Ah February, the month of love! We are inviting people to share their love for our resilient city through "love letters" to Helena. Tell us what makes Helena home and what makes this city we love so wonderful. The letter can be as long or as short as you'd like. We will be sharing your letters with the community via social media. Post your letter to social media, tag @thelocalhelena, and use hashtag #helenaloveletter for a chance to be featured on our Facebook & Instagram!
You can also submit your letter via email or snail mail.
Please email digital letters to: email@example.com
Mail physical letters to:
PO Box 1496
Helena, MT 59624
Below are some examples of Love Letters we've received in preparation for this campaign. We hope that through these letters you find as much connection to our community as we have.
For more inspiration view this letter from Adam Clinch, a Helena local and high school math teacher.
To the out-of-towner, the passer-by, the east coaster looking for a dot on the map to satiate his childhood desire to experience the Wild West, they see your century old fire tower, the Bavarian stained glass windows adorning your gothic cathedral, and the Algeria Shrine Temple perched on one of the many knobs scattering your landscape. They devour your handmade caramels as hits from decades ago dance between the olive-painted booths. They travel back to the time of trolleys, rediscover their youth riding a hand-carved cutthroat trout, and peruse local pieces contributing to your moniker as the “best small arts town in America.” They lace up their boots, tie down their kayaks, and stuff their bags to tackle the same trails and waterways that Lewis and Clark wrote about two hundred years prior.
As one who entered this world within your city limits, I too at one point saw what those above saw. When I introduce people to you for the first time, this is the side of you I share. But, it is not the side of you I fell in love with, nor is it the side of you I see when I close my eyes and think of you.
I think of your cobblestone sidewalks that I tripped over on my way to grade school at Hawthorne. I think of the shaded canopy tunnel created by the trees lining Flowerree St. that I rode my bike through. I think of the widow’s walks and Queen Anne Style architecture of the upper west side’s mansion district that created an acres-wide haunted town for my siblings and me to race through every All Hallow’s Eve. I think of summers spent skimming knees on the 1906 trail and developing elaborate tales for the history of Devil’s Kitchen. I think of Thanksgivings playing football with family and friends at your aptly named Hill Park. I think of the trains meandering across town whose horns pierced through open windows as I lay in bed listening intenlty on those adolescent summer nights. I think of the fact that those trains were guided by the same tracks I would walk alongside years later with my future wife. I think of piling on half a dozen layers to soften the blows as I flew off my sled and skid across the densely packed snow, now ice, encasing Guad Hill. I think of walking into the Merc and the baristas already knowing your order or swinging by Van’s to grab a missing item for that night’s dinner and seeing five people you know. I think of the fact that I have found a home. I have found a place where although the world feels large because you are under such a big sky, you don't feel small. You feel a part of it all.
Thank you, for everything, Helena.
Participate in our "Love Letter" campaign and see how you can submit your own love letter here.
Written by Morgan Gemay Marks
1957 was the founding year of CWG Architecture which makes them Helena’s oldest architectural firm. They’re located at 650 Power Street, where you’ll find a very large and very impressive building that looks right at home in the historic downtown Helena Mansion District, nestled between tall trees and other historical homes and mansions. The completely remodeled building, which formerly housed Senator Powers' team of 12 black horses and carriages in 1891, now houses the team of 14 people who comprise CWG Architecture. This is where the team at CWG works their magic. And – their magic is something very special because it’s for everyone.
“It’s the kind of place where people take care of one another”, shared Tyece Pool, CWG’s Interior Design Director. Pool considers her co-workers as her second family. Kory Kennaugh, Vice President, Secretary of CWG, echoed the sentiment, sharing that CWG is a “diverse collection of personalities” and they’re an “awesome group of people”. Staff are extremely team-oriented and celebrate birthdays, volunteer and share afternoon beers together, and they even have enabled a virtual team chat to stay connected and encourage one another.
CWG has seen three generations of owners. They are truly a Helena institution. Sure, they have goals to “keep up with the times”, “evolve their culture”, and “stay relevant”, says Kennaugh. Still, even with those goals, they are a dynamic group and continue to “evolve but keep their core values”, says Pool.
