14 Miles: Dispatches from an Island in Alaska


14 Miles is a documentary film project set in Sitka, Alaska, on an island in the panhandle of Southeast Alaska. It is a town of less than 9,000 people surrounded by mountains and ocean. While the distance from one end of Sitka to the other is not long (14.3 miles to be precise), the potential to engage people in creating a series of micro-documentaries about place and identity is abundant. The films address what we share, what divides us, as well as what makes us proud to live in Alaska. We will release two short films a month for a year via social media, broadcast, and placement on websites. In addition to online conversations, 14 Miles will host public gatherings and a series of locally-generated tours. 14 Miles is a project of Artchange, Inc.

Our stories and tours cover a range of topics and asks the following questions: What are the places and people that make up our community?  What do we value as individuals and as a group? What are the stories that are unique to this particular place and time, what is going on in this moment that has never happened before? How do we share our perspectives with each other in a contemporary time?

14 Miles is also an experiment in short-form storytelling.. Serious, wry, curious: we’re digging and uncovering what might get passed by, even in a remote town with only 14 miles of road from one end to the other. The stories we want to share are local, but universal too. 14 Miles will share how this place connects, and at times doesn't, to the world "off the rock." 

We invite people to participate, to suggest stories and tours and to tell stories about the places they live and the challenges they face. 


Episode 1: Our Journey Begins
We live in a time of dramatic change--politically, ecologically, socially, economically--changes that are well documented in the media, news, and on social media. But what do these things mean for everyday people? What do new policies, weather patterns, migration changes, gun laws, mean for smaller communities, particularly a small town in southeast Alaska and what does daily life look like now? We are digging and uncovering what just might get passed by, even on an island town with only 14 miles of road from one end to the other. Using the local stories to ask universal questions--what does it mean to live in a community? Who are our neighbors? We want to post new episodes every other week or two, exploring those questions.

Episode 2: Giving Back                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      We know how the last year of climate events, elections, laws, and legislation affect the country on a large scale. How can people find local connections and ways to give back? Here is one example. Thanks to Alaska Dave and the Salvation Army Corps. We're curious to hear about other examples in our community and beyond.

Episode 3: Guns and Democracy
On this episode of 14 Miles, we talk with former Sitka City Manager Mark Gorman about his experience in government. What does it mean to be a engaged in a community? What should a community expect of its citizens? These are the complicated questions we're exploring.

Episode 4: Family Business
This episode of 14 Miles raises the challenges of making ends meet in Sitka and the possibilities of starting a new business. How do new Marijuana laws impact the economy of a small town? How does the fast-growing cost of living influence who leaves and who stays? 

Episode 5: Saturday in Sitka

We wanted to release Episode 5 on Thanksgiving, as we shared food, thinking about what brings us together. How do we build community and support each other? What do we participate in and care about?Wanted to also note the song, "Tsu héidei shugaxhtootaan (Celebration Entrance Song)" in the Native American Heritage Month and Veteran’s Day parade was composed by Harold Jacobs Jr, from a speech by elder George Davis, and gifted to the Sealaska Heritage Institute. It is based on the words, “We will open again this container of wisdom.”

Episode 6: Before the Curtain

Before the Curtain looks at Sitka School of Dance's annual Nutcracker preparations. This year, the school will present an Alaska-themed Nutcracker, featuring dancers as eagles, herring, bears, and crab. Outside of Sitka, what are your community's winter traditions? How do they reflect the geography of the place you live? How have they changed as your community changes?

Episode 7: Bears in Town

14Miles Episode 7: It’s winter and the bears of Baranof Island are hibernating! Here is a slice of summer at the Fortress of Bears, a non-profit with a mission of rescuing and caring for orphaned bears. When the sanctuary was first proposed, a number of Sitkans were upset about the idea of wild animals in captivity. But now it is a main tourist attraction, with more than 20,000 visitors a year. What places in your community do you feel uncertain about? What would prompt you to go there and learn about it first hand?

14 Miles Challenge/Invite:

It's your turn.
A 14 Miles challenge/invite to help create an episode.Share a story of a time that has stuck with you for whatever reason, when you told someone you are from or have been living in or visiting Alaska. Film yourself with your iPhone or Android phone or other device. Send your story to us by e-mailing video files to artchangeinc@gmail.com or use the file upload feature of Facebook messenger, in a message with `14 Miles. Send us questions too.

Episode 8:  Resolutions
The transition to a New Year provokes reflection on then past year and what’s ahead. New Year’s resolutions tend to about self-improvement, but in a 14 Miles style we also got locals reflecting on the community.  What resolution like ideas do you have for your community?  How do your personal goals match with the goals of the community?

 14 Miles Episode 9A Family that Ninja’s Together….

One of the fun parts of this project is spending time in new places within our small community. We’ve also have been thinking about the challenges and possibilities of operating a small businesses on this island. What corners or parts of your community have you never explored? What does it take to run a family business? 

14 Miles Episode 10. Karla's Story

 In this episode, we spend time with Karla, a teen, with a strong spirit and a story she was willing to share. These are large broad questions, but ones we will be touching on again in 14 Miles: What challenges do young people face in your community? How does the community provide support to them?Karla’s story was made with the help of Youth Advocates of Sitka.  KCAW Raven Radio and the Sitka Pioneer’s Home,

14 Miles Episode 11. Your from Alaska?

For this episode of 14 Miles, we asked you to submit videos telling stories of how people reacted when you told them you’re from Alaska. We also gathered some stories in our own community. The responses we got ran the gamut from stereotypical (“do you live in igloos?”) to unexpected. We’re excited to share this episode with some of the highlights. Have you had similar experiences? Are there stereotypes and reactions that we missed? Outside of Alaska, how do people generalize on the region where you live?

Feedback and Ideas Welcome

We want feedback on the stories we share?  Have an idea for a short? Want to help make a 14 Miles story? Prompted to go document similar stories in the place where you live? Simply want to share some thoughts you had after watching our stories?

Contact us!

Production Stills

 Kathy and eric From "family business" A  14 miles micro-documentary in process. 

Kathy and eric From "family business" A  14 miles micro-documentary in process. 

 David organizes the salvation army kitchen, in a short film called  "GIVING BACK." 

David organizes the salvation army kitchen, in a short film called  "GIVING BACK." 

 Rachel, artchange intern,  and ellen,  14 miles instigator, driving from end of sitka to aother to see if it is truly 14 miles from one end to the other. in sitka, ak. 

Rachel, artchange intern,  and ellen,  14 miles instigator, driving from end of sitka to aother to see if it is truly 14 miles from one end to the other. in sitka, ak. 






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We're supported in part  by he Greater Sitka Legacy Fund and the Alaska State Council for the Arts and the Alaska Humanities Forum and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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