100 Days in Bozeman
Part of the Whole
Kate Emmerich | Monday Aug. 31st, 2015
Tuesday, September 8, will mark our 100th day since we moved to Bozeman. It also just happens to coincide with Bozeman Magazine’s 100th Anniversary issue. In an effort to try new things, and ingratiate myself with my new community, I reached out to Angie Ripple, “publisher, owner, champion of the people” at Bozeman Magazine. Although we have only spent a summer in Bozeman, these first 100 days were formative in solidifying our decision to move our family out of the community we lived in for over a decade.
After graduating from law school at The University of Montana in December, my husband eagerly applied to many (maybe 100?) jobs in several months. Our move to Bozeman was primarily professional in nature, and we placed all our hope and energy into this endeavor. Although we only moved three hours east, we had never really spent a lot of time here. In one weekend, I had an interview, and we found a place to rent and some school options for the kids. I finished my final days of teaching middle school, we packed the house, and finally closed on our sale on July 30th. Our move was official.
In order to commemorate Bozeman Magazine’s 100th publication, I’ve examined the significance of the number “100” and related it to our early days here in Bozeman. How can we look at “100” from a positive perspective in regards to the future? What is significant about the number “100”? What meaning can we draw from this number and how can we apply it to our daily lives here in this beautiful city? I am an English teacher, and I love all things symbolic and metaphorical. So let’s start there.
According to several numerological websites, the number 100 is a “number individualizing the part of a whole, which is itself only the part of a greater totality.” As new citizens in this community, we are slowly integrating ourselves into “the greater totality.” We are four new members of Bozeman’s Community Food Co-Op. My daughter recently completed a week-long climbing camp at Spire. She has never done anything like that before, and the pride and enthusiasm she gained over one week helped solidify her understanding of community. I have struggled to find ways to ease the transition for our two year old, who is still trying to make sense of going to the bathroom into a hole that swirls and growls when you are finished. However, the last 100 days have given us immediate, daily access to the outdoors, and that is where his connection to place truly seems to make sense. For my husband, he is no longer the recent graduate or “new guy” at work, but is now a part of a progressive, professional team working for the greater good of the company and Bozeman. Me, I am marking days on a calendar, making “to-do” lists of places and activities to try with the kids, and gradually accepting and embracing being part of a new whole.
Bozeman is growing, and I know this can be an unsettling experience, having witnessed my former community steadily grow in population (and traffic) over the years. We chose Bozeman, because Bozeman chose us, but also because Bozeman business and growth is encouraging.
On our early visit, we saw a thriving downtown, lots of green space to play in, and opportunities to make a living without sacrificing the quality time we value with our family. We could finally be “part of the whole,” and were not just working to imagine what that might feel like. After six years of graduate school between us, we just wanted to engage with our community outside of classrooms and theory. Bozeman has provided us, and countless others, with these opportunities, and for that, we salute you on this 100th day, Bozeman.
We have a responsibility to enjoy and embrace our community, but also to work towards welcoming others, serving as ambassadors for others in their first 100 days. Building community takes, well, work. And tools. And support. It may not happen overnight, but how we welcome others into the macrocosm, or the greater community, is a reflection of how we function and thrive as a community.
Bozeman’s website proudly identifies it as “the most livable place.” After 100 days of concentrated living, exploring, joining groups, inquiring into and investigating the area, I would have to agree that there is a whole lot of living going on in Bozeman. From Mountain Belles to volunteering at the Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter to joining a writing group or a mountain bike posse, there are countless ways to live, and live well here. We have focused on hiking and exploring Peet’s Hill, Hyalite Canyon, the Gallatin River with our family as a way to celebrate “the most livable place” because it is how we connect our former life experiences to our current ones. These activities are ways to build on familiar activities we loved in a new location. At least half of our time here has been spent exploring our natural surroundings, and that helps us feel part of the whole.
So, 100 days have come and gone. I am most grateful to Bozeman for its cleanliness, clearly marked roads and signage, its beautiful child-friendly library, its thriving and vibrant downtown, great coffee options, the opportunities for my husband and I to develop professional relationships, and most of all, the access to all things outdoors.
When we first moved here, having no point of reference, and really knowing nobody, I immediately picked up a copy of Bozeman Magazine our first week in town. It connected us to the who, what, where, when and why of our new community. It reminded us to get up, get out, explore and participate in this community.
What will the next 100 days bring us? The start of a new school year and new schools for three of us. The smell of autumn and opportunity, colder nights and warmer clothes. Each day will be a chance to connect to the greater whole, our new community. I hope we meet along the way!