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Why I Live Here…

I’ve lived in Alaska 20 years (as of July 4) and am regularly asked by friends and colleagues from Outside (that’s anywhere but here) why I live here. Thought maybe it was time to explain some of the reasons why. And, readers should understand there are so many reasons. We’ll consider this the summer edition.

It’s often said we live here for the 4-5 months of summer when the sun shines nearly 24 hours per day and you can literally watch the plants grow.

Claire de Lune blooming at 1:30, 4 and 8 PM on the same day.

I have to admit it’s a fun place to garden. Mine features flowers but there are many who also grow vegetables. The 24 hour sun means veggies are ready fairly quickly after planting. A growing number of farmer’s markets similar to the Lower 48 mean we can enjoy fresh Alaska-grown vegetables.

Blue Ribbon Cabbage

You also can’t beat the scenery that’s within a 15-minute drive of here. Where you might see some Dall sheep or beluga whales along with some GORGEOUS scenery.

If you overlay a map of Alaska on one of the Lower 48, you’ll see there are no roads west of the Mississippi. Yes, it’s true – there are no roads in western Alaska. Many people have small planes to help them see the state, or merely as transportation if you live out West. We don’t have a plane anymore because we have kids. Before kids, we would fly to Talkeetna in our Cessna 182 (5 hour drive) for lunch or an ice cream cone.

Talkeetna, Alaska

And our boys are another reason we live here. It’s a wonderful community in which to raise a family. We’re a pretty tight knit community and have a great school system. Our kids have attended schools where parental involvement is important and key to their education. Last week we attended the wedding of Thomas’ German teacher and spent time talking with his first grade teacher while we were there.

The boys have grown up camping in pretty remote locations, but are just as happy going to a show the next weekend.

They play soccer on teams that compete well with teams Outside. But our kids play on soccer fields so close to the woods the game might have to stop because there’s a moose nearby.

I spent my early career in food public relations so when Alan and I were dating, he took me to the grocery store here before we were married. He wanted to assure me the stores were pretty good. And, they were better than many places around the county. Over the past many years, the restaurant scene has really gotten better too.

And we regularly enjoy the restaurants before attending one of the many events at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts. As a city of more than 300,000 people, we have the best of both worlds — the cultural attractions and activities of a “big city” with the adventures and wonderful scenery or a remote location.

So…while I love to visit Outside cities and always have a wonderful time, it’s really great to come home…to the calm, peace and wonderful, loving community we’ve enjoyed the past 20 years.

Oh, and the daylight at 11 PM last night wasn’t too bad either! This is my back yard:

By |2018-03-18T22:55:17+00:00July 19th, 2011|Leadership & Networking|12 Comments

About the Author:

Mary Deming Barber, APR, Fellow PRSA, runs a strategic communications consultancy where she helps clients understand how to integrate new media into traditional communication programs. Mary has counseled clients in Tacoma, Anchorage, San Francisco, Oregon, and Colorado for nearly 40 years working with a variety of food organizations, several agencies, and as a key team member on two successful US Senate campaigns. 


  1. taughnee July 19, 2011 at 10:12 am - Reply

    Great post, Mary! Having just spent the last 3 weeks vacationing in Alaska with a visitor from another country, seeing this place through his eyes … I have renewed my love for Alaska. We saw whales, eagles, otters, sea lions, brown bears, black bears, sheep and moose … and that’s in THE WILD. No fences, no zoo. We saw epic mountain ranges and sunsets over the ocean.

    Every restaurant was world-class. I realized we really do live in a “foodie town.” There wasn’t a bad meal in 3 weeks. (Ask my scale! lol)

    The people here are incredibly friendly. I really noticed this from a visitor’s perspective. We say hello to one another, we look each other in the eye, and we joyfully share this wonderful place with one another and our visitors.

    (Ask me again in about six months, though. lol)

    Thanks for sharing Mary!

    • mary July 19, 2011 at 10:15 am - Reply

      Thanks Taughnee. I think, no matter where we live, it’s good to see our city from a visitor’s perspective. They are seeing everything for the first time and it’s nice to be refreshed that way. I’m so glad your friend had a good time. And, that he saw so many wonderful things. And…the six months post will be interesting won’t it. Winter is so beautiful here, but definitely has its challenges.

  2. DD July 20, 2011 at 12:43 am - Reply

    Here is the visitor … and yes … one of my most amazing experiences was about the way people are there. Friendly and almost smiling every time … i am not used to that.
    Then the wild nature of Alaska … its breath taking. Already when the plane came down to Anchorage i could realize the difference.
    Did i ever saw a black bear crossing the road? Did i ever saw a moose eating at the side of the road? NO!
    My country is covered with towns and villages … there is hardly space for wild animals. No wonder they are all gone. What i saw in Alaska was another planet … a planet as it was and as it should be. It made me think about all the crap we did with our environment. I wish more people from Europe could see that. It makes you feel small .. it gives you the right perspective of what you are and what the nature is. We are part of it … many forget.
    (Sorry for my bad english)

    • mary July 20, 2011 at 8:36 am - Reply

      Thank you for your comments. It’s always nice to get a visitor perspective of our state. We can get so close to it that we miss the beauty and opportunity. I’m glad were able to see the sense of community that makes this a wonderful place. I also hope you’ll return for another visit soon.

  3. Todd Murphy July 20, 2011 at 6:41 am - Reply

    Mary, your post really describes the fabric of Alaska that makes it so unique when compared to other states I visit and work in.I’m headed your way soon and look forward to viewing the elements you describe through a now clearer lens.

    When I look to locations to expand our news monitoring and analysis services, I look for places that have a strong sense of community, both personal and business. My 25 years of experience has taught me that these are the best places to make connections and work with great people. Alaska epitomizes this benefit.

    Thanks for the post!

    • mary July 20, 2011 at 8:36 am - Reply

      Thanks for coming by Todd. I look forward to meeting you in person and to gaining your perspectives on our state following that visit.

  4. Karen Swim July 20, 2011 at 11:43 am - Reply

    How wonderful to see this beautiful state through the eyes of someone who lives there. The views in your photos are breathtaking and the life you describe enviable. I think it’s funny that people ask “why” you chose Alaska as home, as if it is a third world country devoid of indoor plumbing. It seems like a beautiful place to live and raise a family. I hope to visit one day and behold the beauty with my own eyes.

    • mary July 20, 2011 at 1:54 pm - Reply

      I hope you’ll visit too Karen. As for the third world country views…unfortunately too many people still think that. It’s part of the reason I did the post. We are regularly asked how we travel and even if we accept US currency. We pay exorbitant shipping rates, even though we’re a freight hub for the air carriers. It’s amazing but we still love it here.

  5. Todd Murphy July 20, 2011 at 12:20 pm - Reply

    Can’t wait to get back to Alaska!

    • mary July 20, 2011 at 1:54 pm - Reply

      Can’t wait for you to visit either Todd!

  6. Jayme Soulati July 26, 2011 at 6:09 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the invite to stop in and I’m so glad I did to read your amazing Alaska post. Didn’t know you had that many hours of light to watch the flowers grow, Mary, Mary Quite Contrary!

    Nothing I can say to you that you don’t already know! You’ve got 30; I’ve got 28!

    Not sure your goals for the blog — if it’s to be feature oriented, then keep on; if it’s to get business, then share with me some of your work, thoughts on campaigns, or problem/solutions solved by social media or something you’ve implemented.

    I like your style; very comfy.

    • mary July 26, 2011 at 6:18 pm - Reply

      Thanks for stopping by. I am going to work on making it more business oriented but in the summer we get so many questions about life here it seemed a good mix. Come back again.

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