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Our colleagues in Missoula’s sister city Palmerston North, New Zealand had a great turnout for their inaugural Missoula Day Celebration, November 26. According to Kate Harridge, International Relations and Education Advisor for the Palmerston North City Council, “they fielded many questions from the community about Missoula in general, but also why sister city relationships are important and how they add value. They met many Kiwis and Americans who had spent time in Missoula or Montana”. Destination Missoula and the Downtown Partnership were instrumental in gathering Garden City merchandise and getting it in time to the display booth on the Palmerston North Square. They had set up an info tent with colorful merchandise we had collected from Missoula businesses, like Lake Missoula Tea Company and Bayern Brewing. Missoula stickers, postcards and small Montana flags were popular among the kids. Winners of the hot-dog-eating-contest received Missoula T-Shirts and baseball caps. Talk about ambassadors for Missoula, our colleagues in Palmy set a new standard! This inaugural celebration of Missoula, Montana and America was featured in the KECI evening news. Click Here for the online article, with additional info.

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Arts Missoula’s Mission is to connect Art and Culture through Education, Advocacy, and Community. A significant part of the “education” mission is fulfilled by Arts Missoula GLOBAL (AMG), which promotes intercultural awareness and global competence development through professional, individual cultural seminars and complete educational programs, among other programming, events and activities.   

AMG director Dr. Udo Fluck has presented seminars for hundreds of educators at the annual Montana Educator Conference during the last decade. For the first time, for one of his talks, Udo co-presented with a teacher from Missoula County Public Schools. Rae Baerlocher, a 7th grade educator from Meadow Hill Middle School. Rae and Udo have collaborated since 2018 in Udo’s Global and Cultural Competence program, which helps 3rd, 7th and 11th grade students, in four local school districts, to develop global and cultural competence, by identifying a variety of similarities and differences between diverse continents, countries and regions. 

Udo and Rae shared their presentation titled: From Ancient Histories to Global Communities – Bridging the Gap. The main goal of their presentation was highlighting that history enriches experiences and encourages a sense of belonging, for young people. Both speakers emphasized that finding connections of life and common themes of past and present is critical, in educating teenagers. 

In addition, Udo offered two solo presentations titled: Cultural Competence Through Language Instruction and The Post COVID Classroom Teaching, Learning and Supporting, the latter attracting a record crowd of teachers. “I am very grateful that there was so much audience interest in these diverse presentation topics. A strong listener base of teachers from across Montana means that there is a desire for sharing knowledge and experiences on important topics that currently matter to educators and these kinds of annual gatherings are a great way to do exactly that, collaborating with others in the field”, Fluck stated. 

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Elaine Fraticelli’s Bio:

I’m a naturalist and a born artist who also loves writing, hiking, and watching movies in my spare time. I’m currently located in Missoula, MT, creating art in a small studio space downtown and managing a retail store for a local company. I’m continually interested in community, psychology, ecology, and how humanity can better integrate with itself and the earth. I graduated from UM with my BFA in 2016 and immediately was in a car accident that changed my life. My personal experiences with loss, physical and emotional therapy, interpersonal relationship struggles, and challenging environments, has influenced how I view current issues in the world today. Making art about what I see and experience helps me process both difficult and joyous occasions. My aim is to visually translate my knowledge and experiences into new and beautiful art pieces that expand our understanding of reality.

Her Practice:

My work leans towards surreal collage as I often use juxtaposed images in my compositions to compare or emphasize. My favorite moments come when I’m weaving a web of complexities in my work, and creating visual comparisons that are new and exciting. I use a variety of media to bring life to my visual translations, often mixing styles and techniques to expand on what my art can become. I’m well practiced in painting and drawing but also enjoy using nontraditional materials such as digital art, relief sculptures, and found objects. I regularly start a project by doing research to expand my knowledge and understanding of a theme or current issue I’m captivated by. Then I distill these ideas into images to create emotional compositions that are intended to broaden perspectives. I draw inspiration and knowledge from attending artist talks and workshops as well as following scientists and other artists on social media. My main muse has always been mother earth and the life she creates and destroys; the beauty and chaos she contains. Bringing her motifs and images into my work to relate our human struggles to hers is one way I create beauty out of painful or heavy topics and experiences. I recognize my own bias and privilege as a cis, white, female when creating work about social issues I have no direct experience with and I seek to amplify the voices I’ve learned from when bringing my work into privileged places. My work has been accepted for several solo and group gallery exhibitions as well as numerous smaller show opportunities in my local community. As I grow, my work grows and changes and I always welcome all opportunities to learn more.

