Passing Through Tok Today

This is Vladamir. He says he is 58, a filmmaker, and has been bicycling around the world for the last seven years. Says he’s on his 4th bike and 12th pair of shoes. He passed through Tok today on his way to Anchorage, driving 60 miles a day.

“60 miles a day, 7 years, over 40,000 miles,” he said through a heavy Russian accent.

He gave me permission to take his picture, but when I asked his permission to record a quick interview, he said it would cost $15, and he’d throw in a DVD. I didn’t have cash, and he didn’t accept credit cards.

Who have you met recently passing through Tok?

VFW Closed?

Spent this past weekend going through our 4-year-old’s room with her and guiding her to making choices about the things she wants to keep and what we could give to VFW. We explained that there are children less fortunate than she who could really use some nice clothes or toys or books and that we have to be generous and give to others. This was a much less “dangerous” lesson than teaching her to pick up litter – nobody was injured in the process of cleaning her room, thank goodness.

But when we got to VFW, there was duct tape across the doors and a sign saying it was closed until further notice. The note also asked that nobody leave boxes of items in front. So we brought everything home.

We have loads of size 2T and some 3T girl clothing – some of it is unisex. We also have size 6 and 7 toddler shoes including Crocs. And some toys suitable for 2 years and under. If anyone knows someone in our community in need, please let us know. Otherwise, we may just swing by the Fourth of July garage sale in front of The General Store and sell a few things.

Does anyone know what happened to VFW, when it might reopen, or what we can do to help?

KUAC and NPR Are Back Up in Tok

Regardless of the semantics being discussed in comments on this blog, KUAC and NPR are no longer down for the count and are back up and running in Tok. Hurray!

KUAC and NPR Are Down for the Count in Tok

Yes, our radio connection to the world is down. That means no KUAC and no NPR in Tok right now. You can’t imagine the sinking feeling each time we turn on the radio in the morning (we always have our breakfast to the dulcet tones of NPR correspondents) or when we flick on our car radios. At our house, we’ve resorted to running KSKA radio via an iPhone placed in the middle of the dining room table. It works in a pinch, but it isn’t the same.

The wonderful and tireless folks at Duct Tape Radio and Humanities Forum are working hard to get a satellite part. In the meanwhile, we’re all keeping our fingers crossed for signal soon. Here’s their note on the Duct Tape Facebook Page about the situation:

Hey, Duct Tape Members and Friends. This is your president speaking. We are working to get 91.1/KUAC broadcast on the air as soon as possible. I know, I know … it’s Saturday morning and no Scott Simon! No Car Talk! How can life go on?! In the meantime try listening to KUAC at

Here’s hoping we get our KUAC again, and soon. Let us know what we can do to help!

Are you missing your KUAC in Tok?

Meet Tokite Sheila Hay, LMT, CST, RM

Name: Sheila Hay, LMT, CST, RM
Business: Aura Borealis Wellness & Massage and the HEART Institute
Title: Licensed Massage Therapist/Owner
Contact Info: 907-883-3646 cell – 503-894-1649

Q. What is your businesses?

Licensed Massage Therapy, CranioSacral Therapy, AromaTouch Technique and Aromatherapy, Reiki, Vibration Therapy, Emotional Release . I love to travel and I teach healing arts classes around the state of Alaska as well as work in Tok, Copper Center, Glennallen, Homer, Soldotna and Fairbanks. I am also a Consultant for doTERRA Earth Essences, Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils and I utilize them exclusively in my sessions and can teach you how to enjoy doTERRA Essential Oils at home to help your family stay healthy and happy!

2. Why do you do what you do?

I love helping people to heal physically and emotionally so they may live life to its fullest!

3. Why do you do it in Tok?

I do my work anywhere that I am. My home that I built with my husband, Gary (also a healing arts practitioner), is here in Tok and this is our home base for Aura Borealis Wellness & Massage.

4. What would you like folks passing through Tok this summer to know about your business?

We are happy to help you relieve the stress and strain of traveling up the beautiful Al-Can Highway. Stop by and start your stay in Alaska in a relaxed, comfortable environment. Aura Borealis is located on the Alaska Highway, three miles west of Tok towards Fairbanks. Sessions are by appointment only, please call for current available session times. Sessions are $75, and we can bill for Workman’s Comp and Personal Injury Insurance Claims.

Do you know a Tokite business owner who should be featured on this blog? I’m already interviewing a lot of them, but I don’t know them all! Please send them my way.

