Monday, Apr. 6th, 2020

Community collaborates to bring virtual behavioral and mental health resources and counseling to Big Sky

BIG SKY – A collection of Big Sky organizations and community leaders have joined forces to bring ongoing behavioral and mental health services and community forum opportunities to community residents as the Covid-19 pandemic calls for social distancing and shelter in place ordinances.

Together, Women in Action, Bozeman Health Big Sky Medical Center, the Big Sky Community Organization (BSCO), in conjunction with educators and members of various community foundations are addressing the increased need for mental and behavioral health, wellness, education, attention to addiction, and social connectivity needs that are inevitable in our ever changing landscape.

The impacts of Covid-19 are far-reaching across our community, creating the need for expanded programming and resources designed to meet the broad demographic found in Big Sky.  “We are looking to provide something for everyone based on the diverse needs of the community”, shared Ciara Wolfe, CEO of BSCO.

“As in all communities, the needs associated with mental, behavioral and social health must be addressed in Big Sky.  Covid-19 is accelerating the need for us to address it more quickly, taking immediate action where we can while still planning the long-term goals”, said Maureen Womack, System Director of Behavioral Health, Big Sky Medical Center. “We want to continue serving those who have health needs, counseling needs, and generally those who are feeling alone, overwhelmed and potentially underserved through this difficult time”, added Jean Behr, Executive Director of Women in Action.

At this critical time, Both WIA and Bozeman Health are offering counseling and behavioral health support at no cost. Bozeman Health through the Help Center (dial 211) and WIA via their ongoing counseling services.

Offering virtual services and sharing those resources via community outlets like the newly established BigSkyRelief.org becomes critical as people are being instructed not to leave their homes.  The hope is that this collective effort will establish a central portal where health, wellness, education, social forums and resources will be available and accessible to anyone, at any time.  

The goal is to address the needs of the Big Sky community, in terms of physical and mental health, feelings of isolation or being overwhelmed whether in a physical, emotional, or social sense.   The collaboration plans to launch online resources as soon as possible, to meet the growing needs presented by the coronavirus pandemic.  Services will include financial assistance for virtual counseling sessions, access to public and community forums that serve a spectrum of age groups and interests, ideas for educational assistance during virtual learning for school-aged children, and attention to both ongoing and emergency physical and mental health needs.  

For emergency and behavioral needs, please call 911 or go to the Emergency Department at Big Sky Medical Center. For urgent and non-emergent behavioral health needs, please call The Help Center at 211. The Help Center (211) will make sure to help you receive the care you need.  Both WIA and The Help Center are able to offer counseling and behavioral health support at no cost. For a complete list of local resources, please visit www.bigskywia.org.

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FBI Releases Guidance on Defending Against VTC Hijacking and Zoom-bombing

Original release date: April 2, 2020

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has released an article on defending against video-teleconferencing (VTC) hijacking (referred to as “Zoom-bombing” when attacks are to the Zoom VTC platform).  Many organizations and individuals are increasingly dependent on VTC platforms, such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, to stay connected during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The FBI has released this guidance in response to an increase in reports of VTC hijacking.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency encourages users and administrators to review the FBI article as well as the following steps to improve VTC cybersecurity:
    •    Ensure meetings are private, either by requiring a password for entry or controlling guest access from a waiting room.
    •    Consider security requirements when selecting vendors. For example, if end-to-end encryption is necessary, does the vendor offer it?
    •    Ensure VTC software is up to date. See Understanding Patches and Software Updates.

CISA also recommends the following VTC cybersecurity resources:
    •    FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) Alert: Cyber Actors Take Advantage of COVID-19 Pandemic to Exploit Increased Use of Virtual Environments

    •    Zoom blog on recent cybersecurity measures

    •    Microsoft Teams security guide


Copyright © 2020, Pro Techs Computer Solutions All rights reserved.

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Thursday, Apr. 2nd, 2020

MontanaPBS to livestream COVID-19 special at 7 p.m. April 2

MontanaPBS will livestream the second installation of a broadcast special, “Answering Questions About Coronavirus,” at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 2. The program will be available to view on-air, online at montanapbs.org/live and on the MontanaPBS Facebook page.

During the special program, host John Twiggs will hold a conversation via video conference with Dr. Joshua Christensen, infectious diseases specialist at Providence-St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula; Brent Donnelly, district director at the U.S. Small Business Administration; and Coralee Schmitz, chief operating officer at the Rimrock treatment center in Billings. The panelists will be joined by an interview guest, U.S. Sen. Jon Tester.