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Arts Missoula GLOBAL has hired two part-time teachers, Monica Dierken and Nathan Poukish, to help teach 180 seminars in the Global and Cultural Competence (GCC) Program in three Missoula elementary schools this fall and spring of 2023. Monica is currently a graduate student in UM’s College of Education, studying to be a teacher and Nathan has a teaching background, with 9 years of classroom experience. Funding for the program expansion is provided through a multi-year grant from the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation. 

The GCC Program started in 2018 with seminars taught in 7 schools within the Missoula County Public School (MCPS) district. During the 2019 – 2020 academic year, with school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, seminars were offered through a remote learning platform and demand increased.  Last year, in the 2021 – 2022 academic year, three additional school districts, DeSmet, Target Range and Lolo, joined the GCC Program. A record 300 seminars were offered in 10 elementary, middle and high schools last year. This year, Lewis and Clark Elementary, Hawthorne Elementary and St. Joseph Elementary and Middle Schools were added. That brings the total number of schools serviced to 17, since the inception of the program, back in 2018.

“As this program grows, we continue to focus on equity and reaching all schools in the MCPS district and beyond.  We are working toward increased funding opportunities to ensure equity and access”  said Heather Adams, Executive Director of Arts Missoula.

The GCC Program was developed in Missoula by Dr. Udo Fluck, Director of Arts Missoula GLOBAL, and has been offered since fall of 2018. The GCC Program helps 3rd, 7th and 11th grade students to develop global and cultural competence, identifying a variety of similarities and differences between diverse continents, countries and regions. This is accomplished by utilizing cultural, historical, geographic, linguistic, and economic information, as well as information on climate conditions and government structures, to develop a sense of place and space.

It is the only program of its kind in the United States, in regard to breadth (elementary school to university level), as well as its unique pedagogical approach. For the past three years, Udo was the only teacher in the program. “I am thrilled about the schools continued interest, and new schools joining, which resulted in the steady program expansion. The fact that we are now able, with Monica and Nathan, two trained and experienced teachers, to meet that additional seminar demand, is important for the continued growth of the program”, Udo said.

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Nathan Poukish is the new Office Manager for Arts Missoula and serves as the Public Art Coordinator for the City of Missoula’s Public Art Committee. Nathan comes from an education background where he has taught kindergarten, first grade, and elementary music. He holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Montana State University and has a passion for the arts specifically in music. Nathan has been involved with local choirs, opera companies, and musical theater. He has witnessed first hand the importance of arts in the community and works towards sharing that same experience with as many people as he can.

You might have seen Nathan tapping with four legs on the MCT stage as the character Squidward in The Spongebob Musical. It is during this production that he realized the impact that the cast, directors, and community had on him during this time and how much local art communities can truly shape a person. This is also where Nathan met Heather Adams who was the director of The Spongebob Musical. This opportunity led him to explore other passions in art and performance and he has not looked back since. You can also find Nathan on Tik Tok with his 25K plus following singing, acting, and sharing his love of all things pop culture (@nerdynatey).

Nathan feels honored to be a part of the Arts Missoula family and is excited to continue his involvement with this amazing community.

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Note: The 2022 Montana Book Festival is this week from 09/15-09/18. This year, the Montana Book Festival has partnered with the Missoula Public Library, along with MCAT and the ZACC, to bring authors from around the region and around the world to our special literary community. We’ve planned dozens of panels and readings, as well as our Exhibitor fair and four different workshops, all because we believe the written word is best celebrated together. Find out more.

