June 1, 2017–Amy Armstrong and Lee Jordan, ECHO News–Reviving True Community Journalism

Amy Armstrong is the managing editor of the ECHO News (the Eagle River Chugiak Herald Observer) in Eagle River, Alaska. She worked from 1999 to 2016 in a freelance capacity for the Alaska Star, covering education and government, writing features, and becoming highly acquainted with what makes Chugiak-Eagle River so incredibly special. During that period, she was honored with more than 40 awards for excellence in journalism on a state and national level.

When Armstrong left the Alaska Star in summer 2016, she was the last remaining piece of the Lee Jordan era. She was tickled when he agreed to write the ECHO’s historical column. As ME of the ECHO, she has spearheaded an informal internship program, allowing local high school students to write for the newspaper and is active in creating community-oriented events, including a political candidate forum and an upcoming business-speed-dating event. Her focus is on bringing high-quality community journalism to ECHO readers, as well as working together with the local business sector to build partnerships and not just sell advertising. Her goal for the ECHO News is to continue delivering the information and news that matter to locals in Chugiak-Eagle River.

She is a board member of the Chugiak-Eagle River Women in Business. Armstrong is a graduate of the Edward R. Murrow School of Communication at Washington State University. She grew up on a dairy farm in western Washington near the Canadian border, where she learned the value of diligent work. While in college, Armstrong wrote for several agricultural publications, including The Capital City Press, The Dairyman, Farm Journal magazines and Hoard’s Dairyman. She left the agricultural world after marrying Bob, a Coast Guardsman in 1995.

Amy Armstrong

Amy Armstrong

Lee Jordan: writing on and in Alaska from a historical standpoint as well as The ECHO News column. He has been an Alaskan since 1949 when he was assigned to the Army’s historic Alaska Communication System. As a printer for the Anchorage Daily Times, he set the iconic “WE’RE IN” headline on June 30, 1958. He founded the Chugiak-Eagle River Star in 1971 and served as its editor and publisher until retiring in 2000. He has written four non-fiction books on Alaska and now writes a column on local history in The ECHO News.

Lee Jordan

Lee Jordan

April 14, 2016–Kim Heacox–Award-Winning Author of Fiction and Non-Fiction

Kim Heacox is the award-winning author of several books including the acclaimed John Muir and the Ice That Started a Fire (which received starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, and Publisher’s Weekly) and Rhythm of the Wild (just released.)

His feature articles have appeared in Audubon, Travel & Leisure, Wilderness, Islands, Orion, and National Geographic Traveler. His editorials, written for the Los Angeles Times, have appeared in many major newspapers across the United States.

Kim was also commentator along with Gretel Ehrlich and other environmental VIPs on Ken Burns’s twelve-hour PBS film The National Parks documenting the history of the national parks and the US conservation movement, currently airing on Netflix.

A contract writer with the National Geographic Society since 1985, Kim has twice won the Lowell Thomas Award for excellence in travel writing and was a finalist for the Pen Center USA Western award for his memoir, The Only Kayak.

The cover of the National Outdoor Book Award winning Jimmy Bluefeather also features an image by Heacox whose photographs are sold around the world by Getty Images.

When not playing the guitar, doing simple carpentry, or writing, he’s sea kayaking in Gustavus, Alaska, gateway to Glacier Bay National Park with his wife, Melanie.


Kim Heacox

Kim Heacox


April 14, 2016–Our critics’ favorite Alaska books of the year (APC’s April 2016 speaker lauded in 12/13/15 article)

Editor’s note: Every week, David A. James and Nancy Lord have reviewed books by Alaska authors or about the 49th state. They have not, they’ll be quick to tell you, read every Alaska book published over the last year or so. Consequently, they recoil at the idea of a top 10 list of Alaska books.

What follows instead is a short piece by each author, touching on some of their favorites. It’s neither comprehensive nor definitive. But it may prove useful to readers looking for Alaska books as holiday gifts or for suggestions of worthy books they may have missed. And there’s no doubt that Nancy and David read more Alaska books than most of us. 

Excerpt: A close second was “Rhythm of the Wild: A Life Inspired by Denali National Park” by Alaskan author Kim Heacox. It’s the story of how the author found Alaska and thus himself in the state’s best-known park. While Denali serves as base camp and provides the landscape for much of what he writes here, Heacox’s mind wanders widely over politics, environmental crises, personal philosophy and how one can escape the world by diving into the wilderness, only to find that world hot on one’s hiking boots. This book does with Denali what Edward Abbey’s “Desert Solitaire” did with Arches National Park, showing how freedom and wilderness are bound together, and how the loss of one is both caused by and leads to the destruction of the other.

Kim Heacox will be APC’s luncheon speaker for April 2016. Sign up for the luncheon.

Read the article at Alaska Dispatch News

June 4, 2015–Bill Sherwonit Offers Fall 2015 Nature and Travel Writing Class

(This was for his winter/spring 2015 class; the same basic information would apply for the fall class) Anchorage essayist and author Bill Sherwonit will teach a 12-week nature and travel writing class in the Sierra Club office downtown. Participants in this workshop-style class will explore and refine their own writing styles, with an emphasis on the personal essay form. The class will also read and discuss works by some of America’s finest nature and travel writers, past and present. The cost is $240. To sign up for this Wednesday night class (7 to 9:30 p.m.), or for more information, contact Sherwonit at 245-0283 or akgriz@hotmail.com. Further information about the teacher is also available at http://www.billsherwonit.alaskawriters.com.

