Remarks from Adrienna Hines, 2017 Class Representative
Whether you are admiring Leonardo DaVinci’s Mona Lisa or an impressionistic piece by Monet or a cubic work of art by Picasso in The Louvre, what undoubtedly grabs you is how the artist captured and illustrated his perspective and interpretation of the subject matter, whether the focus be a mystic smile, light and color, or multiple viewpoints or dimensions. Artists share their interpretations and perspectives whether through a soulful song, the notes and beats of a piece of music, the cadence of a poem, the graceful moves of a ballerina, the chiseling of stone, or what ends up on a piece of canvas.
This is a blank canvas. If you were to have been handed this canvas at our first session in September at Big Sky and your subject was “Montana – the last best place,” what would you have painted? What colors would you have primarily used? What would your brush strokes have been? How thick would you applied the paint? How many times might you have painted over your original image? What would your canvas have revealed about your perspectives and interpretations?
After having been a part of Leadership Montana, if you were handed another canvas today, would your painting be different? Would the brush strokes be the same? Would your choice of colors be the same? Would a different sized canvas be required? How many times would you have found yourself starting over? In short, would your interpretations and the perspectives of the subject “Montana – the last best place” be the same? It would not be for me, which is why I am thankful to have been part of Be17 and I am indebted to Leadership Montana’s sponsors, board members, founders, alumni, executive staff, my employer, and my family.
As we bring our Leadership Montana program year to a close, my “April” canvas would be different than my “September” canvas because through Leadership Montana I have heard your voices, felt your beat and cadence, seen your graceful moves, seen your colors and brush strokes, heard your soulfulness, and heard the deliberate taps of your chisel, which all have shaped and molded my perspectives and interpretations. As a result, my understanding of “Montana – the last best place” is bigger and deeper. It is bigger and deeper because of your participation and because of Leadership Montana.
Much like artists interpret subject matter differently through their artistic skills, none of our canvases would have been the same in September nor would they be the same today, which suggests that each of us has a piece of the truth, but not all of it. Leadership Montana has provided not only gracious space and exposure to parts and dimensions of our great state, but more importantly, Leadership Montana provided the opportunity to meet you, to develop a relationship with you, to develop trust amongst us, to understand you, so your side of the truth refines mine to reveal a much larger and accurate piece of the truth, which drives understanding, insight, direction, planning, and execution, giving life to Leadership Montana’s motto of “listen, learn, and lead” on behalf of the State of Montana and the people that call it the “last, best place,” but much more compelling call it “home.”
In June of 1990, William Kittredge’s “The Last Best Place: A Montana Anthology” was published. Subsequently, the phrase “the last, best place” was used to promote tourism in the State of Montana. However, I think it would useful to remind ourselves that being the “best” is relative and comes at a distinct, fleeting point in time and that the real challenge for all of us as well as the State of Montana is to become better and to continue to evolve in such direction so that the wellbeing of those that call Montana home is enhanced. That’s why your participation in Leadership Montana is important. That’s why Leadership Montana is important. That’s why our continued connectivity is critical. That’s why our leadership from this point forward is required. The “better” is always the demanding next step in a continuous journey – a trek made manageable and facilitated by Leadership Montana.
Although the circumstances were clearly different than what we face, 5 years ago aboard the U.S.S. Missouri, I heard a Medal of Honor recipient remark that at some point in each of our lives, we will be called upon to make the possible happen in an impossible situation. I am confident that you, Leadership Montana, and its sponsors and supporters will bring the possible within our grasp, creating yet a new canvas, a new song, a new dance, a new statue, continually re-establishing Montana as the last, best place. The challenge for the Leadership Montana family is to foster hope in the face of the unresolvable and irreconcilable. That’s the basis for followership which creates leadership.
Thank you for helping me become a part of the Leadership Montana family, which is a tremendous responsibility. And, from all of us in Be17, we thank you. Let’s all work together to make Montana, truly, the Last Best Place.