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Bristol Bay Sustainability Summit will take place in Dillingham March 23 - 24

Darryl Thompson Togiak .JPG
Courtesy of UTBB
Darryl Thompson of Togiak speaks at the 2019 Bristol Bay Sustainability Summit.

The Bristol Bay Sustainability Summit is taking place in Dillingham March 23 - 24.

The two-day summit will include presentations from organizations around the region on topics like housing, culture and language revitalization, small business, climate change and fisheries. Presenters include keynote speaker Igiugig Village Council President AlexAnna Salmon, Kay Larson-Blair of the Bristol Bay Native Corporation Education Foundation and University of Washington fisheries professor Daniel Schindler, among many others.

Read more in the draft agenda.

Registration is open until March 20 for the general public and high school students interested in participating.

United Tribes of Bristol Bay Executive Director Alannah Hurley talked to KDLG's Izzy Ross about what the summit is all about, who's attending, and what people can expect.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Izzy Ross: The Bristol Bay Sustainability Summit is coming up this month. What is the sustainability summit?

Alannah Hurley: That's a great question. It is a space that's being co-hosted and co-sponsored by United Tribes of Bristol Bay, [Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation], [Bristol Bay Native Association], [Bristol Bay Native Corporation], Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay, and the Bristol Bay Housing Authority. And the Sustainability Summit is really us just trying to create a space for people from around the region to talk about sustainability issues, sustainability plans, it's really just a place for us to come together as a region and talk about what it's going to take for us to remain sustainable now and into the future.

Ross: And when we think about sustainability, as we think about the events, and before we talk about them, what what are we talking about there? Is it relating to one specific industry or one part of life? Or is it across the board?

Hurley: That's an excellent question. You know, in the past, when we've co-hosted the sustainability summits, it had a primary focus on sustainable economic development. And what's exciting about the summit this year is that it's actually taking a much broader, more more holistic approach to these discussions around sustainability. So it'll include things like community economics and our quality of life, workforce development and training, how we grow our own. It'll also include really critical conversations around community and cultural well being, what are we doing to address some of these issues that our communities are facing around well-being and the revitalization of our Native cultures. And then the last focus of the summit is going to be around our natural resources, our lands and waters. Climate change. What does long term environmental sustainability look like for Bristol Bay in changing times?

Ross: It does sound like it's really connecting all of these things that we interact with on a daily basis, but might not think of as connecting with each other. What can people expect from the summit if they're thinking about attending?

Hurley: So people can expect a two day gathering. It's March 23, and 24th. It's all day at the high school, there's going to be a mix of keynote and plenary sessions, breakout sessions. Some portions of the summit are going to be offered virtually, but the vast majority of it is in person due to a lot of it being breakout sessions. We're providing meals, there'll be a big cultural celebration the night of the 23rd to invite community in as well to join some of these discussions.

We have people coming from all over the region, we have speakers coming from all over the state as well, really bringing together everybody from tribal and municipal and village corporate or Native corporate staff to regional organizations to small business entrepreneurs, cultural bearers, elders. We really recognize that when we're talking about sustainability, all of these different sectors in our society need to come together around these things to truly achieve long term sustainability.

Ross: Right, absolutely. I just listened to the Board of Fish meeting for the past week. You hear about sustainability a lot in that context, and I think a lot of folks do but, but it's not as often that you hear about it in the context of local economies and things. And so that's really interesting and going to be really cool to listen in on some of those workshops.

I was just checking out UTBB's website, and I saw that AlexAnna Salmon is going to be the keynote speaker this year.

Hurley: Yes, really exciting. AlexAnna and the community of Igiugig has done so many amazing things across these different sectors of work to achieve sustainability regardless of community size. And I think that their community and AlexAnna really represent the potential of so many communities in our region to do really creative, different things, to ensure that no matter the community size, we can work together to be sustainable and ensure that our communities and our people and our cultures live long into the future.

Ross: This event takes place over two days, and you also mentioned that there would be cultural elements to it for folks to participate in. What will that look like?

Hurley: There'll be a whole portion of the agenda dedicated to community and cultural well-being, where we'll have dialogue and speakers and workshops and sharing information about resources about where people can address some of these things around community and cultural well being.

In terms of cultural celebration. We're going to have Yup'ik dancers at not only the summit, but at the big potluck feast the night of the 23rd that we're going to invite the community to, it'll be at the high school gym as well.

We also have vendors and vendor registration is still available if people want to get a table to share information or sell goods that's an option as well. For registrants of the summit, we'll also be doing some community action planning and support sessions the first evening before the big feast. And that's where people can come and have one on one discussions with people in different levels of expertise, or from different programs from around the region to have their questions answered to help further their plans, their community's plans, things of that nature. So it's going to be a really good mix of people being able to share opinions, gather information, and get access to some of these critical programs and resources that are available to our people.

Ross: Where can people learn more about the Sustainability Summit? And if they're interested in participating or registering, where can they do that.

Hurley: So the deadline for travel scholarships has ended. But we have an extended registration deadline, as long as you register by March 20. That is what we're asking people. That's the deadline registration. And really that's to help us make sure we have enough food and resources for folks that are coming. You can register primarily online or you can download PDFs to print and turn in paper registration to our office, but you can do that on UTBB's website at utbb.org. And if you just go to events, sustainability summit is right in there and we'll get you linked up vendors, high school students and general adult registration are all still open on our website.

Ross: Alannah Hurley, Executive Director of UTBB, thank you so much for taking some time to talk today.

Hurley: Yeah, thank you so much. We really look forward to seeing folks at the summit.

Get in touch with the author at izzy@kdlg.org or 907-842-2200.

Izzy Ross is the news director at KDLG, the NPR member station in Dillingham. She reports, edits, and hosts stories from around the Bristol Bay region, and collaborates with other radio stations across the state.