Tea Party in Tok Alaska

Learning how to use iMovie and put this audio slideshow together from the Tea Party in Tok.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Tea Party in Tok Aaska“, posted with vodpod

Why I Love the Upper Tanana Imagination Library

I’m part of the team of moms who brought Imagination Library to Tok and the Upper Tanana as the Upper Tanana Imagination Library. It started with Candice Jacobs then Carrie at Head Start has carried on as the extraordinary catalyst and organizer. Everyone’s efforts – along with the efforts of Best Beginnings Alaska and Barbara Brown – are part of the reason why we have this ongoing opportunity. I am absolutely thrilled and impressed with what we are able to do.

What is Imagination Library, you ask?

The Upper Tanana Imagination Library is a literacy program run through the Dollywood Foundation and Best Beginnings in Alaska to provide a free, age-appropriate book each month to children in our community who are under 5 years of age. This means that – at no cost to families – any family in Tok, Tanacross, Tetlin, Mentasta, Eagle or Northway can sign up their children ages 5 and under to receive a free book each and every month in the mail. For my 4-year-old, it’s like Christmas each month when her book arrives in our post office box.

I’m also teaching my daughter about giving back to her community, and we regularly go through her books to see which ones we can give to children who don’t have the means to buy them. We donate these through the Upper Tanana Imagination Library so they can have extra books on hand for children who need them. Anyone can donate children’s books to the program.

Here’s an example of this month’s book list so you can see the quality of books they are providing:

Group 6 (2005): A Place Called Kindergarten

Group 5 (2006): Take Care Good Night

Group 4 (2007): Gobble, Gobble, Crash!

Group 3 (2008): Rhymes Around The World or Pip & Skeak

Group 2 (2006): Mother for Choco or Just Like You

Group 1 (2006): Skippy Jon Jones Up and Dow

In addition to free books, Upper Tanana Imagination Library also organizes events like the recent one held at the Tok Library based on the book Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy. These events rotate to the different communities served by the program in the Upper Tanana Valley (Tok, Tanacross, Tetlin, Mentasta, Eagle and Northway).

For more information, visit the Upper Tanana Imagination Library website or contact Carrie Beeman at 883-8080 or The fiscal agent for The Tok & Tanacross Imagination Library is the Tok Community Clinic, Inc. so donations are tax-deductible.

Visit the Upper Tanana Imagination Library Page on Facebook.

Slide Show/Book Reading April 16: Alaskan Author Seth Kantner

Well, something good has come out of my hopes for more cultural events in Tok. In my attempt to surprise the Tetlin Reading Group with a visit from Seth Kantner while they were reading his book Shopping for Porcupines, I tracked Seth down on the Web and he graciously responded. I told him my idea and offered to help pay his way to Tok for the book club. Schedules didn’t fit, but Seth mentioned he knew Scott at the school and suggested maybe he could get to Tok to make a presentation via the school.

After much back and forth and coordinating, his visit was confirmed and Seth also agreed to give some time to the Tok community. I’m so excited, but of course this would fall on one of the evenings that I’ll be teaching a class at UAF Tok Center on social media marketing (marketing with Faceboook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, blogs, etc.). So I’ll miss the event. Someone please take pictures, and tell Seth I wish I could have been there!

Here are more details from a piece that appeared in the recent Mukluk News.

Mark your calendars now for this event and plan to join us at Fast Eddy’s in the Banquet Room.* Come at 5:30 or 6:00 p.m. to get a good seat and have a famous Fast Eddy’s dinner or snack before the Book Reading begins. Brought to Tok by Alaska Gateway School District for the Young Author’s Conference, Seth agreed to stay a bit longer to give our community a chance to hear from him too.

Winner of the Whiting Award and the Milkweed National Fiction Prize, Alaskan author Seth Kantner is undoubtedly one of the pre-eminent voices on the Northern literary scene. Kantner was schooled at home and on the land, and attended the University of Alaska and later the University of Montana where he received a BA, with honors, in Journalism. Seth Kantner– trapper, fisherman, photographer, igloo builder, and acclaimed author, was born in a sod igloo on the Alaskan tundra and raised simply on the land. When he was a boy, Kantner’s parents gave him a camera and taught him the basics of photography. He’s been documenting his surroundings ever since. He says, “As a family we took about one roll of slide film per year (more would be a waste!)” Since then, Kantner’s photographs have appeared in several publications. His work reflects his devotion to the land and animals that live on it, and his belief in the importance of wildness left wild. To see some of his photographs, visit

