Information bringing people together...

Local food resources

The Putting Down Roots Sustainability Salons have continued each month.  The second Sustainability Salon (as well as the 14th15th, 26th27th, 38th39th, 51st52nd, 62nd, 63rd, 64th, 74th, 75th, 87th, and 88th) focused on food -- growing it, sourcing it locally, and eating more humanely.  Afterwards, Maren put together a list of many such local sources:  CSA farms, farmers' markets, grassfed and humanely raised meats and dairy, natural foods suppliers, bakeries, and advocacy organizations.  This list now resides on a growing Resources section of the Putting Down Roots Blogger site.

Nov 20: House Concert with Lui Collins

Putting Down Roots is pleased to announce a house concert with New England favorite Lui Collins!

“… one of New England's clearest and most distinctive folk voices, with unusually piercing lyrical insight..." - Hartford Courant

“Folksinger for our times” - The Boston Herald

“… one of New England’s first and brightest stars.” - The Boston Globe

Folk singer/songwriter Lui Collins has been performing, writing and recording for over 40 years, her early Philo and Green Linnet recordings earning international acclaim and establishing her as a respected voice in the folk world.  Lui has shared the stage with such notables as Pete Seeger, Bonnie Raitt, Stan Rogers, Dar Williams, and John Gorka.  Renowned guitarist Dave van Ronk called her “one of the best guitarist-arrangers I have heard in years.”

“Lui sings my songs better than I do.”  
- Canadian folk icon Stan Rogers

From playful 4-string arrangements of some favorite original songs, to the fabulous jazz chords in American standards and bossa nova, Lui translates her rich and complex guitar arrangements onto her tenor ukulele to create something unexpected and delightful.

"Lui has a gentle way of capturing the hearts of her audience and having what amounts to a musical conversation with them during her performances… No one weaves a spell quite like she can." —Champlain Valley Folk Festival Newsletter

Nov 20, 2020 at 7 p.m. (door 6:30), at Maren's house in Squirrel Hill.  Light fare to share (food contributions appreciated, but not expected).  Suggested donation $15-20.  Directions and other info will come after RSVP -- and please do RSVP even if you know your way!  Email me with "concert" in the Subject line, with name(s) of attendees -- or via Eventbrite if you're on the email list for Sustainability Salons (email me with "salon" in the Subject line if you'd like to be added).  You can also call 412-251-5814 (9-9, please, and do leave a message!)

Previous Putting Down Roots house concerts have included Tom Neilson & Lynn WaldronTwo of a Kind and Brad YoderMike AgranoffSparky & Rhonda RuckerPutnam SmithKen Gaines and the Squirrel Hillbillies, and Randal Bays & Davey Mathias.

Oct 8: PennFuture Women in Conservation Awards

Each year, PennFuture honors the accomplishments of exceptional women conservationists in Pennsylvania. The 2020 Celebrating Women in Conservation Awards are designed to encourage continuing excellence in conservation and to forge a stronger network of exceptional women working to protect Pennsylvania’s environment. 
Since its inception in 2015, this event has traveled around the state to different communities to ensure recognition of local leaders, volunteers, and career professionals.  In 2020, they are celebrating women in Southwest Pennsylvania -- and I am incredibly honored to be counted among the awardees!
They've announced the honorees of PennFuture’s Sixth Annual Celebrating Women in Conservation Awards and ask you join in congratulating these eleven amazing women!
Before we get to “open the envelope, please” we do need to address some changes in our event this year due to COVID-19.
There was to be a banquet and award ceremony on April 30th at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh -- but, pandemic!  Now, not surprisingly, there will be a virtual event, instead -- on October 8th.  Your $40 Login Ticket will include a "PennFuture Swag Bag" with all kinds of useful things.  Please register here!

And now, here they are, the 2020 Celebrating Women in Conservation Award Honorees!!!
Women of Lifetime Achievement in Conservation
Caren Glotfelty
Beverly Braverman 
Dr. Patricia DeMarco 
Woman of Environmental Community Engagement
Maren Cooke 
Woman of Renewable Energy and Climate
Sharon Pillar 
Woman of Environmental Arts
Ann Rosenthal 
Woman of Environmental Media, Marketing, and Communications 
Kirsi Jansa
Woman of Environmental Education 
Camila Rivera Tinsley 
Woman of Environmental Justice 
Raina Rippel 
Woman of the Watershed 
Melissa Reckner 
Young Woman of Conservation Leadership
Leandra Mira
You can learn more about each of these women on the event page -- and register to attend!

Sep 26: Sustainability Salon on Air Quality

Following our three-month Economics series, the 104th Sustainability Salon (and possibly also #105, in October) will feature our annual fall focus on Air Quality.  The Group Against Smog & Pollution (on whose board I serve) has remained quite active during the pandemic, working from home and meeting online.  GASP has continued our vital legal and watchdog work, and found creative ways to port advocacy, education, and outreach into the virtual world.  Executive director Rachel Fillipini, staff attorney Ned Mulcahy, and education and events coordinator Chelsea Hilty will share GASP's programs, progress, and challenges -- and connect you with ways to learn more about our region's air, protect yourself, and make your voice count.  

We'll also hear from some affected residents living near polluting facilities.  Clairton Coke Works (the largest coke plant in North America) is the biggest polluter in Allegheny County, racking up fines into the millions as it frequently exceeds emissions standards and its own operating permits.  Clairton resident Melanie Meade is among those who have decided to speak up, and will share some of her experiences in the fight against toxic emissions.  And the Edgar Thomson Works in Braddock and North Braddock, also part of U.S. Steel's Mon Valley Works, has been operating since 1875.  Local activist and filmmaker Tony Buba is part of North Braddock Residents For Our Future, a group organized to face the prospect of fracking at the steel mill, and has been filming the town for close to fifty years (including a stint on Night of the Living Dead).   

The only way to really know what's in the air we breathe is with air monitors.  Organizations like GASP, government agencies, academic institutions, and individual residents have been taking advantage of recent technological advances to characterize emissions and human health risk.  With the Shell petrochemical facility nearing completion, air activist and documentarian Mark Dixon is coordinating a network of monitors in Beaver County to measure both fine particles and VOCs.  

In the "Mark Your Calendar" department (also the "Please go buy a ticket and support a great organization" department), coming up on October 8th is PennFuture's Women in Conservation Awards event.  I am incredibly honored to be counted among the awardees!  Please consider joining us (virtually).

A note about MarensList:  Blogger has made some changes which seem to make it impossible for me to set dates in the future.  I am working to find a solution, but in the meantime I may not be able to post new events for a while.

Coronavirus update:   As you know, people in Pittsburgh and around the world are sequestered at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Social distancing is still the rule for most Americans.  That's a bit of a misnomer, though -- we need physical distancing to flatten the curve, but technology now allows for rich interactions even so!  I believe that community is one of our greatest strengths, so in March as events began to be cancelled, I hosted the first virtual Sustainability Salon via Zoom teleconference -- rather than gathering our usual 50-80 people in a contained space.   It went quite well (even engaging participants from hundreds of miles away), and we're looking forward to June's salon!  Please be sure to RSVP (via email with "salon" in the Subject: line, or via Eventbrite) so you'll receive the sign-on information.  

Salons usually run 3-10 p.m. at Maren's house in Squirrel Hill -- but this time we're on Zoom, and things may wind down earlier without the potluck supper.  Plan to join the call after 3 p.m., and we aim to start the program right around 4, after folks have had a chance to (virtually) meet, mingle, and maybe tour around an interesting and productive urban permaculture site.  Talks and discussion will probably wind down by around 7.  If you're new to Zoom, you may find my Zoom Reference Guide helpful.  Please email me (at maren dot cooke at gmail dot com) with salon in the Subject line to RSVP (yes or maybe), or click on the link in your Eventbrite notice (if you're not already on my list, just email me with salon in the subject line to be added!).  

Please do RSVP each time -- it helps greatly in several ways   (and with a virtual event, it's how you'll get the call-in info!).  Please make every effort to RSVP well in advance -- I'll be sending out the registration link manually, so could miss last-minute registrations while setting up and hosting the event!  Be sure to include salon in the Subject line if you email, as I receive a ridiculous amount of email every day.  And if you're new, please let me know how you heard about the Salons!  

Check back on MarensList  (where you can find information on all sorts of environmental and social justice events, as well as better formatting for this event description) for updates.  And if you aren't yet on my list, if you're interested in Sustainability Salons (and our occasional house concert, simply contact me and I'll put you on my email list.  
As always, I'll be sending out directions and such (in this case Zoom instructions), and any late-breaking info, to all the RSVP'd folks by the morning of the salon if not before (usually Friday night).  So if you don't have it yet, please be patient!  One of these days I'll streamline this process a bit, but for now it takes a while to to dot all my i's and cross all my t's. 
For the uninitiated, a Sustainability Salon is an educational forum;  it's a mini-conference;  it's a venue for discussion and debate about important environmental issues;  fit's a house party with an environmental theme.  We usually have featured speakers on various aspects of a particular topic, interspersed with stimulating conversation, lively debate, delectable potluck food and drink, and music-making through the evening.
Past topics have included social investment,  local economies, the economics of energymutual aid networksocean healththe rise of the radical rightthe back end of consumptionapproaches to activism on fracking & climateair quality, technology, and citizen sciencesingle-use plasticselection activismelection law, whether to preserve existing nuclear power plantsadvanced nuclear technologiespassenger and freight trainsconsumption, plastics, and pollutionair qualitysolar poweryouth activismgreening businessgreenwashing, the petrochemical buildout in our region, climate/nature/peoplefracking, health, & actionglobalizationecological ethicscommunity inclusionair quality monitoringinformal gatherings that turn out to have lots of speakersgetting STEM into Congresskeeping Pittsburgh's water publicShell's planned petrochemical plantvisualizing air quality, the City of Pittsburgh's sustainability initiativesfossil energy infrastructure, getting money out of politicscommunity solar power and the Solarize Allegheny program, the Paris climate negotiations (beforeduring, and after), air quality (again, with news on the autism connection), reuse (of things and substances), neighborhood-scale food systems, other forms of green community revitalizationsolar powerclimate changeenvironmental art, environmental education (Part I & Part II), community mapping projectsenvironmental journalismgrassroots actionMarcellus shale development and community rightsgreen buildingair qualityhealth care, more solar powertrees and park stewardshipalternative energy and climate policyregional watershed issues, fantastic film screenings and discussions (often led by filmmakers) over the winter with films on Food SystemsClimate Adaptation and MitigationPlastic Paradise, Rachel Carson and the Power Of One VoiceTriple Divide on fracking, You've Been Trumped and A Dangerous GameA Fierce Green FireSustainability Pioneersfilms on consumptionLiving DownstreamBidder 70YERTGas Rush Stories, and food, foodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodand more food (a recurrent theme;  with California running out of water, we'd better gear up to produce a lot more of our own!).

If you haven't been here before, you may enjoy checking out our roof garden and solar installation (and now apiary!) as well as the many other green and interesting things around our place.  If interested folks are online and everything is working smoothly by around 3:30, perhaps I can conduct a virtual tour.

And if you like to make music or listen to homemade music, don't forget the evening sing -- we typically run the gamut from Irish fiddle tunes to protest songs to the Beatles, and a fun time is had by all.  Bring instruments if you play, and/or pick up one of ours.  Conversations will continue through the evening, as well.  (with a virtual event this is less likely to happen, but we can share music by turns, reminisce, chat online, and look forward to the post-COVID era!) 

Sep 18: Solidarity Arts event

Healing HeARTs Arts Night
Join us for a family-friendly evening of virtual arts and activism.
Will Falk, author of “The Ohio River Speaks”, will open our night of healing with words that have been inspired by his time on the Ohio RIver.  
We will then hear from our MC for the night Mairelle McIntosh of Music for a Better World.
Next our Solidarity Art Build Project will begin hosted by David Solnit. 
We will send you a list of suggested supplies and work together for a half hour and then the Music will begin. David will move to an “Art Room”, where he will be available during the entertainment in case we need help with our projects. You will be able to go between the art room and the entertainment room.
We will have entertainment from 8-9 pm!  Here's the lineup:
  • 8:00 Shari Lauter - musician and organizer of the Global Water Dance in CIncinnati in 2013
  • 8:15 Mike Stout -  Stout is also a singer-songwriter and recording artist, with eighteen albums and more than 150 songs written and recorded, who has used his music to raise tens of  thousands of dollars for a host of social and economic justice causes.
  • 8:30 Susan Powers - Powers is a founding member of the Group Devilish Merry, where she pioneered the use of the five-string banjo in Celtic music. 
  • 8:45 MaMuse! - is an acoustic folk duo from Chico, California, made up of Karisha Longaker and Sarah Nutting. Known for their soulful harmonies and light, bright lyrics, these women have said that they want their music to bring spiritual uplift and to connect people to the richness of life
Open Mic and networking begin at 9 p.m.   Here are the tools you will need: 
Solidarity Social Media Toolkit -

Sep 17: PFAS primer

Curious about PFAS, a.k.a. the "forever chemical"?

Join Women for a Healthy Environment for a chat with Dr. Laura Anderko to learn more about PFAS. Known as a forever chemical, Dr. Anderko will discuss what PFAS is, where it's found, why we should be concerned and how to avoid it. 
Dr. Anderko holds the Robert and Kathleen Scanlon Chair in Values Based Health Care at Georgetown University School of Nursing & Health Studies. She is a Professor and Director of the Mid-Atlantic Center for Children's Health and the Environment, and a scholar in the fields of epidemiology, public health and environmental health.
12:30 to 1 p.m. on Facebook Live.  If this information has been helpful, please consider a donation of $10, over WHE's secure site, so that they may continue to provide these resources in the weeks, months and years to come.

Sept 17: Story of Plastic with filmmakers

Join us to hear Stiv Wilson, producer of the film The Story of Plastic, share his story of the film’s creation followed by a  conversation led by environmental film directors Melissa Troutman & Mark Dixon with live Q & A with the audience. Thursday Sept 17th 7-8:30 pm EDT
Once registered you will provided with a free link to watch the film The Story of Plastic on your own prior to the discussion event or to join us for a watch party immediately before (5:30 -7pm Sept 17th). 
Register here*
See Film trailer here

Help spread the word via Facebook here 

Note: This is just the start of four days of exciting scheduling for the A-Z Impact of Plastic Summit, Check it out!

Sep 16: Air monitoring and emergency systems in Beaver Co.

Learn more about how Beaver County and SWPA residents can monitor and protect our communities as industrial development expands. Bring your questions!
7-9 p.m., online (Zoom and Facebook Live). Register in advance here. After you register you will receive all the Zoom event details via email as well as a reminder the day-of. Sponsored by Beaver County Marcellus Awareness Community, Halt the Harm Network, ReImagine Beaver County, Breathe Project, and the League of Women Voters.

Sep 15: Racial Equity in Food

The Exploring Racial Equity and Access in Our Food System: History, Land Access, and Race webinar will examine the impact of the long history of structural and systemic racism within the food and agricultural systems on black and brown farmers in the United States. Our panelists will share their lived experiences with racism in farming and food system work, as well as barriers faced in accessing resources needed to grow and succeed.
Noon to 1:30, online.  This webinar is the first of a four-part series on Exploring Racial Equity and Access in our Food System, by the PennState Agricultural Extension.  More information and online registration are here.

Sep 3: ReImagine Jobs Showcase

Join ReImagine Beaver CountyBreathe Project, the League of Women Voters of Greater Pittsburgh, and the Climate Reality Leadership Corps for the launch event of the ReImagine Jobs Showcase!  Many clean, renewable and sustainable jobs are available in our region, and to connect area residents we will livestream a showcase of local businesses, industries and organizations that are hiring and fueling sustainable economic development in Southwestern Pennsylvania and beyond.  The stream will include a keynote address from Sharon Pillar of the Pennsylvania Solar Center, followed by a panel discussion on the future of economic development in the region.  Join in as we ReImagine the next chapter of our region’s future!

The website, launched simultaneously with this event, will highlight local businesses and organizations who are doing great work in sustainable economic development in Southwestern Pennsylvania.  This will be a resource for community members and job seekers to learn about the career possibilities in our 10 sectors of sustainable economic development.

7-9 p.m. online; free and open to the public.  RSVP here for the sign-in info!

Sep 2: ReImagine Food Systems launch

One important path toward greater food security is for more people to grow more food right in our communities.  To help make this happen, ReImagine Turtle Creek Watershed & Airshed Communties includes a ReImagine Food Systems group -- and we're looking for your help!  As the project begins in earnest, we'll be installing raised bed gardens for two households in the watershed -- more next spring!  But we depend on donor dollars to fund this initiative -- our labor is volunteer, but there are out-of-pocket expenses.  Connect with us if you'd like to volunteer (send us an email), and/or contribute here!

