Banner Creek, Alaska: A Home Away From Nome
Banner Creek is a neighborhood 12 miles outside of Nome. Facilitator Anahma Saito lives there with her family. This weekend StoryCorps Nome moved to the country to record her neighbors’ stories. Banner Creek became a neighborhood when a group of friends moved out of Nome in the 1970′s looking for a place to live where they could raise their dogs and mush in open country. Many residents continue to mush including StoryCorps participants Marianna Mallory, 10 and Maisie Thomas, 11 and Conor Thomas, 53. And many of the stories involved mushing.
Though some residents have running water and internet, none have phone lines. In the winter everyone parks their cars up on the Kugorak Road and snowmachines or walks home. If you want to know what people are up to, you just look towards the road. In between interviews, we’d have coffee with participants and more than once, people noted the whereabouts of their other neighbors: “Nope the Mallory’s didn’t go to church today, too cold, or, I thought I saw your truck over here and thought I’d say hi.” Resident Margaret Thomas explained, “It gets really interesting when someone in the neighborhood starts seeing someone new.’
Banner Creek’s listening booth consisted of the one-room cabin where Anahma gave birth to her daughter last year. Setting-up consisted of pulling the recording equipment (and the generator to power it) over to the cabin by a sled.
Neighbors walked, skied, and snowmachined to the cabin’s front door to share their stories. Recording highlights included hearing the youngest members of the community describe what its like growing up in Banner Creek. Another highlight included a man who walked in silently with is wife, sat down, and began speaking with these words, “I’m gonna tell you about the love of my life.” What followed was a love story for the books. The Banner Creek recordings concluded with StoryCorps’ local radio producer being interviewed by her seven year old daughter about one of the most meaningful moments of her life: her daughter’s birth.
Having spent not a wit of time outside all weekend, Anahma and I took advantage of the full moon on Sunday night for a midnight walk. It was clear from that late hour why people would choose to forego certain conveniences in order to live in this place. StoryCorps participant Conor Thomas had concluded his interview saying “a good mush goes a long way.” And so does a good view.
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