Posted on March 16, 2018

#Let’sThinkAbout Debate and Critical Thinking

As you may know, this year I’m encouraging folks to think about critical thinking. (See more at A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to judge at the Alaska State DDF (Drama Debate and Forensics) Tournament. There, my faith in humanity was renewed as I watched all the high school students using their critical thinking skills to consider many topics, from plea bargaining to editorial cartoons. And it reminded me how important debate can be for high school and college students.

Contrary to the stereotype, debate is not just a fancy term for arguing. Debate is a great activity to help students learn how to think critically. Good debaters can see both sides of an issue and analyze details to see how logical and persuasive they are. They learn to write clearly, create plans to solve problems, and speak in public. All these skills are helpful in and outside of school to create civil discourse.

The book Why Debate: Transformed by Academic Discourse ( explains this brilliantly. In this collection of essays, edited by Shawn Briscoe, eighteen authors describe different aspects and advantages of academic debate for students and the world around them. “Competitive debate serves as a foundation for growth as students learn to navigate through society, form relationships, and develop the skills they need to succeed in college and beyond. Those who participate in the activity develop skills and dispositions that help them succeed in their chosen professions. Ultimately, debate makes us aware of what needs changed in the world; and it gives us the ability to effect meaningful change.” I’ve seen this happen with high school debaters, and been impressed by the service they provide after they graduate. 

Another reason to buy this book—Briscoe shows his commitment in the entry ( “A minimum of 50% of the profits from this work will be used to support debaters, debate programs, and/or debate organizations.”

I highly recommend this book, and debate programs in general. I encourage you to look for a debate program in your school district or community and support it, or better yet, participate as a student or an adult judge or other volunteer. You will be inspired, and maybe make the world a better place in the process.

Posted on March 9, 2018

Love Letter to Librarians

I originally posted this in 2015 for National Library Week. I post this revised version as Anchorage hosts the 2018 AkLA Conference for librarians across the state.

It seems a good time to write my long-overdue love letter to librarians.

Dear Librarians,

First, thank you for helping my mother and father become readers. Second, thank you for helping me discover the power of words. My parents and older sisters read to me from the time I was a baby, and many of our books were library books. I recall my first local library at Fort Richardson (now JBER), Alaska. The children’s books section was to the right of the main door, and I loved scanning the shelves and choosing books to take home. The librarian often recommended books once she saw what my tastes were. And when I grew old enough, the entire library was at my reach. When I was done with my browsing and waiting for my family members to choose their books, I would often go see the huge Earth and constellations globes, just another reminder that there was a whole universe to explore out there. Wow.

At school, my mother volunteered at the library so I got to know the librarians there more than most kids, some long enough to remember their names. Molly Bynum at Ursa Minor Elementary and  Kelly Christenson, Leah Hoffman, Carol Pryor, and Virginia Rehder at Bartlett-Begich Junior-Senior High School gave me tons of books and a safe place to be when I needed it. In high school, the library was my hangout before school. A bunch of us nerdy girls talked and read at our regular table every day. And Leah Hoffman became my mentor in stage makeup class and beyond. Her kind words and easy laugh are still a comfort to me.

When I became an English teacher, I often found the school librarian to be a kindred spirit. They all helped me and my students with many book recommendations and research presentations. Nowadays, I enjoy working with Jon Ebron, a teen librarian at the local public library, for our Teen Writing Society.  One of my AKRWA writing friends, Karen Kiely, is also a librarian. This year, I’ve met lots of great librarians working on the AkLA conference committee–unfortunately, too many to list here. Librarians rock!

For every librarian I have named, there are a handful I didn’t. And for every librarian I’ve known, there are thousands I don’t know. All of you help young people and old, rich and poor, find solace and adventure and themselves in books. You provide other services too, enriching our lives in so many ways. Thanks for all you’ve done and will do. I love you. 


Lynn Lovegreen

Posted on March 2, 2018

Iditarod 2018

This weekend is the start of the Last Great Race on Earth, the Iditarod. Sixty-seven mushers will aim to reach the burled arch finish line in Nome.

As you may know, the Iditarod got its start from an episode of Alaska history. In 1925, a diptheria epidemic swept across the territory of Alaska. Dr. Curtis Welch diagnosed the outbreak in Nome and asked for serum from the  Alaska Railroad Hospital in Anchorage. The fastest way to get the vital package to Nome was by train to Nenana, then by dog sled to Nome. It took 20 mushers to relay it 674 miles in 127 1/2 hours; all the mushers defied harsh conditions to save the diptheria victims. The largest segment was run by Leonard Seppala and his lead dogs Balto and Togo.

