Local food resources

The Putting Down Roots Sustainability Salons have continued each month.  The second Sustainability Salon (as well as the 14th15th, 26th, and 27th!) focused on food -- growing it, and sourcing it locally.  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.

Feb 28: Sustainability Salon film series with The Power of One Voice

The Power of One Voice
The 37th Putting Down Roots Sustainability Salon will take place on February 28th (3-10 p.m., with potluck food and drink), closing out our third Wintertime Environmental Film Series.  Our feature this time is The Power of One Voice: A 50-Year Perspective on the Life of Rachel Carson, a groundbreaking documentary examining the life of Rachel Carson and the profound implications of her environmental work.  Our ever-rousing discussion will be led by filmmakers Mark Dixon (of YERT fame) and Patty DeMarco (Director Emerita of the Rachel Carson Institute at Chatham University).  Today, Rachel Carson remains a role model and inspiration for people across the globe, even as the controversy created by her challenge to the chemical industry continues unabated.  By highlighting the power of Carson’s voice, we hope to inspire others to add their voices to this essential conversation.  And preceding the main feature, we'll enjoy some local color in the form of WQED's Pittsburgh from the Air.

Perfect for classrooms, community events, or private viewing, The Power of One Voice pulls insights from a variety of speakers at the 50-year anniversary celebration of Silent Spring held at Chatham University and The National Aviary on April 11-12, 2012.  The film explores the historical context of Carson’s remarkable achievements and renews her prescient warnings for the modern era.

Notable interviews include renowned Rachel Carson expert and historian, Linda Lear, and a rare interview with Rachel Carson’s adopted son, Roger Christie.  Additional interviews include professor Louis Guillette, author Scott Weidensaul, U.S. Fish and Wildlife historian Mark Madison, journalist Don Hopey, as well as longtime Carson scholar Patricia DeMarco.

Why films this time (and in January and February)?  During the winter (when weather can throw a wrench into the best-laid plans), we take a break from speakers to host screenings of important environmental films, sometimes with the filmmakers on hand to lead the discussion.  Please be sure to RSVP if you might come (email Maren with "salon" in the Subject line).  General information and links to past Salon topics are below.  In March, we'll be returning to our annual focus on Food;  check back on MarensList for updates!

3-10 p.m. at Maren's house in Squirrel Hill.  Please don't arrive before 3 p.m.  We'll aim to start the film sometime around 4, after folks have had a chance to meet, mingle, and tour around an interesting and productive urban permaculture site.   Please email me with salon in the Subject line to RSVP (yes or maybe), or click on the link in your EventBrite invitation (if you're not already on my list, please email me to be added!).  Please RSVP each time -- it helps greatly in several ways.  Among other things, attendance varies widely, and these events have been so successful that we need to begin limiting attendance.  So RSVP early if you can, to ensure your participation!  The free virtual "tickets" on Eventbrite may run out (you don't need to print any tickets, by the way, just be on the list).  Also, weather and such can be unpredictable and it's good to know who to contact if there's a change -- and I'll send directions and/or a trail map if you need 'em on Friday or Saturday.  Be sure to include salon in the Subject line, 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!

Bring food and/or drink to share if you can, along with musical instruments if you play.  Check back on MarensList (where you can find information on all sorts of environmental and social justice events) 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.  


Note once again that I'll be sending out directions and such, and any late-breaking info, to all the RSVP'd folks by the morning of the salon if not before.  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.  (All the extraneous requests for the address don't help;  I have lots of other stuff I send out with it, but don't like to let them go unanswered so it adds hours to my prep time.  If you RSVP properly (see above), you should get the info by the morning of the salon!)


For the uninitiated, a Sustainability Salon is an educational forum;  a venue for discussion and debate about important environmental issues;  a house party with an environmental theme.  We usually have featured speakers on various aspects of a topic, interspersed with stimulating conversation, lively debate, delectable potluck food and drink, and music-making through the evening.

