02 January 2007


I was doing an interview for a story today and the person mentioned the idea of "stresses" in a persons life. For instance, darkness, alcohol, or isolation might be environmental stresses that together lead a depressed person to commit suicide.

I bring the idea up because I think it might help explain some of what is going on in southwest Alaska, whether it's snowmachine bandits or a cab-driver shot at point-blank range in Bethel.

Life has never been easy in rural Alaska, at any time or for any generation. But there are increasing stresses on the lifestyle in this region. Consider some of them:

  • The cost of electricity is going through the roof, as is the cost of heating oil, gas, and so forth.
  • Those rising costs make the cost of other necessities, like groceries, a lot higher as well.
  • The elimination of revenue-sharing has made cities more dependent on property taxes or sales taxes, which further squeezes citizens.
  • The weather is distinctly changing and that's changing lifestyles as well. Elders and others recognize changes in migration patterns and sea ice and that affects the foundations of a way of life.
  • Stronger storms are leading to increased erosion in a lot of communities.
  • There's a sense (though this is not new) that rural Alaska might be politically powerless, closing off a potential route to help address some of these problems.
The list, of course, could go on and on. My point is that as the stresses on the rural lifestyle increase, one response might be lash out in what appears to be senseless and inexplicable violence. Life is getting very difficult and the actions of people under pressure are always difficult to predict or explain.


blythedesign said...

Hi Jesse - it's Blythe Russo. I was on the Facebook today and saw your brother's page, which lead me to google your name and land here. Nice to know you're doing well. How's the weather in Alaska this time of year?

I like your writing topics - I'll stop by once in a while to check out what you have to say.
Hope your family is well!

Anonymous said...

Rural alaska living is tough, and these winters are long. Villages are filled with gambling and alcoholism --- and very little ambition. Governor Palin needs to visit the villages and hubs --- she's already made points by going to New Stuyahok. If she devotes even 3 hours a week to rural Alaska -- that's more than Frank and Tony ever did!