Later, Dorothy G. Page, Joe Redington Sr., and others wanted a long-distance sled dog race to encourage the tradition of dog mushing, and this historic feat became the inspiration for the Iditarod. Since 1973, the Last Great Race has been a part of Alaskan life. Hundreds of people volunteer or donate support. Thousands of people watch the start, end, or catch a glimpse as the teams go by. Rural Alaskans host the race while it runs through their towns. We all follow it online or through the news. Classrooms get involved. Dog mushers are celebrities.  The Iditarod is a big deal in Alaska. May it continue to bring together our past and present.

To learn more, check out the Iditarod site at The education portal is

For a fun read on the Iditarod experience, try Gary Paulsen’s Winterdance. You can also see Gary Paulsen’s page at

Posted on February 23, 2018

Fur Rondy 2018

Fur Rondy (Fur Rendevous) is the winner festival in Anchorage, Alaska. As I’ve said before, (, it started to celebrate the time of year when trappers would come into town to sell their furs. Now, in its 83rd year, it’s mostly an excuse to shake off cabin fever and have a good time.

Activities are held all over Anchorage the last couple weeks of February, from fireworks to pancake breakfast, from miners and trappers ball to melodrama, from snow sculpture to ice bowling. Indigenous heritages are represented by the Charlotte Jensen Native Arts Market and the Ida’Ina Cultural Gathering.  Some of the more wacky events include snowshoe softball, the outhouse race and the running of the reindeer. 

For some of us, the highlight of Rondy is the Open World Championship Sled Dog Race. It is a sprint race, compared to the Iditarod, run in short races over three days. I grew up watching the rivalry between Doc Lombard and George Attla. Now a new generation is competing for the title, and last year’s winner Roxy Wright has a big following. We’ll see what happens this year!

For more information about Fur Rondy, see their website at

Posted on February 16, 2018

Raven Flyway

It’s raven season in town–they perch on signs and light poles, and frequent our dumpsters and parking lots. Here’s an older post I wrote about ravens.

My office window looks out toward a raven flyway. Each day a little after sunrise and a little before sunset, ravens fly by on their way to work and back. From their nests in the foothills east of town, they fly to their scavenging sites. They spend their days cruising for roadkill, natural carcasses, human garbage, whatever food they can find. And they commute to work just like we do, mostly individually, sometimes in pairs.


I enjoy watching them fly by. Personalities shine through as some fly slowly and deliberately, some quickly. Some flap flap flap the whole way home, others flap and glide. A few have a gap where wing feathers are missing, but still fly well enough to get around. Sometimes I make up stories for them: that is a mating couple going back to their shared nest. That is a young male strutting his way through the sky. If it’s a slow day at work, I give myself permission to watch for several minutes, let their steady wingbeats slow down my heartbeat. Instead of walking meditation, it’s watching meditation.


I am so lucky to see these ravens every weekday. Hope you are enjoying your birds or other critters wherever you are. What interesting things can you see from your window?

Encore, first posted on February 17, 2012

Posted on February 9, 2018

#Let’sThinkAbout: Media Bias Chart

As you may recall, my blog theme for this year is #Let’sThinkAbout. (See the first post at

A friend recently shared this chart online, and I asked Vanessa Otero for permission to share it here. She spent time looking at all these sources and made her determinations based on the average quality of sources, bias, and interpretations of news. (Average in this case means most of the stories or articles would fall in that category. See her analysis for more definitions.) I highly recommend you read the whole explanation at but I’ll give you my suggestions below.

Media-Bias-Chart_Version 3.1_Standard_License-min

Look for the news sources you use most often. Avoid the ones in the orange and red rectangles! Do you need to read/view less biased or more factual sources to get the whole picture? Then look at the green and yellow rectangles to find more objective sources to add to your routine.

If we choose our news sources carefully, we’ll practice critical thinking and be closer to an accurate view of what’s really happening in our world. That’s worth thinking about…. 

Posted on February 2, 2018

Those period dramas!

I love PBS’s TV show Masterpiece. Whether it’s a classic book I know well or a story that’s new to me, I know there will be a brilliant script and great actors. But my favorites are the period dramas.

Like many of us, I was hooked on Downton Abbey and Poldark, and I’m now an avid Victoria fan. (See my Pinterest boards if you need proof.) I enjoy learning about the history in a painless way and gaining insight into people of the time. And the clothes! I confess the clothes are a huge part of why I love these shows.

You wouldn’t get me into a corset for a thousand dollars, but I can look at old-fashioned clothes for hours. I love to see the elegant dresses and other outfits. And some of the men’s waistcoats and cravats are just as nice. Silks and satins and velvets, oh my!  Maybe they had more style back then, or maybe it’s just fun to see it all now when we don’t have to wear it or wash it by hand. I’m glad the actors do it for our entertainment.

Check out to get your fix or find out how to become a member and help pay for these shows. And maybe we’ll think of each other while we’re watching next Sunday night!

