Civic Action Fair

Students of the Introduction to Civic Engagement class at Kodiak College discuss preparations for the Civic Action Fair.

A semester’s worth of learning will culminate Friday with Kodiak’s first ever Civic Action Fair.

A new class called Introduction to Civic Engagement was taught at Kodiak College this year. Thia Falcone, who heads the Sociology Department at Kodiak College, taught 15 students how to bring about change in the community. Those skills will be on display at the fair, the aim of which is to connect eager volunteers with organizations that need extra pairs of hands.

Roxanne Larson, one of the students taking the class, explained that the class has been centered on the basics of “being part of your community and helping out.” This is the idea from which the Civic Action Fair sprung.

“You hear from a lot of people who want to volunteer but just don’t know how,” said Larson, who’s been a student of Falcone’s in a number of different classes. “Our motto is: making it easy for good causes and good people to unite.”

The fair will take place between noon and 2 p.m. in Room 130 in the Benny Benson Building at the Kodiak College campus. It will involve local organizations of all kinds setting up stalls to demonstrate what they do and how volunteers can help. 

Larson said there will be 25-30 organizations at the fair, including the Senior Center, the Red Cross, Bayside Fire Department, and a number of Native corporations. Jeff Woods, another student of the class, described the fair as “a means by which to connect to potential volunteers with organizations, to streamline the process.”

Falcone, who has been working at the college in some capacity since 1987, said, “Every year, I try to teach a service-learning class.”

In a regular class, she explained, you take content relating to a topic and use that as a basis for assignments. Service learning, on the other hand, begins with a project (in this case, the Civic Action Fair), and then the content and assignments shoot off from that. 

The class involved seminars on topics like how democracy relates to civic action, but everything that was learned was aimed toward the final project of the Civic Action Fair. 

In order to teach a service-learning class, you need to have “a high tolerance for chaos,” said Falcone with a grin.

On a recent Monday evening, during one of the classes regular meets, the students were busying themselves with final preparations for the fair. 

The brochure was being reviewed, two students were archiving documents from the semester and a central cluster was discussing the list of organizations that had already confirmed they were coming. 

According to Luke Bunting, the biggest lesson that the class has taught him is “to bring a community event together, it requires a lot of hard work and teamwork. Otherwise, it falls apart.”

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