Healthy 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.
These 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.
- Identify, develop, organize and maintain new community gardens in Sitka — 6 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 3, Harrigan Centennial Hall, contact Dave Nuetzel, 738-8372, email@example.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, firstname.lastname@example.org — 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.”
In 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.