Story last updated at 1/28/2009 - 11:05 am
We recently received a letter sent from New Jersey, written in penciled cursive on lined notebook paper. The letter read as follows:
Dear Letter to the Editor:
I am a fourth grade student at Rutgers Preparatory School in Somerset, New Jersey. Our class is learning about the capitals of the United States. I would like to learn about what it is like to live in Juneau. If any of your readers would like to write a letter to me about what it is like to live in Juneau proper, it would help me understand more about the capital of Alaska.
Thank you for your help with my project.
I encourage our readers to write back to Arianna. I'll collect all the responses and send them to her together, so feel free to e-mail them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Even just a few sentences would be appreciated.
As we welcome our legislators and legislative staff to town again, it might be a good time to reflect on how we want to present our community to those who are only here a few months out of the year. We have the same opportunity every summer. In fact, depending on the line of work you're in, you might spend a large part of the year thinking about how to tell people who don't live here what it means to live in Juneau.
Arianna's request is very similar to one being made by the Juneau-Douglas City Museum. The museums latest exhibit features recent acquisitions related to the question "What does it mean to live in this place?" and the museum is collecting answers to this as well.
If you're inspired to respond to one, the same response might work for others. Send it to both email@example.com and fill out the form on the city museums's website.
It makes sense for a museum to ask this question. Local museums preserve the history of a place and in so doing, make sense of what living in this place has meant and continues to mean.
Of course, as a community newspaper distributed throughout Southeast Alaska, I'd like to broaden the question to other communities as well - what is it like to live in Sitka, in Pelican, in Metlakatla, in Wrangell? Wherever you are reading this, we'd love to here what it's like to live in your community.
I'll have to answer myself, of course, and I have to admit it's pretty daunting. The first five words that come to my mind are "my pipes are frozen again." But there's much more to life here than cold winter weather.
Although any issue of the CCW only provides a small snapshot of life in Juneau, here's what I can come up with looking at just this week's issue.
Juneau is a community small enough that you might recognize the names on our birthday list on page 4. Caring enough that when someone must travel to Seattle for expensive medical treatment, the community will come together to help raise money to help pay for it. Living in Juneau means being around people who rise above setbacks, like Joe Tompkins, and inspire others to achieve dreams.
When you live in Juneau, you have your choice of three different plays to attend one weekend. You can dance to salsa and big-band music all in one night.
Still, you might dream about flyfishing even in the middle of winter, as Rich Culver describes in his column. On a cold January day it's easy to wish you were living somewhere else, or at least long for summer - especially in the wake of the second avalanche in a year and worry about paying heating bills to keep yourself warm.
But it may just be that taking ten or fifteen minutes to think about how you would describe life in Juneau to a fourth grader in New Jersey might make you feel a little more upbeat about the place. Even when your pipes are frozen.
Katie Spielberger is the interim managing editor of the Capital City Weekly. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.