Jan 8, 2010
We asked a dear friend of ours who goes by GreatGranny2c if she’d consider doing a guest post. She has been incredibly active in the food drive, adopting families and coordinating for others to do so. Being humble and magnanimous, she declined our suggestion to talk about these efforts. Instead she decided to share her thoughts on Alaska and how she came to discover Anonymous Bloggers and the vast blogosphere of like minds – one of many rewards she received for her involvement.
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My current viewpoint on Alaska
There are countless people from all over the world who discovered the sphere of Alaskan bloggers for the sole purpose of wanting to know who the heck is Sarah Palin. As I continued to watch the drama unfold on national television, I was amazed at the misconceptions about Alaska on the part of so-called reporters and commentators, as well as my wanting to know more about this woman who exuded such arrogance (yet sounded a bit uneducated to merit her behavior) and managed to incite crowds to a dangerous fervor. The one thing I can thank Sarah Palin for is my renewed interest in Alaska.
Alaskan was repeatedly referred to as “The Last Frontier” or “The Frozen North” and it seemed like everyone thought it was similar to the wildwest, full of crime and graft, limited educational and cultural opportunities – in another words, a real backwater! I think every reporter should have to go to whatever place they are reporting on, so that they can offer some facts and reality instead of misleading people.
As an Army family, my husband, myself, and our two daughters enjoyed nearly four years of life in the Anchorage area back in the 1970s. I worked for RCA Communications, we had purchased a home in the city, our daughters were in a public school, we involved ourselves in community activities, and many of our friends were *civilians* as opposed to being other Army families. I believe this gave us a greater insight into the political and cultural aspects of the state. (Especially when I got to meet Robert Redford at the AKPIRG debut of “All The President’s Men”!!)
From the beginning of our time in Alaska, we were very aware of the difficulties facing Native Americans in the state. My husband had gone on any number of treks into the wilderness and on river explorations, visiting small villages, experiencing the remoteness and seeing the shortages that caused so much suffering for so many, and sharing his thoughts and photos with me. We were also aware of the problems that were created when subsistence hunting and fishing laws were changed and the ways of life for the First People were forever changed. So many young people would leave their villages for months at a time to attend high school in Anchorage, be exposed to a totally different way of life, moral standards were much looser than they were accustomed to, it was very hard for these young people to return to their villages and families, knowing that they had outgrown their previous lifestyles, and that there likely were no jobs for them. So most stayed in the city………and so many suffered. The *free* money they received from the state turned out not to be free – it enabled way too many to become alcoholics and worse – too high a price for them.
The occasional article in the Anchorage Daily News talks about the bodies of homeless drunks being found on the streets, and I think “Everything changes but nothing changes”. It was a problem in the 1970s and is still a problem that no one seems to have a solution for. When we lived up there, I saw the prejudice against the Natives, just as I’ve seen it in the south against blacks, in the west against Hispanics, and in the midwest against the Indians. No matter how well-meaning some may think they are, throughout history, millions of people have been permanently damaged by the do-gooders who think Christianizing the heathens, forcing them onto reservations or designated lands, taking the children from their homes and putting them into boarding schools that were more like orphanages, and forcing them to think and act like *whites* was the right thing to do. I’m sorry, but I’ve never agreed with the needs of powerful people who want to fit others into a mold that they think is the only acceptible one.
My first contact with the Alaskan bloggers was at The Mudflats and within days, I had become familiar with Ann and the Anonymous Bloggers, Immoral Minority, and on and on until I was spending half my day going from one site to another. I found out all (and more) than I ever wanted to know about Sarah Palin, but I couldn’t get enough of Alaska itself. We had retained some wonderful memories of our years in Alaska, but as we continued to travel the world over the next 20 odd years, then settled into retirement with grandchildren coming along, Alaska became a far-distant memory. Suddenly, Alaska was at the forefront of my thoughts, and I wanted to know more and more, make contact with locals, and re-engage in any way that I could, now that I was retired with plenty of free time on my hands.
I had not been with the blogs when the flooding took place last spring. People from around the world responded to their needs and I was very heartened to see so many good folks still willing to help others. I’ve made many friends via the Alaskan blogs. I will never meet any in person, but I feel I know them as well as I know my next door neighbor. I’ve helped a little here and there and so enjoyed the shopping trips to see what I could find that would be useful, as well as adding in some goodies that would just brighten someone’s day. I have countless websites bookmarked that are all Alaskan businesses – mostly the small ones. I try to shop them whenever I can to support the cottage industries and help to promote Native craftsmanship.
In just the few short months that I’ve been a part of this on-line community, I’ve seen the sites grow by leaps and bounds, which is no surprise. The caliber of the people who run the sites is A+. They care deeply about Alaska and its people, they research their topics, and strive for truth and fairness. Overall, conversation is civil at the majority of the sites that I visit, everyone is allowed to air their opposing views as long as they do it politely, and that keeps me going back for more. I’m thankful for the people who work so hard to improve the quality of life for their friends and neighbors, and I’m proud to be a very small part of this community. I wish them all much success in being heard and making a positive impact. Their continuing selflessness on behalf of others is fantastic.
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We think she is pretty fantastic, too!