CWG’s focus is their client’s satisfaction and needs, with a heaping slice of exceptional design. Each staff-person shared the same thoughts and beliefs about projects undertaken by the firm: clients are put first and treated right, teamwork and collaboration are key, and striving to go beyond client’s expectations is what’s expected. Taking a client’s vision and turning it into reality is what the firm does, it’s what they enjoy, and most importantly, what they are good at. Projects are owned by the clients, so while CWG cares about positive outcomes, what they really care about is ensuring that their client’s needs are met, and that their vision is brought to life.
They’re good at what they do because they “really listen” and they “listen intently”, says Pool. They’re also good at what they do because their favorite projects are the ones where their team of architects, interior designers, and structural engineers get to work on a project together, from start to finish, which sets them apart from other architectural firms. It’s normal for the whole team, from architects-in-training to the Presidents of CWG, to be involved in projects and for every person involved to have direct contact with the client. CWG is purposefully collaborative.
The CWG team understands the experience of going through a remodel and living in dust and dirt. When they remodeled 650 Power Street, they were living in a space that was in flux with undergoing construction, so they experienced what their clients go through. “It was a good reminder of the process”, Kennaugh shared. So, the CWG team gets it and they understand how to minimize disruptions even during the construction process and support clients through each phase of a project.
They’ll phase the work so that businesses can stay open and a client can continue to live in their home. The team will tailor processes for each individual client. From serving as facilitators and liaisons, to hiring external consultants, looping in their mechanical, engineering, and structural staff, and managing all the processes in between, they maintain an organized and streamlined approach to projects with impeccable professionalism.
“Good design can add value to any space and impact every place”, says Pool. Having worked at CWG for five years, Pool started as an intern and has worked to have her current director title. With masks on, her eyes lit up when she talked about her love of design, the clients she is humbled to work with, and how at CWG, there is something for everyone.
As a person who is not at all familiar with architecture and design, I peppered Pool and Kennaugh with questions to better understand how design can be for everyone and was pleasantly surprised at the answers I received. The firm doesn’t just focus on large scale projects. They focus on people, and right now, many people are currently working from home. This shift from office spaces to home offices, or let’s be honest, kitchen countertops and couches, can be tough, unsettling, and stressful. Imagine the stress relief that could come from “good design” in your home.
“There are always small elements we can help with” says Pool, “because a fresh set of eyes improves things”. Cassidy Blanton, CWG’s Marketing Coordinator, followed up with, “good design just feels right”, and everyone smiled and agreed. Kennaugh went on to explain through an example of what “good design” looks like, when he had reflected on the idea of doorless S-shaped bathrooms. Design can be very helpful when thinking through how to keep people safe, especially in the times we are currently experiencing. CWG has been utilizing door-less S-shaped entrances to bathrooms for clients for some time. These unique entrances have taken on new meaning and greater importance when it comes to “pandemic” design and keeping people safe. This design is a simple change that businesses can incorporate because restroom accessibility is easier, and people can stay apart from one another. The team thinks outside of the standard design box, that’s for sure.
CWG’s work is stamped across Helena and can be found statewide. From multiple projects at Carroll College, to a remodel and overhaul of the Diesel Technology Center at MSU Northern in Havre, to the newly renovated and downright beautiful Helena airport, CWG creates functional and highly innovative spaces. The airport used to be an outdated and dull space, lacking light, and not wholly conducive for connections to be made between travelers. Now, the space has evolved with the times, and it’s bright, open, and offers those arriving and departing, a shining example of everything Helena is – hopeful, engaging, and collaborative.
I sat in CWG’s conference room and while I was busy scribbling notes and making sure the recorder was working, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of being grounded amongst the people I was visiting with and the place where the CWG magic happens. The time spent at CWG felt more like spending time with strangers, now turned friends, as the staff is down-to-earth. I was greeted upon entering and thanked upon leaving. They’re people who really care about the work they do and the people they work with and serve. The work CWG does and the impression they left is nothing short of timeless, and the place CWG calls home matches this feeling. The building is a testament to the roots of CWG because the firm is rooted in history and yet they’ve adapted and grown into a flourishing and proud Helena business.
Get to know CWG Architecture by visiting their website at https://cwg-architects.com/ and follow them on Facebook, , Instagram and LinkedIn to witness their journey to deliver great design with immense passion.
