A group of friends is home from a week spent hunting and hiking on Adak, an island on the Aleutian chain. Betsy Van Burgh, Julia HeinzKimberly StrongSharon ResnickLiz Heywood and Pam Sloper spent time touring and hiking the tundra. Heywood, who lived and worked on Adak for 13 years as a teacher, showed her friends around and explored some of the decommissioned U.S. Navy base, previously off-limits to civilians. Van Burgh, Heinz and Strong hired a boat to take them to the island’s south side and spent three days hiking and caribou hunting. The women found themselves on strenuous hikes through tundra and high grass, in areas with no trails. For Heywood, it was a “bittersweet” trip. At the height of the base’s operations, more than 6,000 residents lived on the island, which boasted three pools, two bowling alleys, racquetball courts, and a McDonald’s. In the 2010 census, Adak’s population was 326. Many of the unoccupied homes and facilities have fallen into disrepair. Despite the changes, Heywood was happy to return. “I hadn’t realized the extent that I’d missed it. I just love the tundra and the extreme weather. It’s a stunning geography.” Heywood described the hiking as challenging and remembered the words of a Marine sergeant years ago who told her the only place harder to hike than Adak was the jungles of Vietnam.

Marsha Hotch and Alice Taff, members of the University of Alaska-Southeast Alaska Native Languages faculty, presented at the Institute on Collaborative Language Research, at the University of Kansas in June. According to the Juneau Empire, Hotch and Taff presented three sessions: “Steps in Language Documentation,” “Tlingit Language Resources” and “Ethics and Community.” Hotch and Taff also taught a four-day class that shared information and skills between scholars and activists. Community language activists from indigenous communities in Morocco, Kenya, Nigeria and North America attended. Speakers and signers representing languages such as Amazigh, Uda, North American Indian Sign Language, Nez Perce, and Ekegusii joined forces to raise awareness of their language communities and the endangered status of many indigenous languages.

Haines High School graduate Kee Heywood is raising funds to produce a film he wrote and will direct. Entitled “Phantom Limbed,” the film follows a young writer who is given a last-minute deadline to finish a new script. He is distracted by the memory of his ex-girlfriend, and forced to choose between “his art and his heart.” Heywood is fundraising for the film on kickstarter.com, an online funding mechanism for creative projects. Heywood’s project has until Sept. 15 to gather pledges on the site. Although Heywood has surpassed his stated goal of raising $5,000, he hopes to increase that total to $6,000 to ensure that full production costs will be covered. He raised $5,300 as of August 27. In his last year at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, he is working with students he met at college to produce the film. The film will be shot in early October in Oakland, Calif. Heywood hopes to complete the film by early 2013. Upon completion, he plans to submit the movie to film festivals, with the hope of scoring a distribution agreement. Heywood has worked on a number of documentaries in Haines. Learn more about Kee’s project at http://www.kickstarter.com. Search for Kee Heywood or “Phantom Limbed.”

Michael Ward competed in his first bout of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) competition, the Alaska Beatdown #8, in Juneau. While Ward was strong in the first round against Chandler “The Henchman” Horne, he succumbed to Horne’s experience in round two. The taste of competition in the ring has Ward looking for more. “It was nuts. I was focused and I felt good. I felt at home a little and I guess that’s why I feel like I have to do it again. It was definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done.” He plans to train with Dennis Durr and the high school wrestling team this winter, and will work on building his endurance before entering another competition, possibly in Anchorage. According to Wikipedia, MMA is a “full contact combat sport that allows the use of both striking and grappling techniques, both standing and on the ground, from a variety of other combat sports.”