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Making the Best Use of What We Have

June Rogers

I was born in Fairbanks, AK, at St. Joseph’s Hospital, now Denali State Bank. Our town has gone through many changes, but we remain the same spirited people that I remember as I was growing up. People from all walks of life choose to live here and there’s a special thread that weaves us all together, creating a rich and wonderful tapestry.

For those of us who make our home in Fairbanks, the arts scene provides challenging and rewarding paths. With nothing more than a desire to participate, I’ve danced and sung in light opera productions, coordinated operations for a professional theatre company, enjoyed a career in singing, and currently direct the operations of Fairbanks Arts Association (FAA).

Living in Alaska requires innovation. My innovative ties go back generations, to my grandparents who made do with whatever was at hand and always managed to make it look and feel or taste quite grand.

Innovating, or making change through new ideas, doesn’t necessarily require a totally new direction, only that the direction be new to the moment. Working with what you have is coming full circle as a concept, now that people are returning to the idea of supporting local farms and industries.

Working with what we have brought a new project into full focus when Kristine Chausse called FAA, inquiring about the possibility of an 80-hour volunteer internship. While interviewing to determine what she wanted to accomplish, I found that she was interested in arts therapy.

I had long wanted to offer arts to hospital staffers who work long hours with stresses that are difficult for most of us to even comprehend. In fact, Fairbanks Memorial Hospital’s Education Director Corlis Taylor served nine years on FAA’s Board and is still an active volunteer. Kristine’s interest in the healing power of arts, signaled a green light to a new partnership with our local hospital.

Now what do I have?

A passionate young intern with wonderful ideas and a willingness to give to her community, a community leader/artist/hospital administrator and an idea that has taken a back seat far too long. A quick brainstorming session with Kristine, Corlis, and FAA staff gets us going in the right direction to make something happen.

A spare room becomes an Art Spa, which is offered as a place to refresh. The hospital will market the project to their employees. FAA will provide project coordinator, Kristine, and all the supplies (stuff that we already have) necessary for some intriguing art projects that will offer opportunity for contemplative studies at one’s own pace, or projects encouraging interaction with others.

Staying tuned in to the concept of what we have, helped us recognize possibilities that are always just around the corner – Kristine called out of the blue, with her request. Our discussion brought new attention to a back-burner idea. Costs of the project are minimal and the results can be life saving.

When making the best use of what we have, it also becomes more apparent that our resources are not always dollars. People are resources and supplies collecting dust on a shelf are resources. Our organization, its staff, and their experiences are resources.

One never knows when a particular resource will become beneficial, so ideas and experiences need to be banked and revisited from time to time, either to discard or to keep fresh in your mind.

Interesting and effective projects become more likely, if innovative partners view each day’s experience in a way that stores up possibilities.

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