Alaska News

Fairbanks voters to decide on outlawing local pot businesses on Tuesday

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2017-09-29 17:22

Voters in Fairbanks and outlying areas will consider ballot measures Tuesday to outlaw marijuana businesses in the city and borough.

Safe Neighborhoods Fairbanks members say the proliferation of those businesses near residential areas presents a growing threat to families. Marijuana advocates disagree. They say making pot illegal again would halt the industry’s economic benefits and bring back the bad old days when consumers got their pot from the black market.

Jim Ostlind and other members of Safe Neighborhoods Fairbanks say they’re not looking to make marijuana illegal. He said advocates for borough Proposition 1 and Fairbanks Proposition A just want to keep marijuana businesses from opening up in residential and other “sensitive” areas.

“They feel like there needs to be some kind of control over this that isn’t there now,” Ostlind said.

Ostlind heads up Safe Neighborhoods’ political action committee, and he said members of the organization believe the Fairbanks North Star Borough is far too lenient in granting and renewing marijuana business permits.

“It looks to us like if a marijuana business wants to go in next to where you live, you’re going to have a marijuana business for a new neighbor,” Ostlind said.

Karen Bloom sees it differently. Bloom owns a marijuana-growing business in Fairbanks, and she says hers and all others in town have been granted permits and licenses because they followed the letter of the law established after Alaska voters approved legalizing marijuana three years ago.

“These are legitimate businesses, in a legitimate industry, following state and local regulation,” Bloom said.

Bloom said marijuana entrepreneurs don’t set up shop in a residentially zoned area, because that would violate state law and borough code. The borough only allows the businesses in areas zoned for agricultural, industrial or general use, or GU. Bloom said residents who don’t want a marijuana-related business in their neighborhood should work with the borough to rezone it residential, using the process Planning Director Christine Nelson outlined in a September 20th Fairbanks Daily News-Miner piece.

“The director did an excellent write-up on how residential neighborhoods that are zoned GU could go about being rezoned as a residential neighborhood, therefore prohibiting cannabis from being nearby,” Bloom said.

Commercial marijuana opponents said that’s a difficult and unnecessary process. And Ostlind said they distrust borough officials, because despite residents’ protests and big turnouts at public meetings, like one held for a proposed cannabis-growing facility off Badger Road, the borough has approved every application for marijuana business conditional-use permits.

“The community came out in force against this, there were so many people they had to have two nights of testimony,” Ostlind said. “Over a hundred pages of written testimony was submitted by the neighbors, and yet the permit was granted.”

Borough planning commissioners said they approved the application because it met all requirements. Bloom said that’s why it’s unfair for backers of the ballot propositions to resort to a referendum instead of seeking rezoning. She says if they prevail in next Tuesday’s vote, most marijuana consumers probably will go back to buying pot on the illegal black market. And she says there won’t be any public hearings or stateand local regulation for those dealers.

“Well, I can tell you right now the black market isn’t going to give two hoots about where they sell that product,” Bloom said.

Ostlind disagrees that marijuana consumers would flock to the black market. He predicts most would go to elsewhere outside the borough to buy, or would grow their own.

Marcey Luther thinks that’s unlikely. She works at a Fairbanks cannabis-cultivation shop, and is a member of the Alaska Marijuana Industry Association, and she said most people wouldn’t drive long distances to buy pot, nor be willing to invest the time and money required to grow it.

“The reality is that it takes a budget, it takes skill, it takes a space and it takes time to produce a productive crop,” Luther said.

Luther said if commercial marijuana were made illegal, it’s certain that most recreational users would revert to the black market – where quality control and consumer information is nonexistent.

“Black-market cannabis isn’t tested,” Luther said. “It can be full of mold. It can be full of pesticides. It doesn’t have the chemical breakdown on it.”

Ostlind said those are concerns for marijuana consumers, not the backers of the ballot measures.

“It’s not our responsibility to worry too much about the outcome of these initiatives,” OStlind said.

Ostlind said the same goes for the marijuana entrepreneurs. He says they should’ve known that there was a possibility that their operations could be made illegal by a voter initiative or referendum, as allowed for in the 2014 ballot measure that legalized pot in Alaska.

“Everybody knew what could be coming down the road,” Ostlind said, “and they made a decision, a business decision, and really I think that’s their responsibility.”

Bloom said that’s an irresponsible and short-sighted attitude to take about the dozens of area residents who’ve invested heavily in marijuana businesses and the hundreds who work in the industry that’s already brought significant economic benefits to the city and borough.

“We have warehouses that were sitting vacant and that are now filled and providing jobs,” Bloom said. “We have families that couldn’t work full-time that now have a year-round job, full-time. We have a tax base that we are contributing to.”

Ostlind doesn’t think it’ll be that much of problem. And he said in any case commercial-pot prohibition is the right thing to do.

Categories: Alaska News

SB 91 and its effects on crime rates

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2017-09-29 17:00
Goose Creek Prison. (Photo by Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage)

In 2016, the state legislature passed Senate Bill 91 — an omnibus criminal justice reform bill. Now, just over a year later, some are blaming the law for increases in crime and calling for its repeal. Join us for Talk of Alaska as we explore what SB 91 actually does, and what factors could be influencing crime rates in the state.

Listen Here

HOST: Anne Hillman

GUESTS:

  • Brad Myrstol – associate proffesor at UAA Justice Center
  • Greg Razo – Criminal Justice Commission
  • Susanne DiPietro – Alaska Judicial Council
  • Jahna Lindemuth – Attorney General
  • Clint Campion – Anchorage District Attorney
  • Statewide callers 

Participate:

  • Call 550-8422 (Anchorage) or 1-800-478-8255 (statewide) during the live broadcast
  • Post your comment before, during or after the live broadcast (comments may be read on air).
  • Send email to talk@alaskapublic.org (comments may be read on air)

LIVE Broadcast: Tuesday, October 3, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. on APRN stations statewide.

SUBSCRIBE: Get Talk of Alaska updates automatically by emailRSS or podcast.

Categories: Alaska News

SB 91 and its effects on crime rates

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2017-09-29 17:00
Goose Creek Prison. (Photo by Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage)

In 2016, the state legislature passed Senate Bill 91 — an omnibus criminal justice reform bill. Now, just over a year later, some are blaming the law for increases in crime and calling for its repeal. Join us for Talk of Alaska as we explore what SB 91 actually does, and what factors could be influencing crime rates in the state.

HOST: Anne Hillman

GUESTS:

  • Brad Myrstol – associate proffesor at UAA Justice Center
  • Greg Razo – Criminal Justice Commission
  • Statewide callers 

Participate:

  • Call 550-8422 (Anchorage) or 1-800-478-8255 (statewide) during the live broadcast
  • Post your comment before, during or after the live broadcast (comments may be read on air).
  • Send email to talk@alaskapublic.org (comments may be read on air)

LIVE Broadcast: Tuesday, October 3, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. on APRN stations statewide.

SUBSCRIBE: Get Talk of Alaska updates automatically by emailRSS or podcast.

Categories: Alaska News

Haines first community to sign DOC contract focused on pretrial services

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2017-09-29 16:07
Heather Parker with Gov. Walker’s office, DOC Commissioner Dean Williams, Pretrial Director Geri Fox, Haines Mayor Jan Hill, Haines Borough Manager Debra Schnabel and Haines Police Chief Heath Scott pose in a Haines jail cell with a revised community jails contract. (Emily Files)

Gov. Bill Walker is calling on the legislature to make changes to the crime reform bill known as SB 91. But one major part of the law, a pretrial services program, is on track to begin in January. As part of that program, the state wants to shift its relationship with 15 communities that operate rural jails. It will mean more money for local police departments, but also more work on the prevention side of things. Haines is the first community to sign the new contract.

Listen now

Last week, Department of Corrections Commissioner Dean Williams crowded into one of Haines’ three jail cells for a photo-op with the borough mayor, manager and police chief.

The local leaders had just signed on to a new contract that pays the borough an extra $30,000 to provide what are call ‘pretrial’ services.

