Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Montana Blogs
   Developing regional culture

Who knows where blogging will lead. My own hopes are that it will support a flourishing of regional culture, as more people realize they can write for families and local communities about things unlikely to draw audiences of the size needed for traditional publishing.

Right now there’s a lot of experimentation and learning going on. The technology is new and often strange, and many readers haven’t migrated from the morning paper or other forms of old media.

But it’s a form worth thinking about, and maybe taking a stab at yourself. My favorite website in the world is a family photo blog that our family does. Several of us post photos with brief captions. Recently, my seven-year-old grandson posted a poem he wrote about his great-grandmother a couple days after she died. It’s a place where we express (and in the expression develop) our notions of what our family is about. It’s important to us now, and I imagine it will be priceless a generation or two down the line.

My view is that every family needs its writers, photographers--its own literature and art--and we now have the tools to do this.

And not just families. Neighborhoods, towns, clubs and organizations. As I said, we are just at the beginning. Who knows what might be coming. It’s worth watching. Here are some of the blogs from Montana that made me feel good, for various reasons.

A Montana cattle rancher’s opinions and facts: I sometimes wonder if my cattle can read my mind. The cows were still out in the hills scrounging for feed and later in the week I was going to let them come down towards home. You will note the “were? in the statement. They decided to break the fence down and come home without any help. Luckily the next fence held long enough to move some other cattle around to let them the rest of the way down. I hate when I have to do things unplanned and in a hurry but we managed. We spent a while fixing everything and I am back under control for now. “If? there are any cattle left in the hills I will let them work in if they want. The ones that came home will start getting a cake supplement now and I will hold off haying them. The hired man wanted to know if I was rewarding them for breaking the fence down and coming home. I told him “we? were rewarding them for not breaking any more fence down than they did and patiently waiting while we moved some other cattle around before they came down. Got to look on the bright side.

Thoughts from the Middle of Nowhere



An anonymous blog about life in Montana, from the Livingston area: I love the hard-working, honest and friendly people of Montana. In gas stations here in the morning, you’ll find men standing around sipping coffee and talking. I love that when you sit and chat with the boys here in Montana, you don’t speak of geeky subjects like routers and USB cables and Perl code, we speak of manly things like cattle and fences and horses and hunting. And I love it that no matter who you talk to - you end up finding a link - it will turn out you know someone they know either through family, work, or school. I love being able to walk into a bar and know everyone in there and be greeted as a friend and a neighbor. Montanans have accepted me and my family here - they know that I’m “not from around here? but they accept me as a local and as a friend and I’ve been made to feel welcome here. I’ve lived in other states where you’re made to feel if you’re not a native, you’re trespassing - not so here, I’m made to feel welcome here.

Big Sky Blog



A Billings blog about politics, school board, and general topics: Once again the voters of Billings have shown that they want little (if anything) to do with funding SD2’s projects!
All of the funding requests were voted down and probably for good reason. The real reason? MISTRUST I’d say. That said, it is a sad day for the children who are going to suffer in the long run.
I am not against funding education but last night I had the opportunity to attend a focus group conducted by MSUB. Not only was it educational, but after two hours of round table discussion it is clear that the members of the SD2 could well learn a few things that would help them in actually getting peoples input rather than the shotgun approach that they have used in the past.
The Dean of the College of Technology (COT) along with the staff at MSUB are studying the “Community College? idea to expand the education process that more closely fits the NEEDS of both our young children coming out of High School as well as the non-traditional students who are either trying to make career changes or move up the economic ladder in a state the now ranks 44th in the nation…up from 45.
Until the School Board can come up with VALID and concrete PLANS I doubt whether they will ever be successful in getting any requests for money approved by the voters of Billings.

Views from the Rim



A photo blog of weekend outings around Great Falls: About three miles from the top I came on a car pulled off to the side of the road and the driver looking over the side into a steep ravine. I looked down and there was one of the trucks that had passed me dangerously on a curve. It was on its top. Luckily, none of the four guys in the car were hurt and they were able to climb out through one of the windows.

Out There with Tom



Posted by Michael L Umphrey on 12/29 at 08:16 PM
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© 2004 Michael L. Umphrey
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