A Very Productive Meeting!

* The Sunday University Sustainable Community Round Table Study Group met from 1 to 6PM on Sunday the 13th.

*Some innovative ideas as well as some good old standards were brought forward. The notes will be posted here as soon as is possible.

*THANK YOU to all participants, special thanks to Mike and Ritchie Musick for the inspiring Natural Step presentation!

*We will start posting the amazing list of links we have planned ASAP, so please start leaving comments with your favorite sustainability related links to build it up!

 *The next meeting for the University Group will be February 17th, UAF location tba when it is properly scheduled.

* The first South Fairbanks Sustainable Community Round Table Study Group meeting will be held on Saturday, January 19th at the J.P. Jones Community Developement Center. We are excited! More details coming!


Torbjorn Lahti and Sarah James’ Presentations

In October of last year, Torbjorn and Sara were keynote speakers at the Sustainable Northern Shelter Conference in Fairbanks. The Cold Climate Housing Research Center, who hosted the event, has posted the audio and video of their presentations. This is a great way to gear up for the meeting this weekend.

Click here to hear Sarah’s Presentation.

Click here to hear Torbjorn’s Presentation.

To watch the Opening Ceremony of the conference which includes presentations by both Sarah and Torbjorn copy this full address


paste it into the address bar of your web browser and press Enter.

We hope to see you Sunday!

Jan. 7, 2008 Sustainable Community Round Table Study Group

*This Sunday, January 13th     1:00 – 6:00pm

*University of Alaska Fairbanks, Gruening Building, Room 208  (Between the Wood Center and Signer’s Hall)

*Agenda: welcome, announcements, brief presentation on The Natural Step, by Mike Musick, discussion & work session

*Topics: recycling & resource management, public education, green business & economics, transportation, energy, land use, transportation, building efficiency and others 

*Notebooks and pens provided.  Please bring dry erase markers for the marker boards, flip charts/markers, laptops

*Could someone please bring a  2 large coffeepots, tea, and condiments?  Please bring your mug!

*Contact Suzy or Kraig for more info: 479 – 2345 or 460 – 1130, polarsolar@gmail.com 

SCAN Fairbanks Second Post

Just like the email, only better! WITH spellcheck… and the detail that the petition is for ‘clean’ elections, not ‘free’ as I originally wrote:


Most everyone has said we need more time in our meetings, so here it is! Instead of 2PM to 6PM as originally planned, we have the Wood Center conference rooms C and D on January 13th from 1:00 PM until 6:00 PM !! The people have spoken… they always do, and it is up to us all to listen! 🙂 A South Fairbanks meeting is also in the works, reply if interested.

Suzy is visiting relatives for a few days so I will be checking the mail and handling most administrative duties here for a bit. She will check the email though, so keep on writing! Thank you to so many for so much!!


FYI: There is already a petition for Clean Elections circulating. They need help, and their time is running short! I encourage your signature and participation! Diedre Helfferich (Editor of The Ester Republic) is working that for District 8, and we can all contact Alex Prichard aprichard@mosquitonet.com for more information. I just emailed him myself – I will be signing that one, and maybe even packing a signature list in a day or so…

A resurrection of the bottle bill is afoot, and anyone interested can contact us (Kraig and Suzy) with specific ideas for and necessary changes to the last attempted bill. I will soon have a copy of that bill, and we can re-work it into an initiative if it cannot be pushed by our representatives. just reply to this email (polarsolar@gmail.com).

The blog www.scanfairbanks.wordpress.com is up now! we will start adding links off to the side for everyone to use very soon. Notable comments will be posted as part of the blog, so feel free to add good stuff, ask questions, etc.! The actual transcription of the notes is taking longer than expected, but will get there soon also. We need LINKS to put on the margins of the blog, and in the soon to come website – please send us here at polarsolar@gmail.com any links pertinent to sustainability and other contact data outside the web so that we can consolidate this critical data for all to access! This is a wide net, and I urge you to go through your physical address books as well as virtual sources (like your ‘Favorites’) so that we can compile a huge access database! You can reply with these to our email, or send as a comment to the blog! This is only the beginning.

