Last weekend I was in Missoula, Montana, making one of those frequent trips to see the grandbaby. My elder daughter - would she cringe at that description? - is a city planner for the city.
Missoula is the city where The River Runs Through It - yes, from the book and movie of the same name. Indeed, this photo was taken downtown. It has names like Hellgate High School, and the University of Montaners call themselves Grizzlies.
Jennie may have felt California cities were beyond planning when she left Berkeley for Missoula. Now she works with a people who didn’t have a speed limit until recently, when threatened by the federal government to take away their highway funds. Not that Montanans are into speeding. They just feel the individual is best qualified to determine the best speed for the conditions of the moment.
Ted Kaczinski wrote his Manifesto on runaway technology and industrialism in the woods of Montana. Not that Montanans would support his methods. They just feel he made some interesting points.
While I was visiting, the issue for debate was whether these historical buildings from the late 1800s could be torn down to make way for a development.
The original farm acreage has been subdivided among descendants, the barn sitting on property just across the fence from the original homestead and more modern family homes. Two sets of cousins taking opposite sides, the city planning office, lawyers, and the developer are involved in court battles over whether the barn can be torn down for the housing development. In fact, when I went to check out the site, the roof of the barn had been taken off the day before. To his credit, the owner of the demolition company was taking the time to take it apart piece by piece, labeling so it could be reconstructed on another piece of the farmland rather than destroying the buildings should the situation be resolved to preserve the buildings. He didn’t have to do that, but that’s how Montanans are, I guess. The developer was from Idaho, and that always makes for interesting interactions. When I left, the city and a set of cousins were still going to court to stop the tear down. Well, it's even more complicated than that, having to do with county and city jurisdiction and permits.
My daughter is in the middle of it all. She e-mailed me this week to say she had been called the Che Guevara of the planning office. She said she didn’t know much about Che but she thought that would make me a proud mama.
Damn right I am.