Expo and Annual Meeting

Click here for Registration!


Important Details for Attendees:

Info for Expo Attendees: Announcements, Things to Bring, Kids Activity Info, Tour Logistics

We can’t wait to see you next week! Please read on for some important announcements, tour location details, and other logistics. As always, give us a shout over email or in the office with any questions. You can also preview the full attendee packet with locations, session descriptions, and speaker bios, here.

Registration is in the lobby of the Finlen Hotel, and begins at 8am on Friday, running through Saturday morning.

Please help us out with planning future AERO Expos and Events:
Click here to evaluate and share your thoughts about the 2017 Expo!  (also available hard copy at registration desk)


Additional Friday Speaker!  Special Session: The Role of Fungi in Land and Water Reclamation. 2:15PM – 3:30PM, Copper Bowl Ballroom, Finlen Hotel. Join Larry Evans, celebrated Missoula fungal expert and morel hunter, in a virtual tour of the soil fungal world, and discover how mushrooms trap heavy metals, purify water, eat nematodes, remediate contaminated soils, and keep forests from burning.

Bio: Larry Evans has been studying the natural world and soil mushrooms since he was ten years old. A graduate of UMT, Missoula, he speaks and writes extensively on the subject, and estimates he has taught mushroom seminars to over 45 different nonprofit and nature-oriented groups. He has traveled the world in search of mushrooms and medicinal plants, focusing on the role mushrooms play in nutrition, ecological restoration, detoxifying brownfields, purifying drinking water, and restoring forest health.


  1. Closed water bottle. – We’ll provide excellent drinking water. Help us keep costs and recycling/trash down by bringing your own container.
  2. Coffee/tea mug/container – Coffee/tea generously sponsored by Cafe Mam and friends. Help us keep costs and recycling/trash down by bringing your own mug/thermos.
  3. Your potluck item if you’re joining us for Friday’s dinner!
  4. LIBATIONS: Sponsors are generously donating beer, kombucha and hard cider for our drinking pleasure; and Headframe Spirits will be offering specialty drinks Saturday night. If you prefer wine with your dinner Friday or Saturday, please bring one or more UNOPENED bottles of wine to donate to the event (drop them off at registration), and we will provide them for serving at the dinners.
  5. October in Butte can be a four season event. Please bring clothing that anticipates sunshine, rain and snow.
  6. Notebook and pen.
  7. Lightweight backpack or tote bag for carrying handouts, water bottle and notebook.
  8. Your Checkbook / Credit Card / Cash: As AERO’s main fundraising event of the year, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to offer your financial support for our work, while getting to bid on some great auction items, enjoy a cake, or snag a hoodie made by 5518 designs in Butte!


  2. Please leave pets at home.
  3. MT TECH GEOTHERMAL ENERGY TOUR  (11AM – 12PM) – This tour starts at 11AM at the Orphan Boy mine shaft entrance. Recommended: Catch a ride to this and all the uptown Butte tours on the Butte Trolley, which leaves from the Finlen Hotel (100 E Broadway St, Butte)  @ 10:30 AM.

Getting to the mine yard on your own: Travel west on Park St, through MT Tech.  It becomes Blue Bird Trail (unmarked). Take first left following the chain link fence and turn into mine yard shaft entrance. Tour will end here as well.

  1. ORIGINAL MINEYARD/ARCHIVES TOUR (12:15PM – 1:30PM) – This tour starts at 12:15 PM at the Original Mineyard.  Recommended: Catch a ride to this and all the uptown Butte tours on the Butte Trolley, which will be coming to the site from the MT Tech Geothermal energy tour.

Getting to the mine yard on your own:  The Original mineyard is located at 665 N. Main St.  The Butte-Silver Bow Archives building is around the corner at 17 W Quartz St., Butte.

