Greetings from Sitka! As a community catalyst I continue to work heavily on our young-growth projects. I have been working to build a network of potential collaborators and partners at UAS, the local budding land trust, BIHA, and with local contractors. I am working to develop materials lists and for general planning to move forward on the micro-home project. The goal is to develop a model for affordable housing that: 1. Specs as much local products/materials as possible, 2. Is well designed, energy efficient, and maximizes space 3. Affordable in terms of price and long term maintenance/upkeep. SCS hosted Joe Jacobson from the state Div. of Economic Development last week. He was very receptive to the ideas and projects we shared with him. He seems confident there are multiple ways for SCS and Sitka to benefit from state resources including marketing & advertising with their AK Loyal program, streamlining the process for small millers by adding capacity through infrastructure and retooling efforts, procuring design and consulting services, etc.
Another exciting project that is gaining momentum is the Community Kitchen project I pitched on behalf of SCS at last year’s health summit. I, along with some community volunteers, prepared a small grant proposal with Cyndy Gibson and the First Presbyterian church in Sitka. We are requesting funds through their national organization to renovate their kitchen and co-op the space with the food hub group for part time access. I have also been working with two committee members on a potential space downtown. We are currently looking into other funding sources, equipment donations and developing the business plan. This model has been gaining momentum in many towns down-south, we would love to see it take off here in Sitka!
SCS is also working with some grad students from the University of Michigan on their final thesis project. Scott Harris and I have been guiding them as they design their Kruzof Island project. The students are with the UM School of Natural Resources and Environment, and there are 8 students on the team. Chris Leeseberg (FS contact for the project) and I skyped with them to review their project proposal. We will be connecting with them in mid-April to finalize it. They plan to send two groups on trips over the summer. 4-5 will be in Sitka in June and the others will come to Sitka in August to work on info/data gathering, meet with stakeholders, conduct field visits, etc. The end goal is a project that identifies capacity gaps in management and gets the perspective of the community from a ‘third party’ unbiased group.
A few other tidbits, I met with the Sitka Collaborative Stewardship Group in mid-March and had Scott present on the Restoration
Strategic Plan, and then pushed the RAC grant program. As a result, we hope to raise community awareness of the RAC grant program. I also took a visit to the SItka High School wood shop and they are building three sheds this semester, one of which is constructed from young-growth!