montana | Not in Our Town


We met Eran Thompson when he came to the first Not in Our Town National Leadership Gathering in 2006 in Bloomington, IL. Eran was in high school during the time of the original events in Billings in the early 90s, but he became a community organizer and was asked to join in an effort to renew the local Not In Our Town group. After the Gathering, he went back and did just that! The Not In Our Town Billings group has thrived under his leadership. Not In Our Town National took notice and invited Eran to serve as a member of our board of directors. It is because of Eran that we are all returning to Billings this June to celebrate the 20th anniversary with the second National Leadership Gathering. Oh and when you meet him, ask him to perform your favorite Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. quote—he will nail it. —Rhian Miller, co-founder of Not In Our Town/The Working Group Eran Thompson, chair of Not In Our Town Billings Tell us about your community and the work you do there.
Chris Seifert, director of educational services for Montana PBS, teaches students how to conduct an interview during a class at the Billings Public Library. The students will interview people involved in the Not In Our Town movement. Photo Credit: Billings Gazette Billings, MT students engage in a project to tell stories about Not In Our Town through video and other media, including their town’s successful efforts to stand up to white supremacist hate crimes, according to the Billings Gazette. West High School students from a combined English and American History class began meeting twice a week in January to learn about Not In Our Town events from local activists. The students also received a crash course in journalism practices to apply to their projects.
By Liz Welch, Fair is Fair MontanaHate is not a Montana value. Montana families are open and inclusive. Bozeman churches do not want to be associated with hate and negativity. Why then did the Westboro Baptist Church chose Bozeman to show their unique and highly offensive brand of free speech and anti-gay sentiment? 
  Hundreds Gather in Bozeman, MT to Protest Hate   A broad coalition of religious denominations, veteran organizations, Montana State University student groups, and members of Bozeman’s LGBTQ community rallied to send the message to a Kansas-based hate group that their message of hate is not only unwelcome, but outnumbered.   An estimated attendance of 800 people was reported by organizer Jamie Greer of Greater Gallatin Valley for Equality. The majority of people congregated at an ACLU-sponsored Rally For Inclusion, removed from the protest site. The remainder gathered at Bozeman High School, where the three members of the Westboro Baptist Church hate group were picketing.   This is not the first time Bozeman has rallied against hate. According to Beth Shalom Rabbi Ed Stafman, a group of Neo-Nazis organized a rally in Bozeman five years ago, and were met with approximately 1,000 protesters.  
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Native Americans Open Up About Prejudice in Montana NIOT Summit Native Americans in Montana still face discrimination every day, said attendees at the Not In Our Town “Summit on Hate” in Billings, MN last week, hosted by NIOT Billings. Sometimes the racist attacks come in the form of “war chants” at high school football games. Other times, it’s  the derogatory comments about government assistance all natives supposedly get. “I’ve been waiting for my ‘free Indian money’ my whole life. It doesn’t happen,” said Luella Brien, a member of the Crow tribe. Brien and others related their experiences at the summit. Read more on Indian Country Today. Northeast Neighbors Band Together in Sandy’s WakeNew York and New Jersey residents are still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Sandy, but neighborhoods have banded together to help out those most affected by the superstorm.
Lessons from Billings, Montana