Nenana Wellness Coalition
January 5, 2016
The Nenana Wellness Coalition is an alliance of representatives from various organizations, government agencies, community groups and individuals that meets weekly to discuss, evaluate, coordinate, consolidate, celebrate, masticate and help implement plans for improving the wellness and quality of life in Nenana Alaska.
We had eight participants today: Kat McElroy, Bonnie Reed, Jeannie Bennett, Gayle Rayme, Virginia Young, Tim Horn, Ed Herrgard and Miles Martin. We enjoyed turkey noodle soup, mixed green salad, raisins with pecans, and Ritz crackers with sliced cheese for lunch.
WELCOME and READING OF MISSION STATEMENT: By this week’s chairperson, Jeannie Bennett.
SPIRITUAL MOMENT: Gayle lead us in a moment of silence and asked us to reflect on the upcoming political cycle, that we not make fools of ourselves.
PRESENTATION OF AGENDA AND CALL FOR MODIFICATIONS: There were no modifications to the agenda.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Minutes generated last week, posted on the WIN link at http://www.railbelt.org and emailed to everyone on the WIN list.
INTRODUCTION OF GUESTS: Ed Herrgard is in Nenana today, checking on Tom and Therese Titus’ place and came for soup at Leon’s suggestion.
Supporting the NSLC: Kat brought this question to the coalition: how can we as a community and as individuals better support the student living center and the youth who live there while going to school in our community. This question is posed, she said, after reflection on a discussion with teachers and staff at the school yesterday regarding the students coming back to school after Christmas holiday and the recent death of one of their cohort. One thing that kept percolating up yesterday was the need for all kids to have positive and meaningful connection and support from other people. So Kats question to WIN: is there any way we could assist in this process.
Discussion ensued exploring how attitudes about the presence of the NSLC in our community have shifted over time. Initially there were mixed feelings about the boarding home, about the costs of the building, about the presence of so many students from around Alaska, about the way this changed the dynamics of Nenana and our school. Some of the positives are increased revenues to the school district, cultural enrichment and an opportunity to provide educational, recreational and social opportunities for all the students that would otherwise be unavailable. Some of the perceived drawbacks have been opportunities for NSLC youth that are not afforded to local students as well as an influx of “high-risk” students every year. In the decade-and-a-half that NSLC has been a vital part of Nenana, there have been adjustments from both sides and the consensus opinion today was that overall NSLC is a benefit to the community.
Believing this, are there ways our community can better support the center in its mission and the youth who come here to further their education? An immediate suggestion was to continue making opportunities for NSLC youth to participate in our social and cultural activities. Having Robin Campbell working as an RA has increased NSLC student participation in pot latches; are there ways that we can build upon that success to increase interaction between students and the greater community? One suggestion was to have Robin Campbell bring the question to the Community Pride/Village Safety meeting, to engage more community members in brainstorming.
Kat said that Joe DeGrandin had mentioned yesterday that community members are always welcome to come to NSLC to have dinner and socialize/get to know the students there, many of whom are far away from home with no nearby friends or relations. After some thought, she is determined to make the effort to do this. She mentioned that she is as shy as some of the students, and gave as an example at the Welcome potlatch, how difficult it was for her to shake hands with and introduce herself to all the students.
There is a process by which community members can become approved to check students out of the center, for weekends, or even just short visits or activities like going to the movies. They have to be approved by the parents and put on a list. Kat is going to do this, identify some one of the youth who do not have anyone to visit, and get approved. She encourages others to do this as well.
Gayle mentioned that the students at NSLC do have the ability to do community service work if they want, both to work off bad points or to earn good points. If this information was more widely disseminated, perhaps people would think to ask when they have tasks or chores: splitting and stacking firewood, babysitting, walking pets were three immediate possibilities that emerged during discussion. Another question is could students be allowed to work for pay. Gayle volunteered to talk with Joe DeGrandin to get his input on these ideas.
WELLNESS THOUGHT: “Our circle is timeless, flowing, it is a new life emerging from death—life winning out over death.” —Lame Deer, LAKOTA
When we look at the world in the manner which the Great Spirit designed it, we can see why it makes sense to live in harmony with it: the trees grow and bear fruit, the fruit has seeds; the seeds fall to the ground, the ground grows new trees; old trees die to make room for the young. Any time we think we can interrupt the cycle or change it, we will experience turmoil and confusion. The Human Cycle exists as the baby becomes the youth, the youth becomes the adult, the adult has children, the adult becomes the Elder, and the Elder teaches the youth. Elders go on to the Spirit World. Spirit comes into babies to produce new life. Flow into the flow. Be the path of least resistance.
My creator and maker, today, teach me to just flow with the river of life.
Virginia: Found her missing cell phone. It was in the woodshed, left there inadvertently last week when she was in a hurry.
Kat: They have beef being butchered and today David brought the first of 28 pigs they will have butchered between now and March, so they have meat for sale.
Don’t forget the Mayoral Candidate Forum January 7th, 7 PM, at the tribal hall.
Ed: He is recently retired and is just out-and-about today, seeing where God might lead him. Last week, on a whim, he took a load of firewood down to a friend in Glenallen.
Mary: They spent New Year’s Eve in Minto, playing music for their NYE celebration; it was really good, pot luck, music, an impromptu indoor hockey game, Native singing and dancing and everyone had fireworks. They sent paper lanterns into the sky in honor of people who had passed away. They played music until 4 AM, she said, “But, still, we missed Nenana. It’s always best to be home on holidays.”
Bonnie: The City Office will be closed for Martin Luther King Day but it will be open for absentee voting; it will be the last day for absentee voting for the mayoral race.
Tim: The Nenana Book Club has rescheduled their monthly meeting to January 11th, to discuss their reading of The Strangler Vine.
Kids Craft will be Wednesday, 1-13-16 at the Nenana City Library, 3 PM.
Game Night Monday evenings, 6:30 PM, at Meda Lord. Not sure when Wednesday morning yoga will start up again.
Jeannie: Will call Sherrie to see when the Civic Center might be available for Freecycle. Also we need to mail begging letters for the Health Fair.
Miles: Had a conversation with a woman from Fish and Game down on the end of 10th street. He thinks we should have her come to WIN to talk to us about some of the recent changes in F& G regulations. He got contact info for her.
ADJOURNMENT: 2:00 PM