In addition, MontanaPBS producer Jackie Coffin will report from the field about challenges Montana’s rural hospitals are facing. She will also report on Montana’s vulnerable populations and how they are coping with the pandemic.

Phone operators will be available to take audience questions at 1-888-828-5876. Viewers can also submit questions via Facebook by following MontanaPBS or emailing online@montanapbs.org.

The broadcast is anticipated to last 60 minutes; however, the conversation may continue online at montanapbs.org/live and on the MontanaPBS Facebook page should there be a high volume of questions from viewers.

Additional resources, web links and previous episodes are available at montanapbs.org/covid19.

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Montana Shakespeare in the Parks to stream free online performances beginning April 3

Montana Shakespeare in the Parks will begin streaming some of its best performances free online in showings scheduled throughout April and May.

Beginning Friday, April 3, MSIP Live will show recordings of its recent plays every two weeks via Facebook. Shows will begin at 7 p.m. MDT and be available online for 24 hours.

A list of the performances and dates follow:

  • April 3: “Othello”
  • April 17: “You Can Never Tell”
  • May 1: “Henry IV, Part I”
  • May 15: “Twelfth Night” (Shakespeare in the Schools performance)

“We have remained focused on our mission of providing our communities with access to free professional theater,” said Kevin Asselin, executive artistic director for Montana Shakespeare in the Parks. “In this time of uncertainty, our goal is to investigate new ways of reinventing our programming so that we can remain accessible in a time when our audiences need a break from our challenging circumstances.”

The mission of Montana Shakespeare in the Parks is to engage and enrich both rural and underserved communities with professional productions of Shakespeare and other classic plays and, through educational outreach, to inspire creative expression and appreciation of the arts in young audiences.

For more information, visit https://facebook.com/montanashakespeareintheparks/ or email susan@montana.edu.

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Top 12 Things to Do While Quarantined in Bozeman

Right now the best thing we can do as a community to slow the spread of COVID-19 is to stay home! This is such a simple thing we can all do to help those that are elderly or immune-compromised and to ease the burden on our wonderful health care workers. The more people who choose to do this, the quicker we can get back to normal life. However, being quarantined and social distancing can be hard because it's nothing we've ever experienced. Getting cabin fever or feeling stir crazy? Here are some ideas to get through this!

 
1. The old stand-by's
Chances are somewhere in your house you have a stash of puzzles and board games that don't get used much. Now is the time to dust them and settle in for a game of Monopoly. When else will you have time to play it until the end?
 
2. Facetime happy hour with friends or family
With social distancing, making connections with friends and family can be tough. Luckily we live in a time of technology so you can still check in on your friends and hang out virtually. Stay comfy on your couch, grab a drink or cup of coffee, call your best friend or mom and settle in for a chat. Think of how much money we'll all save! If you have kids at home, chances are they are missing their friends as well so maybe loosen up the screen time rules and let them connect and catch up.

 
3. Take a hike
We don't know about you, but we have never been happier to live in Montana! The mountains have not closed and we are lucky to be in a place where we can get out to nature AND social distance at the same time. Getting fresh air every day will get us through this! Just stay respectful on the trail, keep 6 feet from others and as much as it's hard to resist petting cute puppies that run up to you, now isn't the time.  Click here and here and here for some trail suggestions!

 
4. Volunteer
There are several groups still looking for volunteers in this uncertain time. This is a good way to get out of the house in a safe way and to help out the community. The Gallatin Valley Food Bank has been busy prepping emergency food boxes and have opportunities to help with this. They are limiting the number of volunteers and following all the CDC requirements for social distancing and hand washing. Click here for more information. Many non-profits are unable to take volunteers right now so financial contributions are more important than ever.

 
5. Support local businesses
Bozeman has always prided itself on supporting local and these businesses need our help more than ever. We may not be able to dine out, but several Bozeman businesses are offering free delivery or take out. As for retail, some stores are open and taking into account CDC recommendations and some have gone to online shopping. Click here for a list of what restaurants and shops are offering during this time. Take a break from cooking while supporting your favorite local restaurant.

 
6. Spring clean
With all the extra time on your hands at home, now is the time for that deep spring cleaning! Clean out the garage, wash the windows, go through that junk drawer, do all the things you put off because we live in a busy world. You know what they say, a clean house creates a calm mind. If you have donations to make, keep in mind most of the thrift stores in town are not taking donations at this time so you will have to hang on to it for the time being.

