May 4: Sustainability Salon on three green buildings

The 16th Putting Down Roots Sustainability Salon (see below if that's new to you) will take place on Saturday, May 4th.  While our house demonstrates many different green building techniques and materials, it's kind of a mishmosh -- this month we'll take a look at three very distinct visions of green buildings. 

First, Mark Dixon (of YERT fame) will talk about the Earthship, a rammed-earth, passive-solar "house made of garbage" pioneered by Michael Reynolds in New Mexico.  Mark and Christine plan to build an Earthship here in Pittsburgh, and would love to share the process with us. 

Richard Piacentini, Executive Director of the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, will talk about the brand-new Center for Sustainable Landscapes, designed to meet the Living Building Challenge, the world's most stringent environmental standards.  We'll also hear from Elisa Beck, who has been working to meet the Living Building Challenge with the Schwartz Living Market on the South Side, and Marijke Hecht of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy -- the soon-to-be-rebuilt Frick Environmental Center just up the hill will also be a Living Building.

Finally, bringing us back to a more accessible residential scale, Salon regulars Ayres Freitas and Lucyna de Barbaro will talk about the Passivhaus they plan to build in Squirrel Hill, which will be so energy-efficient that they'll be able to skip the furnace altogether.  

And if you haven't been here before, you may enjoy checking out our roof garden as well as the many other interesting things around our place, from the shiitake logs to the seedling nursery.  That'll mainly be happening between 3 & 4 p.m.

3-10 p.m. at Maren's house in Squirrel Hill.  Please don't arrive before 3pm; we plan on introducing speakers beginning around 4pm after folks have had a chance to meet, mingle, and tour around an interesting and productive urban permaculture site.  Please email me to RSVP (important for yesses and maybes, please do so each time -- it helps greatly in several ways.  Among other things, attendance varies widely, and it helps to have a handle on numbers in advance (we may need to begin limiting attendance);  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.  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.  If you'd like to start making your own kombucha, please bring a pint jar along.

Note that I'll be sending out directions and such, and any late-breaking info, to all the RSVP'd folks by Sunday morning if not before.  One of these days I'll streamline this process a bit (assistance would be welcome), but for now it takes a while to to dot all my i's and cross all my t's.  
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For the uninitiated, A Sustainability Salon is basically a house party with an environmental theme -- usually with featured speakers on a particular topic -- accompanied by stimulating conversation, delectable potluck food and drink, and music-making through the evening.
Past topics have included air qualityhealth care, solar powertrees & park stewardshipalternative energy & climate policy, regional watershed issues, fantastic film screenings & discussions (led by the filmmakers) over the winter with both YERT and Gas Rush Stories, and foodfood, 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 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. 

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