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When I think about “giving back to my community” my first response is to feel like I can't, because I'm not a parent. Which is weird, but I associate being apart of a community with parenthood because my mother was so the champion, gold star winner, SUPER WOMAN OF COMMUNITY AWESOME.
Sure, a lot of her community involvement had to do with helping me, but her efforts always went so far over the top that instead of just signing me up for Girl Scouts, the woman ended up teaching a host of small, most likely irritating little girls for YEARS how to build campfires, pitch tents, and lash together tables from sticks. Or how about how her desire to make sure MY 8th grade school trip to Washington, D.C. went off without a hitch somehow turned into HER fundraising, planing, and chaperoning an amazing trip for my entire 8th grade class.
I don't even want to think about the work that went into my years and years of travel softball. The raffle tickets that poor woman peddled on her unsuspecting coworkers!
Basically, this woman, had community in the bag.
Now that I'm newly relocated to the great Alaskan wilderness, the idea of community is one I find myself having to build all over again. Yet with the prompt of this post I actually had a reason to turn off the DVR and do some research into what sort of community I can be apart of in this child-free Alaskan life I’m leading.
First up I went and remembered that BAM I’m up in Anchorage community all kinds seeing as this weekend Adam, Oly, Stella and I will be walking in the Anchorage Heart Walk. The Anchorage Heart Walk is benefiting the American Heart Association, and although a national organization, Adam, Oly, Stella and I are participating in Anchorage, for the people of Anchorage, pretty much accidentally helping our community.
Beyond our Saturday activities my research helped me realize that getting involved in my community is about 700 times cooler living in Anchorage than if I’d done this while we lived in Olympia.
Why? Because in Anchorage I can donate my time to help pull off one of the biggest, and most famous dog sled races in the world. Hello Iditarod, I want to pet all the sled dogs. And do not doubt me friends, both Adam and I plan on volunteering for this cold, cold race come late February. Of course there will be photos.
In non-sled dog news, the Alaska Center for the Environment predicts that if something were to happen to the food shipments that keep Alaskan grocery stores stocked, the state of Alaska would run out of food for our communities in 3-5 days. One of the ways to fight back on our dependence on imported food and support the people in my community is to support like-it’s-my-part-time-job Alaskan farmers, dairy producers, and ranchers. I do this by shopping at the Anchorage farmers market, and by buying veggies stamped with the ”Alaska Grown” sticker whenever I can track those babies down.
And yes, we pay our farmers market musicians in produce.
Anyone who loves animals can volunteer their time at the zoo or the local animal shelter. But here in Alaska I can volunteer my time at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center and do things like bottle feed baby moose. Now that, is cool. If I want to go even bigger and take a stand on protecting an entire species instead of a single animal (the power!) I can give my time to an organization like the Save Bristol Bay Foundation and help ensure that all of us continue to have fresh Alaskan salmon on our menus for years and years to come. Because this issue directly affects the people, employment, and economy of mine, as well as many other Alaskan communities.
You probably wont find me out there baking cookies to help the local Anchorage elementary school get a new gym, but you might find me walking for hearts, saving salmon, helping sled dogs win gold, and eating my way to keeping Alaskan companies and farmers going strong.
Just another day way up here in the last frontier.
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