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While most creative talents leave Alaska for the chance of more exposure in big cities, Emma Hill is not only making a living as a musician in her home state, she’s thriving.
Hill grew up in the small Alaskan village of Sleetmute and in this episode of INDIE ALASKA, she talks about growing up in Alaska and the pros and cons of pursuing a creative career in the far north.
INDIE ALASKA is an original video series produced by Alaska Public Media in partnership with PBS Digital Studios.
The weekly videos will capture the diverse and colorful lifestyles of everyday Alaskans at work and at play. Together, these videos will present a fresh and authentic look at living in Alaska.
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After a late spring, breakup began in mid-May along the ice-clogged Yukon River, causing flooding in some Alaska villages, including in Eagle.May 19, 2013
Representing A-K has never been easier -- or more fashionable. Here's a round-up of of some sweet Alaska-themed gear.May 19, 2013
Ice on the Yukon River at Eagle began to move early Friday morning resulting in the second worst flood on record since a devastating flood wiped out the community’s waterfront and a nearby Alaska Native village in 2009. Damage this year was minimal in comparison and residents are relieved.
Giant chunks of ice and silt-rich water overflowed the banks of the Yukon River at Eagle near dawn Friday morning, but by mid-day, the water had receded.
National Weather Service Hydrologist Scott Lindsey was on the scene to survey the damage. He says this year’s is the second worst flood in recorded history.
“I’ve been coming here for 12 years,” he said, “and it’s by far the worst, other than 2009 that I have seen.”
Water bubbled from the ground, creating an eerie boiling sound along the floodplain.
“Yeah, this is pretty substantial!” called Claude Denver, the Response Manager for Alaska’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. “Well, what we’re seeing here is large pans of ice that have been lifted by the high water and deposited on Mission Road here,” he explained. “This is the only road between Eagle Village and the City of Eagle, so it’s a primary conduit and it’s really important that we can maintain it so it stays open.”
At least six homes, a number of wood and tool sheds, vehicles and heavy machinery were damaged by truck and trailer sized blocks of ice. A handful of telephone poles were knocked over or snapped in half as well.
David Helmer works for Alaska Power and Telephone in Eagle.
“There’s some poles that we have to take care of, cut the wires down and keep it safe for the people in the area,” said Helmer. “Other than that, it will take homeowners rebuilding their homes before we can reconnect to them.”
Helmer was helping Falcon Inn Bed and Breakfast owner Marlys House clean up after nearly three feet of mucky water filled the bottom floor of her business. The B&B was moved off its foundation and heavily damaged in the largest flood on record back in 2009.
“We were sitting out there thinking it was gonna be a replay of 2009,” she smiled. “But it came up and came up and we hauled everything out of the bedroom. We got about three feet of water. And Charlie’s working on the boiler and we’re just drying things out.”
The Falcon Inn stands at the river’s edge above a retaining wall along Eagle’s historic Front Street. Marlys’s husband, Charlie House has since raised the building by four feet. Despite the high water this year, he was in good spirits.
“We had to open the doors to let the water out, but we’re gonna have it all going here in a few days, so it isn’t anything like last time,” he said with a sigh of relief.
No personal injuries have been reported in either the City of Eagle or Eagle Village, 12 miles down the road. The village did report high water, but no serious damage. Emergency Response Manager Claude Denver says it’s unlikely the state will provide individual financial disaster assistance to those affected because damage is not widespread.
Today we take a look inside Teen Underground, a place teenagers meet at the Loussac library to work on creative projects. Candace Blas is the coordinator for Teen Underground. She says the group works with all kinds of media, but on Tuesdays they make videos.
“They all have varied interests. There are groups that like to make action films, there are groups that like to get together and make comedy skits, and there is always a zombie film going on. They like zombies, especially with as much fake blood as possible,” says Blas. I don’t see any zombies on my way into the group’s headquarters, but it is rapidly filling with living teenagers.
“They just sort of walk in and know exactly what they’re supposed to do. They grab their computers and their cameras and go off to continue whatever they were working on last week,” says Blas.
The first kids I meet are Alexis and Patricia. They’re best friends, and they inform me that when they first came to Teen Underground they just knew they were going to hate it.
“Well, my mom picked me up from school one day and she was like ‘we’re going to go to the library’ and I was like ‘but the library is for old people’ and she said it’s just this thing about video so I hope you guys will like it and we said ‘we’re not going to like it, it’s going to be boring,’ but then it turned out to be super fun,” says Alexis.
Today all of the teens are getting ready for next week’s video award ceremony. Jyriel is a student here, and he’ll be hosting the event.
“So basically everyone is doing video, and we have to submit it today. And then we’re just showing off to judges and people here. It’s for fun, and you can get awards,” says Jyriel. He is submitting a video of his own titled, “The Force.” The Star Wars inspired film is set to music, and shows a sequence of events that are played backwards to make it look like Jyriel has Jedi powers.
“I’m throwing the book in the action when I’m filming it, and then once I edit it, I make it look like I caught the book with my own hands like the book is coming to me, and I’m putting it back on the shelf. It’s all backwards,” says Jyriel.
Tuesdays at Teen Underground used to only be about video, but Blas says with the programs growing popularity the focus has expanded.
“Now we have students that are specializing in photography rather than video production. We made a radio PSA the other day, so we have students that are focused on different sorts of media,” Blas says.
More kids and more media forms mean more tutors. For that, Teen Underground enlisted the staff of ATMI, the Alaska Teen Media Institute.
Alexis, the girl who thinks the library is for old people, says she likes getting to use professional-grade equipment to experiment with photography. And she says there is a lot to learn.
“We learned how to take it apart, how to put it together without damaging it, and we learned how to focus and change the depth so when you want to do depth of field and blur stuff out and zoom in on one thing,” says Alexis. Teen Underground hasn’t just taught the girls about photography, it’s also taught them responsibility.
“We take it home sometimes and we act like it’s the president’s or something. It’s not ours, and if we break it its $800, it’s going to be pretty expensive,” says Alexis.
And it’s that kind of growth that makes Candace Blas love her job. She gets to teach the kids, but she also gets to witness them when they’re at their best: having fun, and being creative.
“They come to the library every Tuesday, so they’re committed. So whether they’re at the writing stage, the filming stage, or the editing stage, it’s really inspiring to see them so focused and passionate about projects. And to see that in a young person is inspiring to me,” says Blas.
Pavlof Volcano on Alaska's Peninsula continued to spit lava and shoot ash into the air this weekend.May 18, 2013