Introducing…

THE : (S)ustainable (C)ommunity (A)ction (N)etwork of FAIRBANKS!

Without further adieu, a reprint of Suzy’s email – and if you did not receive it, please email us at polarsolar@gmail.com so we don’t miss you next time! :

*************************************************
Hello, everyone!

Firstly, thanks to those who participated in the Sunday afternoon work session. What a success! 40 people strong attended the Sustainable Community Round Table Study Group this past Sunday, Dec. 2nd (4:00 – 6:00pm) organized and facilitated by Suzy Fenner and Kraig Smyth. It seemed the greatest complaint was that it was too short of a time to accomplish anything. What did we accomplish? Lots! In this email I will have, as after every group gathering, a document titled “Notes & Actions”. “Notes” will be a summary of attendees’ notes, feedback, comments and anything relating to this gathering. “Actions” will contain what new developments resulted from this gathering or, community events or successes shared that I can pass on to you. The complete set of notes, as much as I have received from the different tables, and handouts at the gathering (and powerpoint presentation) will be available at a new blog site, titled scanfairbanks.wordpress.com. This stands for Sustainable Community Action Network Fairbanks, an organization dedicated to connecting individuals, organizations and businesses with resources, expertise, and personal experiences looking for assistance in becoming more sustainable. Technical assistance will be something we’ll need to organize and provide in the future. Please let me know if you, your organization or business would like to be listed on this blog. This is newly created and should be up and running by the end of this week, and contually updated as people contribute information — more about that later.

WHAT HAPPENED ON SUNDAY?
“Notes” People arrived and Suzy Fenner gave a brief introduction with a definition on sustainability by a couple sources including a Canadian architect, a grocery store magazine and the book, The Natural Step for communities, by authors Sarah James & Torbjorn Lahti. The request was made for everyone to state their name and some also stated their affiliation. People were asked not to sit by people they knew but at the topic of interest in order to exchange more information with new people and to become familiar with the collaborative process of working in small groups to brainstorm solutions.

Suzy described the four step process:

  1. Define sustainability (public awareness and education),
  2. Inventory (make a list of successes to inspire and build upon, list what isn’t working and needs fixing,
  3. Vision (what would Fairbanks look like as a sustainable community?),
  4. Action plan (what concrete actions are we going to take in the short-term as achievable, doable goals, and long term system-wide change to create?).

A few people mentioned some wonderful things happening in Fairbanks right now : The solar initiative, for example. Using the book as a guide, attendees sat at different tables to focus on different themes: Land use & transportation, Food production, Building efficiency & Energy, Recycling and Resource management and ? (A reproduction of the exact notes are at the blog site: scanfairbanks.wordpress.com). In the beginning, many people expressed their frustration with past efforts that had met obstruction through different policies, organizations, public apathy and inertia, confusion and a host of other reasons. And people began to get to work. The object was positive suggestions and brainstorming ideas, even if impractical in the present, some things may become more affordable in the future. A lot of everything happened, and that’s no surprise at a meeting of this kind where many people have not worked together before this and are unfamiliar with the collaborative, participatory process. Discussion, brainstorming and note-taking took place, and the visioning process will take a lot of time as we gather more input from the community. All questions and ideas need to be recorded for future reference, progress, and communication and inspiration to fellow attendees, all community residents and businesses, and public leaders. We are serious about making sensible, positive changes in the Fairbanks area. One of the greatest concerns voiced at this gathering was the need for public education and awareness throughout the community — in our schools, in all of our lives. Media, meetings, and one-on-one conversations were discussed as vehicles for education. We are the educators and want everyone to realize that sustainability is the path we need to choose because the one we are currently on is not working. Near consensus was reached for that idea. Another mutual concern that emerged from several groups was urban sprawl and compact development for residential and commercial purposes. The expression is “in-fill”. Vision Fairbanks, the plan for revitalizing the downtown area was mentioned, a definite a step in the right direction. For anyone with specific input in that planning process, please direct your comments to Bernardo Hernandez, Director of Urban Planning at the FNSB administrative offices. Another major concern referred to the impact large chain retail stores have oncommunity. Table reports were scheduled at five o’clock and everyone wanted to extend their work time, so we did. From each table, someone gave a table report (please go to scanfairbanks.wordpress.com for details). The reports from each table basically took most of the remainder of the time with comments from the group, a plea to take the statewide survey on the Governor’s extra money, and the need for free elections and ridding ourselves of special interests funding our politicians’ campaigns. Does anyone know who has a petition for this? Please post to the blog referenced below. I appreciate the feedback I’ve received thus far about the gathering; the need for a longer time, attention to everyone being heard, all notes and input recorded and shared, the need for a microphone (I developed a sore throat from this), and a lot of eagerness for the next gathering.

