Great Conversations 2009

Table 1: Can We Quiet Our Cleverness? with Dayna Baumeister

Biomimicry is the conscious emulation of nature’s genius to help solve human design challenges. To practice learning from nature, we must quiet our own cleverness and essentially recognize that humans are but one species of over 30 million species currently living on this planet earth. Join Dayna Baumeister for a lively discussion on the implications for the human race of believing we as a species belong on a pedestal versus a belief that we are one among many.

Dayna Baumeister received a BS in Marine Biology from New College in Sarasota. After several years exploring the intricate relationships of coral reefs, she turned in her wetsuit and headed back to the mountains. There, Dayna earned a MS in Resource Conservation and a PhD in Organismic Biology and Ecology from the University of Montana in Missoula, specializing in dynamics of positive interactions among animal and plant life. With a background in biology, a devotion to applied natural history, and a passion for sharing the wonders of nature with others, Dayna has worked in the field of Biomimicry since 1998 as an educator, researcher, and design consultant. As co-founder and keystone for the Biomimicry Guild, Dayna acts as the liaison between all members of the Guild. In addition, she brings her skills as a systems thinker and organic communicator to her dynamic workshops, presentations, seminars, and exhibits, which have introduced the idea of nature as model, measure, and mentor to thousands of designers, business managers, and engineers around the country.


Table 2: Art or Science: How to Best Change the World? with Richard Opper

The world needs attention – not much argument there. Many of us do-gooders are driven by a need to help heal the Earth, care for the needy, improve education for our children, or stop wars. How can we maximize our impact and best serve as agents of change: by tapping into the collective unconscious through artistic expression, or by solving problems in the lab or in the field through science and technology? There is a right answer; Richard Opper, Director of Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality just doesn’t know what it is. He’s asking the question and hoping you’ll help him talk it through.

Richard Opper was appointed as Director of the Montana Department of Environmental Quality in 2005. He oversees his department’s pursuit of its mission to protect, sustain, and improve a clean and healthful environment in Montana. His agency works on superfund site cleanups, environmental enforcement, water quality planning, energy conservation, alternative fuels promotion, and environmental permitting. He is also the author of a sadly little-known novel.


Table 3: Greener Helena with Steve Loken

What will buildings, energy, transportation and food systems in Helena look like 50 years from now? Can they be integrated? Can cities in Montana become net producers of energy, food and nutrients instead of net consumers? Build on these questions with Missoula builder Steve Loken as you imagine a Helena of the future.

Steve Loken has been the President and owner of Loken Builders, Inc. in Missoula for 15 years. His company employs fifteen people to restore and renovate buildings for energy and resource conservation. Steve is the winner of three Historic Preservation Awards in Missoula. He pioneered the use of recycled content material use in buildings with ReCraft in 90 residential projects in 1994. Steve received the Professional Builder Magazine Builder of the Year Award in1995, and the Energy Efficient Building Association Distinguished Builder Award.


Table 4: Please, Thank You and Other Foundations of Civilization with Elton Anderson

Have you registered shock at the apparent collapse of social conventions you used to take for granted? Elton Anderson, doing business as Mr. Manners, will console you and affirm that those fundamentals that we once took for granted are alive and still matter. From the formal, to informal; casual to chaos, explore how our social codes of conduct evolved and why we should struggle to maintain them.

Elton Anderson’s love and passion for the arts have been a constant part throughout his life. In 2004 the Andersons arrived to Missoula sight unseen and began to get to know its citizens and fell in love with them.
Etiquette has always been a great part of Mr. Anderson’s life and with the broad exposure to diversity in countries and cultures has inspired him to open a studio devoted to educating clients to the structure of etiquette. Knowing etiquette helps you navigate through this labyrinth we call society.
In Missoula Mr. Anderson is on the board for the Montana Rep. and the Symphony.


