Author: Samantha Davenport

Servers, bartenders grapple with uncertainty after dine-in service halted across Alaska

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Former Spenard Roadhouse bartender Shane Russell, photographed with his girlfriend Emma Clyne at their home on Friday, March 20, 2020. Russell was let go from the popular Spenard eatery after Mayor Ethan Berkowitz ordered the closure of all restaurants to anything but take-out service. Clyne also works at the resturant, dealing with to-go orders, but has seen her hours cut. They estimate that as a household, they have lost about 75% of their normal income. (Loren Holmes / ADN)

This article was originally written for the Anchorage Daily News.   About 30 minutes before Danielle Bedard, a server at Muse, clocked in March 12, her manager called and told her she wouldn’t be needed. By 6 p.m. the next day, the Anchorage Museum, along with Muse and the Seed Lab, had closed. “Within 24 hours, we had gotten an email that said, ‘This is how you file for unemployment, let me know if you […]

2 weeks of festivities to get you in the Fur Rondy spirit

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’Anyone for Tea? ’ by Team Turnbull at the Alaska State Snow Sculpture Championship during the Fur Rondy winter festival on Feb. 25, 2018. (Bill Roth / ADN archive)

This article was originally written for the Anchorage Daily News.   From reindeer sausage eating competitions to snowshoe softball, there’s something for everyone at the 85th Fur Rendezvous festival. Fur Rondy has been going since the 1930s, but there are still plenty of new events this year — like the Blizzard Bash, which features a free concert from I Like Robots at Town Square Park (5:30 p.m. March 6) and the Poker Run (5 p.m. […]

Making it in L.A. is tough, but these screenwriters from Alaska are making it happen

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People

This article was originally written for the Anchorage Daily News.   Star-studded Netflix shows, award-winning actors and the always-sunny hills of Hollywood seem like a world away to Alaska, but some local talent is finding their place in the industry. Kate Trefry, Ryan Welch and Ari Katcher — all former Anchorage residents — write for shows that appear on streaming platforms Netflix and Hulu. Trefry, who graduated from Dimond High, is a writer and story […]

Drawing Attention: Spotlighting Violence Against Indigenous Women

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People

This article was originally written for Rasmuson Foundation.   Amber Webb grew up in Dillingham and remembers Alaska Native women disappearing, often without explanation or justice. These experiences stuck with her and ultimately inspired her to create a giant qaspeq — a traditional Native hooded garment — illustrated with hundreds of hand-drawn portraits of missing and murdered indigenous women in Alaska and the Lower 48. Webb’s qaspeq is over 10 feet tall, and its creation […]

Veracruz by way of LA: Las Cafeteras blends Son Jarocho music with American pop

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Arts and culture

This article was originally written for the Anchorage Daily News.   Being a member of the band Las Cafeteras has taught Hector Flores an important lesson: people have more in common than they think. Following the election of President Donald Trump, the Los Angeles-based band released “If I Was President” and asked people a simple but open-ended question — what would they do if they were in office. The responses they received, whether they were […]

Women farmers are on the rise in the Last Frontier

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Martha Lojewski of Mount McKinley Peonies harvesting flowers during their peak season. (Photo courtesy of the Alaska Peony Cooperative)

This article was originally written for the Modern Farmer.   In Alaska, where farmers battle grueling winters and short growing seasons, women are almost as likely as men to be planting seeds and pulling crops. On average, 36 percent of farmers in the US are women, but in Alaska, women account for almost half—47 percent. National trends have seen women on the rise, too, with the percentage of male farmers dropping between 2012 and 2017. […]

What busking winters in downtown Anchorage taught KillBill Sax

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Saxophonist Bill Hauser performs at Tequila 61 on Friday, Aug. 16, 2019. (Loren Holmes / ADN)

This article was originally written for the Anchorage Daily News.   It’s quite a sight to exit an Anchorage bar in February and see a saxophone player busking alongside two propane heaters at 1 o’clock in the morning. But for a year and a half, that was Bill Hauser’s hustle — known to Alaskans by his stage name KillBill Sax. Hauser got the idea from another local sax player — Nelson Felix — who was […]

‘Umiak,’ ‘quesa-deer-a’ and fresh oysters: How Alaskans put their own spin on state fair food

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Food

This article was originally written for the Anchorage Daily News.   State fairs are typically known for the powder-sugared, fried classics like elephant ears, corn dogs and cheese curds. The Alaska State Fair has all those too, but there are also more than a handful of vendors selling items with an Alaska twist. Here’s what a few of them had to say during the first weekend of the fair in Palmer. Fish On! Camp Grill […]

Daredevils, funnel cake, bonsai: Scenes from the Alaska State Fair

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People

This article was originally written for the Anchorage Daily News.   Every August, hundreds of thousands of Alaskans make the trek to the state fair in Palmer to chow down, conquer rides and enjoy the last days of summer. Here’s what some of them had to say Sunday during the first weekend of the fair. Erica and Amy Klementson The anticipation while you’re waiting in line for the fair’s slingshot ride can be almost as […]

Alaska’s Trumpian Governor Just Threatened the Health of the Entire State

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Photo by Staff Sgt. Edward Eagerton/Wikimedia Commons.

This article was originally written for Vice. Alaska is the largest state in the union, bigger than Texas, California and Montana combined. And it’s in trouble: The state has been grappling with a budget crisis triggered by a drop in oil prices four years ago, leading to a decrease in population, a recession, and Alaskan politicians dipping into the state’s savings. The governor, a right-wing ideologue who dismisses climate change, is further jeopardizing the state’s economy by attempting to deliver […]