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Fish Eggs and Sunshine (Part 2)

Lawrence Armour, Brian Holter, and Marilyn Bell-Holter of the KCA participating in subsistence practices.

Lawrence Armour, Brian Holter, and Marilyn Bell-Holter of the KCA participating in subsistence practices.

With branches laid in place on Thursday and Friday, the waters around the kelp beds turning from their dark blue to the welcomed milky pastel green that signals the beginning of the spawn, the staff of Klawock Cooperative Association (KCA) waited impatiently through the weekend.

Morning arrives, overcast with a bit of a chill in the air as the crew climbed aboard the boat and headed out to check the hemlock branches that had been anchored out several days prior.

Arriving at the kelp beds the area was wild with life, sea lions and gulls, ducks and sea otters, seals and of course, the herring.  The water was active and the air was filled with the smell of spring as the crew began to pull in the branches.

Slowly they rose to the top, like a white flocked Christmas tree rising through the cloud of spawning herring came the branches to be pulled into the boat. Grinning, excited voices mixed with the happy first tastes of this spring subsistence harvest as the gear was hauled in and the branches securely stowed.

The boat starts and moves closer to the kelp bed, the kelp hook arcs into the air to splash behind a strand of kelp and the crew begin to haul it in.  Kelp fronds are carefully selected and picked leaving the kelp bulb intact so that next year the fronds will grow back.  The large leaves show a healthy layer of herring eggs as they’re also carefully stowed away, the crew enjoying a fresh morning snack of fish eggs on kelp as they finish their diligent harvest then start the boat once more and turn toward home, sending a brief message ahead of them to let the community know that it’s been a good harvest.

Brian Holter and Robert Jackson of the KCA offloading herring eggs.

Brian Holter and Robert Jackson of the KCA offloading herring eggs.

The boat arrives at the dock as the sun begins to break from behind the clouds, and even as it ties up people are waiting, small children on tip-toes, elders smiling in anticipation as the crew lifts the heavy totes from the boat to the dock.  The sounds of laughter and celebration fill the air as the crew begins to bag and distribute the harvest, we make sure that the elders get first pick, the kelp being highly prized goes first and the elders grin and smile as we make sure they have what they need.

Children dart in and out among those assembled to snatch little bites here and there from the branches or small pieces of kelp passed to them “slyly” by staff and elders alike.  The sun warms us as we share this time together, the community members coming and going as the tides themselves, the staff smiling and making sure that we share as much as possible with those who visit us.

You can feel it in the air, palpable and real, an electric current that passes between the staff and the community, a connection, a bonding developed through this sharing, a tie to the past and to the culture that we’ve continued into the modern age.

 

 

 

Thanks are given as we pass out the last of the harvest, we wash down the dock and the boats and the gear, the community thanks the KCA, and we in turn thank the herring and the ocean that provided for us once more this year.

It’s a good day, the sun is warm, the crew is tired, the community is happy and provided for, we welcome spring and the beginning of the subsistence season.

 

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Wrapping up Energy Audits – Thank You!

This summer, SSP’s Regional Energy Catalyst brought together energy experts to the communities of Haines, Hoonah, and Prince of Wales Island to help commercial building owners identify energy savings through a Level I Walk Through Energy Audit. With the help  of on-the-ground Community Catalysts, the team was able to identify plenty of interested commercial building owners, managers and tenants.  Jim Fowler of Energy Audits of Alaska audited 35 buildings totaling nearly 230,000ft2! These Level I Audits were paid for by the Sustainable Southeast Partnership, Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, with support from Southeast Conference, Renewable Energy Alaska Project, and Alaska Energy Authority. By coordinating the audits all together, the cost of these audits was cut by an estimated 2/3. The effort also included free energy workshops and outreach to numerous other building owners, managers and tenants through a ‘walking workshop.”

Direct follow up is being provided for all building owners that received an audit report.  The real results will hopefully be realized in the coming weeks and months.  We are optimistic that businesses can save money on their bottom line with energy efficiency measures, and hopefully re-invest in their businesses and community.  Thank you to all participants and partners!

