Why Alaska? Alaska is a third of the size of the Continental United States with only one city (Anchorage) classified as an urban area. While a large percentage of Anchorage population is comprised of Alaska Natives, Alaska has 227 rural Villages, most of which are only accessible by airplane or boat. This rural/urban dynamic, along with the diversity of culture, history of colonization and the subsequent establishment of unique governance structures, pose many logistical and economic challenges for Alaska Native communities.
Alaska Natives are the epitome of innovation, adaptation and resourcefulness, and there is no lack for brilliant ideas from Alaska Natives to address their most pressing social and economic concerns. Today’s challenges for Alaska Native entrepreneurs lie greatly in the ability of rural communities to support them with the infrastructure, access to cutting edge technology and financial base to go from that “brilliant idea” to a profitable and sustainable rural economic base.
This is why ReAllocate.org has selected Alaska for a program that builds capacity through the creation of an innovation center in Anchorage. Participants in the program are equipped with engineering tools, taught prototyping and fabrication techniques and mentored in building scalable, community-based sustainable businesses.
Listen to David Sam’s interview with the ReAllocate Alaska team on KNBA here.
The goals of the project are:
- Establishing an Innovation Center in Anchorage as a home base for mobile labs. (ReAllocate just concluded the pilot of their Innovation Lab at Burning Man, Project: Blue Sky (http://gizmodo.com/5938643/the-drone-aircraft-that-could-save-a-kids-life).
- Creating a culturally relevant context for engaging talented Alaska Native individuals in science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship.
- Building lasting economic development through skills based learning and real world ventures
- Providing capacity building through innovation training and sustainable business development
Proposed entrepreneurial topics:
1. Mass customized manufacturing of the kayak; a technological innovation of many Alaska Native cultures that enabled survival in harsh and challenging environments throughout the arctic and subarctic. Support includes:
- Andrew Abyo Aluttiq, Master Artist
- Maligiaq Johnsen Padilla Inuit, Greenlandic National Kayak Champion
2. Building green housing industries and supplementary (non-traditional) food security for extreme climates. Twelve Alaskan communities are being forced to relocate as a result of climate from their ancestral homelands because of coastal erosion and rising sea level. Support includes:
3. Creating internet technology, connectivity platforms and online education tools. Support includes:
ReAllocate held a stakeholder engagement session at Youth and Elders conference at the Alaska Federation of Natives gathering in mid-October of 2012 to solicit input from attendees on how to ensure the project is appropriate and successful. The event at the Youth and Elder’s Conference garnered community interest and culminated in a letter of support from the AFN Board of Directors for ReAllocate: Alaska. The project has since obtained over a dozen letters of support from influential people and organizations. We are now seeking to raise funds to cover program costs.