by Travis Mateer
When I saw the critical Facebook comment by a Missoula Current reporter about the show Yellowstone, I just HAD to take a screenshot to archive this hilarious perspective from someone getting paid to write about the environment for a pro-gentrification propaganda rag like the MC.
I wanted more perspective from Lundquist, so I sent her an email and, to my surprise, she responded. I’m always happy to have more perspective from a cog in the media environment about what they know, and how they come to know it. Here’s the brief exchange:
Isn’t this fun? I, of course, sent her a link to this post that documents Kidston’s past role mouth-piecing for Montana Dems. Now she can’t claim ignorance about the past role of her current employer.
Since the election last week I’ve been on a sort of public education tour, showing our elected officials that my dedication to local information sharing goes WAY BEYOND election issues, like mill levies. And why am I doing this? Because the bubbles that our officials exist in need to be seriously popped.
Efforts to get community feedback (which is often required for Federal funding, like HUD) are not being utilized by our citizenry. I got a sense of how participation is worsening after attending a public needs assessment presentation (results can be found here). How many people filled out the survey? Just over 600 people, down from 800 last year. With a valley of around 80,000, that puts the percentage of participation at .0075.
That number gets worse when you factor in WHO responds to these surveys. Is it city staff and other insiders who know about the surveys, and have some kind of special interest in filling them out and making comments? Is that what a comment like this is all about?
Yesterday morning, with the hope of making public comment on another Missoula absurdity, I attended the presentation of the LEARN report. What’s this report and its goals? From the link:
The foundational premise of our work is that systemic oppression, particularly white supremacy, and racism exists in Missoula, and that BIPOCs lived experiences must be centered in dismantling them—narrated and described through our own voices and from our perspectives. Narrating, describing, and reflecting those experiences through a research lens has power by connecting these experiences to systemic challenges in a quantifiable fashion. Our desired outcome is to transform systems and spaces with which BIPOC Missoulian’s interface; effectively decentering the currency of whiteness.
There are four goals for our research:
To actively engage BIPOCs who historically have been forced to the margins of the research process by using a transformative paradigm, which embodies a human rights, social justice and critical approach to research (Mertens, 2009).
To cultivate research partnerships with BIPOC community-based organizations, groups and residents. In forming research partnerships with BIPOCs, for whom the research matters on practical levels, this research becomes participatory and action-oriented. The primary aim is not simply to listen and engage but to serve as a call to justice through social action (Krai& Allen, 2016).
To center BIPOC voices on issues of structural inequity, marginalization and systemic oppression by bringing their lived experiences to the forefront through an ethically well-designed research process that will inform transformative social action strategies.
To scrutinize the nature of municipal departments existing and archival data in order gain a depth of understanding relating to their interactions with and treatment of BIPOC residents.
I sat through this fascinating report, hoping to ask if qualitative data could include DEATH experiences in addition to the LIVED experiences of BIPOCs, since I’m thinking a lot could be learned about Missoula if the deaths of Sean Stevenson and Johnny Lee Perry were better understood, but I didn’t get a chance.
While my education tour couldn’t penetrate this Committee of the Whole presentation, I did appreciate seeing the point at which City Councilperson, Gwen Jones, interrupted the black woman giving the report. It was right when the point was being made that BIPOCs see a deviation between ARTICULATING the values of a social justice lens and “ACTUALLY USING” a social justice lens.
Another qualitative piece of perspective I enjoyed hearing was the assertion that “woke white folks” have a belief they know what’s best, and call out other whites for doing it wrong. Yes, this was actually stated. Hilarious.
Getting back to the focus of this post, while I’m pretty supportive of the notion that Taylor Sheridan’s creation, Yellowstone, is helping ruin Montana, I’m not all that appreciative of hearing this complaint coming from someone who helps a pro-development online “news” rag sell the kind of projects that is creating the type of sentiment being expertly exploited by Yellowstone’s depiction of what it takes to remain “anti-progress” in the 21st century.
If you appreciate my perspective, please consider making a donation at my about page. Every little bit helps.
And, as always, thanks for reading!