Haines seems like a quintessential Southeast Alaska town. There are eagles, bears, salmon, big mountains and rough water. It’s a picture-book no stoplight, no movie theater, low crime type of community. But there’s a seedier and eclectic side of Haines that emerged late this winter: the underground puppet scene.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.