In 2004, his debut novel, Ordinary Wolves, was released to literary acclaim. Publisher’s Weekly called it “A tour de force.” The Los Angeles Times named the book “A rare thing of beauty.” The novel won the Milkweed National Fiction Prize, the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award, and Kantner received a Whiting Award naming him one of the nation’s top ten emerging writers. Since that time, he has had to incorporate national book tours and other publicity into a life previously focused on the land, sea, and daily weather conditions and movements of animals. Kantner was nominated in 2006 for the position of Alaska State Writer Laureate, which he turned down to pursue work on his newly released book, Shopping for Porcupine. He lives in northwest Alaska with his wife, Stacey, and his daughter, China.

Visit his website at Seth will be bringing some of his books for those who might wish to purchase books after his presentation, and he’s willing to sign for those who might wish to have a signed copy.

*Please note: Fast Eddy’s is scheduled to have a remodeling between April 2 and April 15; if all goes well and the remodeling is completed on time, our event will be in the Banquet Room of Fast Eddy’s. If for some reason the remodeling isn’t completed by April 15, our location may have to change. Look for posters around Tok.

Contributed by Kay Lynn Odle-Moore, Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

April 2: Head Start Parent Committee Event!

The Parent Committee is having a spaghetti feed dinner fundraiser and cake walk this Friday 4/2/10 from 5-7pm at the Tok Senior Center/Head Start building.

Back to Nature Events in Tok

Open to the public…

MOVIE NIGHT – Friday, Feb 26 – Fast Eddy’s
The Tetlin NWR, Duct Tape Radio & Humanities Forum, GAP, Fast Eddy’s and the Helping Hands Food Bank are pleased to announce our 3rd film night in this season’s film series. Family Night, focusing on owls, will be held Friday, Feb. 26 at Fast Eddy’s. Come at 5:30pm to get a good seat and have a famous Fast Eddy dinner or snack before the movies begin. There will be coloring activities for young ones, a Name the Owl game and several other owl-related activities to keep you occupied while waiting for your food. Door prizes will be awarded. A brief introduction on owls will begin promptly at 6:00pm…the films will follow at 6:15 and 7:10.

6:00 Owls – an Introduction… a brief presentation /discussion about owls in general, species in the Tok area and “owl trivia.”
6:15 Night Moves…from the mystery of owls in folklore to silent owls swooping towards their prey at sunset…believe it…the Night Moves.
7:10 Hoot… our feature film. The natural beauties of Florida find some young champions in Hoot. When a boy and his classmates realize that a population of endangered, burrowing owls is threatened by new construction, the kids decide to take on crooked politicians and bumbling cops in the hope of saving their new friends
Here’s where “CANnes” comes in…there is a requested donation of 1 can or package of food per person, to be donated to the Tok Helping Hands Food Bank. So get out of the house, have a fine meal, learn a little something, have fun and help those less fortunate. See you on February 26th.!
This is a family activity…please, no unsupervised children.

Tetlin NWR Book Group – Weds. March 3 @ 7pm at the refuge office.
The Reading Group sponsored by Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge is alive and well and looking for more folks to join us. Our next book is “Shopping for Porcupine” by Seth Kantner.

Book Cover“In a lovely memoir, writer and photographer Kantner …shares scenes from life in Alaska, from his childhood in the remote tundra, where his parents lived off the land in an isolated, “semi-Eskimo existence,” to his current home, the small town of Kotzebue, with his wife and daughter. Kantner reflects on wilderness, global warming and human encroachment, the changes that slowly make their way to the tundra and the hard reality behind the American Dream: “as in the Old West, it is what we’ve lost that marks who we are much more than these things we’ve gained.” While turning in a thoughtful and captivating memoir of subsistence living, isolation and uncertainty, he documents the wisdom of the disappearing Inuit culture his dad revered, and locates its place in modern life. With a sensitive, graceful voice and his own stunning color images, Kantner proves an appealing and talented artist.” (review from

“Shopping for Porcupine” is available at most bookstores and online. The date for our next (and last of the season) meeting is Weds. March 3 @ 7pm at the refuge office.

Call Mary @ 883-9419 for more information.

Bringing the Arts to Tok

I love discovering talent in the arts in our own backyard. There are some incredible artists, musicians and writers in our midst but they remain mostly hidden and not always by design. I hope to bring recognition – and even funding – to the ones who want it so please do send them my way.

