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.

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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.

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• SEARHC, Sitka Local Foods Network host Ed Hume for sustainable gardening presentations

Ed Hume

Ed Hume

The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) and Sitka Local Foods Network will host Northwest garden guru, author, TV personality and seed company owner Ed Hume for two presentations on sustainable gardening.

The two presentations take place on Monday, May 31 (Memorial Day), at Grace Harbor Church, 1904 Halibut Point Road (the gray building across from SeaMart). The first presentation is from 3-5 p.m. and the topic will be “Preparing the Northwest Garden: Soil preparation and garden design for the Pacific Northwest climate.” The second presentation is from 7-9 p.m. with a topic of “Vegetables and Ornamentals: Sustainable solutions for common problems, variety selection and ideas for ornamental gardening.”

Tickets are $15 per session, or $20 for both sessions, and they are available at Old Harbor Books or White’s Pharmacy (at AC Lakeside Grocery). The two “Sustainable Gardening with Ed Hume” presentations are fundraisers for the Sitka Local Foods Network (http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/), a non-profit organization that promotes and encourages the use of locally grown, harvested and produced foods in Sitka. Event sponsors include White’s Inc., True Value, the SEARHC Health Promotion, Diabetes and Lifestyle Balance programs and Garden Ventures.

A separate event for SEARHC patients and their families living with diabetes or prediabetes is being planned for Tuesday, June 1. Details about that event will be announced later.

“I remember first hearing about Ed Hume and his year-round vegetable garden a couple of years ago at a Northwest Flower and Garden Show,” said SEARHC Diabetes Grant Coordinator Maybelle Filler, who is organizing the event for the Sitka Local Foods Network. “This seemed impossible since he lives in the same climate zone as Sitka and as far as I knew once winter hits, even fall time, there aren’t any vegetable gardens to be found. But as I sat there listening to his presentation and looking at his slides, it definitely was true. I was so impressed, and I thought what a great opportunity for Sitkans to listen to what he’s been able to do so we can extend the growing season for our own vegetable gardens.”

Hume is host of the weekly “Gardening in America” television show, the longest continuously running TV show on gardening at 42-plus years. He also hosts a weekly radio show. He is a member of the Garden Writers Association’s “Hall of Fame,” and won the National Garden Communicator’s Award in 1977. He has written several books on gardening, including “Gardening With Ed Hume: Northwest Gardening Made Easy.” He owns Ed Hume Seeds (http://www.humeseeds.com/), manages a children’s educational garden in Puyallup, Wash., and also is an internationally known speaker on gardening.

“Ed’s seed firm has a reputation for quality and reliability that is second to none,” said Kerry MacLane, Sitka Local Foods Network Board President. “We’re pretty lucky that such a famous expert is coming to Sitka. People do like to come to Sitka. Last year we hosted Ciscoe Morris (for a sold-out Memorial Day gardening presentation). This is getting to be a great tradition.”

No stranger to Southeast Alaska, Hume has visited Sitka and other communities in our region several times. His son used to fish out of Elfin Cove, and Hume said he conducted some of the trials for his seeds in an Elfin Cove garden to see if the plants were hardy enough for our climate.

During his presentations, Hume said he will discuss soil preparation and he will show how to improve vegetable garden soil since successful gardens need to start off with high-quality soil. Another topic includes the advantages of growing vegetables in raised beds, which provide warmer soil temperatures and better drainage. For those gardeners who have limited space, Hume will discuss the concept of the wide row to make small spaces more productive. Other topics will be the importance of garden layout for better light exposure and air circulation, fertilization issues and the environment, what types of vegetables to plant, and more.

At the two presentations on May 31, Sitka strawberry plant starts will be available for sale at $2 each as a fundraiser for the St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden (a Sitka Local Foods Network project). For information about the presentations and Ed Hume, contact Maybelle Filler at 966-8739. For information about the Sitka Local Foods Network and its projects, contact Kerry MacLane at 752-0654 or go to http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/.