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Antidote to Civilization Deprivation

This week I have traveled to the Big City of Anchorage for the NEA Alaska Delegate Assembly, along with good friend and fellow teacher Bryan Neubert.

It is good to be in Anchorage and to spend some time in the land of buildings, bars and taxi cabs. All teachers in the bush can speak to the need for bush teachers to get out of the village and return to the larger world, particularly in the winter. Breaks are needed from the isolation of bush life in order stave off that particular brand of cabin fever lunacy known as getting “bushie.” I’m reminded of the Northern Exposure episode when Joel got to go to Juneau for a doctor’s convention and briefly escaped the quirky of life Cicely. Of course it didn’t work out like Joel had hoped, but that’s not my story. This week of being in the city is an effective antidote to civilization deprivation.
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The Delegate Assembly is much more compelling than I had expected. For the delegates of the NEA Alaska, this is the time to draft, debate and vote for or against policy language that directly impacts lobbying efforts with state and national legislatures. It’s fun to see people debating both hugely important critical issues as well as the least stroke of a pen to an absurd degree. I say it’s fun, but there are times that it also makes a person want to put a bullet in the brain pan. And it is always fun to watch heated public conflict restrained only by Robert's Rules of Order.

Last Night, Neubert and I enjoyed some urban recreation at the Bear’s Tooth Theater, an Anchorage Institution. There was a great band playing that night: Pumya, a Yupik/Alaska Native rock-funk band with a driving tribal rock beat loud and strong enough to give my bones a chiropractic adjustment. At a time when traditional Native culture faces the crisis of dissolution, it was great to hear such a rocking, club thumping group performing Bob Marley tunes along with hundred year-old traditional Yupik language songs about migrating geese or time in fish camp reframed squarely in a Western (and I don’t mean country) funk-rock groove. I had a great time doing two things I really enjoy - moving through the pulsing crowd taking pictures and listening to some great music.
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In the meantime, Stephanie and the boys took advantage of my absence to fly to Fort Yukon to stay with Bryan’s wife and to visit other old friends there in Fort Yukon. I talked to her on the phone this morning, and she tells me that they are all having a great time. I miss them. After Stephanie and the boys’ five weeks in Texas, they were with me in Circle for about a week and a half before I left for Anchorage. We’ve spent quite a lot of time apart in the last month, and I really miss them.

I’m sitting here now in the last few hours of the delegate assembly. Don’t worry, I’m not missing anything. Someone just made a motion to amend the amendment to the proposal currently being considered. We’re slated to go until 11PM tonight, but at this rate, I don’t see how we can finish before the wee hours.

Posted on Saturday, February 3, 2007 at 07:41PM by Registered CommenterBrian Rozell | Comments2 Comments

Reader Comments (2)

Hey - Like the new banner. Was also fun to see your photos on the NEA website - Feb, 1, column 1, pics 3 & 6.
February 4, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterWife
I saw it too, on Day 1 of the DA page. He looked serious and attentive :-)
February 5, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDad

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