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100 issues of Missoula Valley Lifestyle

Our staff and community celebrates the memories that led to this milestone

When I first met Missoula Valley Lifestyle magazine, it didn’t have a website. It actually didn’t exist in the world yet. Instead, it lived on Craigslist by way of an “ISO” plea for writers, photographers, etc. I was a writer looking for pages to call home in my new home state of Montana so I took on a “Summer Fun” related article.

That was in the spring of 2015.

Today, looking back at the last eight and a half years offers the perfect taste of nostalgia. I remember the stories about local artists and organizations, the businesses that started because a trusted friend told them to go for it. I remember travel stories and learning where everyone was from—how we come from a fingertip sweeping the globe. I also remember hilarious and cringeworthy times when things didn’t work out according to plan, like our musical subject—our feature story—having a scheduling conflict that put their availability past our deadline, which was in two days. We had a major forest fire that year and a new story was born: “Up Through the Ashes.” And then of course there was the time that we had a doctor waiting at a photoshoot for someone who never even received the email with the meet-up information. She was due to deliver a baby just moments after we snapped the last shot. Does anyone remember when we printed a photo of a woman wearing a popular Statriot Designs T-shirt that said “Mon-(insert profanity here)-tana” in our first year? Yeah, me neither (blushes).

But the positivity of these pages has remained a constant source of feeling good, which as we learned in 2020 is really important. Our pages have always been about the redemption, the big risk, the bravery, and the courage. These stories—hundreds of them—have championed those who had a story and chose to share it with Missoula and beyond. I’ve had people say, “That’s my hairdresser!” Or that’s my neighbor, my baker, my real estate agent. We do not get this same local flavor from national magazines or podcasts or newspapers. We get it from where we live and who we live among.

I love that we’ve had people who we’ve approached for a story and whose response was, “Oh, I don’t find myself worthy of a story.” And then they end up opening a second business location a year or two later, or they finally build that website and start taking orders because the Farmers Market or the MADE Fair sold them out of product and they needed to quit their day job to make more. I love that we’ve snapped a portrait of them in words and images and it’s become part of their history.

I think any of us in the small but mighty staff of Missoula Valley Lifestyle would agree that it’s a true joy to see this community grow into the vision we keep dreaming up for ourselves. We see a hole in the fabric—a need for a specific thing—and then someone will step up to the plate with the answer. As a community, we focus on the positivity and we thrive there.

As the editor, it’s been fun to see the overall design shift and evolve. The slight differences in type styles or white spaces are the equivalent to fluctuating facial expressions. Our face is ever-changing but at a glance, we’re still very much the same as we started. The most rewarding part of this journey thus far, hands down, has been following this talented group of writers and photographers. We all experience growing pains and we all miss a deadline (or two!) along the way but we are always in pursuit of the best capture, whether it be in the lens or on the page. And I’m grateful to have such a passionate crew still on the ship.

“I was only going to try it for a year,” said publisher Michael Tucker. “But the community’s response to the stories we’ve shared was overwhelming, and it’s still that way.”

If you’ve been featured in Missoula Valley Lifestyle, tag us on Instagram (@MVLmagazine) or Facebook (Missoula Valley Lifestyle) so we can relive all of these stories!