By Eric Ladd
Explorebigsky.com Publisher

Small Town America never ceases to amaze me; here in Big Sky, we can see the power of the individuals, grassroots organizations and small businesses who help make our country great.

This past week, I found inspiration in two examples of locals thinking big, making change and progress happen.

1. Seven Directions
This new company based in Big Sky was founded to help people live healthier, more self-sufficient lifestyles. End result: an Earthship in Big Sky. This fully off-the-grid home was built primarily from recycled materials with a sustainable design.

For all the world’s naysayers, it is inspiring to witness doers like the Big Sky Earthship team of Michael Reynolds, Scott Maybee and Jeff Saad. In two-and-a-half weeks, the 2,500-square-foot home went from a conception, to dried-in; without any connection to a primary power source, it will maintain at 65 degrees year round. We’re all going to envy Saad’s power bills – or lack thereof – come February. Find more at seven-directions.com.

2. First Security Bank
Hoping to take advantage of lower interest rates, I’ve been trying to refinance my home loan over the past 10 months via large nationwide banks like Citi Bank. I have paid my loan without fail every month for a decade and have great credit. After wasting countless hours with call center loan agents, paying for appraisals and bank fees, I was turned down on my loan because I’m self employed and don’t fit into “new government loan regulation standards.” Hard to imagine that a leading national bank, recently bailed out with our tax dollars, has regulations so stringent that a person who has kept current with his loan through the recession cannot refinance that same loan.

Enter Joe Miller at First Security Bank in Big Sky. Fourteen days later, my loan was approved and his friendly local staff did all the work. First Security has recently created new loan packages for primary home loans. The thick stack of applications on Miller’s desk combined with his smile said it all. “We are amazed on how many loans we are getting approved for locals,” he said. Kudos to First Security Bank’s board for making intelligent decisions about expediting the process of approving sensible loans.

Remember the power of shopping local. Support small town living. Our country’s future relies on it.