Recently, I traveled up the road to receive an intensive Girls Educational Mentoring Services training on the commercial sexual exploitation of children; otherwise known as human trafficking. The training lasted three days, where I was surrounded by FBI agents, doctors and police officers, and one of the only attendees under the age of 25. It was quite an experience.
GEMS explained to us, in detail, what human trafficking is, what it isn’t, and what it looks like in Alaska. A major misconception is that human trafficking means people are being imported across border lines, when really it could mean taking young people from the Homer Spit and moving them out East End Road. I would like to invite the community to my GEMS presentation on Feb. 12, from 6-7 p.m. at Homer City Hall.
I will provide a basic introduction to human trafficking and what the problem really looks like. Slavery was abolished in 1865, but in the United States today, there are still an estimated 27,000,000 slaves. Human trafficking is modern-day slavery.
Hope you can join me.
You may have heard or read in these pages that there is a plan to build a statue of Brother Asaiah and to anchor it to the top of the rock at WKFL Park.
Some folks think this is a great idea, and that the park is the right place for it. Others are not so sure Brother Asaiah would have been happy about a statue of himself at all, anywhere.
If there must be a statue, perhaps there are more suitable places to put it than the increasingly cramped little park that he explicitly did not want named for him. The garden at the museum comes to mind, as does the library, which he was very proud of. Out amidst the tall Fox River grass of the old Barefooter homestead at the head of the bay is another possibility.
There are other, perhaps more useful and effective ways to honor and memorialize our dear departed friend than a statue, such as an endowed lecture series or a student scholarship.
The Public Arts Committee is holding a public hearing on Thursday to discuss the statue, in City Council Chambers at 5 p.m. There may also be a Coffeetable discussion on KBBI on Wednesday.
If you have an opinion, these are your opportunities to express them.
Even in the dark, cold winter, we are warmed and loved by the love-letter season. Here is one of hundreds of love letters which Brother Asaiah sent to Homer newspapers over the years.
“The high-powered psychic atmosphere that pulsates in the aura of our beautiful Hamlet by the Sea is unique. To my knowledge, there is no other community on the planet that enjoys this marvelous phenomenon. Joy and love to all the beautiful souls residing in our Cosmic Hamlet.” Brother Asaiah, 1993.
Though Feb. 14 was originally set aside to honor Saint Valentine, Homer has its own “love advocate,” and Feb. 14 in Homer is “Brother Asaiah Day.”
We are uniquely loved. Pass it on.
Martha Ellen Anderson
Paul Banks Elementary would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to several individuals and groups in our community who have helped make our study of dogs and dog mushing over-the-top amazing.
With the support of Homer Animal Friends, Pat Moss and her dog Booker came and showed every kindergartner how to care for a dog, how to be safe around strange dogs,and how to understand dog communication. Later, she and her crew from Homer Dog Trainers invited us to their training facility to watch dogs performing agility courses and other very cool tricks.
Kudos to those well-trained dogs who can still obey their owner with 60 kindergartners watching and cheering. Jennifer Bando and her assistant Sara took the afternoon off work at Homer Veterinary Clinic to come do hands-on presentations on the importance of veterinary care. They brought medical tools, real dog teeth, worms (eww!), and real x-rays of injured dogs for the young vets-in-training to diagnose.
Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, Jillian Rogers spent an afternoon here at the school letting us see, hear about, touch and smell all the equipment needed in the world of dog-mushing. She even let each child stand on her real racing sled and try the brakes. The students absolutely loved every guest speaker and field trip.
Thank you, Homer, for your part in making learning pertinent and engaging for our students. Your dedication to quality education makes this a great place to be a kid.
Jennifer Reinhart and staff and students at Paul Banks Elementary
Homer Council on the Arts will offer a new youth program, “Blues in the Schools,” for Black History Month in February.
Michael “Hawkeye” Herman will visit 11 schools in the Homer area, including Port Graham, Nanwalek and Seldovia. Hawkeye is a blues singer/songwriter and historian who learned to play at the feet of blues legends like Bukka White, Furry Lewis, Lightnin’ Hopkins and many more.
For the past 33 years, Hawkeye has visited schools offering assemblies and classes that connect the impact of blues music on history and culture. He uniquely combines an educator’s sensibility and skills with an artist’s passion and soul.
“Students need to be informed that the world did not start when they were born,” Hawkeye said. “Everything has history and roots in the past,”
Hawkeye said the blues have influenced today’s popular music, including rock, country, bluegrass, folk, rap/hip-hop, jazz — and even contemporary classical. In a month where we celebrate and teach black history, it’s a great opportunity to acknowledge the tremendous contribution of African-American culture to our common heritage.
