Alaska’s Most Dangerous Hood – What It Really Looks Like

Sep 11, 2022 1.3M Views 3.3K Comments

Today we walk the streets of what many Alaskans call the most dangerous place in the state. Mountain View–a neighborhood in Anchorage–has a terrible reputation, but what does it feel like to walk around there for an afternoon? Join me as we meet the locals and learn about their way of life.

► Jasmin’s business: https://www.babyvendunlimited.com
► Jasmin’s socials: https://www.instagram.com/babyvend/
https://www.instagram.com/iamjasminsmith/
► Boys & Girls Club of Mountain View: https://bgcalaska.org

► Video edited by: Natalia Santenello
► Researched by: Kymberly Redmond

PETER: Oh, I’m good. Thank you.
WOMAN: Okay.
Good afternoon.
Here in Downtown Anchorage, Alaska
and when most people think of Alaska
they’re thinking of moose, of mountains
of the great outdoors
and not thinking of hoods.
So today we’re gonna go into
what many of the locals call
“The hood of Anchorage”
to get a better understanding
of what it’s like there on the ground.
Let’s do this.
♪ music ♪
So this is Downtown Mountain View?
– Yeah, I mean I guess we kinda joke
and call it Downtown,
Mountain View but yeah.
– Okay.
– So Mountain View is
often times given a bad rap.
– Okay.
I mean by data-wise and economics
it is one of the more lower-income
neighborhoods in Alaska.
– Okay.
– You know, but on the flip side.
we’ve also gotten some awards
for being the most diverse.
– Okay.
– Our schools having
some of the most languages spoken
and we have a really big
density of culture
and community in a short time.
So it just kind of makes for like a…
A very interesting mix because
you have a lot of, like, highs
and positive things with the neighborhood
and then of course
you have challenges, you know?
It’s definitely a labor of love.
Like a lot of questions every day about
“Why do people stay here?” [chuckles]
or like, “Why am I here?”
PETER: Are you from here?
I’ve been here since my early 20s
but I wasn’t from here originally.
So I was actually raised in Eagle River.
Which is more of a
upper-income neighborhood.
It’s a suburb outside of Anchorage.
And I moved here in my early 20s
and I left for a little while
and then I came back
when I was pregnant with twins.
– Okay.
– At that time I kinda
found myself, like, homeless
and kind of struggling a little bit so…
Mountain View was
a neighborhood that just embraced me.
Like I didn’t have to
have the perfect credit
the perfect story
the perfect anything.
I just needed a place to stay and
Mountain View neighborhood
gave me a chance.
– Jasmin has a super
interesting business story.
Which we’ll get in to.
-‘Cause you’ll show us.
-Yes, for sure.
-But you were totally down on your luck.
-Mm-hmm.
And now that you’re not down on your luck
you still choose to live here.
– I do, I know we have things
that we’re still working on
and we still have some aspects of crime
and some aspects of violence
but we’re doing way better
and I think I like that fact that
our community is
trying together, you know?
-Right.
-So that makes me wanna stay.
And like do my part
and try to make the neighborhood
better with them.
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Now back to the story.
Dave, I came to the back door,
my bad.
Dave: No, you’re good.
Are you coming in or…
I didn’t mean to interrupt anything.
– No, I’m coming because of something
random but I thought about you
He’s doing a show for YouTube.
And he’s like, “Who do you know
who’s somebody in Mountain View?”
I’m like, “Let’s talk to Dave.”
JASMIN: Dave is like…
PETER: You’re the Mayor, Dave?
-No, man. [Dave chuckles]
-He’s like everybody’s uncle and dad.
PETER: How long you been here?
DAVE: 2008.
<Okay.
for kids in Mountain View?
Mothers don’t have to pay for daycare?
DAVE: Yeah, it’s 6 to 18 ages.
-6 to 18?
-Yeah.
-And so it’s a pretty big facility, yeah?
-Yeah, yeah.
– Dave holds it down.
You don’t give yourself enough credit,
I swear when I say Dave holds it down
JASMIN: He doesn’t give himself enough credit.
PETER: Dave, why do you do it?
– Why not?
I feel like I’m built for it.
The community embraced me,
I embraced the community
and there was a need, and let’s go.
Yeah, we love Dave.
pretty much set up already?
Just more opportunity for our kids
to succeed in life.
[laughs] That’s on ongoing thing, right?
