Alaska’s Unshakeable Community Spirit

On a cold, dark, and snowy Friday in December, after several difficult weeks in Alaska, more than 40 people gathered in Anchorage to celebrate the new cohort of Pride Foundation grantees, and some of the amazing community accomplishments from 2018. Cake Studio, a three-time host of this celebration, provided a warm, cozy, intimate venue that allowed supporters, scholars, and community partners to create new relationships over conversation (and cake!).

Pride Foundation Board Member, Löki Gale Tobin, TRANSformWA Project Director, Isyss Honnen, and I welcomed and recognized each of Alaska’s five grantees during the program. Not only did Anchorage-based organizations participate, but Catriona Reynolds of Kachemak Bay Family Planning Clinic (KBFPC) drove over 220 miles through mountain passes in whiteout conditions to be present.

  • Photographer Jenny Miller and Alaska Humanities Forum’s Megan Cacciola shared their hopes for Continuous Conversations, a project that will use photography to stimulate dialogue in indigenous communities around gender and sexuality. 
  • After braving the blizzard, KBFPC shared a powerful story about the origins of Homer, AK’s first Pride Month, and the courageous efforts it took for their community’s first mayoral proclamation. 
  • Covenant House Alaska’s Youth Task Force was represented by Dash Togi, a youth organizer as Alaska’s largest service provider to youth experiencing homelessness aims to take bigger steps to better serve queer and transgender youth. 
  • Four A’s Petra Davis shared a powerful story about how HIV prevention programs being in the right place at the right time can recognize someone for their full humanity. 
  • Choosing Our Roots, a startup nonprofit shared their ambitions for providing Alaska’s first host home program that will serve Alaskan queer youth experiencing homelessness.
  • Finally, we were surprised when MC MoHagani Magnetek took the microphone and shared two special spoken word performances (seen below).

There was real excitement and energy around the successes of the year, which were amplified by the grants funded in Alaska. We saw that the community spirit in Anchorage and Alaska is unshakeable, and that things we didn’t think possible five years ago are now happening, in part because people are showing up as their courageous, authentic selves.

 

 

Josh Hemsath is Pride Foundation Regional Philanthropy Officer in Alaska. 

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