I’ve been thinking about why Juneau is so special – aside from the gorgeous scenery and immediate access to outdoor activity of all kinds.
I had put Juneau’s terrific sense of community and mind-blowing high level of cultural activities and involvement to the fact that it is small (30,000 souls) and roadless. If you want to go somewhere, it’s a major production involving cost and logistics associated with flying or taking the ferry. So people stay put in a way that they don’t in places that are linked by major highways.
Laying in bed awake for a spell in the night (looking at the stars out the sliding glass doors through the branches of the spruce tree shading our deck) it dawned on me that, probably, the average commute for Juneau workers is not more than 15 minutes. I, who walk to work, get to my place of (part-time) employment in just about that amount of time. Likewise, the commute to the supermarket and everything else is minimal.
This means that, compared to dense urban areas where people spend up to 90 minutes or more at each end of the work day commuting to or from work, and then spend hours more each week visiting, shopping, and traveling to and from the other activities squeezed into their lives, people in Juneau have a lot more time on their hands. They put it to good and creative use.
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“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” Henry David Thoreau
A busy week.
- We entertained some friends/acquaintances for dinner last night (paella and pie) and our dearones next door for dinner on Wednesday (home made meatballs and spagghetti sauce.) We’re digging ourselves into the Juneau community and learning more about it. Seems as though the people who move here from the lower 48 march to a different drummer. And those already here, or who came from elsewhere in Alaska are likewise a different breed of cat. Think we must be too, which explains why this place feels so comfortable. Folks here largely seem to be their own persons; independent, adventurous, quirky, unstuck from the consumption rat-race, and joined to the natural world – in one’s face in all its glory and power in this isolated and beautiful spot.
- Finished up my pro-bono work on the website of Developmental Delay Resources (DDR), a project on which I’ve spent hundreds of hours over the past few months. [The design/color elements were not my choice.] Prepared comprehensive site documentation in readiness for passing it along to a new webmaster.
- Spent hours on family matters (and believe me family matters) related to my brother’s recent diagnosis and surgery for a brain tumor. Extremely grateful for our Skype account which makes it inexpensive and easy to place frequent and lengthy phone calls around the globe. My family, while small, is widely scattered. Negotiating the time zones is quite a challenge but thanks to Internet technology I’m able to provide a deal of support during a difficult time to my brother and his partner (Australia) my two nieces (England and Wales), and two close cousins (Scotland and Switzerland.)
- Spent Tuesday observing the Assessment Center process of the Juneau Assembly as it recruits a new City Manager pending the retirement of Rod Swope at the end of April. There were 3 finalists in this round, all from “down south.” Two had never visited Juneau before, and the third had done so once briefly. At the end of three days, the Assembly decided to embark on a new search – Juneau is different, and none of them got it. [I love this good government stuff.]
The weather has been lovely – cold, crisp and sunny, drawing overyone outdoors in the incredibly lengthened days to go cross-country or downhill skiing, walk the dogs, or just plain gawk at the views. I swear I’m on a first-name basis with nearly as many Juneau dogs as I am people. If I were a dog, I sure would want to live here. Doggie heaven if there ever was one. Juneau has the only aiport terminal I’ve been in where, sometimes, the dogs nearly outnumber the humans.
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This morning it’s 52°F and sunny. And in Maine it’s 25 below. Bizarre.
Courtesy of the Internet I witness the rapid changes in our world – which show up at an exponentially increasing rate. I contemplate the uncertain future we are bursting into. How will life be for us, and our community, as we finish out our lifespan? And what about our kids and grandkids?
Which leads me to the concept of community resilience (more…)
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