in my sixth decade.