Intersectional much?

What a wonderful turnout of men and women from various backgrounds for the women’s march Saturday morning! It felt good to see a large group of people united and speaking out collectively for women. I appreciated the event highlighting voices from different backgrounds and informing the crowd.

I was surprised when one speaker asked who in the crowd were white feminists, and I found the rest of her speech weird. Stating that feminism is separate from, and should be, “intersectional feminism” implied that the “white feminists” in the crowd only care about white women. When I march for women’s rights, I march for all women’s rights — not just white women. I found it offensive that the speaker was bringing divisiveness to this large group of essentially like-minded people. For a person to look at my skin color (lighter) and assume my thoughts, feelings and behaviors, is racist. I was disappointed the speaker chose to appear judgmental toward me (and others in the crowd) without knowing us. Some people apparently can’t recognize support and unity when it is right in front of them.

Susan Morgan


Give ag land a hand

Kudos to Erika Fredrickson on her piece on ag land (“With Missoula’s remaining agricultural land threatened by development, can local farmers learn from Vermont’s example?” Jan. 11). For decades, people have been coming to western Montana, and Vermont, looking for the right combination of geography and culture. The consequent demand for housing has sent land prices soaring, often beyond the reach of famers. Ironically, food and farming play a key role in the growth that can push out farms. A vibrant local food system, as well as great views, access to public land and a vital local culture turn the cogs of the economic engine that drives our growth. Look no further than the crowds at farmers markets for evidence of the cultural importance of local food, or the mad growth in CSAs, the Western Montana Growers Co-op’s success and the abundance of local eats at our restaurants and grocery stores. Since local food is an essential part of the culture that draws people here, the value of our farms is far greater than just the dollars they generate. Development pressure dims the future of local ag, and yet our growth and prosperity depends, in part, on a local food system.

Montana law allows counties to mitigate the loss of ag land in the subdivision process, but provides no details. As Erika recounted, our county commissioners voted 2-1 in favor of the developer’s proposal at Spurgin Ranch — pouring concrete into some of the planet’s richest soil and relegating a sliver of poorer quality land to ag. At best this was a profound misunderstanding of the opportunity. At worst it was mercenary dishonesty on the part of the planner. More damaging than paving this piece of earth, though, was the precedent set. We must craft a rule, on the county level, to protect only real ag land vulnerable to development. This rule should be tight in scope, provide developers with predictability and the planning tools necessary to maximize value when designing subdivisions in protection of prime soil. We can create housing, affordable and market rate, and preserve some of our best soil. We just need courage, vision and a cooperative spirit in our decision makers.

Josh Slotnick


Read all about it

We can only hope that the county commissioners read this in-depth, well-researched article. Farmers are being pushed out in favor of development.

Margaret Morrison


The price of shutdown

Enough is enough.

Congress needs to stop being reckless and start doing its job.

More than 100 days after the deadline to fund the government this year, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to bring a full budget to the Senate floor that would work for Montana.

Instead, we are stuck with short-term fixes, which gives Montanans no certainty. With the government shut down, there will be impacts to our rural hospitals and our healthcare workforce.

As a 30-year registered nurse in Montana, I know the importance of our community health centers (CHC), which provide healthcare for 10 percent of Montana’s population. If we continue to not fund the government, the funding streams for these health centers and other programs will expire. These community health centers and our patients will be compromised, losing access to care. Without funding, these centers would lose their workforce and could face closures, at the expense of Montanans.

It is reckless for congress to not have reauthorized the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). To hold off its reauthorization for political purposes is unacceptable. For four months, Mitch McConnell has refused to take up the bipartisan bill to fund CHIP. Our senator, Jon Tester, is a co-sponsor of the bill and has been very vocal about trying to reauthorize this critical program, which provides health insurance to 24,000 Montana kids. He continues to have Montana’s back through his bipartisan work, and fights for Montanans every day in the senate.

Congress needs to step up and start doing its job. Our congressmen need to follow Sen. Tester’s lead and start working with bipartisan collaboration and advocate for Montana.

Vicky Byrd


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