  1. BERKELEY PIT TOUR (2:30PM – 4 PM) – This tour starts at 2:30 PM at the BUTTE-SILVER BOW CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, 1000 George Street, Butte. Carpools and trolley leave from the Finlen Hotel (100 E Broadway St, Butte) @ 2PM.
  2. SIFT FARM TOUR (12:00PM – 1:15PM) – The SIFT Farm is located at NCAT’s Butte headquarters: 3040 Continental Dr, Butte, just 3 miles from the Finlen Hotel.  The building at this location is the original Silver Bow County Poor Farm Hospital built in 1902, now repurposed to house NCAT and other businesses. The building includes design by architect Charles S. Haire and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1981. For those coming to the Farm from the Sage Mtn Center (see below) carpooling and/or following a lead car are available options.
  3. SAGE MTN CENTER TOUR (10AM – 11:15 AM)

NOTE: This tour is FULL. If you have not already signed up for a spot through EventBrite or your hard copy registration, please do not show up on site. We are happy to accommodate you at ANY of the other tours, but Sage Mountain is space constrained. Thank you for your understanding!

If you prefer to carpool and/or follow a lead car to the Center, meet at the Butte Three Bears store parking lot at 9:20AM.  Lead car will be leaving promptly at 9:30 AM from the parking lot. Address/Directions: 45 Three Bears Drive, Butte. From I-90 E/W: take exit 228.  Follow MT Highland Drive to store. A second lead car will depart from the Finlen at 9:45.

Getting to the Center on your own. PLS NOTE: Online maps and GPS can be inaccurate as you get closer. Cell phone service is spotty in the mountains. Please print out the instructions below and bring them with you.

    1. From Butte, and points East/North/South of Butte: The closest large city to Sage Mountain Center is Butte, Montana. From I-90 in Butte take the South Harrison Ave. Exit and continue south out of town, about 3 miles. Turn left on Hwy 2 towards Whitehall. Drive about 13 miles (between mile marker 70 and 71). Turn left at all the mail boxes on Toll Mountain Road (sometimes the Toll Mountain Road sign in missing so look for the mailboxes).Toll Mountain Road is a dirt road and ties in to Rader Creek Road, so don’t let the brown Forest Service sign confuse you.

Drive 1.5 miles towards Toll Mountain Campground. Look for the Sage Mountain Trail sign on the right. Do not turn on Rader Creek Road. Go straight at the Sage Mountain Trail sign on the little dirt road (SMC is 1.5 miles from the sign). Enter private land over the cattle guard and continue up the hill past a couple of dwellings. Take the right fork on Forest Timbers and head down hill. You will go past a big gray house on the right. Take the first left and drive all the way up the draw and towards the end of the road. You will see our fence, garden, sign, and driveway up on the left.

    1. From Bozeman, and points West of Butte: Head west on I-90 towards Butte. Before the pass, exit the interstate at Whitehall, go under the overpass and drive through town to the “T” in the road. Turn right at the fire station and continue out of town on Hwy 2 towards Butte. Drive about 13 miles into the mountains (between mile marker 70 and 71) and turn right on Toll Mountain Road at all the mail boxes . Sometimes the Toll Mountain Road sign in missing so look for the mailboxes. This road ties into Rader Creek Road, so don’t let the brown Forest Service sign confuse you.

Drive 1.5 miles towards Toll Mountain Campground. Look for the Sage Mountain Trail sign on the right. Do not turn on Rader Creek Road. Go straight at the Sage Mountain Trail sign on the little dirt road (SMC is 1.5 miles from the sign). Enter private land over the cattle guard and continue up the hill past a couple of dwellings. Take the right fork on Forest Timbers and head down hill. You will go past a big gray house on the right. Take the first left and drive all the way up the draw and towards the end of the road. You will see our fence, garden, sign, and driveway up on the left.

CAMPING. AERO has reserved Foreman’s Park at the Mountain Con for camping. The park is located 1.2 miles up the hill from the Finlen Hotel (travel north on N. Main St., turn right on Little Minah St.) However, bathroom facilities will be shut down for the winter, and only a port-a-potty remains. Tent camping is not recommended, as the ground may be wet, frozen or snow-covered, and winds can be variable. Trailers and campers are welcome to park in the parking lot.
Foreman’s Park, built on the remediated ground of the historic Mountain Con mine yard, features sweeping views of Butte’s Summit Valley, the East Ridge, the Highlands Range, and the surrounding Anaconda-Pintler, Pioneer, and Flint Ranges. It also extends by two miles the paved Copperway and Butte, Anaconda & Pacific trails that snake through Uptown Butte and the West Side from Montana Tech, connecting via Foreman Park to the Granite Mountain Memorial further north. The Mountain Con is an easily identifiable landmark – it is the mine headframe that bears the slogan ‘Mile High, Mile Deep’ at its base, referring to Butte’s elevation above sea level and the depth of the Mountain Con mine itself.