Table 5: By Oar and by Sail with Ben Brouwer and Becca Leaphart

“Oh…thy sea is so great and my boat is so small.” (Anonymous) Imagine coordinating and executing the building of a 24 foot wooden boat over the course of a year. Then what? 6 people, 6 oars, 3 sails, 3 months and the Inside Passage. This is a conversation about ingenuity, endurance, cooperation and travel. Ben Brower and Becca Leaphart have it all.

Ben Brouwer grew up on Lopez Island, WA. He currently resides in Helena, MT where he champions energy conservation for AERO—Montana’s Alternative Energy Resources Organization. Becca Leaphart grew up in Helena and is presently working towards a master’s degree in Creative Writing at the University of Montana.


Table 6: Movies that Change your Life with Don Pogreba

Whether it’s the moment when Bogey brushes off Ingrid Bergman at the airport or when Luke learns something surprising about his family tree, everyone has moments in film that have left an indelible imprint. Join HHS English teacher Don Pogreba in a discussion on the movies that have mattered most to you, the movies we can’t help but watch over and over again, and the power of film in contemporary culture. Bring popcorn!

Don Pogreba, after a two-day stint at law school, has been fortunate enough to be a high school English teacher for the past ten years. The only drawback to his teaching career is that his essay queue always seems to be much longer than the one at Netflix.


Table 7:Wines of the World with Chelsey Frank

Take a delicious trip around the world with Sommelier Chelsey Frank as you taste wines from different regions and learn about finding good wine in places like Japan, Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Argentina and the U.S. During your tour, discuss varietals, wine making and its history, and how to match and serve the perfect wine. Cheers!

Chelsey Frank’s father has owned George’s Foods since 1975 in Helena, selling food to restaurants in Helena, Bozeman and Great Falls. Eight years ago she started a new division of the company, selling fine wine around the state. Georges sold the food company last year and now focus only on wine and beer. George’s Distributing now services restaurants and retail shops from Glendive to Libby and everything in between. They employ about 30 people and are the only state-wide wine wholesaler.
Chelsey is a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers.


Table 8: Crop Circles: Messages from E.T.? with Richard O’Connor

Delve into Richard O’Connor’s study of crop circles as the most important phenomena of our time. Who might these messages to humanity be from and are they an off-world intelligence trying to get our attention? When, where and how in the world do we respond? Dr. O’Connor will be sharing information from the recent Center for the Study of Extraterrestrial Intelligence conference.

Richard O’Connor is a physician practicing anesthesiology in Helena since 1988. He has been married for 29 years to Connie O’Connor, MD, who practices psychiatry in Helena. They have two sons, Emory (deceased) and Elliott O’Connor. Richard’s interests include medicine, UFO’s, “crop circles” and Extraterrestrials, backpacking, sailing, and boat construction.


Table 9: What Makes the Great Books… well, Great? with Ken Egan

If you think you haven’t read the Odyssey since someone forced you to, you may be in for a surprise. Ken Egan, Executive Director of Humanities Montana, is ready to show you how those “great” themes transcend time and culture and reoccur where you least expect them. From Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, to the Coen brothers’ Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? Those “great” themes keep cropping up…because they’re Great! What else should you reread, read and what have you missed along the way?

Ken Egan is Executive Director of Humanities Montana. He taught literature for 28 years at various colleges and universities, including Rocky Mountain College in Billings. He holds a Ph.D. in American and British Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Table 10: Conservation and Community: A Truce? with Gabe Furshong

In the current debate over wilderness and public lands, how does Montana’s history shape discussions on conservation, the environmental movement, and what it all means for the future of public lands and conservation campaigns in the Big Sky. Wrestle with these issues and more alongside Gabe Furshong of the Montana Wilderness Association.

Born and raised in Helena, Gabe graduated as a student of political economy in December 2005 from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. After three years living and working in local communities along the Rocky Mountain Front for the Montana Wilderness Association (MWA), Gabe recently moved to Missoula where he coordinates education and outreach efforts for MWA surrounding Senator Tester’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Act.