April 6, 2015–Alaska Sampler 2015

Contact: Deb Vanasse / Running Fox Books                 IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(907) 388-9303



As cuts to the state’s film subsidy program threaten the booming reality TV industry, what will be the next big draw to Alaska?

Books, of course. At least that’s what the editors at the Running Fox authors’ co-op are counting on.

Following the success of last year’s Alaska Sampler, a free e-book anthology, Running Fox is at it again, with a new volume of the Sampler plus a new website that aims to change the way readers connect with Alaska-inspired books.

“In their reviews, readers of last year’s Sampler spoke of how they read specifically to prepare for their Alaska vacations, and they urged us to issue a fresh volume each year. How could we refuse?” says Deb Vanasse, co-editor of the Sampler and founder of Running Fox Books.

In what lead editor David Marusek deems a “literary labor of love,” the Alaska Sampler 2015 features fiction, memoir, crime writing, and humor.  Among the dozen featured authors are new favorites alongside the well-recognized, including Heather Lende (If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name), C.B. Bernard (Chasing Alaska), Rich Chiappone (Opening Days), and Gerri Brightwell (Cold Country).

Aiming to move beyond the either-or thinking about e-books and print books, the Sampler relies on a unique partnership with brick-and-mortar bookshops in Homer, Palmer, Skagway, and Ketchikan.

Readers can download the Alaska Sampler 2015 for free, Alaska’s only curated online bookshop, featuring the Passage Picker, Book Your Trip (Literally), and Author Confessions.

April 8, 2015–Last Shots of Civil War Fired off Alaska’s Coast–by Liz Ruskin

Long After Civil War’s End, Rebel Raiders Fought On in Bering Sea By Liz Ruskin, APRN | April 8, 2015

One hundred and fifty years ago, on April 9, General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox, Va. Textbooks typically say this event signaled the end of the Civil War. But a few historians make the case that the last shots of the war were actually fired from a Confederate ship off Alaska’s coast, in the Bering Sea.

Read the article.

Sunshine Week is March 15-21, 2015

NFPW encourages its members to participate in Sunshine Week 

Sunshine Week

Sunshine Week

Sunshine Week was launched in 2005. It’s an annual initiative to promote open government and push back against excessive official secrecy. We encourage our memebrs to start thinking about what they can do.

During the week, journalists are encouraged to do their part to highlight the importance of openness through stories, editorials, columns, cartoons, or graphics. There are also roles for civic groups, educators, elected officials and private citizens.

Log on to the official Sunshine Week website for more information.

March 15 – 21, 2015

Join the annual nationwide celebration of access to public information and what it means for you and your community.

Thetus Smith Presented 2014 Spark Plug Award

At the Jan. 2015 lunch meeting, Diane Walters, immediate past-president of APC, presented Thetus Smith with the 2014 Spark Plug Award. Thetus has been maintaining APC’s mailing lists and compiling and sending the Email Express for many years. She learned and converted to a new database manager last year. Thetus takes reservations for the APC luncheons, working closely with the restaurant, and helped with the garage sale. She comes faithfully to board meetings, even though she is a retired member and no longer a voting member of the board. Thetus is someone who works tirelessly behind the scenes, but is one of the most important people in making the APC organization and meetings successful.

Thetus Smith receives 2014 Spark Plus award from Diane Walters

Thetus Smith (r), eMail Express Editor, receives 2014 Spark Plus award from Diane Walters, Immediate Past President


UAA Campus Bookstore events for February 2015

Complete February Calendar

January 28, 2015
Dr. Lyn Freeman and Dr. Rebecca White present “Pain & Neuroplasticity.”

Monday, February 2
7:30pm-9:30pm at UAA Recital Hall ARTS 150
Classical Pianist Edvinas Minkstimas: Lithuanian Legacies

Edvinas Minkstimas performs “Songs of the Vilnius Ghetto” and compositions by Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis (1875-1911), Anatolijus Senderovas (b. 1945, Lithuanian Jewish composer),  and virtuoso selections by Chopin, Liszt, Mozart, Schubert, Gershwin.

Edvinas Minkstimas earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from The Juilliard School, the Artist Diploma from the Paris Conservatory and degrees from Lithuanian Academy of Music. He recently joined the faculty of the Washington Conservatory of Music. He is an honored Steinway Artist and winner of eight international piano competitions.

This free event is sponsored by  Svaja Worthington (Hon. Consul from the State of Alaska to the Republic of Lithuania), Congregation Beth Sholom, UAA Campus Bookstore, UAA Music Dept., UAA History Dept., Alaska Jewish Museum, Chilkoot Charlie’s, and others.

The 2015 Communications Contest is Open

APC is now accepting entries for the 2015 Alaska Professional Communicators’ Communications Contest electronically through the NFPW website.

Once you are on the contest Welcome (login) page, click the white REGISTER link in the upper left corner of the contest site, you will get an entrant form that prompts entrants to select “member” or “non-member” status and the name of the affiliate (including at-large) whose contest they are entering. Those selections will put you into the correct affiliate contest. All directions needed to enter the contest are contained in the pages of the contest site. But if you have questions or need help entering, click the FAQ or Contact Us tabs on the contest navigation bar.

The entry deadline is Monday, February 9. For work that must be submitted in hard-copy format, the entry deadline is Monday, February 2.  The contest is open to both members and nonmembers of APC.