Alaska Snow Safety Summit

Advancing avalanche safety in Alaska for the general public


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What did you like best about the summit?

I really liked how everyone had an opportunity to speak. This was very valuable. And, I appreciated that the agenda was flexible to allow for everyone to speak.

It was a great opportunity to share concerns and ideas with professionals from areas we rarely see.

The concept of a state agency

Networking opportunities

Alaskans around the state across the discipline showed up. Politicians showed up. A shop owner showed up.

Hearing from individual attendees.

Gathering the snow safety professionals and hearing who and what folks do...

Suggestions for improvement?

Allotting time to allow for a discussion after hearing everyone's comments. Possibly breaking into smaller groups to report on future visions, differences in visions and such. Also, professional atmosphere, it was unfortunate to hear the AAIC (Summit organizer) Board President publicly call his employer a "junk show".

I would like to see time allocated for breaking into working groups to discuss, refine, and debate. Often when everyone gets to say one thing, people don't get the time to really understand each other.

There was no flow or direction. Even your opening speaker in Mr Hamry didnt support the agenda you were pushing. It was confusing.

Get your technology/ media figured out beforehand. I was interested in what Mike Buck had to say but could not hear him for the life of me.

Mike Buck's talk needed sound. 2) Phone system needed testing. 3) Consider making it a day long event with focused break out forums addressing specific tricky issues. 4) #6 in this survey needs expandable typing boxes.

Anytime there is a community decision on the table, I believe a "roundtable" or discussion type meetings have to be priority.It must be the educator in me. I believe the efforts of this last weeks meeting were tremendous, but there are always room for improvements in all we do. I would suggest start the communications with asking questions and getting everyone's ideas for answers. Work with the group to create the purpose especially if we are looking at a large community outcome or result. The agenda seemed a bit reverse, but that isn't a bad thing, it just leads us away from community decision making. I heard loud and clear the purpose from Debra was getting a larger statewide "entity", but being first year attending, I also heard incredible professional feedback on other options and why not to move forward to the "state wide." No matter what decision was on the table last week at the meeting…it could have been about politics or education, it is so clear where the disconnect is in my eyes….the process. It is like one team leader is running up the hill on the trail saying, "come one come on, lets get to the top," while others in the group want to look at the weather, a few people in the back are just wanting to look at the map to be sure this is the best route, another person has taken a different route in the past and definitely believes there is a better way, while a few folks have hot spots or are hungry and need to take a break. Debra and company, if you are asking for my suggestion, it would be to present a question to the community…let go of the final product and ask the community and keep asking the community and then with a panel of experts from a diverse mix of professionals, listen to the feedback. The hardest job you have is the vulnerability of asking your question because we always risk not hearing what we want to hear. But I truly believe, and not being a snow expert myself, the answers are in that room and I believe by changing the process, and having more of a community wide discussion, not meeting or presentation, then you, me, we, they, will really hear what people know, what people think and what people want. Again, Debra, I sing your praises on your work this past week. Since this box is asking for suggestions, I am offering them. The summary of above is, I heard there are concerns and rather than stopping things because of concerns…and I heard there was some support, and rather than moving fast forward due to some supports, the work needs to continue…that room had many, many professional thoughts in there and I believe no decision is close until the people are asking the questions and providing the answers. Just like the group of hikers, the leader can't tell them the pace, the whole group needs to decide at the breakfast table, before even hitting the trails- "where are we wanting to go?" Thanks Again Debra for listing to suggestions, great work last week.

Did you learn anything new about the state of snow safety in Alaska?

I have been thinking a lot about this topic recently and I would say it provided additional food for thought and a better understanding of where different people and groups are coming from. I came away from the evening hearing different views regarding the need for a statewide avalanche center. I did not feel there was consensus among the group for a statewide center. Dave Hamre's talk stating the challenges from the past, when there was a statewide center, was appreciated. I did not come away with an understanding of how the statewide vision would be accomplished and the steps being proposed. I did come away feeling positive that there is a lot to be accomplished with entities already in place (AAIC and its affiliates, CNFAIC, etc) and working on that.


I learned that AK still seems pretty divided on the issue of a statewide network of avy info. The 2 themes I heard were some folks (mostly Anchorage and Girdwood-centric) wanted to concentrate on their bubble and share info very locally as that is where they get the most value. Some of the further-out entities see benefit in a state-wide network. I also learned that Pete Carter is very un-professional based on a few of his comments and personal discussions with him.

AAIC has successfully taken on the job of networking

I was pleasantly impressed with the diverse mix of experts that exist in a field that I have existed in as volunteer status and user for the past 13 years.

If you did not get to provide input during the summit, or want to add comments, feel free to respond to the following

I feel the group attending the Summit should pay attention to fostering/growing local relationships with a central focus on quality. For example, how to provide the most quality information to the public with the resources available.

Networking practitioners for the good of themselves, the business and, most importantly, the end users.

When you say group, do you mean the attendees? I believe paying attention to all the voices. It is hard work, but before any change can occur, the work of listening and gathering input is necessary.

The CNFAIC can contribute time and energy toward growing our relationship and working with AAIC and its grassroots efforts to provide quality, nationally recognized, avalanche information to key areas in Alaska.

AAIC Valdez aims to be a well oiled machine ready for the merger/acquisition by whomever. In today's political climate, government isn't going to fund anything new that's not already built. Everyone in Alaska's snow safety effort can learn from the development of a grass-roots non-government collaborative model. Everyone can learn from AAIC's example of working together for the greater good. AAIC is synergy.

the F-CNFAIC are willing to be at the table and discuss answers to any question that is presented. Debra you gathered all the right people and have started dialogues, but we need to now listen and listen very carefully.


Other comments?

Thank you for the time and effort to put this event on!

1) Schedule next year's event as soon as possible. 2) Circulate the contact information of each participant. 3) Ask each participant who else should be included. 4) Ask for carefully thought out and clearly written descriptions of the problems facing the participants avalanche work.

There are still concerns of credibility and professionalism about some of the grassroot avalanche forecasters. This will need to get sorted out in order to make high quality avalanche products available for Alaskan public & in order to achieve the common professsional standards in lower 48. Let's be respectful of all the community and continue build on trust instead of behind the backs scheming.

Thanks again to AAIC and Debra for all your work!

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December 13, 2014 at 11:28 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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