That will never be satisfied.
But we’ve got phenomenal kids.
We’ve got a great community
-Summer’s always kind of wanky.
-Like hundreds or…
Yeah, during the school yeah, yes.
-Hundreds?
-Yeah.
a lifeline for a lot of kids?
-I would think so.
Before school, after school,
we got a meal program.
We’re just trying
to keep the kids engaged.
You know, COVID definitely
gave us a comfort level of home
and gaming, and…
You know, whatever.
But I’m slowly seeing the kids start
getting back into kid behaviors,
and shape, and socialization.
– So they sort of snapped out of it
with video games and staying home?
– I think so.
And Alaska summers are just different.
– Staying in the house, yeah.
– It doesn’t get dark til what, 3:00 AM-ish?
– That’s true, yeah.
<Yeah, that’s been
interesting to get used to.
Yeah, a lot of our kids go to bed
when the sun goes down
and they wake up about 12 hours later
Our parents typically work
but they’re not working a 9 to 5.
We don’t have a lot of banking families.
It’s a pretty diverse neighborhood
you were saying.
What about racial issues?
Is there beef between different groups
or everyone sort of gets along or…
– I mean I don’t really see any racial beef.
Honestly I think it’s just
living in the neighborhood.
Like as you heard, it’s Mountain View.
Gotta be unified.
I mean there’s the same common attitude
about you from the neighborhood.
So you really can’t be divided by
Black from Mountain View
or White from Mountain View
or whatever from Mountain View,
you’re just from Mountain View.
So it’s pretty…
It’s pretty harmonious in that capacity.
That’s what I’ve seen.
– I think so too.
– Yeah.
You know, and then the kids
play together at school.
They play together here.
You know I think they got more in common
than they necessarily do different.
PETER: Dave, you were saying
you get a bad rap but what?
[all chuckling]
JASMIN: But we earn a little bit of it.
– Yeah, we might earn
a little bit of it but all in all
it’s a great neighborhood, it really is.
My kids go to school here.
people from Anchorage saying
“Oh, that’s Mountain View,
that’s the hood, it’s a no-go zone.”?
You’re missing out.
[truck idling]
So over here
before Cook Inlet came
and did revitalization over here
and then over here is Cook Inlet.
It was what people called a really
rough block of our neighborhood and…
PETER: This area?
JASMIN: Yeah.
Like right there,
they rebuilt all of that
and like our stuff too, see?
-Right.
-My children.
Who left my door open?
My son did that, I know him.
-This is your place?
-Yeah, right over here.
-So the neighborhood’s on the up?
-New development, things being built?
-Yeah.
– It’s like, yeah,
new development and beautifying
but intentional not to let everybody
kinda forget its roots, you know?
And I think that’s important.
Like I’m really big
on like gentrification stuff.
So I love the fact that
they’re investing in our neighborhood.
– Right.
– But it’s not taking away
our personalities.
If you see, like, house personalities…
We have an Alaskan Native family
who lives there.
And then a family from
North Africa in the back.
There’s a family from
The Sudan in the front.
There’s my house.
<Okay, so how does someone
from North Africa end up here in Alaska?
You’d think if they’re coming to the US
they’d go somewhere warmer.
– Well, I think honestly
if you’re coming from struggles
just to go somewhere safe.
And Alaska tends to not be
a place that folks think about, you know?
So I find that
the weather is a learning curve
but you don’t have
as much competition for resources.
– Okay.
PETER: Is this Section 8 housing?
-No, I think is just mixed use housing.
-Mixed use, okay.
Some folks are private pay
and some folks…
Is your mom home?
Tell her to come outside.
PETER: Are you guys waiting
for snow in Alaska?
You always have a sled out ready to go?
[ladies giggling]
-You’re from Anchorage?
-Mm-hmm.
Born and raised, 37 years.
<Okay, so tell me about it.
How’s it been for you?
– I mean this is just home.
It’s never been a hood to me.
Like our gangs, I feel like
are family members, you know?
<Okay.
Even if the person says
“Oh, I’m a Crip.” or “I’m a blood.”
Like, but you was just
at Auntie Neecy’s house
for the barbecue last weekend, you know?
Like it’s no…
PETER: The Bloods and Crips
are cooking burgers together on the grill?
I mean I’m for real.
That’s how I feel.
I don’t think it’s a hood
like people say it is.
