Today’s challenge: Can you think of five ways that government spends money better than you could?

There is an oft-used conservative talking point — or rhetorical flourish — that we (the “taxpayers”) know how to spend our money better than “the government”.  It is a talking point that masks selfishness and reeks of anti-civicism, and it deserves to be challenged whenever it is brought up.

First, I should say that “conservative” is a woefully imprecise word.  A person can be conservative about any number and variety of things, and “liberal” (its presumed opposite) about any others.  It is an injustice to the endless variety of human thought to put each person into one of two camps.  Nonetheless, those well-known politicos who claim that “you know how to spend your money better than the government” tend to fall into the political camp that gets called conservative — so, for lack of a better and well-accepted term, I’ll use that one.  By no means am I trying to demonize those who call themselves conservative or attempting to categorically dismiss “conservative” values (whatever they may be).

The first thing I dislike about such a viewpoint is that it presumes a divide between the people (or “we the people”, as many like to say when affecting a patriotic idiom) and their government.  It presumes that “the people” and “the government” are two separate entities, with conflicting agendas.  Now, I agree that institutions often make self-preservation and self-aggrandizement their primary missions, and that they do not always serve their constituencies with perfect selflessness or efficiency.  Yet I don’t think that means we have any call to take an adversarial posture toward government.  In fact, just the contrary: an entrenched adversarial posture toward government will only incline people to pay closer attention to its shortcomings and abuses and to ignore its many advantages and triumphs.  It will incline them to disengage from the political process, rather than to put their energy toward its improvement.

My wife and I both enjoy the married life: in both the short term and the long term, we receive advantages.  Although at times we feel constrained by our mutual obligations, there are plentiful opportunities we can pursue because we have each other’s support.  When conflicts arise, we often feel the urge to withdraw from each other and avoid whatever difficult topic got us into trouble in the first place.  However, our experience (and that of countless others; I’m not pretending to be unique) has been that engaging with our difficulties helps us to become “re-enfranchised”, while disengagement only allows problems to fester and lets us continue believing the worst of each other.

Whether you believe government is “us” or believe government is “them”, you’re taking part in a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Unfortunately, since the belief is held individually but the effect on government only comes from large collective action, it’s easy to be convinced of your own powerlessness and to take the government-as-adversary stance.  Collectively, we have the power to prove ourselves right — though only in the long haul.

The second thing I dislike about the position that “you know how to spend your money better than the government” is the excess to which people take the idea of “their” money.  I am all in favor of private property and private enterprise.  But too often people are of the opinion that, because something is “theirs”, they (1) are not indebted to others for it and (2) have no responsibility toward others with regard to its use.  This is a philosophical question that I don’t have time to address adequately here.  Suffice it for now to say that those who hold the extreme form of this belief suffer deficits of gratitude and social responsibility.

The third thing I dislike about that belief is that it is just plain ignorant.  There are absolutely scads of things that “the government” (that is, the people acting collectively) can accomplish better with “my” money than I can.  Here are five:

  • Mail delivery.  For all its faults, the United States Postal Service does a marvelous job of delivering letters and packages with good speed.  I cannot deliver all my mail by myself — who has the time? — and private industry would exclude many small, out-of-the-way places, or charge exorbitant fees for mail delivery to or from Fairbanks.
  • Public transportation.  Helping people get from home to job to shopping to recreation and back home is a fantastic investment in economic development.  If I had to get everywhere on my own, I would spend extra hours each day between work and home, or spend extra hours’ worth of my labor to afford the private automobile to take me back and forth in a timely fashion.  Private enterprise would try to make ridership as expensive as possible, thus shutting out the young and the poor.  Of course, even a private auto is worthless without…
  • Transportation infrastructure.  The buses I enjoy — or, in other cities, the trains, trams, and other means — would go a lot slower over trees, rocks, and mud, as would our private automobiles.  Do you think that private industry would do so well at laying down and regulating streets, roads, and tracks?  Do you think I could do it on my own?
  • Safety regulation.  One relationship that I think is naturally more adversarial than that of citizen and government is that of employee and employer.  Businesses showed for too long (and they continue to do it!) that they would imperil employees to no end while it resulted in corporate profits, absent the regulation by and sanctions from government.
  • Disease tracking.  I shudder to think what levels of disease (or other public health hazards) might ravage our communities without the information gathered and processed by the CDC.

