In 1983 I moved to the Missoula area from Grand Forks, ND. I was 18 years old. Except for a few forays away, the Peace Corps (Thailand) and grad school (Cornell), I've called Missoula home ever since, and have been farming here since the early 90s. Like you, I've witnessed soaring home prices, sprawling subdivisions and all the social and economic effects of intense, but unequal, growth and prosperity.
My desire to help shape the future of Missoula is not new. I co-founded both Garden City Harvest (GCH) in 1996, which now grows food for the emergency food system on 20 acres across the city and county; and the PEAS program in Environmental Studies (EVST) at UM. The partnership between EVST and GCH built the nationally acclaimed PEAS farm. Along the way I have served on many nonprofit boards as well as volunteer boards for the county, including Homeword, the Missoula City County Planning board, and the Missoula Farmers' Market.
I have watched as a certain inadvertent prosperity has graced us, as well as much planned growth. Our growth has, to some degree, defied logic, coming on the heels of the unanticipated downfall of traditional high-employment industries. Following the loss of these industries unemployment should have skyrocketed, accompanied by plummeting real estate and a distrust of the world beyond our valley. In fact, just the opposite happened. We both accidentally and intentionally created a beautiful place, and for a couple decades now people have been coming here in droves.
People come to the Missoula area for a certain unique way of life. They come looking for, among other things: easy access to beautiful public lands, a vibrant local culture (of which food is a part), and fertile ground for entrepreneurship. Desiring intensely to be here, people have been creative in finding their way, starting ventures of all types. In order to maintain prosperity, we must continue to foster the high-quality of life that draws people here. Maintaining prosperity, and ensuring that all in our community share in our gains, demands we grow and change in ways that both preserve and enhance the best of what we've got and who we are. We need to think more on the future than the now, and put real front-end effort towards those on the margins.
I am running for County Commissioner because we must work for a more sustainable and ethical future. When looking toward the future we should mind the lessons of the recent past, learning from how we got here. The past should inform us, but not constrain us. Global, national and local issues all press in on us simultaneously - we are in a new era that calls for a new way. We need not be unduly risk averse, but we must listen to each other, work together and work hard.
Thanks for listening,
Josh Slotnick, Democrat, Candidate for Missoula County Commissioner
I am running for Missoula County Commissioner because: