Who are we?

Six University of Montana students (grad and undergrad) share two houses on Fifth Street near campus. Together we brainstorm, plan, organize, and carry out sustainability-themed projects and events.  This semester’s residents include:



I grew up in small town North Carolina, surrounded by kin-folk, collard greens, steep granite slopes, soil-rich bluffs, and rolling cattle pasture. Western Carolina pales in ‘wild’ comparison to the Rocky Mountain West, but the Blue Ridge Mountains are majestic and mysterious in ways all their own. When I stumbled across Montana, specifically Missoula, I discovered an irresistible sense of place and communal core. I can’t help but wonder who wouldn’t make a leap towards moving towards such a BIG sky! My academic focus points towards teaching elementary school science and math. Exploring curiosity, mindfulness, creativity, and connectivity to a cleaner more protected natural world compels me to cultivate knowledge – for young and old alike. Now, with seven years of teaching under my belt, I’m psyched to have begun graduate studies and a leadership role for our residents and programming that goes on here. I invite all curious minds to visit the FLAT and join a lively posse of mates looking to perpetuate all positivity the place has to offer. Our chickens are bomb, we have a groovy public straw-bale studio space to share, and our garden is second to none. If you don’t find me here I’ll either be in class…exploring a river, reaching for lofty ridgelines, making signature snow angels, or pedaling a glorious Missoula line!


883902_10200793839068755_621694968_oI love wide open spaces and lying under trees. I love being places where you can’t hear cars and you can be absorbed into a trail system and feel like you could go endlessly. I also love good food: growing it, cooking it, sharing it, eating it. At UM I’m in the EVST masters program, focusing on food and farming. I’m interested in using policy as a means to address issues in our food system that have to do with seed freedom and farmer access to land. I love hiking, biking, and good books.



img_2030I’m a born and raised Missoulian with the Chaco Tan and Semi-Broken down Subaru to prove it.
 At UM I study both geology and astronomy (earth + space) because 1. I LOVE mountains and 2. The voice of Carl Sagan told me so.
 I’m an avid traveler. After high school I sold my car and bought a plane ticket to Peru. Since then I’ve been hooked on travel. After Peru I made my way to Ecuador. I spent my Junior year in Iceland watching the aurora from hot springs, accidentally falling asleep on glaciers and cooking hot dogs on active volcanoes.  After my study abroad I continued to travel, exploring North Africa and central america. Patagonia is next on the wish list.
To be able to travel each winter, I work summers. So far, I’ve spent the summers: Mapping one of Saturns moons, launching balloons, wearing a flat hat in Glacier and Mt. Rainier National Parks, racing solar cars and studying the Greenland ice sheet using space lasers.
Living at the FLAT allows we to put my tinkering to good use. Whether it’s fixing old projects or designing new ones, the FLAT is a space where I can not just talk about sustainability, but live it.

11391256_10204388577416255_5264898309717921934_nBarefoot in the forest, that’s how you’ll find me. Back home in Western Washington that is. Out here in Montana my toes haven’t gotten quite as much air time as I’d like. In my first year here at UM, I was lucky enough to find the FLAT, which pretty much perfectly sums up my interests in life all in one house. I’ve always been a gardener, a lover of all things cob and clay, and I am more than ready to get my hands dirty learning about renewable energy and more sustainable living in general.

Within a week of graduating high school, I moved onto a big beautiful wooden sailboat, and after an amazing summer bouncing around the San Juan Islands, we set sail for Mexico. My last year was spent learning to splice rope and stitch sails, a far cry from the classrooms of this university, but the uninterrupted peace on a boat at sea gave me time to decide on my major in Environmental Studies and minor in International Development. Since moving here, I’ve spent as much time outside as I possibly can, exploring this rugged mountainous country that everybody except me seems to think is the West. The roots I plant here will be perennials for sure.



