Faces of Spenard: Michelle Wilber

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This story was originally written for The Spenardian.


Michelle Wilber has been a member of the Spenard community since 2008.

“I really found that the downtown/midtown/Spenard area was sort of the center of the universe for me,” Wilber said.

Wilber grew up in Anchorage and left for college, but moved back to the state after getting her degree in physics from Caltech Institute of Technology in Pasadena. She is currently a masters student at UAA in mechanical engineering and is hoping to graduate in May.

Wilber calls herself a “science geek,” and thinks a way to affect change is making the world more energy efficient. She hopes to use her degree to solve energy efficiency issues.

“I am really interested in the efficiency of our built environment. I think that we have serious problems, we have serious ecological problems. As a whole on this earth, we have overreached carrying capacity. There are too many people using too many resources,” Wilber said.

Wilber lives in her fourplex that she owns with her son and father. When she bought her fourplex, she went through the energy rebate program from the Department of Energy and installed four inches of blueboard around the foundation and walls of the building.

“I wanted to buy a multifamily building because I wanted to implement energy efficiency and really have a lot of influence on more than just my own household, as much as I could,” Wilber said.

Wilber does her part to leave the smallest dent possible on the environment. She doesn’t own a car by choice, and has a work truck that she drives for her job. Occasionally, she borrows her dad’s car, but oftentimes bikes or takes the PeopleMover. She composts, and at one point tried to have bees as a sustainable resource.

Wilber is also the organic gardening coordinator for Yarducopia, a project of Alaska Community Action on Toxics, which connects people who want to garden but have no place to do so with those who have the yard space.

She believes in permaculture, sustaining and maintaining gardens throughout the city and having individuals learn from the program, eventually being able to create a garden themselves.

She hopes that the designs systems Yarducopia has in place are more than sustainable but regenerative as well.

Several of Yarducopia’s plots are located in Wilber’s back yard, where gardeners from around the city come and grow vegetables and greens. Yarducopia plots are scattered throughout Anchorage, but many lie in Spenard.

“Spenard is my home,” Wilber said. “I don’t say Anchorage anymore, I say, ‘I live in Spenard.’”

The Author

Samantha is majoring in journalism and political science at the University of Alaska Anchorage. She is the former executive editor of The Northern Light, UAA's student-run newspaper and has previously interned at Alaska Dispatch News and Alaska Public Media. Samantha loves pad thai, london fogs and a good baseball tee.

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