By Naomi Klouda
The owner of a Homer business that manufactures yurt homes shipped all over the state and nation staged a protest Thursday after organizers of an economic forum denied her permission to attend.
Key industry leaders from oil and gas companies, Kenai Peninsula Borough officials and city officials from Seward to Homer are engaged in the 2013 Industry Outlook Forum: Cook Inlet – Energy for All Alaska today and Friday at Land’s End. Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell was to be the keynote speaker at lunch, but he was unable to make it after his Minnesota flight was cancelled to weather.
Jesse Tenhoff, who with her husband founded Nomad Yurts 20 years ago, owns the Homer Yurt Village. It is a place where manufacturing is done in an economically sustainable manner: in addition to the yurt factory, the village incubated a yarn shop whose owners card and spin their own yarn, a kayak builder who works from an ancient Alaska Native design, healing therapies, arts and jewelry merchants.
Police were called to the Land’s End Resort after Tenhoff loudly disrupted the forum to say she was being kept out of the meeting. She then sat down outside the door and said she wanted to “just listen in.”
But organizers called in Homer police to escort her from the premises. The forum is being hosted by the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District and the City of Homer. Tenhoff was not arrested at the end of a discussion with the two Homer Police who responded to the call but she was not allowed to remain.
“I’m at a tipping point with my tolerance for the way extractive businesses are ramming their way down our throats,” Tenhoff said when contacted at the Yurt village. “I tried to get into this meeting. I knew it wasn’t a policy making meeting. They made me aware this protest was not applicable but I disagree – the people who were invited were extractive businesses and state agencies.”
Tenhoff wouldn’t be out of place at an economic forum as a presenter, explaining the yurt manufacturing business. It has taken off through the years, supplying steady local jobs for everything from cutting the material for the shelters to stitching it on commercial machines to construction workers responsible for frames. Presently, the company is filling a contract for the Tustemena 200 dog race supplying shelters along the route.
“But what I really wanted to do was meet these folks and see if there is any kind of movement or understanding that there is an alternative path to the extractive path,” she said.
In several ways, Tenhoff said she tried to attend the meeting through the regular channels, but was late in attempting to register for the two-day forum.
“I made numerous phone calls. I asked for my name to be on the wait list. I saw people leaving from the building and so I asked if I could come in, and they said ‘no.’ That’s when I lost it,” she said.
Denied of an ability to take part in the dialogue, even with individuals, Tenhoff said she decided to draw the line. The effort made her feel embarrassed to make an exhibition of herself, she said, but she wanted to make a point.
“I’m tired of the madness happening and it’s my children’s future and my children’s children’s future,” she said. “I wanted to talk to the people that are making these decisions that are so wrong. There is a way to have an economy that isn’t from extracting resources.”
Comments are closed