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Betting on the Future
The current economic climate has us, as citizens of Bozeman, focused on jobs. Jobs are an indication of a vibrant economy and a where we are as a community. Jobs, as economic metric, equate to growth, but moreover they mean stable families, happy people and a healthy community. Montana state legislators are continually looking to create new jobs and retain existing ones. Coupled with the goal of reducing government spending the 62nd legislative session has a pretty tall order. By my estimation, job creation requires an investment, from citizens, businesses and government.
As citizens we have the opportunity to make our will known that we support job creation at the ballot. The Elementary and High School Fund Levy on the 3rd of May is specifically an investment in our children and, by extension, about jobs. One may wonder, what is the connection between jobs and education?
Put simply, education creates ideas; ideas spur innovation and innovation is cornerstone to a growing economy. Our education system aims to create curious, disciplined and hard working citizens that plug into our economy. If we want to create jobs we need to accept that fact that we need to invest in the driver of jobs – our public school system. With this connection in mind we have no better example of than the Bozeman School District (BSD7).

In 2010 -11 BSD7 has led in a diversity of measures. The football won state – the first title in 93 years. The girl’s cross-country team has earned its fourth consecutive state title. The wrestlers wrangled the first state championship in 39 years and the students in automotive shop won the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition. It’s comforting to know these students will graduate and work on our vehicles, making life safer for all of us. There are 8 National Merit Finalists, an award bestowed upon the brightest and most promising students. Paul Anderson, who teaches biology at the high school, is Montana State teacher of the year and is one of four finalists for National Teacher of the Year. This is the first time since 1953 that a teacher from Montana has made it this far. Three BSD7 schools are state recognized Blue Ribbon Schools, a recognition that comes with dedication and perseverance.
This value to the community isn’t free. We have to believe in the service and quality of our education system and support it as such. The Elementary and High School General Fund Levies are this opportunity.
If these levies pass, our tax requirement would decrease. The school district will be retiring the temporary mill levy for Hyalite Elementary School, as it fulfilled its mission. If the levies do not pass, taxes would decrease slightly more. Either way we will see a decrease in tax. This small windfall needs to be reinvested into the education system. The current request, if approved, amounts to an overall decrease 72 cents per $100,000 of property value. With state school funding yet to be determined we need to approve the funding measure to ensure that our schools continue to be leaders in the state and in the nation.
Sound investments take time. Solid returns do not happen overnight. If we want to be a growing community education is a safe bet. Companies looking to relocate or expand often look at the value a community places on education. The recent comment by the former CEO of Intel to Arizona lawmakers on how de-funding education affects business development is a clear reminder that business needs an educated workforce. If we want to be a magnet for business development and the jobs that come with it, a vote for the school levies is the right decision.

Well now that I have your attention… with either fast and furious music or yummy bits of vegetable adorning rice I’ll take a minute to catch up from our last chat.

Thanks to those of you that are dedicated readers. Your notes are super meaningful. My friends over at Timex prompted me to write and the result after a couple of years has been a most wonderful.

Since the last post – Ouray and the likes – I have been over to Nepal to conduct the seventh session of the Khumbu Climbing Center. Jenni joined me for the last part of the journey, which was very nice. Sam and Isaac managed the house just fine – it didn’t burn down and I don’t think they spent too much time on the X Box. The dogs must have loved being under the care of the boys. Think gravity feeder. Happy is now holding the title of “bacon back”. Not that he knows what it means. Just gotta get him out running and ice climbing.

Ross and I departed Montana for Nepal on the 14th of January, routing through the Tom Bradley International Terminal @ LAX. With the cultural melting pot and gate to Asia this hub seems to be the 21st century’s equivelent of Ellis Island. To an extent. The flight takes 15 hours direct to BKK, with a two hour transition before flight 319 to KTM.

“Mishandled baggage complaining desk.” One certainly appreciates the honesty.