Past topics have included green community revitalizationsolar powerclimate changeenvironmental art, environmental education (Part I & Part II), community mapping projectsenvironmental journalismgrassroots actioncommunity solar powerMarcellus shale development and community rightsgreen buildingair qualityhealth care, more solar powertrees and park stewardshipalternative energy and climate policy, regional watershed issues, fantastic film screenings and discussions (led by filmmakers) over the winter with Sustainability Pioneersfilms on consumptionLiving DownstreamBidder 70YERTGas Rush Stories, and foodfoodfoodfood, and more food.
Quite a few people have asked me what sorts of food to bring -- and my answer, as always, is whatever inspires you;  I believe in the "luck" part of potlucks.  Tasty noshings for the afternoon, hearty main dishes or scrumptious salads and sides for dinner, baked goods from biscuits and breads to brownies or baklava -- and/or beverages of any kind:  wine, beer, hard or sweet cider (the latter we can mull if you like), juice, tea, whatever (I've got the kombucha covered, though it's always fun to compare).  The more the merrier!  Local fare is always particularly welcome, whether homegrown or boughten.  Dishes containing meat or dairy are fine, though if it isn't really obvious please make a note of it.  

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. 



Feb 12: Proposed urban agriculture regs

Community meeting about the proposed changes to Pittsburgh's Urban Agriculture Zoning Code:   find out what the new code will mean for you.

6-8 p.m. at the Pittsburgh Public Market, 2401 Penn Ave. 15222 (in the Strip).

Feb 5-7: PASA conference

The Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture holds its 24th annual Farming for the Future Conference in State College -- all the details are here.  Note that preregistration closes on Monday, January 26th (but they still take walk-ins).


Jan 31: Sustainability Salon Film Series: Sustainability Pioneers


Sustainability Pioneers  
The 36th Putting Down Roots Sustainability Salon will take place on January 31st (3-10 p.m., with potluck food and drink), continuing our third Wintertime Environmental Film Series.  

This time we'll premiere/preview the newest episode of Sustainability Pioneers, documentary filmmaker Kirsi Jansa's ongoing project highlighting people in our region laying the groundwork for the needed transition to renewable energy and more-sustainable living in our region.  The fourth episode, It Takes a Leader, is the first of two stories of communities with innovative leaders:  Mario Leone, the borough manager of Monaca, has received many accolades for his diverse sustainability initiatives, and Matt Mehalik of Sustainable Pittsburgh talks about sustainability leadership.  (The next episode will feature the mayor of Saerbeck in Germany, who has been guiding his town to a point where they produce 350% more renewable energy than the town consumes.)  Kirsi and collaborators Patricia DeMarco and Terry Collins (and who knows how many featured pioneers, starting with co-host Neil Donahue, seen and heard in the first episode, as well as Mario Leone and Matt Mehalik -- check back on MarensList for updates as I confirm more SP Stars) will all be with us to lead the discussion.  We'll also screen the first three short episodes, all after enjoying some aerial views of Pittsburgh and environs with WQED's Pittsburgh from the Air.

Why films this time (and in December and February)?  During the winter (when weather can throw a wrench into the best-laid plans), we take a break from our regular speaker format to host screenings of important environmental films, sometimes with the filmmakers on hand to lead the discussion.  Please be sure to RSVP if you might come (email Maren with "salon" in the Subject line).  General information and links to past Salon topics are below.  February's Salon will be on the 28th with a screening of the new Rachel Carson film presented by the filmmakers.