This is very family friendly.
PETER: So everyone’s
in and out of these doors.
-Everyone knows each other?
-Oh yeah.
JASMIN: Especially their block,
y’all are like a whole…
– This right here is a huge family.
Whenever any one of us is cooking
or having anything
all the kids can come out.
– Fair to say it’s good for the kids to have
a bunch of kids around
so they can do this?
-Play, ride the bikes.
-Yeah.
PETER: No one’s lonely out here?
Oh, no.
And even if they…
ROZLYN: I ordered them.
JASMIN: Those are cute.
-Those are Native, yeah?
-Yes, they are authentic moccasins.
PETER: From where?
ROZLYN: I don’t know where she’s from.
[laughing]
You know I love my moccasins.
So this is beaver.
-Beaver fur across the top.
-Oh, wow.
-Do you have Native friends here?
-Oh, yeah.
-You do?
-Yep, I have Alaskan Native friends.
‘Cause we have Tasha
and then I’m a teacher too.
PETER: Is this your husband?
-Yeah, that’s my fiance.
-He don’t wanna be on camera though.
[laughing]
MAN: Off the record.
PETER: Come on, he’s got
some great things to say, I can tell.
Well he’s from South Carolina so…
PETER: Oh.
Is this a hood?
MAN: Nah, this is suburban.
[laughing]
JASMIN: He’s so silly.
PETER: How is it versus
South Carolina, living here?
I don’t know, this is still kinda nicer.
Yeah, you got people reppin’ blocks.
They come out sometimes, you know.
[all laughing]
Don’t get me wrong.
We’ll have random people thinking
that they’re cowboys and Indians
and stuff like that
but I love it here.
Like I want a house out here.
PETER: Are they
pretty expensive right now?
I don’t know, are they?
– So short answer is yes
but for Mountain View, we’re undervalued.
So it’s cheaper.
ROZLYN: She’s one of our moms too.
PETER: How are you doing?
– She’s a block mom.
WOMAN: ‘Cause I’m a working mom, you know?
-When I’m not here she cooks.
-Okay.
She’ll wash my clothes if I ask her to.
– I cook.
-I’m a cooker.
-Do you cook well?
-Yes.
-What are you cooking?
She will talk about that. [laughs]
– She’s Samoan so she’s really into
all the chicken, the ribs…
JASMIN: [yells] Hi!
Jack is our neighborhood, like,
safety Mountain View patrol.
Walking with all his dogs.
So me and him put the Mountain View
Community Council together.
Jack lives over here.
Jack walks in all weather,
seven days a week with his three dogs.
– In all weather.
And most of the time he’s in costume.
– Yes.
That got us through COVID.
– Jack’s walks.
– Yeah.
-How are you doing? Peter.
-Hello.
Nice to meet you, Jackson, Jack, whatever.
PETER: What I’m realizing
in my short time here.
There’s a lot of important
characters in society.
JACK: Oh, yeah.
PETER: From Dave over at the…
PETER: It was Dave right,
at the Boys & Girls?
PETER: To Jasmin and Jack.
– I mean that’s what
makes Mountain View so great
is it really is a neighborhood.
PETER: Right.
JACK: This is Buddy
and Buddy is one of my three dogs
and he is brain damaged.
-Okay.
-When he got out…
There were five families
who were out looking for him
along with me
and at least another dozen who were
watching out their window or their doors.
-It’s a neighborhood.
-Okay.
<You’re not gonna get that in other parts
of Anchorage or you don’t feel that?
No, I don’t
I’ve lived in lots of different
parts of Anchorage
other people might say
“Oh, we’ll keep an eye out.”
But that would be it
but there were people
pounding the streets watching for him.
When I was looking to buy 11 years ago
Mountain View was
one of my top two choices.
<Okay.
And it was because of the fact
that it really is a neighborhood.
They took you in, you were the newbie.
Didn’t matter, you were cool to them,
they were cool to you?
– Yep.
And the fact that it’s such an
incredibly diverse neighborhood.
I’m a social studies teacher.
<Okay.
So the diversity definitely excited me.
One of the stories I like to tell is that
about four years ago
I was walking three blocks
over to a friend’s house
for a neighborhood party.
One house that I walked by was
a Black family
listening to country-western.
<Okay.
And then a block later
there was a, I believe, Somali family
who was listening to Mariachi.