“The biggest growth in our prison population in the state have been this pretrial population,” Williams said.

Williams explained that the goal of Alaska’s new pretrial program is to keep people who aren’t much of a threat out of prison as they await trial or another resolution to their case.

“Imagine there’s two people charged with the same crime, they both get a $1,000 bond put on them because that’s what the traditional system has been,” Williams said. “If you have $1,000 you pay it and get out. If you don’t, you stay in prison until your court date. That is a bad system.”

Williams said this exposes low-level offenders to more serious criminals and it could cause them to lose a job or be away from their family.

“And so we’re really trying to make decisions based on what risk a person represents, not their ability to pay a monetary bond,” Williams said. “It’s been disproportionate, quite frankly, if you’re a poor person, you’re less likely to get out of prison.”

The first step of the new pretrial program is a risk assessment. Geri Fox is DOC’s new pretrial director. She said the risk analysis will be based on a series of objective questions.

“How many felony arrests has this person had in the last five years?” Fox gave an example. “How many misdemeanor arrests has the person had in the past three years?”

Who conducts the risk assessment and monitors the defendant if they are not behind bars? That is going to depend on the location. Williams said DOC will hire about 60 pretrial service officers for bigger cities in Alaska. But in small towns like Haines, he sees that role falling to local police departments.

That’s where the community jails contracts come in. DOC pays 15 communities, from Haines to Kotzebue to Cordova, to operate rural jails. Williams wants to add on to the contracts, so that police departments participate in monitoring and supervision of defendants outside the jail cell.

“With the increased monies that DOC is giving us and the increased responsibility, I think at the end of the day we’re better serving our community,” Haines police chief Heath Scott said. “We’re in touch with people we need to be in touch with keep them on the straight and narrow, so to speak.”

The Haines department consists of a chief, soon to be four officers, and five dispatchers. The dispatchers also act as corrections officers, operating the jail. Scott said the new pre-trial responsibilities may require either another part-time dispatcher or more overtime hours. But he thinks the $30,000 DOC is adding to the contract will cover that work.

“We don’t know exactly what it looks like right now,” Scott said. “We’ve done no supervision, we’ve done no monitoring right now. But we don’t think it’s going to be a heavy lift.”

Scott hopes the revised contract means DOC funding is more secure in the future. Two years ago, the state chopped community jails money. It meant a $170,000 hit to the Haines Borough. The police department is still heavily reliant on the community jails funding.

And Williams hopes the roll-out of the $10 million statewide pretrial program will make Alaska’s justice system more equitable.

“It just makes sense, you don’t want low-risk people who’ve had a bad day in prison,” Williams said. “Have them be responsible and pay a consequence otherwise. But if you’re a risky person and you’ve been able to pay your way out of prison, those days are done.”

So, as the legislature prepares to debate changes to SB 91, Williams and his department are preparing the pre-trial program. That includes meeting with smaller communities like Haines, to see if they’re willing to partner in this new focus on prevention.

Categories: Alaska News

Haines first community to sign DOC contract focused on pretrial services

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2017-09-29 16:07
Heather Parker with Gov. Walker’s office, DOC Commissioner Dean Williams, Pretrial Director Geri Fox, Haines Mayor Jan Hill, Haines Borough Manager Debra Schnabel and Haines Police Chief Heath Scott pose in a Haines jail cell with a revised community jails contract. (Emily Files)

Gov. Bill Walker is calling on the legislature to make changes to the crime reform bill known as SB 91. But one major part of the law, a pretrial services program, is on track to begin in January. As part of that program, the state wants to shift its relationship with 15 communities that operate rural jails. It will mean more money for local police departments, but also more work on the prevention side of things. Haines is the first community to sign the new contract.

Last week, Department of Corrections Commissioner Dean Williams crowded into one of Haines’ three jail cells for a photo-op with the borough mayor, manager and police chief.

The local leaders had just signed on to a new contract that pays the borough an extra $30,000 to provide what are call ‘pretrial’ services.

“The biggest growth in our prison population in the state have been this pretrial population,” Williams said.

Williams explained that the goal of Alaska’s new pretrial program is to keep people who aren’t much of a threat out of prison as they await trial or another resolution to their case.

“Imagine there’s two people charged with the same crime, they both get a $1,000 bond put on them because that’s what the traditional system has been,” Williams said. “If you have $1,000 you pay it and get out. If you don’t, you stay in prison until your court date. That is a bad system.”

Williams said this exposes low-level offenders to more serious criminals and it could cause them to lose a job or be away from their family.

“And so we’re really trying to make decisions based on what risk a person represents, not their ability to pay a monetary bond,” Williams said. “It’s been disproportionate, quite frankly, if you’re a poor person, you’re less likely to get out of prison.”

The first step of the new pretrial program is a risk assessment. Geri Fox is DOC’s new pretrial director. She said the risk analysis will be based on a series of objective questions.

“How many felony arrests has this person had in the last five years?” Fox gave an example. “How many misdemeanor arrests has the person had in the past three years?”

Who conducts the risk assessment and monitors the defendant if they are not behind bars? That is going to depend on the location. Williams said DOC will hire about 60 pretrial service officers for bigger cities in Alaska. But in small towns like Haines, he sees that role falling to local police departments.

That’s where the community jails contracts come in. DOC pays 15 communities, from Haines to Kotzebue to Cordova, to operate rural jails. Williams wants to add on to the contracts, so that police departments participate in monitoring and supervision of defendants outside the jail cell.

“With the increased monies that DOC is giving us and the increased responsibility, I think at the end of the day we’re better serving our community,” Haines police chief Heath Scott said. “We’re in touch with people we need to be in touch with keep them on the straight and narrow, so to speak.”

The Haines department consists of a chief, soon to be four officers, and five dispatchers. The dispatchers also act as corrections officers, operating the jail. Scott said the new pre-trial responsibilities may require either another part-time dispatcher or more overtime hours. But he thinks the $30,000 DOC is adding to the contract will cover that work.

“We don’t know exactly what it looks like right now,” Scott said. “We’ve done no supervision, we’ve done no monitoring right now. But we don’t think it’s going to be a heavy lift.”

Scott hopes the revised contract means DOC funding is more secure in the future. Two years ago, the state chopped community jails money. It meant a $170,000 hit to the Haines Borough. The police department is still heavily reliant on the community jails funding.

And Williams hopes the roll-out of the $10 million statewide pretrial program will make Alaska’s justice system more equitable.

“It just makes sense, you don’t want low-risk people who’ve had a bad day in prison,” Williams said. “Have them be responsible and pay a consequence otherwise. But if you’re a risky person and you’ve been able to pay your way out of prison, those days are done.”

So, as the legislature prepares to debate changes to SB 91, Williams and his department are preparing the pre-trial program. That includes meeting with smaller communities like Haines, to see if they’re willing to partner in this new focus on prevention.

Categories: Alaska News

49 Voices: Joey Shugarts of Anchorage

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2017-09-29 15:20
Joey Shugarts of Anchorage (Photo by Samantha Davenport, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage)

This week we’re hearing from Joey Shugarts in Anchorage. Shugarts moved to Anchorage three years ago from Michigan.

Download audio

SHUGARTS: Moving to Alaska has been a dream since a kid, and I know it may sound funny but when I saw Balto as a kid, it kind of piqued my interest and the Northern Lights and everything. And then I really love to hunt and fish and I really love the ice and the cold so Alaska’s kinda always piqued my interest, even though Michigan was kinda cold in ways. But, I wanted to move up here.

So my dad didn’t make it to Alaska because he died from a rare form of asbestos mesothelioma — sarcomatoid mesothelioma — so we knew for about four months and then he passed away. And so I decided, you know, my dad died at a young age of 46 and if I was gonna make my move to Alaska, I should make it happen. So six months later, I packed up everything I could in my Jeep with my dog and we moved up here.

I love all the wildlife. In fact, the other day, I went for a walk in the park where I was picking wild cranberries — I run into a black bear. Less than ten yards… I love it.