The above have three things in common: (1) I couldn’t do them on my own.  (2) Private industry could not be relied on to do them.  (3) Were there non-profits in charge of providing the same, high-quality services, and were they reliant on voluntary donations, they would flounder.  Fall flat.  Perish.  People are too short-sighted to give voluntarily and sufficiently to all the agencies that would do them and their societies good.

Can you think of ways that “government” can spend “your” money better than you can?  Go on — just name five.  Let them be large or small.  Have fun with this!  If you approach government with an attentive mind and a grateful heart, it shouldn’t be hard.


This October 9, we’ll elect a new mayor of the Fairbanks North Star Borough, three members of the Borough Assembly (seats A, F, and G), and two members of the Fairbanks City Council (seats A and B) .  I’d like to make some endorsements — but I’ll need your help, first.

It may be naïvely hopeful, but I’d like to put out questionnaires to the mayoral and assembly candidates, asking their philosophies, knowledge, and goals about issues addressed in this blog.  I would publish the results and make endorsements here; I would also try to publicize these results in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.  As I say in my “About this blog” page:

The Fairbanks Pedestrian is a discussion of community-building, social capital, downtowns, neighborhood culture, city planning, domestic and civic architecture, public and private transportation, and the pleasures and difficulties of city living in Fairbanks, Alaska.

On that page, I also lay down five ideas central to this blog; you may want to refresh yourself.

Here’s an example of one possible question:

Social capital, which is written about most notably by Robert Putnam in Bowling Alone, is considered a source of personal and social wealth.  It is measured by the density of an individual’s and a community’s social connections, by the degree of organizational membership and social or civic participation.  Greater social capital is linked with greater health, increased public safety, improved educational outcomes, and less corrupt, more efficient local government.  (More here.)

What have you done, in a political capacity, to foster social capital?  And what will you do as [mayor / assembly member] to foster the growth of social capital in the Fairbanks North Star Borough?  Please refer to actions within the purview of the [Mayor’s office / Borough Assembly].

So… What else would you like to know about your local candidates?  What would you want to ask them, with regards to civic life, city planning, urban architecture, transportation, neighborhoods, public space, and rights of the car-free?

The filing deadline is August 17th.  I would like to have list of questions ready by then.  Let hear them!

The red couch (and chair) of Red Couch Trading Post

The red couch (and chair) of Red Couch Trading Post

I write this from the latest treasure to open downtown: Red Couch Trading Post, where I write on my laptop while enjoying a blueberry cream-cheese cake, a cinnamon pull-apart (a small monkey bread), and a coffee.

Red Couch is part cafe, part bakery, part deli, and part convenience store. They have a simple deli counter, where you can have sandwiches made to order. At the same counter is their selection of pastries: not only the cinnamon pull-aparts, but cakes, pies, cobblers, and cookies. (I have tried both the peach and the blueberry cobblers, and they are excellent.) The espresso bar offers Fair Trade Certified coffee, both in prepared beverages and as bags of beans.

Most exciting, I think, is that Red Couch is a locally owned, neighborhood convenience store. Not only coffee beans are for sale, but also milk, butter (by the stick), single-serving breakfast cereals, crackers, chips, canned soups, canned milk, toothbrushes and toothpaste, toilet paper, laundry detergent, and cat and dog food. (In fact, I first stopped into Red Couch a couple of weeks ago, when I was clean out of cat food. I made the mistake of driving to a popular national chain first and getting what I needed, then visiting Red Couch because I’d read about it in the newspaper. I kicked myself afterwards for depriving myself of a nice walk and the chance to support a neighborhood business.)

Now, the two or three national chain groceries closest to downtown have a far greater selection than Red Couch — but having the greatest selection is not the point of a convenience store. The point is that it’s in your neighborhood, and going there is faster and easier than getting in your car to drive to a major grocery store. In fact, the major grocery stores near us are within walking distance of practically nobody (which, if you’re without a car, really makes them inconvenience stores). Red Couch is actually in a neighborhood, where people live. They are right behind Golden Towers public housing and within especially easy reach of the east side of downtown (Clay St., etc.).

