Ilisagvik College – Barrow Alaska

This last week I had the opportunity to fly up to Barrow with my oldest son Caleb and Sundog team member and programmer extraordinaire Kym Van Arsdale to meet with our new client Ilisagvik College

Barrow Alaska is the northern most city in the United States and a very unique location, both desolate and special in different ways.  The last time I was up in Barrow teaching a web design class was in the winter so it was a treat to go up when it was still almost 24 hour daylight and the temps where about 80 degrees warmer.  Our first day we left Anchorage at 6:00 in the morning and then spent most of the day in Fairbanks waiting for fog to clear before we could finally safely land in Barrow.  Once we finally touched down in Barrow we were met by Annie Patterson, Ilisagvik College’s marketing coordinator who helped check us into the college dorm rooms for the night.  It was great to stay at the dorms because it really allowed us to get a good feel for the culture and experience of the College.  The students were very friendly and one of the young ladies shared with us some of her traditional Muktuk (Frozen Whale skin and blubber).  I have always wanted to try this traditional food and actually liked it more than I thought I would.  It had a bit of a clam taste and with some salt was great.

Friday after a wonderful breakfast at the College cafeteria we went out to one of the out buildings to review the progress of the new website and brainstorm improvements and ideas towards the goal of launching a new and wonderful site for the College.  I never tire of the before and after experience of taking a site that is older and in need of work and going through the discovery and design and development of a new website.  After our meeting Annie took us on a tour of Barrow and shared some of her wonderful illustrations and books that she has published.  One of the goals I had set for the trip personally was to do the polar bear plunge.  Now I guess there is an official book and a patch you can get if you pay the money and have a witness see the big splash and full submersion but I am not one, well at least to much for fan fare but I did pack my swimsuit and intended to jump on in.  As luck would have it the College was having a back to school bonfire and it was almost cheating to know that after Caleb and I took the plunge we would be able to warm up by the fire.  It was a sunny afternoon and the seas were gentle and you could almost believe that you were on the beaches in hawaii, but let me tell you there was no doubt about it once you went under that it was not hawaii.  I managed to avoid getting a shrill girl scream on camera since Kym was video taping but it did make you know you were alive and of course I had to do it a few more times to full enjoy the moment.  Caleb was a little more tentative but did do it twice and to his credit he does not have near the flubber I have for keeping warm.  Sharing the bonfire with the students and some of the staff of the college was a great opportunity to be a part of what is truly a unique part of Alaska and the world.  I am still sore from the beach football but I will heal.
Sundog Media has allowed me over the last 16 years to travel some of Alaska and meet many talented and remarkable folks and I look forward over the next decade to continue to travel, explore and get to know more great Alaskans and be a part of growing their web brand.
I want to give a extra special thanks to Annie and the College for hosting us:)  Thanks also for the books Annie, I look forward to reading them to the boys.
Joe Law