AK Walk to Fisterra A Fairbanks musicians pilgrimage through Spain

first_imgIt happens to be the documentary film showing in Fairbanks that drew Johansen up here this week and he follows in Gail Johansen’s footsteps and just like his mom teaches at the Fairbanks Suzuki Institute.When asked about whether his students knew of Johansen’s “rockstar” status, one of his students replied, “Oh yes.” Johansen’s mother would often talk about him, and the student knew Johansen for a long time.“I do love coming back to this community whenever I get a chance. It’s just home, and the people are wonderful. I don’t find people like this everywhere in the world so it’s really special to come back and get to experience this beautiful place.”Johansen’s Walk to Fisterra, shows at UAF’s at 7 p.m. Friday night in Fairbanks. “Walk to Fisterra” is a new documentary film showing tonight in Fairbanks featuring Alaskan born cellist Dane Johansen walking over 500 miles carrying his cello on his back, playing the Bach Cello Suites along the Spanish pilgrimage to Carmino de Santiago. Johansen is the son of Fairbanks School of Talent Education founder and current Fairbanks Suzuki Institute Music Director Gail Johansen so learning a string instrument was almost a given in the Johansen household. Johansen picked up the cello when he was just 4 and as he grew in talent and stature, so did the weight and size of the cello which posed a few challenges as he trekked with tens of thousands of other pilgrims on the walk to Fisterra.Download AudioDane Johansen (Courtesy of Walk to Fisterra)Carrying the cello for almost 600 miles was actually not as much of a challenge as Johansen thought it was going to be.“The size of it and the shape of the case made it a little more challenging than a backpack would’ve been in that it wasn’t really tied to my back,” Johansen said. “It was blowing in the wind a little more freely than a backpack might. But overall, the experience was not physically so difficult. I was actually probably under the same amount of weight as anyone else walking that route with a fairly well packed backpack.”Johansen describes himself as a Fairbanks kid and loves the outdoors and spending time in nature.“I always kind of felt this pull in two different directions between music and my love for paying the cello and adventure and the outdoors and all the things I like to do away from music,” Johansen said. “I couldn’t ever find a way to put those two things together.”Then this project helped him do that.“So that was a really nice thing,” Johansen said. “To finally realize, combining those two different areas of my life.”The pilgrimage from the Great Perenees in the South of France across Spain to the most northwestern corner of Spain took Johansen and his documentary film crew 40 days. Johansen performed 36 evenings along the journey at different venues from town squares to ancient churches. Every performance included at least 3 of the 6 Bach Suites for Solo Cello. The inspiration for the adventure developed over time.Camino de Santiago (Courtesy of Walk to Fisterra)“It was inspired by a friend of mine, a composer, who had walked the Appalachian Trail here in the United States, and he had written 81 movements for string quartet along the way about his experience on the Appalachian Trail,” Johansen said.Johansen got really inspired and thought that he could do something like that, maybe with his cello. He got started looking for a venue and he knew the Appalachian Trail wasn’t going to work because there’s just not that many people on it.“So I needed a place with a lot of people, a lot of traffic,” Johansen said. “So I found the Carmino de Santiago and it seemed like a good fit for this idea, carrying my Cello and the music of Bach with me. It kind of snowballed from there. I told a friend of mine about it who’s an audio engineer and he said, ‘Oh, well you have to record the music in all those churches along the way’ and I thought I could probably figure out how to do that. And then a filmmaker friend of mine said, ‘You should really think about making a documentary film about it.”Dane Johansen performing in the KUAC studios (Photo by KUAC)last_img read more

