SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Lived Here How Long?
By Gail Person


October 22, 2007
Monday PM

Would somebody explain to me the significance amongst locals regarding the number of years one has lived in Ketchikan and the emphasis placed on it. Does longevity guarantee that one is more honest, knowledgeable, and community minded, and not out to influence and manipulate through fear and intimidation for some selfish agenda. Or is that suspicion only reserved for outsiders and relative new comers whose motives to come here simply and certainly were to destroy your way of life? Although I am very impressed that many people in Ketchikan are well educated, well traveled, etc., my tendency is to view the level of this importance as a measure of inbred attitudes and perceptions. If my daddy said it, my uncle said it, and I heard it on the street corner it must be true, and so I will adopt the same attitude.

I grew up in a small, remote logging community where every time a stranger would walk into the local tavern, which was also the gas station, the locals sitting at the bar would turn and stare. Many could not come to terms with the fact that they were not the "exclusive" experts or owners of the forest and that eking out a living there was a privilege. The big sign along our highway did not read "our" forest it read "national" forest. At times, there was not just mistrust toward outsiders and newcomers but outright anger and hate. I viewed their "uncivil" behavior as a lack of having a larger frame of reference, which perpetuated their insecurities and fears. Their fear and insecurity left no room in their minds for anything else. They then had no other option but to piss and moan and find someone to blame rather than understand the outside forces that actually were shaping their lives. Last year there were three children riding the school bus from that logging community, compared to having a large and a medium bus full of children when I was in high school. When the timber industry subsided (oh, but don't blame market forces) the community shrank.

So what is the point when you are touting how many years you have lived here? One individual on SitNews was so intent on impressing everyone that he indicated he had lived in Ketchikan eight years longer than his age! Wow! Explain that one! Hum, let me see now, the more years, the more confidence one should have in what is said? Maybe he has been here so long that he is going backward in time. We live in a unique and beautiful setting, but some of our attitudes and behaviors are not so unique or beautiful. They can be stumbling blocks toward developing new innovative, diversified, and sustainable industries. We keep courting "bad boyfriends" who show no accountability and we are left holding the bag.

A logger's daughter,

Gail Person
Ketchikan, AK

About: "Lived in Ketchikan long enough to have seen it all before."

Received October 20, 2007 - Published October 22, 2007



Viewpoints - Opinion Letters:

letter Webmail Your Opinion Letter to the Editor



Note: Comments published on Viewpoints are the opinions of the writer
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.


E-mail your letters & opinions to
Your full name, city and state are required for publication.

SitNews ©2007
Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska