Montana Food Economy Initiative - Summer 2020

July 23, 2020

We have an opportunity to reimagine a better, more inclusive ‘we;’ to reform and rebuild our food systems. The Montana Food Economy Initiative invites our advisory team and communities–you!– to build bridges across our food system, put farmers and food providers first, and engage consumers in building more resilient food systems right where they are.

We begin by recognizing that my success is dependent on your success. Think about: How do you benefit from the collective Montana? And how does the collective Montana benefit you? That is the sense of mutual benefit in community that is essential to this work. Acknowledging that we’re all in this together, we can build food systems that are truly better for all people and the land.

Sustainability is rooted in our shared humanity. Aeronauts and our supporters care about mitigating climate change, strengthening local food economies, and expanding renewable resources because we want to improve the quality of life for folks now and make a livable future. Inhabiting a space of connection– acknowledging that our success is linked to the success of one another, and in the deepest sense, continuation of human and other life on earth– is where we begin our journey.



False narratives, upheld by dominant food systems, perpetuate a system that favors white producers, celebrates agricultural efficiency in the face of hunger, and upholds the middlemen, while farmers and ranchers and eaters alike have little power. By holding ourselves and one another to shared values that run counter to the dominant system, we have the opportunity to usher in the vision: The Future of Sustainability is Community.


MFEI brings folks across the food system together, to practice empathy, and work towards solutions collaboratively. AERO founders knew in 1974 that together we have the power to break into new solutions that the corporate food and energy regimes do not present to us.

As Dr. Salvador reminded us at AERO Expo 2019, our food system is built on a foundation of stolen land, slavery and exclusion of BIPOC, women, and LGBTQ communities from accessing the means to build wealth: land, labor, capital. Racism is inherent in our food system. And by acknowledging our history, and the myths that persist, we begin to see a new path forward.

With a sense of co-ownership, all participants in the MFEI are invited to live out shared values to begin a new path forward. Focus on these values, and our outcomes will emerge.

Dr. Salvador, Food and Agriculture Director at the Union of Concerned Scientists presenting the Expo 2019 keynote,‘ The Vision is Easy: Are ‘we’ willing?


We asked our MFEI team, and we ask you: Help us. Hold us to these values. By centering these values seriously, we work towards the world we want.
What’s more AERO than that?


Summer 2020: Pilot Projects and Advisory Team development

Fall 2020: MFEI network meeting coincides with Expo 2020. At the meeting, launch ‘Round 1’ Projects for community teams opt in.

Winter 2020: Advise Round 1 teams. Award $1000 mini-grants to five teams.

April 2021: Second MFEI network meeting. Project teams report out. After meeting, the Advisory Team reevaluates project tools, and adapts projects to meet community teams’ needs. 

May/June 2021: Launch ‘Round 2’ Projects. Advise community teams. Award $1000 mini-grants.

Summer 2021: Resource Library created & populated for anyone to learn from the projects.

AERO Expo 2021: Third MFEI network meeting. ‘Round 2’ Projects report out.

Want to get involved? Watch for project offerings at virtual AERO Expo 2020.

Alternative Energy Resources Organization

Mailing address: PO Box 1558, Helena MT 59624-1558

Physical address: 32 S Ewing St #314, Helena MT 59601