Reading has always been an important activity in my life. Of course, “activity” may not rightly describe sitting in a comfortable chair with a good book. However, it is a pleasure 32 million Americans can’t share. This episode I talk with Literacy Council of Alaska Executive Director Mike Kolasa about the organization and his background.
Speaking of books: Homer’s Odyssey is one of the enduring classics of world literature. Far from a dusty tome, it continually spurs fresh approaches and inspires new creations. UAF Professor Emeritus and writer Frank Soos, looks at several recent works that take it up, including Daniel Mendelsohn’s memoir, Madeline Miller’s fictional embellishment Circe, and Emily Wilson’s ground-breaking translation.
While I’ve known Greg Pacetti for years, only recently did it strike me he would make an outstanding guest on the show. Greg is now semi-retired but still produces fine stringed instruments; and he has an album of songs you can find on-line. He describes his journey from hippy artisan to luthier.
Greg’s father was a fisherman. Others often go to sea for research. One of them is Roger Topp. His day job is Director of Exhibits at the University of Alaska Museum of the North. However, Roger was originally trained as an oceanographer and is a serious writer. This past summer he returned to his roots, documenting a voyage of the research vessel Sikuliaq. Roger shared those reports on his blog. He discusses his approach to communicating science.
On this New Year’s Day episode, we hear of a new book examining the life and academic contributions of Terrence Cole. Dr. Mary Ehrlander talks about The Big Wild Soul of Terrence Cole. And we revisit a conversation with Terrence and his twin Dermot Cole about their life today and their sometimes-unique upbringing.
In the closing weeks of the mid-term elections, Mr. Trump characterized the long line of women, children, and men trudging through Central America and Mexico as an invasion. He also claimed, without evidence, the so-called caravan harbored Middle-Eastern terrorists. Trump’s claims astounded my guest this show. Alberto Arce is an award-winning journalist who spent four years covering Central America for the Associated Press and the New York Times. Arce currently occupies the Snedden Chair of Journalism at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He describes the daily misery and danger ordinary citizens in Honduras face and why they seek sanctuary hundreds of miles north.
I first met sculpture Dennis Gaboury years ago when he and his wife, writer Elinor Burkett, were in Fairbanks. Elinor and Dennis met when she was writing one of the first books on the Catholic Church’s Clergy Sex abuse scandal. Dennis was abused by Fr. James Porter. Porter eventually was convicted of molesting 28 children. KUAC interviewed Dennis when he was here and I participated in a townhall forum with Dennis and Elinor about clergy abuse.
Elinor and Dennis moved on, had postings in other interesting parts of the world and I lost track of them. Then I learned Dennis was back in Fairbanks selling dolls and wire sculptures created by orphans from Zimbabwe. In fact, he had formed an organization called Zimkids Orphan Trust. Its motto is “Built by Orphans, Run by Orphans, For Orphans.” Its unique business model aims at sustainability. He and his protégé Tinashe Basa have been back to Fairbanks almost annually in recent years because of the deep roots Dennis formed with people here. Tinashe currently oversees day-to-day operations at the orphanage. But he is also a musician and he built and operates his own recording studio. He created the music you hear in this piece.
An active Mount Veniaminof: image courtesy of the Alaska Volcano Observatory
Over the past several episodes guest producer John Perreault has been visiting with scientists at the Alaska Volcano Observatory. This year marks its 30th anniversary. Today John wraps up on a bittersweet note as he talks with Dr. Jeff Freymueller, who recently departed AVO after more than two decades of teaching and research.
And I visit with Alaska Department of Fish and Game Biologist and Education Specialist Mark Ross. He’s been introducing visitors and locals to the wonders of the Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge for decades. His notebook observations and drawings have also been a welcome periodic feature in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.
We begin with an interview about the Alaska Volcano Observatory which is celebrating 30 years of service. Volunteer producer John Perreault will bring us a series of conversations about its work over the next several shows. John begins the series with a conversation with Dr. Jessica Larsen.
I talk with Dr. Sarah Stanley, who not only serves as Director of University Writing but helps organize a group of educators who enter Fairbanks Correctional Center to empower women inmates to express themselves through writing. That passion for the written word extends to other outreach efforts including the upcoming Celebration of Writing.
And in Katexic Clippings Chris Lott looks at instances when words, written or spoken, aren’t enough.
This summer was a hard one for me and others who knew the talented musician, actor, and producer Sarah Mitchell. Sarah took her life with a gun in August. Sarah was the daughter of local performers Gianna Drogheo and Steve Mitchell and I knew her since she was a girl. Audiences visiting or living in Fairbanks knew her from her engaging summer performances at the Palace Theater and Saloon. But Sarah was also a passionate champion of other artists. The best example of this is her project to create a CD of Jim Bell’s music. I spoke with Sarah just before the CD’s release. I replay it in tribute to her generous spirit.
Also on the show, “First Friday” events in Fairbanks are usually festive affairs where new work of painters, printers, writers and sculptors is unveiled in gallery openings. But in October, two first-Friday events have a more somber theme: gun safety. First, Well Street Art Company will display several banners with the portraits of scores of Alaskans wearing targets. Local photographer Kate Wool found herself called to respond with her images in the wake of repeated reports of mass shootings in schools and other public venues. The result was the “I am not a target” project. Her work came to the attention of the national For Freedoms organization, which seeks to stimulate social discussion through artistic expression. They selected Wool’s work for support.