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Philosophy Symposia: Our Relationship with Nature (Gaia & Indigenous Perspectives)

September 24, 2022 @ 4:00 pm - 7:30 pm MDT

Our Fall symposia series is supported in part by grants from Humanities MontanaThe National Endowment for the Humanities, and The Philosophy Learning and Teaching Organization, as well as community sponsorships and partnerships with BWP Helena Great Northern HotelHelena Civic Television, Holter Museum of Art, and Ten Mile Creek Brewery.

The series will focus on our relationship with nature & will run from Friday, September 23rd – Sunday, September 25th.  Conversational & interactive in format, each symposium will cover different terrain in different places.

Featuring guest scholar Martin Ogle, MS (Educator, Wildlife Scientist & Chief Naturalist Emeritus for the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority) & Lailani Upham, MA (Educator, Journalist, Storyteller, Environmentalist, Amskapi Pikuni (Blackfeet Nation) tribal member, and a descendent from the Aaniiih, Nakoda, and Dakota tribes). 

Each scholar will offer perspectives on our relationship with nature as viewed by Gaia Theory & Indigenous worldviews.  Both will involve discussions and reflections about the inter-connectivity of earth (and its inhabitants), mythology, science, literature, and ethics. 

Program Details

The first in the set — “Gaia & Beer: Signs of a Living Planet” — will held at Ten Mile Creek Brewery and explore the connections between the brews we drink and Mother Earth.  This will be an informal, fun symposia to open up the weekend.

Read the “Gaia & Beer: Signs of a Living Planet” Program Description here!

Martin Ogle is a fun, yet informative, type of guy with degrees in wildlife biology from Colorado State University and Virginia Tech as well as a self-issued, yet highly coveted, Certificate of Home Beer Brewing and Planetary Ecology.   

Gaia Theory, sometimes known as Earth system science, is the scientific idea of Earth as a single living system.  Developed by British scientist, James Lovelock, and American microbiologist, Lynn Margulis, it has redefined our understanding of planet Earth.  

In 38 nerdy – yet hilarious – minutes, Ogle will link his 30 year interest in Gaia Theory with beer brewing, The Lord of the Flies, the Czech Republic and, of course, the survival of the human species!   

The second in the set — “Gaia Meets Indigenous Perspectives” — will be held in the new events space at the Holter Museum of Art and serve as a formal introduction to Gaia Theory and various Indigenous Perspectives on nature.  This will be an evening gathering that involves a combination of presentation and Q & A. 

  • 4-5pm: Mingling hour with live music by Spare Change and appetizers (by Dear Potato).  Beer & wine will also be available on site.
  • 5-7:30pm:  Presentation/Discussion/Q & A

The third in the set — “Implications & Applications” — will be held on Merlin Nature Preserve at our outdoor classroom and involve a combination of presentation, discussion, and exploratory wanderings.  Due to preserve logistics, this gathering will be limited to 25 people.

Gaia & Beer:  Signs of a Living Planet

Symposium Details

Date: Friday, September 23rd
Time: 4pm-5pm MT 
Location: Ten Mile Creek Brewery

Registration Info

Gaia Meets Indigenous Perspectives

Symposium Details

Date: Saturday, September 24th
Live Music by local artists Spare Change/Appetizers/Beer & Wine: 4pm-5pm 
PresentationsDiscussion: 5pm-7:30pm
Location: Holter Museum of Art

Registration Info

RSVP: Let us know you’re interested in attending here! 
Cost: Free 
Other:  Beer, wine & appetizers available on site

Implications & Applications

Symposium Details

Date: Sunday, September 25th
Time: 10am – 2pm MT (includes a lunch break)
Location: Merlin Nature Preserve (See Directions Below)

*NOTE: While we’ll be outdoors, space will be limited due to nature preserve logistics

Registration Info

RSVP: Register Here (required due to nature preserve logistics)!
Cost: Free (Suggested Donation $15)
Other:  Bring comfortable walking shoes, weather-appropriate attire, water & a sack lunch

Directions to Merlin Nature Preserve:  Our group will meeting in the Silver City Saloon parking lot located at 6042 Lincoln Road West.  From there we will commute to Merlin Nature Preserve (approx. 3.5 miles from the SCS parking lot).  To reach the Silver City Saloon parking lot from Helena, take either the 15, N. Montana Ave. or Green Meadow Drive to Lincoln Rd.  Turn left onto Lincoln Road & head west (toward Marysville/Canyon Creek).  Drive roughly 6.5 miles.  Silver City Saloon will be on your right hand side.  Click here for google maps directions.  Please plan on arriving approx. 15 minutes before hike/walk start time. For more information about the meandering, please contact Marisa at #406-439-5788 or e-mail [email protected]. 

About the Symposia Leaders

Amskapi Pikuni (Blackfeet Nation) tribal member, and Aaniiih, NakodaDakota tribal descent and an adventure explorer, photographer, videographer, writer, storyteller who travels throughout Montana to tell stories from an Indigenous perspective.

Lailani, grew up on the Blackfeet and Fort Belknap Indian reservations where she explored her home landscapes as a kid and got into trouble for taking off into the mountains (without notice) on “adventures.” She grew up hearing the stories and history of her tribal people and was grounded in identity through the passing down of oral traditions from her grandparents on both sides of her family and tribal lineage.

She says her experience and passion has led her to a closer connection to nature, likeminded storytellers, while vamping up a hunger to encourage others to tap into their voice through written and visual storytelling.

Lailani is on the board of directors for the Freeflow Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Missoula, Montana, that delivers opportunities for creativity, space, and access to wild places for writers, artists, and leaders of all backgrounds. She also is an advisory board member for The Common Ground Project, based in Yellowstone, Montana, that connects people from all walks of life to foster understanding of each other and the environment through campfire retreats.

Read More About Lailani...

Another added service was to Wild Montana as a Native Conservation fellow where she fostered Indigenous land-based story hikes to advocate for public land protection. She taught tribal story-based video courses at Salish Kootenai College, and is a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Climate Change Advisory committee.

Upham works to capture stories that inspire people of all walks of life to consider their relationship with nature, while advocating the preservation of tribal stories and public lands.

Layered by outdoor travel adventures and lifestyle, Lailani hopes through her work to share her vision of wild places, Indigenous culture, untamed landscapes to inspire others to explore for themselves new understandings and relationships.

Her visionary perspective has earned her opportunities to work on an award-winning journalism team, “Framing a Movement – The Media at Standing Rock, Montana Journalism Review a Special Report;”and also an award-winning film documentary project, The Blackfeet Flood, and film shorts Sixty Four Flood. She created a hobby storytelling YouTube channel called, Pikuni Bigfoot Storytelling Project to gather tribal encounters and stories of Sasquatch.

She worked as a reporter and photojournalist at the Flathead Reservation tribal newspaper, Charkoosta News, where thousands of news articles have been published in the 10 year span.

Her production studio is based on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana.

But beyond all the career stacks, Lailani is most proud of her three children, Ryan, Joseph, and Ashley; and three adorable grandchildren. Holly, Iverson, and Zion.

Martin Ogle is an Educator, Wildlife Scientist, and former Chief Naturalist Emeritus for the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, and founder of Entrepreneurial Earth.  He attained B.S. and M.S. degrees in Wildlife Science from Colorado State University and Virginia Tech, respectively.

Martin has served as an Instructor for Keystone Science School, Smithsonian Institute, and US Department of Agricultural Graduate School and has been recognized by Arlington Public Schools, Arlington County, and other organizations for outstanding contributions to the community.

He has a received a Green Innovation Award, Krupsaw Award for Non-Traditional Teaching, and an Arlington Green Patriot Award.

Martin is adept at bringing people together to advance sustainable living in creative, fun and successful ways.  His work is highly influenced by Gaia Theory — which Ogle has researched extensively and presents regularly on.

Read More About Martin...

Martin currently lives in Louisville, CO with his wife Lisa and twins, Cyrus and Linnea. 

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!

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