Letter of Concern, An Idea

Posted by Chris Stiegler on May 23, 2015

May 25, 2015


Dear Mr President and Mr. Chancellor


We understand that this letter arrives to you unsolicited, but it has come to the attention of our crew that you and your colleague – President Don Bantz and Chancellor Tom Case, are each considering developments in and around your campuses. In light of these plans we would like to make some suggestions that may reinforce your neighborly relationship, not only with one another, but also with the local residents and wildlife. Thank your, first and foremost, for taking the time to read through this letter. In consideration we will make my points brief.


As we know, you are both aware that you share a great many things. Your locations in downtown Anchorage serves to foster a more urban, yet wooded campus setting for your student populations. Each of your institutions is near to and accessible by the same roads. Both of your institutions are seeking to expand the infrastructure near to your campuses; one in a move to expand facilities, while the other seeks to develop the neighboring areas for other reasons. With all of these commonalities, our crew feels compelled to put forth a rather simple solution: combine forces to preserve the resources you share in an effort to better serve your students, faculty, staff, and neighboring communities.


The simplest means of combining efforts is to actually join forces. This task may at first appear unfathomable, it is in fact a simple idea. APU should operate as a conservatory under the umbrella of their larger neighbor. UAA should work with the board of APU to consider economical and ecological ways of developing the landscape to improve their campus while remaining minimally invasive. A restructuring provide a less expensive and less invasive means of developing your community and your campuses. It would also diminish the risk of these developments, as increasing campus size and infrastructure only ever guarantees more maintenance and more upkeep, while they promise so much more.


With head-counts of under four hundred and upwards of twenty thousand, each college provides an atmosphere that caters to a particular student. That said, conservatories are often housed within larger institutions and have thrived in such circumstances. If, in fact, APU became a small, dedicated part of UAA, a broader spectrum of curricula could serve the student population while allowing key courses to maintain their 10:1 student/faculty ratio. The community of UAA could benefit by offering the smaller class size to the students that wish for that kind of interaction. Not to mention other amenities like the Jim Mahaffey Trail System and the Consortium Library which both currently serve your student populations.


While we understand that each of your institutions has a different financial structure and a different strategic plan, both of your institutions rely on the Northwest Commission of Colleges and Universities for your accreditation, which would make the structuring of your merger systematically easier. Both of your institutions want to attract new students, remain competitive in an intensifying market, grow endowments, and continue their mission as educational institutions. A merger of this sort would not diminish these agendas.


In closing, I would like to introduce myself a bit by saying that I have been very close to a fair number of colleges and universities as both a heavily invested student at the University of Delaware and also as a faculty member at the Maine College of Art, the Southern Maine Community College, and the University of New Hampshire. I have seen the functions of large state schools, private colleges, and local educational hubs. What I have come to understand is that Presidents all have the same agenda, grow the worth of their students’ degrees. Combining efforts is a way to diminish the competitive field, provide more access for students, increase the holdings of the institutions, and ultimately give the community a beautiful, unified campus center within a dense and bucolic wilderness.


Please note that both you and your colleague – President Don Bantz and Chancellor Tom Case – have received the same letter. It has also been published in conjunction with Seeking the Source, an interdisciplinary surveying of the Chester Creek Trail, which both of your campuses abut.




Chris Stiegler

Visiting Professor of Art History

Maine College of Art



Seeking the Source

Goose Lake Winter Use Map

Posted by Jimmy on May 23, 2015

Susan also shared this map. She has been charting how people cross Goose Lake in the winter when it is frozen, mapping the paths that develop. Susan has charted some paths that consistently form year after year.

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The Crew Visits the Beach at Goose Lake

Posted by Jimmy on May 22, 2015
in Mike

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5/21 Moose Encounter

Posted by Jimmy on May 22, 2015

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Tall Tale Moose Encounter

Posted by Meghan Holtan on May 22, 2015

I have a tale to add to the trail. We were talking with a biker on the bridge over the creek just before the bridge over Northern Lights, when a moose that was on the side of trail decided to come check us out. It was a juvenile and it seemed to be a mixture of curious and aggressive about his area. I walked (on stilts) over to the triangle formed by the trail as one branch goes to Tikishla when the moose started heading our way! I hid behind a tree, but it kept coming, and realized I needed more mobility. I could undo one stilt, but with that one off, there was nothing to stand on. I grabbed on to the tree and Colin undid my remaining stilt as I clung to the tree like a koala. He finally shook it loose and I took off running, long pants and all.

