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Gallatin Valley Earth Day kicks off a monthly virtual event series

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Chef KayAnn Miller’s recipe for Hidatsa stuffed sugar pumpkin is a great alternative Thanksgiving recipe with all locally sourced ingredients from Montana. PHOTO COURTESY OF GALLATIN VALLEY EARTH DAY

By Gabrielle Gasser EBS STAFF

GALLATIN VALLEY – Gallatin Valley Earth Day recently launched a new event series, “Gallatin Valley 2040” inspired by the 2019 documentary 2040.

The new event series will feature free, monthly online events and it was kicked off by the Nov. 10 event “How (and why) to Put Local Foods at the Center of your Thanksgiving” which focused on exploring the tradition of Thanksgiving and discussing ways to source foods locally and regionally.

Gallatin Valley Earth Day is an organization of volunteers started by Anne Ready in 2019. At the beginning, their mission was to plan an Earth Day festival in Bozeman. In 2019, 500 people attended the festival at the Bozeman Public Library which included talks, exhibits, food, music, dance, art and theater.

After the success of the 2019 festival, GVED decided to honor the 50th anniversary of Earth Day with a larger event, the 2020 Gallatin Valley Earth Day Festival, but the event was cancelled due to COVID-19. Prior to the cancellation, GVED had one and a half blocks outside of the Emerson Center for the Arts and Culture reserved as well as participation from 50 local businesses and the partnership of the City of Bozeman.

The theme of this event was, “Climate Action for the Last Best Place,” chosen by local high schoolers and the proceeds would have benefited the Bozeman High Solar Schools Club, allowing them to put solar panels on Bozeman’s two high schools.

Although the in-person festival was canceled, GVED was still able to hold two online events which were attended by over 1,000 people. Films for the Earth, on April 23, featured a livestream screening of two films and a discussion following each. Music for the Earth, on April 24, featured a live stream concert with local musicians.

“And then we realized we had lots more that we didn’t get a chance to share or to pursue,” Anne Ready, the chair of the GVED committee said.

In an effort to promote the climate plan that the City of Bozeman is working on, GVED organized a showing of the documentary 2040 on Oct. 5. The film is an upbeat look at how the climate crisis can be addressed and the globe bettered by the year 2040.

“We were so inspired by the movie that we thought, wouldn’t it be neat to use the 2040 theme, with blessings from the filmmakers and say, what could we do in Gallatin Valley in the different areas that are outlined in the Bozeman Climate Plan,” Ready said.

Thus, was born the “Gallatin Valley 2040” event series, which, according to Kate Burnaby Wright, a non-profit Consultant and Open & Local Coalition Chair, “help[s] people explore solutions, allowing us to imagine and create a healthier and vibrant future by 2040.” 

The first event, “How (and why) to Put Local Foods at the Center of your Thanksgiving” featured three panelists, Lindsay Ganong, a registered dietician nutritionist at Alternative Energy Resource Organization, Dr. Shane Doyle, a Hopa Mountain Board Member and KayAnn Miller, the executive sous chef for Montana State University dining. Ready kicked off the event with a quick introduction and Wright took the reins, serving as moderator for the remainder of the evening.

Wright began with a definition of local saying, “As a starting point for how we will use the word tonight, I want you all to think of local as a catch-all for crops that are raised, animals grown and foods wild harvested thoughtfully at smaller scales, more equitably, and with less of a carbon footprint.” She followed this up with the top 10 reasons why people should care about local food.

The final point Wright used to frame the evening was that “giving thanks, sharing bounty and honoring the harvest are timeless traditions practiced by peoples throughout time and around the world around the globe.”

Wright introduced Ganong and then Doyle, giving each panelist time to discuss their topic and educate attendees. Then, Wright played a video of Miller teaching the viewers how to make two locally sourced Thanksgiving dishes, juniper berry Lake Trout with huckleberries and Hidatsa stuffed sugar pumpkin.

The event wrapped up with a discussion portion where panelists asked each other questions and attendees were able to submit questions to panelists. According to Wright, 114 people registered for the online event and 69 were able to attend.

“This event was so interesting because it wove together community and local food and why local food matters with a beloved holiday, beloved by some, and really brought a new perspective into it because we did have one individual who’s Apsáalooke from the Apsáalooke nation, Dr. Shane Doyle, and then chef KayAnn Miller is, you know, she’s been deeply involved in the MSU indigenous food initiative,” Wright said.

The event series will take December off because of the holiday season but will resume in January. In her introduction to the Nov. 10 event, Ready gave a sneak preview of the January event by sharing a video of Bob Quinn, an organic farmer in Montana and author of the book “Grain by Grain,” who will be speaking about climate change and its effect on soils and foods.

Ready expressed a desire to expand GVED’s reach across more of Gallatin Valley, including to Belgrade and Big Sky. She added that it will be much easier for people across the valley to tune into GVED’s virtual events moving forward.

The debut event in the 2040 series focused on local foods and how everyone can adapt this Thanksgiving.

“We’re adapting and everyone’s adapting,” Ready said. “Everyone is sort of changing up their Thanksgiving. So why don’t you think changing up what you’re going to serve? Everyone has their traditional dishes, but then maybe add in a new dish that and think about something that’s using, you know, locally produced Montana foods.”

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