New energy comes to Old Town

July is a crazy time for Alaskans. We are harvesting madly, working long hours, trying to seize every minute of golden sunshine. Restaurants are overflowing with foodies. Bikers and pedestrians are roaming the streets and parks. After a bitterly long winter, big sunny days have rekindled our deep love for Alaska once again. Fireweed is in bloom, berries are ripe, salmon are spawning and we are on the go-go-go.

Here at Bunnell, we are fielding inquiries from artists, and talking specifics with property owners. A world full of possibility is opening to Old Town.Two residencies are officially underway. The first is a mural to be installed on the Driftwood fence. The mural will depict fireweed’s life cycle, painted by artist Dan Coe. Galvanizing relationships between business owners and artists through a work of art which will calm and beautify the neighborhood is immensely gratifying. The second residency is Poetry on the Trail, a collaborative partnership forged by Bunnell Street Arts Center with the Alaska Islands and Oceans Visitor Center, the city of Homer and U.S. Fish and Wildlife. Poet Wendy Erd is funded by Bunnell to create the poetic content of “interpretive signs” for Old Town’s Beluga Slough. Our partners are providing the sites, installation and materials and maintenance. Erd has been inhabiting the slough for days, scribe for the many voices, plant, animal, water, mud dwellers. The signs will be completed by December, and installed next spring. 

A 6,400-square-foot building, which has been on the market for a few years, has finally been purchased. This is a major win for Old Town, as this vacant building is now being renovated inside and out. Our new neighbors are committed to providing a valuable opportunity to like-minded businesses. This will undoubtedly add to our community’s vibrancy.

The biggest news of all, the city of Homer unanimously voted to invest $98,500 in Old Town pedestrian signage and infrastructure. This is a 65 percent match to our project (far surpassing our budgeted city pledge). The council recognizes ours as a true grass roots project that is gaining in momentum. They are radiating pride to serve our efforts for revitalization through communal stewardship. City investment is crucial to the success of this project, insuring walkability and safety which are necessary to stage art and street events. Community members are proud, and visitors are impressed. I like it. 

Our next neighborhood meeting will be at 6 p.m. Aug. 15 at Bunnell Street Arts Center. Neighbors, workers, users of Old Town are invited to come. We will be answering any questions in regard to the Old Town AIR project, and also organizing a September block party. Please come if you are interested in planning and participating.

Brianna Allen

Bunnell Street Arts Center