One More Visit with the Class of 2018 

Some of our favorite Boise Weekly Citizens from the past year.


Should old acquaintances be forgot? Of course not, particularly those I was fortunate enough to spend some time with in 2018. The men and women profiled in our Citizen feature over the course of the year were insightful, often hilarious and always engaging.

To kick off our year in review, you may remember that I spoke to two major players in the arena of international politics. British Consul General Andrew Whittaker told BW the U.K. will probably spend much of 2019 wrestling with the same issue that it grappled with through all of 2018: Brexit.

"I don't think it's ever been a question of trying to find a way not to do it," said Whittaker. "By far, it is now my government's No. 1 priority."

Dutch Ambassador Hendrik Schuwer told me that if he could give Americans one piece of advice, it would be to "slow down."

"You Americans, I think, are always in a hurry," said Schuwer.

One person who won't be slowing down anytime soon is Boise State track phenom Allie Ostrander, who outpaced the field and won the NCAA West Regionals cross country meet. Ostrander admitted that being on Team USA for the 2020 Summer Olympics was still on her wish list.

"The Olympics are definitely on my radar," said Ostrander. "Everyone thinks about the Olympics."

Bob Carney, associate athletic director for facilities at Boise State, also has big plans, but he's looking at 2021. That's when Boise State will once again host the NCAA March Madness men's basketball tournament. Carney was the busiest guy in town during this year's tournament. He was ultimately responsible for hundreds of athletic staff, security personnel, concession workers and volunteers.

"This a really good basketball community, but it's really about showing off how fantastic the city of Boise is," Carney told BW. "People come to the tournament, plus they have a great time downtown. It turns out that the tournament in Boise is really a great vacation compared to the hustle and bustle of, say, cities like Detroit or Los Angeles."

Hollis Welsh knows a thing or two about hustle and bustle. As an actress, she has performed on stages across the region. She was also one of the co-founders of Alley Repertory Theater, has penned several plays and was the interim managing director of Boise Contemporary Theater. In March, she took over as executive director of the Boise Philharmonic.

"I know what it's like to be an artist, to communicate to an audience," said Welsh. "I know that happy artists create really beautiful work. They thrive and help the organization grow, so I'll always be an advocate for artists."

Another major advocate for artists is Idaho Shakespeare Festival Producing Artistic Director Charlie Fee. When I spoke to him in early May, he was about to launch what would become the most successful season in ISF history.

"There's no question that we're focusing on very strong women characters," said Fee. "I picked this season 18 months ago, and I wasn't setting out to say, 'You know, let's do a season that really focuses on women.' However, as the season began to develop, I leaned into it."

The fiercest of the women characters on ISF's stage this past summer was Annie Wilkes, portrayed by ISF veteran Kathleen Pirkl Tague. Annie's deranged obsession with a popular writer was the centerpiece of the festival's season opener, Stephen King's Misery.

"We have this roller coaster thing going on, where everyone is relaxed and saying, 'Oh, Annie is just a funny old lady,' and then she'll jump out at you, growl and bark like a mean German shepherd," said Tague.

To be sure, there were plenty of frightening moments in Misery. But nothing quite compared to the blood-soaked powerplay that is Macbeth. Lynn Robert Berg played its lead character for ISF this summer.

"He pretty quickly recognizes that, 'If I want this, I have to do terrible things to get it,'" said Berg. "As the play goes on, that villainy is easier and easier, until he's so steeped in blood that he can wade no more."

Macbeth and Misery were rather heady undertakings, which might be why ISF audiences were so enthusiastic to embrace something fun. And boy, did the festival deliver. The ABBA-infused musical Mamma Mia! broke all box office records. And when it came to singing along with all of the ABBA hits, Mamma Mia! co-star Jodi Dominick said "ABBA-solutely."

"There are moments when it's pure joy and moments when we have to get very technical. It's a mixed bag," said Dominick. "But once we get it all together, we're having a really good time. This show is so much about the relationship of these three friends."

