by Cara Gardner and Jane Fritz

Village People -- SPOKANE/SANDPOINT - Strip malls have become icons of bland suburban America; though built for growth and commerce, distantly located big box stores with desert-sized parking lots can stifle other aspects of community life. That's why Mark Lakeman, a Portland-based community activist, founded the City Repair Project, an organization that makes infrastructure into more sustainable, ecologically and culturally relevant spaces. Lakeman will discuss City Repair Project's Village Lives program during his stops this week in Spokane and Sandpoint.

Lakeman says the Village Lives program "build[s] places where community can happen, right in the hearts of our neighborhoods." During his presentations, Lakeman will discuss how combining environmentally friendly architecture, permaculture and urban design with art and anthropology encourages more organic, authentic community experiences.

"By reasserting localized village patterns in the city grid, City Repair establishes both the physical and social foundation for sustainable culture," Lakeman writes.

Lakeman will present in Spokane on Tuesday, Sept. 21, at 7 pm at the Shop (924 S. Perry St.). The Sandpoint presentation will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 22, at 7 pm at the Sandpoint Public Library (1407 Cedar St.). Free.

Safe Aqua -- SPOKANE - The debate over whether fluoride should be added to drinking water is contentious, but before a decision is made for or against the use of fluoride in Spokane's water, the City Council will make a decision on whether any substance should be added to the water without approval from the FDA. On Sept. 27, the City Council will hear public testimony and then vote on the Water Quality Assurance Ordinance.

"It's not an anti-fluoridation ordinance," says Angie Petro, co-chair of the Water Quality Committee. "We think this is a harmonizing ordinance [which] says we're not opposed to or for fluoridation, but let's have a process that is approved by the FDA."

Petro says cities all over the country are passing similar ordinances because of a congressional investigation which found the FDA could increase investigations on the impact of fluoride on human health if more municipalities were requiring the department's approval before using substances in drinking water. Petro says the ordinance is to ensure safety, not to prevent fluoride use.

Poisonous Plan -- SANDPOINT- Bonner County has declared war on Eurasian water milfoil, an invader that crowds out native aquatic plants in the shallow bays of Lake Pend Oreille.

"It spreads like wildfire," says Ned Horner of Idaho Fish & amp; Game. If left unchecked, it can hurt fish and ultimately create a biological dead zone, he says.

Lakeshore property owners find the plant a nuisance since it grows thickly around docks, making boating, swimming, and water skiing nearly impossible.

The county previously had tried a topical herbicide and diver dredging to physically remove the plant in a few bays, but it failed to check the weed's tenacious growth.

As a result, on Sept. 22, the county will dump a systemic herbicide, triclopyr, or Renovate-2, into the lake between the Long Bridge and Memorial Field. The county will restrict swimming, fishing and irrigating until the poison dissipates.

Eighteen sites totaling nearly 400 acres are scheduled for treatment, including Sandpoint City Beach, Springy Point State Park, and the boat docks in Hope. But opposition is mounting.

"It's not wise to intentionally add chemicals designed to kill living things to our waterways," says Tammy Powell, a local petition campaign organizer against herbicide use. Powell and Clark Fork resident Jackie Smith have gathered hundreds of signatures in opposition to chemical controls. They recommend that the county try non-toxic methods first, such as a native weevil that feeds on the invader milfoil, removing the milfoil by hand, or installing bottom barriers around swimming areas to inhibit growth. More needs to be done to educate those responsible for the plant spreading, says Powell.

"If you go to Canada, you'll see enormous signs at boat launches, but not here," she says. -- Jane Fritz

For more information, call (208) 255-5681.

Publication date: 09/16/04

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