Choose Respect march on Thursday raises awareness of domestic violence and sexual assault


Alaska has the highest rate of intimate partner violence and sexual assault in the country. On Thursday, March 27, there will be 150 cities, towns, and villages hosting the fifth annual Choose Respect marches to raise awareness about this epidemic and show support for victims and survivors.

People should gather at 11:45 a.m. at Totem Square for Sitka’s Choose Respect march. The march starts at noon and will follow a path down Lincoln Street from City Hall to the Crescent Harbor shelter. Once marchers reach Crescent Harbor, there will be an opportunity for people to speak about their own experiences and how domestic violence can be prevented. Curtis Thayer, Alaska’s Commissioner of Administration, will march with us and speak on Gov. Sean Parnell’s behalf.

According to 2010 Alaska Victimization Survey statistics posted on the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault website, out of 100 adult women in Alaska 48 experienced intimate partner violence, 37 experienced sexual violence, and 59 had experienced both. The 2012 Alaska Victimization Survey statistics for Sitka were slightly better, with 40 women out of 100 saying they had experienced intimate partner violence, 25 experiencing sexual violence, and 47 experiencing both.

Gov. Parnell launched the Choose Respect program in 2009, making the prevention of domestic violence and sexual assault a priority of his administration. Since then the Choose Respect marches have spread from 18 to 150 communities in 2013. Interpersonal violence is a huge problem in Alaska, and it does not only affect individuals and families, but the entire community. Please join and demonstrate that as a community, we can stand together, learn about the issues, help protect and heal, and prevent future violence.

For more information, please go to or call Sitkans Against Family Violence (SAFV) at 747-3370.

Sitka Convention and Visitors Bureau seeks bids for a branding services and downtown pedestrian signage project


The Sitka Convention and Visitors Bureau recently issued a request for qualifications for a branding services and pedestrian signage project for downtown Sitka.

SitkaSign2The RFQ hopes to develop a strong branding identity for Sitka while also creating strong wayfinding signage that makes it easy for tourists and locals to find key landmarks around town. The winning bidder will be required to work with local businesses, nonprofit organizations, tribal organizations, and others to make sure community needs are met.

During the summer of 2013, some temporary wayfinding signs (see photos) were posted around town to help with the tourist season. But the signs were a little confusing and meant to be replaced by the permanent signs from this project.

Improving wayfinding for walkers has been in the news a bit lately, especially after an incident a couple of years ago in Raleigh, N.C. A group trying to promote healthy walking activities, called Walk Raleigh, posted 27 unapproved guerrilla signage around town that featured approximate walking times to different attractions. The signs included walking times in an effort to encourage more people to walk. City officials didn’t like the signage and told Walk Raleigh to take down the signs, but the signs were saved after a public outcry in support of the signs.

WalkDoverNHWalkingSignNow the group behind Walk Raleigh has created a program called Walk [Your City], which has helped other communities develop similar wayfinding signs for their hometowns. Some of the Walk [Your City] signs are pretty basic, with the name of the attraction, the walking distance, and a QR code for the attraction. But some community groups, such as Walk Dover (N.H.) have added branding elements to their signs (see photo).

The City and Borough of Sitka has approved $90,000 to implement the first phases of the project. Bids are due by 4 p.m. on Friday, March 21 (Note: Due to an error in local advertising, the deadline has been extended to 4 p.m. on Thursday, April 24) on a computer disc or USB drive to Sitka Convention and Visitors Bureau, ATTN: Branding and Wayfinding RFQ, 303 Lincoln St., Suite No. 4, Sitka, Alaska 99835.

The complete RFQ is linked below. For more information, contact SCVB Director Tonia Rioux at 747-5940 or Money for this project is coming from the Sitka Marine Passenger Fee Fund, so the area covered by the project will be in the main downtown area where cruise ship passengers spend most of their time.

• Final RFQ for branding services and pedestrian signage project in Sitka, Alaska


Greater Sitka Arts Council hosts annual Arti-Gras Art Walk on March 14


ArtWalk-Open-House_Banner_1980wThe Greater Sitka Arts Council is teaming up with several local businesses to host the annual Arti-Gras Art Walk from 5-9 p.m. on Friday, March 14, in downtown Sitka and across the O’Connell Bridge at the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus.

The free art walk gives people a chance to see new art work and visit with their neighbors as they celebrate the Seventh Annual Arti-Gras Music and Arts Festival this month.

Enjoy the Arti-Gras Art Walk at these participating businesses:

  • Homeport Eatery, featuring silent auction on six halibut painted by local high school students, on bid to support youth art scholarships.
  • Old Harbor Books, featuring Adam Andis photography
  • University Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus, featuring: Liz Zacher, Robert Rose, Norm Campbell and a special exhibit of Alaska’s Voices of the Wilderness art from the Sitka National Historical Park
  • Unity Botanicals and Backcountry Bodyworks, 327 Seward, next to Highliner Coffee, featuring Libby Stortz, Heather Bauscher, and Kitty Wilson.
  • Fisherman’s Eye Gallery, featuring Jerry Snelling photography, Ashia Lane watercolors, and a special offering of Clint Potter original watercolors. There will be live music by Larry McCrehin and hors d’hoeurves.
  • Larkspur Café, featuring photos and video by Foggy Lens (aka Adam Taylor) and the following music line-up — 7-7:20 p.m. Heather Hanson, 7:30-8 p.m. Arsenic & Lace, and 8:15-9 p.m. the Balkan Conspirators.
  • Island Artists Gallery (formerly Baranof Island Artists Gallery), celebrating our one-year anniversary.
  • Sitka Rose Gallery, featuring great new art work in the gallery
  • Raindance Gallery, featuring Northwest Coast-inspired art and will be featuring some of Tommy Joseph’s Rainforest Warriors exhibit.
  • The Loft ‘Down the Rabbit Hole,’ featured artists are Tracy Sylvester, Larisa Manewal, Cyndi Gibson, Nora Skeele, and friends.
  • Robertson Gallery and Custom Framing, featuring Doug Comstock and David J Gross, and refreshments.

