By Sarah Gianelli EBS Associate Editor

BIG SKY – This year when HATCH hosted its annual summit at Moonlight Basin, they started the four-day invitation-only event with a public presentation at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center on Sept. 19.

In collaboration with the Big Sky School District and in honor of the new International Baccalaureate program, the event consisted of a slideshow presentation by Eric Cheng, head of Immersive Imaging at Facebook and deep sea photographer; and a soulful, loop-layered performance by Butterscotch, the first female World Beatbox Champion.

HATCH founder Yarrow Kraner with 2017 keynote speakers, oceanographer Sylvia Earle (left) and astronaut Cady Campbell (right). PHOTO BY NATHAN AZOPARDI

Bozeman-native and HATCH founder Yarrow Kraner also gave an impromptu talk about how an early hardscrabble life and subsequent career in the film industry career led him to the helm of a 14-year-old organization dedicated to “hatching a better world” through creativity, collaboration, cross-pollination and—a recurring theme at this year’s summit—love.

HATCH is difficult to sum up in a word. The nonprofit defies barriers and borders of all kinds, bringing together the brightest minds in engineering, the arts, science, math and technology to create a melting pot of race, age, cultures and talent, with the idea that exposure to each other’s unique brilliance will open new creative avenues.

“The goal is to create a pipeline in ideation and innovation from Big Sky to the rest of the world and back,” Kraner said. HATCH’s Latin American counterpart is in Panama, where the organization is involved in the creation of a sustainable community. Next year, HATCH hopes to expand to Europe.

With 150 participants that must be invited or accepted, HATCH exudes an aura of exclusivity. Kraner explained that the event is not open to the public because part of its success lies in creating a bubble, “a force field of bonding that leads to further collaboration.”

Three of the program’s 15 “Next Gens,” or student-aged “hatchers,” attend Lone Peak High School. Together, they are representative of the spectrum of interests embraced by HATCH.

Dounia Metje, a sophomore drawn to documentary filmmaking and journalism, said she wanted to attend HATCH because she was seeking guidance and mentorship in her field. Although at first she felt apprehensive and overwhelmed by the hive-like atmosphere, by the time it was over she was in tears because she didn’t want to leave.

One memorable experience of many was meeting a film director who spent two encouraging hours with her, Metje said.

“She took time out of her day to really talk to me and give me advice,” Metje said. “She told me I have to go for it and not overthink it because if I do I’ll just start doubting myself. But if I just go for it everything I tried will pay off.”

Lone Peak High School junior Kylie Spence performs original songs at HATCH. PHOTO BY COLLEEN MONTGOMERY

Of the many impressive keynotes, including a female astronaut and the inventor of Apple’s Siri, Metje said she was particularly moved by a lawyer who has spent her career fighting for the rights of women in Third World countries.

“She gave a speech that made me cry,” Metje said. “Even though I’m not interested in that field it really motivated me to pursue my passions.”

Juniors Kylie Spence and Myles Wilson were both impressed by the genuine interest adult hatchers took in them and the time they invested in speaking with them.

Spence, a musician and songwriter, moved to Big Sky from Laguna Beach, California, only a month ago and didn’t know what to expect.

“The care and the consideration that the adults put into the next gens was really incredible and made you feel so welcome,” Spence said. “Coming from L.A., in the music business a lot of people don’t care what you’re doing.”

Wilson attended HATCH last year and said he met so many amazing people he wanted to go again. He was thrilled because there seemed to be a lot more professionals in the tech world, his area of intrigue, at this year’s event.

“What I like most about HATCH is how open to chatting everyone is … Whether you work for JoyLab, which is a pretty reputable company, everyone is on the same level. You don’t have to be intimidated.”

Wilson even has some possible, as-of-yet top secret collaboration projects lined up with some of the professionals he met at the gathering.

“It’s one thing when they want to talk with you during the event,” Wilson said. “But it’s another when they want to keep that contact and connection or mentor you after the fact.”