The holidays are my favorite time of year. It’s filled with family dinners, theme parties and countless other winter traditions as we rush towards the start of a new year.
Growing up in the Midwest, I learned the holidays are also the time of year when you get to stand in line for what seems like hours just to buy something you could have ordered online and had delivered to your doorstep for a few more dollars. I have never really had the patience to wait in lines, which is probably why they stand out in my mind and why I regularly go to great lengths to avoid them. They are also a big part of why I love Juneau. This is the only state capital where a person can navigate daily life, working and living downtown, and only find themselves waiting in line once a year to meet the governor … and even then they give you all the cookies and apple cider you can handle while you wait. After living here for a few years, I can honestly say some of the only predictable lines I encounter are at the Juneau airport… and the short length of those lines are a welcome sight for anyone who has traveled much at all.
One morning earlier this week, I was downtown doing some last minute shopping, and I glimpsed the only other regular line that I know of: outside of the liquor store.
I know substance abuse is an issue in all 50 states, but you don’t need to own a television and see the hundreds of commercials they run each week to know that Alaska is on the high end of the spectrum. There will always be a supply and there will always be a demand. But there should also be a well-reasoned approach for how substances are made available, particularly in a town that advertizes throughout the country as a tourist destination. The number of police calls and ambulance rides that start outside those bright glass doors each morning at 9 a.m. make it hard for me to accept that this is the best we can do. In a neighborhood filled with food, art, books and other wares for sale, it is difficult to watch the first 20 purchases of the day be “premium” alcoholic energy drinks, banned in several states, and see reasonable governance. Downtown Juneau can and should do better.