CUT BANK - If you're ever in Cut Bank, you might notice some of the streets and buildings are becoming more vivid, as several people are coming up with new ideas and they're "re-imagining rural" in their town.
Rod and Lisa Cline have noticed plenty of change in their home of Cut Bank over the years and have embraced it. With Rod being born and raised in Cut Bank and Lisa being from Broadus, they are both used to small town Montana.
They're using the change they're seeing to help improve their downtown through a program started by Montana State University.
"We wanted to give people a sense of pride in their town again because like many rural communities, we aren't what we used to be, but we can still be something pretty great," Lisa said. "I just love the energy that has been built because of this, and people have gotten excited about living in Cut Bank and the newcomers are very excited to be here."
The Clines recently won a Community Impact Award for the work they've put in to help reimagine Cut Bank through the Reimagining Rural Program.
They've cleaned up buildings, had artists volunteer time for murals, and continue staying busy with more and more volunteers and ideas coming in.
"It's been fun to get more people involved and make things more enjoyable for everybody because we have so much to offer in Cut Bank," Rod said. "Being from Cut Bank and coming back and hearing something negative things of what they thought about Cut Bank, I said, 'no, it really isn't that way.' You're just looking at the wrong spot. So what could we do to make that focus go to what the good things that are happening? I want to make this town be a better place to live. I grew up here and I loved it here, and I think it's a great place to live."
Their goal is for people to focus on the good in their community, and the project has Cut Bank support as local businesses work with the clients and each other to improve their small town.
Ashley Kavanagh owns the Rose Petal shop in Cut Bank and has spent time with the Clines through the program, doing her part to help improve her town. She isn't originally from Cut Bank, but has grown to fall in love with it and is excited about what the program is doing for the town.
"When you move to a place like Cut Bank, I think more is possible," Kavanagh said. "I think the general theme is that you're able to do less in a small town. There's not as many opportunities and we've found the opposite to be true. What I like about Reimagining Rural every year is it's different people that are coming to the table that want to be involved, whether they've moved here a week ago or they've lived here their whole life. There's more and more people coming to the table to want to help."
Everyone involved in "re-imagining rural" is coming together because they believe in their home. There are several projects in the works, according to the Clines, and don't have a timeline or many details, but say they know they will have the support they need to continue reimagining Cut Bank.