Saturday, January 9, 2016

Plant a Roe: Fairbanks

Plant a Roe is a nationwide initiative to help supply Soup Kitchens and Rescue Missions with fresh garden produce, using vacant properties in downtown areas. Fairbanks has such a concept and is in need of volunteers, like everywhere. We've been in contact with them since June of 2015, and have committed to start dozens of plants in Circle and have them brought to Fairbanks by our Pastor. We would like to get more involved long term as we plan for transportation that goes hand and hand with a more long term commitment.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Meeting Donavan in Circle, Alaska

By spending so much time in a Gwich'in village each summer we're allowed to experience many workshops put on by different members of the Gwich'in nation. One such workshop was caribou skin tanning led by a young man named Donavan. He was busy explaining this process as Penny and I walked up. After watching for a few minutes Donavan walked over and talked to Jessica (village chief), then went back to silently working. After a few minutes Penny and I walked off to the greenhouse to work and Jessica followed us. She stopped us and said " Donavan feels this process was for the benefit of the Gwich'in people only". She politely ask us to stay away. We know Jessica loves us and had a difficult time telling us. We told her we would respect his wishes. By morning I had been stewing on this and told Jessica' sister Alexa knowing what would happen. Alexa blew up screaming at him, telling him " they do more for our elders than anyone' !!! I asked her to please stop, saying I didn't want him to loose any sleep over this. I waited a hour or so and went up to Donavan and said "did I hear you say you're from FT. Yukon"?. He said no Arctic Village, I live with my Grandfather. I started laughing and ask who is his grandfather? He said Gideon. I said really, "What relation are you to Jordon"? he said Jordon was his brother. I said " first of all Gideon is Sarah's brother and they are both dear friends of ours. Let me tell you several things about your brother you don't know". After several minutes of me sharing he said he was so sorry for saying we weren't welcome, and wanted to do something for us. Penny, Donavan and I became good friends that day. When Jessica seen us talking, and then heard him tell her he wanted to do whatever to help us because he felt so bad, she knew we are the perfect people to be a part of their community and her family. Donavan really caught us up on what's going on in Arctic Village, including telling us our dear friend Bob Allen had passed away from a brain tumor. We sent many letters to folks in Arctic Village and really helped us reestablish relationships with so many of our Gwich'in family. Isn't it funny how things like that happen.

Canadian Embassy Visit

Our five day experience in Washington DC began on Sat. the 13th. We had a series of meetings on Sat. and Sun. preparing us for lobbying that Mon. through Weds.
Monday evening the whole Alaskan Wilderness League was invited to the Canadian Embassy for a thank you meal. We were told that our entire group had went through a background check the week before, insuring their safety from us.
The whole experience was nothing this carpenter from Michigan's farm country had ever experienced. The Arctic Room was atop the Embassy, and was made of mostly glass walls that allowed a view of this great city like I never imagined. The Arctic Room spilled out on to the rooftop of the building that was so inviting that most of the evening was spent outdoors. As night fall began Penny and I realized we would never again have such a view of Washington DC, it was spectacular!
Because of the surroundings and people that greeted us and made us feel so welcome, this experience was something Penny and I will never forget. We are so thankful that the Alaskan Wilderness League chose us to represent Indiana at their 50th anniversary.
To read more about the experience check the Decatur Daily Democrat web-site, Sept. 3rd issue, and Sept 29th for articles written on our trip to Washington DC.