Fair aims to create new batch of do-it-yourselfers

Classes run the gamut, from plumbing to fixing bike flats

By Dave Kern, Columbian assistant metro editor

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Sunday’s spectacular sunshine did not deter Gretta Anderson from getting tips at the Do-It-Yourself Fair at Clark College.

“I live in a fixer-upper, that’s a key reason why I’m here today,” said Anderson, 26, a Shumway neighborhood resident.

She had just been to a class on basic wiring, one of 16 workshops offered.

“I gained a lot of insight on my electrical problems,” said Anderson, a full-time student at Clark College. “Some plugs aren’t working and a light fixture isn’t working. I’m going to try to work on that tonight.”

Anderson was learning but was disappointed that she needed to make a choice on which of four seminars to attend each hour or so.

“I had to make the call between wiring and rain barrels,” she said. “Wiring is pretty serious and a rain barrel is not going to electrocute anybody.”

Her next stop meant skipping bike maintenance.

“I’m going to choose plumbing. I’ve got some really weird things going on,” she said.

Anderson was one of an estimated 125 people who attended the fair, said Sally Fisher, sustainability specialist for the event’s sponsor, Clark County Environmental Services.

Classes ranged from computer maintenance to mold, radon and lead to weatherization to screen door/windows repair.

Fourteen people attended the bike maintenance class. Wade Leckie of Vancouver’s Bad Monkey Bikes, Board and Skate demonstrated how to fix a flat tire.

Presenters included many area agencies, as well as Home Depot and Lowe’s.

At the master composter and recycler booth, Luisa Eding of Cascade Park and Brigitte Pisarek of Felida were telling people about the wonders of vermiculture. Those red wriggler worms can turn your food waste into plant food, the two noted.

“Kids came by and liked to look at the worms,” Pisarek noted.

You can buy those worms from A Squirm of Worms in La Center, A flier said they sell for $20 a pound.

”We show people a lot of options to save space in the landfill, enrich their gardens and to contribute to the health of their community,” said Jo Anne Dolan, sustainability programs director at Columbia Springs environmental center. She said local food scraps amount to 16 percent of garbage sent to the landfill. “We are paying money to haul away things that are a liability instead of an asset,” she said.

At the Watershed Stewards booth, Jennifer Naas stood next to a 55-gallon rain barrel. It could be yours for $35.

Then, you could hook it to your downspout and use the water on your flowers.

But the big value is keeping that water, much of it containing contaminants from your roof, from flowing into storm drains that go directly into local streams and rivers, Naas said. She works for Washington State University Clark County Extension.

Fisher, of Clark County, said she was pleased at the turnout, considering the gorgeous weather. She said she expects the fair to return in the winter of 2013.

She said many classes “help them save money. In these times, a buck’s a buck.”