Navigating Change In A “Strong” Community, Part I

by Travis Mateer

Is the state of our community strong? That’s what our Mayor, County Commissioner, and University President want you to think by calling Monday’s State of the Community address NAVIGATING CHANGE IN A STRONG COMMUNITY.

What makes a strong community? If you follow “Strong Towns” on Twitter, you may discover that some people’s definition of “strength” isn’t compatible with your own.

Yes, people are great, but sometimes people can ALSO be trashy, dangerous assholes. Law enforcement understands this all too well, and it can burn them out. Likewise with social service providers. So how do you convince them that our community is strong when they’re spending their time flying drones over homeless camps?

I like this bird’s eye view, it’s much safer than my on-the-ground approach. Maybe I should take notes from people who fly drones. I wonder, could the pilot of this drone connect me with anyone else who flies drones in Missoula?

In the animal kingdom, taking what you want is a clear sign of strength. I thought we humans were supposed to be more evolved than that, but maybe I’m wrong. Maybe my liberal arts education, with an emphasis on literature and creative writing, was a giant mistake that fucked up my thinking. Maybe I should be more like this character:

How will Jordan Hess (Mayor), Seth Bodnar (UM Prez), and Josh Slotnick (1/3 of Commissioners) define STRENGTH?

Maybe instead of focusing on the word STRENGTH I should be more aware of the MULTI-MODES involved in the processes of NAVIGATION. Our UM Prez, The Bod, is very aware of this, since his pedigree includes running General Electric’s Transportation division, or whatever these corporate monsters call it. Here’s a great breakdown of The Bod’s resume:

It gets worse, or more impressive, depending on where you’re standing in this globalized control grid we’re getting ensured in, when you see the educational part of this dude’s credentials. From the same link (emphasis mine):

Bodnar, a Rhodes and Truman scholar, earned two master’s degrees at Oxford University. He graduated first in his class at West Point and later taught classes as a faculty member at the military academy.

Representing the two-wheel mode of radical transformation for Missoula’s transportation infrastructure, here’s a more-than-appropriate picture of Mayor Hess sporting the color LIME:

See that white stuff on the mountain back there? That white stuff is a natural element that brave Multi-Modal Zealots (MMZs) are simply undeterred by. If sturdy MMZs who bravely ride bikes through snow aren’t the epitome of strength, I don’t know what is.

Last, but certainly not least, we have Josh Slotnick, our first Poet/Commissioner, but hopefully not our last 😉 Step up to the mic, Poet Slotnick!

How is Josh Slotnick at navigation? Well, his performance of mea culpa after that poorly disclosed conflict of interest issue seemed to go pretty good, so maybe Slotnick is a STRONG NAVIGATOR than I thought. Just don’t ask former Commish, Jean Curtis, about it, because I think she’s a little angry at some of our elected leaders. From the link:

On February 9th, Missoula County commissioners approved a zoning variance for Corner Farm Village, LLC. Josh Slotnick is a partner in that corporation.

The lack of transparency from WGM Group, planning staff and the Missoula County Board of County Commissioners, especially Josh Slotnick, makes it look like they are trying to fly below the radar.

His name was not mentioned in the presentation. His wife’s name was but they have different last names. While he was not present at the hearing where the decision was made and therefore, did not votehe should have publicly declared his conflict of interest.

The variance came before the Missoula County Board of County Commissioners of which he is a member. Commissioners Strohmaier and Vero knew this was Josh’s project and should have stated that on the record.

The subject property is within Citizen Initiated Zoning District #13. The regulations prohibit any commercial use and allows 2 dwelling units per acre. There is a variance process and based on their decision, a strong case must have been made for an unnecessary hardship.

Is this an example of strongly navigating change? No, but give this farmer poet a break. His organic food might be important if our NATIONAL strength is less than what we’re being told by our totally trustworthy national political leadership.

So, what are the highlights of today’s STATE OF THE COMMUNITY? I’m going to leave that for Part II, which will come out tomorrow.

Thank you for the support, and stay tuned for more to come.

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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