As we flew in the Himalaya defined the northern horizon. Kanchenjunga, Makalu and Everest standing above the adjacent mountains. Somewhere below Everest on Tawoche Renan Ozturk and Cory Richards (Nan & Roti) were steps away from the summit after establishing a new route on the south buttress. They had a great time – running out of water, climbing loose rock and hard ice. Like, what is the point of you don’t suffer, eh?

Check out their cool ascent here: http://vimeo.com/rockmonkeyart/videos

After a two day stint in Kathmandu we flew to Lukla for the beginning of the trek. Steve Swenson, president of the American Alpine Club, David Weber NPS, Steve Gipe MD, Ross and me trekked to Monjo the first night. While in Monjo we met David, an engineer from MIT who was ice climbing with his wife and friend. He likened our meeting to a Bilbo Baggins gathering in the Shire. With his full beard and twinkling eyes he might just have been a Hobbit.

The range is dry this year, which could equate to a lack of ice. Fortunalty it was very cold and the water that was flowing formed very nicely. Once we took care of the opening ceremony we began climbing and learning the ropes.

This year we moved a bit closer to having the program run by our Nepali friends. The lead instructors were all Sherpa, we filed the Nepal articles of non profit incorporation, changed the name from Khumbu Climbing School to Khumbu Climbing Center (Nepal is very strict in that school may only be used in the traditional educational sense) and began work on the physical building.

Students climbed with great enthusiasm and learned to be safer climbers. All in all we were very happy.

Lila Bishop taught English, which is great as it is the shared language for people who trek and climb in the Himalaya. Thanks Lila!

Climbing on the steep ice of Lapharma. The Sherpas led the pitches, which are WI 5 .

That is Everest in the background. Jenni is awesome!

Taking notes below Ama Dablam, a mountain I climbed twenty years ago. The swell watch is the new analog EAltimeter. It is super cool.

See you : )

“Knowledge drives innovation; innovation drives productivity; productivity drives our economic growth. That’s all there is to it.”
William R. Brody, U.S. Competitiveness: The Innovation Challenge, Testimony to the House Committee on Science, July 21, 2005.

Knowledge is information, skill, education and experience relating to a specific subject. Each generation adds to the collective and passes it on to the next generation. Innovation, the act of creating something new, is based on knowledge. The fields of medical science, engineering, agriculture, computing and energy have led to a higher standard of living for humans. Technological improvements are founded in knowledge and innovation.
How is knowledge and education beneficial to our regional economy? Education is the foundation for knowledge. Knowledge drives innovation, which in turn drives productivity. Productivity drives our economic growth. Although the connection might not be as self-evident as potatoes come from seeds, the Apollo program is an example of the education multiplier. The national drive to put man on the moon, led to the scientific innovation that has touched every aspect of our life.
We are fortunate to have Montana State University (MSU) as the cornerstone to our southwest Montana community. From the graduating class of each spring to the Bobcat football games most everyone in our community has a connection on some level. The future of MSU is secure, yet the opportunity exists to excel in the field of energy production, energy conservation and related technologies. These three areas have an unlimited potential for growth. As the United States increases in population and the existing global population strives to live at the standard of we enjoy there will be an ever-increasing amount of need for energy and energy efficiency.
For MSU to become a regional and national powerhouse in energy we need to focus on the students of tomorrow. The fifth grade children of today will be university juniors in a decade. By getting them excited in energy – be it coal, natural gas, oil, conservation, efficiency, thermal, wind or biomass we have the opportunity to start today. What motivates people, young or old? Incentive.
If MSU were to create an “Energy Scholarship” aimed at high school juniors and seniors we could be assured of attracting the best and brightest minds. Hear me out: each year MSU will award two full-ride undergraduate scholarships based on merit. The students will participate in a science project that is based quite simply on energy. Faculty and industry experts would judge students from our region on projects that they have invented. Be it a low cost solar water heater, efficiency designs for lawn mowers, insulation techniques for housing, outreach programs; any concept that targets energy and has the promise of innovation would be rewarded. These budding inventors would be students at MSU. Their ideas would lead to innovation and the sharing of knowledge. Within a ten-year time frame the students in this program will be nationally recognized for their contributions. Our goal of energy independent and becoming experts in the field of energy would be one step closer.
Imagine 400 hundred of our state’s brightest young students competing on a project that will benefit our nation and in turn our planet. This program, albeit ambitious, would be a tremendous benefit to our regional economy. We would be known throughout the world as the hotbed for energy innovation.
For the United States to continue its lead in the field of science we need to support education throughout the academic spectrum. From preschool to the post doctorate education is a sound investment in our economic wellbeing. It is possible and it’s at our fingertips.