Table 11: The Secret Life of Grizzly Bears with Kate Kendall

Discover what bear hairs and remote cameras reveal about some of Montana’s most fascinating animals. Research ecologist Kate Kendall studies grizzly and black bears in Montana including the Bob Marshall Wilderness and Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. While gathering 34,000 hair samples and DNA to learn about bear populations, she also documented some surprising and amusing bear behavior. Be sure to ask, do bears shi…mmy in the woods?

Kate Kendall is a research ecologist and has studied grizzly and black bears in Yellowstone and northwest Montana since 1977. Her current work uses genetic analysis of hair samples and remote video cameras to gather information needed to recover and manage bear populations in Montana and to document bear behavior.


Table 12: Who Gets to Kill the Salmon? with Jay Weiner

Jay Weiner, assistant attorney general and expert in water litigation, can guide guests through the labyrinthian details of the Columbia River Salmon litigation conundrum. It is an issue seeking to balance tribal rights, the worth of a species and other environmental issues. Sounds fishy, but the discussion will be lively.

Jay Weiner is an assistant attorney general responsible for water-related litigation and a staff attorney for the Montana Reserved Water Rights Compact Commission, the state agency tasked with negotiating water quantification agreements with Indian tribes and federal agencies in Montana. Among other things he did before coming to work for the State in 2004, Jay spent a year as court counsel to the Supreme Court of the Republic of Palau.


Table 13: The Sacred Role of Trees with Jim Robbins

The human love affair with trees is the stuff of great literary works, music and poetry, but the role of trees in the world’s ecosystem services is an unknown verse. Author and New York Times writer Jim Robbins offers insights from his fourth book, The Forgotten Forest.

Jim Robbins writes for the New York Times and other publications from his home in Helena. He is the author of three books and is working on his fourth called The Forgotten Forest, to be published by Random House in 2010.


Table 14: 100 Ways to Connect with Montana’s Great Outdoors with Thomas Baumeister

What is biophilia anyway? Is it cure-able? Join Fish Wildlife and Parks wildlife biologist Thomas Baumeister to discuss why interaction with nature is important for our well-being. While you engage in this conversation about our great outdoors, craft a list of 100 ways in explore our own backyard.

Thomas Baumeister is an advocate for restoring the health benefits associated with nature and outdoor play. He works as the education program manager for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and spends whatever time he can with his two kids outside exploring the great outdoors.


Table 15: Creating a Soft Landing for Helena with Jim Barngrover and Gloria Flora

Jim Barngrover and Gloria Flora are combining their expertise to lead this conversation about how our community can engage in the Transition Movement—building a local and sustainable future in which we take collective responsibility for food and energy security in our own region.

Gloria Flora is the Executive Director of Sustainable Obtainable Solutions, an organization dedicated to ensuring the sustainability of public lands and of the plant, animal and human communities that depend on them.  During her 23 year career with the U.S. Forest Service, she served as the Forest Supervisor of the Lewis and Clark National Forest. In that role, she helped Montanans protect the Rocky Mountain Front by declaring a moratorium on oil and gas leasing.


Table 16: Monkey See, Monkey Do with Nicole Clark

Recent advances in neuroscience have identified mirror neurons in learning behaviors. This affects our social interactions, emotional responses, and language development. There may be differences in gender and the number of mirror neurons. Neurologist Nicole Clark will guide the conversation to answer the question, are our personalities “hardwired” or are we just reflections of our environment?

Nicole Clark, MD moved to Helena from Salt Lake City where she completed a fellowship in Clinical Neurophysiology/Neuromuscular Medicine at the University of Utah in 2009. She earned both her Medical Degree and a Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry with honors at the University of Missouri-Columbia and completed both an internship and neurology residency at the University of Utah. Dr. Clark is a member of the American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine, American Neurologist Association, and American Medical Association.


