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Love Letter to Fairbanks Goes Viral

Isaiah Mangum

A video circulating on local social media was produced as a “love letter” to Fairbanks. The producer released it on Valentine’s Day as part civic pride, part pandemic response.

The 3-minute video is just a string of statements people made about their relationship with Fairbanks. Producer Isaiah Mangum says he asked people a few questions to prompt them.

Carey Fristoe: “Dear Fairbanks, I love you.”

Mangum: “Calling it a quirky community love letter, like, dear Fairbanks. But I just said just look directly into the camera, ignore that I’m here. Like, look at Fairbanks. Talk to Fairbanks. Tell Fairbanks how you feel about them.”

Isaiah Mangum is the proprietor of Venue, a coffee shop and meeting place on Second Avenue in downtown Fairbanks. With 9,000 square feet, his staff has spaced eating tables very far apart so he can continue to be open with a quarter of the customer capacity during the pandemic. Besides the coffee and food, the place is filled with local artwork, Fairbanks t-shirts and bumperstickers,

Sara Harriger in the video: “I love your overly aggressive winter palette.”

Mangum: “To think about Fairbanks as a relationship. Just like any friendship, partnership, relationship, it can be challenging. And I think to put yourself in a situation where you’re like, you know, it’s not all about me, I have to meet Fairbanks halfway.”

That’s Sara Harriger, Executive Director of the Morris Thompson Cultural Center, and one of the folks Mangum had sit on a stool in the back of the coffee shop last week.

Harriger in video: “You’re so beautiful, but it is not always easy to be here. I think at the end of one of your winters, we all feel a little bit proud of ourselves for making it through.”

Mangum:“This idea was to kickstart some civic pride. Maybe inspire us. Remind us that our community is worth our love.”

He says the video is the first of an online extension of the coffee shop. He has a website with one of the best local domain names,, that he launching with the love letter video. He plans to post videos and photography with the same sort of local artistic expression one might see at the coffee shop. He also plans to post other love letters, and have a place that he calls “a guest book for our community” where community members can write their own love letters.

“Valentine’s Day was intentional as kind of a cheesy little launching date, but it doesn’t have to be one day a year. I think we can express ourselves every day. Share your love for Fairbanks.”

Mangum was born and raised here and moved away but came back. His two daughters are in the video.

From the video: “Thank you for being my home.”

Mangum: “And I wrote a little thing: our goal is to light a fire, kindle an old flame, ignite the kind of love that makes you shout from the top of Murphy Dome.”