Juneau, why I am thankful?

It’s not often that the answer to the query is the query. Juneau makes me a thankful person in many ways. For one, I treasure the avenues to cross-cultural experiences that we have here. Participating in the Typhoon Haiyan benefit last week was a real honor. The Filipino Thanksgiving dinner for more than 500 people was a wonderful way to be part of helping out. Similarly, thanks to the Sealaska Heritage Institute we get to experience “Celebration,” a biennial festival of Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian tribal members. Celebration has become an energetic display of traditional song and dance, arts and crafts; allowing Juneau to cross into the full tapestry of Native culture every two years. How lucky are we?

Arts go right along with culture as an avenue for personal growth, and here too we are fortunate. From the Juneau Symphony to the Folkfest, from the Juneau Arts and Cultural Center to Jazz and Classics, we are blessed with a wide range of music. Add in Perseverance Theater, Mudrooms (storytelling) and the Gold Town Nickelodeon for spice, and Juneau offers an eclectic, enriching array of arts. For this I am thankful.

I am thankful to live in a community that continues to surprise me. Who would have thought that Eaglecrest would be voted as the “Great White North” champion in Powder Magazine’s Ski Town Throwdown? Nor did I expect that the sale of Alaska Electric Power and Light would lead to a $40 million gift to the Juneau Community Foundation, a surprise brought on by the hospitality of longtime resident Bill Corbus. Thank you Juneau and particularly Mr. Corbus for such wonderful surprises.

My list of good people doing amazing things could go on, but I’d like to switch to community trends, as here too there are things to be thankful for. Our community should take comfort in Juneau’s economic strength and resilience, as shown by the Juneau Economic Development Council’s 2013 Juneau and Southeast Alaska Indicator Report:

1. Private sector jobs and wages were up 3.3 and 4.8 percent, respectively.

2. The unemployment level is as low as it has been since 2008 – 4.6 percent.

3. Juneau’s median income is the highest in the state at $77,558.

4. In 2013, 50 more housing units were permitted than in 2012; making for a total of 121 new housing units.

Juneau’s economic health is tied to Southeast as a region, and here too the news is comforting. According to a publication of the Southeast Conference, “the economy of Southeast Alaska is in an expansion phase, and has been since 2008. In the last two years, the regional labor force increased by 1,800 jobs.”

This Thanksgiving, my table may be small but my circle of a community is large. For this I am thankful.

• Troll is a long-time Alaskan with more than 22 years of experience in fisheries, coastal policy and energy policy. She resides in Douglas.

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