The time for ACTION has arrived, and the many dedicated individuals who have labored so hard for so long will begin to see real change in the days ahead – FINALLY! Whew! Frustration has almost claimed some of us, but in this time of growth, there is new hope! We need someone to operate an online sustainability discussion group, and some people to help build and operate the coming SCANFairbanks website. These tools will help us link up and stay connected, to prevent re-invention of the many wheels there already are, and to create momentum! There are HUNDREDS in this community who have waited, and WORKED while they waited, for this time of the turning point of change – do you know their names? Let’s stay connected and keep learning to work together!

A special thanks to all who have sent comments (via email or via blog) with suggestions and ideas for growth and forward motion! We are onto something very special here, and the time is now ripe when change can actually happen in our community at ALL levels! The writing is on the wall, and people are beginning to respond from all parts of the community, not just a murmur, but what I believe will very soon become a roar as we build the connections that drive momentum. Sustainability may have many names to many people, but we all live here in common, and the issues can no longer be ignored!

See you all on Jan. 13th at the Wood Center, if not sooner!

– Kraig Smyth

Blog Update

Okay! That having been posted, my apologies for not getting this blog up this last weekend, I had to figure out how to do it again.

My name is Kraig, and I am providing Suzy with technical support before and after my “9 to 5” each day. Suzy’s efforts are in step with the Fairbanks North Star Borough and the City of Fairbanks. She is taking action using the framework outlined in “The Natural Step”, by Sarah James and Torbjorn Lahti ( see also http://www.naturalstep.org/).

Everything we do is interconnected and ultimately it must all be sustainable if we wish to continue doing it! Neither Suzy nor I are paid to do this, we just know it is the right thing to do.

We will (hopefully starting tomorrow) post the actual notes (YOUR NOTES!) on what happens at the Sustainable Community Round Table Study Group meetings we attend, host or are requested to post. Any ideas that may have been missed in meetings – overlooked, not heard, misunderstood or mis-printed… or simply thought of after the fact or when you are doing your laundry – please post them here for us all to share! In addition, we will publish links, addresses, phone numbers, or other contact information for people, places, businesses, politicians… anyone or anything related to the topic of sustainability that someone desires to post for the purpose of connecting the people(s) of our community! If you are looking for someone/something in the Sustainable Community scene here after a few weeks and you can’t find them/it, then just post a request to this blog or email us at polarsolar@gmail.com and we will do our best to hook you up!

In this blog we will also explore the results of ACTION taken toward sustainability in our community, whether as a result of the brainstorming sessions at a round table study, or by personal initiative. We do not argue with success in any of its sustainable forms! As you know if you participated in the December 2nd study group at the Wood Center on the UAF campus, we have many successes to celebrate in our greater Fairbanks Community, and also many great opportunities to move forward! To report your successes or brag about the sucesses of others, just post them here! Posts here may also stimulate web based discussion and the forum for that will be established soon… stay tuned for a discussion group site designed for the task! ~ Does anyone want to set it up and host it? Let us know! – Again, just post your response here or email us at polarsolar@gmail.com and we can handle it that way!

Necessary bloggers One-Time Notes and Disclaimers: we review all posts to ensure a continuous “G” rating. This is a web log for all ages in our community. If ‘colorful’ language is submitted, it may appear in a posting as: *&^$%@#!, or the like, so if you must say it then we prefer you just say it like that! We also must reserve the right to print what we believe is relevant and worthy of print, and reject any material not appropriate for this community-friendly forum. Posts may however contain ideas or beliefs that we do not personally share – we do believe all experiences are valid and everyone in the community has a voice. Please just be courteous and share the air. Thank you!

Okay, that’s the introduction to this blog! Welcome to all! Next posting should include the transcription of the actual notes from the Dec.2nd meeting, as well as some more links!
Thank you all for coming! -Kraig


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.

“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!


  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