Greetings Friends,

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle is our local news paper for the Gallatin Valley and surrounding communities. This past summer I submitted a selection of Op Ed pieces to be considered as a columnist. Nice things happen and I earned the right and responsibility to be one of the three rotating Friday writers. The following is from my first column published on Friday the 23rd of October.

These articles will show up every three weeks. While not directly relating to climbing, adventure, the outdoors and nature they have a big picture view and hopefully will mean something to you. Thanks for reading.

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Education, Energy and the Environment
As I look to the east, with the sun welcoming a fine Montana morning, I realize how lucky we are. The mighty Missouri river originates in the peaks surrounding the Madison, Paradise and Gallatin valleys. We hunt, fish and play in these ranges, rejuvenating us for the work that supports our communities we so dearly cherish. Seldom is the person that doesn’t see how fortunate we are to live in this corner of our planet.
Part of being a citizen of Montana and the United States is knowing how we have shaped the current state of the world. We are the beacon for democracy, opportunity and knowledge. These three attributes have created a quality of life equal to none. With this privilege and right of citizenship comes responsibility.
One of life’s aims is to leave the world we inhabit a better place than when we inherited it. The generations preceding us have lived by this axiom and given us much to be grateful for. If we are make the world a better place there are three areas that we as citizens of Montana can make a difference.
These subjects are: education, energy and environment. These three topics are tied to our well-being and will define our future.

Education: The United States has been at the forefront of technology for over a century. Aviation, communications, nuclear physics, lunar exploration are four examples of our “can do” spirit and the worlds greatest collection of research based universities. In the Academic Ranking of World Universities for 2008, 17 of the top 20 universities are in the United States. Montana State University receives research funding, which creates innovation, which in turn leads to commerce. The technology companies that support our communities with employee payroll and tax payments benefit from the university environment. To succeed as a university we need quality schools for our children. Our economic growth is dependant on having bright minds designing the future.

Energy: We are first in national coal reserves with 119 billion tons and fifth in annual production at 43 million tons. Coal is part of who we are as a state. Similarly, wind defines the Big Sky. A breeze over 5 MPH is an untapped source of energy. Our state is second in the nation with a potential 4700 terawatts of electricity. This is 3700 times what we currently consume. Yet both of these resources have their challenges. Coal is the largest source of CO2; wind is reliable only 40 % of the time and is limited by transmission capability. Hence energy circles back to education. Our children are the engineers and scientists that will find solutions to coal emissions, carbon sequestration and efficient energy use.

Environment: The mountains that we enjoy are the water towers for the Mississippi and the Columbia watersheds. Water is the lifeblood of agriculture and our communities. How the water is used is of vital importance to our well-being. Hydro electricity is a source of energy and loops back to the education equation. Our fair vale is on the verge of unacceptable levels of air pollution. If we address this before federal government mandates change we will be much better off.
These three topics are of national and regional importance. Our community is poised to be the leader by creating the next generation of scientists with our exemplary education system, addressing the needs of our national energy needs and fostering a healthy environment. By being part of the solution we will grant future generations the quality of life we cherish.

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