In March 2015, The Montana Book Festival signed a formal agreement with Missoula Cultural Council (now Arts Missoula). Arts Missoula became our fiscal sponsor as we, the sponsored organization, formed new ownership of the book festival and began the process of obtaining our own tax exempt status. The Montana Book Festival became an Arts Missoula incubator. We were given a chance to provide a book festival while looking into the legal and financial obligations on becoming a separate organization. There are many steps and stages to becoming a tax exempt organization. There are state and federal levels of registration: EIN numbers, accounting systems, bylaws, directors and statement of purpose. In essence, ArtsMissoula held our hand, managed our money, and filed needed state and federal reports, while the volunteer advisory board of MBF went about organizing a yearly event in Missoula

Seven years and a pandemic later the MBF is now one program under the Montana Literary Cooperative, a new 501c3 with the goal of implementing year round, state-wide author events and fundraisers. Along the way of running a yearly book festival in Missoula, the advisory board realized that a local festival was only one piece of meeting literary programs across the state. Because of the pandemic, virtual programs were provided that reached a statewide and national audience. So bylaws were written to form the Montana Literary Cooperative. Just this week we were granted our 501c3 classification.

What does this mean to you? Arts Missoula can now provide group incubation to another local program. The Montana Book Festival will be held in Missoula from September 15-18, and the Montana Literary Cooperative will begin to develop ways to bring workshops, authors and literary events to people across the state.

I hope to see you at The Montana Book Festival and look forward to promoting the Montana Literary Cooperative and finding out how together we can expand Montana reading and writing!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Barbara Theroux is the President of the Montana Literary Cooperative.

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While students prepared to return to their classrooms, Udo Fluck offered the first seminars for the 2022-23 academic year at the University of Montana. He has been part of orientation presentations for international students for the past two decades and this year is no different, with a presentation titled: Cultural Adjustment and Reduction of Culture Shock, to the new international students that have arrived at UM, getting ready for their start of fall semester.

In addition, Udo offered a seminar for the Montana Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA Pre-Service Orientation. Montana Campus Compact offers a mandatory training to all AmeriCorps VISTA members intended to provide them with an overview of AmeriCorps service, as well as to welcome new residents to the state of Montana and the Missoula community. 16 AmeriCorps leaders participated in the seminar. 13 individuals were from states with a shoreline on the Atlantic Ocean and California. Only three were from Montana! So, naturally talking to this group about what one might expect and experience when leaving one’s familiar surroundings and venturing out into more unfamiliar surroundings, seemed like an appropriate training focus.

The challenge for many students is the anxiety and feelings (of surprise, disorientation, confusion, etc.) felt when they have to operate within an entirely different physical, cultural or climate environment. The cultural adjustment process typically includes seven individual stages and individuals experience these adjustment stages differently, and the impact and order of each stage vary widely. Udo’s seminars provide a guideline of how to adapt and cope, and help make that transition more effective and efficient. Participating in the trainings, helps students to learn more about themselves and to develop greater confidence in their ability to navigate new situations. It also increases trainees’ knowledge, encourages them to see the personal and organizational benefits of cross-cultural competence, and increases their skill and capacity to work in, and with, diverse settings. Through cultural adjustment trainings, individuals also develop effective communication skills, are much more likely to motivate others, and are empowered to be culturally-sensitive leaders. Udo’s own diverse cultural background, education and experience make his cultural adjustment seminars, something the audience can easily relate to, apply and benefit from. Cultural adjustment seminars are part of Arts Missoula GLOBAL’s educational programming and services.

Read more about Arts Missoula GLOBAL here.

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by Robbin Roshi Rose

My earliest memory of singing in a choir is also a memory of the kindness and stubbornness of Missoula school teacher, Jim Cole. Mr. Cole taught choral music in in Missoula in the 1960’s-70’s at all the elementary schools. Choir was both fun and scary when Mr. Cole stood in front of us, thumping his yardstick to keep us in time, and in line! 

