May 4: Sustainability Salon on Environmental Education

The 28th Putting Down Roots Sustainability Salon (see below if that's new to you) will take place on Sunday, May 4th (2-9 p.m).  And it's the first of another pair:  for May 4th and June 7th, our topic will be Environmental Education.  Please be sure to RSVP if you might come...  and read on for important information:


First, note that this month's event is on a Sunday.  More often we gather on Saturdays, but once in a while we shake it up -- and this time the trigger was the upcoming Pete Seeger tribute concert.  (I don't usually plug other events in my Salon emails, but then I don't often schedule Salons around them, either -- this is Pete we're talking about!  Maybe we'll see you there...)

Because it is a Sunday, and because some of our attendees may be particularly tired after the morning's marathon, we'll also move everything up by an hour -- door at 2pm, talks and discussion hopefully starting sometime around 3, and supper, music, and more conversation afterwards.  Feel free to let me know how you like this alternative timing!

On May 4th, we'll hear from Naturalist Educator Mike Cornell (pictured below, with his fiddle) about the Frick Environmental Center's school programs, adult programs, and summer camps.  He'll discuss the Center's educational model, and challenges they face.  And he'll bring us an update on the plans for the new Frick Environmental Center, and what it will mean in terms of access -- and timetables for the next few years.

Creek Connections, a watershed education outreach program of Allegheny College, gets kids into creeks!  Pittsburgh Field Educator and Creek Camp Director Laura Branby can usually be found in or near local creeks and rivers with students and their teachers, delivering loaner materials to teachers, presenting creek "bug" days to students, or directing residential environmental science Creek Camps at Allegheny College.  Laura will join us at Sunday's Sustainability Salon to talk about the magic of kids in creeks.

Knowledge of a region's wild creatures can immeasurably strengthen our attachment to the landscape. Since the mid-1980’s Pat McShea has worked as an educator at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History to provide local teachers, librarians, naturalists, and artists with materials to build student interest in and knowledge of local wildlife and the seasons.  Plus, passenger pigeons!  (a missing element in our landscape.)


Speaking of seasonality, spring is in full swing!  That means that my seedling nursery and greenhouse have been humming along -- and once again I will have seedlings and transplants (vegetables, herbs, and perennials) available for sale.  Feel free to let me know if you are interested (email with Plants in the Subject line), and I'll keep you posted!  Also, let me know if you would like to join me in the garden sometime, individually or as part of a group...  there's always lots doing here, lots to learn, and good things to eat.  In fact, if there's anyone who has a pickup truck that could be used to transport soil, it would be wonderful!  We're still a few loads away from having the rooftop beds filled.  Just let me know (email with Garden in the subject line), and I can get in touch when opportunities/needs arise!  Thanks very much;  among other things, you’ll be helping the Sustainability Salon effort, as when I am organizing speakers and doing list-maintenance and making food and cleaning house before and after each event, I am not out gardening!  

On June 7th, we'll have another trio of amazing environmental educators:

Molly Steinwald will talk about using the visual arts for environmental education and science communication.  Molly is faculty at Project Dragonfly at Miami University, teaching graduate courses in ecology, community-based conservation, and inquiry learning, a Visiting Scholar at the University of Pittsburgh Center for Learning in Out-of-School-Environments, an Affiliate of the International League of Conservation Photographers, and an internationally-recognized photographer.  An ecologist, her doctoral and other work incorporates imagery to increase people's connection with nearby nature. 

Joylette Portlock uses new media to approach the serious topic of climate education with a serious sense of humor.  She produces (and stars in) a series of web videos targeting a general audience with climate science, climate news, and both personal actions and advocacy suggestions that can help. "Don't Just Sit There, Do Something!" is a project of Communitopia, her new nonprofit.

Phipps Conservatory Education Specialist Melissa Harding is also the Southwestern PA Regional Director of the Pennsylvania Association of Environmental Educators.
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 interesting things around our place.  That'll mainly be happening between 2 & 3 p.m. (and perhaps after the talks, since evenings brighten as we move toward the summer solstice).

2-9 p.m. at Maren's house in Squirrel Hill.  Please don't arrive before 2pm.  We'll aim to introduce speakers beginning around 3pm 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!)
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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 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 community mapping projectsenvironmental journalismgrassroots actioncommunity solar powerMarcellus shale development and community rightsgreen buildingair qualityhealth care, 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. 

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