Sep 15: Sustainability Salon & Sing: Community Solar

We all know that renewable energy is a vital part of the many solutions needed to avert climate catastrophe and reduce pollution.  Expanding solar photovoltaic generation at many different scales will help smooth the transition to a post-fossil-fuel world.

The 20th Putting Down Roots Sustainability Salon & Sing next Sunday, September 15th will be on the topic of Community Solar -- how to enable more people to participate in generating and using renewable energy, even where individual homeowners or businesses lack good roof access, sun exposure, or initial funding.  We'll talk about the logistical, legal, and financial aspects of different approaches, what's already happening in Pennsylvania and around the country, and how we can create a community shared solar installation here in the 'Burgh.  We'll discuss the regulatory framework in PA, and several possible models from cooperative nonprofits to corporate partnerships.  A small group has been meeting to learn the ropes and lay the groundwork, and at this Salon -- in addition to our usual fascinating educational presentations and conversations -- we hope to gather more interested Pittsburghers to work toward making it happen! 

Speakers will include PennFuture's Evan Endres;  Joel Thomas (joining us remotely) and Greg Winks (live and in person) of Community Energy;  local solar installer Ian Smith of Energy Independent Solutions, and Sharon Pillar, president of SUNWPA (the Solar Unified Network of Western Pennsylvania).  Alexander Dale, executive director of Engineers for a Sustainable World, and Mark Dixon of YERT fame will moderate the ensuing discussion.  And we are happy to have John Hanger -- former DEP Secretary,  former PennFuture president, former PUC commissioner, and former public advocate,  and currently in the running to replace Tom Corbett as governor of our Commonwealth.  He'll be able to speak about his environmental platform and listen to participants' concerns (as Bill Peduto did in April), and can also talk about the PA regulatory framework and how he as governor might improve it -- for renewables in general and community solar in particular.  We'll figure out the timing relative to the other talks once we know his schedule.

Mark your calendar:  the next Sustainability Salon will take place on October 12, following a fun day of visits here and at other solar-powered homes and businesses during the regional Solar Tour.  We'll hear about the activities and the influence of the Sierra Club at the state and local levels, mostly accomplished with volunteers!  Check out MarensList for more information on these events and others, as well as local food resources.  By the way, I'll also be hosting a house concert with Putnam Smith on October 18th.

3-10 p.m. at Maren's house in Squirrel Hill.  Please don't arrive before 3pm;  we usually introduce 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 the morning of the salon if not before.  One of these days I'll streamline this process a bit (assistance would be welcome -- thanks to Beth for all her help so far with the transition to MailChimp and EventBrite), 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 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 a particular topic, interspersed with stimulating conversation, lively debate, delectable potluck food and drink, and music-making through the evening.
Past topics have included Marcellus shale development and community rightsgreen buildingair 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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