Alaska Salmon Fellows join forces for innovative initiatives

During their Fellowship, Alaska Salmon Fellows work collaboratively to define, propose, and implement innovative initiatives - small seeds aimed at long-term change in Alaska salmon/people systems. The first cohort of fellows has worked to form teams and craft proposals for a wide range of projects. Take a look below at what they are working on. Have suggestions, ideas, connections, or feedback? Scroll to the bottom to leave your comments for the Fellows.

Qasgiq: The Heart of Our Village Fellows: Mary Peltola, Christina Salmon, Warren Jones

The Qasgiq was an important Yupik institution before it was destroyed by colonial influence in the 1960s. It served as the social, political, economic, and spiritual center of a community as a place where community members learned their roles, skills, and values; a place of purpose and involvement.

Qasgiq: The Heart of Our Village is focused on reviving traditional ways of exchanging ideas, values, and rules of living within Salmon communities by bringing back the Qasgiq as a tool to heal and provide purpose. The initiative will reintroduce the Qasgiq as a venue and structure for community members to discuss climate change, forecasting, escapement, harvest, and preparation of salmon.

This initiative will bring community members together for fishing activities, and to teach and pass on traditional fishing and preparation techniques while developing a direct connection with the land and our role as stewards. Fishermen will take on the role of “citizen managers” as they develop a better understanding of management principles, stock dynamics, and strategies for addressing food security that can be implemented at the local level. The Qasgiq will promote learning through an exchange of ideas and information without an “agenda” or the constraints of compartmentalized thinking.

The team’s focus will initially be on small to mid-sized Yupik/Inupiaq villages. The first seed project in Igiugig will involve community members and partner organizations in the design and construction of a Qasgiq structure where community members will meet and leaders will offer activities for youth and young people. The team will then engage other interested communities in learning from Igiugig’s experience and support them in tailoring Qasgiqs to meet their own needs and vision. Within 5-10 years, the long term goal will be to extend to other regions of the state so that other communities within Alaska and the U.S. can adapt this model of community engagement, learning, and efficacy.

Community Partners / Resources: Alaska Humanities Forum Igiugig Village Council Igiugig Native Corporation Kenai Peninsula Borough/Soldotna Rotary Igiugig High School Calricaraq Wellness program at YKHC (by way of example) Salmon Connect Igiugig community members

The Root Causes: Diving into the Depths of the Salmon/People System Fellows: Kris Norosz, Meagan Krupa

The salmon/people system is complex and represents a wide range of stakeholders, viewpoints, and needs.​ The Root Causes: Diving into the Depths of the Salmon/People System will attempt to better define the system, identify its challenges and causes, and surface potential opportunities for change through a series of participatory workshops.

This initiative is built on the premise that analyzing problems and understanding causes before taking action is a critical step in developing achievable team initiatives for future cohorts of Alaska Salmon Fellows. “In the short term,” write team members Meagan Kruipa and Kris Norosz, “this method may help other Salmon Fellows to more intentionally design and implement their projects leading to a higher probability of effectiveness and success. In the long term, we hope that this work encourages people to spend the time needed to understand and frame the causes of problems before taking action and provides a methodological starting point.”

The team will plan and facilitate three workshops, synthesize the data, and produce a final report that they will present to current and incoming Salmon Fellows in October, 2018.

Community Partners / Resources: Alaska Humanities Forum

Salmon Shadows Fellows: Julie Raymond-Yakoubian, Elsa Sebastian, Kevin Maier, Anjuli Grantham

The problems within Alaska's salmon system are often obscured by Alaska’s much-touted salmon success stories. Some problems are acknowledged, but many others are unknown or relegated to the fringes. Salmon Shadows will gather creative work that shares and explores these shortcomings, critical issues, and fallacies within Alaska’s salmon system in an effort to lead to greater engagement, advocacy, and shifts in the system.

The team of fellows leading the Salmon Shadows initiative put together a call for art, writing, and other creative work that they will curate into a traveling exhibit to spark meaningful conversations. The theory behind this initiative is that the stories we tell matter, informing the way we think, act, and make decisions. Community conversations about these stories (and, importantly, about what these stories obscure) could change the way people think, act, and make decisions.

The program is generative by its very nature, as each stop on the tour will provide opportunities to learn of/ speak of new shadows, test new methods of hosting conversations about salmon shadows, and refine methods to engage communities with complex problems through art and story. The tentative travel schedule includes Juneau, Petersburg, Girdwood, Nome and Kodiak. The work will also be featured in FORUM magazine in a regular feature called Kindling Conversation, distributed along with a toolkit for using the material to inspire dialogue around the state.

Community Partners / Resources: Alaska Humanities Forum

Salmon Connect UAS, Juneau

Lynn Canal Conservation, Haines

Baranov Museum, Kodiak

Kawerak, Nome

Museums Alaska / Alaska Historical Society

Salmon Values Fellows: Ben Stevens, Ricky Gease, Benjamin Mohr

Alaska’s state constitution mandates that all Alaskans benefit from salmon as a resource but the definition of "benefit" has been narrowly confined to economic values to the exclusion of other values, including but not limited to: social, cultural, recreational, ecological, food, wellness, story, and experiential. This limitation ignores significant sectors of Alaskans, specifically those without economic interests in the fisheries (including many sport, personal use and subsistence fishers). Broadening the definition would help to ensure that non-economic values of salmon are incorporated into salmon regulatory (public policy) and management (implementation of public policy) decisions, making the system more sustainable and equitable.

The team leading the Salmon Values initiative believe that the non-economic values of salmon can be defined and measured. They will oversee a contracted literature review, message existing information, identify and interview leverage points in the Alaska salmon/people system, and summarize their findings. Their hope is that this initial work will lead to a continued project by the second cohort of Fellows to generate a dashboard for baseline measurements of the weighted distribution of factors (economic and non-economic values) used in policy making and management of salmon resources in Alaska. Establishing and making this data accessible will be a critical step toward the ultimate goal to ensure that policy incorporates non-economic values in the delivery of salmon benefits to all Alaskans.

Community Partners / Resources:

Alaska Humanities Forum Contracted researcher Alaska Salmon Fellows and advisors SASAP

The Salmon Blazers: A Youth Camp Curriculum to Build the Next Generation of Salmon Lovers and Leaders Fellows: Jessica Black, Charlie Wright, Verner Wilson, Hayley Hoover

The Salmon Blazers team is working to engage and educate the next generation of young Alaska leaders through the development and implementation of a hands-on, experiential camp curriculum.

Youth will learn about salmon's lifecycle, habitat, and their human impact - economic, physical, spiritual and recreational. They will also learn about the different ways salmon are governed, and issues of equity. The goal of the curriculum is to build a more holistic understanding of the human/salmon system and to develop an awareness of the diversity of salmon users, issues, and strengths in the State of Alaska. Youth will ultimately learn not only about contemporary issues and strengths, but also about the rich history of human-salmon relationships that span thousands of years. Through this process, a future cadre of leaders will be better equipped to make fully informed decisions as they move into positions of leadership regarding salmon management.

The team will develop camp curriculum in the spring of 2018 and then hold three pilot camp experiences in the summer of 2018, partnering with existing camps. Ultimately, they would like to create a statewide campaign advocating for the integration of this curriculum into a wide range of youth camps and to create an online platform where youth camps can access curriculum, garner and share ideas from camp experiences, and make recommendations to inform future programing.

Community Partners / Resources: Alaska Humanities Forum

Prince William Sound Science Center Tanana Chiefs Conference Wellness and Prevention program The community of Igiugig Bristol Bay Fly Fishing and Guide Academy Kuskokwim youth camps

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