3-10 p.m. at Maren's house in Squirrel Hill.  Please don't arrive before 3 p.m.  We'll aim to start the main feature around 4, after folks have had a chance to meet, mingle, and tour around an interesting and productive urban permaculture site or enjoy the WQED aerial videos, courtesy of Barbara Pace.   Please email me with salon in the Subject line to RSVP (yes or maybe), or click on the link in your EventBrite invitation (if you're not already on my list, please email me to be added, and let me know how you heard about us!).  Please RSVP each time -- it helps greatly in several ways.  Among other things, attendance varies widely, and these events have been so successful that we need to begin limiting attendance.  So RSVP early if you can, to ensure your participation!  The free virtual "tickets" on Eventbrite may run out (you don't need to print any tickets, by the way, just be on the list).  Also, weather and such can be unpredictable and it's good to know who to contact if there's a change -- and I'll send directions and/or a trail map if you need 'em on Friday or Saturday.  Be sure to include salon in the Subject line, 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!

Bring food and/or drink to share if you can, along with musical instruments if you play.  Check back on MarensList (where you can find information on all sorts of environmental and social justice events) 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.  


Note once again that I'll be sending out directions and such, and any late-breaking info, to all the RSVP'd folks by the morning of the salon if not before.  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.  (All the extraneous requests for the address don't help;  I have lots of other stuff I send out with it, but don't like to let them go unanswered so it adds hours to my prep time.  If you RSVP properly (see above), you should get the info by the morning of the salon!)


For the uninitiated, a Sustainability Salon is an educational forum;  a venue for discussion and debate about important environmental issues;  a house party with an environmental theme.  We usually have featured speakers on various aspects of a topic, interspersed with stimulating conversation, lively debate, delectable potluck food and drink, and music-making through the evening.

Past topics have included consumptiongreen community revitalizationsolar powerclimate changeenvironmental art, environmental education (Part I & Part II), community mapping projectsenvironmental journalismgrassroots actioncommunity solar powerMarcellus shale development and community rightsgreen buildingair qualityhealth care, more solar powertrees and park stewardshipalternative energy and climate policy, regional watershed issues, fantastic film screenings and discussions (led by filmmakers) over the winter with films on consumptionLiving DownstreamBidder 70YERTGas Rush Stories, and foodfoodfoodfood, and more food.
Quite a few people have asked me what sorts of food to bring -- and my answer, as always, is whatever inspires you;  I believe in the "luck" part of potlucks.  Tasty noshings for the afternoon, hearty main dishes or scrumptious salads and sides for dinner, baked goods from biscuits and breads to brownies or baklava -- and/or beverages of any kind:  wine, beer, hard or sweet cider (the latter we can mull if you like), juice, tea, whatever (I've got the kombucha covered, though it's always fun to compare).  The more the merrier!  Local fare is always particularly welcome, whether homegrown or boughten.  Dishes containing meat or dairy are fine, though if it isn't really obvious please make a note of it.  

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. 

Jan 29: Film screening: The Power of One Voice

The Power of One Voice: A 50-Year Perspective on the Life of Rachel Carson is a groundbreaking documentary examining the life of Rachel Carson and the profound implications of her environmental work.  Resonating with her concern about the future of songbirds, the Pittsburgh premiere screening will take place at the National Aviary.

Perfect for classrooms, community events, or private viewing, The Power of One Voice pulls insights from a variety of speakers at the 50-year anniversary celebration of Silent Spring held at Chatham University and The National Aviary on April 11-12, 2012.  This film explores the historical context of Carson’s remarkable achievements and renews her prescient warnings for the modern era.

Notable interviews include renowned Rachel Carson expert and historian, Linda Lear, and a rare interview with Rachel Carson’s adopted son, Roger Christie.  Additional interviews include professor Louis Guillette, author Scott Weidensaul, U.S. Fish and Wildlife historian Mark Madison, journalist Don Hopey, and Patricia DeMarco, Director Emerita of the Rachel Carson Institute at Chatham University.

Today, Rachel Carson remains a role model and inspiration for people across the globe, even as the controversy created by her challenge to the chemical industry continues unabated.  By highlighting the power of Carson’s voice, producers Mark Dixon (of YERT fame, also the film's director) and Patricia DeMarco (Executive Producer) hope to inspire others to add their voices to this essential conversation.

