Thoughts on the Return: Ketchikan's Advantages

Well, coming back to Ketchikan always makes me ponder what's so unique about this place. For starters, there are the general differences with DC I always point out for myself - good tasting water, fresh air, a lot more quiet. The people are certainly different as well. (One thing I noticed in Seattle was the vast number of young people with tattoos and piercings - things rarely seen at Georgetown. Ketchikan must be somewhere in between.) Nevertheless, I firmly believe that people are people wherever they are; it's the environments in which we develop that greatly influence the differences among ourselves that we acquire.

Thus, I've been doing a little more thinking about the sort of environment Ketchikan represents, (something I've done quite a bit over the past several years), and I really think there are some clear advantages that this town possesses: For one thing, Ketchikan has great spatial relations when it comes to building a community, being at once the most densely-populated city in Alaska and at the same time pretty far from just about anywhere else. I think that contributes a lot to getting to know people more. For another thing, the number of people here seems just about ideal, because as I like to explain it, with most everything you do out in public, you're likely to see a few people you recognize, but most are going to be strangers.

Perhaps most importantly, I think that Ketchikan lacks the heaviest sorts of socio-economic segregation that exist within and between many other communities in the U.S. and all over the world. To give an example, in many places house values and household wealth are relatively similar within a given neighborhood, or even within a certain town, when compared to the neighborhood or town next door. In Ketchikan, however, I believe such living is much less pronounced: It's true that some areas seem poorer and others richer, but most anywhere you go here, you don't have to look too far from a fancy house to see one that's run-down, and trailer parks and low-income housing may well be surrounded by the well-to-do.

When it comes to issues like educational equality or general community understanding and cohesiveness, such a situation is extremely heartening. Ketchikan may have a great deal of problems, (which I may discuss soon), but I think it has some great advantages that, employed to their full potential, make for a lovely present and even better prospects for the future.

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