In our high tech age of cell phones and sci-fi movies, amped with special effects, it’s hard to believe that a simple storytelling event like Arctic Entries would be such a success. The formula is simple -- seven stories, told by seven people in seven minutes. Two other restrictions -- the story must be true and must be about something you experienced in your own life.

Arctic Entries does nine monthly shows a year, with a break during the summer. Volunteers do all of the work. 

In this episode of Frontiers, we focused on the last show of the ninth season. Each show has a theme. This one was “Timelapse: Seven Stories from Seven Decades.” Like many of the others, it packed an auditorium at the Performing Arts Center in downtown Anchorage with almost 2,000 people. We wanted to find out why. 

We didn’t have time to cover all the stories in this week’s Frontiers, but we recorded them all. Among my favorite: First Lady Donna Walker’s colorful story about her first job in Alaska, during the pipeline era, as a recreation director at a “man camp.”  And what does a recreation director do at a “man camp” of 4,000 male construction workers? Click here to find out. This link also includes all seven stories from the show.

Here are some of the highlights from this week’s Frontiers show: 

  • Behind the Scenes: We followed one of the storytellers, Penny Fairbanks, as she prepared for her big moment on the stage. Penny is an Anchorage hairstylist, who is more likely to listen to clients in her salon than tell stories. Penny had to work up the courage to tell her intensely personal story about her brother’s death in 1990 due to HIV.
  • Featured Guests:  For Arran Forbes and Katy Laurance, Arctic Entries is a passion project.  They talk about the power of storytelling and how this event has raised more than $200,000 for non-profits since it began.
  • Dr. Hobo Jim: Cowboy singer-songwriter “Hobo Jim” Varsos has told hundreds of stories about Alaska through his music, an accomplishment he was recognized for by the University of Alaska Fairbanks, which recently awarded him an honorary doctorate.

It’s encouraging to know that Alaskans still love stories – that it remains an important part of our culture – that Arctic Entries can count on audiences to fill an auditorium -- to hear stories about people they don’t even know, storytellers who come from all walks of life -- with some of the best stories from ordinary people, who have lived through extraordinary challenges.


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