Table 17: The Real Wizard of Oz with Dr. Terri Pargot

Take the concept of an ordinary man with ordinary feelings of inadequacy, not so unusual—unless you place him in Oz and hide him behind a curtain and give him  some special effects. Our culture has created myths around many of our own “Wizards.” Dr. Terri Pargot will lead this discussion of how we can  better understand the shared experiences of those who are idealized and those who idealize them.

Terri Pargot is a licensed psychologist in Helena, Montana, where she lives with her family.


Table 18: Death, Taxes and New Diseases with Dr. Todd Damrow

The uproar over H1N1 provides a perfect framework for this discussion with epidemiologist Dr. Todd Damrow. Dramatic events unfold regularly about emerging infections. How serious are these threats? And, really, what can we do about them?

Dr. Damrow is a Distinguished Alumnus Award recipient at the University of Montana. He served for 17 years as the Montana State Epidemiologist, our states’ top disease detective. Currently, he is an adjunct professor in the Department of Nursing and Health Sciences at Carroll College.


Table 19: Dream On! with Jay Dufrechou

An attorney by day, Jay Dufrechou also has a doctorate in transpersonal psychology and will lead you on an exploration where ancient spiritual systems meet contemporary psychology. Ponder the mysteries of dreaming and how to remember your dreams to use their energy. Learn the “if it were my dream” method of discussing dreams with others. Dream on!

Jay Dufrechou works as an attorney and mediator, primarily in the workers’ compensation field. His background in more esoteric interests includes a doctorate in transpersonal psychology and continuing passionate studies of dreams, mystical experiences, astrology, holotropic breathwork, the Enneagram, and other places where ancient spiritual systems meet contemporary psychology. Along with Orlinda Worthington, Jay co-hosts the Helena Civic Television program “The Woo Crew,” Tuesdays at 5:30, Channel 11.


Table 20: Are you Twitterpated about Social Networking? with Steffen Rasile

This is your chance to find out what is going on in the social media world with freelance web designer and technology expert, Steffen Rasile. How do you network with friends on Facebook or follow someone on Twitter? Discuss the finer points of blogging and digital publishing in the business world or ask that tech question from when you thought it was MyFace and SpaceBook.

Steffen Rasile is a freelance web designer (sraDesignStudios.com), Beard Club President (bruigher.com), Music Collector (packofstrays.com), Beer Enthusiast (barBEERians.com), and an all around technology “Mr. Fixit”. His entrepreneurial mindset and love for the Internet has made him an expert in the Social Media world. Follow him on Twitter@SteffenRasile.


Table 21: Travel to India – More than the Taj and a Tiger with Dr. Tess Augustine

Dr. Tess Augustine has traveled the length and breadth of the Indian subcontinent sightseeing and doing medical volunteer work. She is going to take you on a journey to three must-see places in India that are not on the usual tourist itineraries. Ladakh, India’s last frontier; the erotic temples of Khajurho; and Jaisalmer, the city built from golden sandstone.

A world citizen of Indian heritage, Tess Augustine was born in Sarawak, Malaysia and grew up in Zanbia, Africa. She is a pediatrician and has lived in Helena for the last four years with her husband, two children and dog.


Table 22: Qur’an and the Culture of Women with Jeanette Fregulia

What historical and cultural factors have shaped the lives of women, in some cases long before the Prophet Muhammad? How do these considerations continue to shape the lives of women? What does the Qur’an tell us about the proper role of women, and men for that matter? Pictures of women in the Middle East completely covered in the black chador tell only part of their story. Join Carroll professor, Jeanette Fregulia, in moving toward a better understanding of women in the Middle East and Islam.

Jeanette Fregulia is an Assistant Professor of History at Carroll College, with teaching interests that include Renaissance History, History of the Modern Middle East, History of Ireland, and Gender History. Her research focuses on the activities of mercantile women in early modern Milan, Italy. Originally from northern California, Jeanette is the mother of an eighteen year-old daughter.