Door 6:30 p.m., screening at 7, and filmmaker Q&A at 8 at the National Aviary (700 Arch St., Pittsburgh, PA, 15212).  
Limited seating -- please purchase tickets via Eventbrite.  Questions? Contact Mark Dixon at 412-204-6098 or via email.  More information about this event, screening license purchases, and DVD pre-orders here.

Jan 26: Recycling presentation in Mt. Lebanon

Join in on the recycling conversation in Mt. Lebanon.  Learn how to use the municipality's single stream system and how to best recycle as a resident or a business! 

6-7:30 in Mt. Lebanon Public Library (Conference Room B), 16 Castle Shannon Blvd.  Free & open to the public.  Light refreshments will be served.

Jan 24: Summit Against Racism

The Summit Against Racism, an interracial and multicultural initiative of the Black and White Reunion, will host its 17th annual event with the theme "From Ferguson to Pittsburgh: Challenges ahead for the Racial Justice Movement".  Held every year on the Saturday after Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the event has been recognized as a day when everyone—from students to seasoned activists—can come together to start the new year by making or renewing and revitalizing commitments to ending racism in Pittsburgh.

Come join a diverse group of nearly 300 people across the city who want to discuss, learn, and strategize around promoting racial justice in Pittsburgh!

8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the East Liberty Presbyterian Church, 116 S. Highland Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15206.   Register online here.  


The $25 all-day admission includes continental breakfast, lunch, speakers, films, one-year membership in the Black and White Reunion, and several workshops from which to choose. A reduced admission fee of $10 per person is available for students, seniors, groups of five or more, and ldddddow-income attendees. A limited number of scholarships are available for those who cannot pay. (No one will be turned away for lack of funds!)  
For more information, check out the blog, send an email, or call 412-501-3355.

History of the Summit:Jonny Gammage was a Black businessman and philanthropist who died at the hands of white police from positional asphyxiation during a “routine” traffic stop in the Pittsburgh suburb of Brentwood in 1995.  It was this incident, and the “not guilty” verdicts in court cases against the police, that inspired the founding of the Black and White Reunion and BWR’s development of the Summit Against Racism and the Jonny Gammage Memorial Scholarships.

A portion of the proceeds from the Summit supports the Jonny Gammage Scholarships, which are presented by BWR, NAACP Pittsburgh, and the Negro Educational Emergency Drive (NEED) to support Black law students with an interest in studying civil rights and social justice issues at the University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne University.  The scholarships are awarded to the winners of an essay contest that challenges them to answer a relevant question.

Jan 22: Climate justice video dialogue

Confronting Environmental Racism:  Views from the Front Lines of the Climate Justice Struggle.  Kicking off a 5-part video dialogue series with international and local leaders of NGOs highlighting effective mobilization efforts to protect themselves from the effects of global warming and to promote climate justice.

"Sustainability" or Survival?  Popular Responses to Global Climate Change with Jacqueline Patterson, Environmental and Climate Justice Director of the NAACP and Ahmina Maxey, Community Outreach Coordinator of Zero Waste Detroit.

4-5:30 p.m. at 4130 Posvar Hall on the Pitt campus.  Refreshments will be served.  Reading list and more information here.  More in the series on February 5, 12, 26, and March 26.

Jan 19: MLK Birthday Concert

A benefit concert for Duncan and Porter House for the Homeless.  Music provided by Phat Man Dee, Raised by Wolves (the fuzzy comet folks), Trout Season (Mick Karolac's new band), banjoist John Miller, ATS, The Sex Tet Offensive (6 pc jazz), and Meet the Beatless.

9 p.m. at the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern (4412 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh 15224).

MLK Day march against racism


6 p.m. at Forbes & Bigelow in Oakland, and marching downtown to the City-County Building on Grant Street.  More info at wechangepittsburgh.com, or by email AWC@themertoncenter.org .

