The next big thing

We’re moving to Bozeman, Montana!

TO USE A PHRASE from a Beatles song, it’s been a long and winding road — about 20,000 miles long. At last I’ve found a professional home. The job starts on March 3. Director of Development for the College of Education Health and Human Development at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana. That’s right, I said Bozeman. It would seem an unlikely move. And when I went there to interview, I wasn’t optimistic that I would be attracted by the opportunity. But I was wrong. Clearly I found a confluence of interests there. They want a staff member who is creative, charismatic, and energetic and I want an opportunity to “do it right” so to speak. I’m not going to delve into all the “development speak” here. I will say that I have some very specific ideas about what I want to do and I’ve been allowing that to come through in my interviews. I’ve experimented with being forceful on some occasions and being more contemplative on others in presenting my thinking. However, at MSU I pushed hard and apparently it was exactly what they wanted. Hurrah! So enough on that for the moment.

So, how are we going to do this? It’s going to be a “phased withdrawal.” We are keeping this house. I want to rent, not buy, in Montana. Property is expensive in Bozeman and the real estate market is tiny and undependable. I have university supplied housing through the end of May. By June 1 we will be in whatever we’re going to be in. Dylan and I will arrive with a truck full of enough (but no more) stuff to sustain us. Wendy continues on here in Saint Paul through the end of summer. Mariah is staying here. If you’ve been keeping up, you know she is engaged. If you haven’t been keeping up, click here. When you need a password, it’s <osheehy>. We have something in mind for the house and there are parties involved in conversation so more on that later. Watch Lafondblog for updates.

WE HAVE LIVED AN INCREDIBLE 11 years in this house and the Twin Cities. For a guy who does what I do, staying on in one place — especially (believe it or not) a market as small as this — is hard to do. I’m willing to make professional compromises but I’m not willing to surrender. Arriving at this decision has been a gradual process as I’ve been jetting around the country. I continued searching and interviewing in this area. Finally my last active local lead fizzled and I had an offer on the table from MSU. I had at least one interview lined up with a national organization in Wisconsin. But the timing wasn’t right. Besides, I am strongly persuaded that this is the right move.

It’s funny how this turned out. On occasion Wendy and I would talk about where in Montana we’d want to live if we were to move back there. After looking at the possibilities — Missoula, Helena, Billings, Kalispell, Bozeman — the last always landed on top for a lot of different reasons. Yes, there has been a lot of growth in the Gallatin Valley in recent years. Same is true in Missoula. Billings can grow and nobody would notice. Helena has bulked up some but it remains a government city and not overly attractive to newcomers. Kalispell is a good place to retire but that’s not what we’re doing. Bozeman, despite it’s growth, is still a pretty friendly place. And the air is a whole lot cleaner than Missoula. That’s a big thing for me because living here in the Midway area smack dab in the middle of Minneapolis-Saint Paul, I’ve been experiencing increasing discomfort. Lots of coughing. We do have air pollution alerts here from time to time. That is not an issue in Bozeman.

So, there it is. The skinny as we know it. — Patrick