By Lexie Folkerts
If somebody asked me a year ago, even just 6 months ago, if I could see myself living in Montana, I’d say no. I had never traveled to the state and frankly knew nothing about it. I think it’s safe to say I love Montana, and I love Livingston. I have been so privileged to be able to explore the beauty of southern Montana. I feel like a stronger person for having taken this step. Now, I can truly say I can see myself living just about anywhere. While I didn’t have any preconceived notions about Montana, I can see that these boxes and stereotypes we put states in are all just words: a bit meaningless. College has really turned me into an earth loving, environmentalist, almost vegan, more open-minded person. But I’m confident no matter where a job takes me, I can adapt and thrive. Energy Corps persuaded me to move to Montana with the appeal of a wonderful service position doing what I love in a state unknown, and I grew to love it.
My college town was the smallest town I’d ever lived in at about 18,000 residents. After living there I came to the conclusion that what I value in a place to live are: walkable, bikeable, access to amenities and basic services via alternative forms of transportation. I want to live in a dense city with an inevitably smaller carbon footprint because of the dense and diverse use of buildings. I wanted to shop at hippy co-op grocery stores and purchase as many locally made, locally sourced goods as possible, go to weekly farmers markets and be involved in my community in as many ways as possible. Living in Livingston has been a pleasure. While it’s nowhere near being a large, dense city, I bike everywhere. Everything I could ever want or need is within biking distance from me. The romanticized idea of shopping at a farmers market every week isn’t quite as appealing during COVID. And while I don’t have a “co-op grocery store”, I do have two locally owned grocery stores that do the trick. So, again, this Energy Corps service position has opened my eyes into what can make me happy. I thought only a big city would do the trick, but a well designed city with access to amenities and services works exactly how I need it to. The proximity and safety of me to use my bike and walking as a primary source of transportation is what matters to me.
Energy Corps feels like it’s going to be another experience in my life like college: I didn’t know I was in the good ol’ days until I was out of it. I won’t truly be able to grasp the value or magnitude of my accomplishments for potentially years. I really only got to meet most of my Energy Corps peers once, but I feel deeply connected to them and I hope this connection lasts years.