The Power of Story

A writing adventure with Kimber Craine

MPA was honored to have Kimber Craine on hand at the 2016 Road Show. Craine is Director of Program Initiatives, President's Council on Arts and Humanities, Washington, DC and has spent his career fostering creative connections between the arts, humanities, and historic preservation. Craine's presentation featured a YouTube video aimed at placemaking and breifly talked on the power of words to distill characteristics of a place. His instructions for the Road Show audience were to write down four to six words that describe Montana. After selecting one of the words, the audience was directed to write about those words for five or ten minutes. Craine then invited the audience to stand up and read what they wrote. What came out was an inspiring collection of "quick draw" poetry.  All involved were amazed at the compelling words people offered after just a few minutes. Take a look . . .

Cross winds driving clouds across the blue range.
Long river of highway cutting through the shortgrass and sagebrush plains.  
Two fingered waves from the 55 county plates.
Don't think I know them. Meadowlark songs in motion.
3 hours to anywhere.


Homeless veterans. Hopeless. Confused.
System users. Can't get the sad horrible out.
Live in an exhausted state -- as that exhaustion calms one's soul.
A society seen only on the fringe.
Yet, if one looks you might catch a smile, a twinkle in the eyes.
Faces aged by the wind.


The smell of fresh blanched peas coming down the conveyor belt at the Red Lodge Pea Cannery pervades my memory.
Everyone in town worked 24-7 while the harvest ran; harvesting, net-capped nightshade pickers.
Canners, blanchers, front-loaders. When the #8 pea shooters hit the conveyor belt on the last run.
We celebrated with a wild pea fight. ~ B. Scanlin, Red Lodge


Sundance in Pryor at Dawn
Sun coming up/moon setting
The Dancers paint streaming down their faces.
They pray for healing the past
They pray to heal the future


Riding horses in the wide open wilderness
Collected animal energy.
Sound of sparkling water rolling over the rocks.
Scent of pine.
Sense of freedom.               ~ S. Craine


There are no Meadowlarks in CA.
I was born and raised in MT- but spent 18 years in exile in CA.
My mother's favorite song was the melody the Meadowlark sings.
11 years ago I was lucky enough to return to MT, to Red Lodge to live.
Beginning in the spring of each year I get to enjoy the song of the Meadowlark, as i drive to work each morning.
My Mom, in the form of the Meadowlark's song, sings hello. 


It was late at night illuminated by fresh snowfall --
Great, I need to shovel again. 
I am aging -- how much longer will something so beautiful take my energy -- 
I think about shoveling as I watch the snow fall. Living in MT I know snow is a fact -
especially living in the foothills of the Beartooth  Mountains. 
Can I separate the heavy from the chore?
The moonlight casts shadows -- my favorite -- the snow sparkles in the moonlight --
I guess shoveling is not so bad in the silence of snow.


Gargoyles on buildings speak to a time gone but valued
they are still here, architectural wonders that refelct a time where skill and craft were alive and well. 
These creatures ground me to this place that so many called home. 


We come to the end of the highway, a road defined by pavement and lines.
And we find that the path does not end there.
That in fact the place the pavement ends is the point of beginning our journey.
For what lies ahead is Montana, ancient, wild, and nurturing. Montana, a place where generations have walked before us.
Before the time of "roads", a time when people, animals, walked the same path and took the long way home. 


The Montana I love lies between the May Grade Road and Red Lodge Creek Road.
An area that is green with grass and alfalfa that is scattered with sheep and cows.
Lambs and calves abound in May and the  streams flow fast with water cold from melted snow. 

Rodeo adventure
Cool nights and bright lights bring a community together.
Everyone feels every buck, stop and breath. The air holds ? after a miscalculation.
The community is one with each other. 


I have space to move in MT. Space to think, space to create, way more space to be happy with what I do.
Without lines, without traffic, without competition for space, I have the energy to know my surroundings,
to understand the people and diverse places that make up MT. 


I was brought up to the strictest sense of honesty and helping others.
Home from school for the summer, Dad said, "Hey, let's float the river."
No fishing tag in hand, I went anyway, figuring to row. Dad could haul 'em in.
Half way through, I grabbed his extra rod. Not sure why he brought two.
He doesn't lose fish, say nothing of a rod. But with a couple of casts, my bones knew I was back home.
Round a slow bend, there was a man on the bank, up top. Forest green shirt and binocs.

"Lets see yer tags gentlemen!"

As he lifted binocs to his eyes, Dad dug his wallet of out his duffel bag, older than I am, and held up his tag.

"Thank you, sir!" hollered the large binocs. "And you, sir!"

I made a show to pat my back pocket. " . . . Uh, he's got it!" I yelled back pointing at Dad.
No pause, right in flow, Dad held up a finger, rummaged in the duffel, slide his tag out of the clear wallet sleeve and held it up for long-eyes.

That's good! Thank you gentleman! Good luck!"

The man who would never hesitate to bust chops for tricks like that, accomplice that he had made himself, for once in his life, never said a word about it.
Ever. And I know better.