Another thing I love is being able to attend performances. I loved the Peter Mulvey concert. I enjoyed the Burchell Dancers last year although missed this year. Anything I can do to help bring the arts to Tok, I’m all for doing.

That’s why I try to reach out to artists, writers and performers to invite them here. This isn’t to compete with Bud Johnson and his awesome acoustic concerts or with the wonderful Chorale Society or with any of the other local performances that everyone here knows and loves. I just welcome variety and in many cases, people would love to come to Tok as part of their touring or to get to these parts for their own interests.

I was really disappointed to learn that someone here in Tok stood in the way of the Sitka Summer Music Festival bringing a world-class concert to Tok this winter. Once word got out that Tok had a concert-level Steinway grand piano, the Executive Director of the music festival (and a dear friend of mine) got so excited to be able to bring classical music to Tok. She works hard to bring world-class classical musicians to rural Alaska.

Unfortunately, she met a road block here in Tok. Instead of all of us getting to experience Judith Cohen, Artistic Director of the Governor’s Chamber Music Series, performing at Faith Chapel – a rare and unprecedented opportunity – this world-class musician was given the cold shoulder and a whole lot of excuses why it just couldn’t happen.

I think we really missed out, but that’s just me.

Book Cover But I’m not giving up! We now have the possibility of having acclaimed best-selling author, wildlife photographer and former ADN columnist Seth Kantner in our midst. He’s working diligently right now to get here after I reached out to him to invite him to join the book club at Tetlin where this month we’re reading Seth’s book “Shopping for Porcupine.” Turns out he knows someone here in Tok so they are coordinating dates and trying to work out logisitics. Note: It is not a done deal, but let’s all cross our fingers!

All it takes is for folks in our community to help pave the way to bring more of the arts to Tok. I promise to keep doing what I can, including promoting events here on my blog or submitting details to the Mukluk News or to the Fairbanks News-Miner.

One person can pave the way or block the path.

What or whom would you like to see perform here in Tok? And if we get them, are you not only willing to attend but to help spread the word?

So what do you DO in Tok?

I often get the question from Tok-ites and others alike, “So, what exactly do you DO in Tok?”

The question is not asking what is there to do, but people don’t actually know what my job is and that I’m working from Tok, not just living there. I’ve even heard of a few people who have said “Well, she doesn’t do anything but sit around the house all day. What is SHE busy with?”

So I thought I’d share with you what I actually do every day when I’m in Tok. I mean every weekday (since I’m not supposed to be working on weekends, right?)

Well, I run a global social media marketing agency that I founded originally in 2003 while still living in Wyoming. When I moved to Alaska in 2005, I got my Alaska business license to do business out of my home in Anchorage and began consulting clients in 2006 including The Foraker Group, Rasmuson Foundation, and UAA.

In January 2009, I brought on a business partner because I wanted to grow my single person consultancy into a business. This is my 3rd business that I’ve started. My business partner is based in Denver. She helped double our revenues last year. She’s brilliant! We renamed the company Conversify.

Today we have 8 core team members and another dozen ancillary consultants who we can work with on a per project basis. We work entirely virtually, and in fact, I haven’t met most of the people I work with face to face yet. They are located from Alaska to California to the UK.

Our clients still include The Foraker Group and Rasmuson Foundation but also include national and global companies and nonprofit organizations. Some of our recent clients include American Indian College Fund, Wine Sisterhood, Kasasa, and Knock Knock.

So what do I do all day?

After I take our 3-year-old to her incredible daycare provider, I am on the phone for 3-4 hours straight talking with team members, clients, potential clients, etc. On any given day I am developing social media marketing strategies for our clients. I’m also writing several blog posts for our clients or my own blogs (like this one); recording or editing podcasts (I produce several per week); manage our company’s marketing and social media efforts; keep up with my own social networking for business and still try to make time to do some pro bono work including some for Tok organizations such as Upper Tanana Imagination Library and Duct Tape Radio and Humanities Forum. I have also made donations to local organizations on behalf of my company.

This week, I’m teaching a webinar on Effective Web Sites for The Foraker Group and have to write about 10 blog posts including a new social media column I’ve been asked to start. And I have 4 podcasts to produce. And I’m writing and reviewing plans and proposals. I’m a little behind because of travel and family illnesses.

So I keep busy. And I do this all from my home office in Tok thanks to AP&T’s new faster Internet connections, my trusty MacBook, and my iPhone.

So…what do YOU do in Tok?