Sara Bernard, APRN - Anchorage
The Out North Contemporary Art House in Anchorage closed its doors on July 29th after nearly 30 years in operation. Out North’s Board of Directors laid off the six staff members and asked resident art groups to remove their belongings by early September, citing financial concerns. As artists and fans mourn the loss of one of the city’s great art houses, no one seems sure about what will happen next.
Tidal power, wave, wind and solar: there’s no lack of options when it comes to renewable energy in Alaska. To participants at the Alaska Renewable Energy Fair on the Anchorage Park Strip last weekend, Alaska may be one of the best places on the planet to develop some of these ideas.
The new mountain bike trails at Anchorage’s Kincaid Park are now underway. Volunteers got started on Monday night, helping to carve out 6 miles of new single-track trails on the north side of the park. Lee Bolling, Vice President of Singletrack Advocates, says the process should go through September.
This summer, five agencies came together to create a ten-week outdoor career program for Anchorage youth, aged 17 to 20. The program took them from city parks to the Chugach National Forest, clearing trees, building bridges, and cutting trails. The students’ last project was at the Spencer Glacier Whistle Stop, where they spent a month building a new trail and learning about the environment — and the employment options — in their own backyards.
The community gardens at Bragaw Street and 4th Avenue are finally bearing fruit – and vegetables. The Anchorage Community Land Trust negotiated with the municipality of Anchorage to take over the project in 2012 with help from state and grant funding. The ACLT will host the gardens’ opening celebration this Friday.
The Anchorage Economic Development Corporation hosted Anchorage’s first-ever Mini Maker Faire at the Loussac Library on Saturday, July 27th. The Maker Faire is a gathering of crafters, engineers, and tinkerers launched in California in 2006 and now taking place in cities across the world. The AEDC hopes the Faire will help boost innovation and industry across Alaska.
It might not seem like baking soda could do the work of bleach. But Alaska Community Action on Toxics suggests that there are effective alternatives to potentially harmful household cleaners. The Anchorage-based nonprofit’s Green Cleaning Service disinfects a growing number of the city’s homes and businesses with everyday items like vinegar solution and vegetable oil soap — and they say they’re getting good results.
Alaska could soon welcome back the era of the dirigible. Researchers argue that helium-powered cargo airships are cheaper and more flexible than conventional air craft — and that could be a game changer for rural Alaskan communities that rely on regular shipments of fuel and supplies. A conference in Anchorage last week drew representatives from around the world to discuss the potential applications of cargo airships in Alaska and how to make those ideas a reality.
A new project in Anchorage helps kids combine playing outside with reading books. Best Beginnings project manager Barbara Brown hosted the StoryTRACKS ribbon cutting event on the Loussac Public Library lawn on July 11. Each page of the children’s book We’re Going on a Bear Hunt was laminated and mounted on signposts so that kids could read together and run around at the same time. Brown says thanks to an Anchorage Parks Foundation grant, they’ll be able to create ten sets of laminated books that will soon make the rounds to parks and trails across the city.
Yup’ik artist Apayo Moore, from Dillingham, is leading a mural project at Anchorage’s Covenant House, a shelter for homeless youth. She’s painting the mural with the help of Covenant House residents over the next few weeks at the shelter’s new location at 8th Avenue and A Street. The project was commissioned by the Bristol Bay Native Corporation in part because nearly half the youth the Covenant House serves are Alaska Native, and Moore’s work often speaks to that identity. The mural features both salmon and caribou. Moore says these animals represent a subsistence way of life that prioritizes community, family, and Mother Nature.
It’s been hot and dry for the past few weeks, and red flag warnings for extreme fire danger are in effect in many parts of the state. For over a decade, the Anchorage Fire Department has been running Firewise, a national effort to help homeowners improve their property’s chances of surviving a wildfire. But without additional grant funding, that program could end after this summer.
Alaska’s Western stock of Steller sea lions is critically endangered. The Alaska SeaLife Center’s Lori Polasek is trying to figure out why. She and her colleagues hope that breeding sea lions in captivity will help them better understand those in the wild. Although recent sea lion pregnancies at the SeaLife Center haven’t been successful, scientists say the latest one could go exactly as planned.
An ambitious expedition to study ocean trash launched from Seward on June 7. The Gyre project is a collaboration between the Anchorage Museum and the Alaska SeaLife Center, among other organizations, to document the impact of marine debris along Alaska’s shoreline – and across the globe.