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Imagine Red Lodge: A collaboration between town and students begins

By: 
Eleanor Guerrero
CCN Senior Reporter

Recently, some Red Lodge High School students and town locals got together to brainstorm about what they would envision for the future of Red Lodge. It was a heady experience for many of the kids, who felt honored and surprised that their input was valued. Here is their reaction to the event.
Three students, Anastahsa Rubie, Saige Okken and Katie Jacobsen gave their response to various aspects of the event.
It appeared the students had their expectations exceeded. Anastahsa Rubie said, “Before imagine Red Lodge, I knew I was interested in youth having a voice in our community. I was so pleased and surprised by the outcome of the event! People I never thought would be there were, it opened my eyes a lot! Seeing that people care was reassuring that this is not out of reach for our small tight knit community.”
“I went into the Imagine Red Lodge Forum with an open mind,” said Saige Okken. “I didn’t know what to expect when I got there. I do have to say the warm personalities and open minds exceeded anything I could have imagined.
Katie Jacobsen said, “I've always had expectations for our community and for my peers in my high school. I think that there are many wonderful opportunities within Imagine Red Lodge Youth Forum and I am really excited about what could happen with the community and the youth.”
They were asked how it felt to have adults ask for help. All of them felt valued and in turn, became more eager to contribute.
Rubie responded, “Coming into the event, I felt appreciated and important. It is very true, that youth are the future. Seeing these adults asking for help from youth gives me hope and fills me with excitement for what is to come.
Okken agreed, “To have adults asking for help and wanting our opinions felt empowering.”
Jacobsen said, “I think that even just the idea of the adults in our community caring about our ideas and dreams is huge. I am excited to think of who else in the community would be happy to help us make our dreams become realities!”
In asking for help, it was implicit that the students could offer assistance. They were asked what they thought they had to contribute.
Rubie said, “Yes, I really do think we could improve things. Communication between so many parts of Red Lodge is not as good as it should be. The high school kids in red lodge are so involved that communication could be so much easier with our help.”
“I think anything’s possible with hard work and the right people and I think the right people are definitely involved to make anything happen,” explained Okken. It was about possibilities.
Jacobsen was more specific. “If I didn't think that I could improve things then I wouldn't be involved with Imagine Red Lodge Youth Forum... But, yes I do feel that as a community we can work together to improve communication and activities within our town.”
Were they surprised by the response of the community?
Rubie commented, “Yes. I think many people were surprised at how many people want this to really happen.”
Okken said that all night she heard adults saying “how cool it was to have so many people there, giving ideas and trying to make a difference.”
"Not really, I have always felt that my opinion matters and I have always felt supported by the adults around me," said Jacobsen.
What would you do if you could do anything to change the town without limit?
"I would definitely have murals all over the town!! Also, teens on the city council, and an abroad program for high school students," said Rubie.
"If there were no limits on what’s possible I would make everyone in town understand that being different is okay and should be celebrated. Right now there is a definite divide between those who embrace uniqueness and those who shy away from it," said Okken.
"I would build a recreational center. That would be epic," said Jacobsen.
What would you do if you were an adult?
"If I were an adult, i would keep setting up meetings, and do everything in my power to help these teens really make a difference in Red Lodge," said Rubie.
"I don’t know if there is anything I could do to remedy this completely even as an adult. I would hope as an adult more people would be willing to listen to me about what needs to be changed," said Okken.
"Pay taxes," said Jacobsen.
What stops you from implementing your best ideas? Responses
Rubie said, “What really stops me from implementing ideas in thinking that my ideas aren’t good enough, or thinking that they are unrealistic. I feel like adults are telling us what’s holding us back, and not what is good about the ideas.”
Okken reflected, “You can’t change people over night, but hopefully overtime more people will be willing to overlook what make us different and accept what connects us all.”
Jacobsen did not feel limited. She said, “I don't really think that anything is stopping me or anyone else. I think that our community is really open to ideas from all angles. I think that the only thing that is stopping projects and ideas is money.”
Do you think someone in particular could help you implement your idea better or more effectively?
“I think Anna Drew is an amazing person who really wants to help,” said Rubie. (She had participated in the event from the beginning). “She is energetic and also pretty young as well.
Okken said, “I think the adults and students I’m already paired with is a great group to hopefully make everything come true.”
Jacobsen had higher goals. “No... other than the whole town!”
What is the best case scenario you would see from his event?
Rubie replied, “The best case scenario would be the youth really taking over and taking control of ideas. But, in order for that to happen, adults need to believe in us and not hold us back.”
Okken had some ideas. “The best scenario would be more acceptance in our schools and a pride parade in June.”
Did this experience change you?
“This experience did change me. It really opened my eyes, I want to be so much more active and I want other kids to want this too,” concluded Rubie.
Okken said her experience definitely affected her. “Being able to see how passionate so many different people are about different topics was spectacular.”
Jacobsen was as determined as ever. “I feel like I am the same person with the same ambitions and ideas. Except now, a few more people know who that person is.”
What does youth have to offer that adults might not? While some young people might be deterred by such a question, these RLHS ladies did not hesitate.
“IDEAS!” declared Rubie. “Our ideas are fresh! Also, at this age, we feel invincible, so there is absolutely nothing that we would not do due to the feeling of failure. Also, our lives are just beginning and we know what we want to see in the future.”
Okken had clearly considered this issue before. “People my age know what the next generation of adults want and what challenges other youth face. I believe this allows us to offer solutions that adults might not think of.”
Jacobsen seemed to sum it all up. “We have ideas that appeal to a large part of the community... the youth. Although we are still exploring what we believe and want to do with our lives, we have a very wide range of opinions and we are open to many different ideas. I think that in not knowing exactly who we are, we bring to the table something that nobody else can. We bring fresh ambition.”
It is an energy that clearly is willing and available to be tapped by the Red Lodge community.