The fact that they offer wireless internet access (in addition to lunch, coffee, and snacks) means that they are a great place for downtown business people to spend time getting work done in a bright, relaxed atmosphere. My wife, for example, often has to be in the courthouse, and she could do a good bit of e-mailing and report-writing while enjoying tea, coffee, or lunch — or while just relaxing on the cozy red couch for which the store is named.

(Today was my first time trying to connect to their wireless access point, with no success.  My computer told me that the connection was established, but nothing was ever transmitted or received.  If anybody reading this has some wireless networking expertise, could you please pay them a visit to see if there’s anything they might change to make the wireless work better?)

I think it’s always a good thing when a local business gives people reasons to get out of their houses and walk around their neighborhoods. In fact, the best neighborhoods are full of such destinations, and can be identified partly by the number of people on the street moving from one useful place to the next. Red Couch Trading Post gives downtown another such destination — a place to do something useful and to relax (and perhaps to run into neighbors). As long as they’re open, I’ll happily give them my custom.

The building is unremarkable, but the location is great -- as are the cobblers

The building is unremarkable, but the location is great -- as are the cobblers

Red Couch Trading Post is at 309 Second Avenue (where Second crosses Dunkel), in downtown Fairbanks.  They are currently open Tuesday – Friday, 6:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., and Saturday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.  Their telephone number is 374-3414; their fax number (they take fax orders for sandwiches) is 374-3430.

Article from the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Thursday, May 7, 2009.

In sadder news, Gambardella’s has now closed their breakfast service. A manager told me that they got almost no business at that hour, and it just wasn’t cost effective to keep three or more people on staff for the extra hours. That’s too bad: I thought they lent breakfast a touch of class, a chance for the morning crowd to take a step up from the readily-available diner fare. I wish Red Couch better luck.

Good news, locavores: according to an article in Tuesday’s News-Miner, we now have another option to buy meat from locally raised and slaughtered animals.  Tanana Valley Meats has been certified by the USDA to slaughter cattle and hogs, and they will start butchering and retail sales immediately, in the site once operated by B-Y Farms at 9 Mile Richardson Highway.

From an ecological standpoint, this is fantastic: especially in a place like Alaska, we could stand to cut down our consumption of foods that traveled from Outside to get here — whether the thousand-mile salad or the thousand-mile steak.  To me, though, the more important thing is that it’s a local industries, where the money we pay the merchants stays here, rather than getting sent to Texas, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and California (the top five cattle-holding states in 2009, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service).

Also important is that we have a closer relationship with the producers of our food.  Since we in Interior Alaska are their primary (maybe only) market, we have a much greater chance to influence the direction of their business.  For example, one of the owners boasts that “These [cattle] are not grass fed, these are grain fed.”  From what I understand (admittedly little), grain-fed cattle are fattier and less healthy, and their meat less flavorful, than grass-fed.  If enough of us put pressure on the owners to change the way their cattle are raised, we have a real chance of succeeding.  In a sense, the locals become partners in the business.  That relationship is far less likely at chain grocery stores like Safeway and Fred Meyer.

There’s only one bad thing I can say about their business: the retail outlet will (for now) continue to be at 9 Mile Richardson Highway.  Who lives withing walking distance of such a place?  While it’s good that the old B-Y Farms facility will be re-used and not go to waste — heavens, we have enough abandoned buildings already! — the location effectively shuts out the business of those too young, too old, too infirm, or too poor to drive.  While the Green Line travels between Fairbanks and North Pole, I don’t think it stops near Tanana Valley Meats.

I think a better location would be downtown Fairbanks, or even downtown North Pole, within five minutes’ walk of a bus stop.  In their current location, I may go there a half-dozen times a year. But if they were within a few minutes’ walk of a bus stop, especially in an area where I had other shopping or errands to do, I’d buy meat there every week.

Not having worked in the butchering business, I don’t know how feasible it would be, at this stage in their business. Perhaps the costs of transporting the meat are currently prohibitive.  But most grocery stores don’t get whole animals; they get primal cuts from distant slaughterhouses that are then turned into steaks, roasts, etc. — so it’s at least theoretically possible.  I hope that, in time, Tanana Valley Meats will be able to adjust their retail model to serve people in the population centers where they already live and work.

Summer patio at Gambardellas

Summer patio at Gambardella's

Holy cats! Gambardella’s is now doing breakfast, and it’s fantastic!

