We are Essential Stuff Project (ESP) in Bigfork, Montana.
We build community, live sustainably, preserve and cultivate local resources, and encourage discussion on issues such as: surviving escalating fuel costs and potential shortages, preparing and eating healthful foods, and minimizing our ecological footprint through implementation of permaculture and bio-dynamic principles.
When pertinent, we hold gatherings or events to explore these and other issues of relevance to a continuously sustainable, local community.
How we Got Started
The ESP core team formed out of the work of the Olduvai Forum, and the Bigfork Vision Committee. Olduvai had been focusing mainly on “think global” issues of peak oil, climate change and overpopulation. Several of us were restless to “act local.” At the same time, as participants on the Bigfork Vision Committee, we struggled with how to reinvigorate the sense of “community” that was rapidly being lost in the greater Bigfork area.
Edd Blackler, Edmund Fitzgerald, Catherine Haug, and Sally Janover decided to form the Essential Stuff Project to address these issues. We wanted to stimulate community building, while at the same time explore actions in the face of pending economic, peak oil, and climate change crises.
Our efforts at community building are paying off. We’re getting great response from our ESP community, and it continues to grow. However, the economic crisis has changed the active membership of the core team: Edmund and Sally are currently on sabbatical; Mona Rae Tuhy has joined our team as a full-time member; and Fran Wade has joined as a part-time participant.
Why We Became Involved
I have been a resident of the area for over thirty years, and have tried to involve myself in activities that lend themselves to the betterment of our community. As changes to our economic environment evolved, I became more aware of the impending need to consider ways to encourage local sustainability. After sharing thoughts and discussing ideas with a number of other residents, I made the decision to commit some time and effort to brainstorming about ways to facilitate a higher level of local sustainability. I believe my involvement with the Essential Stuff Project will result in moving closer to this desired goal.
I’ve long been interested in the relationship between diet and health. Upon moving back to Bigfork after 35 years in Oregon, I discovered that, like me, my small circle of friends wanted to find locally produced foods, but did not know where/how to start.
How had the tight community I’d known throughout my youth degraded to a loose community that only came together for specific annual events like Decorating Day? Where were the community dances or weekend movie screenings? Where were the locally-owned retail businesses that once served all the needs of Bigfork’s locals, forming the glue that made Bigfork a unique rural community? When had this become a reclusive sprawl of wealthy visitors and part-timers?
I decided to become active, joining the Bigfork Vision team and Olduvai Forum. Now, with other like-minded activists, I’ve found new life in my role as ESP secretary. And hopefully we’ll help spark new life in my beloved Bigfork community.
Having lived off-grid for 18 years, I appreciate the opportunity to share some of the skills I developed, with people interested in learning a more sustainable lifestyle. I have long preferred a simpler lifestyle, and recognize that the Earth cannot much longer support the resource depletion that our present way of life demands.
I would love to see Bigfork become a model of as sustainable a community as it is possible to be. Working together as a community, it would be possible to share our skills and effort, and create a pleasant comfortable area, while walking a much gentler path on Mother Earth.
I first heard about the Essential Stuff Project after reading the article in the Daily Interlake [November 24, 2008 article]; shortly thereafter I was invited to become a core member.
ESP in the News
Refer to ESP in the News