KVAK TV uses storytelling to address pressing local themes of isolation, location, and cultural shifts in the isolated community of Kivalina, Alaska
KVAK TV is a youth-oriented media project that stands for Kivalina, Alaskan Television. The project uses storytelling to address pressing local themes of isolation, location, and cultural shifts in Kivalina. The tiny coastal village is threatened by rising sea levels that are a result of climate change, and relocation is an imminent reality for Kivalina residents.
KVAK’s youth focus is a direct response to Kivalina demographics: over 50% of its population is under the age of 25. The village’s geographical isolation creates many challenges for its youth, including high suicide rates. In response to these conditions, KVAK TV partnered with The Alaskan Design Forum to use social media and television programming as a means for Kivalina youth to connect with the outside world and to relieve feelings of isolation. KVAK TV hosted a series of after school workshops to instruct youth on camera and interviewing techniques, and provided an equipment library for use outside of workshops.
Participating youth created a video-based portrait of their coastal village in Kivalina, Alaska, sharing their village games and their day-to-day lives. In collaboration with KVAK TV, they created 3 episodes of a live performance television show. These were aired on Alaskan public television, and formed part of the True North exhibition at the Anchorage Museum.
The imminent relocation of the village makes the material produced through KVAK TV’s workshops an important platform for Kivalina’s youth to share site-specific stories of home. The geotagged Youtube videos were compiled onto a website and grouped into the narrative categories: “Being Young in Kivalina,” “Current Events,” Tradition,” and “Relocation.”