Everyone My Brother Knows in  Girdwood, Alaska

My younger brother Jason and I were both originally from Alaska. When I was five years old and he was two, my Mom loaded us up into our 1965 International pickup camper "Bumpin' George" along with three standard poodles (Beau, Tilly and Fancy) and two guinea pigs (Ichi and Blossom), and we began the 3,700 mile journey down the treacherous Al-Can highway to our new home in Southern California. 

Jason was only two at the time, but his gregarious nature was already clear. It seemed he could almost instantly befriend anyone – from rebellious, punked-out hipsters to soccer moms to conservative business types. When it came time to sell candy for school fund-raising activities – I would always hand over my goods to Jason. He was good at selling and far more outgoing than I was, and after about an hour he'd return home with an empty box, the cash envelope full, and stories of a bunch of new friends he'd made.

In 1999, Jason returned to Alaska – settling in the small town of Girdwood. As one might expect, he quickly wove himself into the web of the local culture, building a network of friends that spanned the entire gamut of Girdwood's tiny society.

They say people live in Alaska for a variety of reasons – maybe they were raised there and they choose to stay close to home, maybe they go there to get closer to nature, perhaps they move there in an attempt to get off the grid, seeking refuge from some aspect of more mainstream society. Whatever their motivations, these people form a unique tribe – one with a quirky combination of self-imposed semi-isolation and worldly awareness.

In July 2008, I had the good fortune to spend a couple of weeks among these wonderful and interesting people. From my temporary quarters in the back of Chair 5, and on the back patio of the Silvertip, and in a few other makeshift studio locations around town – here is a selection from the series Everyone my Brother Knows in Girdwood, Alaska.

— Laura Domela