Guest blogger Daniel Anderson is a third-generation Montanan in Paradise Valley who's been featured in Last Call: Our Fight for the Yellowstone. The short film is about the local community's response to two proposed gold mines at Yellowstone's gateway. Thank you Daniel!
It comes with great pleasure to write to you today.
A big thanks goes out to Greater Yellowstone Coalition for the invitation, and to Sage, Tributaries Digital Cinema, Senator Tester, and the many folks whose efforts haven’t gone unnoticed or underappreciated over the recent years; I am deeply grateful for the gestures and for the opportunity to be part of an unfolding success story in our beloved Paradise Valley. Moreover, I am humbled to share my voice, honored to share my story, and hopeful for a future that builds bridges where they are needed and mends those having weathered the storm.
If you haven’t watched Last Call, I invite you to do so. And I also wish to invite the voices of others in our shared landscape to engage in the conversation. Conversation, after all, is where many of our greatest accomplishments have been sewed. Every voice matters, no matter where our social beliefs may lie or where the underpinning of our worldview takes place.
If one were tasked to paint “the scenario” in Paradise Valley, I think it’s safe to assume the exercise would be difficult. Ask, however, to paint the scenario looking out into the future of 20 years and more. Daunting? I would say so. And to make matters even more difficult, colors that bring the story to life are continually shifting, moving like the shadows cast from towering mountains. The story continually unearths new opportunities for us to be fulfilled and thus new challenges to overcome. And our community grows in number while the place itself does not. Truth be told, these are hard times in the face of even harder circumstances.
But we are a fortunate few in a massively complex, and utterly beautiful place. And when presented with challenges that threaten the fabric itself, well, we set our differences aside and tune into a different palette. The colors become rich in synergy when we choose to focus on elements that connect us in deeper ways. Surely, the Yellowstone River is sacred to many of us, and remains spectacle to most who are fortunate to see her banks or live in her embrace. We are reminded of this in Last Call and can genuinely cheer one another on for collectively standing our ground to preserve the place we call home.
It is in reminders such as these when my own values come to life; I look to the land for nourishment in a different kind of way, and begin to measure not what can be extracted but what can be appreciated and shared. Most importantly, what can be learned. I become open to what a Turkish friend of mine once referred to as “Listening with the ears of the heart.”
So what do we do now? As Bill Payne so effortlessly asserts at the end of the film, “This story still needs an ending.” We aren’t there yet, and perhaps that ending is too far off in the distant future to fully grasp. Either way, the brush is in our hands now. We are an ever-expanding community bound by a beautiful landscape and the challenges embedded within it. We are many thoughtful, talented, and hard-working individuals standing up for what we believe is right. And we are standing together.
Thank you to supporters of the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act, Yellowstone Gateway Business Coalition, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Park County Environmental Council, and the handful of organizations dedicated to preserving the landscape and our rural way of life in southwest Montana. Thank you to the business owners, politicians, environmentalists, ranchers, outdoor enthusiasts, and the many, many more who embody a credo that we are more connected than we are divided.
If you haven't had the chance to watch Last Call: Our Fight for the Yellowstone, you can do so on our Last Call website.