1959412_684930411554132_8926909199913474855_nBorn in Missoula, raised in the Wild – some may say that I am all-around just a little bit different. If I am not tending to the chickens or wandering aimlessly through the garden, you may find me planning my next adventure. I believe travel is key to gain new perspectives, and it allows us to return to the people and places we love with a renewed sense of passion and pride. Having grown up in the Crown of the Continent I care deeply about place-based and experiential education. Currently, I am working toward my Bachelors in Environmental Studies with a double minor in Early Childhood Education and Nonprofit Administration. By living at the FLAT, I can actively participate in many of my aspirations. I believe that the FLAT is an amazing resource, not only for University students and staff, but also for the entire Missoula community. If you have any ideas for future events, talk with me! My greatest hope for the FLAT is the addition of a milking/pack goat, because who doesn’t need a goat to help you get through life?



(This is a partial list, but we’re working on adding all of the FLAT alums!)

CHRIS (2015-16)

IMG_1938I appreciate cats, coffee and corvids and I try to walk the fence between tame and domestic. Now in my third year at UM, I’ve been attracted to the FLAT since my arrival. After five glorious years of vehicle living I come to the FLAT excited to be part of the community it fosters. While my academic concentration is the Environmental Science and Natural Resource Journalism graduate program, my areas of competency include farming, construction projects relying on re-used and re-purposed materials, and crockpots. Areas of expertise include all things jars, craigslist free site, peanut butter, jelly and roadkill. Living with appropriate technology is an idea I’ve wrestled with for the better part of a decade and the FLAT provides a forum to investigate the balance further. The future includes heading into the rising sun because the Appalachians own my soul. But right now there’s no place I’d rather be than Missoula – swimming in the Clark Fork and gazing at snow-capped peaks. I view living at the FLAT as an opportunity to “live deep and suck all the marrow out of life.”

SIMON (2015-16)

Wispy me at grand canyonAfter high school, I spent two years sniffing the emissions from the Schwann factory outside my college town of Marshall, MN. Being a blue dot in a red sea, I left to seek new perspectives and moved in with a mad scientist in Evanston. There, I took a break from studying philosophy and readied myself for the transfer to the University of Montana. In the mean-time I fundraised for the Southern Poverty Law Center, listened to jazz, inadvertently built-up a fascination with climate change, and sought an outlet for a my increasing unrest.

My arrival in Missoula filled my sail with winds of change greater than I. My ship was my schooling in philosophy and environmental studies, but my newfound passion for organizing has been guiding me forward. Immersing myself in Missoula’s vibrant, beautiful community culminated in joining the UM FLAT this year. Here at the FLAT I am able to work with my illustrious FLATmates and the community to manifest our vision of urban sustainability. With the right amount of FLAT-jank, I hope to build on the history of this amazing place and turn it into a model useable by all.

TESS (2015-16)

tess mug shotHailing from North Carolina for most practical purposes, I have an affinity for the Appalachians. Its rich porch-sitting, string-picking, and corn-shuckin’ are cultural traditions that greatly influenced my life and are values that I hold dear to my heart. The cliche, “work hard, play hard” is perhaps my aspired life motto. I aim to be diligent in my endeavors to improve my knowledge of and participation in athletic activities, cooking, music, etc. I also strive to make jokes constantly and make fun of myself often.  At the University of Montana, my focus is water resource management in Montana and the larger Western United States. I plan to pursue involvement in place-based collaborative natural resource management efforts when I complete my master’s degree. Living as a co-director at the FLAT is a great opportunity! I’m enjoying corroborating on appropriate technology projects with my FLATmates, and I am thankful for the experience to engage more with the university and larger Missoulian community- I dig this town.

RACHEL (2015-16)

DSC04183Stars become a constellation with a little imagination. Drawing lines and a bit of squinting reveal that seemingly unconnected points are part of some bigger, dynamic system. I graduated from Iowa State University with a B.A. in Biological/Pre-Medical Illustration and minors in Spanish and Anthropology. Over the last several years, my work experience has ranged from butterfly wrangling in Costa Rica to hydrogen explosions in Iowa – don’t worry; it was for science. Just after goat milking in Oregon, I focused on international issues connected to agriculture and cultural understanding from the great corn state and abroad. Through the yearlong Princeton in Asia Program, I worked at the International Water Management Institute in Sri Lanka and supported projects in Bangladesh and Ethiopia. I then headed west to begin a masters program in Environmental Studies and explore the intersect of food, culture and environment. The FLAT provided instant community with a set of diversely talented and passionate FLATmates, and I feel fortunate to be part of this constellation of sustainable activity.

