Our Helena Flagship session embodied coming together in more way than one.
Admittedly prior to our session, coming together was not the first thought that came to mind when thinking of Helena. It seems somewhere along the way I projected the sometimes-contentious tone of the legislative process onto the City of Helena herself not acknowledging the true heart and soul of the community. Thank goodness the Helena Session reframed my perspective of the community and reinforced the progress our class has made.
Our Helena Session provided a richness and depth one might expect in a City that is home to the State Capitol. Through our tour of the Montana Historical Society, we became visually aware of the magnitude of history held in the belly of the archives and through the art on display. We came together in our State Capitol building to gain knowledge about economics, tourism, and tribal issues. We listened and felt deeply as we learned about The Cheyenne Story. Many of us walked to gatherings allowing for both comradery while viewing historic and modern aspects of Helena such as the Montana Club and the Holter Museum. We engaged with the Leaders of Helena as they shared stories during the Community Conversations, and we learned of their place on the Pricky Pear Land Trust Tour.
A sense of coming together resounded with our classmates. Now that we are past the halfway point in our program, we felt ever more unified as a group of peers rather than a gathering of strangers. It was the Helena Session that I decided our mix of classmates was the perfect mix and I could not imagine having these experiences with a different combination of peers. It seems there was a tipping point in my heart where I feel not only connected to individuals but simply felt connection to my class as a whole. With each Class member Conversation, I am reminded of the common threads of the human experience of success, challenges, healing, resiliency, and growth. The Walk in Another’s Shoes exercise reinforced this sense of connection.
We have made progress with our Gracious Space and Leading in Montana skillsets. We are expanding our capacity to talk about heated issues and practice deep listening. The sense of “us versus them” is dissolving and it feels like a coming together. We talked about extending this skillset outside of the program and the unique set of challenges offered outside of the bubble.
As I reflect on the Helena Session, I am grateful for the contribution Helena offers our great State, to the growth within me, and to the connections nurtured.