Written by Rhayn Ransier
Helena was founded on October 30th, 1864 at the height of the busiest decade of Montana’s gold rush. Each year, near Halloween, the Queen City of the Rockies grows another year older. So, then, do her enduring spirits. From friendly and kind haunts roaming Reeder’s Alley and the grounds of Grandstreet Theatre to the more fervent reminders of unfortunate accidents, Helena has a legend for everyone.
Perhaps the most well-known and pleasant of these tales originates in Reeder’s Alley. This quaint, brick-building lined street is a favorite of both tourists and locals alike. There are many historical places and inviting structures to be found along the narrow, winding roadway. History and lore abound in this village, where the 1870s seem to have paused in time.
Our first foray into the supernatural introduces us to the Duchesnay family (also spelled “Duchesne” in some reports). Mrs. Duchesnay and her husband George were French settlers who called Reeder’s Alley home for several decades in the early 1900s. The Duchesnays owned the large stone house overlooking Reeder’s Alley, which would later be remodeled into the now-derelict Stonehouse restaurant. Mrs. Duchesnay was renowned throughout Helena for her caring and healing spirit, often rehabilitating injured birds that locals would bring to her home at the top of the Alley. Laura was also celebrated for raising hundreds of canaries, her home containing “operas” of the golden songbirds. The cheerful singing of the canaries would often fill the Alley on a summer day, while simultaneously serving a more dubious and mischievous purpose. During the prohibition era, moonshine was sold out of the stone house. To circumvent any legal troubles for those procuring a drink, the Duchesnays simply declared that they were selling off some of their canaries, though the hanging of cages outside often designated the arrival of a forbidden shipment. This continued for many years, until Mrs. Duchesnay tragically passed away in February of 1933 after a short illness.
Decades passed, and the Stonehouse restaurant eventually developed out of the Duchesnay home. Though physical beings have since moved on from the structure, various narratives hint at remaining spirits in the residence. There are several compelling anecdotes regarding canaries remaining in the building. Most notably, an employee of the Stonehouse restaurant stayed late one night in order to set up for the approaching Valentine’s Day dinner service. She repeatedly heard the flapping wings of birds in the darkness and realized the mess that would ensue should she not remove the unwanted visitor. Searching high and low, she could not find the source of the frantic swishing. She quickly became frustrated, and her fruitless searches of the premise revealed no avian visitors. The miffed employee closed her eyes for a moment, searching for the sound of wings flapping among the rafters of the restaurant. Suddenly, the whooshing of hundreds of tiny feathers rushed by, accompanied by the chirps of Mrs. Duchesnay’s pets of the past. The flock fluttered deeper into the building, singing as they went.
Unsurprisingly, there were no birds (or evidence of) ever found in the Stonehouse, that day or after. The restaurant closed in 2004 and the building remains empty to this day. This particular tale lives on in infamy among the paranormal community of the Queen City, lingering memories of a colorful past. On your next visit to the Alley, perhaps you will also hear the fluttering and chirps of a long-forgotten, much-beloved, moonshine-masking brood.
Carroll College is one of many draws to Helena. This private, Roman Catholic, liberal arts college is well known for its small student body, tight-knit staff and faculty, and highly rated pre-medical and nursing programs. Built in 1909, it is no surprise that this historic and spiritual area has several reported lingering spirits.
Once on site, St. Charles is easily the most recognizable building from just about any location on campus. This hulking stone structure sits on the hill at the center of campus, overseeing busy semesters and scuttling students like a wizened shepherd. The most engaging ghost stories often center on St. Charles, now primarily a dormitory for second-year students. These chambers are home to our second and more chilling tale. The spiritual activity reportedly increases here during midterms and finals, when the student’s stress levels are at their highest. Sceptics may see this as a reason to doubt the activity, but many students tell a different story. A despondent spirit is said to linger here in the fourth-floor men’s bathroom, decades after an unfortunate accident. One night in 1964, a student blacked out while brushing his teeth. The resulting brain hemorrhage from hitting his head on the porcelain sink led to his early demise. Soon after, reports of a bloodied spirit in the bathroom began to emerge.
Adding fuel to this dark legend, the room has been completely sealed up for years. Some say hauntings led to the closure. Maintenance men and students reportedly began to see blood stains in the sink, as well as a wounded young man appearing to stand behind them in the mirror. Others brush it off as a mistake during a remodel, resulting in an unsafe space. Whatever the reason may be, administration will occasionally unlock the bathroom during the hall’s haunted house every few years in order to let the students see for themselves. So, tell me, would you be brave enough to venture into this sealed territory on Halloween, possibly coming face-to-face (or face-to-reflection) with the bloody St. Charles ghost? Does he haunt the top floor to scare students, or is he simply yearning to finish his studies and move on from the cursed room?
