My Turn: Snow-free walkways necessary to enjoy Juneau

Posted: Thursday, December 20, 2001

Today, Dec. 19, I journeyed from downtown Juneau to the Mendenhall Valley on foot. It was excellent! The sun was gorgeous, and the mountains looked like black bears rustling through the forest after trees had sprinkled snow on their humps. It was a euphoric Alaska trek, and I with a full imagination and vigorous body. I had no complaints, yet there is one topic I would like to discuss: There were problems with snow on the walkways. I came to the Valley with wet socks and snow above my ankles. Road snowplows often do an excellent job plowing the roadway, but excess snow gets shifted to the sidewalks.

I propose that there be adequate sidewalk snowplowing on all Juneau pedestrian walkways. I understand that such a request requires taxpayer's hard-earned money. I am a simple man of democracy, if you will, so if Juneau citizens do not want this issue to be addressed, then I will not insist.

However, I would like to offer an abstract argument to how this can actually help our economy. Many years it has been known that we inhabit a resource-driven, boom-or-bust economy. Many experts and politicians and concerned citizens have been searching for ways to strengthen and diversify our resources.

Now, you may wonder how does this relate to snowplowing? Let me explain: My top source of income (however little), comes from the arts, such as storytelling, acting and, hopefully in the future, writing. It is absolutely vital that I have a clear head and a healthy vision of ideas. Nothing, absolutely nothing, offers that to me more than simply enjoying outdoor Alaska life. Walking is absolutely important to my income and way of life.

Also, it is vital that the community I live in supports the arts, and supports leadership that comes from broad diversity. Thank God Juneau is such a place.

Do you understand? Imagine walking along, and you have an inclination to walk to a certain area, an area that perhaps will help produce awesome creativity and inspiration. Now imagine that area is covered with snow, and it would be too hard to cross through. Missed opportunity? Perhaps. If this sounds like a stretch, then would it be hard not to agree that encouraging outdoor activity is vital to our Alaska way of life? I think so.

Eventually, when the day comes that our land resources run out and bust, when we lose friends and family to other places with more lucrative jobs, when this great state can no longer sustain itself, then we will need to discover the only unlimited resource: the mind. Or perhaps we can take small steps toward securing a more comfortable and visionary future. I offer one small step. What are your suggestions? Thank you.

Ishmael C. Hope is an actor and storyteller who lives in Juneau.

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