Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I am so delighted to hear Fairview, Downtown, and Mountain View will be getting the representation on the Anchorage Assembly they should. I do know Fairview and Downtown, but not nearly as well as I know Mountain View.
Mountain View is a great community which I know because I’ve spent time there. I lived so close that my dog would often lead me into it to wander the streets in search of enticing smells. My husband, the late Rep. Max Gruenberg, represented Mountain View from 2003 until 2013. Every other year for ten years Max and I walked the district knocking on doors. We also went to community councils, church services, and community events there. The Boys and Girls Club is the heart of the community and our many visits for events and the community council meetings meant we were there no less than once a month. So I had lots of opportunities to see Mountain View in action. I loved Mountain View and wanted to write a letter to the editor saying goodbye when Max’s district lines shifted. Max pointed out that naming one precinct as my favorite was not diplomatic so that never happened. Max had no favorites.
Now that I’m writing for Senator Begich I can share my secret love for Mountain View because no one can be offended…the Senator’s district is almost totally to the east of Max’s so the Senator’s, other districts, which Max never represented, should not feel slighted. I hope no one will feel slighted.
I love Mountain View for so many reasons, but number one is its strong sense of community. People wave to neighbors and friends as they drive by or drivers stop mid-street to have conversations with pedestrians or even cars going the other way. People sit on public benches to talk. The community gardens have not an inch untended. Very much a community.
The Community Council was one of the most active of in our precincts and people pulled together for a variety of projects, some that were small teams looking for solutions, others were big projects like the annual neighborhood clean up. My favorite was the 4th of July picnic where Max and I served hot dogs and hamburgers every year.
We were invited into a home for a traditional Hmong meal, to the Park Strip Flag Day for the Polynesian celebration, ate African goat stew at one of the school’s cultural celebrations, and Max was made an honorary Samoan chief. So many other memories. At the door many languages were spoken and English often was spoken with an accent. Being a bit shy myself, I’m not sure I was the greatest ambassador but I found it fun, exciting, and informative.
There are about 90 languages spoken in the schools and meeting the principles and learning how they dealt with that challenge always warmed my heart. Nighttime English as a second language classes had parents catching up with their children at one school and the PTA at another school served a spaghetti dinner at meetings to encourage participation from busy parents, some of whom were from countries that didn’t have PTAs.
Mountain View is the most diverse neighborhood in the United States. It represents every color, a great many ethnicities, countries of origin, and a wide range of incomes. But because property values and rents were low there we also met a disproportionate number of seniors, the sick, low wage earners, and immigrants at starting salaries. Max was a good listener we were told intimate stories of the lives of people we met and often he was able to direct people to the help they needed. And sometimes it was the other way around with us telling of our lives and finding help from unexpected sources. It was a closeness that made us feel like it was our community too.
For community, diversity, and the warm welcome we received, Mountain View has a special place in my heart. Max lost the district in 2013 when the district lines change and I lost Max in 2016. But the memories of both always make me feel a happy warmth.
Again, congratulations to Downtown, Fairview, and Mountain View on getting the equal representation from the Assembly that is long overdue.
P.S. Speaking of warm feelings, a friend sent me a video of her child dancersizing with a friend over the internet. It made me laugh. If you’d like to share a short video of what’s going on in your house I’ll select a few to share. Parents will be sent a release form if they want their child to appear in a newsletter.