Our next haunting is a much lighter narrative, taking place at the Grandstreet Theatre in Helena. Repeated reports of inexplicable electromagnetic frequencies have been detected in this area, home to one of Helena’s most beloved poltergeists.
Clara Bicknell Hodgin was the wife of Reverend Stanton Hodgin, leader of the Unitarian Church of Helena beginning in 1903. Unitarians believed in the Church also being a usable space for community events, free-thinking individuals and creative opportunities. The house of worship soon doubled as a niche for children’s classes and pageants, and so the sanctuary naturally doubled as an auditorium for Clara’s favorite projects. Her demeanor was highly praised, and her soul was often described as an energetic, shining light to others. She dove into her work with children enthusiastically. Though she had none of her own, her Sunday school classes were filled to the brim with adoring children.
Although Clara died in 1905, she does not appear to have moved on. Her lingering energy is described as omnipresent, protective and kind, often felt or seen in the auditorium where the children had played in her time and continue to do so today. A stained-glass window, commissioned by the congregation in her honor, remains in the theater. It was packed up and stored in the nearby Civic Center for a time as the church became a library for a short while, and then the present-day Grandstreet Theatre in 1976. Soon after Clara’s window was reinstalled in the theater, whispers of a spirit began to emerge. Occasionally the inscription of her name on the window appears illegible, as if a child’s hand has swiped and smudged the glass. Hazy shapes hang over the auditorium, a dark shadow watches from backstage. A vibrant and deep energy often seems to sweep through the room. Whether Clara is applauding the current performers, or searching for her long-gone children, many witnesses agree that she does not stray far from Grandstreet.
Various paranormal investigators have ventured into all places spooky and chilling in Helena, and our Queen City rarely disappoints. Whether you prefer a lively and cheerful spirit, or a more chilling reminder of the dead, you will not leave without a tale to share. Helena currently offers a plethora of resources for those looking to tune in to otherworldly phenomena throughout the spooky season and beyond.
Happy (ghost) hunting, Helena!
Hike Mt. Helena Ridge Trail to Mt. Helena City Park, or stick to loops closer to Park City to avoid the often crowded trailheads near downtown Helena (photo by Dan Oldenburg)
Author: Keely Damara, Communications Coordinator at Montana Wilderness Association
Accessing and enjoying public lands have become more essential than ever before for the wellbeing of our communities, families, and ourselves.
As Montana enters phase two of Governor Steve Bullock’s reopening plan and tourists begin to flock to the state, physical distancing will continue to be of the utmost importance to keep our communities healthy. Gov. Bullock’s phase-two guidelines include asking individuals to avoid gatherings of more than 50 people where physical distancing isn’t feasible and encouraging vulnerable Montanans to stay home as much as possible.
For those planning to hit their favorite trails this fall, these physical distancing guidelines may be hard to adhere to while traversing heavily trafficked trails. Montana Wilderness Association (MWA) wants to help.
Hike Wild Montana, our online hiking guide, features more than 350 trails across the state, which provides options that can help Montanans stay safe, avoid crowded trails and trailheads, and discover trails less traveled.
Hikewildmontana.org is now easier to use than ever before, with new features that make finding the perfect trail a breeze and accessible. The guide includes a virtual map that highlights Wilderness areas and wilderness study area boundaries, provides quick trail details (such as hike length and elevation gain), and direct links to agency websites about each trail with details on Covid-19 facility closures and restrictions.
MWA Executive Director Ben Gabriel says that the new and improved hikewildmontana.org will help Montanans connect with public lands, from Chalk Buttes in the far southeast corner of the state to the Purcell Mountains in the far northwest.
“We’re grateful for our access to wild public lands here in Montana, especially now,” says Gabriel. “Hike Wild Montana’s new features will make it easier for Montanans to safely explore the lands we love.”
Photo: Hike to a beautiful waterfall in the Elkhorn Mountains on this easy half-day hike (photo by R Kent).
Launched in 2016, Hike Wild Montana is the state’s first statewide online hiking guide with trail information crowdsourced from hikers across the state. In addition to allowing users to search trails, read recent trail reports, and discover local businesses nearby, MWA encourages hikers to submit their favorite trails and share trip reports with the community as well.
