The concept of “town”, “place” “home”, & “family” is a huge factor in my own life.
I was born in a little town on the banks of the Yellowstone River in southeastern Montana, trading hub for the entire corner of that huge state. Miles City was named for the Civil War General, Nelson A. Miles, sent out to take control of the territory after the Custer debacle with garrisons of soldiers, horses and all the paraphernalia of conquerors. The old Fort Keogh was still standing, and I used to be able to roam – finding century-old artifacts – over the old buildings and grounds. (This can be another post for another day.)
When I was growing up, the “old west” of “cowboys and Indians” was both in the past and also very much part of my present experience. Bars and old west-type saloons lined the commercial section (about 8 city blocks), people wore the cowboy garb (except for my sheepman father!), and the celebration of the “old west” was in full, post-war swing.
Many citizens had never known anything but Miles City. But my parents were “different”; they had met in Boston, and my mother’s distinctive accent (and interest in travel and France, in particular) made my parents colorful and well-known people in this little post-war environment from which I sprang.
I was lucky. Growing up in this little town gave me a sense of community, and its importance to me. At an early age, I walked by myself to the Carnegie Public Library (I love to read!), to my friend’s homes, to the nearby park to swing, to the swimming pond for lessons, and to school classes. I had a sense of being safe and known to the adults that instilled in me – I believe – a sense of overall self-confidence that has held up over the years and has served me well throughout the years. (Thanks, Mom!)
With COLONTOWN, I am attempting to bring to you all today my version of community; a safe, secure little village of neighborhoods where people gather together in solidarity and support. COLONTOWN reflects and continues (for me!) that need that we all have to feel safe, our voices heard, our desire to live, to live lives of quality, to be supported by our “others”, and to feel that we – as individual people – are known.
Erika Hanson Brown, Founding Mayor of COLONTOWN
Are you a colorectal cancer patient or caregiver? Join COLONTOWN and find your people!
CEO & President, PALTOWN Development Foundation
Ms. Brown, a Montana native, had a long and healthy career as a corporate executive search professional in the consumer packaged goods and telecommunications industries until – at age 58 – she was diagnosed with late-stage colorectal cancer. Once her treatment was completed, she refocused her professional energies on the undeveloped niche of disease-specific patient empowerment, founding COLONTOWN, the patient community. COLONTOWN features deeply engaged, experience-specific, secret support groups that are exclusively dedicated to colorectal cancer patients and family members.
In 2016, Brown co-founded the PALTOWN Development Foundation to create additional disease-focused communities for even more patients and families. COLONTOWN is the model for patient community building, providing the template and proof -of- concept for disease communities that will be developed.
Erika holds a B.A. in Liberal Arts (French) from the University of Montana.
Ms. Brown is grateful, empowered, and disease-free – 14 years later.