[Peter laughing]
Where on the planet
are you gonna find that
other than Mountain View,
Anchorage, Alaska?
PETER: So Jack, you were saying
in the nice neighborhood, what happened?
– You don’t know
any of your neighbors.
You’re in your house
and the person next door is in their house
and the person across the street’s
in their house
and you don’t socialize.
You don’t work together on anything.
Our community council is really strong.
We’ve made some amazing
improvements to the neighborhood
through the community council
and the other community councils…
There’s some other ones
that work really hard
but there are also some
that it’s just a social event.
“Oh, we’re going and we’re meeting
with the community council…”
“and that’s what we’re doing.”
In a complex like this
you can’t stay to yourself.
That was my fiance you met earlier
but when I moved here four years ago
I didn’t have a fiance.
I was just a single parent with five kids.
And so I’ve always
looked towards my neighbors,
my landlord…
He doesn’t live over here but he’s got
I wanna say maybe three properties
in North Mountain View
and about two properties
in South Mountain View.
Oddly, he’s very conservative, very White
but it’s like he really doesn’t see color
and so we don’t really have…
It’s fortunate that I have this man.
I’m not moving until I can get me a house.
I would love to get a house
in Mountain View but we also…
My mom’s got my four-wheelers
and we go fishing
and I’m a gun holder
with precautions, you know?
I’m from Alaska so you know…
PETER: Yeah, you have to have
a four-wheeler, and gun, and moccasins.
Yeah, [laughs] I mean I’m Alaskan.
I’m connected to a lady that’s
“Moms against guns.” you know.
And she’s like…
She needs more Alaskan moms.
So that we can kind of feed our agenda
because it’s different when
you have stateside no guns
versus we’re in Alaska.
I’m not just gonna walk out
and just shoot a black bear
but I mean if I’m camping
I definitely have my…
PETER: So you said stateside
is different than up here.
a big disconnect between the lower 48?
-The lesser 48.
-Okay.
[all laughing]
PETER: The inferiors.
-Yep.
-Yeah, that’s down there.
-The plebs?
-This is a different world.
Being in Alaska
is a completely different world.
Whether it’s politics
the way our children are being raised
the way we were raised
like, it’s not the same.
PETER: You think they’re
raised better up here?
– Umm.
– I think they’re definitely
raised more by a community.
JASMIN: Yeah.
PETER: They’re more
free-ranged children up here?
JASMIN: I would say yeah.
When my kids go down South
when I see my family and stuff down there.
I feel like it’s more fear.
You know what I mean?
Whereas kids up here, it’s still like
“Try it, go outside, see what happens,
if you mess up, let me know.”
PETER: It’s like our childh…
How old are you, Jack?
[Jack laughs]
JACK: 61.
PETER: Oh, you’re a boomer.
JACK: Our childhood is not close.
PETER: You’re a boomer, okay, but Gen-X,
my generation that’s how it was.
JASMIN: Just go for it
and see what happens.
A couple years back with,
all of a sudden, COVID
and all of a sudden people having
a hard time getting things going on
one of our neighbors had a child
who didn’t get to have a birthday party.
JASMIN: Oh, yeah.
So one of our other neighbors
put out a call saying
“Hey, anybody who can
do a parade by the house…”
– Oh wait, wasn’t that me?
“Come do a parade by the house.”
[laughing]
JASMIN: We did a parade.
One of my other dogs and I
have a set of costumes
for Jack Skelington and he dresses up as
Wolfie from
Nightmare Before Christmas.
And so we got into our costumes
and joined the parade
and there were how many cars?
JASMIN: There was a lot of cars.
ROZLYN: Yeah.
I mean even people I didn’t know
were coming down the street…
JACK: We didn’t know each other yet.
JASMIN: That was some
coordinating skills.
ROZLYN: We didn’t even
know each other yet and Jasmin…
She put the all-call out
and it was a nice parade.
But It’s… I remember one time…
PETER: There are shootings here
is what you’re saying?
ROZLYN: I remember one time…
Let me tell you.
One time we were in the house
playing video games
and you know, they play Call of Duty.
I’m like, “You hear that?”
JASMIN: Oh, yeah.
And they were like,
“It’s the game.” and I was like…
But all you could [makes gun noises]
And I’m like, “No, that’s not the game.”
[laughs]
It was vicious.
Like I look outside, I see people running.
