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.