The Resilience and Adaptive Management Group Website

The Urban Elders Project

The Urban Elders Project is focusing on local knowledge that the long term residents of South-central Alaska have about water, health and the environment that contributes to resilience to change, particularly in urban environments. The project is being hosted by the Resilience and Adaptive Management (RAM) Group at the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA).

The project is part of the  Bering Sea Sub-Network (BSSN)  initiative, which is a regional initiative of community-based organizations in Western Alaska and Northeast Russia. It is organized to act as a human sensor array for environmental and social changes on a pan-Arctic scale. The overall goal of BSSN is to improve the scientific knowledge of the environmental changes in the BSSN region that have significance for enabling scientists, arctic communities and governments to predict, plan and respond to these changes. The BSSN is funded by the National Science Foundation.

We are identifying Elders living in Anchorage and surrounding areas from multicultural communities. We are defining “Elders” as long-lived South-central Alaska residents of all kinds: Alaska Natives, Polynesians, Filipinos, Russians, etc. Many people who now live in cities, especially in Anchorage, can help us design sustainable urban settlements and have knowledge that can be shared for the wellbeing of future and present residents. A workshop will be organized with the elders, and it will act as a meeting place for the elders, with food and fellowship, where they will be asked to save and share local knowledge. Group interviews and conversations in the workshop will also take place. After the workshop, interview participation is anticipated for individual interviews. The report will be the property of the communities and if they desire, it may be forwarded to decision makers and planning committees of the city, as well as to other cities, towns and villages to be used in future planning and developing sustainable urban living environments.

A list of elders will be compiled and invitations to the workshop will be sent. This may include visits to the elders to tell about the project and invite them in person. The practical means in the project will include organizing the workshop with invited elders in late April, interviewing and documenting the knowledge of the elders, and preparing a report about “Water Wisdom” based on the interviews and the workshop.

Local knowledge includes here traditional, indigenous, and local ecological and environmental knowledge of elders from, and living in, South-Central Alaska.  It is important to give recognition to all of our elders, native and non-native, in order to save the wisdom and the knowledge, before it is too late, and the knowledge is lost.

Workshop will be held on Monday the 20th of April, at the UAA. If you are interested in participating and/or know a candidate, please contact the project coordinator:

Dr. Andy Kliskey
Project Coordinator
Urban Elders Project
Resilience and Adaptive Management Group
University of Alaska Anchorage
Phone: 907-786-1136