By BAY STEPHENS/Montana State News
The way humans change the places they inhabit has been a constant topic since the West began to be settled by Europeans. Towns were built, rivers were dammed, native tribes were pushed out. What tends to be thought of less is the inverse: how the environments we inhabit shape and mold us.
Each individual is shaped and molded by family, community, physical buildings and the wider landscape as a whole. All of these influences contribute to what Mark Hufstetler calls “a sense of place.”
Hufstetler is a historian and Montana adventurer who carries a sense of indomitable optimism. Despite being fresh off a four-hour drive from the Flathead region, he was chipper and conversational as the din and bustle of Bridger Brewing carried on around. The Acony Belles string trio playing bluegrass ballads behind him.
“It’s not necessarily always fashionable to say that you are a product of your environment,” he said between sips of his McTavish Scotch Ale, “but in a lot of ways, you really are.”
It can be seen in his own life. Born in Ogden, Utah, Hufstetler’s father worked for the Forest Service living mainly in Idaho and Wyoming. “I grew up in a series of small towns in the West, basically,” he said. Continue reading “We are shaped by the places we inhabit”