I really wanted to see my first moose, and when I moved up here it took a few days before I’d seen my first moose. And I was kinda bummed. I mean, I went out to the airport, out to Earthquake Park and places where people had told me to go. And I finally went over to Kincaid in the evening, and I probably got a little closer than what I should have. But I had this big, huge, beautiful bull moose just come. It was amazing when you have an animal that big close to you just breathing. You wanna touch it, but you know you can’t. (laughs)

I will have to leave for graduate school because, unfortunately, Alaska does not have a dental school. But I wanna move back as soon as possible. I love it up here and this is my permanent home. Even though Michigan is where I’m from, but I wanna make Alaska my permanent home.

Categories: Alaska News

49 Voices: Joey Shugarts of Anchorage

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2017-09-29 15:20
Joey Shugarts of Anchorage (Photo by Samantha Davenport, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage)

This week we’re hearing from Joey Shugarts in Anchorage. Shugarts moved to Anchorage three years ago from Michigan.

Download audio

SHUGARTS: Moving to Alaska has been a dream since a kid, and I know it may sound funny but when I saw the Balto as a kid, it kind of piqued my interest and the Northern Lights and everything. And then I really love to hunt and fish and I really love the ice and the cold so Alaska’s kinda always piqued my interest, even tho Michigan was kinda cold in ways. But, I wanted to move up here.

So my dad didn’t make it to Alaska because he died from a rare form of asbestos mesothelioma — sarcomatoid mesothelioma — so we knew for about four months and then he passed away. And so I decided, you know, my dad died at a young age of 46 and if I was gonna make my move to Alaska, I should make it happen. So six months later, I packed up everything I could in my Jeep with my dog and we moved up here.

I love all the wildlife. In fact, the other day, I went for a walk in the park where I was picking wild cranberries — I run into a black bear. Less than ten yards… I love it.

I really wanted to see my first moose, and when I moved up here it took a few days before I’d seen my first moose. And I was kinda bummed. I mean, I went out to the airport, out to Earthquake Park and places where people had told me to go. And I finally went over to Kincaid in the evening, and I probably got a little closer than what I should have. But I had this big, huge, beautiful bull moose just come. It was amazing when you have an animal that big close to you just breathing. You wanna touch it, but you know you can’t. (laughs)

I will have to leave for graduate school because, unfortunately, Alaska does not have a dental school. But I wanna move back as soon as possible. I love it up here and this is my permanent home. Even though Michigan is where I’m from, but I wanna make Alaska my permanent home.

Categories: Alaska News

AK: Juneau business showcases diverse artists’ work in postcard contest

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2017-09-29 14:58
“They Are Always With Us” by Rob Roys (Courtesy of Kindred Post)

Kindred Post, a post office, gift shop and gathering space in downtown Juneau, has selected 10 art submissions to print on 1,000 postcards. The selections are from around the state, and from a diversity of artists.

Listen now

Kindred Post’s sidewalk sandwich board reads: stamps, boxes, shipping services, handmade and Alaskan made gifts and good vibes. An image of a woman wearing an American flag hijab that reads “We The People” is in the storefront, and just inside is a hoodie that reads “Social Justice Hustle.”

Kindred Post owner Christy Namee Eriksen. (Photo by Scott Burton/KTOO)

“So when we first started Kindred Post I’d had this dream to fill it with local art,” artist and writer Christy Namee Eriksen said.

Eriksen has owned the business for 3 years. Beyond post officey stuff, it’s known for selling artful jewelry, happening First Friday art gatherings and “Tiny Post Office” concerts.

“People come here every day to buy postcard stamps and they’re always looking for postcards,” Eriksen said.

Eriksen had already tapped some of Juneau’s usual suspects for art, so a contest seemed in order. And it had a bonus.

“We’d be able to learn what type of art and artists might be out there that we weren’t familiar with already, and we opened it up state wide,” Eriksen said.

250 submissions came in between July and August.

Among the 10 winners is Tom Chung who teaches art at the University of Alaska Anchorage. The image is of him riding shirtless on a moose in front of the backdrop of an Alaskan wilderness.

“I don’t see representations very often of Asian males, and so I use myself because it’s a little bit of an act of rebelling and I guess that I believe I live in a culture that says I am not desirable or not beautiful, and so I place myself in these sort of images of desirability or masculinity to kind of rebel against that,” Chung said.

“Moose Rider” by Thomas Chung (Courtesy Kindred Post)

Crystal Worl is a Juneau-based mixed media artist and business owner that works in paint and fashion design.

“I submitted six pieces and the one they selected is called “White Raven,” Worl said. “I like to acknowledge my Tlingit side using formline, and then I also like to acknowledge my Athabascan side through putting beadwork, floral patterns in my paintings. This one has a seaweed pattern that looks like a growing stem…. There’s a moon below Raven. You get the feeling that you’re looking up into the sky at Raven, and this is coming down and it feels also like you’re under water.”

#td_uid_1_59d5dcd0c22ec .td-doubleSlider-2 .td-item1 { background: url(https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/09292017_Post-office-painting3-80x60.jpg) 0 0 no-repeat; } #td_uid_1_59d5dcd0c22ec .td-doubleSlider-2 .td-item2 { background: url(https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/09292017_Post-office-painting10-80x60.jpg) 0 0 no-repeat; } #td_uid_1_59d5dcd0c22ec .td-doubleSlider-2 .td-item3 { background: url(https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/09292017_Post-office-painting9-80x60.jpg) 0 0 no-repeat; } #td_uid_1_59d5dcd0c22ec .td-doubleSlider-2 .td-item4 { background: url(https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/09292017_Post-office-painting8-80x60.jpg) 0 0 no-repeat; } #td_uid_1_59d5dcd0c22ec .td-doubleSlider-2 .td-item5 { background: url(https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/09292017_Post-office-painting7-80x60.jpg) 0 0 no-repeat; } #td_uid_1_59d5dcd0c22ec .td-doubleSlider-2 .td-item6 { background: url(https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/09292017_Post-office-painting6-80x60.jpg) 0 0 no-repeat; } #td_uid_1_59d5dcd0c22ec .td-doubleSlider-2 .td-item7 { background: url(https://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/09292017_Post-office-painting4-80x60.jpg) 0 0 no-repeat; } 1 of 7 “White Raven” by Crystal Kaakeeyáa Worl (Courtesy Kindred Post) “Kaiju (heart symbol) Kindred Post” by Zoey Lam (Courtesy Kindred Post) “But Locals Don’t Actually Use Umbrellas” by Veronica Rose Buness (Courtesy Kindred Post) “She Has Secrets” by Allison Estergard (Courtesy Kindred Post) “Aurora Chaser” by Brianna Reagan (Courtesy Kindred Post) “Humpback Whale Tale” by Karena Perry (Courtesy Kindred Post) “Splish Splash” by Hollis Kitchin (Courtesy Kindred Post)

Additional winning images include a humpback whale in watercolor, a fox under the aurora, an image of a hand-embroidered umbrella. Some of the winning artists’ names are recognizable, some not—including a kid’s marker drawing of a large green dinosaur-like beast sort of hugging the Kindred Post store.

Having a diversity of artists is important to store owner Eriksen who studied social justice in college and co-founded a poetry slam in Juneau that is known for inclusiveness and empowering voice.

Kindred Post is not your average post office. (Photo by Scott Burton)

“I had a equity clause built into the competition,” Eriksen said. “So we wanted to prioritize artists who have otherwise have had social marginalization, and maybe not have had as much access to artistic opportunities as others.

Eriksen, her staff and other community members judged.

“So we would give preference to artists who self-identified as either a woman, LGBTQ, a person of color or an indigenous person, artists who are experiencing a developmental disability, or just a disability,” Eriksen said.

“I thought that was really great, I noticed that,” Chung said. “And we were allowed to write a little comment with our submission and I wrote I am a gay person of color that also lives with a disability. And it’s not just I guess to give a leg up to people that might need a little more encouraging, but also being inclusive to all sorts of diversity it expands the range of viewpoints that can be shared.”

