A Trip to Alaska

Culture’s a complex thing. And, in a place as unique as Alaska, that’s certainly the case. Marcus Sakey once said, “Nobody is accidentally in Alaska. The people who are in Alaska are there because they choose to be, so they’ve sort of got a real frontier ethic. The people are incredibly friendly, interesting, smart people – but they also stay out of each other’s business.”

In July, Jonathan Bartsch and Jeffrey Range met with and worked with a group from all over Alaska on a National Transit Institute (NTI) course about public involvement in transportation decision-making. What they found was that, although the magnitude of the space in Alaska contributes to a culture of individual freedom, there is also a deep sense of community. The people that Jonathan and Jeffrey worked with traveled from Anchorage, Wasilla, and Fairbanks, and from the private sector, the public sector, and non-profits — a diverse cross section of people, and all interested in how transportation planning can support larger community goals. The question explored was, “How can working with the public more effectively improve transportation decision-making?”

The course participants shared specific challenges they currently experience on specific projects and, collaboratively, the group developed ideas and strategies to support solutions. In a micro-sense, the individuals actively worked to support the others in the group. In a macro-sense everyone in the group did the work they did, in part, because of the benefits their community will experience.

To find out more about using public involvement in transportation decision-making to support community goals reach out to Jeffrey Range at jrange@mediate.org.