by Marko Capoferri
Kitty Galloway is a traveler, no question about it. She’s also a traveler who is fortunate enough to have a firm geographical axis, a ground to call home, to defend, to represent, and to return to. From her native Bainbridge Island, her circuitous life route (including stops in Patagonia, New England, Spain, and other locales) landed her in Missoula, MT, almost a decade ago, here at the other end of the Cascadia bioregion. By all appearances, it looks like she’s planning to stay a while: “Montana has this balance of enough space and enough different values; people have enough space to think for themselves.”
Kitty is a second-year graduate student in the Environmental Studies program at the University of Montana, and Camas Magazine is pleased to welcome her as its newest co-editor.
MC: How have your experiences of other places changed your feelings about the West?
KG: The West has fed me a lot. Travel has bred a growing fierceness of love for this place, whether it is the Rocky Mountains or the Pacific Northwest; I feel equally drawn to both. I ultimately keep circling back to Montana because of the access to wild spaces. It’s really unparalleled. And the community here in Missoula: it’s something I have not been able to walk away from nor have I wanted to. I just feel super supported, and there’s a lot of vibrancy in this community that I really appreciate.
It has been necessary for me to leave, as well. Living in other places and traveling to other places in my 20s gave me perspective on how special the West–and particularly Montana–is, and at times it’s made me fiercely defensive of the region. I think that’s one of the reasons I am in this program [Environmental Studies].
MC: What do you bring to the table as co-editor?
KG: I’ve read Camas for years. My community in Missoula has long been folks out of the Environmental Studies grad program, and I’ve known a lot of previous editors of Camas, gone to Wild Mercy and other events. So I came into this position already feeling passionate about the magazine. I’m coming to the magazine as a member of the Missoula community; one of my main goals, then, is to connect Camas with the Missoula community at-large. Sometimes there’s a divide between what’s going on at the university and what’s going on in the community at- large. I would like to bridge that gap. Camas is a huge resource and there’s a lot of capacity for building that connection.
MC: What kind of work do you believe writing can do for environmental causes?
KG: There is immense power in storytelling. For me, reading has been incredible for learning and growth; it’s changed my worldview a lot. The power that I see in storytelling is that, through writing, we have the ability to connect people to causes they may not otherwise know that they’re connected to. We are all much more connected than we often consider. I don’t try to write with the intention of changing someone’s mind, but I do think that writing has a huge capacity to connect people and to humanize causes. In reference to the environmental movement, that’s super pertinent.
One of the biggest issues in our country right now is that people are not listening to each other. I come from an interesting background: my father is fairly politically conservative and my mother is liberal. So, I was raised in a household where I was taught to listen. It was really valuable: learning how to share a story in such a way that it’s relatable. There’s more power in learning how to relate to people you don’t agree with than in yelling at them. There is power in story and power in listening to each other.
Writing gives people the power to take a piece of information into their own private space and come to a conclusion on their own, in the company of a story.
MC: One last question: dream job and/or place?
KG: My plan is to stay in Montana. After almost a decade in this town, I feel ready to build some serious roots. I’m currently on the lookout for land in or near Missoula, and long term would like to farm and write. I’d eventually like to build a homestead and work as a freelance writer.