FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ANCHORAGE, AK – Plan4Alaska, a project of the Rasmuson Foundation, will host town hall meetings in Palmer and Kenai this week to talk with Alaskans about the state’s historic budget deficit.
On this cold December evening, as a group of citizens in this Anchorage community gather in a little downtown park, I remember a March night in 1983. Three teenagers, Samantha, Kris and I were somewhere in the Tennessee hills, on a Trailways bus, leaving behind chaos and confusion, bad parents, bad friends, bad lives, heading for something, anything better.
My first memory is of my mother’s forefinger skimming beneath the words, “Once upon a time, in a faraway land, lived a beautiful princess named Snow White. She had skin as white as snow, lips as red as blood, and hair as black as ebony.” In that moment, I fell in love with words, and I have never fallen out of it.
Enter, with me, the art room at West Homer Elementary School, where Halibut Cove artist Annette Bellamy is slicing up slabs of clay in preparation for a class in “exercises in imagination.”
And here come the kids–twenty-one third-graders, streaming into the room.
If you saw her making a speech at a Native elders potlatch, or arm wrestling some politician for program money, you might figure out Katherine Gottlieb is the CEO of a $100 million health corporation.
But you probably wouldn’t realize right away that she’s responsible for fixing EVERYTHING.
The boarded up house on Anchorage’s East Third Avenue was too wretched to imagine people ever living there, people who kept the lawn mowed and put out the trash every week. Walls stripped and weeping moisture, it emitted a rot that burned the nose and turned the stomach.
Haven House is a very special place here on the South Kenai Peninsula. Many lives are saved in this humble little clapboard building. Many lives are indeed begun anew. From personal experience (hey, all art is personal, right?) I have been impressed by the casual yet passionate way with which Peg Tileman (the former executive director featured here) and staff deal with domestic violence across all walks of life.