May 13, 2020, Letters to the Editor

Category: Letters to the Editor
Created on Wednesday, 13 May 2020 16:05
Hits: 1409


Dear Editor: At Sitka Conservation Society we are committed to protecting the Tongass and building socially, ecologically and economically sustainable communities. This work looks different depending on the opportunities and pressures facing our region, but it always means valuing our relationships with people and place. It is with this mindset that on March 18 we launched the Sitka Mutual Aid Network, a new initiative meant to build Sitka’s resilience and culture of health in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Through this network, we match requests for assistance with offers of support, connecting Sitkans who can be of service to one another. Our primary activities are doing errands for those with health risks or who are self-isolating and working to improve food security by providing grocery assistance. We know that many folks are experiencing economic hardships and uncertainty due to the pandemic, and we are committed to showing up for one another as best we can.

We wanted to share some of the outcomes that we – local individuals, organizations and businesses – have achieved together so far. In the two months since we started the Network, 80 volunteers and over 100 households have signed up; we have fulfilled 148 requests for assistance, including 71 grocery gift cards, 68 custom grocery deliveries and five requests for information or other needs; and we have completed eight special bulk distributions and facilitated a few others, getting the following goods out to folks via no-contact, doorstep deliveries: 320 bags of groceries;190 wild salmon dinners; 60 loaves of fresh baked bread; 18 bags of coffee; 12 packages of sweet treats; 6 custom family dinners; and 6 children’s books.

All told, the network has provided over $15,000 in grocery assistance. The majority of this aid benefited both the households who received the goods and the businesses who supplied them. We are happy for this opportunity to support the local economy.

Thank you to the 82 individuals who have made a financial contribution. Thank you to the many businesses that have donated money or goods, including AC Lakeside, Sitka Salmon Shares, Trinity Business Services, Sitka Food Coop, Southeast Dough Co., Highliner Coffee Co., Old Harbor Books, Mean Queen, Graceful Pastries, Woven in the Waves, Hook, Line and Bobbin, and Alaska Tokens. Your generosity is appreciated.

Our sincere gratitude to local artist Jerrod Galanin who ran a benefit raffle on our behalf and donated a gorgeous killer whale cuff, two sets of earrings and two gratitude bracelets. This effort raised $8,000 for our grocery assistance fund.

Thank you to all of the Sitka Mutual Aid volunteers, Our Town Catering, Sea Mart Quality Foods, Backdoor Cafe, Sitka Youth Advocates and Sitka Bulk Goods for your support and collaboration.

Thank you to the households who have reached out for assistance and openly communicated with us. We are grateful to be in community with you.

Special thanks to the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association for creating a seafood donation program that has already delivered more than 500 pounds of local seafood to folks experiencing food insecurity. Sixty-eight mutual aid households and counting have been enrolled in this program.

In short, thank you Sitka for making this network come alive. It has been an honor seeing neighbors stand in solidarity with one another. To get involved or to learn more, please visit, text 907-738-0357 or check out @SitkaMutualAid on Facebook.

Chandler O’Connell and 

Sitka Conservation Society


Assembly Vote

Dear Editor: I’m saddened that a super majority of the Assembly doesn’t think enough residents are dying.

Pete Roddy, Sitka


SSD Principals

Dear Editor: “Children and teens may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis” ( 

And, change always comes with a cost. 

The entire world is dealing with these two truths. Our community here is dealing with these two truths.

Our children, pre-kindergarten to grade 12, and the entire staff of the school district, as well as all parents and families, are experiencing varying levels of stress right now, as they deal with learning and teaching online, something very new for the vast majority of them. Classrooms that are often seen as havens to children of all ages are empty now, but it is hoped that they will be open this fall, yet it is certain that our students and staff will still be suffering some form of stress because of this world pandemic. 

So why would Sitka’s lame-duck superintendent choose now to throw names of school principals and vice-principals into a blender, and let it spit out new assignments/schools for those administrators, for a school year she will not be part of? This is supposed to raise achievement levels on standardized tests? And now is the best time to do this? I am not buying it.

Common sense tells us that our children and staff will need stability and familiarity upon their return to the schools this fall. This latest move by our current superintendent makes no educational nor professional sense. 

Please share your concerns with members of the School Board. And allow Mr. Holst, incoming superintendent, and our administrators, teachers, staff, and children a chance at some form of familiarity to have a good start to a school year that already will have enough pitfalls and challenges to keep them very busy for the entire year. 

G. L. Hammons, Sitka