by Cara Gardner and Joel Smith

Sustainability Scorecard -- SPOKANE -- Environmentalists are hoping to have a "come to Jesus" session with the public on Wednesday, March 9, by holding a Sustainability Fair at City Hall at 7 pm. Sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Church's Environmental Stewardship Group and the Inland Empire Chapter of the American Planning Association, the Sustainability Fair will have booths with information on lifestyle changes that people can make to promote sustainability. But the main attraction will be guest speaker Alan Durning, founder of the Northwest Environment Watch (NEW), a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting environmental health in the Pacific Northwest. Durning is a former researcher for the Worldwatch Institute in Washington, D.C., and has written multiple books, including Stuff: The Secret Lives of Everyday Things (with J.C. Ryan), The Car and the City and Man Off Our Backs (with Y. Baumen).

Durning's organization is most widely known for its annual Cascadia Scorecard, indexing seven key indicators of environmental health in the region: health, economy, population, energy, sprawl, forests and pollution. During his City Hall presentation, Durning will discuss the Scorecard with an emphasis on energy issues. -- Cara Gardner

Brook Babble -- SPOKANE -- With all the hubbub over Burlington Northern's leaky -- and now temporarily out of commission -- fuel depot in Hauser, the aquifer/river issue has become quite the cocktail topic around town.

But the issue of how much and how long the depot has been spilling its filthy seed on the ground isn't the only buzz over local water resources. Alarmed citizens in Washington and Idaho are already pointing to the nearly countless petroleum tank farms, septic tanks and miscellaneous leaky pipes hovering just over the aquifer. Others are busily at work on Avista's energy relicensing project, which could have a significant impact on stream flow in the Spokane River.

But if you're already hip to that stuff, add this bit of eco-buzz to your repertoire: In January 2003, Avista, Kaiser Aluminum and Washington's Department of Ecology entered into a legal agreement to see how just how bad the toxic PCB (polychlorinated biphenyls) situation was behind Upriver Dam in Spokane.

And now some of the results of that study are starting to leak in. Ecology announced recently that it's giving the public a sneak peek of two of the five documents related to cleanup efforts there: the draft Remedial Investigation and the Feasibility Study.

The formal review and comment period will begin later this month, and no policy will be set until the end of the 30-day public comment period. Ecology also promises a meeting in late March or early April to discuss the documents. But you can check them out now at, or on limited-edition CDs at the Spokane Public Library, the Valley Library, Argonne County Library, and the Ecology branch office at 4601 N. Monroe St. -- Joel Smith

Eat Out to End Hunger -- SPOKANE VALLEY -- We wouldn't normally recommend scarfing down gargantuan plates of pasta to protest hunger. After all, many of us still remember sitting at the dinner table long after everyone else had finished, hearing our mothers yell, "Clean your plate! There are starving people in Africa!" It's just illogical to eat more than you need as a way of offsetting those who don't have enough. But there are other ways to help fight hunger. On Thursday, March 10, for example, a variety of restaurants throughout Spokane Valley will donate up to 10 percent of their proceeds to the Spokane Valley Meals on Wheels for its "Eat Out" fundraiser to help fight hunger among senior citizens.

"To me it's a perfect match -- restaurants and making sure seniors don't go hungry," says Pam Almeida, executive director for Spokane Valley Meals on Wheels.

Spokane Valley Meals on Wheels serves 100,000 meals a year to about 750 people. The organization will hold a rummage sale on March 18-19 on the corner of Sprague and Pines at the Opportunity Center. "We're hoping that we'll raise about $10,000," Almeida says.

The 15 Spokane Valley restaurants participating in "Eat Out" are Jenny's Caf & eacute;, Flamin' Joe's, Applebee's, Godfather's Pizza, Peking Palace, Buck's Pizza, O'Doherty's Irish Pub, Casa de Oro, the Staggering Ox, IHOP, Cuppa Joe's, Azteca, Hula Hut Grill, Percy's Caf & eacute; Americana and Ron's Drive Inn. So plan on cleaning your plate at one of these establishments. -- Cara Gardner

Publication date: 03/03/05

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