SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


By Joey Tillson


April 05, 2010

The other day I had lunch with an out of town friend. Her and I had gone to school together in Juneau for many years and for 29 years of my life, I lived in Juneau but was born in Ketchikan. It was wonderful to catch up with her and discuss how our lives had changed and progressed.

In the middle of the conversation, she leans in and says, "No offense, Joey, but why did you choose to live in Ketchikan? I mean, I know you have family here but the buildings are run down, the town is falling apart and it feels kind of dirty. I truly mean no disrespect but after living in Juneau for so long, why is Ketchikan your home now?"

I didn't have to hesitate to tell her and jumped right in with my explanation. "After living in Juneau for so long, something was always missing in my life there. It wasn't family because I had family there too. Don't get me wrong, Juneau is beautiful with all the man-made scenic points, the laws that prohibit run down property and the better shopping but Ketchikan has something Juneau has always lacked and I didn't know it until I moved back here as an adult.

It was the sense of community. No matter what walks of life the people have in this town, we all share in the experience. We are family with no blood ties for some. It doesn't matter what mistakes you've made in your life, the judgments passed against you, if you or a loved one falls on hard times such as a fire, cancer, death; the community comes together to help. Complete strangers will donate their time, energy, money, love, to help you, regardless of what mistakes you have made in your life.

No matter how ugly and unkempt the buildings are, I can see the beauty amongst all the ugliness. I see the flowers growing amongst the weeds. No, we don't have a man-made scenic point every 10 feet, but amongst all the rain and ugliness during the day, in our lives, I can see the most beautiful gifts among the people and nature.

I can't find the sense of community in any other place I've visited or lived. I found it here, it's community. It's beautiful and it's all about coming together as a community and we are family. That's what was missing in my life everywhere I went." Then I paused.

She looked at me and said, "Wow. Maybe that's what's been missing in my life, too. You speak very passionately about it and I think that's what's been missing in my life too."

So when you think Ketchikan is the reason your kids are using drugs, dropping out of school, or why your life is a failure; look around you. Investigate other places and I can guarantee you this, this IS your home if only you choose to see the forest amongst the trees, the flowers amongst the weeds, the sunshine amidst the rain. It's all up to you in how you live your life, how you view your life around you. Are you going to be a part of our community? It's up to you.

Ms. Joey Tillson
Ketchikan, AK

Received April 02, 2010 - Published April 05, 2010


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Ketchikan, Alaska