Table 23: Death in the Archives with Yvonne Seng

Murder, adultery, theft, lepers and mystics – it’s all there. Explore the court cases of the archives of Suleyman the Magnificent in Istanbul and the imperial archives. Your guide is archaeologist and professor of Islamic art and culture, Yvonne Seng, author of Men in Black Dresses: A Quest for the Future among Wisdom Makers of the Middle East.

Australian-born Yvonne Seng has traveled and worked widely in the Middle East and as an archaeologist and professor of Islamic art and culture. She interviewed religious leaders and mystics for her book Men in Black Dresses: A Quest for the Future Among Wisdom Makers of the Middle East and was named “a force for positive turbulence” by the Center for Creative Leadership. Presently, she is Interim Curator of Art at the Holter Museum of Art.


Table 24: 100 Down, 100 to Go? with Dr. Bob Swartout

Carroll College is an anchor of our community and is celebrating 100 years as such. Bob Swartout, Chair of Carroll’s Department of History, recently completed his book, Bold Minds & Blessed Hands, commemorating the centennial. Not only has Carroll evolved over those years, but Dr. Swartout’s perception of the institution changed in the course of his writing about it. Find out how.

Bob Swartout is professor and chair of the Department of History at Carroll College, where he has taught since 1978. Over the years he has produced eight books, the latest of which is Bold Minds and Blessed Hands: The First Century of Montana’s Carroll College.


Table 25:From  Billings to Baltimore with Matt Kuntz

When President Barrack Obama asked to meet Matt Kuntz to talk about his advocacy for veterans with post traumatic stress injuries, Matt didn’t yet know that his work would be mentioned in the President’s September 11, 2009 speech on public service and that the Kuntz family would be invited on the Inaugural Train. Learn about these conversations, Matt’s personal impressions of the First Family, and the national legislation that was spawned in these discussions.

Matt Kuntz is a Helena-native and a graduate of West Point and the University of Oregon School of Law. Matt is the Executive Director the National Alliance on Mental Illness and a nationally recognized veterans advocate.


Table 26: From Inside the Inner Circle with Matt McKenna

What are the different “types” of former Presidents? What responsibility does a former President have to the country? How should the sitting President use former Presidents? Join Matt McKenna for an insider’s perspective on former Presidents. This is a great opportunity to get a vicarious taste of the inside of a very elite club.

Matt McKenna serves as Communications Director for President Bill Clinton as well as the William J. Clinton Foundation. Throughout the 2008 primary and general election campaign, Matt traveled with President Clinton, serving as his chief spokesperson. In 2006, Matt was Communications Director for Jon Tester’s U.S. Senate race in which Tester, a 3rd generation Montana farmer, defeated longtime incumbent Conrad Burns. Matt was also Communications Director in Sen. Tester’s Senate office. He has worked for Gov. Brian Schweitzer of Montana, Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia, Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Gov. Tony Knowles of Alaska. A native of Bozeman, Montana and graduate of Montana State University, he spends his spare time in the mountains; mountain biking, waterskiing and hiking. He lives in Montana with his girlfriend, Kate and their dog, Lotte.


Table 27: Citizens (Raising) Cain? with Steve Bullock

From the Freemen to the Unabomber, Montana has a storied history of anti-government activity that spans the past three decades. While much has changed since these groups first gained prominence in the late 1980’s, much has stayed the same. Join Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock for a discussion of the history of the anti-government movement and law enforcement’s response.

Steve Bullock was sworn in as Montana’s 20th Attorney General on January 5, 2009. As Attorney General, Bullock is the state’s chief lawyer and law enforcement officer. He leads the Montana Department of Justice.


Table 28: Constitutionalist in Foxholes: The Guantanamo Litigation with Charley Carpenter

Each branch of our government has had a say in striking the balance between individual liberty and national security in the post-9/11 era. Attorney Charley Carpenter has represented three prisoners in Guantanamo since early 2005. Hear his perspective on this compelling and convoluted topic and see how it shapes your understanding of “What should we do with Guantanamo?”

