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Missoulian editorial: With more money, we get hucklecherries

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News of Montana’s attractiveness to wealthy immigrants has generated a lot of conversation this week, triggering the evolution of the hucklecherry.

A U.S. Census analyst long ago observed that every place seems to go to hell the day after you move in. What’s likely buyer’s remorse or a failure to look under every rug, instead gets characterized as a decline from some imagined “good old days” that we imagined as we were planning our own investment.

That makes it easy to throw chokecherries at the moving vans full of fancy-pants furniture and adventure toys rolling in from California, Illinois and Texas. We get lots of nods in the coffee shop when whining about the line of cash-packed armored cars pulling through the drive-through window of local real estate offices, bidding up prices on starter mansions and turning starter homes into vacation rentals.

But new homes force new perspectives. How many of these mobile, $200k+ newbies are climate refugees, moving away from the coastal flooding, hurricane evacuations and drought plaguing more populous parts of the nation. How about we offer some introductory huckleberry pancakes so they learn the value of remarkable places like this, and the risks of screwing it up with thoughtless imposition? These people come bearing lessons of ways that failed, or worked, that we might learn from. And they bring resources they can invest for the betterment of all, when they learn why we came here just a little bit earlier.

With that, let’s advise these wannabe Montanans that we pour chokecherries all over the blast-orange vests of hunters who fail to think of their bear spray when hunting in grizzly country. A grizzly bear doesn’t grow to almost 700 pounds and no record of human conflict without a lot of luck and deep understanding of its place in the world. To be euthanized after getting wounded by hunters who demanded their right to kill over their obligation to respect the landscape they used is shameful.

And we offer huckleberries of condolence and commemoration to the people whose history of persecution and perseverance now infuses the Beartracks Bridge with significance. Bridges make powerful metaphors and memory markers: Bridge over troubled waters, a bridge too far, Edmund Pettis Bridge. Beartracks reminds every crosser of the Séliš people ordered by the U.S. government to leave their historical territory in the Bitterroot Valley despite treaty rights, and the uncomfortable truths we must still contend with today as we share the landscape we all call home. As more newcomers arrive, whether rich or poor, fleeing from global warming or global warfare, we present residents have a duty to build bridges of understanding.

The conspiracy theorist Alex Jones should pay $965 million to people who suffered from his false claim that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a hoax, a jury in Connecticut decided Wednesday.

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