A couple weeks ago, we sent out an appeal letter to our members asking for help taking care of the Northern Center’s home in its most literal sense: our office building at 830 College Road. We’re so grateful for the checks and online donations that have already come in – THANK YOU!
As we plan for the next half century, we want to share a bit about the little green house on College Road, and hope that you’ll consider helping us make the necessary investments in our home as we move into the fifty years to come.
Between our founding in 1971 and 2000, the Northern Center moved from building to building, office to office. Bob Warren, who served as executive director for a few years during that time, recently shared this photo of one of our past offices:
In 2000, a group of dedicated supporters made it possible for us to establish a permanent home, a place that would become a consistent presence in the community, and an asset that would carry the organization into the future. Led by a group of dedicated investors, the Northern Center purchased the property on College Road. Originally built as a residential house in 1969, the office has evolved in typical Fairbanks fashion. Outbuildings have come and gone, and additions were built by volunteers and staff using whatever tools, materials, and skills sets were available.
In 2009, under the leadership of David Vandenburg and direction from experts at the Cold Climate Housing Research Center, we were able to cut energy consumption in half, saving money and reducing the office’s carbon footprint through an energy retrofit.
Last year, we added solar panels to the office as part of the Solarize Fairbanks program – a community solar program in which we and our partner organizations work to make solar more affordable, and to diversify Interior Alaska’s energy grid. We generated all our electricity this summer, and didn’t pay a bill!
A lot has changed in the last 50 years– our computers for one thing! The photo on the left was shared by Bob Warren, who witnessed the arrival of the organization’s first computer in 1984, funded by a grant shared with partner organizations. It allowed for the groups to create a pre-internet network to communicate more easily. “It was a game-changer,” Bob said.
The upgrades and energy improvements have served us well, but some fundamentals are beginning to break. The old electric box recently fell off the exterior wall, right next to our new solar meter. Several rooms downstairs are unusable, including an unfinished bathroom, broken windows, and peeling paint.
We are so grateful for the donations that have already come in, and hope to post updates the coming years with all of the beautiful improvements!
Thank you for donating to shore up our little green house, and taking us through the next 50 years!