I see people with guns and I’m like
“What are y’all gonna do?”
-Right here?
-Yeah it was right there.
‘Cause you see,
we got good camera footage.
JASMIN: Half the folks that do this stuff
they don’t even live over here.
JACK: Yeah.
ROZLYN: Yeah, that too.
PETER: So is it happening often?
No, no, it doesn’t happen often
– But one of the things that
several of us have been fighting for years
is when there’s a shooting
anywhere on the East Side
they list it as Mountain View.
-Yeah.
-I remember about 10 years ago.
There was a double homicide
outside of a bar.
<Mm-hmm.
We didn’t have a bar
that was open at the time
but they still listed it as Mountain View.
It was in Muldoon.
The bar was actually on Muldoon.
Which is three neighborhoods east of us.
You see those mountains?
The foot of those mountains is Muldoon.
PETER: So basically there’s a “Blame it
on Mountain View” complex going on?
– And has been for decades.
PETER: Okay, so some of this is Section 8
or mixed use housing, or what is it?
– Yeah, yeah,
so this is Cook Inlet.
I live in one of these
in the other part of town.
So some of them are Section 8.
Some of them are Alaska Housing
and then others are just
regular private pay
but the private pay is still affordable.
So they get housing credits or something.
– Depending on someone’s income
is how much they’re gonna pay
for rent here?
-Exactly.
-Okay.
Even for the out of pocket people
it still has a tier of how much you pay.
Yeah, so this is what I was telling you,
this was not always like this.
This was like…
It was rough.
The old places look similar to this
but I remember they did a tour
when they were tearing it down
and buying it from
everybody who owned them
and it was like…
Unlicensed day cares in the basements
or dog fighting and drugs.
It was like, for me personally
when I first, first moved in
this block was really bad.
It didn’t look like this.
So they put a lot of work into it.
like so much of the country where
people are having problems paying rent
-or rent’s going up?
-Oh my God, yes.
-Okay.
-Yes.
We are definitely having
that problem over here.
Number one, there’s a housing shortage.
There is a approval issue.
Some landlords, their rent is just insane
or the requirements to move in
makes it to where somebody can’t move in.
I mean that’s a serious problem,
it’s already expensive living here.
– And that’s so Alaskan, right?
right in the middle of everything.
-Yeah, we have a couple houses like that.
-I like that.
-Then you have stuff like this where…
-Yeah.
I don’t know if that’s the cabin
but I think one of them
the man who lived there…
It was a break-in and I think
he was killed or something
and didn’t have anybody
to leave the log cabin to.
Okay.
JASMIN: As you move
further down the neighborhood
not every place is invested
like all the certain areas
So I can say I feel like
there’s a bias towards
West End Mountain View
with, like, development
versus
East end of Mountain View.
PETER: Okay, so down in this part
it looks a little seedier.
– A little bit more.
Yeah, I think more focus
has been on development this way
probably ’cause
the schools are on that end.
PETER: Hello.
PETER: How you doing?
PETER: You live over here
in this part of Mountain View?
PETER: How is the neighborhood right now?
<How’s it doing overall?
Tired of like, the fighting
and, you know, the people…
PETER: There’s a lot of crime?
There is back there by the garden.
There’s a lot of cops
coming through and ambulances.
PETER: This is your family?
Yeah, my mom and my daughter.
<Okay.
-Yeah, I’ve been here for 12 years.
-12 years, okay.
Where were you living before then?
<Okay, so how was it going from
village to living in Anchorage?
<I’m going to
St. Lawrence Island next week.
-Savoonga.
-Yes, that’s where my honey’s from
-Your honey?
-Yeah.
-Your husband?
-Yes.
You’ll have tons of fun.
do a whale hunt, right? Every year?
So in Savoonga,
they’re still catching walruses?
-They’re still hunting them?
-Yes, and humpback whales.
-Humpback whales?
-Yes.
PETER: So I noticed driving in,
new pavement on the main road.
Yeah, all this is pretty new.
So the re-done pavement
trying to have the art
because for a while there was a lot of
crime in the parks in the smaller areas.
So they started building these
better pedestrian walkways
but we also have this
because we have this thing called
the Moose Loop.
<Uh-huh.
And it’s a connection of
all the bike paths in the whole city.
So honestly I think the bike path kinda
is what made the neighborhood
start changing a little bit
and them caring.
