“It’s taken me a lot of years, but I’ve come around to this: If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. If you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.” – Isaac Jaffe, Sportsnight.
The original purpose of my old and now-retired blog was to play host to community discussions. The goal was to bring together the smartest people I could find and then, whenever possible, get them to argue with each other for the express purpose illustrated in the above quote. Although I’m never absolutely confident which category I personally fall under, I always aim to either prove or disprove my own arguments by hearing those of others. It is my sincere belief that we are always one conversation away from changing our minds on any given issue. In an age of hyper-partisanship and ratings-driven political discourse, I think it is an imperative that we remember the incredible power that we all have access to inside of our own skulls. We need to push back against the tendency to be intellectual tailgaters – following so closely behind someone else’s opinion that you can’t react when the person runs (or thinks) into a tree.
That vision is now coming to life. A small group of individuals – inspiring, intelligent, and all-too-willing-to-disagree-with-me – have signed on to try and make that hope for an Alaska Commons, literally, come to fruition. I can’t wait to get started, and thank you for coming along for the ride. Exciting things to come!
Here’s our Mission Statement:
In a resolution entitled “You Are Alaska’s Children,” which accompanied the signing of the Alaska State Constitution in 1956, a clear message was passed down to future residents of the 49th state: “We trust you; you are our future. We ask you to take tomorrow and dream; we know that you will see visions we do not see. We are certain that in capturing today for you, you can plan and build.”
We believe that our responsibility as an active citizenry to uphold this charge is faltering – that the dialog surrounding many current issues and events that we face as a community has turned destructive, incurious, and not reflective of the vision our state’s founders put forth for future generations. And we challenge ourselves to do better.
Our goal, as Alaska Commons, is to shed light on local stories and topics left to the dark, where they are often left in silence or labeled bogeymen or taboo. Our challenge will be to explore every relevant side to a story, seeking to understand and reflect the diversity of perspectives, empowering discussion and debate and seeking to avoid the inclination to devolve the views of a dynamic community into a two-bit playground squabble. The pursuit of a story should revolve around the ideas and proposals whenever possible. Every story is strengthened by the weight given to each of its components, but is dually weakened by the assassination of its characters. That acknowledgement will be a structural foundation of our approach to reporting.
Equal in importance is factual information. Every story published by Alaska Commons will provide citations across all mediums – including instances where there are conflicting sources.
We believe that the Golden Rule applies to journalism as it does in all areas of life, and will be a central tenet of our working model. A sense of humor is also not a crime and will never be treated as such, except in cases of puns.
Above all else, we hope to provide a community dialog on myriad issues that demand immediate attention, but many times find only rushed judgement. Our hope is to start conversations rather than end them; to inspire and cultivate analysis and contemplation; to shy away from no story and doggedly pursue every voice, concern, and hope that comprises the community we love.