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Upcoming Events

  • Friday, May 24, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Rock Creek Group meets Tuesdays and Saturdays at 8 a.m. and Wednesdays and Fridays at 7 p.m. at Calvary Church, 9 N Villard, Red Lodge.
  • Monday, May 27, 2019 - 7:00am
    *American Legion Carbon County Post 17 Memorial Day schedule, May 27 7 a.m. Breakfast at Red Lodge Café 8:30 a.m. Memorial Service at Belfry Cemetery 9:30 a.m. Memorial Service at Bearcreek Cemetery 10:30 a.m. Parade through Red Lodge.  10:15 a.m. Meet at the corner of 14th and Broadway. Following parade there will be a lunch  at the Red Lodge Elk’s Lodge 11 a.m. Memorial Service at Red Lodge Cemetery 1:30 p.m. Parade in Roberts followed by Memorial Service at Roberts Cemetery. For further information contact Kenneth Beggs, Commander Carbon County Post 17 at kenbeggs42@yahoo.com   *The Clarks Fork American Legion Post 71 and the Joliet VFW Post 5748 will be doing Memorial Day services Monday, May 27. Rev. Robert Reed of the Joliet Baptist  Church will be the Speaker of the day.   The schedule for the day will be: 9 a.m. Services at the Gebo Cemetery. 9:30 a.m. March through Fromberg Main St. 10 a.m.   Services at Rockvale Cemetery 11 a.m. Services at Joliet Cemetery 11:30 a.m. March through Joliet Main St. A potluck lunch will be held at the  Joliet Community Center following the services.  Everyone is welcome to come. Any veterans who would like to help who haven’t been contacted can show up at the Gebo Cemetery at 8:45 a.m. Memorial Day or call Rich Pierce at 962-3320 or Jody Stene 962-3779.  
  • Monday, May 27, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Joliet Group meets at the Community Center Monday at 7 p.m.
  • Tuesday, May 28, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Now Group meets at the Bridger United Methodist Church, 222 W. Broadway (west entrance of church) Tuesday at 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, May 30, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Meets every Thursday, 7 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the Red Lodge Area Community Foundation, 122 S. Hauser. It is open to all. 425- 1755.
  • Thursday, May 30, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Clarks Fork Group meets at St. Joseph’s Catholic Hall, north end of Montana Avenue, Thursday at 7 p.m.

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