Sitka Health Summit chooses two community wellness projects for the next year

Starting a series of trauma-informed community conversations and reducing Sitka’s carbon emissions were the theme as Sitka residents gathered to choose two community wellness projects to pursue in 2017-18 at the 11th annual Sitka Health Summit, held Oct. 11-13, at the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus and Sitka Public Library. The Sitka Local Foods Network got its start through a couple of Sitka Health Summit projects.

This year, the summit featured Justin Rivas, MPH, MIPA, of the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, who also works with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). Rivas led a boundary-spanning leadership workshop on Wednesday morning to help leaders learn how to be more inclusive in their planning. He also gave a presentation on health equity on Wednesday night.

The Sitka Health Summit Planning Day was expanded to a day and a half this year, with Rivas facilitating. On Thursday afternoon, Rivas discussed health equity and also went over some of the Sitka and Alaska health information gathered from the RWJF County Health Rankings (http://www.countyhealthrankings.org/). He also discussed the site’s What Works For Health project (http://www.countyhealthrankings.org/policies) that lists hundreds of possible health projects and the evidence-based research that shows how they work. On Friday, about 30-40 Sitkans gathered to select the two community wellness projects to pursue for the next year.

“The Sitka Health Summit team was successful in using data and evidence to inform the goal-setting process at this year’s planning day,” Rivas said. “They also met the challenge of strategically incorporating health equity in the selection of the year’s goals.”

There were 33 initial projects proposed, in a variety of categories such as physical activity, nutrition (including two people suggesting a veggie prescriptions project), mental health, health equity, etc. They were narrowed down to five semifinalists, and two of those were combined to make it four semifinal projects. The two chosen projects each will receive $2,000 in seed money, as well as some facilitation services from the Sitka Health Summit advisory team, to help get the projects off the ground.

“The planners chose two important goals for this year,” Sitka Health Summit Coalition member Doug Osborne said. “The first group decided to have some critical conversations about our community’s past and present as well as the kind of future we want for all of our residents. Understanding our ‘history’ (including the painful parts that often don’t get discussed), becoming a trauma-informed community, and uniting to end racism are going to contribute to a healthier Sitka that’s built on a foundation of mutual respect.

“The second goal the planners chose was to help protect our ocean, forest, and quality of life by reducing carbon emissions and addressing climate change. As the planners brainstormed ways to reduce CO2 emissions (the main greenhouse gas) it was clear that the solutions had several layers of benefits, such as saving money, improving air quality, promoting fitness and more. I wish both of the groups the best of luck as they work to make our world and our town healthier, more sustainable, and more equitable.”

Each of the two chosen community wellness projects will host a kick-off event in the near future, and these events are open to the public and anybody who wants to help with the project. More information about the projects, their kick-off meetings, and contact people are listed below.

  • Reduce carbon emissions in Sitka — 6:30-8 p.m., Monday, Oct. 23, Harrigan Centennial Hall, contact Heather Bauscher, 747-7509, heather@sitkawild.org (NOTE: Second meeting is 6-7:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 30, at the Island Institute offices across from Baranof Elementary School) — Sitkans have a direct self interest in healthy oceans, forests and quality of life. By being better stewards of our resources, we can save money while helping the environment, protect our quality of life, help the next generation, and create a livable world now and in the future. All are invited to discuss CO2 reduction, stewardship, and a sustainable Sitka. (Note: Growing local food can be a part of this project.)
  • Trauma-informed community conversations — 6-7:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 9, Harrigan Centennial Hall, contact Loyd Platson, 747-3636, lplatson@scpsak.org (NOTE: This is a change from the time, date and location originally announced for this meeting) — This project’s goal is in bringing together partners interested in community healing and equity, fostering community healing and understanding through dialogue, increasing cross-cultural understanding and respect, and creating a forum where conversations can be brought together. We as a community recognize that historical trauma affects the well-being and health equity of our community. We are going to have continuing conversations surrounding these topics, and this will be a safe space to talk about these things and our shared experience.

The Sitka Health Summit is coordinated and funded by a coalition of local groups that includes the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC), Sitka Community Hospital, Sitka Conservation Society, Sitka Counseling, the State of Alaska Division of Public HealthSection of Public Health Nursing, the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus, Southeast Radiation Oncology Center, White’s Pharmacy, the Sitka Health Summit Coalition.

For more information about the Sitka Health Summit and its current and past projects, go to http://www.sitkahealthsummit.org/. Photos from the summit are posted on the Sitka Health Summit page on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/SitkaHealthSummit.

