Letters to the editor Feb. 6

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Keeping our history alive

During the 2019 Legislature, Gov. Steve Bullock, legislators and Montanans across the Treasure State worked tirelessly to keep history alive in a variety of ways.

Senate Bill 338, also known as the Montana Museums Act, is best known for providing a portion of the funds to build the new Montana Heritage Center. But the legislation also creates an ongoing historic preservation grant program for counties, incorporated cities or towns, tribal governments, associations and incorporated nonprofit groups.

Feb. 28 is the deadline to apply for the first round of grants, which are administered through the Montana Department of Commerce and provide up to $500,000 for improvements to historic sites, societies and museums, which can include building repairs and renovations, security and fire protection upgrades, or even infrastructure work.

The grants are meant to increase economic development, revitalize communities and enhance tourism statewide while adding jobs, expanding businesses and improving local tax bases. The 2021 Legislature will determine grant recipients, with funds being distributed in 2021 across Montana.

The money for the grants and for some construction costs for the Montana Heritage Center doesn’t come from general tax revenues. Instead, the law increases by 1% the state lodging tax, which will add only $1 per $100 to a night’s lodging costs.

The new Montana Heritage Center will be adjacent to the existing Montana Historical Society building and directly across the street from the state Capitol. Its estimated $53 million construction costs include $10 million in private donations, with about $4 million already raised.

Everyone benefits from this farsighted legislation, which hopefully will last into perpetuity. The Board of Trustees and Director Bruce Whittenberg appreciate both your support and contributions to this “Program for the Ages.”

—Steve Lozar, of Polson, sits on the Montana Historical Society Board of Trustees

Generous offer

In past years Polson Rotary has been supplying burritos to the children and parents attending the kids show at the Flathead Lake International Film Cinemafest on Saturday mornings. This year the Rotary Team prepared 260 burritos and it would have been difficult if not for the generous offer of Lake Bar owner Tom’s kitchen.

We appreciate Tom and Lake Bar’s participation with Rotary and our community.

—Larry Ashcraft Rotary Member

Mind and attitude

In this time of political chaos, confusion, and divisiveness I was reminded of a learning experience from some years ago. Back then it surely helped me change my mind and attitude. I find it working for me again.

What I came upon was from Parker Palmer. “Parker J. Palmer is an American author, educator, and activist who focuses on issues in education, community, leadership, spirituality and social change.” My introduction to Palmer was in his book, “A Hidden Wholeness” and the powerful “Circles of Trust” small group gathering experiences. My wife and I had such a group for a number of years.

In this group we practiced personally interacting with others in a very transforming way. It involves fully listening to others and not just thinking about what we were going to say next. And there is skilled group facilitation involved. It’s a very safe place to nurture personal integrity and act on it. We trusted the process and I’ve found it to be a life-changing experience in interacting with others.

Palmer speaks to the yearning we really have to live what he calls “undivided lives” lives congruent with our inner truth. This is so different from what we are bombarded with every day in a world so divided and filled with anger and fear.

What I think is important in all this is the importance of engaging with others in a process of shared exploration. So much of our interactions and conversations with others are filled with judgments of others, expressing strong opinions, and not really listening attentively to others. We tend to feed our own anger, fear and negative emotions so much of the time.

Anyway, I thought I’d just share this in this time of great divisiveness and chaos. Parker Palmer seems to have a good “handle” on all this. I’m sure there are others. I definitely needed to change my mind and attitude. Maybe you have had some of these same feelings.

—Bob McClellan, Missoula

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