Development Dreams: Conversations all over town

Anchorage at Night

Is it just me, or are there a ton of conversations happening about the future of Anchorage and Alaska right now?

There’s the standard political fare, of course – after all, the legislative session just wrapped and it’s a big election year, but there are other, new conversations taking place.

In We Built This City, Bree Kessler asks, “What comes first: A well planned city or a vibrant urban culture?” and then examines different perspectives, concluding that our future city sounds like a great place to live. She also introduces the word Danish word “hygge” (pronounced “hooga”) to describe the “coziness factor” of cities and spaces (I love hygge! More hygge please!).

Kathleen McCoy writes about the need to diversify Alaska’s economy in Hometown U: When oil and government checks are gone, look to the university and points to the newly formed Business Enterprise Institute as an organization that will help lead the way.

One of my favorite projects during the last year, Turnagain Crossing, was developed by J.J. Brooks, who is interviewed in Q&A: J.J. Brooks, developer of Turnagain’s Rustic Goat Bistro, reflects on project. It’s a great interview with an interesting, creative guy who gifted Anchorage with a cool new development and gorgeous building to keep the neighborhood supplied with coffee, libations, and comfort food. From J.J.:

I guess that’s where I think Anchorage is at a turning point right now. With better quality projects, (it’s) making it so people want to live in Alaska. And it protects Alaska against an economic downturn, because people choose a way of life. But you have to be able to build for it.”

Last weekend, the UAA Center for Community Engagement and Learning hosted a public design charrette about how to redesign Town Square Park* – the charrette (and the conversation leading up to it) is the beginning of a “yearlong community effort dedicated to creative place-making in Anchorage.”

The week before, Alaska Trails: 2014 Statewide Trails Conference*  brought together “a diverse array of trail users from across the state to teach and learn the latest in sustainable trail building and maintenance, trail advocacy and many other trail topics.”

Today, the State Council on the Arts kicked off Latitude: 2014 Alaska Arts Convergence, a conference supporting artists and the arts in Alaska with a healthy dose of creative place-making conversation planned. If you are First Friday-ing tomorrow (and you should be!), the Latitude: Passport Art Walk, starting from the Captain Cook or the PAC (you must register online), offers on-the-spot artwork created just for you in your personal “art passport.” So cool – I can’t wait to see the beautiful creations I get to take home with me.

Currently, the Anchorage 2015 Centennial Legacy Interpretive Plan is available for public comment through the end of this month, and I think I read that the Anchorage Assembly will be voting on whether or not to adopt the Ship Creek Master Plan soon (I hope they do!).

Of course, housing is still a hot topic. The Arctic Urbanophile is writing about committing to our elders. Friends are attending the Business of Clean Energy Conference, and a food festival is planned for the fall to address issues like food security and using more locally produced ingredients.

See what I mean? SO many great conversations about the future of Anchorage and Alaska happening these days! Of course, the most important step is to go from thinking/talking/planning to doing – I hope that each of these conversations leads to action, whether it’s caring for trails or finding a vibrant new industry to feed Alaska’s economy.

It’s a great time to live in Anchorage.  Anyone who wants to participate can be a part of shaping our future, and that is a wonderful, wonderful thing.


*I wish I could attend everything and be part of every conversation but I missed the design charrette, the trails conference, and the Business of Clean Energy, otherwise I would have much more to share about these events!

Author: Gretchen Fauske

I love Anchorage. I love what it is, what it's been, and what I dream it will be. I share my adventures with DJ (my husband), my fabulous family and friends, two frenchies named Grover and Teddy, and now, all of you. If you love Anchorage too, get in touch - guest posts are welcome!