Jan 17: Fed Up film screening

The East End Food Co-op, Women for a Healthy Environment, and Brazen Kitchen's Leah Lizarondo will host a screening of the documentary Fed Up, a film that seeks to expose the truth behind diet-related illnesses that have reached epidemic proportions.  The screening will be followed by a panel discussion featuring local folks working to foster a healthier food system including LaVerne Baker Hotep, Marcus Poindexter, Hanna Mosca, and Felicia Lane Savage.  

1:30 p.m. at the Homewood branch of the Carnegie Library (7101 Hamilton Ave, Pittsburgh).  More information and online registration here.

Jan 7: ACHD community meeting on Cheswick coal plant

Allegheny County's air is failing federal safe air standards because of high sulfur dioxide levels, which contribute to higher than average asthma rates. The largest source of this pollution is the Cheswick coal-fired power plant in Springdale, but now we have an opportunity to change that.
The Cheswick plant had scrubbers installed to reduce its dangerous pollution, but its air permit allows it to get away with not running the scrubbers meant to protect our health.
The Allegheny Health Department is holding a public meeting where they'll consider strengthening the plants permit to protect our health and force the polluters to clean up their act.

12:30 pm at the Clark Health Center conference room (3901 Penn Ave Pittsburgh , PA 15224; map).  RSVP online: http://action.sierraclub.org/AlleghenyAir  Questions? Contact Jameka Hodnett at jameka.hodnett@sierraclub.org

The Allegheny County Health department (ACHD) can force these polluters to clean up their act. In fact under the Clean Air Act, ACHD is required to create a plan that will bring our air into compliance with the federal safe air standards. This means they have to set stronger pollution limits on sulfur dioxide.  At the ACHD meeting, citizens from Allegheny County will get to talk about the major barriers to their health.  RSVP to make your voice heard for cleaner air in the Pittsburgh region today!

Dec. 17: UPMC Workers Solidarity Event

This November, illegally fired UPMC workers Jim Staus, Ron Oakes and Al Turner rejected UPMC’s offer of big money to walk away from their coworkers and their fight to form their union.  Within weeks, their courage was vindicated when a federal administrative judge ruled that “UPMC Presbyterian-Shadyside has engaged in such egregious and widespread misconduct so as to demonstrate a general disregard for employees’ statutory rights," and ordered UPMC to put them back to work and pay them back pay since the time of their firing.

UPMC is appealing.

On December 17th, let’s offer thanks to workers who stand up for our city and get a bit of holiday cash in their pockets while they carry on their fight with UPMC.  Please join the United Steelworkers, the Allegheny County Labor Council, Pittsburgh United, City Council member Natalia Rudiak, and Rev. Rodney Lyde at a special holiday fundraiser for Jim Staus, Ron Oakes, and Al Turner.

5:30 PM – 7:30 PM at the US Steelworkers Building (60 Blvd of the Allies, Pittsburgh PA 15222).  Free Parking for Guests in Boulos Parking Lot (114 Boulevard of the Allies):  Print out the registration page to place on your dashboard;  if you don't have a printer, someone on the first floor of the Steelworkers building can provide a copy.)
Cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and entertainment – RSVP Online: Click Here
To donate by check, pay to the Order of: "SEIU Healthcare PA UPMC Workers Hardship Fund" (with "Ron, Al, & Jim" on the Memo line), and hand in at the door on the 17th or mail to 
     SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania
     UPMC Workers Hardship Fund
     1500 North 2nd Street
     Harrisburg, PA 17102

A poignant short film about one of the fired workers can be viewed online.

Dec 13: Sustainability Salon Film Series: Consumption

Are you a consumer?  Or a citizen?  

