FAIRBANKS — Imagine a quiet sanctuary in downtown Fairbanks, filled with greenery and solitude. That’s the dream.

Now, Tanana Valley Watershed Association (TVWA) is taking small steps to see if the local community is interested in making that dream a reality.

“Samantha Burke came to us with this year-round idea of a botanical garden,” said Jewelz Barker, TVWA director. “Her idea was that in January, you need a place to go sit and be zen.”

Think greenery. Lots of it.

Think about kids coming on field trips or residents finding a quiet spot to read a book. If the dream came true, researchers from the University of Alaska Fairbanks might even focus on a special botany research area at this botanical garden.

Barker’s philosophy is that no dream is completely out of reach for TVWA.

So she said, “Let’s see if you can do 5 percent.”

Burke leaped into action and arranged for 40 house plants to be donated.

She started a gofundme.com campaign to raise enough to pay $1,250 for a six-month lease on 400 square feet of space on the fourth floor of the Lathrop Building.

“Our mission,” according to the gofundme site, “Is to provide an aesthetically pleasing environment for education and research that engages the community in a meaningful way with greenery while teaching the value of ecosystems.”

Here’s the dream: to build a year-round indoor botanical garden in downtown Fairbanks. The space would include a no-noise zen garden, a kid-friendly zone for learning and playing, a space for studying botany, and a for-profit cafe/deli.

This could be an innovative way to connect with the community.

The challenge, according to Barker, is “if you build it, will they come?”

“We’re hoping the combination of the zen space with the kid space will create that equilibrium,” she said. “And we have to start somewhere.”

That start is the gofundme campaign.

“I think the hope would be Phase 1 would launch on June 1,” she said.

They’re off to a good start with support from the E.R. Alaska Youth Club, from both Joy and Hunter Elementary Schools. These youngsters have been collecting aluminum cans and putting money they collect towards projects that reuse, reduce and recycle.

Watch here for updates on this exciting project.

Walk or bike

Anyone in Fairbanks planning to walk or bike to school on National Bike To School Day on May 6?

As of this week, no Fairbanks schools are signed up.

Schools statewide are invited to participate in this year’s event on Wednesday. 

So far, 16 schools in four cities are on the list to participate in the national event.

To register, or to get more information, go to www.walkbiketoschool.org.

The special day is promoted by the Alaska Safe Routes to School program, as a way to education parents and children about how to bike and walk safely in traffic. These skills can be practiced and help improve safety for all.

Youth orchestra

Celebrate spring by attending the Fairbanks Youth Orchestra’s annual spring concert.

The performance begins at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Davis Concert Hall.

Contact community editor and columnist Kris Capps at kcapps@newsminer.com, in the office at 459-7546 or by cell at 322-6334. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMKris.

Community editor and columnist Kris Capps is a longtime resident of Fairbanks and Denali Park. Contact her at kcapps@newsminer.com, in the office at 459-7546 or by cell at 322-6334. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMKris.