Loss & Legacy: 2023 Fall Series Archive

Loss & Legacy


Fall Series Overview

Our 2023 philosophy symposia series looked at what it means to be at the interface of loss and legacy.  In Fall, we examined the question “How do we think about our ancestors?” during our symposium (held at the Helena Avenue Theater on October 19th) and considered a similar question focused on our military and ancestors in service by way of a WW1 Memorial documentary & community conversation (conducted in Reeder’s Alley on November 2nd).

Our symposia series was supported in part by grants from the Helena Area Community Foundation, Humanities Montana, and the Philosophy Learning & Teaching Organization.  Community partners and sponsors included Best Western Premier Helena Great Northern Hotel, the Helena Avenue Theater, and Helena Civic Television.

In this symposium featuring Bill Milton, Ellen Baumler & Daniel Gardiner, and facilitated by David Nowakowski, we considered 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 asked 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 considered 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. 

Learn more about our guest speakers below & watch a full video recording of the symposium and discussion!

In this final installment of our loss & legacy series we reflected upon our military and the ways in which we think about ancestors in service, as prompted by the 2018 WW1 memorial film “They Shall Not Grow Old.” Directed & produced by Peter Jackson. The film was created using original footage of the World War I from the archives of the Imperial War Museum, most previously unseen and all over 100 years old by the time of the film’s release. The audio in the documentary is from BBC and the Imperial War Museum (IWM) interviews of British servicemen who fought in the conflict. Most of the footage has been transformed with colorization and modern production techniques, with the addition of sound effects and voice acting so as to capture a more intimate feel of the soldiers’ actual experiences.

Given the nature of this documentary film, we felt it inappropriate/in poor taste to capture photos of this gathering.  Though, we have included a trailer of the film at the bottom of this page for you.

Symposium Video

Guest Scholars

Bill Milton

About Bill

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.

Ellen Baumler

About Ellen

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.

Daniel Gardiner

About Daniel

Daniel Gardiner 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. 

Film & Community Conversation (Trailer)

Thank You & Much Gratitude…

to our student scholar fellow and facilitator, our guest scholars, our volunteers, our grantors, community partners & sponsors, and the Helena community for bringing so much life and beauty to this project.

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