Back when it hosted the statewide community theater festival ACTFest, Haines billed itself as “Alaska’s Theater Town.”

That may have been an ambitious boast, but last weekend’s performance of “Puss in Boots” by the young actors in Lynn Canal Community Players’ Summer Youth Theater Conservatory served as a reminder of just how good local theater can be.

The number of students in this year’s theater camp was slimmed down some by the rise of other day camps, but our young talent – as evidenced by last weekend’s performances – was spot on. Dr. Stanley Coleman and the cast and crew earned their ovations. The show and the longevity of the camp bode well for the future of stage drama in Haines, as well as for the high school’s Drama, Debate and Forensics program.


In Kodiak, a downtown revitalization committee is studying why fewer residents there are considering downtown as a center for “leisure, living and business,” according to a June 4 story in the Anchorage Daily News. The group’s plans include cleaning up graffiti, beautifying parks and developing a map of paths downtown. In Juneau, a film crew is photographing decay downtown to raise awareness and prompt improvements. Wrangell recently spent millions making its waterfront more attractive and Sitka is considering creating a historic district downtown, an idea launched by its own revitalization committee.

All over the state, Alaskans are reclaiming their downtowns, and rightly so. A vital downtown makes a community user-friendly and attractive to visitors. For residents, functioning downtowns create a common space for living, conducting business, socializing and, ultimately, building community.

It’s understandable that Alaskans have been slow to appreciate their urban areas. The state’s image is wrapped up in the myth of the hardy homesteader, away in a cabin in the woods, free from the trappings of town life.

The truth is we need our cities and downtowns because they serve as crucibles of progress. They are the places where people and ideas mix, and changes that are needed are set into motion.

- Tom Morphet


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