The 35th Putting Down Roots Sustainability Salon will take place on December 13th (3-10 p.m., with potluck food and drink), kicking off our third Wintertime Environmental Film Series. With the holiday season upon us, first-worlders are constantly urged to buy, replace, upgrade... so this time, we'll watch and discuss several short films on the theme of consumption. With a collection of well-researched films full of important insights and possible solutions, we'll look at the life cycle of products from extraction to disposal, the dangerous notion of perpetual growth (and its historical context and evolutionary roots), and paths toward greater sustainability.  Perhaps folks will emerge with attitudes and tools to engender a little less consumption this holiday season, and thus change the status quo for the better.
Why films this time (and in January and February)?  During the winter (when weather can throw a wrench into the best-laid plans), we take a break from speakers to host screenings of important environmental films, sometimes with the filmmakers on hand to lead the discussion.  Please be sure to RSVP if you might come (email Maren with "salon" in the Subject line).  General information and links to past Salon topics are below.  January's Salon will be either on the 10th or the 17th;  check back on MarensList for updates!

3-10 p.m. at Maren's house in Squirrel Hill.  Please don't arrive before 3 p.m.  We'll aim to start the film sometime around 4, after folks have had a chance to meet, mingle, and tour around an interesting and productive urban permaculture site.   Please email me with salon in the Subject line to RSVP (yes or maybe), or click on the link in your EventBrite invitation (if you're not already on my list, please email me to be added!).  Please RSVP each time -- it helps greatly in several ways.  Among other things, attendance varies widely, and these events have been so successful that we need to begin limiting attendance.  So RSVP early if you can, to ensure your participation!  The free virtual "tickets" on Eventbrite may run out (you don't need to print any tickets, by the way, just be on the list).  Also, weather and such can be unpredictable and it's good to know who to contact if there's a change -- and I'll send directions and/or a trail map if you need 'em on Friday or Saturday.  Be sure to include salon in the Subject line, 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!

Bring food and/or drink to share if you can, along with musical instruments if you play.  Check back on MarensList (where you can find information on all sorts of environmental and social justice events) 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.  


Note once again that I'll be sending out directions and such, and any late-breaking info, to all the RSVP'd folks by the morning of the salon if not before.  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.  (All the extraneous requests for the address don't help;  I have lots of other stuff I send out with it, but don't like to let them go unanswered so it adds hours to my prep time.  If you RSVP properly (see above), you should get the info by the morning of the salon!)

For the uninitiated, a Sustainability Salon is an educational forum;  a venue for discussion and debate about important environmental issues;  a house party with an environmental theme.  We usually have featured speakers on various aspects of a topic, interspersed with stimulating conversation, lively debate, delectable potluck food and drink, and music-making through the evening.

Past topics have included green community revitalizationsolar powerclimate changeenvironmental art, environmental education (Part I & Part II), community mapping projectsenvironmental journalismgrassroots actioncommunity solar powerMarcellus shale development and community rightsgreen buildingair qualityhealth care, more solar powertrees and park stewardshipalternative energy and climate policy, regional watershed issues, fantastic film screenings and discussions (led by filmmakers) over the winter with Living DownstreamBidder 70YERTGas Rush Stories, and foodfoodfoodfood, and more food.
Quite a few people have asked me what sorts of food to bring -- and my answer, as always, is whatever inspires you;  I believe in the "luck" part of potlucks.  Tasty noshings for the afternoon, hearty main dishes or scrumptious salads and sides for dinner, baked goods from biscuits and breads to brownies or baklava -- and/or beverages of any kind:  wine, beer, hard or sweet cider (the latter we can mull if you like), juice, tea, whatever (I've got the kombucha covered, though it's always fun to compare).  The more the merrier!  Local fare is always particularly welcome, whether homegrown or boughten.  Dishes containing meat or dairy are fine, though if it isn't really obvious please make a note of it.  

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. 

December 11: Power of 32 Conference

Energy for the Power of 32
Establishing a baseline and catalyzing a regional energy plan and strategy
Energy for the Power of 32 is a momentous start of the process to create a regional energy plan and strategy for the Power of 32 region uniting Pittsburgh and 32 counties across western Maryland, eastern Ohio, southwestern Pennsylvania, and northern West Virginia. Time is ripe for this effort given the staggeringly fast pace of energy innovations, new opportunities, and escalating stakes associated with environmental, social, and economic values. 

