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PUBLISHED: 4:09 PM on Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Random thoughts on a busy October

Sometimes I prepare for our weekly conversation with a blank page and not much inspiration.

Then there are weeks when there's too much to cover adequately.

And so I try to point a few words towards what's happening and important in our communities.

This is such a week. There's more than enough to talk about.

To start with, company is coming.

As you're reading this, the Alaska Tourism Industry Association is wrapping up its annual convention in Juneau. ATIA is the state organization of tourism businesses, operators and related businesses, which share and promote our state to outsiders.

It's been some time since ATIA met here. It's nice that they're here at the end of what has been a very good year in the tourism business.

Head taxes, fuel prices and all the other distractions aside, more people came to see our state.

Yes, they can be a distraction. There's more traffic, lines at our restaurants, no parking space at the harbor.

But imagine what the impact would be of NO tourism? A few thousand communities throughout the west and northwest would give anything for the equivalent of one cruise ship of visitors a month... Barring some unforeseen calamity, we'll not see the Alaska of pre-cruise days. For that matter, of pre-oil, pre-discount store, pre-timber or pre-fishing days.

So our responsibility is to make the most of those blessing and manage them responsibly.

And it appears we're doing a better-than-average job in that regard.

Frankly I look forward to October and November, no, not because of the weather, but because we get our towns back. The tourists are gone, the politicians are gone, even the seasonal workers are gone.

It's just the residents with enough fortitude or not enough airline miles to ride out another winter.

Except this year.

In a couple of weeks, the Legislature will be in special session in Juneau, wrestling with how to get full value for our Alaska oil nest egg, without killing the golden goose.

It's a rare thing for them to be with us in the fall, and it'll be interesting to see how the community responds. Much has been made of making our state officials feel welcome in Juneau. This month would be a good place to start.

Either way, it should be more entertaining than the World Series and NFL (of course, the Cowboys are winning this year....).

This month our United Way of Southeast Alaska is gathering support for the good works to be done in 2008.

I say "our" because everything about United Way is local, from those who give to those who need help most.

More than 30 agencies depend on the United Way, which means they depend on us, to do their good works.

And while Alaskans have generous souls, willing to help each other in any need, Alaska ranks nearly last in United Way giving.

If you haven't thought about all the good the United Way does, take a moment on your next online browse and look at http://www.unitedwayseak.org/. And dig down and find a way to share with those less fortunate than we are.

Speaking of giving, if you favor wild things, think about attending and giving to the annual Juneau chapter of Ducks Unlimited banquet and fundraiser Saturday at Centennial Hall.

Suffice to say that one of the things most wonderful about a bright (or foggy) Juneau autumn day is the sight and sound of ducks and geese winging over the Mendenhall wetlands or lifting in waves off any of our bays.

Without DU, the granddaddy of all conservation organizations, most of those ducks wouldn't be there.

For more information on the banquet, call Mike and Becky Allison 789-5057.

Finally, a thought on living together.

Seems we are arguing more these days, about everything from fluoride to the old standby road.

At least we care and at least we care to do something about it.

If you haven't lived down south in a while, haven't seen local elections with 20 percent voter turnout, haven't seen a whole bulk of the citizenry disenfranchised from even caring, much less participating in the process, you haven't realized how rare an active and vocal electorate is.

Now our challenge is to keep the process open, respectful and even a little fun-maybe even agree to disagree agreeably!

And no matter how you voted this week, thanks for doing it. We're all in this together!

Leschper is general manger of the Capital City Weekly and advertising director of the Juneau Empire. Email him at lee.leschper@morris.com.


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