MarensList is Experiencing Technical Difficulties

Due to a change in how this platform works, it has become very difficult to make new postings for future events.  I hope to find a solution soon, but in the meantime my apologies for a rather thin slate of events!  There really is a lot going on... note that I also share events on Facebook, so look me up there if you're at loose ends.  

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, 87th88th, 98th, 99th, 110th, and 111th) 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.

Jan 15: 120th Sustainability Salon

The January Sustainability Salon marks TEN YEARS of our monthly gatherings!  Most of the last two years' salons have been virtual because of the pandemic, but before that the house echoed with countless voices on nearly 100 Saturdays.  This month, in celebration, we'll spend some time together in conversation without a set topic or formal speakers.  Winter is here in earnest, so the gathering will be virtual after all -- please join us on Zoom!  As for my quasi-annual summertime no-topic salons, I won't have to interrupt the conversation for the presentations.  Hope you can join us!  

Next salon:  on February 5th, we'll continue our virtual walk through the woods -- Part 2 of our Urban Forest series -- with Forest Restoration.  


In the meantime, a few other items of note:
•  Ongoing action on legislative redistricting, including hearings on January 14th & 15th.
•  On January 23rd, Pittsburghers Against Single-Use Plastic will host Plastic On Campus:  Local efforts to reduce single-use plastics at colleges & universities.  Visit the Facebook event page for more information and to register for this virtual event.
• Mask update:  Breathe99 masks (featured at November's salon on Pandemics and Air (video), and one of TIME's 100 Best Inventions of 2020) are now being distributed by Our Children Our Earth, a local purveyor of alternatives to disposables (as well as classy wooden toys).  Contact Dianne via OCOE's Facebook page, or call (412) 772-1638 to coordinate a curbside pickup.  
•  We cover a lot of important topics at Sustainability Salons.  If you're looking to get involved in any of them, feel free to connect with me (email with "salon" in the Subject is always a good method) and I can probably find a good match!  I also often post job opportunities on the Resources side of MarensList (right now, there are openings in climate education, organic farming, and environmental law, among others).  

Informal conversation will run from 4 p.m. to 7 or so on Zoom (sadly, no potluck supper these days).  Stay tuned for the possibility of an in-person gathering (in addition to or instead of a Zoom session) -- depending on a January thaw!  If you're new to Zoom, you may find my Zoom Reference Guide helpful.  If you RSVP via Eventbrite, you'll receive the Zoom registration link right away.  If you're not already on my Eventbrite list, please email me (maren dot cooke at gmail dot com) with salon in the Subject line to be added -- and let me know how you heard about salons!

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;  it's a house party (if there weren't a pandemic) with an environmental theme.  Each month we 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 (though the potluck and the music are on hiatus during the pandemic, so you're on your own for the delectables).
Past topics have included consumption and the rise of plasticregional air qualitypreserving Pittsburgh's forests, climate modelingapproaches to pipelinespipeline hazardsthe legacy of the Fukushima nuclear disasterthe judiciary and fair electionsconsumptionpandemics and air,  election law and activismair quality and environmental justicesocial 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 foodfood, 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!).

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)!  Please be sure to RSVP each time (via email with "salon" in the Subject: line, or via Eventbrite) so you'll receive the sign-on information.  

And if you like to make music or listen to homemade music, think back to our evening sings -- we typically ran the gamut from Irish fiddle tunes to protest songs to the Beatles, and a fun time was had by all.  Folks would bring instruments, and/or pick up one of ours.  Conversations would 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!

Jan 14 & 15: Pennsylvania legislative redistricting hearings

Constitutional amendments have been proposed regarding redistricting:  House Bill 38, to create judicial districts, and House Bill 2207, to replace the Legislative Reapportionment Commission with a sham citizens commission. 

Thanks to the strong outcry from so many of you and other concerned organizations, no further action was taken on those bills this week. The House is in recess until January 24, so there’s still time to continue speaking out against both bills. 

If you haven’t already, please make those calls (read Fair Districts PA's Action updates here and here).

HB 2207 is clearly designed to push back against the Legislative Reapportionment Commission’s preliminary House map, which House GOP leadership has described as a Democratic gerrymander.  The proposed map is far less distorted than maps of the past few decades.  It corrects decades of distortion made to keep incumbents in their districts as population shifted.  In doing so, it puts in jeopardy the locked-in majority Republicans have enjoyed in the House for most of the last twenty years.  For voters, this is a good thing: a chance at a more accountable, responsive legislature.  For those representatives who have consistently ignored voters’ voices, the prospect is obviously upsetting. 

If you’ve contacted your representative, please also consider a local letter to the editor against one or both bills.  (you can find ideas for HB 2207 here, and see sample letters on HB 38 here and here.)

Preliminary Legislative Maps

January 18 is the deadline for comment on both preliminary maps. After that, the commission has 30 days to revise. It’s not too late to offer your own comments on both preliminary House and Senate maps. 

Final hearings on the proposed maps, now full, will take place January 14 and 15. The hearing from 2 to 5 pm on Friday, January 14, will feature expert testimony assessing the maps.  You can find schedules and agendas here. 

Congressional Map (House Bill 2146)

After almost a month of no action on the Congressional map, the PA House voted this week on House Bill 2146, a map initially drawn by citizen mapper Amanda Holt.  When members of his committee refused to approve that selection, Representative Grove amended it and it was voted out of committee on a party-line vote on December 15. 

It is still not clear why that particular map was chosen or what criteria Rep. Grove was using. The map falls short of other submitted maps and Governor Wolf has already indicated he would veto it. With the Senate in recess until January 24 and numerous lawsuits already filed in Commonwealth Court, it seems likely that the court will intervene soon.  You can see the proposed map and our assessment here. Draw the Lines grades both map and process here.

There has been far more attention to the redistricting process than in the past.  The process is not over, but be assured, the resultant maps will be far better than those provided at the start of the last decade.  In all of this, it remains clear: real reform is needed.  We are learning a great deal as we go through this redistricting season and will be turning attention to drafting the strongest reform bill possible once new maps are finalized. 

Fair Districts PA has been hosting a series of Mapping Monday Open Houses -- they’ll be continuing through the end of January.  This is an unstructured Zoom meeting with breakouts to look at maps by region, explore redistricting metrics or ask questions about the current process.  Register here for a link and reminder.












Dec 11: Sustainability Salon on Consumption and the Rise of Plastic


The 119th Sustainability Salon will be our annual early-December feature on 
Consumption (in part so that folks might sally forth into the holiday season and, I hope, buy less stuff).   

Laura Lovett is an associate professor of history at Pitt who studies race, sex, gender, and the environment.  Her course "The Age of Plastic: Modern Consumption and the Environment in the United States" explores the rise of mass consumption in the post-war era -- how we moved within a single generation to embrace a single-use plastic lifestyle -- and its implications for our environment and waterways.  Join us to see how American consumerism came to be.

We'll also feature several local businesses that can help you get off the plastics/single-use train, including:
•  Our Children Our Earth is a local purveyor of alternatives to disposables (as well as non-plastic toys and games).  They'll be having another Open House (and serving as a Play It Forward donation site for gently used toys & games) this Sunday and Monday, December 12 & 13.
•  Sol Refill will soon be delivering home, body, and pantry staples to Pittsburghers -- and recirculating the receptacles!  
•  The Refillery is a new store in Squirrel Hill, with home and body products you can take home in your own containers.  

And folks from Pittsburghers Against Single-Use Plastic (PASUP) will share a bit of what we've been doing during the pandemic,  thoughts on the intersection of consumption and happiness, and a few ways that you can reduce your plastic footprint this season and every season.

Upcoming salons:  January's topic is TBA, but in February we'll continue our virtual walk through the woods -- Part 2 of our Urban Forest series -- with Forest Restoration.  


In the meantime, a few other items of note:
•  December 15:  The Group Against Smog & Pollution (GASP, featured in last month's salon) is planning another event in our Making the Connections series:  The Alarming Link Between Pollution & Mental Illness.  Register here.
• Mask update:  Breathe99 masks (featured at November's salon on Pandemics and Air (video), and one of TIME's 100 Best Inventions of 2020) are now being distributed by Our Children Our Earth, a local purveyor of alternatives to disposables (as well as classy wooden toys).  Contact Dianne via OCOE's Facebook page, or call (412) 772-1638 to coordinate a curbside pickup.  
•  We cover a lot of important topics at Sustainability Salons.  If you're looking to get involved in any of them, feel free to connect with me (email with "salon" in the Subject is always a good method) and I can probably find a good match!  I also often post job opportunities on the Resources side of MarensList.  

Talks and discussion will run from 4 p.m. to 7:30 or so on Zoom (sadly, no potluck supper these days).  You're welcome to join the call for informal conversation after 3 p.m., and we aim to start the main program right around 4.  If you're new to Zoom, you may find my Zoom Reference Guide helpful.  If you RSVP via Eventbrite, you'll receive the Zoom registration link right away.  If you're not already on my Eventbrite list, please email me (maren dot cooke at gmail dot com) with salon in the Subject line to be added -- and let me know how you heard about salons!

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;  it's a house party (if there weren't a pandemic) with an environmental theme.  Each month we 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 (though the potluck and the music are on hiatus during the pandemic, so you're on your own for the delectables).
Past topics have included regional air qualitypreserving Pittsburgh's forests, climate modelingapproaches to pipelinespipeline hazardsthe legacy of the Fukushima nuclear disasterthe judiciary and fair electionsconsumptionpandemics and air,  election law and activismair quality and environmental justicesocial 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 foodfood, 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!).

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.  

And if you like to make music or listen to homemade music, think back to our evening sings -- we typically ran the gamut from Irish fiddle tunes to protest songs to the Beatles, and a fun time was had by all.  Folks would bring instruments, and/or pick up one of ours.  Conversations would 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!

Dec 8: Preparing for Petrochemicals

The ethane cracker plant just up in Beaver County is slated to crank up in the coming months, turning fracked ethane into plastic.  Beaver County Marcellus Awareness Community (BCMAC) is hosting an online briefing for the public with experts on health impacts, emergency response, air monitoring, and firsthand experiences from similar facilities in Texas.  Register here

Nov 22/23: New ROCIS cohort begins

ROCIS (Reducing Outdoor Contaminants in Indoor Spaces) is launching their next virtual air quality monitoring cohort – Cohort 50! - soon.  It is ideal to have participants who are already engaged in air quality advocacy (but all interested folks are welcome!).  Please share this information with others who may be interested in participating. 

The first step is to participate in an introductory webinar (either Monday night 11/22/21 or Tuesday morning 11/23/21) to better understand what is expected.  The webinar sign-up is here.   After that, webinar attendees can decide whether or not they want to sign up for the cohort.  Monitoring will begin on December 6th, and run through January 18th (it's fine if folks are away for a week or so during this period).  
 
Here is what one 2020 virtual cohort participant, Ann, said, "I was grateful to be a part of the ROCIS Virtual Cohort. The time and effort to participate were well worth it. My family and I feel we now have a greater understanding of our indoor and outdoor air quality and how to make changes to improve it. Thank you to everyone at ROCIS for this great opportunity!"
 
At the recent Wrap-up meeting from the last cohort, another participant said, “I am amazed at the high impact of simple solutions”
           
Here is the link to the ROCIS webpage describing the upcoming webinar and cohort. 
 
After the introductory webinar, and a person commits to participate, we drop off a loaned monitoring kit.  
This includes:  
3 Dylos particle monitors (1 outside, 2 inside)  
2 radon monitors
1 carbon monoxide monitor
1 CO2 (carbon dioxide) monitor  
 
Folks participate in the virtual meetings online.  Access to the internet and a computer are needed.  Participating in a cohort provides an opportunity to learn a lot more about indoor sources, and to more clearly see the interaction between outdoor and indoor air quality. 

Program leaders:  
Linda Wigington
ROCIS Team Leader
724 852 3085;   724-986-0793 (mobile)
 
Emily Dale 
ROCIS | Reducing Outdoor Contaminates in Indoor Spaces 
LCMP Coordinator 
724 833 8223