Our foundational beliefs, values will ground us

3/22/2020 Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Guest Columnist EJ Porth, GVLT Associate Director

There are an endless number of things that I don’t know right now. The uncertainty in these uncertain times is generating a little (or a lot) of anxiety for me, and likely many of you. I don’t have the answers but there a few things that I do know for sure. When the future feels up in the air, these foundational beliefs and values can ground us.

1.) The outdoors will comfort you.

Local trails are not closed. We have miles and miles of trails in and around Bozeman that will remain open for our physical and mental health. Our local heroes at the Gallatin County Health Department have assured us that as long as we keep a social distance of six feet between people, wash hands regularly and avoid contact with high-touch surfaces, we can and should enjoy our outdoor spaces.

For many of us, the outdoors is the backbone of our life in the Gallatin Valley. At times of unease, we must seek the familiar sights and routine of daily living. Outdoor excursions will provide us with the normalcy we need to keep our minds and bodies healthy and keep us connected to each other at a time when we need it most. The fresh air will clear our minds and the sun will fill our souls with hope for a new season, a new beginning after this ordeal is over. Keep walking, hiking, running and biking. Get your dogs outside. Smile at your neighbors on the trail. Take big, deep breaths of fresh, cold air. Look at the mountains.

2.) Our community is beautiful.

During my most concerned moments over the last two weeks, this community has grounded me. I’ve been glued to my social media, scrolling through post after post of my friends and neighbors offering to help each other with groceries or financial assistance. I’ve been floored with how quickly our community has mobilized around our seniors and most vulnerable members. The individual sacrifices we’re making to protect the health and wellbeing of our entire community is inspiring. When it feels there is little to celebrate, let’s recognize and applaud the helpers, doctors, nurses, grocery store workers and leaders who are creatively and quickly finding solutions. Lean into the organizations that are caring for our community on the front lines. Support our local businesses. Check in with friends and neighbors. I’m so proud of the Gallatin Valley community and I’m incredibly grateful to call you all neighbors.

3.) Montanans are resilient.

Montanans are tough. From the hard winters, droughts, fires, and rural character of our state, we’re used to challenges (and some social distance!). Throughout our history as a state, and as a community, we’ve seen time and time again that we can overcome adversity. That good ol’ Montana grit will serve us well here. You’re the toughest bunch I know. We will persevere.

COVID-19 can’t change the things we know for sure. Take a walk. Reflect on the strength and beauty of our community. Be confident in our Montana resiliency. We will get through this, together.

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