This Friday, March 2, will be my last day working for the Capital City Weekly.
In my last five years as the Capital City Weekly staff writer and, later, editor, I’ve been so fortunate to travel to Hoonah, Tenakee Springs, Kake, Sitka, Petersburg, Yakutat, Angoon, Ketchikan, Gustavus, Wrangell, Skagway and Haines, and to share stories from many other communities as well. Gustavus’ centennial celebration; Angoon’s dedicated basketball players and cheerleaders; the many talented, passionate people working to revive the languages of Lingít (Tlingit), Xaad Kil (Haida) and Sm’algyax (Tsimshian); slug races at Ketchikan’s Blueberry Festival; reading the work of and interviewing talented writers from around the region; the return of the Huna Tlingit to Glacier Bay in the form of Xunaa Shuká Hít, the Huna Ancestors’ (and present and future generations’) House; and, most recently, the return of at.oowú (sacred objects) to the T’akdeintaan of Hoonah after an absence of almost 100 years (there are a lot of cool things happening in Hoonah!) — those are just a few of the stories I’ve been lucky enough to share. I will really miss hearing from you — from the man who called to say he read a poem he saw in the Capital City Weekly at a memorial service to the Kake elder who just called to suggest something for us to write about and told me a story from the ice age (Marvin Kadake, your call made my day.)
I first came to Juneau to work as the city reporter for the Juneau Empire in 2009. After a break for graduate school (an MFA in creative writing) I returned to Alaska media in 2013, this time as a position that was half the outdoors reporter for the Juneau Empire and half as the staff writer for the Capital City Weekly. As the Empire’s outdoors reporter I got to write about the ancient forest emerging from beneath the retreating Mendenhall Glacier, the crocodiles that once swam in the Arctic, and my own trips in the Yukon and Alaska’s rivers, mountains and oceans.
I’ve worked with some wonderful people at the Capital City Weekly — columnists, freelancers and staff, all of whom contribute to the rich fabric that is Southeast Alaska. One of them — the person who came across me when I first got back to town and encouraged me to get back into media in the first place — was Amy Fletcher, now the Media and Publications Director at the Sealaska Heritage Institute. As the editor before me, Amy brought so much to the Capital City Weekly. Together, we honed the Capital City Weekly’s focus on arts, culture and community. Southeast Alaska is so rich in all three. Stories about the creative, passionate, driven people who make this place what it is are everywhere, as are the events, the art, and the opportunities they create.
At the end of March I’ll be starting a new job as the communications director for SalmonState, an organization whose mission is to ensure Alaska remains a place wild salmon thrive. I’m thrilled about the opportunity to work with diverse, dedicated Alaskans telling the stories of salmon and of how they are woven into Alaska’s culture(s), economy, lifestyles, and ways of being.
My time at the Capital City Weekly has been wonderful. The person who will be taking the reins on our next issue is Clara Miller, a talented, capable Juneau-raised writer and editor who has already shown her mettle as interim editor when I was gone to research a novel last year.
I may be leaving this publication, but I’m not leaving Juneau. I’m looking forward to picking up the Capital City Weekly on the ferry, at the airport, and in stores, coffee shops and restaurants around the region and continuing to deepen my knowledge of this wonderful place. Thank you — gunalchéesh, haw’aa, t’oyaxsut nüüsm — for sharing your stories.
• Mary Catharine Martin has worked at the Capital City Weekly for the last five years and been the editor for the last two.