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Community outreach librarian Andrea Hirsh points something out to club member Mike Ricker. (Photo by Lisa Phu/KTOO)

AK: Book Club

Several people at Juneau’s downtown shelter and soup kitchen The Glory Hole are part of a new club. Every Tuesday, they come together on the second floor of the facility to discuss a different topic. The club is helping to build a different kind of community within the homeless shelter, a community not based on need, but on the exchange of ideas.

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April 4, 2014 - 5:25 pm
A training participant checks the water flow at Hagevig Fire Training Center before putting out a controlled fire. (Photo by Annie Bartholomew/KTOO)

AK: Disaster Response

The first responders in any disaster like the Good Friday Earthquake will likely be the firefighters and emergency medical technicians. But even the routine fire or medical call can be physically taxing and rely on months, perhaps even years of training. Capital City Fire and Rescue and the International Firefighters Association recently held a unique event in Juneau designed to demonstrate the rigors of the job to those unfamiliar with their routine.

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March 28, 2014 - 5:34 pm
Photo by Emily Files, KRBD - Ketchikan.

AK: Didgeridoo

You might not expect an ancient Aboriginal instrument from Australia to find its way to Alaska. But walk around downtown Ketchikan on a warm day and you may hear 15-year-old Kinani Halvorsen playing her didgeridoo. She’s played the unusual instrument for three years. And she hopes to bring the didgeridoo into the mainstream band practice.

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March 21, 2014 - 11:54 am
Sitka senior Thor Becker tests out a special drill bit to raise the gym's basketball hoops. Photo by Robert Woolsey, KCAW - Sitka.

AK: Machine Shop

Manufacturing – like everything else – is becoming more computerized, but instead of replacing craftsmanship, digital technology is opening up possibilities for students to create things in ways that simply weren’t practical five or ten years ago. Three kids at Sitka High School are building a tool – really just a customized piece of metal – to do an unsung, but important, job in the community. And their collaboration points toward a future where we’ll make stuff differently.

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March 14, 2014 - 4:08 pm
Yakutat Power's Scott Newlun checks a reading on a monitor at the power plant. Photo by Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska - Juneau.

AK: Wave Energy

The northern Southeast city of Yakutat is gearing up for a wave-energy experiment. If it’s a success, the community of about 650 residents could lower its high, diesel-fueled power costs. The system could also be a model for some other isolated Alaska cities.

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March 7, 2014 - 5:28 pm
David Mahaffey, the new Bishop of Sitka and Alaska at his installation ceremony in Sitka. Photo by Emily Forman, KCAW - Sitka.

AK: New Bishop

Last Sunday, the Orthodox Dioceses of Sitka and Alaska installed David Mahaffey as its 16th Bishop. A historic and ornate ceremony ensued in Sitka, attracting Orthodox Bishops from New York to Quebec. On the steps of St. Michael’s Cathedral, Native elders welcomed Metropolitan Tikhon, the head of the Orthodox Church in America with traditional bread and salt.

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February 28, 2014 - 5:38 pm
AK: Rural Recycling

AK: Rural Recycling

The city of Nome just bought a new recycling shed online. It’s another step towards diverting more waste from the landfill, and either re-purposing it or shipping it out of Alaska. Rural recycling presents some unique challenges for environmental management. And the city is finding some unique solutions.

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February 21, 2014 - 4:48 pm
AK: Cooking

AK: Cooking

Homer’s youth resource and enrichment co-op, known locally as “The R.E.C. Room,” is giving teens a taste of what it’s like to work in a commercial kitchen. The after school youth-outreach program has been holding FORK Club Cooking Classes for the last few months providing kids tips on using healthy, local ingredients.

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February 14, 2014 - 2:56 pm

AK: Connecting

Rural Alaska communities are not known for having good internet connections, cell phone reception or, really, many good ways of connecting to people and programs outside their area. But rural public libraries do now have those types of connections, thanks to a program through the Alaska State Library that connects libraries all over the state – and country – for a variety of programs and purposes.

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February 7, 2014 - 9:00 am
Kei Kawada, center, looks on as his friends play a game in Unalaska's Magic: the Gathering tournament. Photo by Annie Ropeik, KUCB - Unalaska.

AK: Magic

For more than 20 years, people all over the world have been playing the strategic fantasy card game Magic: the Gathering. But the game has only recently found its way to Unalaska, where the island’s teenage boys have been going through a serious Magic phase for the past few months.

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January 31, 2014 - 4:24 pm
Photo by Emily Forman, KCAW - Sitka.

AK: Girls Wrestling

Your high school might have had a wrestling team, but how many wrestlers were girls? There are more than a dozen girls on Sitka’s Mt. Edgecumbe High School wrestling team, and they regularly beat boys in their weight class.

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January 17, 2014 - 4:56 pm
Dan Magone on the deck of the Arctic Hunter, with debris visible on the beach. Photo by Annie Ropeik, KUCB - Unalaska.

AK: Shipwreck

The grounded crab boat Arctic Hunter has been stuck on the rocks outside Unalaska for more than two months now. Dan Magone of Resolve-Magone Marine Services has been working on a plan to remove the wreck. Right now, the Hunter is at the mercy of the elements. So what happens to a shipwreck while it’s waiting to be saved?

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January 10, 2014 - 5:15 pm

AK: History

In December, Juneau writer and English professor, Ernestine Hayes, released her new book Juneau from Arcadia Publishing. The book tells the history of the capitol city through pictures with elaborate captions. It’s a departure from her usual writing style. But the book builds on her effort to clarify the history of Native people.

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January 3, 2014 - 5:00 pm
KLA student Theresa Corp buzzes her classmate David Evon's hair in support KLA teacher, Connie Sankwich. Photo by Angela Denning Barnes, KYUK - Bethel.

AK: Hair

Hair is important, especially in high school, but that didn’t stop a few dozen students at Bethel’s Kuskokwim Learning Academy boarding school from shaving off their hair in support of a teacher undergoing chemotherapy. It was also a chance for some students to remember family who died from the disease.

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December 27, 2013 - 4:02 pm
Johnny Khongsuk sets up the Unalaska Raiders' robot on the game board. Photo courtesy of John Conwell, Unalaska school superintendent.

AK: Robotics

This month, five rural Alaska schools squared off in a virtual engineering competition run by Lego and GCI. It was a big learning experience for everyone – but especially, for the squad from Unalaska. They were competing for the first time, and they brought some unique strengths to the table.

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December 20, 2013 - 12:18 pm
AK: Ancient Shorelines

AK: Ancient Shorelines

Most of us like to know something about our family history. And we might want to get some idea of who was here before us.

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December 13, 2013 - 11:57 am
Photo by Rachel Waldholz, KCAW  Sitka.

AK: Fortress of the Bear

In 2003, a Sitka couple proposed creating a bear rescue center from the remains of the town’s decommissioned pulp mill – a plan that raised some local hackles. Ten years later, the Fortress of the Bear is home to five brown bears and two new black bear cubs – and it has converted some skeptics, including a local biologist.

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December 6, 2013 - 4:11 pm
Photo by Robert Woolsey, KCAW - Sitka.

AK: Banding Birds

Alaska has its share of big science projects, to be sure. But to get results, science doesn’t always have to be huge.
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November 29, 2013 - 10:00 am
The Begich Tower, a large pastel residential tower, would look more at home in New Jersey than small town Alaska.

Teaching in the City Under One Roof

It takes a different kind of person to live in Whittier, Alaska. The town is accessible only by water or by tunnel, the weather is extreme, and the only housing option is an ugly apartment building. But the community has managed to win over grade school teacher Erika Thompson. 

Alaska Public Media video producer Travis Gilmour spent a day with Thompson and found out life in this one-building town is unique, even by Alaska’s standards.

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November 22, 2013 - 7:00 am
Charlie is Carlton Smith’s second puppet. Smith first started doing ventriloquism 50 years ago as a ten year old boy. Photo by Lisa Phu, KTOO - Juneau.

AK: Tlingit Ventriloquism

Like many other indigenous languages, Tlingit is in survival mode. Revitalizing the language was the focus of this year’s Tlingit Tribes and Clans Conference held in Juneau last week. A Juneau resident has one solution for how to keep the language alive. During a conference session, realtor and assemblyman Carlton Smith gave participants a lesson in how to teach Tlingit to children with puppets. And he does it with the help of a special guest.

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November 15, 2013 - 4:09 pm