Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

Loss & Legacy (Symposium): How Do We Think About Our Ancestors?

October 19, 2023 @ 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm MDT

Event Series Event Series (See All)

In this symposium featuring Bill Milton, Ellen Baumler & Daniel Gardiner, and facilitated by David Nowakowski, we’ll consider different kinds of ancestry and lineage, extending beyond just family ties, to include our teachers and predecessors in the arts we practice, in our professional lives, and in our nation or other groups and organizations of which we’re a part.  We’ll ask the overarching question “How do we think about our ancestors?” in the context of legacy and the conversational space we participate in between the past and present.  In the process, we’ll consider what kinds of duties we might have to those in our past and how, especially with more “complex” predecessors, we might be able to acknowledge (and even honor) certain ancestors without endorsing all of their beliefs and actions, and without exalting them as moral exemplars. 

FREE & open to all, our symposium will be held at the Helena Avenue Theater from 6pm-9pm on Thursday, October 19th.  SPACE IS LIMITED.  Learn more about our guest scholars and RSVP below!

Guest Speakers

Read about Bill Milton

Bill Milton‘s family has been ranching in Montana since 1956. He and his wife Dana have owned and operated their current family ranch in Musselshell County since 1978.  During the last 50+ years, he’s worked with local organizations and efforts committed to taking care of land and community. In 2019 he and his wife Dana became the first Montana recipients of the Aldo Leopold Award

Most recently, Bill participates as a rancher member, and sometimes facilitator, with several working groups in Central Montana, covering nine counties, including the Musselshell Watershed Coalition, the Winnett ACES, the CMR Community Working Group, and the Musselshell Valley Community Foundation. He has assisted several ranch families with succession planning facilitation and has a particular interest in figuring out how ranchers and local communities monitor the health of their working landscapes and communities.  Since February of 2016, he’s been facilitating a diverse group of partners, called the Rangeland Monitoring Group (RMG), dedicated to finding an effective means to achieve this objective. Relatedly, he’s on the Planning Committee for the Central Grasslands Roadmap and the Life in the Land Project.

Certainly not unrelated, has practice as a Soto Zen Priest, has helped inform and support his appreciation for our shared interdependence and the need to imagine solutions respectful of everyone’s unmet needs.

Read about Ellen Baumler

Ellen Baumler is a well-known interpretive historian and storyteller and beloved member of the helena community.  With over 25 years as a historian for the Montana Historical Society. she became the first person to oversee the society’s the National Register sign program (which started in 1991).  The project involved detailed research into community history, thoughtful negotiation and logistics with property owners, and the skill of being able to tell a succinct and meaningful story. 

An award-winning author, she has written over 22 books on Goodreads, the most recent of which is titled “The Life of the Afterlife in the Big Sky State: A History of Montana’s Cemeteries.”  She was also the host of the show “History in the Go” on Cherry Creek Radio and is a member of the Humanities Montana Speaker’s Bureau.

In 2011 she received the Montana Governor’s Humanities Award and in 2017 the Peter Yegen Jr., Award from the Montana Association of Museums for excellence and distinction in fostering the advancement of Montana’s museums.  Most recently, in the Summer of 2023, she was presented with the Montana Heritage Keeper Award by the Montana Historical Society in recognition of her exemplary commitment, effort, and impact in identifying, preserving, and presenting Montana’s historical and cultural heritage.

Since her retirement in 2018, she continues to educate the public through her ability to share stories of Montana’s past and serves as an expert resource for journalists and others seeking reliable information on Montana’s past.

Read about Daniel Gardener

Daniel Gardener serves as a Grand Lodge Officer for the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free & Accepted Masons of Montana and oversees the Montana Masonic Museum and Library.  He was inducted as a Mason in 2001, inspired by the Masonic funeral service for his cousin, Ira Gardiner, and carries in the legacy work of the Masonic Lodge in unique and inspiring ways in the Helena community and beyond.  An avid fan(atic) of the rock band Queen, Daniel also enjoys hiking in the foothills and mountains of Boise and Helena. 


Symposium Details

How Do We Think About Our Ancestors?

Date: Thursday, October 19th
Time: 6pm-9pm (Lobby doors open at 5:30pm)
Location: Helena Avenue Theater


David Nowakowski is as a philosopher and educator in the Helena area whose professional work is dedicated to helping people of all ages and backgrounds access, understand, and apply the traditions of ancient philosophy to their own lives.  David began studying ancient philosophies and classical languages in 2001, and has continued ever since. A scholar of the philosophical traditions of the ancient Mediterranean (Greece, Rome, and North Africa) and of the Indian subcontinent, reading Sanskrit, Latin, and classical Greek, he earned his Ph.D. in philosophy from Princeton University in 2014.


His work has appeared in a variety of scholarly journals, including Philosophy East & WestAsian Philosophy, and the Journal of Indian Philosophy, as well as in presentations to academic audiences at Harvard, Columbia University, the University of Toronto, Yale-NUS College in Singapore, and elsewhere. 

After half a decade teaching at liberal arts colleges in the northeast, David chose to leave the academy in order to focus his energies on the transformative value of these ancient philosophical and spiritual traditions in his own life and practice, and on building new systems of education and community learning that will make this rich heritage alive and available to others.

Sponsors & Partners

Thank you to our symposia series community sponsors BWP Helena Great Northern Hotel and  Helena Civic Television, to our community partners Helena Avenue Theater, to our grantors the Helena Area Community Foundation, the Philosophy Learning & Teaching Organization and Humanities Montana, and to our donors and the Helena community.

Make a Donation Here

Our philosophy symposia are FREE.  That said, if you have the income to do so, we could use your financial support.  Donations help to cover symposia honoraria, implementation, resource archiving, and more!  You can make a donation by clicking here or on the button above. We greatly appreciate your generosity and kindness & for helping us keep programs like these going!


October 19, 2023
6:00 pm - 9:00 pm MDT
Event Category:
Event Tags:
, , , ,


Helena Avenue Theater
1319 Helena Avenue
Helena, MT 59602 United States
+ Google Map
View Venue Website


Marisa Diaz-Waian
Powered by Tempera & WordPress.