FHAs Insurance Fund Back in Black

first_imgFHA’s Insurance Fund Back in Black in Daily Dose, Featured, Government, News American Enterprise Institute Bailout FHA Mortgage Insurance National Association of Realtors 2014-11-17 Tory Barringer For the first time in two years, the Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) mortgage insurance fund is back above water, according to an agency report.Following an independent review of its finances, FHA reported to Congress Monday that its Mutual Mortgage Insurance (MMI) Fund is valued at $4.8 billion for the fiscal year 2014, a step up from last year’s shortfall of $1.3 billion.HUD said the fund’s recovery “is a result of aggressive policy actions” instituted in the wake of 2012’s actuarial report, which showed the fund was $16.3 billion in the red as a result of the housing crisis.In the years since that report, HUD and FHA leaders have taken steps to restore the fund to health, including raising insurance premiums and stepping up underwriting criteria to reduce risk of future losses.”This year’s report shows that the fundamentals of the Fund are strong,” said HUD Secretary Julian Castro. “This is positive news for the economy and the millions of American families that count on FHA.”While the latest report reflects a $21 billion turnaround for the agency’s insurance pool, the fund’s current capital ratio is only 0.41 percent, well below the 2 percent level FHA is supposed to maintain.Still, it means the agency won’t require another bailout—as it did last year for the first time in its history.With the MMI Fund on relatively stable ground, HUD says it plans to focus on expanding mortgage availability through its “Blueprint for Access,” the next step of which is the formal launch of its “Homeowners Armed With Knowledge” (HAWK) Program created to provide counseling and credit to underserved borrowers.For now, industry groups are calling for FHA to bring mortgage premiums back down and eliminate a requirement that insurance be held for the life of a mortgage.In a statement, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) estimated that nearly 400,000 creditworthy borrowers were priced out of the housing market last year alone due to elevated FHA insurance premiums.”By lowering its fees, FHA could provide greater access to homeownership for historically underserved groups,” said NAR President Chris Polychron. “A shift in policy would also increase the volume of borrowers acquiring FHA-backed loans and contribute to the solvency of the MMI Fund.”Not everyone agrees, however. Edward Pinto, co-director and chief risk officer of the American Enterprise Institute’s International Center on Housing Risk, says FHA continues to insure loans with an “unacceptably high risk of default,” with nearly one in four FHA homebuyers slated to be at risk of default if the economy experiences another downturn.”Since FHA’s financial future is still uncertain, now is not the time to reduce premiums. It has nowhere near the level of reserves to withstand even a minor recession,” Pinto said. “Given FHA’s current high risk practices, it would be imprudent to not stay the course; it should not lower premiums.”center_img November 17, 2014 674 Views Sharelast_img read more

Go back to the enewsletter With two locations to

first_imgGo back to the e-newsletterWith two locations to choose from – and another in the planning stages – travellers can explore the rainforests of Thailand with The Flight of the Gibbon.Ziplines, skybridges, platform lookouts and abseiling experiences give different perspectives on one-day adventures exploring the rainforest canopies around Chiang Mai and Pattaya, with a third zipline course planned for Kho Pa Ngan.Flight of the Gibbon’s first zipline course opened in Chiang Mai in 2007 and has gone on to win awards and thrill visitors with the experience. In Chiang Mai, a VIP package offering an exclusive, private experience is now available. The package includes private luxury transportation, a tour personally conducted by a resident nature specialist and a champagne picnic-style afternoon tea at a beautiful riverside location in the forest. Two experienced Sky Rangers are on hand for the private zipline experience.On all tours, accompanied by Sky Rangers working to the highest possible safety standards, participants also have the chance to encounter wild gibbons.The best odds for this extraordinary experience is on an early morning tour (pick up around 6.30am), when the gibbons are most vocal and active. The gibbon colony living near the Chiang Mai zipline has gone from strength to strength and grown in numbers with the birth of offspring. There is nothing more thrilling than hearing the ‘song’ of these endangered mammals.Flight of the Gibbon’s Chiang Mai zipline course is located in the mountain village of Mae Kampong, an hour’s drive east of central Chiang Mai city. Mae Kampong is home to a small community, with some villagers employed on the zipline. Visitors can also stay overnight in a homestay, or can take a tour to see local traditions and skills. The day tour also includes lunch and round-trip transfers from your hotel.The Chonburi Zipline course is located on the borders of Chompoo Wildlife Reserve, about halfway between Bangkok and Pattaya. The tour includes pick-up and drop-off from Bangkok or Pattaya. Chonburi Zipline is within Khao Kheow Safari Park, making it almost certain that you will see gibbons as part of your Flight of the Gibbon zipline experience. Go back to the e-newsletterlast_img read more