Sitka community gardens project meeting on Thursday moved to Harrigan Centennial Hall

emptyblatchleycommunitygarden

Since the Sitka School District closed Blatchley Community Gardens in October, the gardeners have been removing their raised garden beds and soil in preparation for finding a new location for Sitka’s community gardens.

Due to a schedule conflict, the Sitka community gardens project meeting scheduled for 6-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 1, has been moved to Harrigan Centennial Hall instead of its originally scheduled location of the Sitka Community Hospital classroom.

The Sitka community gardens project is one of the two community wellness projects chosen at the 10th annual Sitka Health Summit in October. Because of the recent closure of the Blatchley Community Gardens by the Sitka School District, Sitka residents are looking for a replacement site and structure for some new community gardens. People are encouraged to bring their ideas about where they think might be a good location for new gardens, and how the gardens should be structured.

All are invited. For more information, contact Dave Nuetzel, 738-8372, or go to community.garden@hotmail.com or sitkagardens@gmail.com. People also can like the Sitka Community Gardens page on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Sitka-Community-Gardens-210713299032006/, for more info.

Sitka Health Summit chooses two community wellness projects related to local food

groupshotofcitizenplanners

newsitkahealthsummitlogoHealthy nutritious local food was the theme as about 75 Sitka residents gathered to choose two community wellness projects to pursue in 2016-17 at the 10th annual Sitka Health Summit planning day Friday, Oct. 21, at the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus.

The citizen planners chose one specific topic project (which can be finished in one year) and one broad topic (which may become a multi-year project). Identifying, developing, organizing and maintaining a new community garden was the choice for specific topic project. Combining all healthy and local food organizations into one nonprofit was broad topic project chosen.

dougosbornereadsoffprojectideasbeforevotingThese two projects were chosen from 21 specific topic project and nine broad topic project ideas introduced by the citizen planners (some similar project ideas were combined into one submission before voting). The topic ideas submitted by the citizen planners fell into a variety of categories, such as physical activity, nutrition, mental health, health equity, etc. The two chosen projects will each receive $2,000 in seed money, as well as some facilitation services from the Sitka Health Summit advisory team, to help get the projects off the ground.

Each of the two chosen community wellness projects will host a kick-off event in the near future, and these events are open to the public and anybody who wants to help with the project. More information about the projects, their kick-off meetings, and contact people are listed below.

  • emptyblatchleycommunitygardenIdentify, develop, organize and maintain new community gardens in Sitka — 6 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 3, Harrigan Centennial Hall, contact Dave Nuetzel, 738-8372, community.garden@hotmail.com — This project is to create one or more community garden spaces in Sitka, which has become a need due to the recent closure of the Blatchley Community Gardens behind Blatchley Middle School. Building more community gardens will allow landless Sitkans and those who don’t have good sun exposure to have a place to grow their own food. The former Blatchley Community Gardens page on Facebook has been renamed the Sitka Community Gardens page, https://www.facebook.com/Sitka-Community-Gardens-210713299032006/, which people can like for more information.
  • Combine all healthy and local food organizations into one nonprofit — 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 10, Harrigan Centennial Hall contact Charles Bingham, 623-7660, charleswbingham3@gmail.com — This project’s goal is to help the large number of Sitka groups working on healthy and local food projects (such as the Sitka Local Foods Network, Sitka Kitch, Sitka Food Co-Op, etc.) find ways to collaborate and work together to become more efficient and not burn out so many board members and volunteers because of the duplication of efforts. This project may result in some organizations combining into one, or at least finding ways to collaborate. The project may take longer than one year, as the various groups merge their missions, purposes, values, and organizational structures, while avoiding turf wars. But the overall goal is to make sure “Every Sitkan has access to healthy, affordable food.”

dougosbornepresentsawardtogirlscouttroop4140In addition to choosing two community wellness projects, the Sitka Health Summit recognized Girl Scout Troop 4140 for its work in promoting and improving the safety of the Peterson Street and Halibut Point Road intersection following recent car-bike and car-walker collisions that left people seriously injured.

The Sitka Health Summit is coordinated and funded by a coalition of local groups that includes Brave Heart Volunteers, the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC), Sitka Community Hospital, the Sitka Community Hospital Foundation, and the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus, with additional financial help from Guardian Flight, Southeast Radiation Oncology, White’s Pharmacy, Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers, Sitka Vision Clinic, Unity Botanicals, and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco-Seattle Branch Community Development Division.

For more information about the Sitka Health Summit and its current and past projects, go to http://www.sitkahealthsummit.org/. A slideshow of scenes from the 10th annual Sitka Health Summit is posted below, as well as a slideshow of scenes from the now-empty Blatchley Community Gardens.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

• Sitka Food Hub sub-committees to host meetings on food storage, community kitchen

SalvationArmyTunaShelf

Summit_LogoThe two sub-committees from the Sitka Food Hub project of the 2013 Sitka Health Summit will host meetings in the next week. The project has two main focus groups — to increase Sitka’s capacity for emergency food storage, and to create a community commercial kitchen that can be rented to local start-up businesses and residents who need a place to preserve food they’ve harvested.

