This week I talk with Corlis Taylor. While many in Fairbanks know her as a gifted fiber artist, she’s also enjoyed a long and distinguished public health career in Alaska that began in 1979 in Bethel as a Vista Volunteer.
At this time of year, I recall Jacob Marley’s words to Scrooge: “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were all my business.” This week on Northern Soundings I talk with Bishop Otis McCormick whose work in Fairbanks embodies Dickens’ words.
Actors Stephan Wolftert and Dawn Stern of Decruit are back in Fairbanks. I talked with them several months ago, when they were in town, about applying Shakespeare’s texts, modern science and dramatic techniques to help heal veterans and others recovering from trauma. In this longer conversation, we discuss the process by which they create new one and two-person productions that capture an audience’s attention and exploit what Aristotle claimed were tragedy’s power to purge the emotions.
On this show I talk with Shirley Gordon; at nearly 100, she has seen much of Alaska’s recent history, and even participated in it as the wife of William Gordon, the state’s flying Episcopal bishop. A replica of his plane hangs on permanent display in the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitor Center. This episode is drawn from a recording of a public conversation with Shirley this summer as part of UAF Summer Sessions‘ Tall Timbers series. As you’ll hear, she concludes our discussion by declaring, with a twinkle in her eye, that she is a very great success.
She has two events in November. A book signing at Forget-Me-Not Books on Gaffney Road. 11am -3pm on Saturday November 12th. And later that evening at 6 PM she’ll read with other UAF creative writing faculty: Daryl Farmer, Sara Johnson, & Joe Holt at the Bear Gallery, Civic Centre, Pioneer Park, in an event sponsored by the Fairbanks Arts Association
This is another conversation sprung from UAF’s Summer Sessions‘ Tall Timbers series that saluted individuals who’ve made a difference in our community. Mary Shields was a natural for the list. She was the first woman to finish the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. She’s also penned books for adults and kids and served as an ambassador of sorts to thousands of visitors to our state.
Well, okay, Paul Taylor says he’s an entertainer not a crooner. But the former Green Beret, forensic economist, and dog musher also admits he’s most at home with a microphone in hand and in front of an audience.
And I talk to the husband and wife team of DeCruit who recently visited Fairbanks giving workshops for veterans. Stephan Wolfert and Dawn Stern use the poetry and drama of William Shakespeare to help address the trauma of combat and domestic violence.
This spring, I happened to run into Sally Smith. Smith has a long track-record of public service. Not only did she represent Fairbanks in the Alaska House of Representatives from 1977 through 1983, when the Permanent Fund was established. She also served as Juneau’s mayor. Additionally, she held posts in both and the Eagan and Sheffield administrations.
Also, speaking of permanent, there are several constants at the Tanana Valley State Fair. The rides, livestock, and exhibits, of course, but don’t forget the straw poll organized and run by the local League of Women Voters. The league is non-partisan, and empowering democracy and educating voters are chief concerns for the group. I spoke with Janna Miller, co-president of the local league about how the straw polling went this summer, especially with ranked choice voting to consider
For the last decade or so, I’ve been lucky to talk with notable individuals who have been shaped by their time at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Those conversations were part of UAF Summer Session’s Legacy Lecture series. This year the program saluted Steve Frank, former UAF basketball star, local banker and businessman, and Alaska state Senator and Representative.