After two years of serving with AmeriCorps VISTA in both Springfield, MA at Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity, and one in Anchorage, AK working with a rural village energy education program (and a brief stint traveling across the country and giving dog sled tours at Mt. Bachelor in Oregon with Iditarod musher Rachel Scdoris), I am now living and working full-time in Anchorage, AK. As a Development Specialist, I am on the Development team at Rural Alaska Community Action Program, Inc. (or RurAL CAP). My main roles and responsibilities are handling donor relations, participating in special events, campaigns,and social media, and here is the big one- writing grants. The world of grant writing is very interesting and this position has been a great start to my professional career. I work with private Foundations and large federal agencies, and read, research, write, and edit A LOT to ensure that my organization's programs in homelessness services, home weatherization, volunteerism, self-help housing, early childhood development and parenting training, low-income housing, affordable childcare, health and wellness, energy efficiency, and environmental sustainability are funded and producing measurable results for the Last Frontier and its peoples. My fiance, and UMass Amherst English and Plant and Soil Sciences alum, Tikaan Galbreath, are crafting a home together and spending our free time skiing, snowboarding, camping, hiking, fishing, berry picking, and all the other endless adventures Alaska has to offer us. This place is wild and oh so magical!
Tikaan, as he is part Ahtna Athabascan, is working at Southcentral Foundation, which is a non-profit primary care center for Alaska Natives and it also co-manages the Alaska Native Medical Center hospital. Tik is an Improvement Specialist within Quality Assurance and Organizational Development. His role is to find, research, plan, and implement new policies, procedures, and processes that bring the entire organization to another level efficiency and effectiveness. He is also the chair of the organization's Green Committee. Is is the perfect mix of his UMass education; the natural world and words.
Tikaan and I met in a clinical herbalism class at UMass and were both involved in food movements, so it fits right in that once moving to Alaska we jumped right into the world of subsistence and wild harvesting in the pristine great north. Rural and remote native villages across the state still live subsistence lifestyles and Tikaan and I have had an amazing and profound time looking into the practices of his ancestors and mixing our modern views of local food with the past. Last year we joined a new group called Anchorage Food Mosaic. Our goal is a healthy food system for all Alaskans, and we consist of 4 contributors who write, photograph, and promote about the many facets of food and how it builds community; hence, the mosaic of people, cultures, traditions, and tastes that exist in the city. Tikaan and I contribute our adventures in foraging and putting up food for the winter. A few months ago, we were contacted by the mini documentary series, American Hipster Presents. In attempts to reclaim the stereotype of hipster, and tell true stories of people trendsetting and doing unique things across the country, they visited Anchorage and filmed us as we took them on an urban harvesting expedition and talked about why we choose to engage with these practices.
Thanks BDIC, for giving me the opportunity to meld my many interests and passions into one comprehensive path of academia! I have carried that on into my life outside of school and find every moment to be fulfilling and full of abundance. Those of us who wish to do it ourselves and go our own way are a special breed and without the support UMass gives to such people I probably would not be where I am today.
Please visit http://anchoragefoodmosaic.com and Anchorage Food Mosaic on Facebook for our adventures!
The American Hipster Presents documentary is here- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxNiiYKzTXA&list=PL9B93D46C12D5FC2B&index=8&feature=plcp
Have you ever wondered what some of our alumni are up to today....