“Our success is tied to the success of our neighborhood, of our city, of our community,” Eriksen said. “And so if you have that type of commitment to the place or the people that you belong to, then the question for me would be why would you not be committed to social justice? Why would you not want to raise up and work towards equality for all of its members?”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct an erroneous mis-attribution of a quote.

Categories: Alaska News

AK: Juneau business showcases diverse artists’ work in postcard contest

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2017-09-29 14:58
“They Are Always With Us” by Rob Roys (Courtesy of Kindred Post)

Kindred Post, a post office, gift shop and gathering space in downtown Juneau, has selected 10 art submissions to print on 1,000 postcards. The selections are from around the state, and from a diversity of artists.

Listen now

Kindred Post’s sidewalk sandwich board reads: stamps, boxes, shipping services, handmade and Alaskan made gifts and good vibes. An image of a woman wearing an American flag hijab that reads “We The People” is in the storefront, and just inside is a hoodie that reads “Social Justice Hustle.”

Kindred Post owner Christy Namee Eriksen. (Photo by Scott Burton/KTOO)

“So when we first started Kindred Post I’d had this dream to fill it with local art,” artist and writer Christy Namee Eriksen said.

Eriksen has owned the business for 3 years. Beyond post officey stuff, it’s known for selling artful jewelry, happening First Friday art gatherings and “Tiny Post Office” concerts.

“People come here every day to buy postcard stamps and they’re always looking for postcards,” Eriksen said.

Eriksen had already tapped some of Juneau’s usual suspects for art, so a contest seemed in order. And it had a bonus.

“We’d be able to learn what type of art and artists might be out there that we weren’t familiar with already, and we opened it up state wide,” Eriksen said.

250 submissions came in between July and August.

Among the 10 winners is Tom Chung who teaches art at the University of Alaska Anchorage. The image is of him riding shirtless on a moose in front of the backdrop of an Alaskan wilderness.

“I don’t see representations very often of Asian males, and so I use myself because it’s a little bit of an act of rebelling and I guess that I believe I live in a culture that says I am not desirable or not beautiful, and so I place myself in these sort of images of desirability or masculinity to kind of rebel against that,” Chung said.

“Moose Rider” by Thomas Chung (Courtesy Kindred Post)

Crystal Worl is a Juneau-based mixed media artist and business owner that works in paint and fashion design.

“I submitted six pieces and the one they selected is called “White Raven,” Worl said. “I like to acknowledge my Tlingit side using formline, and then I also like to acknowledge my Athabascan side through putting beadwork, floral patterns in my paintings. This one has a seaweed pattern that looks like a growing stem…. There’s a moon below Raven. You get the feeling that you’re looking up into the sky at Raven, and this is coming down and it feels also like you’re under water.”

#td_uid_1_59cedbbe0599c .td-doubleSlider-2 .td-item1 { background: url(http://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/09292017_Post-office-painting3-80x60.jpg) 0 0 no-repeat; } #td_uid_1_59cedbbe0599c .td-doubleSlider-2 .td-item2 { background: url(http://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/09292017_Post-office-painting10-80x60.jpg) 0 0 no-repeat; } #td_uid_1_59cedbbe0599c .td-doubleSlider-2 .td-item3 { background: url(http://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/09292017_Post-office-painting9-80x60.jpg) 0 0 no-repeat; } #td_uid_1_59cedbbe0599c .td-doubleSlider-2 .td-item4 { background: url(http://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/09292017_Post-office-painting8-80x60.jpg) 0 0 no-repeat; } #td_uid_1_59cedbbe0599c .td-doubleSlider-2 .td-item5 { background: url(http://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/09292017_Post-office-painting7-80x60.jpg) 0 0 no-repeat; } #td_uid_1_59cedbbe0599c .td-doubleSlider-2 .td-item6 { background: url(http://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/09292017_Post-office-painting6-80x60.jpg) 0 0 no-repeat; } #td_uid_1_59cedbbe0599c .td-doubleSlider-2 .td-item7 { background: url(http://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/09292017_Post-office-painting4-80x60.jpg) 0 0 no-repeat; } 1 of 7 “White Raven” by Crystal Kaakeeyáa Worl (Courtesy Kindred Post) “Kaiju (heart symbol) Kindred Post” by Zoey Lam (Courtesy Kindred Post) “But Locals Don’t Actually Use Umbrellas” by Veronica Rose Buness (Courtesy Kindred Post) “She Has Secrets” by Allison Estergard (Courtesy Kindred Post) “Aurora Chaser” by Brianna Reagan (Courtesy Kindred Post) “Humpback Whale Tale” by Karena Perry (Courtesy Kindred Post) “Splish Splash” by Hollis Kitchin (Courtesy Kindred Post)

Additional winning images include a humpback whale in watercolor, a fox under the aurora, an image of a hand-embroidered umbrella. Some of the winning artists’ names are recognizable, some not—including a kid’s marker drawing of a large green dinosaur-like beast sort of hugging the Kindred Post store.

Having a diversity of artists is important to store owner Eriksen who studied social justice in college and co-founded a poetry slam in Juneau that is known for inclusiveness and empowering voice.

Kindred Post is not your average post office. (Photo by Scott Burton)

“I had a equity clause built into the competition,” Eriksen said. “So we wanted to prioritize artists who have otherwise have had social marginalization, and maybe not have had as much access to artistic opportunities as others.

Eriksen, her staff and other community members judged.

“So we would give preference to artists who self-identified as either a woman, LGBTQ, a person of color or an indigenous person, artists who are experiencing a developmental disability, or just a disability,” Eriksen said.

“I thought that was really great, I noticed that,” Chung said. “And we were allowed to write a little comment with our submission and I wrote I am a gay person of color that also lives with a disability. And it’s not just I guess to give a leg up to people that might need a little more encouraging, but also being inclusive to all sorts of diversity it expands the range of viewpoints that can be shared.”

“Why is that important to you: social justice and equity,” Eriksen asked. “Why is that a part of your business?”

“Our success is tied to the success of our neighborhood, of our city, of our community,” Chung said. “And so if you have that type of commitment to the place or the people that you belong to, then the question for me would be why would you not be committed to social justice? Why would you not want to raise up and work towards equality for all of its members?”

Categories: Alaska News

State rejects teen climate change petition

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2017-09-29 10:35
Seb Kurland sits right of DEC Commissioner, Larry Hartig. (Photo courtesy of the Alaska Center)

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation denied a climate change petition on Thursday submitted by a group of teens. The petition asked the state to reduce carbon emissions, monitor greenhouse gasses and come up with a long term climate change strategy.

Listen now

In late August, the teens hand-delivered the petition to DEC commissioner Larry Hartig. In his rejection letter, Hartig said the request posed “significant consequences for employment and resource development” in the state.

Seb Kurland, a member of Alaska Youth for Environmental Action, the group that submitted the proposal, was initially disappointed by the decision. But the 17-year-old from Juneau isn’t giving up.

“I’m hopeful the governor and the Lt. governor will take action on this subject,” Kurland said. “And that their newly appointed members will do something about it.”

The governor’s office has made some strides to address climate change since the teens voiced their concern. The administration created a new position, appointing a climate change adviser.

Lt. Governor Byron Mallott said a climate plan is forthcoming.

Categories: Alaska News

State rejects teen climate change petition

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2017-09-29 10:35
Seb Kurland sits right of DEC Commissioner, Larry Hartig. (Photo courtesy of the Alaska Center)

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation denied a climate change petition on Thursday submitted by a group of teens. The petition asked the state to reduce carbon emissions, monitor greenhouse gasses and come up with a long term climate change strategy.

Listen now

In late August, the teens hand-delivered the petition to DEC commissioner Larry Hartig. In his rejection letter, Hartig said the request posed “significant consequences for employment and resource development” in the state.