It was just luck that I discovered it, too: I’d had to walk to an ATM before traveling, and my walk back took me along Second Avenue past this classic Fairbanks restaurant.  Their door was open, and they’d put out an “Open” sign.  I stopped in long enough to find out why, then brought my family back later.  (Maybe it wasn’t just luck: I’d never have noticed it if I’d had to drive.)

They have a simple enough breakfast menu: pastries, eggs, bagels, toast, omelettes, coffee, juice, et cetera.  Our portions — my wife got a breakfast burrito with eggs, cheese, and bacon, while I got a frittata with sun-dried tomatoes, onions, and broccoli — were modestly sized, not too large; at the same time, the prices were none too high, in the $3-$4 range (omlettes were $7-$8).  My experience with many breakfast restaurants is just the opposite: both portions and prices are excessive, and I wish they’d just cut both in half. We also each had a latte — only 99 cents through May 29!

Gambardellas middle dining room

Gambardella's middle dining room

Not only were the food and prices reasonable, but Gambardella’s itself is a beautiful environment in which to have breakfast. The building is colorful, a bright spot in a sometimes-dreary downtown plagued by too much gray and beige.  Their interior is comfortable and has high-enough class to make your breakfast feel like a dignified affair — though, as I said, not the prices that would keep you out.  (My only quibble with Gambardella’s is their soundproofing: it’s very noisy at dinner.  But not at breakfast.)

I’m not in the restaurant-review business, nor in the promotion/advertisement business.  But, when something comes into town that gives people something to walk to, gives people a reason to get out of their cars and experience their own neighborhood, that’s exciting.  Of course, The Diner (on Illinois) and the Co-op Diner (in the Two Street Co-op) have been serving breakfast downtown for years.  What makes this special is that it gives people of no special means a chance to enjoy a morning of beauty and elegance (with somebody else doing the dishes) right in their neighborhood.

Gambardella’s is serving breakfast 7-11 a.m., Monday through Friday.  Stop by soon, and help keep this touch of elegance afloat!

Lewis Feldstein

Lewis Feldstein

Tuesday night (May 12) saw an astounding lecture on social capital: Lewis Feldstein, president of the New Hampsire Charitable Foundation and co-author (with Robert Putnam) of Better Together: Restoring the American Community, spoke at Schaible Auditorium on the topic “Better Together: Community Leadership and Social Capital”.

The lecture, part of UAF’s Northern Leadership Center Lecture Series, presented little that was new to those who had read Better Together and Robert Putnam’s earlier, seminal work, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community (on my “Further reading” list) — but it was fun all the same to get a re-cap of some of the exciting points of social capital research.

For those not familiar with the term, social capital is, like physical capital and human capital, a source of wealth — that is, it’s not the wealth itself but a means by which wealth is created.  It is measured by the density of social connections, whether of an individual or within a community — by the degree of organizational membership and social or civic participation.  It has myriad benefits, both to the individual and the community, some of which I’ll touch on here.

On a national level, our social capital increased steadily from the time of the Great Depression — then peaked in the early nineteen-sixties.  By almost all measures, it has been on the decline since then.

These are some of what I found Feldstein’s most interesting points:

There is an old saw about getting jobs: “It’s not what you can do, it’s who you know.”  This is actually quite true. Feldstein referred to a national welfare-reform program of the 1990s.  It worked, for some: those who were already well connected.  If, in their generally low-paid work, they’d had the good fortune to rub elbows with a wide variety of those well off and in a position to offer work or make referrals, their luck was better in finding work later.

This is possible because of “bridging” social capital — the weak connections between prople from unlike groups.  It contrasts with “bonding” social capital — the strong connections we have with people just like us.  Both are important.  Bonding social capital is like superglue; bridging social capital is like WD-40.

You have a roughly equal chance of early death from (a) being morbidly obese, (b) smoking three packs of cigarettes a day, and (b) being absolutely alone (disconnected from others) in your life.

Norms of trust lead to cost savings and greater public safety.  For example: if you are able to trust that your co-workers will not steal your lunch from the staff refrigerator, you are spared the cost of your own private refrigerator and the trouble of continually locking up your food.  Another example: Because we generally trust our fellow citizens to pay their taxes, we ourselves don’t feel like suckers for doing the same; thus, more of us do it and the amount each of us has to pay is less.

