Sunday, 27 July 2008

Fairbanks and Anchoragua

It's no great mystery that Fairbanks and Anchorage are not on the best of terms. In fact, I think you could replace `Fairbanks` with half the state, and still have a true statement. Anchorage is not what the rest of the state is like by any stretch, something that really didn't get hammered home until I went there just recently.

If places can be said to have a tempo, Anchorage is around somewhere around `salsa` - it's hectic, dirty, crowded, with luxuries not seen in the rest of the state. Traffic is thick, confusing, and on roads that seem to point every which way. It's noisy, and I got the cold shoulder there more than I'd got anywhere else. But these are just reasons for not living in Los Anchorage, not reasons for abjectly hating it.

Rather, where things really go wrong is when Anchorage - who has proportionally greater representation due to its population - starts acting like it's condition is the condition of the state. Example: That area has very few (I won't say `no,` because there's probably 2 hidden away somewhere) people engaged in subsistence activities. They're all, or mostly sport hunters and fishers. That's fine. I don't think many people have a problem with sport hunters per se. The problem comes when they generalize from their economy to the state's, and begin acting like /everyone/ can pop on down to Fred's and afford all their food via that, whenever. Joe, that just ain't so. Not even in Squarebanks.

There's numerous other instances of this. Game law, energy, road use, mineral exploration, law enforcement... the list goes on. What works in Anchorage often doesn't work in the rest of the state, but there appears to be a strict case of myopia that prevents a good number of voters and planners from seeing this. This is highly unfortunate, as it sets up for mutual resentment, and really impedes political progress.

I'm writing about this because I was in Anchorage last weekend. We're talking about a guy who finds downtown Fairbanks confusing and rancorous, Anchorage was nearly enough to make my head split. I was flabbergasted at how cheap things where there - something that I know makes bush and hub communities look at Fairbanks with envy. I know I went in there expecting to hate Anchorage, and so my opinion I formed there was probably full of confirmation bias and other cognitive fallacies, but I'm sure there's a nugget of truth in there somewhere.

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