I was a shy, bookworm-ish kid, in a family who listened to AM Country radio, and watched Lawrence Welk on Sundays.   Pop music was not really on my radar, although I did have a few favorite 45 records, including The Beatles’ I Wanna hold your Hand/I Saw Her Standing There. Dancing in my basement with my tiny record player blasting was a good way to keep the brothers from interrupting my inner life.  

So, about the day I almost died – with embarrassment:  

 In choir class, Mr. Cole called me to down to help teach (i.e., sight -sing) with him.  I stumbled over the 100 or so other middle -schoolers on the risers, sniffed the ditto sheet he handed me, and felt the sweat run down the back of my knees. Yesterday.  All my troubles seemed so far away… 

Did I know this song before that day he asked? No. Did I know this song was by… THE BEATLES? No. But, I did know some Beatles’ songs! I Wanna’ hold your Ha-a-a-a-and  I sang… Red faced, I realized my mistake. Snickers & guffaws from boys in the “change” section. On the spot, Mr. Cole asked me to join the Missoula Choraliers – and my blush turned from embarrassment to excitement. The Choraliers got outfits!! Embroidered pink peasant tops for the girls!  And they travelled to perform for other schools!! And, best of all, they sang pop music like … The Beatles!! 

That day was a good day – but later, after I got my pink peasant top, and after I had attended weekly rehearsals in the basement of the MCPS Administration building, and after I had memorized a concert-full of songs (including Yesterday by the Beatles!!), I disobeyed some silly rule of my parents. Such a silly rule that I do not remember it 50 years later. But it was an important rule at the time. My punishment? No Choraliers tour to Kalispell for me the next week. And, I had to tell Mr. Cole.  

Mr. Cole was unimpressed with my parents’ plan to deny Kalispell the beauty of all the Choraliers’ singers. Mr. Cole also happened to have shared a few pack-trips through the Bob Marshall Wilderness with my father. Mr. Cole knew how to get my father to back down!  

Each day that week, I walked straight home from school, no dawdling, best behavior, to try and sway my parents into letting me go. I set the table, weeded the garden, and babysat my younger brothers without complaining. They were unyielding. Then one day, I arrived home from school to find two mules picket staked in our front lawn.   

My mother was in the kitchen on the phone calling my dad. “Yes, there are two mules on our front lawn… staked.” Her voice pitched louder, “No, I don’t know who put them there. Come home right now – and find out how this happened!” The mules were casually munching the grass and pooping to the delight of my brothers and assorted neighborhood kids.  

My dad arrived home, and while he was looking for identifying brands, blustered a few ripe words about “who would leave perfectly valuable mules in our yard?” Just about then, Mr. Cole pulled up with his horse trailer in tow, his head out the window and in his booming bass singing Mule train!! Hyah! Hyah! Git alo-ong, Mule Train!  He threw open the truck door and strode to my father’s side, laughing loudly and slapping his knees. We are friends now, aren’t we Bob? And you wouldn’t want to ruin our little choir tour by being a *mule* would ya’, Bob?  

My mom came out of the house with a bottle and two glasses, and miraculously my father finally said, OK Jim, just this once. Robbin? You are hereby un-grounded – only because I have nowhere to put these damn mules!!  The neighborhood cheered as Mr. Cole loaded up those mules and drove off. 

I got to go on the Choraliers Choir tour!! 

21 years ago, I invited some friends to a potluck to find out if they would help me start a choir in Missoula for anyone who wanted to sing. They said yes! and Missoula Community Chorus has been singing together since 2001. Now, we are starting the Missoula FORTE Children’s Choir for kids in grades 1-5.  We have sibling-discounts for families with more than one singer, and needs-based scholarships so that every interested child can participate. Choir is one of the best places to learn teamwork, gain self-esteem, and help make the world a more harmonious place.  