Imagine a “bad” neighborhood in your community.  Would you like to improve public safety there?  A ten-percent increase in social capital — whereby the neighbors know each other better and know who is to be trusted — will actually do more for public safety than a ten-percent increase in expenditures for police officers, squad cars, street lighting, and other conventional “public safety” measures.  Similarly with schools: you’ll get improved educational outcomes by a ten-percent spending increase on salaries, computers, supplies, or whatever.  But you’ll get more-improved outcomes with a ten-percent increase in social capital, such as greater connections among teachers, administrators, parents, and students.

Some, hearing this, will say, “See?  That just proves that government gets in the way.  We don’t need any government spending on social programs at all!”  Not true.  For best outcomes, you need both government expenditure and social capital.  [Maybe you could say that best outcomes require many kinds of capital: not only social, but human, physical, and economic — some of which are most efficiently provided by centralized agencies.]

Given two communities of equal income and education levels, the one with high social capital will enjoy greater happiness, greater health, increased safety, better schools, and a local government that is more efficient and less corrupt.  [Feldstein also mentioned some benefit to business.]

Every ten-minute increase in the daily time spent in a car reduces by ten percent your likelihood of doing almost any social activity.

The decline in social capital has been ascribed to number of causes, including:

  • Sprawl: as people spend more time in cars, their ability to participate decreases.  [Also, while in your car, you have almost zero chance of making human connections, which require face-to-face contact and a non-hurried attitude.]
  • Television viewership.  This is the one factor that correlates almost perfectly with the decline in social capital.
  • Workplace model: as two-worker families have become the norm, families have less free time for social engagement.

One of the case studies in Better Together is the culture of UPS, in which relatively little is communicated by memoranda and e-mail.  UPS favors face-to-face communication and small-group meetings; in this way, they build trust.  This is a big lesson of UPS: trust is built by face-to-face contact.

Trust is built by people having the opportunities to hear each other’s stories — not their “Once upon a time” stories, but their answers to questions like, “So, where are you from?” or “What led you take this job?”


  • Usually, social capital is not an end in itself.  It is a means to other ends, and it is built (and drawn upon) by people’s common endeavors: cleaning up a neighborhood, forming a labor union, making a road-crossing safer.
  • Trust is built by starting small.
  • Personal storytelling has an awesome power in generating social capital.  Feldstein and Putnam hadn’t expected this and weren’t looking for it in their initial research.

When the floor was opened to questions, I asked Feldstein: What things can government — whether local, state, or federal — do to increase social capital, or at least create an environment in which it can thrive?  His answer, which he had clearly thought about before, was:

  • Have people drive less and get out of their cars more.
  • Foster smaller institutions.  He specifically mentioned the benefits of smaller schools.
  • Encourage service learning.  Years after their service learning experiences, young people vote more, volunteer more, and trust more than their peers without such experience.
  • Feldstein also suggested (though I don’t know whether this was part of the answer to my question) that we need to figure out how to make the Internet better help people connect at a local level.

Fairbanks is an interesting contradiction: my experience (which may not be representative) is that there is tons of civic involvement here.  The people I know all sit on boards, commissions, and committees — for government, non-profits, and churches.  They’re involved in community theater, political campaigns, and neighborhood governance.  They show up to testify at meetings of the City Council, the Borough Assembly, and the School Board.  I always tell people with pleasure of my experience on a statewide issue campaign: in Anchorage, I hear, they had a paid staffer but very little volunteer help — while in Fairbanks we had a core of about a dozen volunteers, and we had several dozen more (my list included over a hundred) writing letters and making phone calls.  That kind of thing makes me proud to live here.

At the same time, Fairbanks has a major “anti-social” element.  I don’t mean antisocial in the sense of “performing actions that hostile or harmful to society” (at least intentionally); I mean only that there are many people who stand for things in direct opposition to social capital.  They are individualistic and not “joiners”.  They deny having any responsibility for the circumstances of others or any obligation to help them.  They are mistrustful of their neighbors and their government.  They believe that the solution to many institutional problems is not greater involvement in, but detachment from and even dissolution of, those institutions.  For them, governments exist only to foster individualism, and there is no general welfare.

