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A Year in Review: 11 Highlights from 2022

Dear Listener,

I hope you're having a good start to the new year! I just finished my annual reflection of the past year and there is so much to celebrate. For one thing, I got married to my best friend, Andrew Drinnan! Our wedding was everything my little girl self dreamed of. I wore white cowboy boots, birds were literally singing as I read my vows, Andrew and I played music for our guests, a double rainbow appeared above the Missions and the speeches were sincere, funny and memorable! It was magic.

As you'll discover in my list below, a lot of magical things also happened for Reframing Rural in 2022! One thing I'd like to call special attention to is that I was able to share some of the knowledge I've gained developing Reframing Rural by facilitating workshops for MSU Extension and the Red Ants Pants Foundation. I'm excited to be in talks with other Montana organizations currently about organizing events for their constituents in 2023. The biggest thing I look forward to this year, is moving back home to Montana! I left my home state in 2015, moving to Oregon, then North Carolina then Washington State. I have been back and forth between Washington and Montana a ton since Spring 2020, so I can't wait for what's in store for Reframing Rural when I'm living full-time in the place that shares my initials (MT), the place where my work is centered and that has always been home to me.


Megan Torgerson

Reframing Rural Founder & Producer

10 Reframing Rural Highlights of 2021

Hiring Aaron Spieldenner & Mary Auld

Last year I started working with two incredibly talented collaborators: Aaron Spieldenner, co-owner of Hazy Bay Studios and Mary Auld, the assistant director of the Montana Media Lab. You may wonder why Reframing Rural sounds crisper and more transportive lately. That's all thanks to the music, sound design, editing and mixing by Aaron and his partner Sean Dwyer. Mary, who began working on this season's narrative episodes, has taken RR's storytelling to the next level by providing pre-reporting and story boarding consultation and crucial structural and line edits to scripts.

Receiving Public Humanities Fellowship from Humanities WA

In April, I was one of four Washington residents to receive the inaugural Public Humanities Fellowship from Humanities Washington. Through this fellowship I identified topics for Reframing Rural's third season and I used the $8,500 reward to purchase new microphones and pay for the development of season three including the production of the Season Three: Groundwork trailer.

Going home for my dad's last harvest

In 2022, I drove the 2,000 mile round trip journey to my farm in spring and in fall for my dad's last seeding season and final harvest. Being there for my dad's last farming season was incredibly important to me. To try and make sense out of all the feelings I had around our farm's succession, I dedicated an episode to the subject. I hope this story helps families navigating farm succession feel less alone. Listen to "Groundwork" Episode 2: Farm Succession in NE MT, here.

Leading storytelling sessions at a Montana State University Extension leadership retreat

I've always wanted to share the knowledge I've learned developing Reframing Rural with other people and in 2022 I was invited by MSU Extension to join them for three days in the Paradise Valley to lead two storytelling sessions for their extension agents! I was humbled by the experience and all I learned from the agents. I hope to do more Reframing Rural-inspired facilitation work in 2023!

Sharing Reframing Rural episodes with KBMF, KGVM & MCAT audiences It takes a lot of time to produce a podcast, so I'm very grateful that Butte America Radio (KBMF), Gallatin Valley Community Radio (KGVM) and Missoula Community Access Television began sharing my episodes with their audiences! In May, I took a week to drive across MT so I could meet with Reframing Rural supporters and I got to stop in at KBMF's studio in Butte. Check out my interview with KBMF here.

Returning to in-person interviews

This is a photo from interviews I conducted in October with Dover, Idaho residents Randy and Gail Curless for my forthcoming episode on rural gentrification in the West. A huge highlight of my year was returning to in-person interviews! I spent three days in Dover interviewing multiple people, recording sounds and researching how a high-end waterfront resort development harmed community cohesion in the former mill town. I'm excited to share this episode Jan. 30!

Facilitating rural identity workshops for RAPF's Girls Leadership Program

In 2022 the Red Ants Pants Foundation hired me to develop and facilitate a workshop exploring rural identity for their Girls Leadership Program! Through writing exercises and breakout groups we explored the impact of harmful rural narratives and how they're linked to a history of extracting resources from rural places. We also celebrated all there is to love about our rural identities. I wish this program was around when I was a girl!

Furthering Reframing Rural's mission to celebrate rural culture by joining Red Ants Pants Music Festival staff as the festival's sponsor coordinator

Last year I also began working as Red Ants Pants Music Festival's sponsor coordinator! The Red Ants Pants Music Festival's mission is to celebrate rural Montana, something I'm deeply on board with. I met Red Ants Pants founder Sarah Calhoun when I interviewed her for the first episode my second season. Listen to our episode here.

Magazine features in the University of Montana's Montanan magazine & the Big Sky Journal

It was a real honor to be interviewed for two MT magazines last year: the Montanan and Big Sky Journal. In Mar., I flew for a quick trip to Missoula for a photo shoot for the Big Sky Journal feature (the photo at the top of this newsletter was from that shoot) and in Oct. my alma mater's magazine featured a profile on my mission to uplift rural communities! I am very grateful for this press.

Moderating leadership panel for the Women's Foundation of Montana

As I was getting ready for my wedding, I was also preparing to moderate a panel on the state of women's leadership in MT. This panel included Mansfield Center's Deena Mansour, Shannon Stober, founder of Jumpstart Training & Development and Suzi Berget White from Prospera Business Network. When I think about the future of Montana, I am hopeful because of the efforts of these impressive women. View a recording of the discussion here.

Receiving funding support from Headwaters Foundation, Montana Farmers Union & Humanities Montana I couldn't do the work I do without funders believing in and supporting my vision. In addition to my Humanities WA fellowship award, last year I received funding from MT Farmers Union, Humanities MT and Headwaters. It would be remiss of me if I didn't share my thanks to those who choose to spend their hard-earned dollars supporting Reframing Rural via Patreon or PayPal. It truly means the world to me!


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