FoodCorp Service Members have a day of hands-on activities planned for kids AGES 6 AND UP.

  • Kids ages 6+ are welcome to participate in hands-on activities at the Science Mine and IBRC (Imagine Butte Resource Center). Option to attend MORNING session (9:00 – 11:45 AM) at Science Mine, AFTERNOON session (12:45 PM – 4:30 PM) at the IBRC, or both!
  • Dress for the weather. We’ll be walking outside, so kids should be prepared with appropriate footwear and coats. October in Butte can be a four-season event.
  • Pack snacks pls.
  • Your child will return to you for lunch and dinner.

Here’s the plan:


Sat 8:45AM – check your child in with our Activity Staff at the AERO Registration Table location in the Finlen Hotel lobby.

8:50AM-11:30AM – Activity Group walks to Science Mine (36 E Granite Street) for hands-on science exhibits designed for kids

11:30AM-11:45AM – Transition to Masonic Temple for Expo lunch

11:45AM –  PARENTS pick up kids for lunch at Galena St entrance to Masonic Temple


12:45 PM – check your child in with our Activity Staff at Masonic Temple Galena St entrance.

12:45PM – 4:15PM – Activity Group walks to IBRC (68 W Park Street) for afternoon of art activities: solar printing, making clay pots, etc.

4:15PM-4:30PM – Transition to Finlen Hotel lobby.

4:30 PM – PARENTS pick up kids at AERO Registration Table location in Finlen lobby.



2017 Expo & Annual Meeting: Ready, Set, Lead

Click here to register! 

(Volunteer Tickets are now live, and sponsorships are available for students in environmental fields, VISTA/Americorps Members, Farm Interns or Employees, and Members of Montana’s Native American Community. Email Corrie at [email protected] for details!) 

Check out the Full Agenda, here! 


Finlen Hotel: Historic Hotel in the heart of uptown Butte. Ground zero for AERO’s 2017 Annual Meeting/Expo. Treat yourself to a luxury room in the hotel, or economize with a room choice in the attached Motor Lodge. AERO discount rate: $64-96/nt plus tax.  Call or email to book; mention AERO for discount. Tel. (406) 723-1186. Email: [email protected]

Motel 6: One half block north of the Finlen Hotel and the Thornton Ballroom, where the Saturday Expo sessions take place.  AERO discount rate: $49/nt plus tax. Call or email to book; mention AERO for discount.   tel: 406-723-4391 or 432-294-3628. email: [email protected]

The Miner’s Hotel: Boutique hotel with lots of history and lore in the restored Miner’s Savings and Trust Co. building. Selection of uniquely appointed singles, doubles and room suites with great attention to detail. Lovingly designed and decorated by the Ackerman family, who live on site and provide building tours when time allows. 2 blocks east of the Finlen Hotel and Thornton Ballroom, sites of the Saturday Expo sessions.  AERO discount rate: $99-$159/nt plus tax. Call or email to book; mention AERO for discount.Tel. 406-723-8928.  Email: [email protected]theminershotel.com

Copper King Mansion: Bed and Breakfast in restored William Clark family mansion. Five blocks (10 min walk) from Finlen Hotel and Thornton Ballroom, sites of the Saturday Expo sessions. AERO discount rate: second night free. Room rates: $105-$150 plus tax. Book online. add “AERO/second night free” in comments when book on line. Booking collects cc info (will price both nights) but card not charged til you arrive. Questions? Email Maria: [email protected]

Tours: Friday, October 20

TOUR 1: Sustainable Off-grid Food Systems in Rural and Urban Environment

Part 110AM-11:15 AM (1.25 hrs). Sage Mountain Center. An off-grid living and retreat center dedicated to promoting personal and environmental awareness. Lovingly built and curated by owners Christopher Borton and Linda Welsh over the course of 28 years, they’ve gotten the bulk of their instruction from the land around them. Elements of the tour include: Straw bale  and Cordwood construction, solar and wind battery storage, composting toilets,rainwater harvesting, year-round Permaculture food sourcing, and more! Located 25 minutes east of Butte off Hwy 2. Detailed directions at: http://sagemountain.org/contactFollow lead car (and/or directions and map provided) to NCAT headquarters in Butte, MT for: 