It’s also a captivating way to use performing art to illustrate and bring history alive.
This program will reach 1,400 students during Hawkeye’s two-and-a-half-week tour through the schools. He will also give public performances in Homer on Feb. 22, Nanwalek on Feb. 25, Port Graham on Feb. 28 and Seldovia on March 1.
All of this is made possible thanks to a generous donation from Jack and Deborah Oudiz, and funding from The Charlotte Martin Foundation, ConocoPhillips and the Homer Foundation. We are very excited to be granted funds from the music education fund in memory of Rhenda Horn.
Travel expenses were paid with funding from the Rasmuson Foundation through the Harper Touring Fund, administered by the Alaska State Council on the Arts. And of course, Ocean Shores Motel always offers the finest lodging.
The Homer Council on the Arts is very proud of our commitment to afford our youth the opportunity to experience and participate in the arts. It is our fervent hope that this first offering of “Blues in the Schools” will lead to an annual tradition for Homer-area schools.
Homer Council on the Arts
On behalf of HoWL, I’d like to give a wholehearted thank you to the Rasmuson Foundation for their support of our programs. They funded the purchase of equipment and technology necessary for our organization, and we look forward to using it to expand on our film festival and create filmmaking opportunities for youth in the community.
We are also excited for the technology upgrades to make HoWL Headquarters more efficient and productive, to reach more students through technology and to better portray our services to the public. Thank you, Rasmuson Foundation, for the exciting upgrades at HoWL!
On behalf of Bunnell Street Arts Center, it is an honor and delight to have shared Jazzline 2014 with this creative community. Each year, artistic director Jocelyn Shiro sparks a brilliant light and shows us the value of expression and creative renewal. With this community’s participation, Jazzline invests thousands of dollars in Bunnell Street Arts Center’s Artist in School program, which serves 1,500 local students.
We have a strong and a growing partnership with the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District and especially want to thank Homer High School for partnering with us to raise funds for Artist in Schools through Jazzline.
Artist in Schools is a trademark program of Alaska State Council on the Arts program, which provides grants to place trained teaching artists in K-12 classroom to impart skills, confidence, problem-solving, teamwork, kinesthetic learning and pride in local schools.
We’d like to thank our legislators who appropriate funds to ASCA for AIS grants. Bunnell’s program serves more than 10 local schools and is open to communities from Razdolna to Nanwalek and Anchor Point. There’s still room for more schools to participate this year. We are overflowing with gratitude to Jocelyn, dancers and their families, crew, audience and volunteers for their collaborative creative energy.
Join the movement. If you’re inspired to follow Jocelyn’s lead, you don’t have to create a dance concert, just make a designated gift to Artist in Schools to enhance this terrific program. Contact us at Bunnell Street Arts Center. We’d be delighted to tell you all about it!
Asia Freeman and Adele Person
Bunnell Street Arts Center
The Homer Cycling Club would like to extend our warmest thank-you to the dashing Mr. Homer (formally Lucas Thoning) of this year’s Winter Carnival for donating the prize money to our organization. Remember, when you ride a bike, you get to dance in the streets every day of the year.
Our family relies upon quality childcare to make living and working in Homer possible. Homer is fortunate to have a number of quality childcare providers, but there are gaps in care for certain age groups, and serious shortages for other age groups. There is simply more demand for childcare then there is supply.
That is why I am incredulous that Homer’s Planning and Zoning Commission did not grant SmallPond Childcare — run by the capable and amazing Susannah Webster — a conditional-use permit that would allow her to build a quality facility in the neighborhood behind the Pratt Museum.
The lot is zoned for mixed residential and business, and the City Planner strongly recommended granting the CUP. Four of the six commissioners, a majority, voted in favor of granting the permit. However, the vote requires five “yays” to be granted. That rule apparently changes next month.
SmallPond Childcare would be a well-built facility with a beautiful garden. Smallpond employs six-plus people with good wages and provides childcare to more than 20 families. The presence of those children as they walk to the Pratt Museum and Karen Hornaday Park, would help guarantee that the area develops into a safe, lively, walkable neighborhood.
Early childhood development is fundamental to a healthy community, and SmallPond is an incredible asset to those efforts. I appeal to the Commission, the City Council, neighbors and community members to swiftly reconsider SmallPond’s application, grant any necessary permits, and support healthy neighborhoods and quality childcare in our community.
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