Juneau has barely maintained its position as the capital of Alaska. I believe we need to continually ask ourselves this question, do we deserve the honor? Here is an example: When Centennial Hall was built it was an oasis of warmth and hospitality. The beautiful lobby and comfortable orange couches warmed the heart of a tired visitor. It formed a great meeting place for old friends now separated by great distances. That spirit left a feeling that made people want to come back.
Well, that was Juneau in the past. Entering Centennial Hall today is a totally different experience. One is struck by a sparse array of uncomfortable, angular furniture in cold industrial colors. The new ambiance conveys the message "Don't get comfortable. Don't stay long." I suspect that this furniture was purchased to keep the winos and the homeless from camping out in Centennial Hall. I'm sure that the job of keeping the riffraff moving is not a pleasant one, but it is a necessary evil if Juneau wants to remain the hub of government, commerce and the arts in Alaska. In about a month our community will host the 27th Annual Alaska Folk Festival. This event is the premier folk music event in the state and draws as many people to Juneau as any other convention. The festival lasts a week - it can be a bit grueling at times. One weary spectator suggested that the lobby was the best act at the festival. Unfortunately, we have no place for that person to sit. What happened to all our cruise ship money? This seems like the perfect place to spend a small chunk of it.
Perhaps we might consider the consequences of not maintaining the charm of Centennial Hall. Our festival will not die an immediate death but I suspect that if we are not giving 100 percent, we can't expect folks from around the state to make the sacrifices to come to Juneau in the future.
Keeping Juneau as the Capital of Alaska means more than building roads and airports. It also involves making the visitor feel welcome and comfortable once they arrive.