Tuesday, Feb. 15
8:00 AM, and, of course, still dark. I scrambled into my gear for a morning ski. Homer Friends of the Library Board member Judy Gonsalves drove me to the Lookout Mountain x-country trail system where her husband was working the grooming machine. Thank you, Judy! What fun to skate-ski groomed trails with spectacular views in every direction.
Now down to work.
The plan was to follow my presentation at the Homer Public Library with a community conversation, “Exploring Civil Rights History in Alaska.” The panel consisted of myself, Yup’ik Culture and Arts Consultant Nita Rearden, and facilitator Dr. Lia Calhoun, Assistant Professor of English and Communication at the Kenai Peninsula College. We all met, along with board members of the Homer Friends of the Library, to plan for the event. Our conversations about ongoing racism in Alaska were highlighted by Nita’s stories of her experiences growing up in northern rural Alaska.
One board member, Lin Hampson, later presented me with a copy of her husband Richard Chiappone’s new book The Hunger of Ravens. Richard was a recipient of an Arts and Culture Foundation artist fellowship for literature, an organization founded in part to honor my mother, Connie Boochever. For all Alaska’s vastness, the degrees of separation between its residents are often like the degrees on a Fairbanks thermometer in January.
Homer High School
That afternoon I spoke at the Homer High School auditorium to wonderfully attentive, well-behaved, and interested students. The presentation was zoomed to include Ninilchik middle and high schools. Several Homer students came up afterwards to talk about their reactions to learning about Elizabeth Peratrovich and her hard work, along with others, to pass the Nation’s first Anti-Discrimination Bill.
Cheryl Illg Introduces Annie Boochever at the Homer High School
Creative Writing Workshop
That evening I led a creative writing workshop with an eclectic group of Homer residents including a scientist, a retired doctor who had also been a bush pilot, a young man from India who was part of the KPC Semester by the Bay marine mammal study, and several other equally interesting and enthusiastic writers, some of whom tuned in on Zoom. The hour left me in awe of their determination and willingness to share in what is so often a singular, personal, experience.