Speaking truth to power: How one community group gets things done

A community meeting called to discuss homelessness and community mental health issues, organized by AFACT in November 2018. At the podium is Dahna Graham, a longtime community organizer through AFACT and a guest on today’s program.

Anchorage is gripped by several complex local issues — widespread evidence and impact of homelessness and persistent criminal activity. And like the nation, the state of Alaska seems politically polarized; here, it is over how to fund government services while supporting a permanent fund dividend payment to its residents. The problems are big and seem intractable.

That’s why the work that AFACT does in Anchorage interested me. AFACT stands for Anchorage Faith & Action Congregations Together. The group is 16 years old and practices old-fashioned community organizing.

Cover of AFACT’s 2019 alcohol tax information brochure. Find the full PDF under LINKS.

Earlier this spring, I accepted an invitation to attend an information breakfast to learn about the organization. The handout they provided at the breakfast listed their community projects and accomplishments dating back to 2004. They’ve gotten funding to launch community gardens to feed people, found a way to provide affordable after-school care in a neighborhood that needed it, got a blighted building removed, stopped cars from speeding through a neighborhood by working with the municipality on adding traffic calming features to their streets. They’ve held community forums for school board and mayoral candidates, where the questions asked at the forum come directly from people living in the community.

They have had impact and effect. On today’s Hometown Alaska, we’ll hear the stories behind their projects. How do they choose a problem to work on? What is their process? How do they overcome inertia, or a sense that you can’t fight power? And how do they handle ‘No’? These seem to be lessons for our times. Join us.

HOST: Kathleen McCoy

GUESTS:

Cover of AFACT’s history of community work, 2003-2019. See LINKS to view full brochure.
  • Jim Bell, AFACT leader
  • Dahna Graham, AFACT leader
  • Dan Gibney, executive director AFACT

LINKS:

PARTICIPATE:

  • Call 550-8433 (Anchorage) or 1-888-353-5752 (statewide) during the live broadcast (2:00 – 3:00pm)
  • Send e-mail to hometown@alaskapublic.org before, during or after the live broadcast (e-mails may be read on air)
  • Post your comment or question below (comments may be read on air)
  • LIVE: Monday, July 1, 2019 at 2:00 p.m
  • REPEAT: Monday, July 1, 2019 at 8:00 p.m.