Editor’s Note

This Land Was Made for You AND Me

Clare Menzel, Whitefish Montana, ski, author


I“grew up on a dirt road in eastern Washington, Ritchey Road to be specific, named for my great-great-great-uncle, Isaac Ritchey. I don’t know anything about the land before he homesteaded there in the late 1800s, though given that our school district bordered the Spokane Indian Reservation—and only recently changed its mascot from Indians to Screaming Eagles—I would assume that Uncle Isaac’s boots were just another chapter in its history.

I deeply understand the attachment to a place. I will still sometimes call that house in the middle of a field “home,” even though I haven’t lived there in decades. And although my hometown of Reardan hasn’t changed all that much—the land that was farmland 40 years ago still pretty much is—I’m struck every time I go back by the explosion of development to the east of my parents’ house, along a stretch of U.S. Highway 2 that runs from Fairchild Air Force Base into Spokane. What used to be a small community serving the base has now become an endless sea of houses and apartments and everything that goes with them. Every time I go home, there’s less of the open space that I remember and more of everything else. I’m not going to lie: I don’t love it. I would wish it all away in a heartbeat.

Where does that territorial impulse come from, that reactionary urge to fight for our own interests without regard to anyone else’s? Though we’ve thankfully moved past the era of rallying our clan to attack and bludgeon the neighbors for the ground closer to the river, replacing broadswords with zoning codes hasn’t fully eliminated that underlying mentality.

The thing is, an adversarial mindset doesn’t get us very far as a society, and neither does the magical thinking that we can wish a place back to what it was 30 years ago. Chances are, you even like some people who have moved here, and you’d miss them if they left. (Or you’d at least miss the hole they’d leave behind in our health care, education, public safety or service sectors.)

What we can do is take an honest look at where the Flathead is probably headed and figure out how we want to design our communities and open space to make that future a good one. This issue is full of great stories that celebrate life here, voice some real concerns, and suggest options and solutions. Thanks for giving it a read, and for caring deeply about this place we all call home.


Katie Cantrell loves camping, non-motorized boats, trail running, and everything about the North Fork. Though nearly every attempt to play outside involves telling her kids to stop complaining and get in the car because this is actually going to be a lot of fun, she still looks forward to every season of adventure. Find more of her stories at katiecantrellwrites.com.


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