Neighborhood Transformation in the Wild Frontier
One thing Bob Jonas instilled in me was the confidence in my ability to 'make a pitch'. My efforts in the Mountain View neighborhood of Anchorage, Alaska have required a level of salesmanship.
Mountain View is the proverbial 'wrong side of the tracks' or tough part of town - the bad neighborhood.
Well, the pitch has started working. Last year, we brought the first financial institution to Mountain View in 20 years. For 20 year the community was 'unbanked' or cashed checks at the pawn shop (letting them take 15% off the top). They are already doing business 4 years ahead of their projected schedule. We opened a new library and we've given people services that they value and in turn appreciate and steward. We've beautified parks and green spaces believing that they are crucial to quality of life and we've started turning the tide of negativity by doing something that few people realized was so easy: having a ton of fun and celebrating the place we call home.
We are a Land Trust committed to increasing investments in the commercial corridor and we do this by rehabilitating and owning and managing properties that for-profit investors and the market doesn't see an ROI in. Mountain View like much of the built environment in Alaska is relatively young. But, it came up in the Post WW2 era where asbestos was a primary building material and you got rid of your 1,000 gallon oil drum by burying it on your lot. And, it seems like everything used to either be a gas station or auto service station - leaving a major environmental footprint. Things like this make Mountain View a difficult sell for businesses looking to locate to the area. We make our pitch to businesses that the community needs to continue to thrive, and we use our properties to invite new investment and clear the way for businesses to open. Businesses like Credit Union 1, GCI (an internet and telephone company), Subway and the Mountain View Dentist are all doing pretty darn well in an area where there isn't any competition.
I get a lot of questions about life in Alaska so I'll answer some: I've never seen Sarah Palin though the questions about her have been fewer and fewer as of late (her husband Todd Palin is more renowned right now for his snowmachine racing); Winter is long (which I love) and dark (imagine skate skiing next to the Pacific Ocean with the moonlight glistening off the thick, deep snow). People are manic-depressive and it typically follows the extremes of the sun; Lots and Lots of Moose - a mother and sow climbed over my six foot fence last year to bed down in our yard; I'd look forward to others!