A small town bookstore/coffee shop died too quietly January 1, 2001. Into the Woods was the renegade bastion of human evolution; set neatly off from the road it was hidden from everyone by old and cool Alaskan forest.
I worked there off and on for a few years and in that time we had weekly Celtic jams, French classes and films, a G'wichin table, Green party meetings, song writing workshops, poetry readings and several surprisingly well-received concerts. Open noon to midnight every day we could find a willing worker the bookstore was one of scant few businesses in this mostly frozen (frozen in so many more ways than literal) town that didn't encourage the sterilely generic Seattle-Starbucks look that is growing so hip up here.
Our last year was too much of a struggle though. The owner had to take a job up North to keep the shop open and summer light-all-the-time mania burned out our over-worked employees at a monthly turnover. Finally an unfortunate and overly principialed brawl with the land owner (the University of Fairbanks) left us owing back rent, no access to the bank roll and a letter of eviction.
So, we rallied the troops and wrote a petition, spoke with the President of the University, raised money to cover back rent, cleaned up the land and worked on the shop itself. Then we asked for another chance. In retrospect I think we were too idealistic to think that the University would take our bid over the possibility of renting the land to some commercial business that would bring in far more money than our beautiful no-profit.
We moved 8 years of books and life out of the cabin then decided to take the shop with us. In an endeavor unlike any other people filed diligently out of the proverbial woodwork to help move out and move the building. The actual structure of Into the Woods is now 3 miles out of Fairbanks waiting empty in different woods.
Last month the University evicted the neighbors on the old land and razed their house, taking quite a few old trees out with it. We resorted to civil disobedience and took 5 dead stumps back to the University in time forEarth Day. We left them at the Commons, the cafeteria, the dorms and at the office of the President. Nailed to each stump was a signed letter stating our disbelief of their total disrespect for the originality and heritage of the land and a high class glossy photo of an amanita from the land. A couple days later we spoke with the President to gauge his reaction... he smiled blankly on a said he had absolutely no idea of what we were talking about.