Publisher’s Note

Talking about transformation in the Flathead Valley

Clare Menzel
Clare Menzel, Whitefish Montana, ski, author


Our valley is growing. This probably shouldn’t surprise us as much as it does. We live in one of the most beautiful corners of the country with wild open spaces, charming downtowns, and communities full of great people who, at the end of the day, pull together and support their neighbors.

Still, it’s been a little bit shocking to realize we’re the coveted ‘new beginning’ for thousands of out-of-staters who have come to realize that mountains and wild places are things they can’t live without. But really, we shouldn’t be so surprised. Unless you’re Native American, the first Montanan in every one of our families came from somewhere else. Montana’s allure is not new and its history with transformation isn’t either.

And yet, whether through the chatter of Facebook groups, COVID pods, or rumors traded as we shouted back and forth across the street with our neighbors, the spike in growth this year has felt unprecedented. It’s at the edge of every conversation – waiting in every corner to compare California license plate counts or doomsday tales of strip malls to come.

But regardless of how many people actually fled the pandemic for Montana, growth and change are inevitable, whether we dread or embrace them. We can’t hide the Flathead Valley from the outside world. Not going to happen. So we might as well look our future square in the eyes and ask: What could this transformation mean for our valley?

Alas, we at this prestigious little publication don’t have all of the answers. While we do have some serious sass, we still do not own that coveted crystal ball. Instead, we invite you to hear from a few voices we’ve pulled together from all corners of our community as we all wrestle with ‘transformation in the Flathead Valley.’

Because the future of the valley is not hidden in the mystic depths. It rides on the shoulders of you and me, whether you’ve just arrived or drew your first breath in the shadows of the Swan.


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