Well, summer is here! I got to spend yesterday in Caras Park at the Missoula Made Fair and I wanted to thank our volunteers that helped staff the Soft Landing booth, and all of the new folks that signed up to learn more us and get involved! It was a beautiful day and it looks like we have many more of those over the coming week!
Another interesting happening that bears mentioning: Missoula will be visited this week by the Tug collective with a project titled "Who Eats at Taco Bell?" In their words, Who Eats at Taco Bell? is a socially-engaged-art platform for thinking about how the interlocking dynamics of immigration, social race, and colonialism in U.S.-American history continue to resonate with personal and political notions of movement, belonging, and identity. Their goal with this project is to create a collaborative situation for kindling critical (but accessible) discussion about immigration and racial justice. Although there will be multiple antecedents propelling our project forward, the ultimate vehicle for creating this collaborative framework will be a 2-month expedition on the Lewis and Clark Trail, in the summer of 2016 leading up to the U.S. Presidential Election, making tacos with people with whom we come in contact and activating participation via a multi-sensorial/multimedia installation, all in an effort to seed and extend conversations about what it means to inhabit a place, at this particular point in time. Wow. I am excited to meet these guys and hope you will join me at the Frontier Space Gallery this First Friday to welcome them and have conversations, and hear about their cross country exploration!
I also wanted to let everyone know that, although maybe not as creative as the above mentioned event, our first Ally Training was a success! It was so wonderful to work with NCBI in designing and teaching this short course and I am very grateful for their time and expertise! The students not only learned a lot, but so did we and it will be a priority moving forward to offer more of these "Ally Trainings" and well as other short courses on topics of diversity and cultural competency. These are things to look for in the fall!
Almost all of the Soft Landing Board interviews have taken place and we could not be more thrilled for who this has brought to the table. I think we are going to have a very strong board moving forward- and just in time to help with the endless tasks involved in becoming our own non-profit! We have been very busy writing by-laws, filling out paperwork, distilling our million ideas into a manageable few to start with and working on fundraising plans- wow- who knew this is what we signed up for?! Although challenging and time consuming, it is surprisingly interesting and I am thankful to be learning and acquiring new skills ;) We are still looking for our "home" to run a Community Resource Center and operate our programs out of, so if anyone had any leads, please send them our way!
Ok, ok, so can we get an update on the refugees please? The IRC's office plans are moving along nicely and I got the chance to pre-view their new office space a little over a week ago. With a mini-build up, it is really going to be a nice space and even though it is the IRC's office, I feel such a part of it and hope you all do to. They have been so wonderful to work with and I continue to feel so lucky that it is the IRC that has landed back in Missoula. Bob Johnson, with the IRC, will be back in July to check on the construction and start getting it all dialed in. The new Executive Director for the IRC will be arriving in Missoula from Nairobi in mid-July, the two other positions will be decided then (I think) and the office should be up and running shortly after that. We are projected to see our first refugees sometime in August or early September.
Thinking about that, I think about last September when this whole adventure started and I am AMAZED at all we have achieved in just one year!!!!! Can you believe it? I know we aren't quite there yet, but I continue to look forward with excitement and gratitude.