Of course, by saying, “They believe X“, I do a disservice to the limitless variety of human thought.  There really is no “they” who all fit the above bill in one and the same way.  But their voices form a harmony whose major notes are division, distrust, and a want of benevolence.

Where do these voices come from?  Or, more importantly, how do we can we encourage the choir of our community to sing in a more sociable key?  How can we increase citizen participation, cooperation, and trust?

Further information on social capital:

  • The Saguaro Seminar, a source for much of the research on social capital.
  • BetterTogether, an initiative of the Saguaro Seminar, focusing on tools and strategies for social capital-creation.
Cigarette butts in a driveway in my neighborhood.  Click to enlarge.

Cigarette butts in a driveway in my neighborhood (Click to enlarge)

I went out this Saturday morning with my daughter for Cleanup Day. We decided to work on our immediate neighborhood rather than on one of the main streets.  Our neighborhood needed it badly.

(For those not in Fairbanks, Cleanup Day is an annual ritual here, where hundreds — if not thousands — of Fairbanksans — come out to pick up all the garbage that has been revealed after the snow has melted.  It is sponsored by United Way of the Tanana Valley.)

Just to pick up the garbage on one block adjacent to our house took us an hour.  Now, granted, my older daughter is five years old and couldn’t be expected to pursue garbage pick-up with the sustained vigor that an adult might.  But, still, there was plenty: candy wrappers, plastic toys, broken bottles, small metal scraps, fast food boxes, aluminum cans, and of course cigarette butts.

In fact, the block might have taken us only half an hour, had it not been for the cigarette butts.  Not only were they plenty in the gutter alongside the nearby apartment buildings, but there was also a major stash of them at the base of a telephone pole — a makeshift ashtray, it seemed.  Sensing that my daughter’s enthusiasm was waning, I ignored the butts for our second, longer block — though that still left us enough to do.

Why so many butts?  Here are a couple of ideas:

  • Cigarette butts are far more plentiful than other forms of litter because they are small — so small that the offending smoker thinks they’re negligible.  I don’t really believe that the person who throws cigarette butts on the ground would also pitch phone books, coffee grounds, and torn clothes.
  • People only believe that cigarette butts are negligible garbage because they spend insufficient time outside, walking in the same places.  When public spaces like streets are thought of by the vast majority of people as little more than conduits for cars, it’s easy to disregard them.  Who can see a cigarette butt (or any small piece of trash) from inside a car moving twenty miles an hour?

The sad thing my daughter noticed (and I’ve noticed it for years) is that the first block we worked was vastly messier than the second.  The connection she didn’t mention is that the first block is where a quintet of low-rent apartment buildings are located — and that the garbage level is always higher on all sides of that block.  This block tends to confirm our worst stereotypes of the poor.

I can see a few causes for this — and I’m happy to have people suggest others.  (1) Renters do not have the same kind of investment that homeowners do in the appearance of their property or their neighborhood, so they’ll tend (not all, of course, but as an aggregate) not to care about the level of trash.  Transient renters have even less cause to care.  (2) In all shared spaces (like apartments), it’s easy to assume that the mess belongs to the other guy, which makes it easier to ignore — especially if dirty yards and streets won’t affect your monthly payment.  (3) The apartments themselves are old and falling apart.  While the lawn is mowed, there is sad little other maintenance done (that I can see from outside).  That kind of living space invites people not to take care of their buildings or neighborhoods.  (4) The low-rent apartments form a sizeable cluster; the few other properties on the block take up about a quarter of its area.  This tends to concentrate all the other factors.  If housing for the poor were instead spaced out evenly, it would diminish the concentration of ugliness and dignify the living situations of those have to (or choose to) live there.

Two announcements:

In case you didn’t know, this week is Bike to Work Week.  Leave your car at home!  If you live too far from work for bicycling to be feasible… why?  Isn’t that in itself too great a price?

Also, tomorrow — that’s Tuesday, May 12 — the Northern Leadership Center Lecture Series is presenting Lewis Feldstein, president of the New Hampsire Charitable Foundation and co-author (with Robert Putnam) of Better Together: Restoring the American Community.  The lecture title is “Better Together: Community Leadership and Social Capital” and will be presented at 7 p.m. in Schiable Auditorium (part of UAF’s Bunnell Building).