Romanticism lives on through the legacy of Professor Clay Nunnally

Originally written for The Northern Light.

In the class, Literature of Romanticism English A330, Professor Clay Nunnally often recited poems. He recited long poems that stretched to not just one or two stanzas, but 30 plus lines filled with romanticism from the 1780’s to the early 1800’s.

Nunnally passed away on April 28, 2018. He has left a mark on staff and students who appreciated his passion for literature.

Nunnally graduated with a Ph.D. in romanticism and Victorian literature in 1968 and moved to Alaska to teach in 1971. He taught for 45 years at UAA and was awarded the “Clay Nunnally Teaching Award” in 2015 for his excellence before retiring.

Nunnally was known for his three-piece suit, a pince-nez and a flower in his lapel he wore every day, said Patricia Linton, senior associate dean for academics.

“His love for the beauty of literature reflected in the way he carried himself and the way he cared about people,” Daniel Kline, professor, said.

He was an impressionable professor with a scholarly aura calling his students “Mr.” or “Ms.” When teaching his classes, he talked about his personal life to relate and engage students with each passage.

“I took away a lot of personal life lessons from his classes. He talked about his wife and his marriage in such a positive way that I decided I was going to bring positivity to my future marriage. He also taught us to find something you love so much, you never want to retire,” Abby Slater Whipple, a journalism major and former staff member of The Northern Light, said. “I’ll always remember the way that he spoke about literature with so much reverence. His classes were always packed full.”

Robert Foran, a UAA alumnus, took his literature of romanticism class in 2015. Foran was moved by Nunnally’s passion for teaching literature that he created a video of Nunnally for a final journalism project.

“I found that behind his teaching persona, he was a regular, humble and happy man who led a life of love, travel and positively affecting students’ lives,” Foran said. “Most of all, he pursued what he talked to me a lot about — a quiet, simple lifestyle. He was a sensible and compassionate human being. I genuinely enjoyed him as a teacher and a person. I never missed a class, and I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to be his student.”

With his fashionable suit, pince-nez, wry humor and care for his students and colleagues, Nunnally’s significance at UAA lives on beyond his years.

Mental health wellness workshops continue this spring

Originally written for The Northern Light.

At the halfway mark of the semester, many students are trying to balance school, work, friends and family. However, wearing oneself thin can lead to depression, anxiety and stress. UAA’s Student Health and Counseling Center is offering spring semester workshops that focus on different aspects of mental health and strategies to maintain a healthy mind.

According to National Alliance on Mental Illness, 75 percent of mental health conditions begin by age 24. Understanding and talking about mental health is easily accessible through the SHCC.

The SHCC is offering drop-in workshops that inform and guide students through depression, stress and anxiety management, test anxiety, ADHD, suicide prevention and coping skills.

“The focus is on educational workshops as oppose to a support group. These are meant to inform students that they can come in and spend an hour, get some good information and start to feel like they have some strategies or skills that they can use depending on what their concern is,” Georgia DeKeyser, director and psychiatric nurse practitioner for the SHCC, said.

Last spring semester, the SHCC had a few workshops on test anxiety and anxiety and management. With a growth of attendance for these workshops, the counseling center wanted to expand their topics addressing other mental health issues.

“Some people, depending upon their personalities, like the one-on-one interaction behind closed doors, but other people are maybe comfortable in a group learning environment where information can be shared and received,” Jennifer Jepson, mental health counselor for the SHCC, said. “When other people are in the class and are nodding at the same time their nodding, then it’s a shared experience.”

This spring, the workshops are four times throughout the semester on varied days to accommodate student schedules.

Not only do these workshops inform and suggest mental health issues and healthy coping skills against stress, anxiety and ADHD, the Gatekeeper Suicide Prevention workshop helps students to communicate effectively to those who are at risk of suicide.

In 2003, the Division of Behavioral Health of the State of Alaska awarded UAA a grant that funded the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to create programs regarding suicide prevention.

In order to further educate UAA students, the Gatekeeper Suicide Prevention workshop is open to anyone in the community that is interested in talking about suicide prevention.

“These are all toolbox classes. The mission of the health center is to help students be academically successful through the provision of health care. Part of health care is wellness and prevention,” DeKeyser said.

For more information about the SHCC workshops’ dates and times, call 907-786-4040.

Bring out your bikes for the bike jam

Originally written for The Northern Light.

During the winter season, it’s not uncommon to see fat tire bicyclists riding along the roads of Anchorage. With the collaboration of Off the Chain and Bike Anchorage, these nonprofit organizations are having a “Winter Bike Jam” on Spenard to wrap up the month of February.

In 1999, there was a proposition to reconstruct Spenard Road between Hillcrest Drive and 30th Ave. due to a recurring pattern of sideswipe accidents, according to Spenard Road Reconstruction.

In the summer of 2017, the Spenard Road Reconstruction project was set into the works of redesigning its layout with 8-foot wide sidewalk expansions and 5-foot bike lanes to both sides of the road, according to John Smith, the municipal project manager.

Local businesses had opposed the idea because it would disrupt traffic flow and inconvenience customers from gaining access to their businesses.