Seb Kurland, a member of Alaska Youth for Environmental Action, the group that submitted the proposal, was initially disappointed by the decision. But the 17-year-old from Juneau isn’t giving up.

“I’m hopeful the governor and the Lt. governor will take action on this subject,” Kurland said. “And that their newly appointed members will do something about it.”

The governor’s office has made some strides to address climate change since the teens voiced their concern. The administration created a new position, appointing a climate change adviser.

Lt. Governor Byron Mallott said a climate plan is forthcoming.

Categories: Alaska News

Next election may delay plan to fund state government

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2017-09-28 18:11
Sen. Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage, talks with an aide and Sen. Mia Costello, R-Anchorage, before a Senate floor session in May 2016 in Juneau. Meyer blames Gov. Bill Walker for early candidate filings, after Walker called a special session. (Photo by Rashah McChesney/KTOO)

The next statewide election is more than a year away, but electoral politics may already be affecting the chances for lawmakers to agree on a lasting solution to the state’s dire financial situation.

Listen now

Candidates have been announcing plans for governor, lieutenant governor and the Legislature since July.

And they’re taking positions that could make a budget deal more difficult.

Almost two-thirds of legislators have already indicated they’ll run in next year’s election, by registering or filing a letter of intent with either the Alaska Public Offices Commission or Division of Elections, through Thursday, Sept. 28.

Anchorage Republican Sen. Kevin Meyer is one of three lawmakers who’ve filed for statewide office. He wants to be lieutenant governor.

Rep. Mike Chenault and Sen. Mike Dunleavy have filed for governor, although Dunleavy suspended his campaign.

Meyer said Gov. Bill Walker’s call for a special session on Oct. 23 has led candidates to file early.

“I’m going to blame the governor on that, because when we’re in session — whether it’s special session or regular session — we can’t raise money,” Meyer said. “We are forced to get an earlier start, like now, to make our announcement, do our paperwork, and start doing the fundraising. … We are in the campaign mode, whether you’re running for a House seat, or a Senate seat, or statewide office. That will have an impact on the success of this special session.”

Walker has called for the Legislature to consider a 1.5 percent tax on wages and self employment income. It would raise $320 million, roughly one in eight dollars needed to close a $2.4 billion gap between what the state spends each year and what it raises in revenue.

Walker spokeswoman Grace Jang said the special session was needed.

The independent governor also has put a bill related to criminal sentencing on the session agenda.

“Gov. Walker called the special session to fix the economy and address public safety, because neither of those things can wait,” Jang said.

Meyer said Walker’s tax proposal is similar to an income tax the Senate has already voted against. He noted the Senate majority caucus is asking Walker to make more cuts to spending before asking for new revenue.

It’s been nearly two years since Walker proposed a plan to balance the budget. If lawmakers can’t reach a compromise before the election, it could take at least another year and a half to settle on a plan.

Anchorage Democratic Rep. Les Gara said a delay will hurt the economy.

“I’m always hopeful for compromise,” Gara said. “Politics right now, with a growing recession, losing 14,000 jobs in the last two years, you’re always in danger that politicians will sell fake sound bites and destroy the economy and get elected.”

Gara said the Senate majority plan to cut the size of government further will lower employment.

“You’re killing jobs by sound-biting your way into a bigger recession,” Gara said.

It’s not just sitting lawmakers who are dissecting potential plans to balance the budget.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Hawkins said he supports parts of a plan to draw money from permanent fund earnings to pay for government. But he opposes the size of the cut the Legislature made to permanent fund dividends.

“I supported certain elements of it,” Hawkins said. “The fatal mistake it made was arbitrarily setting the value of the dividend. And setting it at a lower level than it really needs to be.”

The lack of agreement on a long-term plan disturbs Gunnar Knapp, a retired professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

“It’s frustrating to see us go year after year after and not be able to come to a resolution about our fiscal situation, and now to hear that, well, we’ve got an election coming up, and so expect another year to go by without anything real happening,” Knapp said.

Knapp said the uncertainty is hurting the economy.

“Who’s going to move to Alaska to take a job here and start a new career if they don’t know what kind of public services we’re going to have, what kind of taxes there are going to be, what kind of future we are looking at,” Knapp said.

The October special session will be the ninth of Walker’s three years in office.

Categories: Alaska News

Next election may delay plan to fund state government

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2017-09-28 18:11
Sen. Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage, talks with an aide and Sen. Mia Costello, R-Anchorage, before a Senate floor session in May 2016 in Juneau. Meyer blames Gov. Bill Walker for early candidate filings, after Walker called a special session. (Photo by Rashah McChesney/KTOO)

The next statewide election is more than a year away, but electoral politics may already be affecting the chances for lawmakers to agree on a lasting solution to the state’s dire financial situation.

Listen now

Candidates have been announcing plans for governor, lieutenant governor and the Legislature since July.

And they’re taking positions that could make a budget deal more difficult.

Almost two-thirds of legislators have already indicated they’ll run in next year’s election, by registering or filing a letter of intent with either the Alaska Public Offices Commission or Division of Elections, through Thursday, Sept. 28.

Anchorage Republican Sen. Kevin Meyer is one of three lawmakers who’ve filed for statewide office. He wants to be lieutenant governor.

Rep. Mike Chenault and Sen. Mike Dunleavy have filed for governor, although Dunleavy suspended his campaign.

Meyer said Gov. Bill Walker’s call for a special session on Oct. 23 has led candidates to file early.

“I’m going to blame the governor on that, because when we’re in session — whether it’s special session or regular session — we can’t raise money,” Meyer said. “We are forced to get an earlier start, like now, to make our announcement, do our paperwork, and start doing the fundraising. … We are in the campaign mode, whether you’re running for a House seat, or a Senate seat, or statewide office. That will have an impact on the success of this special session.”

Walker has called for the Legislature to consider a 1.5 percent tax on wages and self employment income. It would raise $320 million, roughly one in eight dollars needed to close a $2.4 billion gap between what the state spends each year and what it raises in revenue.

Walker spokeswoman Grace Jang said the special session was needed.

The independent governor also has put a bill related to criminal sentencing on the session agenda.

“Gov. Walker called the special session to fix the economy and address public safety, because neither of those things can wait,” Jang said.

Meyer said Walker’s tax proposal is similar to an income tax the Senate has already voted against. He noted the Senate majority caucus is asking Walker to make more cuts to spending before asking for new revenue.

It’s been nearly two years since Walker proposed a plan to balance the budget. If lawmakers can’t reach a compromise before the election, it could take at least another year and a half to settle on a plan.

Anchorage Democratic Rep. Les Gara said a delay will hurt the economy.

“I’m always hopeful for compromise,” Gara said. “Politics right now, with a growing recession, losing 14,000 jobs in the last two years, you’re always in danger that politicians will sell fake sound bites and destroy the economy and get elected.”

Gara said the Senate majority plan to cut the size of government further will lower employment.

“You’re killing jobs by sound-biting your way into a bigger recession,” Gara said.

It’s not just sitting lawmakers who are dissecting potential plans to balance the budget.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Hawkins said he supports parts of a plan to draw money from permanent fund earnings to pay for government. But he opposes the size of the cut the Legislature made to permanent fund dividends.

“I supported certain elements of it,” Hawkins said. “The fatal mistake it made was arbitrarily setting the value of the dividend. And setting it at a lower level than it really needs to be.”

The lack of agreement on a long-term plan disturbs Gunnar Knapp, a retired professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

“It’s frustrating to see us go year after year after and not be able to come to a resolution about our fiscal situation, and now to hear that, well, we’ve got an election coming up, and so expect another year to go by without anything real happening,” Knapp said.

Knapp said the uncertainty is hurting the economy.

“Who’s going to move to Alaska to take a job here and start a new career if they don’t know what kind of public services we’re going to have, what kind of taxes there are going to be, what kind of future we are looking at,” Knapp said.

The October special session will be the ninth of Walker’s three years in office.

