I'm a "member" - if you want to call it that - of the Men's Crisis Center. It was surprisingly easy to get hooked up with the group; I found if you've got half a mind to join, that's all you need.
For many years, we've enjoyed cleaning up our section of the North Douglas Highway. Sometimes we do it with prior notification to the Department of Transportation, and sometimes - usually on impromptu weekend get-togethers when the fish aren't biting - we do it without calling anyone in the state government.
Truth is, we always enjoy the task. It's fun doing a good deed like that, and did you know that litter on the North Douglas Highway isn't really all that bad? I always wondered why.
Anyway, after the cleanup, there's usually plenty of good food and a poker game. Whoever draws the low hand in the first round becomes the designated driver.
As the cards are dealt, if I peer through the cigar smoke around the table, I'm amazed at the cross-section of community in the MCC participants: There's a judge, a teacher, a writer, a carpenter, a couple Native leaders, a lawyer, two engineers, a heavy equipment operator and me - a skinny guy with bushy hair and a big nose who always forgets to put the lid down on the toilet seat.
Sometimes before the card playing begins in earnest, we commiserate about the so-called abuses we receive at home, but usually - at the insistence of some members - there's a healthy ownership of our shortcomings, too: The judge watches too much baseball; the equipment operator never picks up his dirty socks; the writer just spent a big chunk of his Alaska Permanent Fund on electric downriggers; and one of the engineers is a smart-but-daffy professor-type who tends to lose important things like house keys and his billfold at inconvenient times - like on the way to the airport. The list goes on from there.
What is it that this diverse group has in common? I can honestly think of only two things: The first is our desire to see litter-free public spaces, and we try to do our part with that, and the second is probably that we like to laugh - including at ourselves - and we try hard with that, too.