DAVID (2015-2016)

UM Website PicGrowing up in the suburbs of Chicago, the wilderness encompassed forests preserves, patches of prairie, and the occasional excursion to Wisconsin.  However the city introduced me to a large diversity of food ranging from the creations of culinary artists to the often glutinous joys of street food.  After finishing my degree in Psychology I followed my love on food through a series of serendipitous events that would lead me to climbing fig trees, engorging on boysenberries, and inhaling the sweet aromas of basil surrounded by the Six Rivers National Forest of Northern California. I haven’t looked back.  My Love of food has taken me to small-scale organic farms across the country, back home to design educational demonstration gardens, and finally to graduate school.

If I’m not digging in the dirt you’ll probably find my in the kitchen baking, strolling in the mountains, biking about town, or shredding ice on frozen ponds playing hockey.  I’m studying food and farming focusing on young farmer education and development.  One of the most powerful tools we have in developing a new agricultural system is our ability to create supportive communities to share our knowledge and resources.  The FLAT provides a positive environment to do just that in implementing meaningful projects while learning from people’s different perspectives.  But really, I’m just here for the food!

KARA (2015)

kara1Hello hello! Kara here from Lander, WY. This year is my last year as an undergrad at UM and what better way to finish off than to be part of this wonderful FLAT community. The FLAT was one of the deciding factors in me choosing to attend UM so it’s cool to see things run full circle. My major is Environmental Studies with an emphasis in Sustainable Business, although I also have interest in city sustainability, urban planning, and university campus sustainability. I will also graduate with a minor in Climate Change Studies and a certificate in Sustainable Business Strategy. For a semester during my sophomore year, I was fortunate enough to spend time abroad in Chile traveling through the southern portion of the country, attending the university PUCV, and organic farming. In the future, I see myself returning home for a while to learn from my family the things they don’t teach you in a formal education, like how to hunt and preserve food. Ultimately, working as a Sustainability Coordinator for a university, city, or business is one way in which I hope to better my community and the world.

DOV (2014-15)

My love for hiking, trail running, and connecting with the less-human aspects of our surroundings can be traced back to my roots in Eugene, Oregon.  Living between the rugged Oregon coast and the Cascades created appreciation for public spaces and management of natural resources. For me, the mountains won out and I’ve spent the better part of the last six years here in Missoula, first as an undergrad in natural resource economics and now pursuing a graduate degree focusing on environmental justice and conflict resolution.  If my beard isn’t blowing on a windy mountaintop or I’m not rolling Taco Del Sol burritos it’s likely I can be found at my new home at UM FLAT.  The FLAT provides an intentional and practical venue for environmentally conscious principles, and I’m excited to provide my skills to help the FLAT further establish itself as an educational demonstration of sustainable living.

PETER (2013-15)

I hail from the great state of Wisconsin, the land flowing with milk and people who like milk.  I studied physics at the University of Puget Sound in the shadow of Mt. Rainier, thinking I would join the ranks of astronomers at NASA in exploring the final frontier.  After graduating I joined the Peace Corps as a teacher in Tanzania; over the three years in my village on a hill I grew to appreciate the simplicity and unrelenting beating that is life at the bottom, off the grid, out of the public eye.  Taking an interest in the intersection between the energy sector, the state of environmental stewardship, and the people on opposite ends of the power spectrum, I returned to the states to pursue two graduate degrees: engineering at Stanford University and environmental studies here at UM.  The FLAT has given me the ideal opportunity to put oft-discussed sustainable methods into practice and to learn from people who approach sustainable living from incredibly various backgrounds and interests.

KATE (2013-15)

I am currently studying environmental education and sustainable agriculture as a EVST graduate student. I was automatically drawn to live at the UM FLAT due to their emphasis on community, socially and environmentally-conscious living and experiential learning. I completed my B.A at Wheaton College in Massachusetts where I studied anthropology and environmental studies. I have traveled to Australia, Denmark and Croatia to work with organizations focusing on alternative energy, sustainable agriculture, communal living and environmental activism. I am extremely excited to be living in Missoula for the outdoor recreation opportunities, as well the amazing network of local organizations, both of which make Missoula a beautiful place. Outside of the UM FLAT, I enjoy petting any dog kind enough to let me, dipping in mountain top lakes, bicycling around the streets of Missoula, learning new ways to preserve food and reading Calvin and Hobbes.

NICK (2013-15)

29 years old, from a whisper of a town along the western slope of the Sierra Nevada in Northern California. I have a fierce affinity for lightly roasted coffee and strongly hopped beer, and I am a competitive long-distance trail/mountain runner. A ukulele plays but 8 songs with my fingers and I’ve been known to beatbox. I am pursuing a graduate degree in Environmental Studies with a focus on creative writing/journalism. Specific areas of interest revolve generally around the relational weave of elemental contact and human development. I am inspired to join the FLAT as this project represents something real, something tactile and accessible, something positive and creative—a living, breathing beacon of possibility for the community and for the world. I wish to help increase FLAT’s visibility and broadcast nationally its goals of “ecological invisibility;” invisibility by way of our resource footprint or, rather, from a “leave-it-the-way-you-done-found-it” perspective. Aho!

HEATHER (2012-14)

Growing up in northern California and studying at University of California, Santa Cruz, I relished the natural beauty of Napa’s rolling golden hills and Monterey Bay’s redwoods and rugged beaches. I immersed myself in sustainable agriculture, environmental writing, biology, and literature during college. Teaching and working for social and environmental justice are some of my greatest passions, along with cooking good food, reading good books, and spending time outdoors.  I am curious about almost everything, and love to share what I have learned with others. The UM FLAT was my first home in Missoula, and I am so lucky to call it home for a second year as I begin my final lap of the Environmental Studies grad program. This place interested me from the get-go because it stands for and practices the kind of lifestyle that I want to cultivate no matter where I’m living. I’ve learned and taught so much at the FLAT – composting, construction, gardening, preserving, elk-hide-tanning, protecting chickens from raccoons,  the number of people we can fit in our living room during a potluck…I can’t wait to see what I learn and get to share this year.

MARA (2012-2014)

Touring campus my freshmen year, the UM FLAT stands out as a project that drew me to the university. Three years later, I am thrilled to be part this creative and innovative team. As a student in the Environmental Studies and Climate Change Studies Programs, I wanted to become a resident so that I could explore ways to apply what I’ve learned in my classes. In the future, I hope to become an urban planner specializing in design that limits the ecological impacts of our built environment while improving the well-being of those who live there. The UM Forum for Living with Appropriate Technology embodies the principles of this sort of design–living with little impact on our environment without sacrificing quality of life. Living here for a second year, I look forward to learning more from my peers and continuing to find ways to apply these principles within my own community.

MIKE (2013)

Born and raised on the west-side of Cleveland, Ohio–a city with twice the population of the state of Montana–I scarcely if at all was able to recognize the importance of resource use and conservation in a comprehensive light throughout my upbringing.  That all changed when an insatiable urge to experience a new culture and perspective led me to Missoula for my undergraduate degree in 2010.  Once a die-hard Libertarian and an avid Ayn Rand reader, my social and political views on the world have been profoundly affected by studying in a community that values the importance of its relationship with the environment as much as Missoula does.  My living at the FLAT for this upcoming year embodies the metamorphosis my views on the world have taken during my time in this valley and I couldn’t be more excited about the role I am to take in the household during my senior year.  I am a political science major with minors in international development studies, Latin American studies and climate change studies. In my spare time I enjoy volunteering at the Missoula Community Food Cooperative, long and hot trail runs followed by a jump into the river, hotspring-ing with friends, eating kale salads and long walks on the beach.