 
7. Go for a walk in the neighborhood
Has anyone else noticed how many people are out and about in the neighborhoods? It's like taking a step back in time with kids riding bikes and neighbors chatting in their front yards, 6 feet apart of course. Nothing cures cabin fever faster than some fresh air. Make daily walks a part of your quarantine, it will keep things in perspective.

 
8. Check-in on the elderly/immune-compromised in your area
COVID-19 has reached our area and unfortunately, Gallatin County is the hot spot in Montana. Check-in with anyone you know who is elderly or immune-compromised to see if you can help them with a meal or grocery shopping because they are probably hunkered down right now. This pandemic is scary for everyone, but even more so if you are in a high-risk group. Even a phone call so they can hear a reassuring voice is helpful right now.

 
9. Create some inspiration
This is a great one if you have kids. Have them make posters to hang in the windows or on the front porch. Include some inspirational quotes like "We're all in this together" "We can do hard things" "Stay home, save lives" to bring a smile to everyone outside. Once the snow melts the same thing can be done on the sidewalk with chalk. With all the social distancing, this is a fun way to connect with the outside world.

 
10. Learn to cook or bake
Now is the time to try all those recipes from your Pinterest boards! Learn to bake bread, make spaghetti sauce from scratch or bake a cake just for the heck of it!
 
11. Watch old classics or binge on Netflix
We're not suggesting everyone become couch potatoes but our lives are busy so when else will you have an excuse to watch Netflix all day? Catch up on your favorite shows or introduce your kids to all the old classic movies. We can worry about limiting screen time when this passes.
 
12. Start planning for camping/garden/fishing/golfing season
Summer is right around the corner so start planning your adventures. When times are tough it's nice to have something to look forward and if there's one thing Bozemanites look forward to, it's summer! Need some inspiration? Click here!

This article, 12 Fun Things to do at Home While Quarantined was provided by Bozeman Real Estate Group. To read the original article click here.

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MSU Extension to offer weekly webinars about the coronavirus and its effects on the economy


Montana State University Extension
 will offer several webinars that discuss economic effects from the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The webinars will be offered from 2 to 3 p.m. each Thursday from April 2 until April 23. The courses will be presented by MSU Extension specialists and economists from the University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research and the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research to provide insight to how the coronavirus is currently impacting the economy in their areas of expertise. The webinars are free and open to the public.

Topics that will be covered in week one include “Assessing the Impacts of Coronavirus in Montana, the U.S. and the World” presented by Pat Barkley from the BBER; “Small Business, Coronavirus Stimulus” by George Haynes from MSU Extension; and “Individuals and the Stimulus” by Joel Schumacher, associate specialist with MSU Extension.

Week two will feature presentations that cover travel and recreation, agriculture and health care by Norma Nickerson from the ITRR, Kate Fuller of MSU Extension and Robert Sonora from the BBER. Topics for weeks three and four are to be determined.

To register and participate in the webinars, visit http://farmpolicy.msuextension.org/covid19/. For more information, contact Joel Schumacher at jschumacher@montana.edu.  

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Introducing Verge Quaran-TV

NEED TO SCRATCH WHAT ITCHES?
Introducing Verge Quaran-TV

This whole Shelter In Place/New World Order has us missing you. Instead of opening Constellations on Friday, we're all stuck in our homes. But fear not! Your Verge team has been creating a new set of free virtual programming full of fun for all ages!

Verge Quaran-TV gives you the good stuff — on your own terms, in your own time. You can participate! You can watch! You can submit an idea for a new show!

To start, we have three existing shows as part of Verge Quaran-TV:

SKIT ROW: Dani leads us in all the socially distant community sketch entertainment you could ask for! Virtual collaboration is the shizzzz… and you can submit your ideas too! Rules and submission forms posted at our website. Next deadline for submissions: Monday, April 7th! 

FAMILY FUN HOUR: Kate (along with her adorable daughter, Colette) leads this creative workshop that is fun for the whole family!

VIDEO ESSAYS BY NIKO MELL: This channel will feature a series of video essays on theater topics and play reviews. Because sometimes we put our BIG BRAINS in charge (led by new Verge Fam member Niko Mell, ladies and gents!) and do a little theory. This is the stuff, I'm telling you.

Whether you're in need of a break after "home schooling" your kids or just want to pass the time until that federal stimulus check comes so we can finally eat again, WE GOT YOU, FAM!

Virtual hugs!