Thank you, Eli Sonafrank for scheduling Conference rooms C & D at the Wood Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks, on Sunday, Jan 13th, 2008. Time: 2:00 – 6:00pm. Agenda: Brief presentation on the framework as a useful guide, The Natural Step for communities. Please read the book, so we have a common point of reference to speed along our process. Success is at hand with the knowledge and available technology. Now it is time for action!

“Actions”

  1. Next gathering: A Sustainable Community Round Table study groupJan 13th, Sunday afternoon, 1:00 – 6:00Conference rooms C&D, Wood Center, UAFBring notebooks, laptop computers, (handouts if you want) and your own water bottle, be ready to work
  2. Recycling meetingFeb 2nd SaturdayWood Center Ballroom, UAF
  3. Solar Power Initative: Uncommon Ground neighborhood initiative, Fran email: fnfk@uaf.edu and Pete 347 – 4479 Please call or email for more info. A link will be on this weekend’s blog
  4. scanfairbanks.wordpress.com is Sustainable Community Action Network for the Fairbanks area (although others may benefit, too). This is a resource, a network connecting individuals, businesses, organizations and public leaders with each other to foster partnerships, promote sustainability and build relationships to strengthen our community. It is a public forum for announcements and public education to help everyone understand how we can transition Fairbanks into a sustainable community. What is happening in our community? Where can go to get information about items of interest? We hope to provide links to help people find what they need, and help everybody coordinate their efforts to avoid duplication and burn-out, and attain economic success and public, environmental and social well-being. We’ll need your input and help as this process and goal of sustainability is really big. This is going to take energy, time and plain old hard work. It has begun! Please join us! Share your successes — every organic-produce purchase you make, every bicycle ride you take, lifestyle or career choices, tell us! If there is a meeting for us to attend, let us know! What happened at the recent trails meeting this week? Someone please post info on that.
  5. Methane-production: Kraig Smyth email: kraigsmyth@gmail
  6. Geothermal production: Bernie Carl, Chena Hot Springs resort
  7. Local food production: Rosie Creek Farm, Mike EmersCalypso Farms, Tom and Susie
  8. A piece of linoleum 7′ x 22′ is needed by Tom Marsik for his biodiesel cooperative. Please let us know if someone out there has a piece this size. Thank you!

If someone you know was expecting this correspondence and did not receive it, please email polarsolar@gmail.com. I had some difficulty reading the list of emails. Please pass on “Notes & Actions” to everybody!

Thank you,
Suzy & Kraig

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2 responses to “Introducing…

  1. Common Sense said…

    Thanks for the efforts. I believe there are a lot of activities folks are and can do to encourage sustainability. I’ve been active in trying to change the lack of action/culture at UAF about sustainability in the various areas in which I participate. Master Plan, Planning and Budget, TAB committees on which I serve as a member of Staff Council know me all too well in this regard. I’ve also been blog posting for a few years at http://comity.blogspot.com , often discussing climate change and sustainability.

    What I would like to see is someone to take on the clearinghouse role of gathering all the various constituencies working on sustainability, all the links, and see if we can’t create an unstoppable grassroots movement that can change policy a little bit faster than we have been. The problem is that the longer we wait to change, the more it will cost our future.

    I had offered one suggestion in the last forum – start the initiative process to get a bottle bill in Alaska. It’s been nearly two decades since we last tried, but we may have better luck this time. It not only has a direct link toward better use of resources, but serves to continue to educate. What group or group of individuals can take this on?

    This comment was transfered from the old blog to the new. Originally posted December 12, 2007 8:10 AM

  2. It takes a community, but grass roots efforts that are worth anything always get started this way. Thanks!!

    Sherron

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