2016 Great Conversations Tables

What we talk about: Round Table

1.Revamping the Criminal Justice System Regardless of the outcome of the jail bond in the November election, questions remain that will need to be answered: How do we deal with jail overcrowding? Do we need to change our approach for offenders involved with drug possession/use? How can we reduce the incidence of repeat offenders? How do we successfully rehabilitate persons involved in crime into productive, law-abiding members of the community? Join District Court Judge Jim Reynolds for perspectives on revamping the criminal justice system.

2.The Stories We Live By Colin Irvine’s life story includes chapters wherein he was a high school football coach, a ski instructor, a mediocre writer, a marathon runner, a professor, a janitor, a college administrator and a Fulbright scholar. Ten years ago he would have never imagined that he’d be living in Helena or leading this conversation—his own story continues to surprise him. Explore life-story theory, and what one book describes as The Metaphors We Live By—how, why, and in what ways we knowingly and unsuspectingly use stories (large and small) to give shape and direction to our lives.

3. Recovering Christian “Recovering” has many meanings—to return to health, to regain possession, to literally “cover over.” Loren Gustafson is a retired ordained pastor of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America who has 34 years experience as a minister. He now spends his time working his urban organic farm, tending bees and thinking about the concept of “recovering.” Join him to explore the layers of meaning and how they can be applied to one’s headway as a Christian.

4. If Not Now, When? From the Stone Age, Ancient Greece and the Roman Republic to the Viking age, the Renaissance, the Industrial Revolution and the Roaring 20’s—if not now, in what historical era would you choose to live and why? Explore this timeless topic with Dennis Taylor, former city manager of Eugene Oregon, Billings and Helena, Vietnam combat veteran and current chair of the Montana Human Rights Commission.

How and Where We Live: Culture and Travel

5. Tickle your Fancy with Bubbles How do those little bubbles get into a bottle of sparkling wine? Cava, Prosseco, Sekt and Champagne—what are the differences? Expand your knowledge of sparkling wine and delight your palate with different bubblies from around the world with
Jill Roberts owner of The Hawthorn Bottle Shop and Tasting Room.

6. Imagine a Nation… Great Conversations is built around the importance of gathering…for conversation. From the town square to the grange hall, to the diner—we have always sought places to gather and discuss community events, solve problems and plan for our futures. Fernanda Krum and Robert Rivers, after years working in war zones around the world, have built a Missoula business around that yearning for a communal gathering place and perhaps a yearning for…beer. Join them for a little of both.

7. Put Another Dime in the Jukebox, Baby For those screaming, “I love rock and roll!” this table is for you. Whether your best concert memories are from Woodstock in the 60s or last week at the Wilma, this table offers a chance for you to reminisce over phenomenal guitar solos, your coolest memorabilia and everything in between. If you have a life-long passion for rock and roll and story telling, you’ll be in good company at this table hosted by Bruce Whittenberg, a rock and roll enthusiast and director of the Montana Historical Society.

8. Can YOU Take a Walk in the Woods? Craig Bacino, forestry technician, cartographer, artist and more, is retired but still on the move. Having recently returned from thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, Craig can guide you through the what, who, when, where and how of his
experience. Have you ever dreamed of hiking a long distance trail end-to-end? Or would you rather enjoy it vicariously? Either way, let Craig be your trail guide.

9. Rocky Relationships The Rocky Mountain Front has been a battleground between the oil and gas industries, rural agriculture interests and conservationists. The 2015 Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act was written to provide compromise, but what does the future hold for this magnificent paradise? For 40 years, Tom Kotynski has hiked and climbed areas of the “Front,” is the author of Discover the Rocky Mountain Front and a retired editor of the Great Falls Tribune. He currently writes the blog outherewithtom.blogspot.com about hiking, climbing and skiing in the Front. Join him for a front seat discussion of this backcountry gem.

10. Full Circle Has it even occurred to you that you could visit the Arctic Circle…let alone on a motorcycle? Dennis Cates did just that, a 7,000 mile round trip. He has tales of camping, camaraderie and cool (in all senses of the word). Dennis has a gift for conversation as well. Join him for a dinner table tour to the top of the world.

11. Big Reads under the Big Sky Montana has a rich literary history, with a long list of notable writers like A.B.Guthrie, Norman Maclean, Pete Fromm. The list continues to grow and includes Russell Rowland. A Montana native with an MA in Creative Writing from Boston University, he has published three critically acclaimed novels, In Open Spaces, The Watershed Years, and High and Inside. Join him for a “bookish” dinner and dip into Montana’s literary legacy and its contemporary cadre of amazing writers.

12. A Picture’s Worth 1000 Words With skill, pictures can tell a story. Lynn Donaldson, photojournalist for National Geographic, Travel + Leisure, Sunset and the New York Times will lead a photographic tour of Montana’s back roads’ unique places and faces and offer tips on how to construct a visual narrative. Whether you want to document a road trip, a rodeo, a glassblower in her studio or a year in the life of your child, Lynn will share ways to conceptualize, plan and execute a strong photo essay.