SAIL Senior Hiking Club sets next hike for the morning of Thursday, March 20

Senior Hiking Club March 2014

The Sitka office of Southeast Alaska Independent Living Inc. (SAIL) has announced its next Senior Hiking Club hike will be from 9:15-11:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 20. Seniors should meet at the Swan Lake Senior Center for transportation to the trailhead.

Normally, the group usually picks the trail on the day of the hike, but occasionally a trail is picked before the event. Please note that recently the dates of the senior hikes have changed to Thursdays from Wednesdays. During the winter, hikers are encouraged to bring cleats such as YakTrax, and SAIL makes trekking poles available for hikers to use (trekking poles are great on ice or uneven terrain, and they help seniors keep their balance).

SAIL offers Senior Hiking Club events for those age 60 or older once a month, usually on the second or third Thursday. There is a $5 fee, but nobody will be turned away because of finances. The hikes are open to people of all abilities and fitness levels. To learn more about the Senior Hiking Club, check out our January 2013 post introducing the club.

To learn more about the Senior Hiking Club, senior and adaptive kayaking trips, senior cycling events, and and a variety of other outdoors skills and survival classes, contact SAIL ORCA (Outdoor Recreation and Community Access) program coordinator Alli Gabbert at 747-6859 or email her at

• March 2014 calendar of Sitka SAIL ORCA events

Procession through town helps Sitka welcome new Bishop of the Orthodox Diocese of Sitka and All Alaska

Procession down Lincoln Street

(NOTE: The following is a press release from Becky Latanich of the Sitka National Historical Park.)

On a crisp February Sunday morning, a magnificent procession of Orthodox clergy filed out from  Sitka’s historic Russian Bishop’s House adorned  in their finest vestments.  The Metropolitan of North America was dressed in sky-blue, with his bishops, priests, and attending clergy in golden robes. All exited the landmark building and walked — as had many of his ecclesiastical predecessors — through the former capital of Russian America, to St. Michael of the Archangel Russian Orthodox Cathedral through song-filled air. The event?  The installation of David Mahaffey, Jr., as the new Bishop of the Orthodox Diocese of Sitka and All Alaska.

Bishop David’s investiture ceremony links the rich legacy that ties Sitka National Historical Park not only to the history of Russian Orthodoxy in Alaska, but more broadly to the history of Russian America. As caretakers of the Russian Bishop’s House, the park welcomed Bishop David on Saturday, Feb. 22, with a tour of the restored Russian America-era built structure along with its splendid chapel.  The tour was followed by a tea service during which Park Superintendent Mary A.  Miller presented the incoming bishop with a commemorative plaque detailing the names all of the Orthodox bishops who had preceded him in service to the Diocese of Sitka and Alaska.  

On Sunday morning, Feb. 23, Bishop David and his fellow prelates dressed for the procession to the cathedral in the upstairs restored residence of the Russian Bishop’s House. By doing so, they paid homage to many notable men who called the Russian Bishop’s House home over the past 171 years, including Bishop Innocent, who was canonized St. Innocent by the Orthodox Church in 1977. Bishop Innocent’s presence and influence in the colonization of Russian America is a fundamental interpretive theme at Sitka NHP.

Sitka National Historical Park enjoys a unique relationship with the Orthodox Church and the community of Sitka. Sitka NHP is the only National Park chartered to tell the story of Russian America and the long-lasting local and national impacts of those colonization efforts.  The park preserves this lesser-known portion of American history by maintaining the Russian Bishop’s House as a museum and restored residence.  The park also preserves the history of Russian America and its official religion by caring for nearly 400 objects in the museum collection — liturgical items that are curated on behalf of the Orthodox Church in America.  While the Church owns the gilded icons, censers and other ecclesiastical pieces that decorate the bishop’s private Chapel of the Annunciation, under an agreement, the park  provides full curatorial care for all of the holy items in the Russian Bishop’s House.

Park Superintendent Miller notes that the “Ongoing use of the house for ecclesiastical purposes is exciting and emphasizes the importance of the NPS/Orthodox Church in America relationship.  It is this ‘living history’ that energizes our ongoing interpretation efforts and brings to life the Russian American period. Special events such as the investment of a bishop only serve to underscore this park’s ongoing mission to preserve the Russian Bishop’s House and its associated significant Russian Orthodox collection for the enjoyment of the American people.”

About the National Park Service: More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 401 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more about the National Park Service at Learn more about Sitka National Historical Park at or visit the park’s Facebook page:!/SitkaNationalHistoricalPark