The beginning of summer has me thinking fondly of community events in Juneau.
Previous Locals Days where tickets to Hoonah’s zip line were discounted and Allen Marine provided the transportation, the recent Slush Mush Dog Walk fundraiser benefiting Juneau Animal Rescue, and the upcoming Community Bike Day encouraging Juneau residents to get out and enjoy our gorgeous land. These kinds of events are a big part of why I love living in Juneau. One reason Juneau is so inviting is its sense of community. Have a fundraiser? Yup, we’ll support it. Want to do a public market? You’ve got buyers and seller lining up. Have an art exhibition? We will find a space to host. It warms my heart, brings people together, benefits a cause and supports our local economy.
The reason all the aforementioned events were possible is because there were no cruise ships in port in Juneau on those Saturdays. Having space and time in our downtown area just for locals allows us an opportunity to do things that enrich our lives and allows the residents of this beautiful city the chance to enjoy downtown and to create an infrastructure within our community of locals supporting locals. Otherwise saturated sidewalks are open, overbearing buses are non-existant, parking spots are plentiful, and residents from the Valley, Douglas and Downtown would have the option to shop, explore, and absorb what downtown has to offer. Imagine a flea market near Patsy Ann, a local carver’s exhibition in Marine Park, a scavenger hunt between your favorite downtown bars, or outdoor music in the space in front of Mount Robert’s Tramway. How nice would it be to be able to stroll down the docks with friends and pets on one of our sunny Saturday’s without dodging a barrage of tourists?
I think what some people forget is, even though tourism brings cash flow into Juneau, tourism keeps locals out of downtown. An over saturation of tourism discourages locals from coming anywhere near downtown and now it has become habit for most. If we, like Haines, could establish that our community is important and not playing second fiddle to large corporations, it would encourage Juneau residents to start coming back downtown and increase our quality of life.
Those that work and live downtown know that historically Saturdays are the least-populated ship day and normally only have a few large ships and a smattering of “little” ships that still amounts to about 15,000 extra people clogging up a very small space. A ship free Saturday would encourage Juneau to hold more local events downtown in the space normally overrun by cruisers. Before you rule out all of the Juneau Cruise Control initiatives because you’ve heard radio ads or seen a banner from a well-funded advertising campaign, I urge Juneau residents to think about the fact that there are three separate initiatives for signature: tranquil evenings, ship tonnage, and ship free Saturdays. You don’t have to sign all of them (although they all deserve to be on the upcoming ballot) to support one of them. Setting boundaries would gift residents of Juneau at least one day to enjoy our community and a ship free Saturday would do so much to support our community as a whole and help to reinforce why we love Juneau.
• Dawn Dulebohn is a Douglas homeowner. She has lived and worked in downtown in both hospitality and tourism fields. In 2010, she was awarded Princess Cruise Line’s Dock Representative of the Season. Dulebohn supports Juneau Cruise Control.