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New film series showcases local efforts

Locally guided efforts to contribute to resilient communities and landscapes across Montana

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News from Life in the Land

MONTANA — Throughout Montana, human activity is directly intertwined within natural systems, creating a great opportunity to inspire healthy coexistence worldwide. Across the state, there are varying value systems and methods of interacting with the land and the life it supports.

Life in the Land is a documentary film and podcast series which shares perspectives of those who interact with the complexities of Montana’s communities and landscapes, looking at the success and value in holistic and locally led initiatives. By connecting these stories of localized, collaborative efforts to the theme of a reciprocal human and landscape relationship, this series will be a catalyst for guiding overall healthier systems of life in our modern world.

The project includes four film episodes, each 30-45 minutes in length. Each episode shares unique perspectives from ranchers, biologists, local leaders, and more from within Montana’s rural and tribal communities, in different regions of Montana where unique collaboration on the landscape is taking place; the Big Hole Valley, the Seeley-Swan Region, Blackfeet Nation, and Montana’s Central Plains. Over 20 podcast episodes accompany the project, allowing audiences to take a deeper dive into a specific topic. The content proves the value in establishing and supporting locally based collaborative groups, whether they be a watershed group or other holistic group. These entities hold the trust and representation of a local community, making them a key partner for agencies and larger organizations to move landscape scale work forward, from conservation to community improvement and economic development.

“A goal with the series is to show the positive effects of people working in interconnected ways, just like our ecosystems do. We hope this project will honor the featured communities, offer inspiration to advance beneficial interactions in other communities, and provide the nuance and prompt the conversations that can be an antidote to current divisiveness,” comments Lara Tomov, the project’s Director.

“[This series] has the potential to change the mindset of Americans to recognize their responsibilities in promoting the enhancement of a working landscape through supporting and recognizing those of us that are stewarding their precious land for its and society’s sake. It gives solace to those of us who have developed a land ethic based on what nature has taught us and the strength to embrace our responsibility as nature’s and society’s caretakers,” states Jim Hagenbarth, a rancher from the Big Hole Valley who is featured in the series.

At the project’s website,, one can view the films, listen to podcasts, and find links to resources to connect with and gather inspiration from other entities. The podcasts can also be found on the Stories for Action series on Apple and Spotify. The content is available for free and is intended to be used as a tool by organizations, agencies, grassroots community groups, and more. Already, the films have been used in various settings, from local gatherings to conferences to classrooms, and they have proven to be energizing catalysts for important dialogue and connections.

The public is encouraged to host a screening in their community or supplement a gathering or meeting with a showing of a film episode. The project’s leadership requests that those using it publicly first fill out the short form on the project’s site. A downloadable discussion guide can also be found there. Additional films and podcasts for the Life in the Land project will be released throughout 2023.

The project is produced by Montana production company Stories for Action and the episode from Blackfeet Nation is Co-Produced by Lailani Upham of Iron Shield Creative. The project is guided by a steering committee which includes Ethan Kunard (Montana Watershed Coordination Council), Lara Tomov (Stories for Action), rancher Bill Milton, Cliff Montagne (BioRegions International), Laura Nowlin of Winnett ACES, facilitator Bill Long, and Daniel Anderson (The Common Ground Project).

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