Expo and Annual Meeting

2017 Expo & Annual Meeting:

Ready, Set, Lead

Registration is live, here! 

Early Bird Rates through September 15!


We have block lodging rates at the Miner’s Hotel ($129-189 block expires Sept 15), the Finlan Inn and Motor Lodge ($86-108 block expires October 6), and the Motel Six ($59-64 block expires September 30): please call or email to book, and mention the AERO Expo for special rates!

Additionally, the Copper King B&B will offer a SECOND NIGHT FREE for Expo attendees, on a first come first served basis. (One night rates from $105 – 150.) Book online and add “AERO/second night free” in comments. Booking collects credit card info and will price both nights, but card not charged until you arrive, when second night will be waived. Thanks, Copper King!

Tour descriptions and extended agenda coming soon!

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.

Step In To Your Leadership Now

Ways You Can Contribute

Don’t wait until the Expo & Annual Meeting to join AERO in demonstrating your commitment to lead. Step into your leadership now by helping us make this year’s gathering our most celebrated one yet. Together we can make it great!


Active sponsors help defray event costs so we can keep registration fees to a minimum and make our Annual Meeting/Expo available to more Montanans. Check out the excellent sponsorship packages available. NEW THIS YEAR: Our Keynote Speaker Sponsorships (Top Level) offer AERO’s signature work parties!  Contact: Corrie Williamson, Outreach Director, [email protected], 406.443.7272.


The Expo & Annual Meeting Auctions are a key component of AERO’s  annual fundraising, and the LIVE AUCTION in particular is an opportunity for great fun at the event.  Help us make this year’s auctions a stellar success by contributing a dazzling, impossible to resist item or service. Contact: Corrie Williamson, Outreach Director, [email protected], 406.443.7272.


While we have a strong host team, we always need community assistance for a smooth and grace-filled event. Here are a number of categories where we have a need and where your energy and expertise may be a fit.

  • Auction Team
  • Event Volunteer Team
  • Promotion Team
  • Sponsors Team
  • Kids Day Team
  • Education/Workshop Team
  • Friday Tours Team
  • Local Food/Expo Meals Team
  • Butte Team

More to come… stay tuned!

– Robin Kelson, Board Member