EE Workshop Partners

 

Haines and Hoonah: Save energy and money in your commercial building!

Find out if you can save 30% on your energy costs!  With the help of many great partners, we are excited to bring this commercial energy efficiency workshop to Hoonah and Haines!  Limited availability- sign up for the workshop and energy audit today!  Public and Private commercial buildings that submit two years of energy data are eligible for the free Level I energy audit. What is a Level I Energy Audit?  Learn More HERE.

EE Workshop PartnersSchedule of Events:

HOONAH

June 9

Free Level I Energy Audits by Jim Fowler of Energy Audits of Alaska

For a free Level I audit, submit your building energy form to s.kilcoyne@realaska.org by June 3 or contact Shaina Kilcoyne at 907-331-7409 for assistance.  It will take about 1.5 hours to do the walk through with Mr. Fowler.

June 10

Free Commercial Energy Efficiency Workshop at the new Hoonah Indian Association Office from 9 – 10:30am

Stick around to speak one-on-one with the experts from 10:30 – noon

HAINES

June 11 

Free Commercial Energy Efficiency Workshop at the Haines Borough Public Library – Community Room from 9 – 10:30am

Stick around to speak one-on-one with the experts from 10:30 – noon

June 12 

Free Level I Energy Audits by Jim Fowler of Energy Audits of Alaska

For a free Level I audit, submit your building energy form to s.kilcoyne@realaska.org by June 3 or contact Shaina Kilcoyne at 907-331-7409 for assistance.  This will take about 1.5 hours to do the walk through with Mr. Fowler.

Commercial Energy Efficiency Workshop Topics:

  • The business case for energy efficiency
  • Funding options
  • Practical next steps from audit to savings
  • Protecting your investment – the value of good operations and maintenance
  • Direct support for taking the first step

Feel free to contact Shaina at (907) 331-7409 or s.kilcoyne@realaska.org with any questions

The Energy Secret Everyone is Talking About

Across the board we see an average savings potential of about 30% through the implementation of cost effective efficiency measures. Energy efficiency generally has the highest return on investment of any energy project. The high cost of fuel can have a real impact on the bottom line. Although you can’t control the cost of fuel, you can keep costs down by managing how much energy your building uses. However you look at it, energy efficiency is a smart investment.

Photos from Alaska Energy Authority

Photos from Alaska Energy Authority

Sustainable communities need sustainable businesses that aren’t stifled by volatile energy prices. Tightening up buildings, changing out lights, and properly using programmable thermostats are some of the ways to allow businesses to keep costs down and even bring on more local employees. We are working to identifying as many building owners, tenants and managers as possible in the SSP communities with the help of community catalysts, in order to help them develop an energy saving strategy.

Taking the first step to get an energy audit can seem daunting. SSP communities with need will have the opportunity to participate in an efficiency workshop for non-residential buildings. Interested parties (private and public) should contact Shaina, the SSP Energy Catalyst at s.kilcoyne@realaska.org.

Striving for a Clean Energy Future in Southeast

Over the past few weeks I have been working through Renewable Energy Alaska Project (REAP’s) Rural Issues Committee to support funding for the Village Energy Efficiency Program (VEEP) in the Governor’s Budget.

About VEEP:

Over the past decade the State has funded the program; which was managed through the Alaska Energy Authority (AEA). In FY 14, VEEP was funded to the tune of $1.2 million to fund seven different rural communities (out of 84 applicants) across Alaska to implement energy efficiency measures in public buildings, school districts, and tribal offices. These funds have successfully leveraged additional local and federal resources and will save the State millions more over the next ten years. By providing funding for efficiency measures that allow a community to leverage their own resources and manpower against the state’s funding we can collaboratively reduce the cost to run school districts, city offices, washeterias, tribal offices and clinics.

