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Butte, Montana

Bert Mooney Airport (BTM) Where I-90 & I-15 intersect: 119 miles east of Missoula on I-90, 85 miles west of Bozeman, MT on I-90 67 miles south of Helena, MT on I-15, 65 miles north of Dillon, MT on I-15

Major Landscape Features:

-The Continental Divide -Silver Bow Creek/ Butte Silver Bow County Metro Storm Drain (Under Legal Debate) -The Berkeley Pit & Yankee Doodle Tailings Ponds

Our Current Focus Site: Centerville

Centerville is located in North Butte. The neighborhood is bound by Walkerville (La Plata Street) to the north, Boardman Street/Woolman Street to the south (this is debated), Missoula Gulch (Empire Street) to the west and the MT. Con mine site to the east.

Centerville: A historical and contemporary perspective

Using Grassroots Mapping as a Tool for Citizen-Led Planning

In summer 2011, Butte received a visit from Public Laboratory’s Mathew Lippincott as he was building and testing new kite designs for grassroots mapping. North Butte’s wind patterns allowed us many workshops in the field and we soon turned our attention to the Centerville neighborhood as our primary site. Alongside our kite flights, grassroots mappers attended Centerville’s neighborhood meetings, inviting residents to participate in oral history interviews and to tell us—what about Centerville should be documented.

The first project introduced to us was a list of vacant, decaying properties in the neighborhood. Mary Carol, a longtime Centerville resident and neighborhood leader, hoped to see the list of vacancies laid out spatially as a map. Although we had not yet collected enough new images to provide this map ourselves, we pursued existing aerial imagery at the County GIS office. Although the map data was from 2007, very little had changed. With a large print of Centerville, Mary Carol took to applying small color coded dots to all the neglected sites that had been noted in list form.

Through both mapping and community discussion, Centerville has several goals for itself—one being to organize its own neighborhood association and begin fundraising for small improvement grants.

Grassroots mappers in collaboration with founding members of Centerville’s Neighborhood Association contributed to these efforts recently by releasing the first edition of the Centerville Community Newsletter (PDFs at bottom of page).

Neighborhood Partnerships

The Centerville Neighborhood Association—the aforementioned active minds of Centerville residents

Imagine Butte Collaborative—a neighborhood advocacy team consisting of: - Steve Thomas Rooney from Habitat for Humanity of SW Montana, focused on providing new mutual self-help housing opportunities to low income families. -The National Affordable Housing Network, focused on climate-specific passive solar and super insulated building practices. -Mainstreet Uptown Butte, focused on small business promotion and economic development in Butte’s Uptown District -The University of Montana’s Montana Tech, focused on providing undergraduate and graduate educations in a variety of fields—including Environmental Engineering -Sacred Ground, focused on the development of new community gardens for the Uptown Butte district -Ray Campeau, gallery owner, and arts advocate -The SCORIA Residency Program, focused on supporting the proposals of multidisciplinary researchers seeking to produce work specific to Butte and its environs. -Lori Casey, Senior Planner, and Neighborhood Stabilization grant program partner, Butte Silver Bow County Government -Sheila Markazi, Americorps VISTA with Headwaters RDC and the Montana Land Trust

What is Needed

Kite Flights on Site

Winter is here and while Butte has already seen its first sub-zero days, we will continue to fly kites this season--barring all blizzards. If you are interested in joining us for a winter flight contact:

Site-Specific Research Contributions

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While we are enjoying every new interview and article related to the early phases of the Centerville neighborhood, there is a need for research materials related to more of the issues facing Butte's present. The more we work alongside the minds of the Imagine Butte Collaborative, the more questions we seem to have about the conflicts between different planning efforts in the city. While we understand major changes to a city's face are layered with bureaucratic practices there seems to be a great deal of interesting new information tangled within the process to both preserve the stories of Butte's opulent and complicated past (or the architecture that has come to represent them)—and to actively be making a place for a future. Some questions we have today are:

-Is it necessary to preserve all Butte's former residential structures for present Butte residents to inhabit? -If so, what renovations must be made to these structures? -Is this affordable? What are the risks in doing so? -Through what practices have other regions managed changes within their historic landmark districts? -What are the details of these city preservation ordinances? -How active are their citizen interest groups in the city government’s decision making process?
-How many different ways has Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act been used? -Are there other post-industrial cities that have experienced a major geographic split (landscape of historic industrial production vs. landscape of fast food/ box store consumption)? If so, how have they addressed this division in future planning efforts? -Is there a danger in having a historic district that is too large? If so, why exactly? -How have other communities created criteria for the preservation of important historic structures?
-How much money was invested in these case study districts?--and over what amount of time?--where did the funding come from?
-What are some programs that have aided these case districts through their post-industrial transition? -How many young people live in those regions?—and why? -How--if at all--are those young residents a part of city planning processes? -What new patterns have emerged?

We are also very interested in the experiences of residents living in other Superfund sites across the U.S.—especially those within areas of former smelter activity.

-How were your soils reclaimed? Were there efforts to remove smelter dust from your community’s households? -Do you have any active environmental advocacy groups in your area? If so how did they organize? If no, how was your community a part of the reclamation process?
-How high were your action levels?
-Will monitoring continue after Superfund is complete? If so, who will be doing this monitoring?

Going Forward

As we finish the first layer of Centerville, it is already outdated, but these changes that are to come from within the neighborhood will drive the maps to continue. Through the process of grassroots mapping, Centerville is not only creating an open proposal of itself as a neighborhood, but producing a means of documenting and examining the changes they hope to see for themselves as they occur.

Outside of the Centerville Neighborhood, we have started the work of mapping Butte’s Uptown District—or the central business district. Using balloons lifted from atop of the historic Phoenix Building, we successfully captured one of the summer season’s Farmer’s markets. Aside from the tops of market tents, we also captured some undocumented developments in the neighborhood—such as the newly built public archives building to the north, and the recently demolished Greek Café (“the line in the sand”) to the east. We hope to turn our some of attention to the work of aerial mapping in Uptown Butte as city officials, residents, historic advocates, and environmental activists are now working aggressively to provide a plan for the Uptown’s densely built brick buildings.