The American flags flying yesterday at the knoll on Lake Street once again reminded us of Sept. 11, the somber day that will never be forgotten. Someone once said grief was like a brick in your pocket you carry with you always. The Betster likes to think of sadness as a pocket of stones whose weight we forever carry, but with time wears down the harsh edges. Maybe those stones will be transformed into heart rocks, something beautiful that emerges from tragedy.
We’ve been through some rough times this century: two wars, more terrorist attacks and the almost weekly savagery of lone men killing innocents with firearms. Our political systems here and abroad seem to be in chaos. Our planet gets hotter, glaciers melt and animal life by the thousands washes up dead on our beaches.
Here in Alaska, we’ve come off a hot summer that burned hundreds of thousands of acres and displaced dozens. Travel got disrupted. Tourists didn’t come. We choked on smoke and worried about wildfires roaring into our own neighborhoods.
But the rains have come, and will keep coming. Cooler days are on their way, and the blessing of a blanket of healing snow. With rain comes rainbows, a sign of hope.
That’s the lesson of Sept. 11. We rebuilt. We comforted each other. We gathered together as a loving community. We grew stronger as a nation. We learned tolerance and kindness.
We’ll endure and survive. Human kind has been through worse. Music, art, laughter and joy serve as a counterpoint to sadness and sorrow.
And hey, we have an abundance of art this week in the coolest little art town in Alaska. Get out for the Alaska World Arts Festival, maybe with these Best Bets:
BEST ROLL ‘EM BET: You betcha Homer isn’t like Telluride or Cannes — we’re a bit more awesome than those other fancy film festivals. Does Cannes have amazing glaciers? Does Telluride have hip cool people like us? That’s why the place to be tonight is at 6 p.m. for the gala opening of the Homer Documentary Film Festival at the Homer Theatre. The week of intriguing, thought-provoking films starts off with a showing of “the Biggest little Farm.” With a barbecue, the gala is $20 or $15 for discounts, and free with a festival pass.
BEST TURN AROUND BET: You know how the Ellis Paul song about Homer goes: “Sometimes you have to go the end of the earth / just to turn yourself around.” Well, while you’re here, check out, “Writing at the Edge of the World,” part of the World Arts Festival, at 3-5 p.m. Friday at Kachemak Bay Campus. Visiting writer Kathleen Dean Moore will be joined by Alaska writers Rich Chiappone, Erin Hollowell, Miranda Weiss, Dave Atcheson, and Nancy Lord for readings.
BEST GATHER TOGETHER BET: The World Arts Festival has been bringing together artists from around the world as well as nearby. Learn from our neighbors far and near with the Family Cultural Show at 7 p.m. Friday at the SPARC. The Nanwalek Seal Dancers perform with the Ka Pa Hula o Ka Lei LeHua Hawaiian Hula dancers, African drummers, Turkish music by North Sun, Indian dance by Dharti Patel, and salsa dance by Patel and Alex Roznowski.
As part of the Alaska World Arts Festival offers music and dance from around the world free of charge at SPARC on Friday, Sept. 13, 7-9 p.m.
BEST REEL ‘EM BET: While Moore is in town, she presents a workshop, “Writing for a Reeling World,” from 2-5 p.m. Saturday at KBC. Learn how to respond to our troubled world with hope and compassion. There’s a $35 fee; register at the college.
BEST ROLLING WITH THE CHANGES BET: On the same them, wildlife advocate Nicole Whittington-Evans presents “Wildlife and Wildlands in these Trying Times,” a Friends of Alaska Refuges talk, at 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center. What are the prospects for our Alaska environment and wildlife given recent reports, administration actions, regulation changes and proposed projects? How will key species and wildlife areas be affected? How do we keep from being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of these changes and proposed projects competing for our attention and response? Whittington-Evans, Alaska program director for Defenders of Wildlife and long time Friends member, gives her perspective on where we are now and what we can do as individuals and groups to face alarming proposals and predictions for our state and our planet.
BEST ROUND AND ROUND BET: One way to help save the planet and also get yourself in shape is to bike more. Learn how the Homer Cycling Club advocates for and supports the cycling community here with its annual meeting at 6:30 p.m. at Cook Inletkeeper. Bring a dish to share as the club celebrates the year’s accomplishments.