Aug 27: Trees and Air Quality

Tree Pittsburgh invites you to learn about the connection between trees and air quality and how the Green Heart Project in Louisville, KY is putting trees to the test as a human health intervention.
Their investigation will measure and assess the impact of trees on air quality and noise levels and correlate with health outcomes and measurements taken from over 800 community residents participating in the study.
Presenters will share how the air quality benefits of trees are modeled using the i-Tree program, provide context behind the study, and how it’s being implemented, as well as the details of how tree species and planting locations are selected to maximize health benefits.
Tree Pittsburgh has invited an expert panel from across government, healthcare, and nonprofit organizations to share the details of their ground-breaking research that can help inform our common goals toward achieving a greener, healthier, and more equitable region.  
10 a.m. to noon, online.  Please register here!

Aug 15, 22, 29: Fracking and Community Health

Fracking and Community Health series:  
Gas drilling activity near Knoch School Campus and Saxonburg
Presented by Marcellus Outreach Butler

On September 15. 2011, South Butler School Board approved a gas lease with Phillips Exploration, a part of XTO and a subsidiary of Exxon Mobile.  The School District joined with privately owned property to form a 640 acre “pool” or drilling unit.  Since then, the area has become inundated with gas wells and related infrastructure.  Marcellus Outreach Butler asked then and asks still, “What are the risks and impacts of placing such fracking activity so close to human habitats, especially a school campus?”  Join MOB for a series of online meetings to discuss these concerns about the intensive drilling near Knoch Schools Campus and Saxonburg.

Register with link below for each program by 6:30 on the day of the program.
PART 1, Aug. 15, 7 PM: Overview of the area, including drone footage, and Dr. Ned Ketyer who will review the health risks and impacts fracking and related activity pose to those who live in close proximity. Register at
PART 2, Aug. 22, 7 PM: Dr. John Stolz on Radioactive Fracking Waste and Sanitary Landfill. Register at
PART 3, Aug. 29, 7 PM: EHP’s Sarah Rankin and Nathan Deron on potential impacts of fracking. Register at
Join MOB for Parts 1, 2, and 3 by clicking links for each Part above.  They will send you the Zoom call link to join each session individually.
Each session will run from 7 to 8:30 and will include time for Q&A.

Saturday, Aug. 15:  Ned KetyerM.D., F.A.A.P.
Dr. Ned Ketyer is a Pittsburgh-area pediatrician with special interests in developmental pediatrics, preventative medicine, and environmental health. After his pediatric residency at Pittsburgh’s Children’s Hospital, Dr. Ketyer practiced general pediatrics for 26 years. Although retired from patient care, he writes and edits his practice’s popular blog, The PediaBlog, and remains a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Environmental Health. He is a consultant for the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project bringing attention to the health impacts of shale gas development, a board member of Physicians for Social Responsibility - Pennsylvania, and a Climate Reality Project Leader.
In all these roles, Dr. Ketyer connects the vast petrochemical “clusterfrack” underway in SW Pennsylvania with local and regional health impacts, and the global ecological and public health catastrophes resulting from plastic pollution and climate change that threaten the health and well-being of all passengers on this shining ball of blue.
Saturday, Aug. 22:  John Stolz
Director, Center for Environmental Research and Education
Professor, Dept. of Biological Sciences,
Duquesne University
Dr. Stolz studies the microbial metabolism of metals and metalloids, microbial communities in hypersaline environments, and water quality. He has published 95 peer-reviewed articles, 37 book chapters, and author/edited two books. He is currently co-authoring/editing a book on the "Environmental Impacts of Unconventional Oil and Gas Reserves Development" for Cambridge University Press.
Most recently, Dr. Stolz has been looking at sanitary landfills in Pennsylvania and New York that have been allowed to take both solid and liquid waste from oil and gas operations. The leachate is now contaminated with toxins and radioactivity. Dr. Stolz will present the results of his investigation and the questionable ways in which the industry, with the help of legislators and regulators, are using to dispose of their wastes.
Saturday, Aug. 29:  Sarah Rankin, MPH, BSN, RN
Public Health Nurse
and Nathan Deron, MSPPM-DA, Environmental Data Scientist at Souhwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project
The SW PA Environmental Health Project is a nonprofit public health organization that assists and supports residents of Southwestern Pennsylvania and beyond who believe their health has been, or could be, impacted by shale gas development (or fracking).

Sarah and Nathan will review the literature and EHP’s findings about potential health impacts of fracking.  They will also discuss how a community science air monitoring project can measure the pollution faced by communities.