Categories: Alaska News

Petersburg’s tribe uses new machine to make compost in bulk

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2017-09-28 18:07
Brandon Thynes, Petersburg Indian Association’s Tribal Resource Director, and his assistant, Clifton Gudgel, stand next to the tribe’s new composting machine, which is housed in a portable building at the Petersburg Borough’s baler facility. (Photo by Angela Denning/KFSK)

Two things that Petersburg has a lot of are fish and wood. And one thing the local rocky terrain is short on is dirt. But given the right circumstances you can get dirt out of fish and wood. A new business venture by the local tribe, Petersburg Indian Association, has begun to provide the town with locally-made, environmentally friendly compost.

Listen now

Walking on the road into the landfill, you pass by piles of automobiles and rubber tires, and eventually come to three large, white portable buildings. This is where the local tribe makes compost. In one of the tents is a large stainless steel machine that’s cylinder in shape sitting on top of a trailer. (It’s called a Nioex Biovator) The tribe paid $15,000 for it and had it shipped in this fall from Manitoba, Canada.

Brandon Thynes is the Tribal Resource Director.

“We have a load in it right now and it’s been cooking since last Friday,” Thynes said. “You just kind of layer it like lasagna with wood chips and fish waste and wood chips to cover it so it doesn’t smell.”

Thynes and his assistant, Clifton Gudgel opened up the lid and he was right; it didn’t smell. It just looks like dark brown wood chips.

Petersburg Indian Association’s new composting machine is open on one end showing a batch of wood chips and fish meal being composted. (Photo by Angela Denning/KFSK)

“The temperature should get up to 160, 140 [degrees]. It’s pretty crazy to open up your pile and steams just rolling out of it,” Thynes said. “It’s pretty amazing.”

Before working for PIA, Thynes used to be a commercial fisherman. He knew there was a lot of fish waste. It gets ground up and dumped into the water in front of town by local processing plants. Now, Thynes gets some of that leftover fish for free. The tribe uses up to 500 pounds a week for composting.

“It’s a great year round business for the tribe, helping the environment by not pumping that fish waste into our Narrows,” Thynes said.

If there’s a shortage of fish, Thynes said they could always use kelp.

The wood they get from scraps around town that would otherwise get burned at the landfill. It’s usually alder because it grows fast and people often want to cut it back. PIA puts it through a wood chipper and its ready for composting. But they won’t just use any scraps. They have to know where it’s from and that it hasn’t come in contact with pesticides or other chemicals.

“It’s not labeled organic but it is organic because we don’t add anything to it,” Thynes said.

The composting machine is on a timer so it rotates every two hours. It takes about two weeks for the fish and wood to become dirt and then it needs to sit and cure for a month before it can be used.

After a batch is done, they’ll filter out any leftover pieces of wood to go into the next batch.

“It’s actually like a little starter, kind of like sour dough where the microbes are on these pieces already,” Thynes said. “So, it spreads throughout the compost a lot faster.”

Brandon Thynes, Petersburg Indian Association’s Tribal Resource Director, stands next to the tribe’s new stainless steel composting machine. The tribe shipped in the machine from Canada this fall. (Photo by Angela Denning/KFSK)

PIA has been making compost for years. In the past, the tribe used an older model composting machine that kept breaking down. Then workers made compost by hand by what’s called static aerated piles. Wood chips and fish were layered in a heap on the ground, which would get aerated and turned occasionally. But the process was lengthy. And when Thynes started working for the tribe a year and a half ago, he wanted to expand. He says they were missing opportunities.

“Juneau wanted quite a bunch, like 50 cubic yards and we just couldn’t, I couldn’t make enough to get what they wanted,” Thynes said. “So, it was stuff like that, opportunities to make it a business, and hire some more tribe members so they can have a [full-time], year round job that pays well.”

Gudgel, Thynes’ assistant, said he likes having a job where he can work outside.

“Getting out there and getting the materials and throwing it all together,” Gudgel said, “and just doing something different rather than standing behind a desk or stocking things on shelves.”

Thynes keeps a detailed notebook of batch results, what goes in when and at what temperature. On average, this machine can produce about 40 pounds of compost a day.

PIA plans to sell it in 40 pound bags within a few months. It will cost about the same price as imported compost sells for at the store. But Thynes says this stuff will be pure, local product.

“You know the big companies that do it, they don’t care what they throw in there, they just throw it in, ‘Throw it in–it’s a nitrogen, throw it in–it’s a carbon,’ and people are just getting a mixed bag of who knows what’s in it but with us, you’ll know what’s in it,” he said.

And when it’s done?

“It kind of looks just like dirt,” Thynes said, laughing.

It’s like a fluffy, “mulchy” dirt.

PIA’s composting project is funded by IGAP, the Indian Environmental General Assistance Program.

Categories: Alaska News

Petersburg’s tribe uses new machine to make compost in bulk

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2017-09-28 18:07
Brandon Thynes, Petersburg Indian Association’s Tribal Resource Director, and his assistant, Clifton Gudgel, stand next to the tribe’s new composting machine, which is housed in a portable building at the Petersburg Borough’s baler facility. (Photo by Angela Denning/KFSK)

Two things that Petersburg has a lot of are fish and wood. And one thing the local rocky terrain is short on is dirt. But given the right circumstances you can get dirt out of fish and wood. A new business venture by the local tribe, Petersburg Indian Association, has begun to provide the town with locally-made, environmentally friendly compost.

Listen now

Walking on the road into the landfill, you pass by piles of automobiles and rubber tires, and eventually come to three large, white portable buildings. This is where the local tribe makes compost. In one of the tents is a large stainless steel machine that’s cylinder in shape sitting on top of a trailer. (It’s called a Nioex Biovator) The tribe paid $15,000 for it and had it shipped in this fall from Manitoba, Canada.

Brandon Thynes is the Tribal Resource Director.

“We have a load in it right now and it’s been cooking since last Friday,” Thynes said. “You just kind of layer it like lasagna with wood chips and fish waste and wood chips to cover it so it doesn’t smell.”

Thynes and his assistant, Clifton Gudgel opened up the lid and he was right; it didn’t smell. It just looks like dark brown wood chips.

Petersburg Indian Association’s new composting machine is open on one end showing a batch of wood chips and fish meal being composted. (Photo by Angela Denning/KFSK)

“The temperature should get up to 160, 140 [degrees]. It’s pretty crazy to open up your pile and steams just rolling out of it,” Thynes said. “It’s pretty amazing.”

Before working for PIA, Thynes used to be a commercial fisherman. He knew there was a lot of fish waste. It gets ground up and dumped into the water in front of town by local processing plants. Now, Thynes gets some of that leftover fish for free. The tribe uses up to 500 pounds a week for composting.

“It’s a great year round business for the tribe, helping the environment by not pumping that fish waste into our Narrows,” Thynes said.

If there’s a shortage of fish, Thynes said they could always use kelp.

The wood they get from scraps around town that would otherwise get burned at the landfill. It’s usually alder because it grows fast and people often want to cut it back. PIA puts it through a wood chipper and its ready for composting. But they won’t just use any scraps. They have to know where it’s from and that it hasn’t come in contact with pesticides or other chemicals.

“It’s not labeled organic but it is organic because we don’t add anything to it,” Thynes said.

The composting machine is on a timer so it rotates every two hours. It takes about two weeks for the fish and wood to become dirt and then it needs to sit and cure for a month before it can be used.

After a batch is done, they’ll filter out any leftover pieces of wood to go into the next batch.

“It’s actually like a little starter, kind of like sour dough where the microbes are on these pieces already,” Thynes said. “So, it spreads throughout the compost a lot faster.”

Brandon Thynes, Petersburg Indian Association’s Tribal Resource Director, stands next to the tribe’s new stainless steel composting machine. The tribe shipped in the machine from Canada this fall. (Photo by Angela Denning/KFSK)

PIA has been making compost for years. In the past, the tribe used an older model composting machine that kept breaking down. Then workers made compost by hand by what’s called static aerated piles. Wood chips and fish were layered in a heap on the ground, which would get aerated and turned occasionally. But the process was lengthy. And when Thynes started working for the tribe a year and a half ago, he wanted to expand. He says they were missing opportunities.