Part 2. 12PM-1:15PM (1.25 hrs)  SIFT Farm. Demonstration produce and livestock farm on five acres, teaching sustainable practices for local healthy food production to increase food security in rural and urban communities. Hoop houses, greenhouses, composting, solar power collection, livestock, kid garden, soil management, food bank garden, native plants. “SIFT” stands for “Small-scale Intensive Farm Training” program.  Bring a bag lunch with you on the tour.  There will be time to sit and eat while John Wallace, SIFT Farm Manager shares his program’s vision and progress. Located at NCAT (National Center for Appropriate Technology) headquarters in Butte, MT.  https://sift.ncat.org

TOUR 2. Butte Mines – Adaptive Repurposing

Part 111AM**-12PM (1 hr)

(**catch a ride to all the sites on the Butte Trolley and leave your car behind! Pick up @ Finlen Hotel, 10:30AM)

Repurposing Natural Resources – Mining Butte’s Geothermal Energy. MT Tech’s new Natural Resources Building is a demonstration system for capturing geothermal energy from the mine waters below Butte, MT. Learn how and why heat is captured from the Orphan Boy mine shaft, located just west of the building. You’ll be guided through the building and the technology by Professor Peter Knudsen, Dean of the School of Mines and Engineering, and the project’s visionary.

Part 212:15PM-1:30PM (1.25 hrs)

Repurposing Structures –  Revisioning a Mineyard and a Fire House. You start with a vision of preserving the history and heritage of a site. Then you work through the details of finding a suitable new use, repurposing an industrial zone, preserving original structures for today and the future, maximizing sustainability, financing, and making design choices that honor the past and the future. Walk through the conversion of the Original Mineyard into a world class music venue and transforming the Butte Fire House into the Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives showcase together with veteran guides Tom Malloy (Butte-Silver Bow Reclamation Specialist), Mary McCormick (Butte-Silver Bow History Preservation Officer), Karen Byrnes (Director of Community Development/Urban Revitalization Agency) and Aubrey Jaap (Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives). Bring a bag lunch with you on the tour. There will be time to eat in the mineyard and enjoy the view!

TOUR 3. Living with the Berkeley Pit.

Former open pit copper mine, one mile long, half a mile wide, approximately 1,780 ft deep. Designated superfund site in 1983.

2:30PM ** – 4PM (1.5 hrs)

(**catch a ride to the site on the Butte Trolley and leave your car behind! Pick up @ Finlen Hotel, 2PM)

The How?, the What?, the Why? and the all-important What Now?  Get answers to these questions and more from two of Berkeley Pit’s resident experts. Joe Griffin, Butte hydrogeologist and retired State Project Officer for the MT DEQ, spent 25 years working on this superfund site. John McKee, co-owner of Headframe Spirits, and long-time Butte community advocate, has studied the Pit as a member of the Butte Restoration Alliance, a citizens’ advisory group formed by Butte-Silver Bow County to provide input and prioritization for the restoration and redevelopment of Butte. Together they will give you an inside view of what it means to live and grow as a community with a superfund site in your backyard. You’ll get access to areas of the Pit not generally open to the public, as well as perspectives not often shared.


A Word From Our Board

Now, perhaps more than ever, strong community leaders are central to Montanans’ resiliency and sustainability.  With that need in mind, we’ve claimed our intention to specifically focus on supporting the expansion and networking of community leadership around the state with our 2017 Expo & Annual Meeting  theme: Ready, Set, Lead.

One of AERO’s many gifts is its membership of individuals who hold a vision for resiliency and sustainability in their own lives, particularly through clean energy, healthy food, and sustainable agriculture practices that protect, sustain, and restore our natural resources.  That makes each of us leaders. We support each other in our communities to bring our personal visions to fruition, and that makes our communities leaders.  We reach out to each other across our state through our community efforts, and that makes our state a leader. That network, that crucial relationship between our individual visions and our community and state visions, is what we’ll be celebrating and elevating at this year’s meeting.