This program offers opportunities to southeast communities, many of which suffer from diesel dependency and high-energy costs. Last year I worked with a high energy cost Southeast community to submit an application to VEEP. This program has high demand and an impressive payback ($3 return for every $1 invested, according to AEA). I will continue to work with the Rural Issues Committee and Southeast communities to support further funding for VEEP and welcome others to join us.

Hoonah: A Hotbed for Entrepreneurship?

Working with the Hoonah Indian Association has allowed me to be involved in the many opportunities for localized, clean energy in Hoonah. In October, I spent some time in Hoonah with HIA discussing different opportunities with consultants looking at various outside the box possibilities. John Hillman of Hoonah Indian Association likes to say that if it can’t be done in Hoonah, it can’t be done anywhere.

Gartina Falls, Photo Courtesy of Bethany Goodrich

Gartina Falls, Photo Courtesy of Bethany Goodrich

Currently, a district loop sends waste heat from the Inside Passage Electric Cooperative’s (IPEC’s) generators to multiple buildings downtown, including the school and pool. IPEC is also in the midst of constructing a hydroelectric project, Gartina Falls Hydro, which is expected to supply about 30% of the community’s electricity with clean, local, inexhaustible renewable energy. There are certainly more energy efficiency and biomass opportunities in Hoonah, and I am excited to work with Hoonah Indian Association, the City of Hoonah, Icy Strait Lumber and Huna Totem on the vision for a sustainable localized energy plan. The community’s enthusiasm and collaborative efforts are vital as they seek sustainable energy solutions for future generations.

 

 

 

 

Community Catalyst Report: Sitka

I am fresh off of our trip to Vancouver for the Community Development coursework and looking forward to our SSP retreat this week. Here is a brief summary of some of the work and progress in Sitka!

• It looks like a tiny house with the UAS course is not in the cards this semester/year. There are several road blocks and issues at this time.However, I am partnering with the class to construct a new Visitors Bureau kiosk. So far we are slated to provide a portion of the materials through our project fundingI am also working with Pat to source as much lumber as possible through local millers. My goal is that we can also have some sort of interpretive signage and brochures at the kiosk highlighting the local materials. The structure will be about the size of a tiny home, so it is a nice compromise for now. I am meeting with instructors at the High School this week to revisit potential project options there. I also attended a meeting yesterday at the city with several community members interested in microhomes and affordable housing projects. I am hoping for two things: first some major policy changes that will facilitate future microhome projects, and second, a potential partnership with some of the attendees, SCS and Sitka High.

• Renovations are on-going at Sitka Kitch and we hope to have them wrapped up in the next two weeks or so. We are going to cap the Applooza event with a workshop on apple trees led by Jud Kirkness and help prepare a bulk order of fruit trees for interested Sitkans. The Sitka Kitch canning classes were wildly popular but we thought that the extension agent would only be able to travel once per year to communities. I have since learned that she may have received new grant funding for more travel. So I am hoping this will allow us to organize another set of canning classes, including the soups and sauces class that many participants expressed interest in.

• Sitka Collaborative Stewardship Group: We had a quick meeting last night. It was sparsely attended, but there was a lot of updated information from the FS about the Kruzof Island restoration projects. Andrew was also able to share info about the TAC and remind people that they can attend the TAC meeting in November (19-21st) here in Sitka.

• As I mentioned, Alana, Lia, Adam, Bob and myself ventured to Vancouver last week with other to begin our course work. It was really interesting and eye opening, I am very excited about the programming. It was also nice to have a chance to get to know  other SSP partners better as well as other people working on similar projects throughout Canada. Over the next several months we will be attending classes online and working towards a better understanding of Community Development and what that means for our communities.

• Wilderness Kiosk in Petersburg: SCS partnered with the Petersburg district so they could take advantage of the National Wilderness Association’s kiosk grant program. We are administering grant funds and helping them source all of the materials for building a kiosk. They have ordered everything through Gordon Chew in Tenakee and will have high school students building a kiosk entirely of locally sourced Tongass timber.

• This week I will be attending the SSP retreat along with the other SSP partners. I am really looking forward to all the new momentum and spending time connecting with everyone!

 

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