We talk a lot about Bozeman and the beauty that surrounds us here. About getting out in our backyard mountains and loving this community. What sometimes gets left out is the people. The people who keep this town thriving. The mountains we are nestled beneath are the soul of Bozeman, which makes each of us living here the heart. There is such a variety of people who call Bozeman home, and we all contribute in our own way. This got us thinking about the types of people who live here…and how they fit into the heart of this lovely community.
You know this type…you’ve see the bumper sticker with the outline of Montana and NATIVE printed big within it. Native Montanans are a proud group. Some say they are an elusive group. People can vary greatly from within this group. There are those who are very protective of our Bozeman…not overly welcoming to outsiders. (I’m sure you’ve also see the bumper stickers reading “Montana’s Full, I’ve Heard North Dakota is Nice”). This group wishes Bozeman could go back to the way it used to be…a sleepy Montana town that no one really knew about and that never made it on a “Best Place to Live” list. Then there are natives who embrace the diversity others bring. Who realize that without outside influence we would be a sleepy Montana town without much to do. This group of natives may feel just as protective of their birthplace, but love the thriving small city it is now and are proud that people want to move to this place. Natives hold great value to our town. They can tell the stories of how things used to be and contribute to how it grows while keeping our roots deep.
After you’ve lived in Bozeman for a few years and begin calling it home I think you can consider yourself a local. This makes up a huge part of our population. People who have come here because they love it, or by accident and then fall in love and make it their own. Those who play, work and raise future natives here. This is an important group. They can bring ideas from other amazing places and make it work here. They don’t take any of our beauty for granted because they haven’t seen it everyday as natives have. Locals are great and may live here for the remainder of their life…but can never become a native. They simply don’t have the history.
These guys have it figured. Unfortunately most can’t afford this lifestyle until later in life. Soaking up the beauty of our summers here and then fleeing at the first sign of snow. Talk about best of both worlds. Many could happily play around during the warm months and then head south during the long Montana winters. This group adds to the vibrancy of our downtown by being a part of all the summer events and happenings. And then balancing things out by leaving as the influx of students come in. Keeping our population evened out throughout the year.
Skiers and Students
This group feel just the opposite of the snowbirds. Waiting patiently for the blue light on the Baxter to light up signaling snow fall at Bridger Bowl. Keeping the mountains full throughout the winter and the ski shops in business. Keeping our community young and laid back with the ski bum vibe. Quite often skiers and MSU students go hand in hand, many choosing to go to school here for this very reason. Students moving in and bringing with them their excitement for life that is contagious to the rest of us. Makes for a happy town.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em they are a part of Bozeman. Yes, it can get annoying to not get a table at your favorite restaurant on a Friday night because it’s packed with out of towners having seen Trip Advisor gave it four stars. Yes, it is sad sometimes to go up Hyalite and see tourists abusing what we love so much. It can be hard to share our town. But, it’s also pretty great. People travel here because it’s amazing. You know how you feel when you are on vacation and fall in love with some place? That feeling of awe you get of a new city or beach town and think how lucky people are to live there? Well, that’s what we have here…a very cool place where tourists envy that we get to live here. When you stop and think about your city as a vacation destination you should feel very lucky to call it home.
Many here at our office fall into the Bozeman native category. We understand the protective nature of this place, but also embrace everyone who make it what it is. It’s the people that make a community and this one we call home has all types and this is what makes it great.
(Article originally published in Distinctly Montana)