Education, Facebook and community are three things that rarely come together in a harmonious way. But on the Facebook page called “You know you grew up in Anchorage when…” that is exactly what one will find. While the title of the page conjures images of the common stereotypes those who have grown up in Alaska have become accustomed to, this page also offers a detailed account of Anchorage’s rich history as recalled by the residents who have seen it evolve.
Betty Tunnell, administrator and creator of the “You know you grew up in Anchorage when…” Facebook page came to Alaska after her father had been stationed across the state four different times and fell so in love with the state, eventually leaving the family to live in Alaska during the early sixties. When Tunnell became an adult she discovered that she was fascinated with talking to people who remembered old Anchorage, although they were few and far between. It wasn’t until 2011 that Tunnell made her fascination public by creating a page called “You know you grew up in Anchorage when…” on Facebook. She started by sending out a few hundred invites for people to join the page. Since then, membership rose to the 11,889 members it has today.
On any given day post can feature a variety of topics from memories of the good ole days, before Anchorage had paved roads, past and present politicians, and individual “remember when” moments.
But like most things, this page is not without work.
“The problem is anytime you bring up politics or religion, people seem to forget how to act like grown-ups,” Tunnell said.
She went on to address those who scream that her moderation of the site violates their First Amendment rights.
“The First Amendment pertains to your rights with the government!” Tunnell said. “This is my page, and I have the right to delete whatever stands in the way of remembering the good in Anchorage, both past and present.”
This page holds historical context for Anchorage. Within the page memories are posts documenting events like when Kiss played in Anchorage in 1974 and 2000, as well as photos of Anchorage before the 1964 earthquake.
This raises the question: Can the perspectives of individuals who lived in a certain place during a particular time period benefit individuals of all ages?
Long time Anchorage resident Amber Bates said “This is a great page for people of all ages to come share their memories of living in Anchorage. Even if you don’t post to the page, it’s fun to see what others post and learn new things about Anchorage”.