How We Are: Health and Wellbeing

13. Why, Stress? Why Stress? A famous scientist once questioned, “why don’t zebras get ulcers?” Zebra life can be stressful, but they do not show the characteristic signs of stress like humans. So, what makes humans so unique when it comes to stress? How we can become more resilient against the effects of stress? Dr. Nikki Honzel, a cognitive neuroscientist at Carroll College, invites you to join her table to explore what happens to our minds when we encounter stress and where we can go from there.

14. Sleep Secrets A good night’s sleep has been compared to the “night shift” at a factory—making sure all of the systems and equipment are ready for the next day: healing damaged cells, boosting your immune system, regulating moods. Dr. Kurt Kubicka, Director of the Sleep Disorders Clinic at St. Peter’s Hospital, is just the person to unravel the secrets to a better night’s rest. Join him for a conversation that is sure to put you to sleep…in a good way.

15. Tidy Home, Tidy Life In her book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, author Marie Kondo promises that a tidy home can create a calm, motivated mindset. Free your mind of clutter and join Adrienne Jarrett owner of Helena’s Spruce Finer Consignor to discuss Marie Kondo’s book and learn the benefits of streamlining your life, how to do it and how tidying up can enhance your home and life.

16. Moment of Impact Concussions in professional sports used to be just part of the game, but in the wake of discoveries about the long term impact of concussions on the brain, sports leagues from the NFL to Small Fry are adopting Return to Learn and Return to Play protocol. Dr. Buzz Walton, Primary Care Physician in Sports Medicine will discuss the signs and symptoms of concussion, how athletes are evaluated on and off the field and Montana concussion law.

What We Can Do: Science and Technology

17. Big Sky Honey: What’s the Buzz? Ever considered hosting a colony of bees in your own backyard? You’re in good company! Montana has consistently ranked as a top honey-producing state with over 190 registered beekeepers. However, hobby beekeepers are still struggling to maintain healthy hives around the state. There is no simple answer to the current issues facing honeybees and beekeepers, but Cam Lay, an entomologist for the state of Montana, invites you to join his table to discuss the current situation and possible solutions for the future.

18. The Anzick Child One of America’s first inhabitants, known as “the Anzick Child,” was discovered in the only known Clovis Burial site, dating back nearly 13,000 years. The site happens to be on Dr. Sarah Anzick’s family’s land near Wilsall. The DNA sequencing of the Anzick Child showed he is ancestral to 80% of Native Americans. Dr. Anzick, a molecular biologist, assisted with the sequencing and she has great stories to share, both as a scientist and as a member of the “family.”

19. Water, Water Everywhere… and Not A Drop to Drink Flint, Michigan has recently drawn the country’s attention to the critical role of water treatment in America, and now people have a lot of questions: How does water treatment work? What is it that went wrong in Flint? How can we prevent a water crisis for the future? Join Kyle Strode, professor of chemistry at Carroll College, as he tells the story of finding adequate drinking water—from Guatamala, to Montana’s backcountry, right up to your kitchen faucet.

20. Going Viral Zika has been in the news for months. Before that it was West Nile and Lyme disease. Dr. Grant Hokit, Senior Research Associate and Professor of Biology at Carroll College, has investigated
outbreaks of West Nile in Montana for the past eight years. Have you wondered which new virus will find its way to Montana? Are climate dynamics a factor? Dr. Hokit is just the guide for this “infectious” conversation.

21. How Smart Is your House? We’ve seen the impact of our televisions, phones and even our cars becoming “smarter,” but what happens when any and all household appliances, light bulbs and even our walls and floors become smart? The “Internet of Things,” a world where everyday objects are connected to the Internet, is coming to a home near you and will impact more than we know or expect. Jason Neiffer, Curriculum Director of the Montana Digital Academy, is just the “geek” to lead this chat about the world where some estimate that 21 billion non-computer objects will be connected to the Internet by 2020.

22. Tinkering with Technology Take a seat next to Sean Courtney and Dan Case, who teach
Instructional Technology at Carroll College, for a discussion on the latest technology movements of the 21st century. This interactive table will cover topics ranging from 3D printing to the Makerspace movement; from micro-electronics to robots. Join this table for a night of tinkering with technology!

23. Raptor Rapt Raptor expert and wildlife center coordinator at Montana Wild, Lisa Rhodin’s hands and arms are scarred from years of working with wildlife. She spends her days (and some nights) caring for the hundreds of ailing raptors that pass through the center. Lisa will enthrall you with stories and share her contagious passion for rehabilitating these raptors.

Where We’ve Been: History

24. New Look at an Old Mystery Thomas Francis Meagher has provided Montanans with a mystery to unravel for more than 100 years. On July 1, 1870 Thomas Meagher fell from a boat docked at Fort Benton and drowned in the Missouri. Did he fall? Was he pushed? Did he jump? Paul Wylie, retired lawyer and independent researcher and writer, spent 8 years on his first book, The Irish General: Thomas Francis Meagher. He uncovered some relevant evidence and is looking forward to sharing it with you.

