By Anna Weinberg

When I come home from a long day, or move into a new apartment, or move to an entirely new state, I must undertake a ritual practice I call nesting. Nesting can involve a lot of different steps, but it all boils down to settling in and making yourself comfortable in your new environment. After a long day, nesting usually involves constructing a literal nest of blankets and pillows and dramatically falling into its middle until I’m surrounded by fluffy comfort. Nice. When I’ve moved into a new apartment, nesting has involved hanging up all the photos and artwork that have traveled with me from place to place and burning candles whose scents remind me of homes of the past. But moving to Montana, far from my comfortable mid-western world of ranchand the constant utterance of the phrase “ope,” involves a new level of nesting. This move requires me to not just settle into four new walls, but into an entirely new community with different colloquialisms and dipping sauces(yeah I know there’s still ranch here but it’s not the same).

The magic of Missoula has made nesting into my new home breezy and exciting.  As I’ve started serving with my host site, Climate Smart Missoula, I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many community members with different passions and goals for Missoula’s sustainable and climate-resilient future. I’ve shook hands with a whirlwind of new people the past month, and all of them have welcomed me into this quirky, passionate community with open arms. Everyone here appears to be motivated to get something done, and everyone is happy to make you part of their team.

For however much time I’ve spent sitting at my computer, it’s been broken up by afternoons running off to community meetings on ranging topics like sustainable transportation, zero waste, and the development of affordable, healthy housing in Missoula. One of the great parts of working with Climate Smart Missoula is that the organization acts as a hub between all these different foci, understanding that a holistic approach is necessary to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

Climate Smart Missoula also has strong relationships with other organizations that host Energy Corps members in town, such as Missoula County, the City of Missoula, and Home ReSource. This allows us as an Energy Corps team to collaborate and learn from each other as we all work towards common goals of making Missoula a more sustainable and energy-efficient community. I’m excited to be settled enough to finally start developing those projects. I came into Climate Smart as it was hurriedly planning its first annual Clean Energy Expo, so I really hit the ground running. Jumping in allowed me to surpass the usual monotony of starting a new job, and I’ve been happily busy since.

Meeting all these local change-makers has been inspiring and reminds me of why living in a community this size can be so great. I grew up in a small city like Missoula, and its size allowed a lot of collaboration and sharing of resources between like-minded groups and organizations. I’m happy to be back in that dynamic. I’m also passionate about developing those relationships further while I’m here. I wholeheartedly believe that any large-scale societal shift, like that which is necessary to combat the exponentially increasing effects of climate change, starts with local connections and movements. One month in, I feel nested and ready to get stuff done.

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