However, others believe the reconstruction of the Spenard Road will allow cyclists to ride more safely.

“Part of the reason we’re doing the bike jam is to show that we’re excited about [the] Spenard road becoming a more bikeable, more pedestrian friendly, more walkable place. It’s kind of a party to bring all the cyclists out there to celebrate the bike culture and the improvements of Spenard and future improvements on the rest of Spenard,” Pierce Schwalb, director of Bike Anchorage, said.

Off the Chain and Bike Anchorage have been advocating for sustainability of bicycling for a while now. Off the Chain is a community bicycling collective that serves the purpose of learning and repairing bikes.

“We have open shop hours three times a week where we help the community fix their bikes and re-home used bikes. We also occasionally do classes, host field trips, do on-site tune-ups and special events,” Holly Hill, volunteer and president of Off the Chain, said.

Off the Chain brings the bike community together for knowledge about bikes and how to repair them, and Bike Anchorage also provides programs for all ages.

“Our mission is to get as many people on bikes as much as possible. We do a lot of events throughout the year to promote that. We help organize summer bike to work day, winter bike to work day, winter bike-fest of February, and a bunch of smaller events [like] community rides. Lots of stuff like that to get people out and feel comfortable to show that there’s a dedicated community of fellow bicyclers to join in on,” Schwalb said.

The “Winter Bike Jam” event is a slow social bike ride that will have live music playing while riding along the roads of Spenard. The jam will start at Off the Chain on W. 33rd Ave. and end at The Writer’s Block Bookstore and Café on Spenard Road.

The event will take place on Feb. 28 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. For more details, visit their Facebook page.

Mountain View urban farm offers opportunity for refugee farmers

Originally for The Northern Light.

Mountain View is the most diverse neighborhood in the U.S., according to the 2014 diversity census created by UAA’s sociology professor, Chad Farrell. Anchorage welcomes refugees with the help from Catholic Social Services and Anchorage Community Land Trust. They are given opportunities to be integrated into the community by programs like Fresh International Gardens.

The Fresh International Gardens program was created by the Catholic Social Services in 2007. The program helps refugees hone their agricultural experiences from their former lives to the Mountain View neighborhood. The refugee participants in the program will be able to showcase samplings of their produce at the upcoming Grow North Farm-raiser.

Catholic Social Services and Anchorage Community Land Trust work together to expand the Mountain View farmers market. Photo courtesy of Catholic Social Services. Photo credit: Catholic Social Services

Catholic Social Services and Anchorage Community Land Trust work together to expand the Mountain View farmers market. Photo courtesy of Catholic Social Services. Photo credit: Catholic Social Services

Catholic Social Services’ Director of Refugee Assistance and Immigration Services, Liza Krauszer, brought the program up into a conversation with ACLT and formed a plan to utilize a space for refugee farmers to grow and sell produce.

“It’s a joining of the missions of both Anchorage Community Land Trust and Catholic Social Services to enhance the Mountain View neighborhood and provide social opportunities, business opportunities and increase food security so that participants have access to food to provide for their families,” Krauszer said. “It’ll be a place where the neighborhood can access healthy affordable food as well.”

ACLT works with residents, business owners and stakeholders in Mountain View, Fairview and Spenard. The nonprofit organization purchases property that has been vacant for 10 or more years, or contaminated by hazardous materials.

“Back in 2016, we had heard from a lot of refugee families from the neighborhood were looking for more economic opportunities in the neighborhood that they live in,” Emily Cohn, ACLT communications and development manager, said. “Transportation can be a big issue; a lot of people are on the bus system. They were looking for opportunities to operate their businesses in their own neighborhood.”

As refugee families voiced out their needs for economic opportunities, the Mountain View farmer’s market was born.

According to New Americans in Anchorage, refugees and immigrants contributed $1.9 billion to the city’s gross domestic product in 2014.

Two years ago, the Anchorage Community Land Trust received a grant to build a farmer’s market on the vacant lots where the farm is going to be. The initial farmer’s market season was a success with over 27 vendors involved. In the summer of 2017, they put $20,000 directly into the pockets of the entrepreneurs in the neighborhood.

The partnership of Catholic Social Services and ACLT created the Grow North Farm-raiser event to raise money for an urban farm in the heart of Mountain View neighborhood.

“This lot that the farm is going to be built on used to be this old RV park hotel. It was super run down, old rusty pipes coming out of the ground. It was really contaminated,” Cohn said. “We took that and invested a bunch of money to the site and demolished everything. We did a lot of site work and decontaminated it.”

The urban farm on Mountain View Drive will expand the Fresh International Gardens’ current garden plots to 27,000 square feet. One third of the lot will be for current Fresh International Gardens participants and the remaining two thirds will be for those that have graduated from the program.

The Grow North Farm-raiser will have baked and fermented goods, such as pickled grapes, garlic cloves, onions and carrots to name a few. All proceeds will go towards soil to build the Grow North Farm this summer of 2018.

The event will be held on Feb. 21 at Resolution Brewing Company on Mountain View Drive from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.