Scott Jensen

Freezin' for a reason

On Saturday, hundreds of Alaskans gathered once again to take part in the Polar Plunge, an annual fundraising exercise that sees costume-clad participants dive into the frigid waters of Goose Lake in Anchorage.The event, which raises money for Special Olympics Alaska (more than $300,000 this year, according to Anchorage TV station KTVA), begins with a hole cut in the frozen top of the lake, and culminates with wave after wave of brave divers leaping into the icy waters, while spectators and supporters cheer them on.
Alaska Public Media

Alaskana Pop Art | INDIE ALASKA

INDIE ALASKA is an original video series produced by Alaska Public Media in partnership with PBS Digital Studios. The weekly series captures the diverse and colorful lifestyles of everyday Alaskans at work and play. Together, these videos present a fresh and authentic look at living in Alaska.For this born-and-raised Alaskan, "Alaskana pop art" is a vehicle for exploring his heritage and the modern world at large. This mural installation took place at Anchorage Community Works, a community art and music space. 
Alaska Dispatch News

Granddad - Kirstie Alley's Rules to a Good Time

Each week Alaska Dispatch News is featuring a different music video by an Alaska artist. Want to suggest a video? Contact play@alaskadispatch.comPunk/emo band Granddad -- composed of guitarist and singer Kellen Baker and drummer Matthew Harris -- riffs on themes of love and loss in the music video “Kirstie Alley’s Rules to a Good Time.” Growing up gay in socially conservative Nome, singer songwriter Kellan Baker "felt that acceptance and a normal life were always just out of reach," the band wrote in a press release. The song's lyrics were inspired by a longing for a “normal” life: “I want to see the world / I wanna be old some day / I want to raise a little girl,” Baker sings.In the music video directed by Emma Sheffer (who also directed the recent "Animal Sounds" music video from The Modern Savage), a succession of couples kiss on a couch. As people in the couple change, the video highlights  of spectrum of matches, showing "any number of combinations create a relationship," the band writes. The point is that "sometimes you have to kiss a lot of people to learn what you really want."Granddad will play Pasta Avanti, in downtown Anchorage, Jan. 4, and at Tap Root Public House on Jan. 9, 2015.
Scott Jensen

Gingerbread extravaganza!

Each year around Christmas, Diane Schenker makes an elaborate gingerbread house. Schenker's houses aren't anything like the pre-built boxed kinds people can pick up at Costco. They're intricate and detailed, and usually based on her own designs. Her sister Lorraine O’Neal insists the structures “rival any Martha Stewart creation.”In almost 30 years of building houses, she’s made enough structures to fill a Christmas village, including a greenhouse with a hard candy roof, downtown Anchorage’s Voyager Hotel and even her own Stuckagain Heights home with a giant black bear peeking through the window.Read more: Gingerbread master Diane Schenker's elaborate holiday creations rival any pro baker's
Alaska Dispatch News

Fairbanks Four Celebration in Fairbanks

After 18 years of incarceration, the men known as the Fairbanks Four were freed by an agreement with the state Thursday.Later that evening, at about 7:30 p.m., Rachel Saylor of the Tanana Chiefs Conference took this video of the men celebrating their release with supporters at the Chief David Salmon Tribal Hall in Fairbanks. Marvin Roberts, Kevin Pease and George Frese dance while Eugene Vent participates in drumming.Read more: Fairbanks Four released from prison under settlement with state
Alaska Dispatch News

When the Water Took the Land

The Alaska coastal villages of Kivalina and Newtok, under threat from erosion, are the subject of an Al Jazeera America documentary scheduled to air on Sunday.The 30-minute episode, titled “When the Water Took the Land,” is part of the network's in-depth news program Fault Lines. The episode is the work of a team of journalists, led by Alaska Public Radio Network veteran Libby Casey, who traveled to the northwest Alaska villages.Read more: Al Jazeera documentary tells tale of two eroding Alaska villages
Alaska Dispatch News

Polar Bear Dreams

A 5-week-old polar bear at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium coos and twitches while lost in dreamland.According to a Facebook post from the zoo, the still-unnamed female cub, born on Nov. 6, weighs 4 pounds and is 16 inches long. The staff says her eyes have started to open and the sounds she makes in the video are noises of contentment.“Her motor skills are improving each day and she has started trying to stand up on all fours, especially when she’s ready for her next meal! She is on six feedings a day, every four hours," the post says.The team has been providing care for the cub around the clock. A previous post shows the cub being hand-reared by the staff after her mother, Aurora, stopped caring for her.To submit your video to Alaska Dispatch News contact the multimedia team at
Tara Young

Charlie Brown Christmas Party in Anchorage, AK

Residents of Anchorage gathered Sunday to enjoy the sixth-annual "Charlie Brown Christmas" ice skating party at Westchester Lagoon.Co-organizers Brendan Babb and Amanda Moser are fans of "Peanuts" and decided to start an ice skating party inspired by the beloved "A Charlie Brown Christmas" TV special. Dozens of families and friends enjoyed food, music and skating at the event, and though it's inspired by the comic strip and costumes are encouraged, few were dressed up as their favorite characters. The lagoon was not officially open for ice skating since the ice depth has not reached the 12 inches required for the Municipality of Anchorage to conduct ice maintenance. The crowd was hopeful that in the coming weeks, the lagoon will be ready to be hot-mopped for holiday skating.
Erik Hill

New Anchorage Museum holiday display

Anchorage Museum staff members spent nearly two weeks preparing a new "Winter Up Here" atrium display for the holidays in early December 2015. Designed by Chad Taylor beginning in late summer, the cabin-themed environment replaces the traditional displays that now move to other parts of the museum. "We wanted something people could engage with," said director and CEO Julie Decker. Visitors will be able to make decorations to add to stylized wooden trees. Log walls, trees, a simulated fireplace and other amenities transform the space. Over 100 film clips featuring northern scenes and life are projected continuously on hundreds of fiberglass strips suspended over the fountain and stairwell. The exhibit will remain in place through mid-January.
Alaska Dispatch News

Sidney Huntington - Subsistance

Alaska Native leader Sidney Huntington died Tuesday at age 100, his son Gilbert Huntington said. Besides the confirmation of his father’s death, Gilbert Huntington said he was at a loss for words. But for much of Sidney Huntington’s life, he was in fact giving people something to talk about. In this video, Sidney Huntington talks to "Raven’s Story" host Mike Spindler about living a subsistence lifestyle. "Raven’s Story" was a series produced from 1995 to 2003 recording the oral history of Native elders. More of Huntington’s life story can be heard on the "Raven’s Story" site.Read more: Sidney Huntington, Athabascan elder and author, dies at 100
Alaska Dispatch News

Car Surfing

Annemieke Mulders of Yellowknife in Canada's Northwest Territories has several wild raven friends that follow her around the city. On December 6, 2015, this bold young raven took it a step further and hitched a ride on the hood of her car. The raven could not be coaxed off and traveled this way for several kilometers.To submit your video to Alaska Dispatch News contact the multimedia team at photo(at) 
Scott Jensen

holiday train

Every Saturday in December before Christmas, the Alaska Railroad ushers in the spirit of the season with round-trip rides from Anchorage to Indian on the Holiday Train. Joining the merry hundreds on board this year are holiday carolers, a magician, balloon twisters and, of course, Santa Claus. Additionally, the Alaska Railroad offers snacks, a coloring contest and door prizes. Unfortunately, the remaining four planned excursions are all sold out. If you didn't make the trip last weekend and you don't have tickets, perhaps this video of the season's first two tours will provide a glimpse of the experience. And it could serve as a preview for next year!