Story last updated at 1/21/2009 - 11:41 am
Some friends in Sitka told me recently that the people they see most often at community events are those who live on boats. When living quarters are cramped, damp or cold, getting out in the community - whether to check out a new band, hear a lecture or learn to contra dance - certainly sounds more attractive.
The same could probably be said for a lot of conservation-minded Juneauites right now.
When our first avalanche last April knocked out our connection to inexpensive, clean hydropower, an oft-heard consolation in the face of skyrocketing electricity costs was, "at least it's not winter."
Well, now it is, and despite last Sunday's weather - which rivaled any day last May - it's safe to say we will have some cold weather during the time when we are paying 30 cents a kilowatt-hour for our electricity.
There are limits to how low we can turn down our heat and how long we can go without electric light. Candles might be romantic when night starts at 8 p.m., but the thrill could wear off if you are burning them from 4 p.m. on.
We usually use the term "house-warming party" metaphorically. After someone has moved somewhere new, guests can help turn the house into a home with the warmth of their company.
In cold and dark of winter, though, it might be helpful to start thinking a little more literally about house-warming.
I used to live with a roommate who insisted on using only enough heat to keep our teeth from chattering. I piled on the sweaters and wore my knit hat inside most of the time. One chilly winter night we invited all of our friends over for a potluck. We turned our heat up a few notches for the occasion.
But once everyone started piling in, we found ourselves turning the heat down, then almost off completely. Human bodies produce an incredible amount of warmth, especially in a small room.
So when it's cold again, here's another way of thinking about conservation. In addition to looking for ways to use less electricity individually or as a family, think of ways you can share what you do use. Of course it's a good idea to play more board games and watch less TV, but when you really want to watch a movie or TV show, invite friends over so only one TV is turned on instead of several. When you use the power to cook a nice meal, cook for more people, and then hope they repay the favor.
Taking it a step further, there are plenty of opportunities for us all to turn off our lights and televisions completely and gather together as a community.
The "breakfast with the president" on Inauguration Day is a great example: instead of everyone watching alone at home on separate televisions, the event became a community celebration - and, incidentally, a good way to share warmth and electricity.
And lucky for Juneau, there's no shortage of opportunities to turn off your lights and join the community for a play, a movie, a concert, a class or a lecture.
Check out our newly expanded calendar on pages 22-23 for some suggestions, followed by previews of several exciting events in our arts and entertainment section.
We at the Capital City Weekly are working hard these days to become a comprehensive guide to everything going on in town - and in the rest of Southeast. Of course, to do this well, we need some help. If you organize an event, meeting, class or activity anywhere in Southeast, we want to know about it. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know what's going on. Together, we can create great resource for what's happening in the community this week.
There are plenty of ways to share the warmth. Literally.
Katie Spielberger is interim managing editor of the Capital City Weekly. She can be reached at email@example.com.