We have a lot of street artists
that painted all of these.
So this is one of the moose loop stops.
So they made a whole art map
of the neighborhood.
Oh yeah…
[man speaking off camera]
PETER: Are you from Mountain view?
[both] Yeah.
MAN: This is our place right there.
PETER: Are you proud of Mountain View?
WOMAN: Yeah.
MAN: I’m proud to be Alaskan.
I was born and raised, American Samoa.
PETER: Oh, wow.
PETER: So I’ve met…
You’re the second Samoan I’ve met today.
WOMAN: Oh, wow.
PETER: Yeah, and I’ve only
been here an hour.
MAN: How’s it going?
PETER: Representing Samoa.
So I would think Samoans,
living in a warm climate
on an island would have
a hard time coming in.
PETER: But you adjusted no problem?
PETER: Yeah, you’re whiter than me, man.
PETER: This is one of
your go-to restaurants?
They have ready-made food,
they also do cooked food too.
PETER: What do you get, sir?
-Ginger lamb.
-Ginger lamb.
I’m just probably gonna get
some (mopia) and some rice for now
but I love the chop suey too though.
-Okay.
-Chop suey’s good.
PETER: Got chop suey, vegetable lamb.
PETER: You’re saying the ginger lamb
is where it’s at.
Ginger lamb right there.
JASMIN: The eggplant lamb is good too.
PETER: You like lamb up here,
I thought it was more of a fish place.
JASMIN: We eat everything.
MAN: Polynesian.
PETER: Polynesian, okay.
PETER: Polynesian is heavy on the lamb?
I didn’t know that.
What a great value you have, sir.
For two meals…
That’s a great value, good prices.
Especially for Alaska.
PETER: All right Jasmine, I’m going in.
-All right.
-Ginger lamb.
JASMIN: Local-made neighborhood food.
Now tell everybody how you like it.
– I’m not a food vlogger
I don’t get all excited or crazy,
I just eat it but…
-Pretty good?
-Mm-hmm.
I like ginger.
That’s good, that’s good.
-They’re known for their egg rolls?
-Yeah.
– It’s sort of like that, like if
you’re not sure what to start with.
-Go with the egg roll?
-Yeah.
– Okay.
Sweet and sour sauce.
It was $2.00 for two egg rolls.
-I know, it’s a good price.
-It’s amazing.
[crunching]
JASMIN: Sometimes with all the kids
I bring ’em over and get like 20 of ’em.
-Nice.
-I can do that.
-Good texture, good flavor.
-Mm-hmm.
JASMIN: Yeah, those are pretty good.
– Mmm.
It’s really expensive
to live up here honestly
but every year we get
our permanent fund dividend.
Some years it can be as low as $900.
This year it’s about $3,000
because they’re adding a rebate
to help offset energy and expenses.
-And that includes kids.
-PETER: So that’s from the oil companies?
Yeah, it’s based on savings.
So any time you make money off of oil.
They save a little bit and it’s
supposed to be given back to residents.
So every year, normally in October
everybody gets their dividend.
So as long as you were here for a year
and you’re a resident
you get a dividend.
And that helps a lot of families
in our neighborhood, you know?
Yeah, we have some pretty big families.
I mean we have a lot of immigrant families
-and refugee families.
-Sure.
So yeah, there’s a lot of big families.
you’re getting 21 grand?
-Pretty much.
-Okay.
Plus adults.
[cars passing]
So Mountain View
literally ends down there.
-Where that stop sign is.
-Okay.
This is Davis Park.
So if we walk this way.
This is where the sign is.
So it’s interesting how
our neighborhood works out.
That’s the military base right there.
-Okay.
-And military housing.
So literally that boundary over there
is considered East Anchorage
and then you kind of come over here
and you have the snow dump.
-in the winter time.
-Okay.
Over here is another wooded area.
We have quite a bit of
homeless housing people living over there.
just a bunch of tents in this forest?
Yeah, and I think our city…
You know, like most cities,
they go through abatement
and moving folks every couple weeks or so
but there’s still folks living over there
’cause like I said earlier
housing is expensive
especially in Alaska.
COVID made it worse so…
Some folks are back there
in the wintertime too.
PETER: Okay, so I guess here is
where Jasmin was talking about.
Where just a lot of people
are living at the moment.
And I’m not gonna go all the way
back there but you can get an idea.
See all these tents here
all the way back.
