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Big Sky Chamber of Commerce, Big Sky Resort Area District to host Community Week

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Attendees gathered at the Wilson Hotel in 2021 to talk with a variety of local organizations as part of the Big Sky CommUNITY Forum. PHOTO BY GABRIELLE GASSER

By Gabrielle Gasser ASSOCIATE EDITOR

BIG SKY – The Big Sky Chamber of Commerce and Big Sky Resort Area District are partnering on a week-long effort to foster community engagement.

Big Sky Community Week will take place Oct. 3-7, offering a packed schedule of in-person and virtual events organized into three tracks: Government, Boots on the Ground and Big Ideas. On the docket are a variety of formal and informal events intended to give attendees the chance to engage with community leaders and gain a wider understanding of how Big Sky works.

“This week the goal is engagement,” said Caitlin Quisenberry, vice president of operations and events at the Chamber. “The goal is education and learning and being a good citizen of Big Sky. Whatever your passion is, get in there and learn more.”

In the past, both organizations have held their own separate events—the CommUNITY Forum hosted by BSRAD and the Chamber’s annual Community Building Forum. This year, the two have teamed up after hearing community feedback that a more cohesive event would be easier to navigate. 

Jenny Muscat, deputy director of BSRAD, said the two organizations worked together to “reshuffle the deck” and create one Community Week that offers an “á la carte” schedule of events that allows community members to plug in where they’d like.

“One of our strategic pillars is community engagement, and we’re striving to get more community engagement and to meet folks where they’re at,” Muscat said. “We’re hoping that this week is a good chance for people to engage.”

To make the packed schedule more approachable, the three tracks offer attendees a chance to learn about a specific aspect of the Big Sky community as well as connect the dots and see how each of these elements come together.

“Anyone can find one thing that they’re going to learn or it’s going to take their engagement to the next level,” Quisenberry said. “It should really be a robust enough program that someone can find something for themselves.”

Deputy Fire Chief Dustin Tetrault (left) and Chief Greg Megaard (right) present at the Fourth Annual Community Building Forum in 2021. PHOTO BY GABRIELLE GASSER

She described the interplay of how Big Sky runs as a Venn diagram of public and private entities acknowledging the uniqueness of how Big Sky, as an unincorporated community, runs. Both Quisenberry and Muscat said this week provides a great opportunity for attendees to interact directly with the individuals and organizations that make Big Sky work.

“We have such a gift in Big Sky to be able to have access to those people in a way that you can’t in other communities,” Quisenberry said. “So why would you squander that opportunity to talk to your commissioners right there, face to face, or get in front of the Resort Tax Board and share your thoughts?”

The schedule offers a broad range of events including: Panel discussions on water supply, emergency management, housing, and transportation; coffee with community leaders; the bi-annual joint county commission meeting; voter education; the Second Annual Community Expo and the Fifth Annual Community Building Forum.

Quisenberry said she is particularly excited for the voter education event since it will be a great chance for attendees to learn about candidates, advocate for issues they care about and make sure they’re registered to vote.

“Those three things come together to create a perfect storm of community engagement,” she said.

New this year will be a presentation from the Northern Rocky Mountain Economic Development District on the economics of Big Sky. Quisenberry said the agency dug into available data about Big Sky and will present its findings as part of the Community Building Forum.

“This really is an event for the community,” she said. “You’ll get the most out of what you put in.”

The first Community Week event is a lunch to teach attendees about the Our Big Sky Community Vision and Strategy implementation on Oct. 3 at 12 p.m. at the Wilson Hotel. Go to resorttax.org/communityweek for a full schedule of events.

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october, 2022

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