Lived Here How Long?
By Gail Person
October 22, 2007
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
A logger's daughter,
About: "Lived in Ketchikan
long enough to have seen it all before."
Received October 20, 2007 -
Published October 22, 2007
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