DAVE (2011-2013)

My name is David Wise. I was raised in Littleton Colorado with my twin brother Jeff. Beginning in the eighth grade, I started planning to become an Architect. After high school, I entered the Architecture program at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, but I soon realized that my zealous pursuit of elaborate forts in my basement as a child would not equate to enjoyment in a career as an architect. This insight changed my worldview drastically and after a year in Kansas, I transferred to the University of Montana. I had never been to Missoula and knew no one in Montana, but I liked that the school was located next to mountains which would provide the jagged horizon line I had missed dearly in Kansas. After a year in the Wilderness and Civilization program, I was enthralled by Montana (perhaps more so than with my home state of Colorado). I spent the following summer working on a farm in Missoula and solidified my love of the place. I currently live at the FLAT because I believe firmly in the ability of individuals to come together to share their skill sets, to develop new ideas, and to interact in personally meaningful ways. I know that last sentence sounded like a line out of our mission statement, but I truly do believe in the power of community and the FLAT is an ideal setting to reap the physical and psychological benefits of living with other sound individuals. Feel free to stop by.

ELLIE (2013)

elliePrior to studying at UM, I completed my BA in Modern Studies at the University of Virginia, spent a couple years working as an AmeriCorps volunteer for CASA of Montana and the Montana Conservation Corps and farmed for two seasons right here in Missoula.  I’m a divorcee of the non-profit arts world, where my background has been events planning.  I have worked in Jazz Programing at the J.F.Kennedy Center and as an Administrator at the oh-so-dear-to-me Zootown Arts Community Center.  Though I still like to dip into fundraising and arts a bit with Missoula’s Garden City Lady Arm Wrestlers, I am most at home dirty and grinning in the outdoors.  When I was in fifth grade, I told a friend that “Music is my life.”  Well, I was young then and now that I’m gaining in years, I have realized that “Food is my life.”  While at the FLAT, I am excited to learn and teach in this conscious community.  The FLAT is remarkable in its venue for experimentation and practice in sustainable living.  Stop by, say “Hi”, and let’s share some jokes.

EMILY (2012-2013)

I hail from the great lake states and had no connection to Montana until the stars aligned and I had the good fortune of happening to tag it on a pre-set college road trip.  I’m in my third and final year of studying environmental studies at UM and am excited to make the most of my abbreviated time in Missoula by living and working at the FLAT.  I’ve had an incredible college experience so far by being extremely involved on campus through activities such as the alpine ski team, UM Advocates, the Honors Student Association, the Wilderness and Civilization program and of particular importance, UM Climate Action Now (CAN).  Through weekly CAN meetings at the FLAT I was exposed to the purposeful, demonstration lifestyle of the residents there and instantly wanted to be a part of it. Now that the opportunity to do so has been realized, I’m excited to bring all of my wild and wonderful ideas to the table as well as get behind those of my housemates.

KATIE (2011-2013)

Before coming to UM, I got a bachelor’s degree in Global Studies from St. Lawrence University; studied abroad in France and Kenya; and bounced around for a few years as a seasonal wildlife tech, environmental educator, and wilderness ranger.  That background solidified the belief that building relationships between people and between people and the land are both vital to fostering and environmentally conscious culture.  Now at the University of Montana, thinking globally and acting locally remains the philosophy guiding my thesis research and daily activities.  Attending the UN Climate Change Negotiations in South Africa catalyzed this perspective.  I bore witness to the fact that global action on climate change is possible, probable, and only waiting for U.S. leadership.  As a resident at the UM FLAT I am working to inspire that leadership among UM students and the Missoula community.  I think that one of the most valuable qualities of the UM FLAT is that we get to show others that adding a sustainable twist to old, unconsidered habits can really make those day-to-day activities more fun, healthy, peaceful, and worthwhile.


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