Today is Earth Day, 2022. We have been commemorating a call to environmental action for 52 years. Many things have changed (can anyone say hybrid vehicles and clean energy?), yet we are in a far more precarious environmental place than we were all those many years ago. There is more urgency in everything we do to combat climate change. The CEO of AmeriCorps issued a press release today and framed our current climate moment like this:
"Now is the time to improve parks and public lands, increase energy efficiency, strengthen rural
and urban economies, expand opportunity for young people and veterans and create the next
generation of conservation and climate resilience leaders."
I might tweak the above slightly to include more local food production (which, arguably, will strengthen all local economies), but will also better sustain local communities. That next generation of leaders needs to be well nourished!
The VISTA crew here in Fairbanks today built four hydroponic grow towers for distribution to our local Fire and Public Works Departments. With a little seedling help to get them started, these departments will be able to grow fresh herbs and greens right at their locations year-round. I cannot wait to see how they use their fresh produce ... and how thrilled they will be in the dead of the next Fairbanks winter to be able to just walk to a grow tower on site and pick fresh lettuce!
It was a fun yet meaningful day (see photos below). I also provide a shout out to the Boys & Girls Club of Fairbanks for hosting a second tower building session at the club.
We recently collaborated with the Fairbanks Soil & Water Conservation District to help build a dozen hydroponic grow towers for various sites throughout Fairbanks. With the bulk of the build occurring at the Boys & Girls Club of Fairbanks (we will finish them next Monday), and with a few additional non-profit community members rounding out the build team, not only did we bond over power tools, but created connections that will last far beyond the tower build. Soil & Water provided the basil seedlings shown below; the completed tower is now sitting in the VISTA office! I am so thrilled that Timea, our VISTA at United Way of Tanana Valley, picked the first basil leaves just yesterday for her own cooking use. We look forward to many more VISTAs getting their greens and herbs fix right here in our office.
This summer in Fairbanks looked different for a lot of reasons. We appreciate our summer associates sticking in there and working through challenges.
They have accomplished much in only 10 short weeks.
The Fairbanks community appreciates the difference you all have made!
Caitlin Amburgey , Children's Museum
Her impact: "Caitlin worked remotely due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, and from nearly 3000 miles away, she created new inclusive content for the Fairbanks Children's Museum to use in the coming years. She designed curriculum focused on American Sign Language, Black History Month, Women's History Month, and many more topics. She also created social media content to increase our reach to families in the Fairbanks area in a helpful and productive way amidst a pandemic." - Meredith Maple, executive director
Taryn Williams, Children's Museum
Her impact: "Taryn made it to Fairbanks amidst a pandemic and led summer camps for the bulk of the summer, providing deeply needed childcare to our community and giving an amazing opportunity to many kids during a time of unknowns. Her teaching style is restorative-justice focused and will now be incorporated in education at the museum. Her broad range of expertise and teaching experience will leave a lasting impact on the Fairbanks Children's Museum." - Meredith Maple, executive director
Max Herz, Boys & Girls Club
Their impact: "Max and Amyaa built positive relationships with youth at BGC Fairbanks. They facilitated fun games and programs to reduce summer learning loss. Their work at BGC helped ensure that our youth enjoyed their summer despite the COVID pandemic. We are excited to welcome Amyaa to our permanent team, and we wish Max the best in his senior year at college in Ohio. Thanks to Max and Amyaa for spending your summer with BGC Fairbanks and our Members!" - Amy Reggiani, executive directori
Her impact: "Daisy Morotti has been a boon to the Bread Line in more ways than we ever could have anticipated. She stepped right up at the Stone Soup Community Garden. Her gardening talents are well evident in each of our 50 raised beds, as they flourished into the lushest bounty our little garden has ever seen. Daisy fit right into our team. At the Stone Soup Cafe, she served free, hot food to Fairbanks' most vulnerable neighbors every weekday morning during her time with us. Also, Daisy has been hard at work crafting a seasonal curriculum for our youth volunteering program, the Kid's Cafe. All of Daisy's big & heartfelt work has deepened the Bread Line's positive impact in Fairbanks. Her compassion, fortitude, generosity & attitude have made our days brighter & work easier - it's been an absolute joy having Daisy as our summer VISTA." - Hannah Hill, executive director
From May 27-August 4, Fairbanks will host 5 summer associates at 3 sites. These VISTA responsibilities differ from full-year VISTAs. Instead of focusing on capacity building, summer associates perform direct service for their sites.
By Ashton Varner, VISTA Team Leader '19-20
The 2019 Community Needs Drive was even bigger than 2018! We owe our success to our team and so many other community members.
Thank you to Love In the Name of Christ of the Tanana Valley for hosting our event, even though you had only recently moved into your location. Thank you to The Salvation Army - Fairbanks Corps for providing hot drinks, bottled water and snacks for our volunteers and donors.
Thank you to everyone who helped me promote this event: Julie Doll who passed out flyers in parts of the community that are hard for me to reach such as military bases and Salcha, Rob Prince of KFBX 970 for having us on morning radio, Cheryl Upshaw for the fantastic piece in the Daily News-Miner and Andrew Hawkins at News 11 for helping us make the 7 o’clock news.
Thank you to the donors who brought bags, boxes and totes full of items.
95% of our requests were filled and some donations came all the way from Nenana!
Thank you to the 10 local non-profit agencies who participated and allowed us to serve them through this event. We appreciate the work you do in our community all year round.
If you are still interested in donating, please see our list of requested items, contact the agencies directly and ask if they still need specific items.
See you next year!