Lecture Series Lifts Off
“Sense of Place” a 10x10x10 success
“No stoplights here, guys, no red lights. It’s only green, and go!”
– Darren Mattingley
By P.M. Fadden
Valley residents gathered from 6 until 8:30 p.m. Thursday, January 26th at Girdwood’s Community Room to share in a 2017 lecture series launch, Conversations Re: Girdwood.
Attracting upwards of sixty opening night attendees, the Girdwood 2020-hosted and Girdwood Inc. affiliated presentation, A Sense of Place encompassed ten-minute allotments for ten diverse residents to share as well as narrate ten place-defining photographs depicting their sense of home.
Non-profit advocacy group Girdwood 2020 proudly spearheads the new lecture series, adhering to a mission of support for Girdwood needs. Organization Director and lecture series architect Grace Pleasants was on hand Thurs., greeting attendees while providing primer on this first year attempt at enhancing community dialog.
“We have, here, a good platform to gauge the community in a soft way,” Pleasants said. “It’s an open venue for expression, bringing creative and provocative thoughts to Girdwood.”
Comparable to similarly themed program successes in Oregon and Washington, the 2017 Lecture Series intends monthly expansion upon what Pleasants already sees as a formidable community-wide knowledge base.
“To me, Girdwood per-capita, is among the top most educated communities in the state,” she said. “A Sense of Place introduces us to ten fellow community members who informatively share, through photos and stories, their love for Girdwood and what their home experience means to them.”
Stepping first to the podium was United States Forest Service representative Tim Charnon who emphasized the skiing and schooling foundations to his fifteen years at Girdwood.
“It is, and has been, my great pleasure to make all the recreation opportunities of this wonderful area available to the community as well as my family,” he said.
The second presenter’s tandem Connie Cooley and Chris “Twirl” Roberts evinced jovial warmth for a home valley and village which has given them so much for which to be thankful.
Winner of Alyeska’s 3rd annual Slush Cup and one of the Tramway’s two former high wire workers, Twirl depicted a life dedicated to making his place among the Chugach peaks.
“I knew right away this was my home,” Twirl said.
Connie too described ties that she feels bind her family together as well as the initiatives it supports.
“Being surrounded and supported by the Chugach National Forest helps to define who we are as a community,” Connie added. “Recreating with friends and family is why we live here.”
The third presenter, Craig “Schubie” Schubert wove words of peace, quiet and tranquility while still ensuring his audience that Girdwood “is a community that likes to entertain.”
Darren Mattingley, former member of the Glacier Creek Ski Academy and avid biker, racer, sea-go-er and berry picker infused into the evening’s presentations his energy for all things quintessential to his community.
“No stoplights here, guys, no red lights. It’s only green, and go!” he said.
Fifth and sixth presenter Dawn Photter and Eric Fullerton spoke respectively with youthful words to emphasize the people that make their lives and livelihoods wonderful.
“Slow down in life,” Photter said. “There’s nothing like the community of a small ski town.”
Eric described an appreciation for the diversity that is Girdwood’s population, reminding audiences, “don’t be afraid to try for things because here it’s all of us together.”
Undisputed elder among speakers, 81 year-old John Troutner shared classic commentary alongside historical photography to illuminate his forty-six years at Girdwood. Troutner remembered such keystones as Alyeska’s one-time outdoor pool, the current location of its business offices, and the now disbanded “airline races” while also reiterating a respect for the effort required to make one’s home.
“Full benefits of community come from service,” he said.
Eighth speaker, Kelvin Doyle’s quiet homage to “the place where we like to hide away” was succinctly phrased when Doyle related how, at Girdwood, he knew “the feeling of home.”
Randy Brandon, as second to last presenter, set a pictorial historical pace reminding audiences of the fun inherent in amidst the hills and forests of their town just off the Arm. “This place is fun!” Randy said. “The people we know, here, are why we stay.”
“I ask myself, what really made me stay in Girdwood?” The features of his face reveal the wry smile. “It’s only forty miles from Alaska.”
To conclude the evening’s presenters was relatively new Girdwood arrival, Sasha Swift who shared energetically her view of a resilient population with an endearing as well as undying sense of humor accompany their sense of place.
“This is our backyard,” Sasha said, “and everybody is doing their part.”
Lecture Series organizers see it future as strongly bright as the speakers who began it.
“First and foremost, we are a community,” concluded Grace Pleasants on the success of the Girdwood 2020-hosted evening. “It’s about where we are, where we have been and where we are going.”
February 16 marks 2017 Lecture Series next installment when Girdwood 2020 hosts in the Community Room Oliver Colbert. From Brooklyn, Colbert presents Social Sustainability-OTW, an Alaska extension of his Social Awareness and Leadership efforts.
Colbert, a poet, writer and educator, conducts workshops throughout the Lower 48 and has won national competitions in field.