How would my life have been different if Mr. Cole had not secretly staked those mules to our front yard that day? What a funny thing to do, and how did he know how to jolly my father into letting me sing with his choir?  My life has been filled with music, and singing, and choir tours, and I would not trade a minute of it. Music can take you places – Let’s go!! 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robbin Roshi Rose is the Founder & Executive Director of Missoula Community Chorus, a family of choirs for everyone! She and her husband, Jon, own MyMusicFolders.com a local business with national presence.

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Mayor Frank Volk from Neckargemünd’s Condolence Letter

Mayor Grant Smith from Palmerston North’s Condolence Letter

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I agree with all of the generous, kind and compassionate acknowledgements, nods and salutes that have been posted in various places about John Engen, in the last couple of days. While I met with mayor Engen on a regular basis to brief him on Missoula’s sister city relations, K-12 global competence outreach, (because he strongly believed that teaching kids about the world would also build a better, more tolerant and compassionate community, in the long-run), to get advice and guidance, John the private person, the friend, is what I treasure and miss most. 

John would ask my daughter and my son, at the family dining table, how school was going, what they learned and told them, if they ever wanted to hear about Missoula’s history, he would take the time for an in-class guest presentation. When he asked last summer what plans we had for the fall, my wife and I told him we had planned to paint our house. He offered to bring his paint sprayer, which he bought to paint his own house. He brought it over and gave us an introduction on how to use it properly. 

He loved to try food from other cultures. He was of Norwegian descent and ate Lutefisk, a traditional dried and salted whitefish, pickled in lye, once a year for Christmas, with his mother, not because of the great taste, but because he knew that he would put a smile on his mom’s face. He was really good at putting a smile on people’s faces. One time, I brought him German Blutwurst, prepared from pig’s blood, milk, fat, onions, salt, pepper, nutmeg, marjoram and cinnamon. Same thing, because it meant a lot to somebody else, he tried it. 

Speaking of food, he always placed a big order of girl scout cookies with my daughter, not for himself, but to give the sweet treats to his staff, or to the staff at local schools. Last year Meadow Hill middle school benefited from his generosity!

Some people claim to listen, but they actually mostly endure. John was a focused listener, had follow-up questions, suggestions, advice and he would get behind it. He would not just look for a solution, he would find one! At one point, I mentioned in a conversation, that it was impossible to find German Potato Dumplings anywhere in town, not even at the import stores. He listened and asked about the cultural relevance of potato dumplings to a German native, what I liked about it, the specific brand my mother used to purchase, growing up in Germany, 50 years ago. Next thing I know, he stopped by the house, with a box containing 12 individual packages, 6 dumplings to a box, not just any brand, but the one that was culturally soothing. I took photos whenever we ate them and shared it with him.

Years ago, John bought a full Santa suit from Macys, so he would be prepared if the opportunity presented itself. With an increasingly busy mayoral schedule in recent years, he asked me if I would be willing to put on the red suit and the white beard, as we had the same height, girth, and the same shoe size. Since 2019, I have followed his request and worn it with pride to the Sunrise Rotary holiday Missoula Youth Home activities and storytelling events in local bookstores.

In March 2020, John was the second guest on my monthly International Voices podcast, where he talked about cultural programs in Missoula and the importance of multicultural programming in the community, specifically the value that the two sister cities bring to Missoula. Neckargemünd in Germany has been twinned with Missoula since 1993 and Palmerston North, in New Zealand is celebrating its 40-year-old ties with the Garden City this year. So, it’s only fitting to share a tribute from the Palmerston North City Council, which closes with: We stand with our friends in Missoula this week in sadness but also to honor the life of a man who made a real difference to his home and community. In Māori language, our friends posted: Kua whetūrangitia e te Rangatira, which translates to: “take your place amongst the stars great chief”.

There are many more anecdotes that come to my mind in this time of grief, but it is time to say goodbye to my friend. I will miss your counsel, your wit, your dry humor. Your body has left us, but your spirit will remain at our dinner table for a long time. May your soul rest in peace!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Udo Fluck is the Director of Arts Missoula GLOBAL. You can read more about him here.

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