PETER: You don’t have tents
all over the fields here, huh?
JASMIN: Yeah, that wouldn’t even fly…
-That wouldn’t fly here?
-No.
They would probably be asked
to move right away.
So all the tents are mostly like
off wooded areas.
They camp.
<They’re out there in the winter sub-zero?
Yeah, we had one shelter,
a really big one because of COVID
that recently shut down
and then the city moved everybody
to a campground on the East Side.
So it’s crazy, but
when you’re homeless, you’re homeless.
They camp in the winter,
some have a generator.
I mean if you get into a shelter
and you can find space, and there’s room
but then sometimes it might not be safe
or you know, they’d rather camp.
PETER: So Jasmin, this is your business?
JASMIN: It is.
-Let’s go in.
-Yeah.
PETER: Right in the heart
of Mountain View.
My place…
-So you have a co-working space here?
-Yeah.
People can pop in as needed.
So one of the things that really drew me
to making a story with Jasmin…
Well, she knows
the neighborhood well obviously.
Knows a lot of people.
But she started this business.
Which I think is so cool
even though I don’t have a baby.
It’s genius in my eyes.
And many other people’s eyes, BabyVend.
JASMIN: That’s us.
-You were borderline homeless.
-Yes.
You figured this out somehow
and these are all over the continental US?
– Yeah.
I was going through
a bad breakup and divorce
and I found myself
without housing quickly.
So I had to move into my mother’s house
and
while I was living with her
I took the kids shopping
and I found that
I didn’t have enough diapers.
I ran out
and my son went through his last diaper.
So I was like
“Oh gosh, is there a machine
or something up in here that I can use…”
“to get these supplies for my kids.?”
I didn’t find anything so I went
and did a bunch of market research
on like how I could
access this vending game
and what I could offer that was different.
<Okay.
And that’s how I got into vending.
I didn’t know what I was doing,
had no support.
No funding but…
I made it work and here we are.
You know, we have machines
in Alaska over to New York
Florida, all over the place.
I literally bought my first machine
that looked like that machine…
<Okay.
And I put it in my garage
once I got my own place
and I would just practice
vending every night
when the kids went to bed.
I started in like 2016.
I got my act together in ’17.
I took a year to learn
and then I launched in ’18, so…
Oh my gosh, it really took off,
honestly, during COVID.
Alaska gave me the belief
that I could do anything
’cause there’s nobody stopping me
and there was nothing in the way
of red tape and stuff that says you can’t.
-Is it because the state’s so young?
-Mm-hmm.
<60 years, right? Or 65 years, what is it?
-Yeah, 1959.
-Okay.
Like we have problems but we don’t
have the same generational…
You know what I mean?
Like old money, new money
to the level of other states.
Everybody started
with nothing when they got here.
-It’s that gold rush feel.
-Right, never thought of that.
the courage though
to know that you could make it happen?
‘Cause it might seem quite crazy
that you could get this to…
You said in Florida,
you have ’em in California,
you have ’em in Alaska, New York.
– Yeah, about 13 or so states.
Honestly I think that sometimes
when you’re down on your luck
you just have to have faith
and I didn’t have anything to lose.
I had more to gain from trying.
So I just told myself I got kids now
and I gotta figure it out.
or you feel like
in a comfortable place now?
-It’s still scary.
-It’s still scary?
It’s still scary.
It’s scary,
you ever heard of imposter syndrome?
I’m like, “Is this really happening?”
“Is this real?”
Oh yeah, I’m scared every week
but I don’t stop.
I’m scared but I keep moving forward.
All right guys, closing thoughts here
in Mountain View, Anchorage, Alaska.
The so-called “hood of the state”.
As many of the locals like to say
outside of the neighborhood.
Well, gotta say…
sure, there’s plenty of crime.
As far as shootings go,
there was one last week.
I’m sure there are
plenty of drug deals happening
but there’s the other side that doesn’t
get reported on or told so much.
Which is the community.
The neighbors
watching out for one another.
The local mom and pop restaurants
where everyone goes into.
What I’ve found
in my travels in this country
pretty much the world
typically the poorer communities
the people are more humble
and actually very friendly
very open.
No one’s playing pretend
or staging who they are.
They actually are who they are
and that’s…
That’s what I enjoy the most about
being in a community like Mountain View.
Thanks for coming along on that journey
‘Til the next one.

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