In the printed, hold-it-in-your-hand Press Democrat for Jan. 5 I wrote about the creativity that’s popping around Sonoma County’s next Big Read, which will encourage everyone in the county to read a single book – Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.”

A leading partner in The Big Read, KRCB TV and radio, is offering 1,200 free copies of the book to teachers in the county. KRCB also will award a bunch of mini-grants, of $50 to $250, to teachers, non-profits and inventive individuals who come up with projects, performances or other events that will feed public interest in reading Tom Sawyer.

Imagine the possibilities. Alicia Hodenfield did. She fired me off an email that said, “This could be a community project. I noticed the fence around Luther Burbank Home and Gardens is in need of serious paint.”

Boy is it. And can you picture a great crowd of splattered Sonoma County people kneeling hip-to-hip and whitewashing Luther’s picket fence?

Tom Sawyer meets Luther Burbank. We’d make the national news, no doubt about it.

But it isn’t to be. At the Burbank Home, staffer Linda Hall said she loves the idea of the community celebrating the Tom Sawyer spirit by coming together for a fence-whitewashing party there at Sonoma and Santa Rosa avenues.

 “But,” she said, “that’s not something we can do.”

Linda said the 1950s-era white-painted redwood fence at the Burbank Home and Gardens truly is due for a major – and costly – restoration. Some of the wood is rotted and needs to be replaced. And the old paint can’t simply be painted over.

It’s lead-based, so lead-abatement professionals will have to deal it. Linda said there are issues in the house that need attention, so it could be a year before a project to restore and repaint the fence gets underway.

So much for whitewashing the Burbank park’s old fence as part of The Big Read. But there must be a million other bright ideas for drawing folks together, having some fun and celebrating the spirit of Tom Sawyer.

If you’ve got one, do go to and apply for a mini-grant. The deadline’s Jan. 15.