25. Leaving a Trail and Tale: Stories of the Mullan Road Dr. Richard Buswell has spent 45 years traveling the Mullan Road, photographing Montana’s ghost towns and mining camps and uncovering some of the state’s lost stories. Take a trip back in time with Richard as he recounts tales of travelers on their way to gold fields, unearths original ruts along one of Montana’s oldest routes, and recounts the discovery of gold in Last Chance Gulch and Virginia City.

26. Chinese Settlers: Untold Stories of Montana’s Cultural Past Those familiar with Montana’s history are well aware of the contributions that Chinese settlers made to the territory’s development. However, rarely is the story of the Chinese settlers of Montana told in their own words. Mark Johnson, a University of Notre Dame professor, led a transnational project to uncover the history of the Chinese in Montana by translating several collections of documents housed at the Montana Historical Society. Take a seat at Mark’s table and travel back in time.

How Things Change: Politics, Economics and Education

27. Following the Money in Montana The elections are over and you are wondering what happened and how. Dine with Denise Roth Barber, Managing Director of the National Institute of Money in State Politics. Who funded Montana’s elections this year and by how much? Denise can tell you these answers and more, including how Montana’s money trail compares to other states.

28. Re-Imagining the Gibraltar: Evolution of Montana’s Labor Movement In the 20th century, Montana was known as the Gibraltar of Labor. With changing market forces, declining
memberships, and neighboring “right to work” states, cracks have formed in the movement. But a new generation is rallying in the greatest show of support for the Labor Movement in decades. Leaving no stone unturned, Bob Funk, Communications Director for the Montana AFL-CIO and Rich Aarstad, Research Center Senior Manuscript Archivist for the Montana Historical Society invite you to discuss Montana’s labor movement’s past and future.

29. A Nickel Ain’t Worth a Dime Anymore The state of the economy affects everyone, but the details are often confusing for most of us. Is government debt good or bad? What about taxes? Barbara Wagoner, Chief Economist at the Montana Department of Labor and Industry, will illuminate how the global economy affects us here in Montana. By dessert you MAY have answers to what you can expect in our economic future. And you certainly will have an enjoyable conversation along the way.

30. Lessons from around the World Amanda Ripley’s The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way stimulates comparisons between the education in the US and other high achieving countries. Continue the conversation with Pad McCracken, former kayaking instructor, an English Language Arts instructor in the U.S. and abroad, and currently research analyst for the Montana legislature. Join Pad to discuss what we are doing right and what we could do better. (Maybe you can pick up a few kayaking tips as well).

31. Foreign Policy in Focus Join Brooke Anderson for a lively discussion about the foreign policy challenges and opportunities facing our new president. Ambassador Anderson has served at the United Nations, and as a senior advisor to U.S. Presidents, Cabinet Secretaries, Members of Congress and presidential candidates. Her experience carrying out sensitive diplomatic
missions and working on complex global and national issues gives her insight to share on into foreign policy opportunities facing the next administration.

Where We Are: The World Today

32. Breaking News or Broken News Many of us grew up watching the nightly news and reading the daily paper— and waiting for details and story developments. With the explosion of personal technology and mobile communication, today everyone can be a publisher and information is instant. Larry Abramson, former reporter, editor and administrator at NPR and the current Dean of the UM School of Journalism will explore how to manage the flow of information in a “now” world where everyone has a voice.

33. Resettlement for the Unsettled The scale of the world’s current refugee crisis indicates resettlement is not likely to be the whole solution to the problem, but it is still an important and worthwhile piece of the puzzle. Missoula anticipates the resettlement of 100 east African refugees, and Soft Landing Missoula was formed to assist in refugee resettlement. Mary Poole, Executive Director will discuss the basics about refugees and resettlement and how we can improve our understanding and the conversation about refugees.

34. What’s Gender Got to Do with It? Explore the intersection of gender & politics with Jamie Dolan, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Chair of the Sociology, Anthropology, and Gender Studies Department at Carroll College. We had “come a long way, baby,” but it seems gender equity has stalled in the United States. As we have watched the role gender has played in this presidential election, questions remain open for discussion: why might some women vote against their own interests? What can we anticipate for the future?

35. History Informs Faith Religion has the power to unite, to divide, to compel people to act in ways that defy the very tenets in which they profess to believe. For all that makes Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Judaism and others notably different, they also have
important similarities, often the result of distinctly non-religious forces. Join Jeanette Fregulia for a discussion of how history informs faith and vice versa—from the floods of Gilgamesh and Noah to why Jesus is a prophet in Islam.

36. Loved to Death With record crowds and damaging behavior at America’s National Parks, how will the world and Montanans continue to enjoy our wild treasures without ruining them for
future generations? Tom Pedersen, retired CHS science teacher and former Montana Teacher of the Year, is a park enthusiast who has organized annual trips to Yellowstone and Glacier for his students. Are we loving our national parks to death? Join him to discuss the problems and possible solutions to protecting and enjoying our over-loved national parks.

37. The Giving Tree(s) Paul Roos has a lifetime in Montana’s outdoors, which has shaped his understanding of the importance of management of our land and water. He is committed to sharing the importance of forestland as a necessary part of the natural water cycle. Join his conversation about how climate change makes our management strategies of land and water more important than ever.