Unrelated note: In talking to people about their relationship to trail, I get a lot of “we used to live in the neighborhood over there” or “when I first moved to Anchorage…” It is a good idea to have rental housing close to the trail so that as people first land in Anchorage, or move around the city, even more people are exposed to this amazing resource in our city. Later on, it would be fun to map out renter-occupied vs owner occupied housing in Anchorage using the census data, and see explore this pattern more.

Zula Swanson

Posted by Jimmy on May 22, 2015


Zula Swanson came up in our 5/18 potluck while discussing Chester Bottom(Fairview Flats). On our Goose Lake expedition Susan share showed us what was Zula’s Property.

More about Zula can be found in this old Ebony article:


Susan Share showing the crew where the Bragaw Extension is planned

Posted by Jimmy on May 22, 2015
in Mike


5/21 – Goose Lake Wetland Walk with Susan Share

Posted by Jimmy on May 22, 2015
in Mike

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Feeling Blue

Posted by Ayden LeRoux on May 22, 2015 as , , , , , ,

I’ve been writing about blue as if it is only a color, and yet there is another way we talk about blue. Perhaps more than any other color, blue is associated with feeling. I’m not sure where along the lines blue started being an emotion but it’s ingrained in our understanding of this color of light. Red is a symbol of anger of course, and green is associated with envy, but we don’t use those words directly to discuss how we are. “I am blue,” we say, embodying the color.


As the week wears on, one afternoon I feel a twinge of blue in my heart, distracting me from the winding path where my feet are walking. It is the feeling of distance from my love, who is back East, wandering the grid of New York City. I am fortunate that this blue I’m feeling is not the deep, penetrating sort that led Pablo Picasso into his Blue Period of painting for three years. I will finish our expedition on the trail and will stop writing daily essays and maps of blue. This feeling of mine can’t even really be classified as sadness, just an awareness of his absence in my day. Blue is the measurement of our being apart, the shape of the air between us. I rarely say the words “I miss you” because I am happy to be where I am, but for an hour or two in the afternoon I notice this soft tide of melancholy.


In the evening, after veering off the trail, we bike towards the mountains and after a beer at the Midnight Sun Brewery, we decide to climb Flat Top Mountain, the classic hike outside of Anchorage. We begin ascending at 8:30 p.m. with plenty of daylight left. I have been entranced by the light in Alaska, though it discombobulates my sense of time. It doesn’t get completely dark until after midnight and twilight leaks into the sky around 4 a.m. I’ve never been this far north and though my flight out of Seattle left after dark and landed here in Anchorage after sunset, in the air en route I could see the glowing orb of the sun casting perpetual daylight for those farther north. Now as we move up the mountain, scaling rocks, we gain altitude quickly.


It’s only an hour and a half to the top, an invigorating charge to panoramic views. It’s 10 p.m. and every direction I look, I see blue. The saturated navy shadows of the mountains, their peaks and valleys carved by glaciers, the satiny haze of the horizon, sky and clouds falling into ocean, fog and mountains persisting even farther in the distance. I feel lifted by the view and wind at the summit, shedding the earlier ache. There is something spectacular about being able to step away from the closeness of the quotidian, to feel the scope of the landscape, the air and spaciousness of seeing far away from me. At the peak of this mountain I dissolve into the blue air around me, surrender to the color and altitude. Here, I find that the feeling of blue isn’t just longing and sadness. It is also the feeling of abandoning myself, even if just until I return back to sea level.


Thursday Tall Tales (Tikishla- Goose Lake)

Posted by Meghan Holtan on May 22, 2015

Thursday Tales from the trail:

  • Creatures of Goose Lake
  • Goose Lake Last Day of School
  • Goose Lake Swimming
  • Valley of the Moon Long Commute
  • Stand Up Paddle Board
  • Bridge Seasons
  • Airport Heights Iditarod
  • Moose Cyclocross

Check out https://soundcloud.com/guysidewalk for more!