“Juneau wanted quite a bunch, like 50 cubic yards and we just couldn’t, I couldn’t make enough to get what they wanted,” Thynes said. “So, it was stuff like that, opportunities to make it a business, and hire some more tribe members so they can have a [full-time], year round job that pays well.”

Gudgel, Thynes’ assistant, said he likes having a job where he can work outside.

“Getting out there and getting the materials and throwing it all together,” Gudgel said, “and just doing something different rather than standing behind a desk or stocking things on shelves.”

Thynes keeps a detailed notebook of batch results, what goes in when and at what temperature. On average, this machine can produce about 40 pounds of compost a day.

PIA plans to sell it in 40 pound bags within a few months. It will cost about the same price as imported compost sells for at the store. But Thynes says this stuff will be pure, local product.

“You know the big companies that do it, they don’t care what they throw in there, they just throw it in, ‘Throw it in–it’s a nitrogen, throw it in–it’s a carbon,’ and people are just getting a mixed bag of who knows what’s in it but with us, you’ll know what’s in it,” he said.

And when it’s done?

“It kind of looks just like dirt,” Thynes said, laughing.

It’s like a fluffy, “mulchy” dirt.

PIA’s composting project is funded by IGAP, the Indian Environmental General Assistance Program.

Categories: Alaska News

Japanese naval band drums for Anchorage middle-schoolers

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2017-09-28 17:43
Taiko drummers with the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force warming up for a concert at Central Middle School in Anchorage (Photo: Zachariah Hughes – Alaska Public Media)

Thursday saw a first-of-a-kind concert in Anchorage.

Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force (the country’s Navy) is in Anchorage for four days as part of a training mission. Two ships are anchored in the city’s port. The crew of about 600 has been at sea since April, visiting different countries to promote goodwill. Part of that mission involved a very prestigious concert inside a school gym.

Listen now

Hundreds of students at Central Middle School near downtown Anchorage filled up the bleachers early Thursday afternoon. They were there for a concert, but several looked perplexed: in front of the band’s normal chairs, microphones, and music stands were stout wooden drums propped on small stands.

They were taiko drums, a traditional Japanese percussive instrument.

After a brief introduction, the crashing sound of the drums filled the gym, making every surface vibrate. Drummers slammed sticks thicker than broom handles in perfect coordination, circling their arms overhead, and lunging their fists forward every few measures, like martial arts set to a beat.

“It’s energetic, almost like artistic sport in a way,” Erika Ninoyu, director of bands at Central, explained.

Ninoyu, who grew up in Anchorage, is second-generation Japanese, and president of the Japan Alaska Association. That put her in a perfect position when she heard that for the first time in seven years the Japanese Navy would be stopping in Anchorage.

“I just asked, ‘would they be interested in performing for my school,’ and they said yes!” Ninoyu explained.

Part of the reason for Ninoyu’s excitement was that the performers in the Maritime Self-Defense Force are the best of the best. The visiting crew has been traveling all over the Pacific, from Pearl Harbor in Hawaii to as far south as Chile, along with stops in the Atlantic in Havana, Cuba and the U.S. Part of the mission is to get 200 newly commissioned officers better acquainted with seamanship. But another reason is cultural ambassadorship. These musicians are the A-Team. And Ninoyu was thrilled that they had been willing to play, flanked by basketball hoops, for her students.

“It’s rare. I don’t know when they’re ever going to hear a professional performance of this caliber,” Ninoyu said.

The students seemed enthused, too. After the first song, they erupted with applause so loud it almost rivaled the drums.

The band was bigger than the taiko drummers. There was a brass section, woodwinds, a keyboard, electric bass, as well as a jazzy saxophone.

According to Ninoyu, the hour-long concert is the first time the Japanese Navy has ever played inside an Anchorage school. And she believes that’s significant.

“I do a lot of work outside the school, and also promote to my students, that all of us need to be bridge builders,” Ninoyu explained. “Especially someone who speaks two languages or is bicultural. In a sense, I think it’s our duty to share and empathize and learn from each other.”

None of the members of the squadron visiting Central Middle School were cleared to talk on record with members of the media. Their time in Alaska included a short stop in Homer earlier in the week, and they are set to attend a ceremony at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

After departing Alaska, the sailors’ next stop is Vladivostok, Russia.

Categories: Alaska News

Japanese naval band drums for Anchorage middle-schoolers

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2017-09-28 17:43
Taiko drummers with the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force warming up for a concert at Central Middle School in Anchorage (Photo: Zachariah Hughes – Alaska Public Media)

Thursday saw a first-of-a-kind concert in Anchorage.

Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force (the country’s Navy) is in Anchorage for four days as part of a training mission. Two ships are anchored in the city’s port. The crew of about 600 has been at sea since April, visiting different countries to promote goodwill. Part of that mission involved a very prestigious concert inside a school gym.

Hundreds of students at Central Middle School near downtown Anchorage filled up the bleachers early Thursday afternoon. They were there for a concert, but several looked perplexed: in front of the band’s normal chairs, microphones, and music stands were stout wooden drums propped on small stands.

They were taiko drums, a traditional Japanese percussive instrument.

After a brief introduction, the crashing sound of the drums filled the gym, making every surface vibrate. Drummers slammed sticks thicker than broom handles in perfect coordination, circling their arms overhead, and lunging their fists forward every few measures, like martial arts set to a beat.

“It’s energetic, almost like artistic sport in a way,” Erika Ninoyu, director of bands at Central, explained.

Ninoyu, who grew up in Anchorage, is second-generation Japanese, and president of the Japan Alaska Association. That put her in a perfect position when she heard that for the first time in seven years the Japanese Navy would be stopping in Anchorage.

“I just asked, ‘would they be interested in performing for my school,’ and they said yes!” Ninoyu explained.

Part of the reason for Ninoyu’s excitement was that the performers in the Maritime Self-Defense Force are the best of the best. The visiting crew has been traveling all over the Pacific, from Pearl Harbor in Hawaii to as far south as Chile, along with stops in the Atlantic in Havana, Cuba and the U.S. Part of the mission is to get 200 newly commissioned officers better acquainted with seamanship. But another reason is cultural ambassadorship. These musicians are the A-Team. And Ninoyu was thrilled that they had been willing to play, flanked by basketball hoops, for her students.

“It’s rare. I don’t know when they’re ever going to hear a professional performance of this caliber,” Ninoyu said.

The students seemed enthused, too. After the first song, they erupted with applause so loud it almost rivaled the drums.

The band was bigger than the taiko drummers. There was a brass section, woodwinds, a keyboard, electric bass, as well as a jazzy saxophone.

According to Ninoyu, the hour-long concert is the first time the Japanese Navy has ever played inside an Anchorage school. And she believes that’s significant.

“I do a lot of work outside the school, and also promote to my students, that all of us need to be bridge builders,” Ninoyu explained. “Especially someone who speaks two languages or is bicultural. In a sense, I think it’s our duty to share and empathize and learn from each other.”

None of the members of the squadron visiting Central Middle School were cleared to talk on record with members of the media. Their time in Alaska included a short stop in Homer earlier in the week, and they are set to attend a ceremony at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

After departing Alaska, the sailors’ next stop is Vladivostok, Russia.

Categories: Alaska News

Kodiak art project encourages salmon discussion

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2017-09-28 17:17
Children write responses to fisheries-based questions. Kitty Farnham sits far right. (Photo by Kayla Desroches / KMXT)

The first cohort of Alaska Salmon Fellows is wrapping up its pilot year with final projects.

The program brings together different innovators in the state, from policy makers to artists, and prompts them to start discussions about the salmon industry.

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Local Salmon Fellow Anjuli Grantham organized one recent art event at the Baranov Museum as her final project.

The museum and its partners invited the public to see a slideshow of artists whose work reflects the relationship between Alaskans and salmon.

