Can Homer be more accessible?

  • By Katherine George
  • Wednesday, August 23, 2017 5:25pm
  • News

On my way to the late Homer Farmers Market today, I met a couple of first-time visitors to Homer. Now we all agree that where we live is an amazingly beautiful place. On a sunny day we all love sharing that spectacular view of Kachemak Bay from the top of Baycrest Hill. We all love returning from the drive to Anchorage to that same view. Undeniably knock-your-socks-off gorgeous! But these two particular visitors were blind. They weren’t impressed with the view.

Used to flat land and city sidewalks, what impressed this couple at that moment was the difficulty of getting where they wanted to go on foot, under their own steam, just like everybody else. They had the added obstacles of not really knowing where they were going, not having stoplights to regulate traffic for them at street intersections,* not having a sidewalk on their side of the street and not knowing there was one on the other side.

The ground underfoot was uneven, irregularly rocky, sloped with deep ditches. A daunting task to surmount when all they really wanted to do in the remaining hour before their departure was to touch native Alaska artwork, bone, ivory and furs. They wanted to TOUCH. Of course they did! But who lets you touch? I never thought about what are uniquely Alaskan things from the perspective of touch.

All they wanted were touch memories to take home. Eventually these two ended up in a place where they wanted to be, but our encounter left me with a lot to think about. That’s for sure. Seeing another way of being in the world reminded me of what I take for granted. It reminded me to be more aware and more patient, more respectful and kinder. Much much kinder. And I am left to ponder what I want Homer to be.

I want us to be so much more than a small town with a beautiful view. What can we offer those visitors and residents with visual and other difficulties to make their lives richer? Can we create spaces that address all of our senses for a truly Alaskan experience? How can we make our community more accessible to everyone? How can we be more inclusive? Most importantly, what can I do? Every single day I must ask myself that.

*Which reminds me, next time we have our annual discussion of roundabouts vs. traffic lights, can we please talk about it from the pedestrian point of view?

Katherine George is a retired librarian. She wrote this opinion piece in August 2012 and sent it to the Homer Chamber of Commerce with the idea of making Homer more handicapped accessible. Last week, she resent it to Homer City Council member David Lewis in support of his resolution 17-075, “A resolution of the City Council of Homer, Alaska, committing to continual work towards becoming a city that is universally accessible to all.” The resolution passed 4-2.

More in News

Teaser
Then Now: Looking back on pandemic response

Comparing messaging from 1918 to 2021

Damage in a corner on the inside of the middle and high school building of Kachemak Selo School Nov. 12, 2019, in Kachemak Selo, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Repair costs rise as school facilities deteriorate

About $420 million worth of maintenance is needed at Kenai Peninsula Borough School District buildings.

Golden-yellow birch trees and spruce frame a view of Aurora Lagoon and Portlock Glacier from a trail in the Cottonwood-Eastland Unit of Kachemak Bay State Park off East End Road on Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, near Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong)
State Parks to hold meeting on Eastland Cottonwood unit

Meeting will include update on Tutka Bay Hatchery bill

Renewable IPP CEO Jenn Miller presents information about solar power during a meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Company looks to build solar farm on peninsula

It would be roughly 20 times the size of the largest solar farm currently in the state.

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Soldotna Trooper arrested for multiple charges of child sex abuse

He has been a State Trooper in Soldotna since June 2020.

This photo shows the Alaska State Capitol. An Alaska state lawmaker was cited for driving with an open can of beer in his vehicle that another lawmaker said was actually his. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file)
Lawmaker cited for open beer fellow legislator says was his

Republican Sen. Josh Revak plans to challenge the $220 ticket.

Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File
This 2011 photo shows the Taku and Malaspina ferries at the Auke Bay Terminal.
Costs add up as ferry idled nearly 2 years

Associated Press The cost to the state for docking an Alaska ferry… Continue reading

The Federal Aviation Administration released an initiative to improve flight safety in Alaska for all aviation on Oct. 14, 2021. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
FAA releases Alaska aviation safety initiatives

The recommendations, covering five areas, range from improvements in hardware to data-gathering.

AP Photo / Becky Bohrer
The Alaska Capitol is shown on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in Juneau, Alaska. There is interest among lawmakers and Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy in settling a dispute over the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend program, but no consensus on what the program should look like going forward.
Alaskans get annual boost of free money from PFD

Checks of $1,114 are expected to be paid to about 643,000 Alaskans, beginning this week.

Most Read