Editors note: This is a response to “Yurt manufacturing owner stages one woman protest at economic forum” published on the Homer Tribune web site Feb. 6.
By Jessica Tenhoff
In my own defense, the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District Economic Forum was closed at least one full week before the event. I called early and asked to be put on a waiting list before the event. I showed up at the event and asked to have my number taken and be called if someone left.
There were, at that time, people who hadn’t shown up because of weather. I watched people leave, pointed out that there was room and was still denied entry. I offered to volunteer to serve as needed; to take the place of a volunteer staff member.
When refused, I was indeed rude and unprofessional. It is not my nature. It was a first for me.
This forum was funded by public money, but it was not public. A public forum would have had the radio station there to broadcast it, been held live online, or at least been held at a venue where the public would be able to attend.
This was KPEDD stroking the big extractive corporations and their political minions in a feel-good presentation of how a sell-out is done. It came complete with fireworks and meal service.
Why do I think that, after spending 20 years of my life building a value-added product in Alaska and two related local businesses, I should be able to take a vacant place at an economic development forum? I missed that registration because we were busy putting together yurts for local dog sledding and skiing events. I told them that.
Value-added product development is a sustainable way to use our natural resources. When you add value, there is no scarcity. When you add value, you use resources responsibly.
Even oil products can have appropriate value-added application — like yurt roofing and rain gear. There are as many jobs as the imagination can create. The money stays local.
This is the perspective I wanted to bring to the table. Our state does not support a value-added economy, it supports big corporate extractive money backed by corrupt multinational banks.
I think I deserve to be able to hear what they are planning. I deserve to be able to talk with the decision-makers in an economic forum because of who I am and what I’ve spent my life doing. That may be presumptive but, so be it.
There is too much at stake now. I cannot, in good conscience, be quiet any more. It’s crazy and dangerous what they are planning. We all need to participate in these decisions. Their trajectory has never been so destructive. My perspective is also valid.
Jessica Tenhoff is owner of Nomad Yurt Manufacturing.
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