Charley Carpenter has a solo law practice in Missoula, having recently left his Washington, D.C. position in a large Philadelphia firm. He is a Montana State University graduate and has been a member of the Montana bar since 1991.


Table 29: This Is Not Your Grandparents’ Retirement! with Teresa Olcott Cohea

Planning for the next great adventure in your life? Have your plans changed? Because it is possible that you’ll spend more years in retirement than you spent working, make sure you plan well. Teresa Olcott Cohea has an abundance of experience as a financial planner to bring to this discussion. Join her and learn how to make the most of your “Second Act.”

Teresa Olcott Cohea has been a financial consultant at D.A. Davidson for 16 years, with a specialty in helping clients and friends plan for and enjoy comfortable and fulfilling retirements. Previously, she worked in state government for 17 years as Legislative Fiscal Analyst, chief of staff to Governor Ted Schwinden, and in various other finance related positions. She currently serves on the Board of Investments, as Holter Museum co-chair and on the Prickly Pear Land Trust.


Table 30: The Economic Disaster, Formerly Known as Iceland with Bill Beaman

National and personal debt, banking crisis, unemployment? Sound familiar? Bill Beaman has 28 years experience in the field of investments and a world view that believes that we could learn more than a little from Iceland as a microcosm for global economic trends. What do you think?

o What caused Iceland to go from a conservative, thriving country of 300,000 people to go totally bankrupt in less than 5 years?
o Their currency is nearly worthless, their debt is 850% of GDP (ours is currently approximately 61%), residents are hoarding cash and food and blowing up new automobiles in order to get the cash from insurance claims
o Can Iceland be resurrected or salvaged at all?
o Could similar problems come to plague the United States or are they already here?

Mr. Beaman has 28 years in the investment field, 30 years in the U.S. Army, has been a consultant in counterterrorism and has an insatiable curiosity for economies in the world.


Table 31: Media Matters: Does the Medium? with Jim Clarke

Although large metro newspapers have suffered big declines in revenue, nearly all mid-size and small newspapers are still going great guns. Jim Clarke, Western Bureau Chief for the Associated Press, reports that while our demand for news is up, it is demand for news on paper that’s looking shaky. We may be in the middle of a revolution in news delivery, but fair, accurate journalism from credible sources isn’t going out of style. What does this mean for you?

Jim Clarke is The Associated Press’ bureau chief for Montana, Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. He’s been a reporter and editor for two decades and holds a B.A. from The George Washington University and an M.S. from Columbia University. His wife Jennifer Forker and daughters Hope and Grace lived in Helena from 2005-2007.


Table 32: Saints that Work with John Reis

From Saint Joseph statues for an expedited home sale, to a quick murmur to Saint Anthony to find those lost car keys, a number of rituals have evolved surrounding saints. What makes a saint a saint anyway and how did some come to be perceived as intercessors? Join John Ries and explore these answers and discuss how the sacred can touch our lives today.

John Ries has graduate degrees in Philosophy and Theology from St. Louis University & the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium). He has taught philosophy and theology at a number of colleges and universities and presently teaches in the theology department at Carroll College.


Table 33: Buddha in a Brown Robe with Zan Murray

Kindness. Compassion. Joy. Equanimity. These four immeasurable minds of love will begin a fascinating discussion and exploration of engaged Buddhism and living happily in the present moment. Learn about the teachings of Vietnamese Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hanh, and Zan Murray’s experiences in over twenty years of studied meditation practice.

Zan has studied meditation practices for over 20 years, Buddhism for 10, and with Thich Nhat Hanh for 9. In 2005 she ordained as a member of the Order of Interbeing, a combined lay and monastic order founded by Nhat Hanh in 1966. She is a founding member and leader of Flowing Mountains Sangha in Helena.