Season Opener: Pickle in the Middle

One of the joys of independent publishing is that you can print whatever the hell you want. (Pseudo-cusswords, for example.) But as we all know, freedom comes with a price—and for us that price is controversy. Yes, Outside Bozeman’s unabashed editorial content occasionally collides with certain political and social sensitivities, and over the years we’ve been called just about every name in the book. The one thing we haven’t been called, however, is the same thing twice—one issue we’re raging right-wingers chanting NRA propaganda (see Letters, p. 13); the next, we’re bleeding-heart hippies trying to save the world.

Which is fine with us, because that means we’re right where we want to be: in the middle. Although it may engender enmity from those with more insular attitudes, we like being able to move freely along the political and recreational spectrum—this way, we gain a wider perspective and enjoy a broader base of opportunities for outdoor fun. Besides, polarization lends itself to extremism, and extremism, as we all know, leads to intolerance. Being overly critical of others increases the likelihood of friction—and who wants more of that in their lives?

It’s with this in mind that we offer up the latest installment of Outside Bozeman. We’ve got the usual assortment of seasonal recreation and lifestyle articles, but we’ve added a few stories that may help soften some of the hard, fast lines currently drawn within Bozeman’s outdoor community. Becky Edwards explores the ever-controversial sport of snowmobiling and runs sled-first into her own pre-existing ideas about its practitioners. Marjorie Smith poignantly protests the conventional attitude toward blighted neighborhoods, while Sarah Heuck Sinclair’s winter-camping epiphany illuminates the disparity between optimistic idealism and cold, hard reality. Jeff Wozer, Alex Alviar, and Drew Pogge all offer their amusing and inimitably irreverent takes on various aspects of southwest Montana’s outdoor lifestyle. And as usual, we provide tips for getting fitter, being healthier, and living more sustainably—all of which should help make the New Year a happier one.

With its short days and long, cold nights, winter, like life itself, will do its best to piss you off. Don’t let it. Instead, take some time this season to think about Montana and what it means to you. You’ll likely find that Bozeman is surprisingly diverse: a melting pot of ideals, interests, and activities. We hope you’ll discover, as we have, that a couple of the things binding us together are an accommodating nature and an optimistic attitude—two key elements for happiness in any season. And above all, we hope you’ll join us in celebration, exploration, and adulation of southwest Montana’s outdoor lifestyle, in its many and varied forms. Happy Winter.