Peter Metcalfe photographed in his home office in November 2014. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Peter Metcalfe photographed in his home office in November 2014. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

150 reasons to love Alaska: Local Metcalfe heads essay project for statehood celebration

Do you love Alaska? If so, let Peter Metcalfe of Juneau know. He’s making a magazine on 150 reasons why Alaskans love Alaska for the sesquicentennial celebration.

Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott asked Metcalfe to take on the project, so he’s asking people to answer the question “Why do you love Alaska?” with a 150-word essay or a list of five to 10 reasons and/or a captioned photo.

“Our hope is that this will become a keepsake, something for people to hold onto,” Metcalfe said in an interview.

Metcalfe is modeling the magazine after “240 Reasons to Celebrate America Right Now” put out by Time Magazine in July 2016 to celebrate the U.S.’s 240th birthday. Originally the plan was to have 150, 150-word essays, and while people can still submit those, Metcalfe is mixing it up.

“Don’t get hung up on 150-word essays. Send me just a list, a short list about what you love about Alaska and why,” Metcalfe said.

When people submit lists of reasons of why they love Alaska, Metcalfe will pull the best reasons and include them in the upcoming magazine with attributions.

The Alaska Dispatch News will print 40,000 copies of the magazine, and they will be inserted into the ADN and will be distributed on Seward’s Day, March 27, Metcalfe said.

“I don’t want to discourage people but we do have quite a few about the glories of the world around us here in Alaska, but I’m hoping to get more anecdotal stories … [what] for certain people encapsulates why they love living here,” he said.

“So we don’t need celebratory observations so much as they come from the heart,” he explained.

People are welcome to get creative with their submission. He’s had at least one prose poem, and welcomes more poetry.

So far he has about 50 submissions. He’d like to see more from all over the state.

“[Mallott] told me more than once, to be inclusive of all Alaska cultures. Byron Mallott is Alaska Native but he made a point of saying all cultures — Filipino, Hispanic, Russian-American,” Metcalfe said.

“One of the problems with the past observations at the 50th and the 100th — it was a celebration of the purchase of Alaska, which rings false in the ears of most Alaska Natives because, in fact, historically it’s inaccurate,” Metcalfe said, going into the history of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act which was finally settled in 1971 creating the Alaska Native Regional Corporations.

“To say [the Russians] sold Alaska is bit of an insult to Alaska Natives,” Metcalfe said on the issue of the Alaska purchase, so the celebration committee is trying to move focus away from that and instead focus on Alaska being part of the U.S. Otherwise, “It becomes a kind of celebration to certain groups of people, a celebration of white culture, not a celebration of the many cultures that comprise Alaskans today.”

For Metcalfe, the answer to why he loves Alaska is the people who live here.

“I think it’s one of the reasons for those of us born and raised here continue to live here and why many of us who have moved out still pine for their home in Alaska and the people,” he said.

The deadline to submit is Feb. 28. Submissions should include a phone number, full name and be sent to Metcalfe at gov.alaska150@alaska.gov.

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