Opportunity Link recently worked with Hopa Mountain, the Montana Budget & Policy Center, and WEEL to organize an Imagine Montana session for northcentral Montana. This citizen leaders planning session, held in Havre on March 29, brought together 35 leaders across the Hi-Line who discussed how to become more actively engaged with shaping state policy that helps struggling families. Participants recognized that many working Montanans are struggling with the economic crisis. Many working families have found it hard to make ends meet because wages have not paid enough to meet basic needs. Small businesses, the largest type of employer in Montana, are finding it harder and harder to provide affordable health care and retirement plans for their employees, who are finding it harder and harder to pay for them.
Recognizing these factors, Imagine Montana conversations in Havre centered on five focus areas: Increasing the quality and quantity of value-added Montana products; creating more “green” jobs; increasing job-related training in secondary school through higher education; early childhood education and child care; and ecological health/farm-to-organic markets. Groups formed into these five discussion areas and outlined ideas and future work plans. Individuals identified policy areas that they would like to work on in the future.
As more Imagine Montana discussions continue across the state, there will be opportunities for northcentral Montana citizens to join working policy groups with others who are interested in working on similar initiatives. Imagine Montana partners are now working on a new website to keep citizens apprised of the project’s progress.
For more information, please contact Bonnie Sachatello-Sawyer, Hopa Mountain executive director at firstname.lastname@example.org.