This Saturday, Unalaska is hosting the inaugural Bering Sea Women’s Conference.
Organizer Beatriz Dietrick said the event has evolved from a clinic-sponsored health session into an independent storytelling conference.
KUCB’s Laura Kraegel sat down with Dietrick to learn more.
BEATRIZ DIETRICK: This year, we decided to take it a little bit of a different route. It’s not really health-focused, although hopefully that’s a secondary benefit of the conference. It’s more focused on storytelling and how that can break down barriers and facilitate conversation and collaboration.
KUCB: Why is it important to bring women together that way? Especially in a place like Unalaska or a region like the Aleutians Islands?
BD: Gender equality has been identified as hugely important when we talk about community resilience and how to make our communities sustainable. There’s been a lot of research on this — and how to better incorporate women into the decision-making process, specifically in Arctic regions and rural fishing communities.
So it’s really an evidence-based intervention for building community resilience. To incorporate women to the best degree possible. To involve them in the conversation. To connect women with each other, so they’re collaborating rather than independently vying for finite resources. This idea of bringing women together to collaborate, talk, listen, and tell their stories is really in the vein of building a resilient community.
KUCB: With those goals in mind, who’s speaking at the conference?
BD: The two guest speakers who are coming into town for this are Claire Neaton, cofounder of the Salmon Sisters, and Cordelia Kellie, who’s this amazing community organizer. She’s been very active in the Legislature. She’s currently working on her masters in rural development at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
From Claire’s perspective, she grew up fishing in the Aleutians and Homer. She has this amazing business that speaks to so many generations of Alaskans, so there will be a business development aspect to it. And in the vein of Cordelia Kellie’s expertise, a community organizing aspect to it. There will be some tangible takeaways as well as uniting women over the sharing of stories.
The Bering Sea Women's Conference is Saturday, Oct. 28 at the Grand Aleutian Hotel. It's free and open to the public. Register online here.