Thanks to Homer Foundation
Thank you to the Homer Foundation and to the Board of Directors of The Educator Professional Development Fund for honoring my application to pursue a developing project of Restorative Practices in our local schools. Schools across the country are implementing restorative practices into their discipline programs. This is a significantly more effective means of reaching students and keeping them in school in order for learning and growth to occur on a consistent and steady basis. “Restorative practices is a social science that studies how to build social capital and achieve social discipline through participatory learning and decision-making.” (Ted Wachtel, International Institute for Restorative Practices, Founder.)
The recognition of my vision and efforts by accepting and awarding this scholarship to me brings the implications of my ongoing training to life. The honor of being one of the first recipients of the scholarship, gives to me encouragement, enthusiasm and strength in knowing the Homer Foundation believes in this project as much as I do.
I am working in coordination with Ingrid Harrad and Chris Brown of Flex High School who have piloted Restorative Practices over the past year with great success. I have a professional learning network at West Homer Elementary who includes; Ginny Espenshade, Steve Panarelli, Amy Sundheim and Principal Eric Waltenbaugh. It is our intention that Restorative Practices will have significant positive impacts for our classrooms, our schools, our district and our community.
With gratitude and appreciation,
Becky Paul, West Homer Elementary
Thanks for Doc Fest support
The R.E.C. Room hosted a public showing of the documentary, “The Mask You Live In,” on Nov. 1 at the Homer Theatre. Much gratitude to everyone who came to this event. This film looks deeply into the social constructs of what our society says it means to be a man. At times the film is tough to watch. Young boys are up against a lot when they’re told to be tougher, stand taller, “man up,” don’t cry, be in charge. The film analyzed how these messages like this can be harmful to positive youth development. It also looked at how we, as adults, can all support young people by spending time with them as nonjudgmental and compassionate mentors. Try to listen more, talk less. To Kurt Leffler, Brian Partridge, Avram Salzman, Cameron Segura, and Billy Choate: a big thank you for sharing your time and thoughts on the panel discussion following the video. Cheers to Kyla Dammann, R.E.C. Room Coordinator, for hosting and organizing the event. And thank you to parent, friend and community member Susie Malone for mobilizing this event to happen.
Some things we can all practice doing to support the positive development of our young men: Tell boys you love them, tell boys they’re good enough, raise children the same regardless of gender.
Anna Meredith, Kachemak Bay Family Planning Clinic R.E.C. Room
Halloween One-Way was a success
The Mountainview and Bayview neighborhood has been Homer trick-or-treat central for over 40 plus years. For some, it is hands-down the best holiday town party ever. Others turn their lights out and graciously wait it out. After all, it’s one thing if 40 neighborhood kids knock at your door. It’s another when there are 400.
This year, we held the sixth “Halloween One-Way” where Mountainview and Bayview became one-way streets from 5-8 p.m. Huge thank you to Poppy Benson who organizes the One-Way traffic volunteers. It takes at least 12 volunteers to help direct and calm traffic. Jeanne Walker, Jenny Martin, Ruth Dickerson, Marilyn Sigman, Francie Roberts, Art Sowls, Becky Paul, Maynard Smith, Kathy Smith, Lindsay Martin, Eddie Vraspir, Bernie Person, Bob Shavelson all took shifts.
The Homer Volunteer Fire Department brought two rigs and a number of firefighters. Big thank you to HVFD’s Dan Miotke particularly, who talked to nearly every car that rolled through the Main Street intersection. Another huge thank you to Lt. Ryan Browning of the Homer Police Department who grew up in this neighborhood and remembers just as many kids trick-or-treating here in the 1990s.
This year, the neighborhood was so pleased to receive bags of candy from the team at Story Real Estate. Thank you so much for this effort and to those who donated to the candy drive. It was much appreciated. The biggest thanks of all goes to neighborhood residents who carry on this tradition. The dinosaurs and ninjas, rainbow unicorns and walking pineapples (and their parents) appreciate you so much.
Congratulations to grant recipients
The Educators Professional Development Fund is pleased to announce that it has awarded grants to two local educators, Becky Paul and Darcy Mueller. Both individuals submitted compelling proposals to expand their teaching knowledge and practices to benefit students and the greater community.
These are the first grants awarded by the Educators Professional Development Fund. As the fund continues to grow, we look forward to providing opportunities for more educators to benefit from this grant program.
Shirlie Gribble, Chair, Grant Selection Committee
Assembly shouldn’t defend policy
Last month Superior Court Judge Andrew Peterson ruled the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s invocation policy unconstitutional. After three residents’ applications to give an invocation were denied (because they weren’t chaplains or representatives of “approved religious associations”), as predicted, the Borough was sued. In his decision, Peterson clearly ruled the policy a violation of the Establishment Clause of our Alaska Constitution. Not only have the official policies of the Assembly caused divisiveness among our residents, their adoption has resulted in tens of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money being wasted on legal fees.
