Tate chamberlin blunderbuss iaminterchange

Your Life is Your Art

Tate Chamberlin’s Tension-Filled Trajectory

Ethan Stewart

This story was first published in Issue #26, buy your copy: HERE.

There is a curiosity at the heart of Tate Chamberlin’s life. A wondering about how we might all live a little better in a world that seems committed to conflict. He is a man who seeks to understand, a facilitator of progress who welcomes the disagreement.

“I like to tell people to pay attention to their neck hair,” said Chamberlin. “When something makes your neck hair stand up or catch fire, that’s when you’re supposed to lean in. Trust is built through tension.”

A classically trained graphic designer, the Colorado-raised Chamberlin has charted a less than ordinary path since graduating from Montana State University nearly two decades ago. His aesthetic acumen and social scientist leanings led to the creation of Chamberlin Productions, a company that quickly became a force in southwest Montana and beyond for putting on concerts, music festivals, and assorted other artistic and cultural events. It was a good path for a guy who has “always liked promoting shit,” and it was also a great training ground; a dojo of sorts for a young man developing a diverse skill set for being able to turn visions and hopes into reality.

But Chamberlin was after more than just throwing parties and creating singular social experiences. To hear him tell it, he has a bit of an inner activist, and working in traditional event production started to feel a tad too one-dimensional. “People engaging in where their hearts are leading them – activism in all its forms – energizes me,” explained Chamberlin. “Eventually, I had to chase that.”

“People engaging in where their hearts are leading them – activism in all its forms – energizes me.”

Tate Chamberlin
Filling Station Bozeman

"Is Water a Human Right" Debate at the Filler. Photo: Ben Johnson

He also has an intellectual fondness for philosopher Ken Wilbur’s Integral Theory, the idea that all the various social and professional paradigms we live with can be understood in such a way that a mutually enriching and integrative approach can be found even amongst the most divergent of ideas. It was only a matter of time before Chamberlin Productions began to evolve. That’s not to say that Tate abandoned event production; far from it, actually. It would be more accurate to say that he began to build off it and expand into a new space and way of working with his skills and interests. Such is the alchemy of an artful life. Such is the origin story of Blunderbuss.

Located on a sprawling property just west of Bozeman city limits, Blunderbuss (named after a legendary pirate firearm that was capable of firing off nearly anything and everything that could be wedged down its barrel) is a place that defies mainstream description. It is a hostel for artists and entrepreneurs, a place where you can drop anchor for anywhere from three to eighteen months and focus on your creative pursuit of choice while surrounded by a transcendent atmosphere of support. It is a meeting space and a maker space and a place for social chemistry. It is a print shop that is also home to a few frisbee golf holes, tiny houses, art studios, fire pits, breakout rooms, and limitless exploration. With 38.5 kilowatts of solar power, an emerging food forest, and an elaborate water catchment system, Blunderbuss, which, at any given moment, is home to 24 different people from around the world, is also a beacon of sustainability.

Which brings us to the latest evolution of Chamberlin’s artistic life. Much like his graphic design work led to his production work which led to Blunderbuss, his role as innkeeper has led to his current incarnation as a journalist, podcaster, and agitator for systematic change. He is still following his unique thread of tracing where activism and art meet humanity and media, but he is doubling down on the efforts with his company, I AM INTERCHANGE. “I got tired of going to like five or six different media websites to unpack the news and better understand the various tensions and conflicts around the world. I AM INTERCHANGE is my response,” said Chamberlin.

A “HUMAN-based media company,” I AM INTERCHANGE combines Chamberlin’s work as an Integral Theory-based facilitator with his passion for meaningful conversation and his appetite for both conflict and problem solving. Moreover, the organization is intentionally aligned with the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), a set of guiding principles adopted in 2015 that range from sustainable communities, clean water, and eliminating hunger to education, gender equality, and responsible consumption. The SDGs are meant to provide a framework for building a better future. For his part, Tate has served as a delegate to the United Nations’ annual Media for Social Impact Summit and the Sustainable Development Goals Media Summit. For the last seven years, much of what he has done both personally and professionally has attempted to be a reflection of the SDGs.

Tate chamberlin outside blunderbuss

High Above the Blunderbuss compound, West of Bozeman. Photo: Dan Armstrong

Tate Chamberlin IAM Interchange

"Decentralization of Systems" recording in Valle De Bravo, Mexico. Photo: Jacob Lopez

To that end, I AM INTERCHANGE creates podcasts, written stories, interviews, photojournalism, live events, and carefully curated thought salons meant to investigate some of the more controversial and “taboo” subjects in today’s public discourse. Prior topics have included the question of if water is a human right, Native American reconciliation, wealth gap inequities, the various meanings and interpretations of “OK, Boomer,” the future of work, and the promises and pitfalls of Web 3.0. “The goal is to hold space for the polarities [on a subject], keep calm, and then try and explore what is behind those surface tensions,” said Chamberlin. “You have to get into the tensions that surround something if you want to understand and solve a problem.” The end result is a deep and nuanced dive into topics that traditional media typically reduces into a few rhetorical sound bites. In short, I AM INTERCHANGE is holistic journalism done with hope for a better tomorrow.

A recent partnership with Hatch, a Bozeman-based but internationally focused non-profit dedicated to ideas, innovation, and problem solving informed by the United Nations’ SDGs, has helped super-size the network that Chamberlin is able to draw from for his various adventures in modern journalism. Taking a page from the hands-on and exploratory ethos of Blunderbuss, Chamberlin isn’t one to just stay home and use Zoom to make some interviews happen in a safe and isolated way. Instead, he often travels to where the stories or interesting conversations are happening. Be it a Farm Bill impact lab in Kansas City, a jungle in Mexico, or a boat in Egypt, he engages people directly at their point of interest and puts his finger on the pulse in real time. There is, after all, an unalienable authenticity in being where the action is, and that authenticity helps create a relatability that too much media misses these days. “I’m creating journalism around these endeavors as they are emerging in real time,” said Chamberlin. “The podcasts and stories encapsulate the whole experience of a topic so that it might look and feel like something communities around the world can relate to…By facilitating through tension, Interchange delivers truly informed storytelling.”

“You have to get into the tensions that surround something if you want to understand and solve a problem.”

Tate Chamberlin

To Learn More about I AM INTERCHANGE go to www.iaminterchange.com or check out their podcast here: https://spoti.fi/3S0YXhX


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