MWA is committed to connecting people to the landscapes we’re working to protect through our hiking guide, our Wilderness Walks program, and our trail stewardship program. Since 2012, more than a thousand MWA volunteers have maintained and improved some 350 miles of trails.
“Getting boots on the ground to help keep public trails across the state accessible is an important part of MWA’s conservation work,” says Gabriel. “Connecting people to Montana’s storied landscapes, as Hike Wild Montana does, is also integral to cultivating long-lasting support and reverence for Montana’s wild public lands.”
Hikewildmontana.org is free to use and is the perfect tool for planning your day on the trail and getting outside. Sign up for the new Hike Wild Montana Newsletter to receive hike recommendations, how-to videos, trip tips, volunteer trail stewardship opportunities, and much more delivered right to your inbox.
Are you looking for a place to enjoy the hot, summer sun and eat a yummy picnic lunch? We’ve spent some time exploring and think that we’ve found a few of the most enjoyable places to picnic around Helena. We hope you’ll adventure out, stay socially distanced, and get outside by heeding our advice and visiting one or all of the following places:
Hill Park will soon have an outdoor stage that will be perfect for attending live events and music, and for the time being, it’s worth making a picnic and visiting. The new outdoor stage will have a natural amphitheater, and will be a central place for the community to gather. With a beautiful view of the Cathedral of Saint Helena and only seconds away from the heart of downtown, Hill Park is a great location for an afternoon with friends and family. You’ll find many tall trees offering great shade and a very nicely kept lawn prime for sitting and relaxing.
Spring Meadow Lake State Park
Located on the west edge of Helena, Spring Meadow is a popular spot for afternoons filled with birdwatching, swimming and enjoying a nice picnic full of your favorite treats. Anywhere you sit in the park, you can take in a perfect view of Mount Helena. The park includes many picnic shelters and a pavilion that you can use for larger groups and gatherings. If you’re wanting to take in the sights of the whole lake, there is a .8 mile trail that surrounds the lake, and is unpaved and mostly in the sun, so make sure to pack some sunscreen!
Pioneer Park, located toward the end of the downtown walking mall on famous Last Chance Gulch, offers a wonderful community playground for kids, with shaded areas and picnic benches ripe for a lovely picnic. There are chess tables to sit and play at with friends, and a water fountain to utilize if you run out of water on a warm Helena afternoon. Surrounding the park, you can explore many other local attractions such as the Montana State Capitol, and the Lewis and Clark library. If you are looking for a sweet treat after your fun-filled afternoon at Pioneer Park, Big Dipper is two blocks down along the Walking Mall.
Centennial Park is a popular destination in town with baseball fields, a skate park, community playground, bike park, dog park, sand volleyball courts and great views of the beautiful Carroll College campus. In addition, there is a one mile loop trail with many fitness stations along the way including pull-up bars for a great outdoor workout. This trail is also a center hub for connections to other trails around Helena, including one that connects to Spring Meadow Lake State Park. It is the perfect location to enjoy a picnic and then go play on the many attractions that Centennial has to offer. This park has everything for the whole family - even the dog! Centennial Park includes one of the only dog parks in Helena, which consists of a fenced park and some agility items for your pooch to run and stretch its legs.
The Old Fire Tower, called Guardian of the Gulch, is a city landmark. This used to be manned around the clock to watch over the city. Today, you can find a nice hillside to enjoy a picnic and take in the views. A hiking trail up to the tower is found off Cruse Avenue just across Broadway. The view from the hill depicts Helena the best with the surrounding Sleeping Giant mountain range.
What used to be an anchor for a United States Navy cruiser during combat is now located permanently in one of Helena’s favorite gathering spots. Anchor Park, near Lewis and Clark Library, has a ton of rich history to indulge in while enjoying your pleasant afternoon picnic. Anchor Park is located along Last Chance Gulch and is another exceptional stop for a picnic while enjoying the other great amenities around you in Downtown Helena, such as Reeder's Alley and local shops like Lasso the Moon toys and The Pan Handler.
WRITING by PAIGE WOLLAN
PHOTOS courtesy of CAPITOL SQUARE FARMERS MARKET
The Capitol Square Farmers Market is a Tuesday afternoon market located at the South Oval of Montana's State Capitol. The market runs every Tuesday from June 25th to September 24th and is open from 2:30 pm - 6:30 pm.