Hilary, Dani, Kate and the whole fam damily at Verge

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Wednesday, Apr. 1st, 2020

Alcoholics Anonymous District 72 - Response to COVID19

Local AA Recovery Groups Offering Virtual Support

In light of the recent COVID-19 outbreak, local Alcoholics Anonymous members and groups want community members to know that they are still available, ready and willing to help anyone who is struggling with a drinking problem.

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other in order to solve their common problem and help others recover from alcoholism.

In response to the global outbreak, many Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) groups are following social distancing guidelines established by local, state, and federal officials by facilitating virtual AA meetings, while at the same time maintaining their focus on recovery.

Through phone calls, emails, literature, and these online meetings, AA groups continue to fulfill their primary purpose: to carry the message of recovery from alcoholism to alcoholics who are still suffering.

Despite current restrictions on meeting in person, AA wants both potential and current members to know that AA is more than just a place to go, and that our program is still accessible for anyone who needs help.

Anyone interested in connecting with Alcoholics Anonymous and its local membership can find information about AA, contacts, and links to locally hosted and virtual AA meetings at aa-montana.org.

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Tuesday, Mar. 31st, 2020

Local businesses offer women-only discount Day-long 18 percent discount offered to women

Local businesses offer women-only discount
Day-long 18 percent discount offered to women, highlighting gender pay gap
Pay gap worsens health, economic emergency for affected women, families
 
Dozens of local Bozeman businesses will offer an 18 percent discount for women and non-binary folks on March 31, to highlight the average national pay gap, which means that women on average nationally make 18 percent less than men do.
 
"The fact that women, non-binary people, and people of color are paid less than men is even more critical to highlight as we face the current Covid-19 emergency," said Melissa Herron, Bozeman Business and Professional Women Nominations Chair. "People who already are disadvantaged face an especially harsh impact right now in this economic and health crisis." She added that the March 31 date symbolizes how far into the current year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year.
 
The 30 local participating businesses will have items for sale via walk-in to-go, call-in for to-go, and curbside pickup in accordance with current operating restrictions specific to their store. Businesses are also offering items for sale online. Please visit https://bozemanbpw.org/equal-pay-day/ to view the list of businesses and their discounts, and to learn more about the gender pay gap both nationally and in Montana. 

Businesses that are physically open on March 31 will have posters in their windows advertising the availability of to-go purchases.

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MSU business students work on project to benefit local pay-what-you-can restaurant

The efforts of students in a Montana State University business class may help bring increased revenue to a local nonprofit, according to those familiar with the work.

Accounting students in Montana State University’s Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship recently worked on a financial and accounting research project to benefit the local Fork and Spoon, a pay-what-you can restaurant in Bozeman.

The accounting students, all part of the college’s master’s program in professional accountancy, conducted research on the organization – which included volunteering at the establishment – to suggest ways for Fork and Spoon to increase its financial performance. Operated by the Human Resource Development Council, Fork and Spoon runs primarily on donations.

Ed Gamble, associate professor of accounting in the MSU Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship, led the class. He said the goal of the project was two-fold: First, to encourage students to be active in the community, and second, to help Fork and Spoon continue to be viable so the restaurant can continue to help those in need.

As part of their class work, the students were asked to do two shifts at Fork and Spoon – one as a volunteer and a second as a customer. Afterward, they were tasked with creating a two-page business proposal.

Leah Smutko, head chef at Fork and Spoon, said the students specifically were asked to identify solutions for increasing public interaction with Fork and Spoon, as well as for increasing overall donations from those having dinner at the restaurant. She said one proposal, in particular, that students suggested holds potential for Fork and Spoon: to alter its pricing structure.

Currently, customers at Fork and Spoon are asked to pay before they sit down, as is the practice at most fast casual restaurants, Smutko said. She said the students reasoned that shifting the practice to presenting a "bill" at the end of the meal, and then asking customers to evaluate their financial abilities and overall experience at the restaurant, would give the most accurate representation of what diners are actually able to contribute. 

“We were able to understand how to tailor our needs to direct the project in a more specific way,” Smutko said. “The research that these students did gave us a great foundation to discern how the general population views Fork and Spoon and how to control that perspective for the better.

“These students were engaged and deliberate about their time here,” Smutko added. “I sincerely appreciate the effort not only on the (research proposals), but the boots on the ground work that they did to help us run dinner service.”

Student Will Dorwart said that his favorite thing about the project was the opportunity to see their classroom work have a real impact in the community.

“This project allows us, as students, to get out of the classroom and apply the concepts and theory we’ve been learning over the last four-plus years in a real-life scenario that should return a positive benefit for the community,” Dorwart said. “It’s nice to be able to give back to the community with everything the community does to support the university.”

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