The Solutions Desk
Anne Hillman, the Solutions Desk Reporter at Alaska Public Media, began her journalism career in 2007 with a mission: to tell stories of success from across the vast Alaskan landscape. Hillman’s work inspires hope in Alaskans working toward a brighter future by highlighting positive and culturally-affirming messages. Hillman spreads her message with radio stories, which are then posted online with audio components.
Among her many hats, Hillman runs the community dialogue series “Community in Unity”. These are hour-long conversations for radio (and sometimes television) which feature various topics. Some installations have panels, and others are just conversations; Hillman assembles these to highlight voices of members from communities whose voices are not always given a platform (immigrants, Alaska Native people, foster children, those experiencing mental illness and homelessness, etc.). These stories serve to shed light on issues in the public eye from a new standpoint: one designed to tell the brighter side of the story.
Hillman also runs a reporting series “Fostering our Future” – a series which won Best Audio Series from the Northwest chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. The most recent entry tells the story of Kwigillingok’s Child Protection Team – a team of elders (and some younger people) working to stage protective interventions in families experiencing turbulence to reduce the number of children removed from the village and placed into foster care. This team is an official branch of the tribal government but works on an entirely volunteer basis. Hillman writes that, when the team began, “10 to 15 kids were removed from the village of 400 each year.” The Child Protection Team has reduced cases of neglect and OCS intervention drastically through a campaign of education, intervention, and healing. Read more about the team’s work here. (Note: the Alaska Resilience Initiative is fortunate to have a member of the Kwingillingok’s Child Protection Team on our Trauma-Informed Systems Change workgroup.)
Based on her inspiring track record telling stories of success and empowerment, it should come as no surprise that we’re really excited for Hillman’s newest series, which launched yesterday. In an interview given to the Alaska Resilience Initiative, Hillman stated that the community-driven radio series will focus on “people and programs who are making Alaska communities stronger.” Each month, the Solutions Desk will feature a different topic; this month, the radio series will highlight hunger, and September is dedicated to strategies for success after prison. Future topics will focus on mental health and strengthening our youth. Ultimately, though, all of the topics relate in one way or another to resiliency and the power of connections.
Each week will feature a new in-depth radio feature that highlights a solution and analyze its effectiveness. Once per month the topic will be the focus of the statewide call-in program Talk of Alaska. The Solutions Desk also hosts Community in Unity, community dialogue events, about some of these topics on a quarterly basis around the state.
“Though I chose the first two monthly topics, my hope is that the focus of future stories and themes will be chosen by Alaskans,” Hillman stated in the interview. “The project is meant to be community-driven – Alaskans talking to other Alaskans about what's working in their communities and what questions they still need help with. To that end, I'm collecting ideas both through a webform and through text messages. People can text ‘solutions’ to 907-885-6055 and start giving feedback. Other ideas will be collected during live conversations, like Talk of Alaska and Community in Unity.”
No doubt, Hillman will use her talents as a multimedia reporter to illustrate stories of Mental Health and Resilience – topics that are very important to ARI’s work. Be sure to follow her new series to learn tips and tools for building Resilience, reducing trauma, and promoting mental health from Alaskans who have succeeded in their communities!
Blog entry by Kate Farmer,
Alaska Resilience Initiative
Kate Farmer from Valdez, Alaska is a Summer Intern with the Alaska Resilience Initiative. Her passion for supporting children with trauma, talents with policy writing and analysis, and desire to make a difference in her home state led her to join ARI in May. This August she will return to school at Mount Holyoke College (South Hadley, MA) for her third year of her Bachelors in Psychology.