All are welcome to attend the Capitol Square Farmers Market and enjoy the capitol grounds. Staff will be working to keep the market a safe, clean, and friendly space for everyone. They ask that everyone keeps the recommended distances to prevent contamination, and show respiratory etiquette and good hand hygiene. Vendors will be selling reusable fabric masks and hand sanitizer.
Need a gift for someone special? Check out the unique wood art, beaded jewelry, and wildlife notecards available. There are many gift options that your loved ones are sure to enjoy.
If you are looking for farm fresh produce or Made in Montana products, this market is where you need to be shopping! Take your late afternoon break and pick up some produce or stop by after work for some fresh food for the dinner table. On any given week you can find strawberries, potatoes, peas, micro greens, garlic, and both chicken and duck eggs. Click the button below to find a list of weekly vendors:
The Capitol Square Farmers Market also offers free yoga. Relax and unwind with Robyn of Gentle Healing Yoga for a free class every Tuesday at 5pm in the lawn next to the Capitol Square Farmers Market. All abilities are welcome. Attendees must bring their own mat, as loaner mats are not available this year.
Come on down and enjoy summer at your neighborhood farmers market every Tuesday! Masks or face coverings are required for ages 5 or older. If needed, masks can be provided at the market info tent. Thank you for keeping your local market healthy! Follow them on Facebook for more information: https://www.facebook.com/CapitolSquareFarmersMarket/
Writing by Paige Wollan
Looking for the perfect summer patio to continue social distancing? Here are some of the best local patios around Helena:
Wassweiler Dinner House & Pub
Located in a historic inn built in 1883, Wassweiler Dinner House & Pub is currently serving up their full menu on the patio open Tuesday-Saturday starting at 5 pm. You can enjoy high quality steaks, surf and turf options and even a slice of pie, that is if you are able to save room for dessert! But the Wassweiler doesn't stop at preparing amazing food, they also grow fresh herbs and vegetables in their greenhouse just for their guests. The patio is open to first come first serve and is an excellent choice for this summer of social distancing.
Wassweiler is operating at 50% capacity with their tables being six feet apart and a limit to six guests a table. Even though there are some changes in order to comply with regulations, you can still enjoy some fine dining in true Montana style.
The Hawthorne Bottle Shop & Tasting Room
The Hawthorne Bottle Shop and Tasting Room boasts a great patio in the heart of downtown Helena. This is a great place to gather with friends or coworkers and taste some wine from all around the world. Along with a broad selection of wine, you can also find small batch beer and specialty meats and cheeses. All wines are available to sample and can be enjoyed at the bar or various tables on the patio while listening to the various sounds of downtown. We recommended while tasting flights choose to pair with their selection of cheeses and charcuterie including house made crackers, dips, and spiced nuts.
The Hawthorn Bottle Shop & Tasting Room is a comfortable, and inviting venue for guests to relax, sip on some specialty wine, and celebrate what downtown has to offer! The Hawthorne's hours are Tuesday-Saturday from noon to 9 pm.
The Rialto, also located along the walking mall in downtown Helena, has TWO patios! The front patio, that was recently added, is open until 10 pm with great views and great drinks. What a beautiful space to enjoy your drinks on the walking mall! Additionally, the back patio is equipped with a tiki bar to create your craft cocktails. The Rialto is in full swing for happy hour Monday-Friday from 5 pm- 8pm while still following proper social distancing guidelines.
Blackfoot River Brewing
Blackfoot River Brewing has a patio that stands above downtown Helena where you can enjoy a lineup of craft beer made with only the finest ingredients. Imagine, you are enjoying your tasty beer while being on an rooftop patio looking over beautiful, sunny Helena. Blackfoot's taproom is the place to go to enjoy good friends a good atmosphere and even better beer. Things will definitely look and feel different as they follow special protocol to keep their patrons and staff safe. Tables are spaced 6 ft apart and a staff member will seat you at a table once your entire party has arrived. Not wanting to go in quite yet? Blackfoot is now filling any personal growlers, bring em in! You can also order online for a quick pick-up or call before 6:00pm for delivery!
AUTHOR: Morgan Marks
The Local is passionate about supporting local businesses and organizations. During the COVID-19 outbreak, we feel that community support is more important now than ever before. Here are a few ways to make a big impact on our local community.
