Thursday, December 31, 2015

Lobbying in Washington DC

Our objective in Washington DC was to convey the importance of keeping a part of Alaska Natural and untamed for not only the animals living in Northern Alaska but for the millions that travel to Alaska. We feel every state should do their part and that's what Northern Alaska is doing by staying untamed, their part for all of us.
Our list of staffers to see was full for the three days of lobbying, but our group had a two hour open timeslot so Penny felt we should go to Sen. Dan Coat's office. Our group leader laughed and said that man would not help, but it's your time, feel free, so we did. Our very first experience working as a lobbyist was walking through the door of Sen. Dan Coats of Indiana. The first word spoken was " Sadie, Mrs. Gay, I can't believe your here." Sadie was a student of Penny's and the whole experience was wonderful. We made a real connection with the Staffer of Sen. Coats, and we were given several fast track passes to the Senate and House Chambers. We were able to convey later to the whole Alaska Wilderness League that speaking to the Republicans has advantages. In fact a couple of the fast track passes went to leadership of the League who were thankful to a Republican

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

50th Anniversary of the Alaska Wilderness League

While performing a service project for the Northern Alaska Envir. Center in Fairbanks in July of 2015, we were asked to represent Indiana in Washington DC, at the 50th Anniversary of the Alaska Wilderness League. We were given an all expense paid trip and as we flew to DC we wondered what we had to offer, we found we were as prepared as anyone there with our walk in Alaska. The best part of that trip came at the opening luncheon when a tall young man came up to me and said, " Bill, I can't believe you and Penny are here. My name is James, I'm from Arctic Village, I'm one of the children who followed you around." He went on and on about the impact we made on the children during our five Summers in Arctic Village. Over the next five days we spent so much time hearing about how James grew up and his plans for college. We have much to share about this five days in Washington DC, but our time with James is why we were there.

EPA In Circle, Alaska

One of the surprises in 2015 was the EPA now has an office in the Council Office. We were told we had to work directly with the EPA on the gardening effort and the rep. was our dear friend Alexa, who is also our best connection. I had to tell her we would be happy to talk to her as a friend, but we simply couldn't work along side the EPA. We know what The Gwich"in Steering Comm. thinks about the Govt. getting involved in the villages and we worried that they would be very upset with us working with them. We know what our dear friend Sarah James would say about the EPA. We had yet another tight rope to walk. Each year we get closer as family as we work through pitfalls that happen in any relationship. We hope the program didn't take hold so that this won't be an issue in 2016. How the EPA got their hands in home and community gardening is beyond me. Our GOVT. is far too big.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

BDM trip tp Colorado

Flooding in a three county area around Loveland, Colorado brought Brethren Disaster Ministries in the Summer of 2014. Much work has been done and I feel blessed to have finally traveled to the region to help out. I spent the week installing door jams and trimming throughout the house. By Friday afternoon almost all the house had been trimmed and tool clean up was completed. Mike and Judy could now celebrate Christmas in their home missing two because of the storm. How great it is to help out.
I'll make one more trip to the area before leaving for Alaska. The leadership plans a thank you party because this will be my 50th BDM trip over the past 15 years. High in the mountains seems like a good place for it.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Circle, Alaska 2015

Arriving in Fairbanks on May 11th was like returning home after a  extended say elsewhere. The three days were filled with catching up with friends who are very much family and preparing for twice the garden space we had in 2014.
The weather was warm and dry which was what we had to expect throughout the Summer in Alaska. The dryness meant far far farless mesquites than any Summer since 2003 when I first traveled to Arctic Village.
Being welcomed by our Gwich'in family reinforces why we come here each year. A portion of our family lives throughout Alaska and Canada. We were told most of the crops grown this Summer would be part of the new Elders Lunch Program. We were just fine with that. We also had a schedule we could set for ourselves knowing we would pick daily, just before lunch. Since I'm 59, I was told I'm an elder just like the rest of the village and had a lunch made for me daily. We are family and with each passing year we lean toward coming here and not leaving. Not only do we have so many family members, we also have options as far as employment making this as much like home as Indiana and Michigan.
We introduced asparagus, corn, watermelon, and celery, which all did well for their first year here in Alaska. The surprise of the nine year program came when I seen the plants started by the students. They had several dozen 30 inch tomato plants with blooms on them. They had great leadership from Todd Groat, the high school teacher. Todd's wife Mary is the elementary teacher and they are both dear friends from the very start of this program.
 We feel so Blessed to be two of the people God has assembled to make this program a success. We also feel very Blessed to be a part of the other persons callings and to be used as a tool to help them in their walk.
There is so much to share, it will take several posts to cover what an incredible year 2015 has been for the dear people in Circle, Alaska. More photos will be a part of the posts to come