Butte: Consulting the Genius of the Place

The Power in Adaptive Repurposing

Here’s a demonstration of what we’re talking about: we reached out to Butte to see if that community was interested in hosting our 2017 meeting. Immediately, a group of a dozen people came together to say “YES!” and figure out logistics.  As our Butte Leadership Team talked about Butte’s attributes, what came through clearly was the power in adaptive repurposing for enhancing sustainability and resiliency.

How embracing and celebrating our history, finding the positive attributes in it and building on that even as we may pivot 180 degrees in our  focus, can inform how to move forward.  That’s actually what ecosystems do in nature.  It’s called “consulting the genius of the place,” to quote the title of an excellent  Wes Jackson book on land management.  (Wes got the phrase from an Alexander Pope poem)*. It’s what Butte’s done and it’s having tremendous positive effects, both for the city and the community that lives there. We think that makes Butte the perfect host for our 2017 event.

Playing in Uptown Butte

We’ve designed the 2017 Expo & Annual Meeting to experience the heart of Uptown Butte. If you’ve not yet had the opportunity to discover Butte on your own, you are in for a treat. Our meals, breakout sessions, meeting spaces and auction/dance night will take place among a series of original buildings within walking distance of each other, all built at the height of Butte’s successes and riches when the town supported a population of more than 90,000. You’ll see first-hand how the buildings have been repurposed and how renewable energy has been thoughtfully applied in an urban environment.  Butte-based MT Food Corps Service Members are helping us design a kids “Consulting the Genius of the Place” Activity Day for Saturday so kids also can have a memorable, fun, learning experience.  There are reasonably priced hotels both uptown and just down the hill, and camping sites are reserved for the more temperature-hardy AERO members.  We’ll be rolling out our full agenda, including list of tours, workshops and housing options shortly. Stay tuned!

Community Leader Keynote Speakers

Gabe Brown:
“It’s all about having a plan with options, so you can roll with the punches,” says Gabe. “Now we have a drought management plan in place. When you practice Holistic Management, decisions are so much easier. You just have to ask yourself if that decision will help you achieve your long term goal. Holistic Management will work anywhere in the world.”

GABE BROWN – Holistic Land Management

Gabe is all about consulting the genius of the place. His “Holistic Management” approach, which he started implementing in 1993, is “farming and ranching in nature’s image.” It merges back-to-basics agrarian practices with innovative, science-based sustainable farming techniques on his 5,400-acre diversified family ranch in North Dakota. Beyond converting all cropland to no-till, he constantly seeds with a cocktail of dozens of cover crops. Patti Armbrister, AERO Board Member and Agrarian Food Web Consultant, says of Gabe: “He is one of the most innovative farmers in the Northern Plains. His practices have inspired a new generation of sustainable farmers to expand their operations while rebuilding their soil, integrating animals into dryland cropping, and expanding markets. One of the original ‘Soil Carbon Cowboys,’ Gabe is in demand around the country as a speaker and workshop leader and we are lucky to have him.”

JOHN FARRELL – Democratizing the Electricity System

John Farrell

Successful use of wind and solar energy also requires consulting the genius of the place. John Farrell excels in this area as Director of Democratic Energy at the Minnesota-based Institute for Local Self-Reliance, where he directs the Energy Self-Reliant States and Communities program. Best known for his vivid illustrations of the economic and environmental benefits of local ownership of decentralized renewable energy, he’s often referred to as the guru of distributed energy.  He authored the landmark report “Energy Self-Reliant States,” which serves as the definitive energy atlas for the United States, detailing the state-by-state renewable electricity generation potential.  AERO Energy Task Force Co-Chair Jim Baerg says: “John Farrell is THE leading voice advocating for distributed Renewable Energy in the US.  His writings document the many community energy projects popping up around the country while keeping track of the ways that entrenched utilities and fossil fuel interests oppose the transition to renewable energy. John is especially good at identifying roadblocks to change and spotting the tipping points that enable progress. John is regarded very highly within the RE community.” His latest work outlines how to blast the roadblocks to distributed renewable energy generation, and how small-scale renewable energy projects are the key to the biggest strides in renewable energy development.