Co-star Jillian Kates added, "Many of us have screamed these songs in karaoke, but it's a blast to have some amazing dance moves put together by our choreographer Jacklyn Miller. But putting it all together? That's the hard part."

ISF made another bold move this past summer when, instead of a second Shakespeare play, it decided to mount a stage production of Pride and Prejudice, with Laura Welsh Berg playing Elizabeth Bennet. The entire run of the show was sold out before its first performance.

"I think it was pretty bold. It's great for an artistic company to take risks, and change is always difficult," she said. "We had this rare opportunity to stage a classical piece of literature that, based on ticket sales alone, everyone is interested in seeing."

But perhaps our favorite interview this season at the amphitheater was a conversation with the team that interprets ISF productions for the deaf.

"Society as a rule sees the deaf community as needing access to things for critical situations, like healthcare of education," said Steven Snow, executive director for the Idaho Council for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Our interview with Snow, who is deaf, was assisted by interpreters. "We often overlook the parts of life where we enjoy something such as theater or movies. I also want to let you know, with these ladies interpreting for us tonight, that the quality of their interpreting is so impressive. I have to impress on you that they are the absolute best."

I should also note that during my interview with Snow and the interpreters, we were surrounded by nearly 100 deaf people who witnessed our conversation just prior to an ISF performance. It was a humbling moment.

That word "humble" is never used to describe William Shatner, the legendary Captain Kirk of the Star Trek franchise. Shatner was a special guest at the inaugural Wizard World Comic Con in Boise this past summer, and he kept me on my toes. For example, when I asked him if he was a fan of social media, Shatner quickly replied, "Well, I prefer Ice cream." And when I asked Shatner about his Canadian roots, he quipped, "Yes, my roots are very important to me. Especially my carrots and my beets."

My conversation with actress Kate Bosworth, who has played everyone from Lois Lane (Superman Returns) to Sandra Dee (Beyond the Sea), was much more serious, particularly when we discussed the then-still-emerging #MeToo movement.

"I think what's most important out of the movement is a deeper look into ourselves and how something might make another person feel," said Bosworth. "There are consequences to making someone feel a certain way or doing something without thought."

I had an equally sobering conversation with Elizabeth Smart, who at the age of 14 was kidnapped at knifepoint and held captive for nine months before her dramatic rescue in March of 2003.

"It's important for me to acknowledge what happened to me. It was terrible. I had every right to be angry, to feel frustrated, to ask, 'Why me? Why did this have to happen to me?' It was important to acknowledge all those feelings," said Smart. "I needed to let go of it and move forward. Forgiveness really is not for the other person. You don't need two people to achieve forgiveness. You need one: yourself."

Another dramatic conversation was with Amelia Rose Earhart, a pilot who believed through much of her young life that she was a direct descendant of the famed aviator whose name she shares. When she learned, many years later, that she was not a descendant, it was crushing.

"It was incredibly painful. I wished that my family had never placed this burden on me," she said. "The big takeaway is that I may not be related, but I learned how to relate to her, to the type of life she led, the passions that she had for aviation, for fashion, for social work. That's the type of woman I'm trying to be now."

Perhaps the most emotional conversation that I had in 2018, though, was with Anselme Sadiki, a child of poverty who survived a violent uprising in Congo and years in a refugee camp to come to Idaho in the 1990s, and he ultimately became the executive director of the Children's Home Society of Idaho, which provides emotional, mental and behavioral healthcare to children.

"In my life, I've been given second, third and fourth chances over and over and over, through the different people who were my caregivers, my healers," said Sadiki. "And the clinicians here at the Children's Home Society, they give those second chances, glimpses of hope to kids who had absolutely nothing. These children may not have seen any way out, because they have suffered in silence. It's up to us to say, 'I care about you. I'm going to help you.'"

Finally, Sadiki shared a few words that are note-perfect as we say goodbye to one year and begin another:

"Nothing has ever come easy for me. I know that if something doesn't work out today, I can still be positive about tomorrow."


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