• New book on XtraTufs includes photos from Running of the Boots fundraiser for Sitka Local Foods Network

Author/photographer Larry Johansen poses with a copy of his new book, "XTRATUF: An Alaskan Way of Life," during the Sitka Artisans Market on Dec. 4

Author/photographer Larry Johansen poses with a copy of his new book, "XTRATUF: An Alaskan Way of Life," during the Sitka Artisans Market on Dec. 4

Photos from the Running of the Boots, an annual fundraiser for the Sitka Local Foods Network, are featured in the new book “XTRATUF: An Alaskan Way of Life,” by Douglas resident Larry Johansen.

The Running of the Boots is a fun, end-of-the-summer event where people run a short downtown course while wearing colorful costumes and their XtraTuf boots, which also are known as Sitka Sneakers or Juneau Tennyrunners. About three years ago, the board of the Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce, which had managed the race, decided to let the Sitka Local Foods Network use the Running of the Boots to raise money for its main projects, which include the Sitka Farmers Market, expanding community gardens in Sitka, trying to get a Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center built, encouraging the sustainable use of traditional foods, and providing education and encouragement for people who want to garden or harvest more local foods.

Runners hit the trail during the 14th Annual Running of the Boots race on Sept. 27, 2008, in Sitka.

Johansen, who used to work for now-defunct cruise company, was an amateur photographer who began taking photos seriously after his employer abruptly quit business. He told the Juneau Empire he focused on XtraTufs as a way to talk about how Southeast Alaskans connect with their environment. He started his own business, Rowdy Dog Images, and tried to take at least one good photo a day while he worked on the book. Johansen wrote all of the copy in the book, but did use some borrowed photos (including his photos from the Running of the Boots, which were supplied by Charles Bingham).

Since the book came out in October, Johansen has been traveling the region to promote it. He did this Oct. 29 interview with Jeff Brown on KTOO-FM’s A Juneau Afternoon show. Johansen also had a booth at the Sitka Artisans Market on Dec. 3-5, and he did an interview with KCAW-Raven Radio news director Robert Woolsey, which appeared in this story on KCAW’s regular newscast with extended audio posted on the station’s website (the extended audio aired on KCAW as a Morning Edition interview on Wednesday, Dec. 8).

According to a 2008 article in Capital City Weekly, about a third of the 100,000 XtraTuf boots sold each year end up in Alaska. Commercial fishermen liked the boots because the chevron outsole doesn’t slip on wet boat decks, and the neoprene kept fish oils from getting into the rubber. The boot’s popularity quickly moved to land as people saw how well the boots worked in Southeast Alaska’s rainy and icy weather.

The boots have been around since the 1950s, when B.F. Goodrich commissioned Norcross Safety Products of Rock Island, Ill., to manufacture the boots. Norcross bought the rights to the brand in 1985, but in 2008 to Honeywell Safety Products acquired Norcross and the XtraTuf brand. Until this year, the boots always had been manufactured in the same Illinois factory, but now they will be made in China.

Johansen’s book can be found in Sitka at Old Harbor Books. People also can order it off of his website for $19.90 a copy (plus postage).


• Sitka fruit tree shares to be sold at two markets this weekend (Dec. 3-5)

The Sitka Fruit Tree Initiative will be at two market/bazaar booths this weekend to sell shares in fruit trees that will be planted this spring in Sitka.

The group will be part of Linda Wilson’s jewelry booth (Booth 5 in the Exhibit Room) at the Sitka Artisans Market from 4-9 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday (Dec. 3-5) at Harrigan Centennial Hall. The fruit tree shares also will be sold at the St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church ECW (Episcopal Church Women) Christmas Bazaar from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday (Dec. 4) at the Sea House behind St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church, 611 Lincoln St.

The Sitka Fruit Tree Initiative is selling shares in fruit trees as a fundraiser to get the money the group needs to purchase the 200 apple, crabapple and cherry trees it plans to plant in Sitka before the next Sitka Health Summit (Sept. 30-Oct. 1, 2011). The tree shares will be sold as quarter shares ($25), half shares ($50) and full shares ($100). People also can buy a share in fruit-bearing bushes ($25 each). This is one of four community health priority projects decided at the 2010 Sitka Health Summit on Oct. 4-5, 2010.

Cherry blossoms at Blatchley Community Garden

Cherry blossoms at Blatchley Community Garden

People who buy shares in the fruit trees will receive a gift certificate that can be given as an alternate present this holiday season. The trees will be planted around town this spring, with the idea that not only will the fruit trees beautify Sitka but they also will provide people with a tasty treat as they walk by. Once the trees are planted and start bearing fruit, a portion of the fruit will be donated to local organizations that provide free or reduced-cost meals to people in need.

For more information, contact Lisa Sadleir-Hart of the Sitka Local Foods Network at 747-5985. For those who can’t attend this weekend’s market/bazaar, the PDF file posted below has information on how to order tree shares.

• Sitka Fruit Tree Project gift information brochure