The emergency food storage group will meet at noon on Friday, Feb. 14, at Harrigan Centennial Hall. This group is looking for ways to help improve and expand community food storage for disaster preparedness. It also will be looking for ways to help educate Sitka residents about how to improve their own family food storage to be better prepared for emergencies.

The community commercial kitchen group will meet at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 17, at Blatchley Middle School, Room 208. This group is trying to gauge the interest of local residents in having a rental commercial kitchen available for use. It also is looking at examples from other communities at how community commercial kitchens helped educate residents on food preservation, incubated local small businesses, and cultivated new opportunities for the community.

The next meeting for both groups combined is at 6:30 p.m on Thursday, March 6, at Harrigan Centennial Hall. Fo more information about the project, contact Marjorie Hennessy at marjorie@sitkawild.org.

• Sitka Food Hub project to focus on a community commercial kitchen and emergency food storage

Summit_Logo

The Sitka Food Hub project working group from the 2013 Sitka Health Summit now has refined its focus based on a survey of group interests.

The project will continue to focus on community food security through food education and a commercial kitchen facility. A  second sub-group is devoted to increasing local capacity to develop a food storage system for emergency preparedness. These groups will meet individually to begin planning. The groups will also re-convene in December to report back to one another and push the project forward. Ultimately the two projects will be combined as the project grows.

The two sub-groups will meet next week — the community kitchen group at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday,  Nov. 19, and the food storage group at noon on Wednesday, Nov. 20, both at Harrigan Centennial Hall. The two sub-groups were created to help tighten the focus of the main project and make it easier to improve Sitka’s food security

The shared-use community kitchen will be a place where families and individuals may take classes, rent space to preserve and can their own food, and small-scale local food producers can rent it to create their own value-added food products. The other group will focus on increasing food storage options, since our local hunger groups need more storage in order to expand and Sitka residents expressed community and individual food storage concerns when it came to disaster planning.

The two groups will reconvene for a meeting of the big group at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 18, at Harrigan Centennial Hall. To learn more about the Sitka Food Hub and to get onto the group’s email list, contact Marjorie Hennessy at 747-7509 (days) or marjorie@sitkawild.org.

• Sitka Food Hub project working group to meet on Tuesday, Nov. 12

Summit_LogoThe working group for the Sitka Food Hub project from the 2013 Sitka Health Summit will meet from 6-7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 12, at Harrigan Centennial Hall.

This is the third meeting of the group, which formed during the Sitka Health Summit in late September as one of the summit’s two community wellness projects for the upcoming year. While the group’s ultimate mission, vision and goals still are being refined, community members at the Sitka Health Summit said they wanted the Sitka Food Hub to serve multiple functions — to be a place to help feed Sitka’s hungry while also serving as an emergency food supply for the community and also to provide education about how people can build their own personal pantries.

For this meeting we will continue on the work we started in our last meeting, which includes refining our mission, vision and goals so we can move forward with this project.

To learn more about the Sitka Food Hub and to get onto the group’s email list, contact Marjorie Hennessy at 747-7509 (days) or marjorie@sitkawild.org.

• Sitka Food Hub project working group to meet on Monday, Oct. 28

Summit_LogoThe working group for the Sitka Food Hub project from the 2013 Sitka Health Summit will meet from 6-7:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 28, at Harrigan Centennial Hall.

This is the second meeting of the group, which formed during the Sitka Health Summit in late September as one of the summit’s two community wellness projects for the upcoming year. While the group’s ultimate mission, vision and goals still are being refined, community members at the Sitka Health Summit said they wanted the Sitka Food Hub to serve multiple functions — to be a place to help feed Sitka’s hungry while also serving as an emergency food supply for the community and also to provide education about how people can build their own personal pantries.

For this meeting we will be joined Lauren Havens, who has graciously offered to help facilitate the meeting. Topping our agenda will be hearing reports from volunteers who have been researching other food-based or food-related groups in the area , state and around the nation. The group will be discussing a few things, including some pertinent definitions and finally a heavy focus on refining our mission, vision and goals so we can move forward with this exciting project. We also may discuss a project name change to better match definitions used by major food policy groups. We hope we will see you there.

To learn more about the Sitka Food Hub and to get onto the group’s email list, contact Marjorie Hennessy at 747-7509 (days) or marjorie@sitkawild.org.