The launch of this energy future planning process places our region among the nation's first to lead this trend of regions stepping up to determine their brightest energy futures. A regional plan and strategy will fill a void. It will position the region to be a global leader by providing an energy framework for regional prosperity that leads to more informed decisions and investments, mitigates negative impacts, and unleashes innovation necessary to hasten our progress.
You are invited to attend and provide input that will be formative in shaping the design of the regional energy plan, helping to establish its focus and overarching values. More information and online registration here!

8:30-3:30 at the David Lawrence Convention Center.

Dec10: Composting 101 class

Learn the principles and practices of turning organic "waste" into fertile soil for your home or community garden! Taught by gardener, permaculture practitioner, and all around soil enthusiast, Curt Ries.  This will be a broad overview of the endlessly complex topics of soil science and compost, organized around three fundamental questions: What is compost? Why is it important? How do we make it?  

Whether you're a complete compost novice or an enlightened humus guru, there will be something here for you. Walk away with the knowledge you'll need to begin turning your home and neighborhood organic wastes into the life-giving soil that our urban farms, gardens, and ecosystems depend upon. 

7 p.m. at City Grows Garden Center, 5208 Butler Street, Pittsburgh, PA in Lawrenceville.  Registration is $15 -- you can preregister online.

Meetup: http://www.meetup.com/PittsburghGardenExperiment/events/219103598/

Dec 4 & 6: PNC and MTR

While PNC Bank is a regional leader in clean construction for their corporate buildings, they are not as virtuous in the realm of energy generation:  they are still helping to finance mountaintop removal coal mining.  Clearly, they need some more encouragement to get out of that business.  The Earth Quaker Action Team is helping to organize non-violent direct actions around the country to bring attention to the practice, in the community and within the bank itself.

The Pittsburgh Friends meeting (the local Quaker community) is leading one such event, a ceremonial divestment of their own funds from PNC Bank -- along with account closures by many individuals.  If you currently bank at PNC, consider being one of those individuals!  Even if you don't bank at PNC, you can support this action by coming to the event, holding a sign, and singing along.


The timing is perfect.  This is a practical follow-up to September’s People’s Climate March in NYC.  JP Morgan Chase and European banking giant UBS are already pulling out of funding mountaintop removal in Appalachia.  The focus is on PNC, a major funder.  The EQAT action in the headquarters city of PNC engaged 200 Friends from all over the country.
In that context, generating grassroots action in many states within the PNC footprint sends a very clear signal to PNC that this issue is not going away.  The people of Appalachia deserve a break from a century of their wealth being extracted while they are left in poverty and toxic dirt and the rest of us stuck with asthma and global warming.
11 a.m. on Saturday the 6th at the Squirrel Hill branch of PNC Bank (5810 Forbes Ave., 15217).  Training/info session and signmaking at the Friends Meeting House on Ellsworth Avenue in Oakland, from 7-9 p.m. on Thursday evening the 4th.  More info via the Sierra Club.

Nov 22: Sustainability Salon on Revitalizing Communities

The 34th Putting Down Roots Sustainability Salon  (see below if that's new to youwill take place on Nov 22nd (3-10 p.m.).  Please be sure to RSVP if you might come (email Maren with "salon" in the Subject line).  The next Sustainability Salon will be on December 13th, kicking off our third wintertime environmental film series.  General information and links to past Salon topics are below -- and you can always find information about this and many other environmental and social justice events on MarensList.  Upcoming dates include educational events along with practical opportunities for activism and advocacy on sewer ratesair quality, and mountaintop removal financing.
At past Sustainability Salons, we've talked about green building, renewable energy, watershed health and green infrastructure, trees and parks, local food systems, community-building, green jobs, and social justice.  For the November salon, we'll bring it all together and talk about green, equitable community revitalization -- in terms of global concepts, and also with a close look at some local efforts.  We'll be joined by architect and local EcoDistricts leader Christine Mondor of EvolveEA, Millvale teacher Brian Wolovich (cofounder of the Millvale Community Library), and Larimer activist Fred Brown of the Kingsley Association.  We'll also have Elisa Beck of Sustainable Monroeville and Schwartz Living Market, who is working to link urban and suburban communities through planned Forest Gardens and other initiatives.  Additional speakers are in the works, so check back here!