Photos courtesy of PBS


Downton Abbey source PBSPoldark source PBS

Posted on January 26, 2018

Earthquakes in Alaska

Tuesday’s 7.9 quake (on 1/23/18) got a lot of attention, so it’s a good time to talk about earthquakes in Alaska. Thanks to our position on the Pacific Rim, we have several faults and earthquakes are quite common here. Our biggest and most famous earthquake is the ’64 or Good Friday quake (on March 27, 1964), which registered 9.2 on the Richter scale and did a lot of damage in Southcentral and the Gulf of Alaska. (See my previous post at It helped prove the theory of tectonics was correct, and we’ve become more sophisticated in our science concerning earthquakes since then.

Government agencies monitor earthquakes and provide information as needed, depending on the situation. The National Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, AK was created as a result of the ’64 earthquake, and is currently under the National Weather Service. It is responsible for gathering information and issuing tsunami warnings for the U.S. and parts of Canada. The Alaska Earthquake Center at University of Alaska Fairbanks operates monitoring stations throughout the state, and provides information to the public. Unfortunately, its power was knocked out by heavy snow on power lines Tuesday, and they can’t afford a backup power system, so their response was delayed this time around, but they do have accurate information. The USGS (United States Geological Survey) Earthquakes Program researches earthquakes and has been developing an early warning system. More seismic stations and telecommunications are planned.  

In the case of Tuesday’s earthquake, tsunami alerts were sent based on the information the Center had at the time, and cancelled once they realized the strike-slip earthquake did not generate any tsunamis. Maybe it was valuable practice for a real emergency—now we are an idea of how the alerts and evacuations would go. Perhaps it’s good for us to get a bit shaken up (pun intended) if it makes us take the risks seriously and get prepared for The Big One. I have my emergency supplies ready—do you?

Static Earthquake Map via UAF

Static Earthquake Map via UAF

Thanks to the scientists who study these earthquakes and provide valuable information to keep us safe. Another example how how important science is in our lives—let’s support it!


Alaska Earthquake Center

Anchorage Daily News


National Tsunami Warning System

Posted on January 19, 2018

Bob Bartlett and Alaska Statehood

This is a reprise of a 2016 post.

One of the main advocates of Alaska statehood was Edward Lewis “Bob” Bartlett. He represented Alaska through many years of statesmanship, and guided the statehood act through Congress, where it passed in 1958. We became the 49th state in January of 1959.

Bartlett’s father came to Alaska to work in the Klondike, and Bartlett was raised in Fairbanks. He returned to the territory after college, wrote for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, and married his wife Vide. The Bartletts helped run her family’s mine for a while but found their calling in politics. Bartlett was appointed secretary of Alaska in 1938 and started pushing for Alaska to become a state. He later became our delegate in Congress, then a Senator.

Throughout his time in public service, Bartlett always conducted himself with grace, and made allies which helped Alaska in many causes, including statehood. According to Sam Bisshop’s article run in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in Aug. 13, 2003:

“He was of course responsible for statehood—there is no question about it in my mind,” said Fairbanks attorney Mary Nordale. It was Bartlett who finally reeled in House Speaker Sam Rayburn and Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson, she said.

Many people in Alaska still have personal memories of Bartlett, and everyone I’ve heard speaks highly of him.

“He was just very interested in everybody. He had an enormous number of friends,” his daughter recalled.

I am proud to have gone to school at one of his namesakes, Bartlett High School in Anchorage.

Here’s my main source for this post and a good place to get more details about Bob Bartlett: University of Alaska’s UA Journey website:

Posted on January 12, 2018

#Let’sThinkAbout Critical Thinking

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that I usually have a theme of the year that I discuss in some of my blog posts. I’ve spent some time lately thinking about what I want to explore in 2018. There’s certainly a lot going on out there, and several worthy ideas to pursue. Right now, I’m curious about critical thinking, how we learn to use it and how we find the truth when it’s not obvious. It keeps popping up in my writing, and in conversations with others. My husband came up with “fake fake news,” and while that’s good, it may sound kind of flippant in some situations. So I am using “Let’s think about….” or #Let’sThinkAbout for a theme title this year.

Depending on the post, we might think about critical thinking itself. Or we could discuss a resource to help us with our critical thinking. Or we might find an example of something that we can examine with critical thinking to arrive at a conclusion. Or I might find other related ideas—we’ll see where this goes over the course of the year. I’m hoping we’ll find interesting ways to think about this concept and play with it a bit.

To start us out, let’s consider critical thinking. The Cambridge English Dictionary defines it as “the process of thinking carefully about a subject or idea, without allowing feelings or opinions to affect you.” Oxford Living Dictionaries defines it as “The objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgement.” I notice both imply some sifting through information in an objective way to arrive at a conclusion. So I would expect we would need to gather information from more than one source, and try to look at things without letting our fears or other feelings get in the way. We’ll start with that, and use our critical thinking skills as we go forward into 2018.  Let’s think about it! 🙂