Today a large swath of Alaska was preparing for the first fall storm, the equinox storm, locals called it. News of the impending high winds and rain rippled through the region over the last 24 hours as weather predictors put their bets on a wild night for much of the state.
While storms like this can be disruptive, they also bring out some great qualities in Alaskans, because what we do when there’s a storm brewing is gather. At the local coffee shop this morning, every table was full, and almost everyone knew each other. The tourists and seasonal folks are largely gone now. It’s just us locals, and a storm prediction seems to make us social. There was a kind of anticipation in the air, even joyfulness, maybe, at the sloth of bad weather coming. People traded notes on the preparedness — batteries, check; wood split, check; extra gallon of milk, check.
We really don’t need a day or a week or a month to be reminded to think about suicide and our need to find ways to prevent it. Those sad reminders are around us all the time, in the faces of our friends and neighbors, in the missing places where vibrant lives should have been. There’s no glamour in suicide. Just sadness — and a whole lot of misperceptions about how to prevent it.
By-and-large, suicide is linked to two things — substance abuse and mental disorders, the latter of which includes a wide range of conditions that are understood almost as little as suicide. Depression ranks high, and is so often linked with both substance abuse and suicide that it’s rare when this deadly trio do not go hand in hand.
Like many Alaskans, our family hosted more than a dozen visitors from out of state this summer. Most of them fell in love with our state on bright, sunshine-filled days as they gazed at gorgeous glaciers and salmon splashing in the streams. It’s hard not to love Alaska in the summer, and more than a few of these visitors professed intentions to return, some to stay. They started asking questions about the winter, the culture, the economy.
Inevitably, the conversation would always turn to the tough facts — our high rates of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, seasonal depression and alcoholism. Now, add to that the rising rates of opioid use and addiction, and the shiny package seems to lose its luster.
Across the state, children are heading back to school in coming weeks as summer draws to a close. Crisp outfits and school supplies are turning up all over the place, and youth are savoring their last few days to sleep in before structure returns to at least part of their lives.
And while parents are by-and-large breathing a sigh of relief at the end of summer vacation, teachers are already back in the classroom, readying themselves for another year. Educators are an extraordinary bunch of folks. Spend a few hours in a classroom, whether it’s the chaos of kindergarten, the awkward transition of middle school or the opinionated halls of high school and imagine that as your daily existence and most of us would go screaming in the opposite direction. But educators actually enjoy trying to hold the attention of 20-plus youth day in and day out, and for that, I for one am deeply grateful.
Spend as much time as any journalist does at public meetings and you will get a very real sense of how commonplace it is to see heads bowed and prayers spoken. And while most public entities, be they cities, boroughs or states, say they have an open-door policy to invocations from any group or belief, statistically, those invocations are most often given with reference to a Christian god.
That open-door policy was tested at the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly this month when a woman from the national group The Satanic Temple read an invocation ending with “Hail Satan.” That didn’t go over very well with quite a few folks and protests, organized praying sessions outside the borough building and lots and lots of public testimony followed. The backlash became pointed and personal. It blurred the lines between religion and politics long after everyone went home.
Five years ago this month, my wife, Kiana Peacock, and I bought three weekly community newspapers from Alaska Newspapers Inc. For us, it was a way to give back to the communities and people that helped us become who we are.
Getting into the newspaper business was a natural progression of my business background and her ability to tell stories. One of the first people we hired was talented editor from Homer, Carey Restino. She has made sure our papers have thrived over the past five years, hiring equally talented reporters while staying connected and writing for the Homer Tribune.
Summer in Alaska is sort of like entering an all-you-can eat buffet, except the restaurant is always just about to close. Alaskans work hard and play hard in ever-so-short summer, and often, all that activity causes us to lose track of some all-important dates. One of those dates is coming up next Tuesday, when voters head to the ballot booths and make choices about their candidates.
No, you didn’t miss a couple months by mistake. It’s not October yet, or even November. But next Tuesday is still an important day, because it’s the day of our primary election, when we select our candidate of choice if more than one candidate files for election in any given part. And in many cases, the primary election is the actual election because there is no candidate from the other party. In those cases, whoever you select as the Republican, Democratic or Independent Party candidates is, in fact, headed to Juneau to represent you during a pretty critical time in Alaska’s history.
International Women’s Day is observed on March 8. Around the world, thousands of events will honor women’s achievements. Yet, women still face challenges in many areas of life – such as their financial situations. So if you’re a woman, you may want to use this occasion to consider steps you can take to help move toward your important financial goals, such as a comfortable retirement.
Several weeks ago, councilman Beau Burgess encouraged the Homer City Council to “inform themselves” about marijuana legislation, and the mayor offered that she would like to see an open-house style discussion about the initiative and a local option. But since then? Crickets. All of the chatter about an estimated $23 million dollar industry has come […]
No snow, and lots of sunshine; a combination that sounds more like a day of summer in Alaska, rather than late November. Nonetheless, the holidays are upon us and in no time Christmas music will fill your ears. Homer will come alive with red and green lights on homes while residents inside wait for a […]