People gather on the museum grounds. A projector plays a slideshow on a screen outside. It’s perfect weather for an event like this – not raining hard, but just overcast enough to keep people in town instead of out camping or hiking.

A salmon Fellows organizer has made it in for the occasion.

Kitty Farnham is the director of leadership programs at the Alaska Humanities Forum, which organizes the program. She wore an Alaska Salmon Fellows jacket which featured an icon of colorful fish.

At the beginning of the event, Farnham explained all 16 Salmon Fellows are doing projects in their particular areas, like education, history or policy.

“Being the Humanities Forum, we’re really looking at it though the people lens, and all the data in the world is valuable, but without having the relationships between people in different sectors, there’s really no way to address solutions that don’t become embroiled in win-lose, and we’re looking for solutions that really work across our communities,” Farnham said.

After wandering in, some people stopped in the yard to chat and a couple play a game called corn hole, aiming bean bags at a hole in a board. The sacks thump against the wood.

This is the kind of gathering Salmon Projections aims for. Farnham said the project is meant to spark conversation.

“There’s some parallel projects around looking at management systems, relationships between organizations and the official regulating bodies, education,” Farnham said. “Really also trying to change the narrative from one of we can’t agree on, you know, a sense of zero sum game and allocations to what’s best for our communities and for our salmon.”

On the porch, attendees snack on sushi.

Just inside the building, seaweed salad and smoked salmon are available alongside tea bags and a samovar full of hot water. By the end of the night, the platter of salmon is empty.

That’s one thing most people who attend have in common. No matter what their relationship to the fishing industry, they usually eat fish.

And they tend to agree that the larger aim is to keep the fisheries healthy and strong.

Sports fisherman Brent Pristas said the state should focus on industry sustainability.

“I think we keep doing what we’ve been doing,” Pristas said. “As long as we value it and place a proper emphasis on the salmon over other kinds of development, I think it will continue.”

Ginny Austerman, a longtime Kodiak resident, said the local fishing industry needs community growth.

“Things like cold storage and more processing plants and jobs for local people are very important as well as making sure that there’s fish for next year,” Austerman said.

Rita Stevens agreed it’s important to build up local infrastructure.

“Like improve the dock situation for the boats and the storage of boats and the dry dock and having repair shops here instead of having to go down to Seattle [and] take the business away from Kodiak,” Stevens said.

The museum encourages more conversations like these by setting up pieces of paper covered with questions about fisheries and sustainability and asking people to scribble their responses.

The Salmon Fellows will convene again in a couple of weeks. Farnham said they’re recruiting now for the next round of fellows, and the application period opens at the beginning of the year.

Categories: Alaska News

Kodiak art project encourages salmon discussion

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2017-09-28 17:17
Children write responses to fisheries-based questions. Kitty Farnham sits far right. (Photo by Kayla Desroches / KMXT)

The first cohort of Alaska Salmon Fellows is wrapping up its pilot year with final projects.

The program brings together different innovators in the state, from policy makers to artists, and prompts them to start discussions about the salmon industry.

Local Salmon Fellow Anjuli Grantham organized one recent art event at the Baranov Museum as her final project.

The museum and its partners invited the public to see a slideshow of artists whose work reflects the relationship between Alaskans and salmon.

People gather on the museum grounds. A projector plays a slideshow on a screen outside. It’s perfect weather for an event like this – not raining hard, but just overcast enough to keep people in town instead of out camping or hiking.

A salmon Fellows organizer has made it in for the occasion.

Kitty Farnham is the director of leadership programs at the Alaska Humanities Forum, which organizes the program. She wore an Alaska Salmon Fellows jacket which featured an icon of colorful fish.

At the beginning of the event, Farnham explained all 16 Salmon Fellows are doing projects in their particular areas, like education, history or policy.

“Being the Humanities Forum, we’re really looking at it though the people lens, and all the data in the world is valuable, but without having the relationships between people in different sectors, there’s really no way to address solutions that don’t become embroiled in win-lose, and we’re looking for solutions that really work across our communities,” Farnham said.

After wandering in, some people stopped in the yard to chat and a couple play a game called corn hole, aiming bean bags at a hole in a board. The sacks thump against the wood.

This is the kind of gathering Salmon Projections aims for. Farnham said the project is meant to spark conversation.

“There’s some parallel projects around looking at management systems, relationships between organizations and the official regulating bodies, education,” Farnham said. “Really also trying to change the narrative from one of we can’t agree on, you know, a sense of zero sum game and allocations to what’s best for our communities and for our salmon.”

On the porch, attendees snack on sushi.

Just inside the building, seaweed salad and smoked salmon are available alongside tea bags and a samovar full of hot water. By the end of the night, the platter of salmon is empty.

That’s one thing most people who attend have in common. No matter what their relationship to the fishing industry, they usually eat fish.

And they tend to agree that the larger aim is to keep the fisheries healthy and strong.

Sports fisherman Brent Pristas said the state should focus on industry sustainability.

“I think we keep doing what we’ve been doing,” Pristas said. “As long as we value it and place a proper emphasis on the salmon over other kinds of development, I think it will continue.”

Ginny Austerman, a longtime Kodiak resident, said the local fishing industry needs community growth.

“Things like cold storage and more processing plants and jobs for local people are very important as well as making sure that there’s fish for next year,” Austerman said.

Rita Stevens agreed it’s important to build up local infrastructure.

“Like improve the dock situation for the boats and the storage of boats and the dry dock and having repair shops here instead of having to go down to Seattle [and] take the business away from Kodiak,” Stevens said.

The museum encourages more conversations like these by setting up pieces of paper covered with questions about fisheries and sustainability and asking people to scribble their responses.

The Salmon Fellows will convene again in a couple of weeks. Farnham said they’re recruiting now for the next round of fellows, and the application period opens at the beginning of the year.

Categories: Alaska News

New film explores how Arctic ecosystems are affected by climate change

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2017-09-28 17:07
UAF scientist Chien-Lu Ping works with students on his Arctic soils field tour in 2015. (Texas Tech Public Media photo)

A new documentary film looks at how climate change is affecting Arctic ecosystems.

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Between Earth and Sky-Climate Change on the Last Frontier was created by scientists.

Executive producer David Weindorf is a dean at Texas Tech. He said bringing students to the edge of ANWR to examine arctic soils was life changing for them because the remote arctic places was no longer an abstract place on a map.

“They got to see how the pipeline and mining exploration are impacting the land surface in Alaska so I started bringing students up every year,” Weindorf said.

Weindorf said Arctic soils are rich and deep with organic material, something that isn’t seen in Texas. The students studied the differences between the stunted growth of black spruce on the northern side of the slope where permafrost is prevalent.

“Whereas on the south facing slopes you typically don’t have permafrost, there’s more solar radiation there, keeps things warmer so seeing that kind of dichotomy, going around the slope, one side to the other, you can see tremendous differences in the soil profiles in Alaska, it was just dramatic to see that,” Weindorf said.

Weindorf said the scientific changes he’s observed in the arctic over the last decade are striking and the interviews he conducted with Alaska Natives and other Alaskans back up what the science reveals.

“We felt like that was a really important piece of the film, to go to Kotzebue and Shishmaref and Nome and those areas that are really on the front lines of these changes, and hear from those people and how that science is impacting and their everyday lives,” Weindorf said.

Weindorf said he wants the film to be educational for people in the Lower 48, saying the film has no other agenda than scientists documenting the truth about a changing climate.

“To let them know, ‘Hey. You’ve never been to Alaska. You’ve never been to the Toolik research station, up on the North Slope. You haven’t seen the kind of things that we’ve seen. But we can tell you things are really accelerating as far as changes that are going on up there,'” Weindorf said. “These aren’t just abstract things that we might hear about in the news. This is impacting people’s lives.”

Between Earth and Sky-Climate Change on the Last Frontier will show on Sept. 29 at the Bear Tooth Theater in Anchorage and Sept. 30 in Palmer.

Categories: Alaska News

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