Legal representation by the Alliance Defending Freedom (an Arizona based Christian activist law firm) has cost taxpayers $26,882.46 to date, a far cry from the “free” legal defense we’d been promised. Public records show payments to three law firms dealing with invocation issues other than Hunt v. KPB have totaled $44,391.46. Additionally Borough staff time from the Legal Department, Information Technology and the Clerk’s Office was estimated at 183 hours (costing over $15,000) in the first few months of the controversy. Staff time was not tracked after February 2017, so we will never know the value of public employees’ salaries wasted on this issue. Finally, the Borough will likely be required to reimburse Plaintiffs’ legal fees — costs to be paid with your hard earned tax dollars.
Now, some Assembly members are preparing to spend even more of your money to appeal the case to the Alaska Supreme Court. I have heard loudly and clearly from many constituents: “Stop spending my tax dollars defending a government policy on prayer.” We have a number of options to comply with the court order and I hope we can all agree that throwing more money at the problem is unacceptable.
Willy Dunne represents District 9 on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly. The opinions expressed here are his own.
U.S. is part of the problem
The U.S. is going full speed ahead on opening up new coal operations, oil and gas drilling and fracking.
Sarah Vance, our new District 31 representative, said the U.S. is doing the best they can toward curbing global warming. She said the problem lies with China.
Look at the smog in Los Angeles and the ice fog in Fairbanks to see where fossil fuels are taking us. Someone quipped, “Who wants to breathe air you can’t see, anyway?” It’s easier to believe that we’re not part of the problem.
Stop spending on invocation Issue
We are a nation established on the concept of numerous freedoms, including two fundamental protections of 1. The separation of church and state, the basic idea behind the establishment clauses of both the Alaska State Constitution and First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and 2. The freedom of speech, also established under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly’s continued attempt to exert power over who and which “religious” associations can be heard represents a direct assault on both of our fundamental freedoms of religion and expression.
The mere use of the language “approved religious associations” must be considered unconstitutional, and therefore unacceptable, because, as stated, this language attempts to establish the Borough Assembly as an official arbiter of religious relevance and acceptability. Further, the borough’s attempt to limit or suppress the expression of any “unapproved” points of view surely violates another of our cherished freedoms, our freedom of expression.
To wit: That our Borough Assembly continues to spend money to attack two of our constitutionally established and protected freedoms, and particularly during a time of budgetary crises, represents both constitutional and financial malfeasance. Please do not spend our precious fiscal resources to appeal the recent court ruling that held as unconstitutional the current Borough Assembly policy limiting the participation in borough invocations. Let’s invest our money in education, infrastructure and other projects that benefit us all.
Double your Storyknife donations
Everyone has a story.
In 2014, Dana Stabenow’s story changed when she started the nonprofit organization Storyknife. She thought that Homer would be the ideal place to build a women writers’ retreat, just like the one that lit a fire under her writing career. Dana donated the land and the vision, but it takes a whole bunch of people to build a retreat that consists of six cabins and a main house.
For the last three years we’ve been raising funds to build Storyknife. We’ve also been hosting women writers in Dana’s guest cabin during the summers. Every one of the women we’ve hosted has had a story. They’ve been teachers, nonprofit administrators, professional photographers, poets, essayists, novelists, from as far north as Utqiaġvik and as far east as Rhode Island. Storyknife gave them the time and space to write their stories.
When Storyknife is fully built, it will host six women writers each month, a total of 42 each year to start with, expanding eventually to 70 each year. We’ll take care of the food and the shelter, and those women will take care of the hard work of creating worlds with their words.
Here is where you come in. Until the end of this year, Nancy Nordhoff, the founder and benefactor of Hedgebrook, the writing residency that lit a fire under Dana Stabenow, is matching every donation we receive. In your year-end giving, if you donate $20 to Storyknife, we’ll receive $40, for $100, $200 putting us that much closer to our goal. All you have to do is go to www.storyknife.org and press the Donate button.
We’ve already raised over $500,000 due to the generosity of visionary people like you. Won’t you help us build this dream?
Erin Hollowell, Executive Director of Storyknife
Don’t appeal invocation ruling
The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly should not appeal the Invocation Policy decision by the Alaska Superior Court.
Invocations are constitutional, but it is the method our assembly uses to select who may give the invocation that has been determined to be unconstitutional. Where invocations are given elsewhere, any group has the right to do so. (Basically, the U.S. Constitution and the Alaska State Constitution both say that a government body cannot select one religious group over any other.)
We don’t know the exact amount of money that has already been spent on this lawsuit, but have been told it is in the very “high tens of thousands of dollars,” a huge amount of money. This has also taken up lots of time for Assembly members and administrators — time that would have been better spent working on borough issues. Appealing this ruling will take another immense outlay of money. Appealing this ruling will mean probably two more years of litigation and being stuck in the unsettled situation we have been in.
Continuing to waste time and money on this issue is a great disservice to the hard-working, tax-paying citizens in our borough. They should not appeal. Open the invocation to anyone who wishes to participate or have a moment of silence instead. We all need to get on with the important business of the borough.