Be understanding of changes in hours and services
Local businesses and organizations are doing their very best to keep their doors open, provide valuable services and experiences, and keep their community thriving. Their hours of operation and the services they offer are likely to shift and flex with the ongoing stream of new information. Please remember to be kind and recognize that we are all adapting to changes at a fast pace. To stay in the loop about hours and services please check out this Google doc created by a group of local volunteers that outlines the status of businesses and what they’re offering at this time. http://helenasmallbiz.com/
Purchase gift cards to use at a later time
One of the best ways to support local businesses is to purchase gift cards to use later when the dust settles. Gift cards will create cash flow for local businesses right now in order to stay operating. Many of us have favorite locales that we frequent and even if we can’t visit them in person, we’ll definitely use a gift card in the near future.
Shop local online
Countless local businesses have adapted their business models to support customers with online shopping. Some have even gone so far as to offer free local delivery. In a matter of days, yoga studios have begun offering virtual classes and many businesses have created online stores to make virtual shopping easier.
Stock up at local stores and businesses
As much as you can and are able, it’s time to shop local and put your dollars into our local economy. Stock up on your favorite things, like tea and coffee from local coffee shops and cafes, a few growlers from a local brewery, snacks and staples from local grocery stores such as Van’s Thriftway or a few bottles of wine or liquor from the local bottle shop and distilleries.
Pay with plastic when possible
Let’s face it, cash is not the cleanest way to pay. This may seem counterintuitive due to credit card fees. However, by using plastic cards, you’ll ensure that fewer germs are spread between people. Remember to be aware of what you’re touching and make sure you are mindful of washing your hands.
Donate to charities with items from local stores
It’s a simple equation: when you support one local business and donate to another local organization, it’s a win-win! Informing yourself about the needs of local organizations and charities is the first step to supporting them and making sure that whatever your donation is, that it is needed and will support community members. For example, perhaps an organization such as the Friendship Center or YWCA Helena could use books. What better place to purchase books to donate than our local bookstores?
Check-in with business owners & employees
Kindness goes a long way in times like this. Sending a message to check-in and see how business owners and their employees are doing is another way to show your support. Whether it’s an email or leaving a message on their social media, your words matter and will surely bring a smile to a business owner's face by reminding them that they’re valued and that we’re all in this together.
Order food for takeout or delivery
After being cooped up, working from home, or coming back from a long day at work, there is sometimes nothing better than ordering takeout. Many local businesses are offering delivery as well. Be sure to check out the Google doc because whatever you’re in the mood for, we’re pretty confident you’ll be able to order takeout with curbside pick-up or delivery and eat well when you do! http://helenasmallbiz.com/
Share their posts on social media
Another very simple way of showing support is to share social media posts from local businesses and organizations. Information is changing rapidly and one way to stay informed is to follow the accounts of places you love and to make sure that you’re helping those places outreach about their hours and the services they’re offering. All it takes is a few clicks and you’ve helped share information to better inform others! The more people that are “in the know,” the better.
It’s in times like this where we must lean on our community, support one another and not only verbalize that we are “all in this together,” but take action to make that phrase come alive and truly matter in our everyday choices and actions. Every action has an impact - every single one.
Please make sure that while you’re supporting local businesses and organizations, you’re also following local public health office guidelines to stay safe and care for yourself. Your health and the health of your family comes first. A few good websites to check out are:
Montana Department of Health and Human Services: https://dphhs.mt.gov/publichealth/cdepi/diseases/coronavirusmt
Lewis & Clark Public Health Department:
1930 9th Ave, Helena, MT 59601
Office: (406) 447-8361
Fax: (406) 457-8990
It’s important that with our current context and social isolation we recognize that we all are going to have both financial, social and health concerns so if you are experiencing anxiety and stress, please reach out and receive support!
Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) and Text Line 741-741.
PHOTOS by JASON O'NEIL
WRITING by CLAIRE BACHOFNER
INCLUDED IN THE LOCAL VOL. 1
When Jill Roberts and Colleen Casey opened the doors of The Hawthorn in 2015, they sought to create a gathering place in downtown Helena that honored their core values: robust community, authentic connection, wonderful flavors, and ultimate hospitality. If you ask me (or anyone in town) they nailed it.