The 2014 Grosvenor Report ranked Pittsburgh as the most resilient US city and number five in the world. To determine this, they assessed the vulnerability of our physical environment and our city's capacity to adapt or transform to challenges to the physical environment. This dual emphasis is a great lens to view neighborhoods and smaller towns--the scale where we are most likely to plan and take action. 

To become more resilient, communities need to think about the 'hardware' of the physical environment and the 'software' of community capacity. Ecodistricts are a way of thinking about community resiliency and revitalization. Ecodistricts define environmental, social, and economic goals which can only be achieved by addressing our physical environment as well as our ability to take action. Ecodistricts challenge our sense of  urban revitalization as simply design and construction projects--ecodistricts are an ongoing process that shapes a community's capacity as well as  their environment. 

3-10 p.m. at Maren's house in Squirrel Hill.  Please don't arrive before 3 p.m.  We'll aim to introduce speakers beginning around 4 p.m., after folks have had a chance to meet, mingle, and tour around an interesting and productive urban permaculture site.   Please email me with salon in the Subject line to RSVP (yes or maybe), or click on the link in your EventBrite invitation (if you're not already on my list, please email me to be added!).  Please RSVP each time -- it helps greatly in several ways.  Among other things, attendance varies widely, and these events have been so successful that we need to begin limiting attendance.  So RSVP early if you can, to ensure your participation!  The free virtual "tickets" on Eventbrite may run out (you don't need to print any tickets, by the way, just be on the list).  Also, weather and such can be unpredictable and it's good to know who to contact if there's a change -- and I'll send directions and/or a trail map if you need 'em on Friday or Saturday.  Be sure to include salon in the Subject line, 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!

Bring food and/or drink to share if you can, along with musical instruments if you play.  Check back on MarensList (where you can find information on all sorts of environmental and social justice events) 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.  


Note once again that I'll be sending out directions and such, and any late-breaking info, to all the RSVP'd folks by the morning of the salon if not before.  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.  (All the extraneous requests for the address don't help;  I have lots of other stuff I send out with it, but don't like to let them go unanswered so it adds hours to my prep time.  If you RSVP properly (see above), you should get the info by the morning of the salon!)


For the uninitiated, a Sustainability Salon is an educational forum;  a venue for discussion and debate about important environmental issues;  a house party with an environmental theme.  We usually have featured speakers on various aspects of a topic, interspersed with stimulating conversation, lively debate, delectable potluck food and drink, and music-making through the evening.

Past topics have included solar powerclimate changeenvironmental art, environmental education (Part I & Part II), community mapping projectsenvironmental journalismgrassroots actioncommunity solar powerMarcellus shale development and community rightsgreen buildingair qualityhealth care, more solar powertrees and park stewardshipalternative energy and climate policy, regional watershed issues, fantastic film screenings and discussions (led by filmmakers) over the winter with Living DownstreamBidder 70YERTGas Rush Stories, and foodfoodfoodfood, and more food.
Quite a few people have asked me what sorts of food to bring -- and my answer, as always, is whatever inspires you;  I believe in the "luck" part of potlucks.  Tasty noshings for the afternoon, hearty main dishes or scrumptious salads and sides for dinner, baked goods from biscuits and breads to brownies or baklava -- and/or beverages of any kind:  wine, beer, hard or sweet cider (the latter we can mull if you like), juice, tea, whatever (I've got the kombucha covered, though it's always fun to compare).  The more the merrier!  Local fare is always particularly welcome, whether homegrown or boughten.  Dishes containing meat or dairy are fine, though if it isn't really obvious please make a note of it.  
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.