We are once again hosting a Speakers’ Series discussion tomorrow, Tuesday, 3/1/2022 (yes, March is upon us!). I hope everyone can join us as we host a mini panel discussion about all things food security with Amy O’Neill Houck and Robbi Mixon.
It should be a lively discussion in light of the fact that the Alaska Food Policy Council’s 2022 Festival and Conference is a little over two weeks away (virtually, March 17-19th).
I am looking forward to this session, so I hope you will be able to join us either in person or virtually via Zoom!
There is always much to view and read during any Black History Month. However, I seem to have had more than my fair share of relevant articles and programming come across my various devices, so I thought I would share a portion of it with you, dedicated readers.
Initially, let me tease out and share a portion of reading lists that should take any reader the next 11 months to complete, compliments of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. :
1. “The Conjure Woman,” by Charles W. Chesnutt
2. “The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man,” by James Weldon Johnson
3. “Cane,” by Jean Toomer
4. “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” by Zora Neale Hurston
5. “Native Son,” by Richard Wright
6. “Invisible Man,” by Ralph Ellison
7. “Mumbo Jumbo,” by Ishmael Reed
8. “The Color Purple,” by Alice Walker
9. “The Bluest Eye,” by Toni Morrison (or “Sula,” “Song of Solomon,” or “Jazz”)
10. “At the Bottom of the River,” by Jamaica Kincaid
As you will undoubtedly note, this is a list of fiction; for non-fiction and other reading materials, as well as an in-depth interview with Gates, Jr., do check out David Remnick's interview in this special digital edition of The New Yorker.
Of course, one cannot mention Gates, Jr. without giving a hat tip to the excellent PBS series Finding Your Roots. This season is once again filled with amazing personal stories, unexpected twists, and history that is backed by rock solid receipts.
Since our Speakers' Series hosted Ann E. DeLong, a currently serving U.S. Department of State Special Assistant, I found this American Experience episode about three African-American diplomats completely eye opening.
Finally, for one of the most fascinating cultural history pieces ever to come down the celluloid pike, absolutely check out Riveted: The History of Jeans (also an American Experience episode). It weaves together African American history, the working class, and an iconic piece of clothing into an hour you should (if you are like me) not want to see end.
Finally, here in Alaska, 2021 service participants earned in excess of $1 million in Segal education awards. Putting aside the community-building and other soft skill aspects of service toward which so many volunteers gravitate, this is one of the biggest tangible benefits of national service. I would be equally interested to see data on those members who took advantage of the federal competitive hiring exemption upon service completion, as it is yet another measure of service commitment.
As we come out of this year's early recruitment for full-year positions (we will commence another one in late spring in anticipation of a mid-August start date), it is clear that no matter how sluggish national service recruitment may be across the country, Alaska, and specifically Fairbanks, remains a strong place to flex community service muscle and learn about a corner of the country where the food scene is great, and weather conditions (it currently is 5 degrees Farenheit!) serve as their own extreme sport.
Caitlin served as a community outreach volunteer at the Fairbanks Children's Museum from February 2021 to December 2021. Throughout her time there, Caitlin was able to work alongside museum staff to continue providing quality educational & outreach opportunities to Fairbanks families, even in the middle of a global pandemic which presented many challenges. She ended her service time at the museum inspired by the unique and resilient Fairbanks community, as well as with a feeling of gratitude for her time spent at the Fairbanks Children's Museum with the amazing team of people there who are always dreaming up big dreams for the families of Fairbanks. Caitlin has relocated to Denver, CO where she has started a new position at the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development.
"Caitlin showed up at the Museum not knowing what was in store, but ready to flex and support Museum operations in any way. Turns out she has an eye for photography, social media, and outreach. She brought her kind and friendly personality to Fairbanks families and we truly did not want her to leave! When I got the call for a reference for her new position in Colorado I was able to say "if you weren't taking her, we'd be begging her to stay!" We are so grateful for the impact Caitlin had on the Fairbanks Children's Museum, and we continue to feel that impact in her absence!"
- Meredith Maple-Gitter, Executive Director, Fairbanks Children's Museum
Last Monday seems like a lifetime ago; nevertheless, our City of Fairbanks VISTA cohort spent a productive day helping to get Restore Inc.'s new stabilization space ready for its soft opening last Friday. Not only was the day's service satisfying, but seeing the direct fruits of our labor in such a short amount of time was a bonus reward! The final four photos were taken at last Friday's big reveal, and although I could not be in attendance, I heard it was a complete success; the photographic evidence underscores the dedicated human vision behind the space. The cohort was truly thrilled to help Restore Inc. get this important community resource ready for use. Thanks so much for the opportunity to serve, Shelissa!
Please welcome our two most recent VISTA cohort members. They may have only just arrived, but each of them is already getting things done and starting to make their respective presence felt at their sites. Please join me in welcoming Abby and Artëm!
Our speakers' series picks up again in 2022 with a wonderful State Department presentation! This time around, the technological glitches have been worked out (!), and we will be hosting this in the VISTA office at Fairbanks City Hall next Tuesday. If you'd like to join us live or via Zoom, do please drop us an email and we will provide you with further information.
Happy New Year everyone! Our VISTA Speakers' Series is part of an overarching professional development benefit we provide to our VISTA cohort, based in part on topics they identified as having an interest in learning more about. As the program will be saying good-bye to a portion of our current cohort as their service year comes to an end in February, a focus on employment after service is key. I was so pleased to get such talented community professionals together in Fairbank's City Hall Council Chambers for an afternoon with the majority of the cohort (and one participated via Zoom) to go over resume tips and tricks, the ins and outs of federal job applications, and then a productive round of speed interviewing. These photos do not do the interviewing speed rounds justice - I quite literally had to get interviewers up from their chairs to move at the allotted time because conversations were too engrossing to cut short! I want to thank everyone involved in Tuesday afternoon's session - and a special shout-out to Mike Sander's quick use of his cell phone to allow our Zoom participant to also speed interview via telephone. The afternoon's agenda is part of the below slide show, and if anyone would like information on how to contact any of the speakers, do feel free to reach out to us here at the Fairbank's VISTA office. Each speaker comes highly recommended; I also could not be more proud of this VISTA cohort. They are getting amazing stuff done now in this community, and they undoubtedly can and should look forward to bright and meaning-filled futures.