Amy Cilimburg and Abby Huseth

We love the month of May – from Missoula Gives to longer days, more light, unpredictable weather, and national bike month. We also know that this May the world feels shaky.

A dusting of snow on the ground, blue skies, heavy clouds, birds singing. It all feels topsy turvy, as we bounce from cold to warm, hard news to hopeful happenings, uncertain futures to collective actions, dark to light.

Amidst this feeling of shakiness and uncertainty, how can we find the stability we need to move forward?

Looking just to our immediate community, we see much to keep us grounded. One example: Today is Missoula Gives – the annual celebration of philanthropy that so many local nonprofits depend on. Our community consistently shows up year after year and opens hearts and wallets to give back to the nonprofits that make Missoula so special.

From social service organizations that work daily to meet the needs of those most vulnerable, to arts organizations that keep Missoula weird and offer crucial creative outlets, to climate and environmental organizations dedicated to restoring healthy ecosystems and ensuring a livable future for all human and non-human life – the incredible nonprofits here in Missoula form the soil of our community. Your donations during Missoula Gives provide the water and nutrients that are essential for growth. All of us, joining together, make a huge impact. We hope you’ll support us and other excellent organizations today!

Or, take the Brushstrokes of Change project: another local example of the kinds of good things that ground and inspire us. As part of Missoula’s fantastic First Friday celebration tonight, you can check out watercolor paintings and haiku poems created by sophomore science students at Big Sky High School, all inspired by causes, effects, or solutions to climate change. The display at spectrUM Discovery Area (2nd floor of the Missoula Public Library) will be up through May 11th if you can’t make it tonight.

With this local inspiration in our hearts and minds, we can look beyond Missoula, too. Where are the scalable climate actions that we need right now? Are they happening?

Thankfully, we don’t have to search far here either. At the national level there’s been lots of good news lately – and actions that directly benefit us here in Montana. Thanks to the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, the EPA just announced that $7 billion “Solar for All” grants have been awarded, and Montana is poised to receive $43.7 million dollars – all to help low-income residents go solar!

Just last week, the EPA announced strong steps to limits carbon pollution and protect communities from toxic chemicals. And the recklessly harmful and dishonest actions of fossil fuel corporations are under serious scrutiny in Congressional hearings this week.

Outside Montana, states and utilities are stepping up, too. Like this inspirational news: Minnesota’s biggest solar project will help replace a huge coal plant. Xcel Energy’s new 710-megawatt solar facility will create union jobs in a coal community, pilot long-duration storage technologies, and significantly advance the state’s climate goals.

So yes, these are topsy turvy, shaky times. But inspiration of good news and happenings far and near, plus myriad opportunities to get involved to accelerate climate solutions in Missoula and beyond, can keep us grounded and moving forward, together.

Take one easy step now: head to and donate to Climate Smart Missoula and other fantastic nonprofit organizations that are working to build a more equitable, vibrant, and resilient community.

With our feet firmly planted, we can keep looking for the signs of hope and inspiration that are everywhere.

Amy Cilimburg is the Executive Director and Abby Huseth is the Deputy Director of Climate Smart Missoula. Climate Smart Missoula brings this Climate Connections column to you two Fridays a month. Learn more about our work, support our efforts, and sign up for our e-newsletter at

Upcoming Community Climate Events

  • The Street Project film showing & discussion, May 16, 7pm at Free Cycles:Free showing of this short film about humanity’s relationship to the streets and the global citizen-led fight to make communities safer, followed by presentations from City planners and community advocates on Missoula’s upcoming streets projects and how to get involved.