Sep 27: Allegheny Green & Innovation Festival

The Allegheny Green + Innovation Festival is a free sustainable living festival held each September. This year, the festival will feature more than 60 local exhibitors, vendors and non-profit organizations selected to highlight innovation and sustainability in our region.
Join us at the Hartwood Acres Park Amphitheater for the 5th annual Allegheny Green + Innovation Festival on September 27th and learn how to reduce your carbon footprint and green your community. Interactive, educational exhibits - bike powered squirt guns, holistic health, renewable energy, alternative forms of transportation, stormwater retention, etc. - will engage all age groups. 
Don't miss the Recycled Costume Parade and Hay Day - a fun-filled family event featuring a petting zoo, hay rides, arts and crafts, and other activities for individuals, kids and families.  And be sure to dine on delicious, local food.

11 a.m. - 4 p.m. at Hartwood Acres.  Free & open to the public.  For more information, visit .

Sep 27: Garden Resource Center grand opening

  • Stop by the Grand Opening of Grow Pittsburgh's new Garden Resource Center; a membership-based tool lending library and garden supply depot. 
    The Grand Opening is FREE and open to the public. It will feature food, kids' activities, an 'ask the gardener booth', and a garden tool repair station (bring your broken garden tools to fix). Gardeners can also apply for special discounted memberships to the Garden Resource Center throughout the day. The Opening Ceremony will be at 1pm.
     Learn more about what the Garden Resource Center has to offer on our webpage:
  • 12-5 p.m. at the Garden Resource Center, 147 Putnam St. Pittsburgh.

Sep 21: People's Climate March in NYC

On September 21 in New York City a quarter million citizens are expected to demand that the world's leaders take immediate action on climate change. 

The Peoples Climate March will be held just before President Obama and his Chinese counterpart  attend the UN Climate Summit,

Locally, the Sierra Club Allegheny Group and the Thomas Merton Center will be coordinating buses for a one-day trip from Pittsburgh.  If you are interested in reserving a seat on the bus, please contact Peter Wray with CLIMATE on the Subject line …

Can’t make it to New York? Check out the global mobilization page

Sep 20: ALCOSAN Open House

It's time for ALCOSAN's annual award-winning Open House event! Join the Allegheny Sanitary Authority for the region's largest watershed and environmental festival, featuring hands-on environmental exhibits, treatment plant and laboratory tours, microbiology and watershed life demonstrations, and educational activities for all ages!

9 a.m. - 4 p.m. (rain or shine) at ALCOSAN's water treatment facility on the North Shore (3300 Preble Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15233) -- here are directions.   Free and open to the public.

For more information, use the following links:
For a printable event flyer, click here.
For a current list of Open House exhibitors and activities, click here.
For more information about our 2014 Open House Educators' Workshop, click here.

Sep 14: House Concert with Sparky & Rhonda Rucker

It's about time for another house concert at our place!  This time we welcome Sparky & Rhonda Rucker as they swing around the Midwest singing songs and telling stories from the American folk tradition.  Sparky is internationally recognized as a leading folklorist, musician, historian, storyteller, and author.  He accompanies himself with fingerstyle picking and bottleneck blues guitar, banjo, and spoons.  Rhonda is a musician, children's author, storyteller, and songwriter.  Her blues-style harmonica, piano, old-time banjo, and bones add musical versatility to their performances.  The Ruckers also weave American history, traditional storytelling, and humor into their concerts, and they have been featured tellers at the International Storytelling Center and Festival.

Sparky and Rhonda are sure to deliver an uplifting evening of toe-tapping music spiced with humor, history, and tall tales. They take their audience on an educational and emotional journey that ranges from poignant stories of slavery and war to an amusing rendition of a Br'er Rabbit tale or their witty commentaries on current events. Their music includes a variety of old-time blues, Appalachian music, slave songs, spirituals, ballads, work songs, Civil War music, railroad songs, and a few of their own original compositions.

Over forty years of performing, Sparky and Rhonda have performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival as well as NPR's On Point, Prairie Home Companion, Mountain Stage, and Morning Edition.  Their recording Treasures & Tears was nominated for a W.C. Handy Award, and their music is also included on the Grammy-nominated anthology Singing Through the Hard Times.

Doors open at 4 p.m., and the concert will start at 4:30 at our home in Squirrel Hill;  potluck dinner afterwards (please bring snacks, entrees, side dishes, desserts, and/or beverages to share).  Be sure to RSVP by email with "concert" in the Subject: line (or by phone at 412-251-5814) -- then I'll send you directions and other information.  Suggested donation $15 (goes to the performers).  Photos courtesy of the Kingsley Plantation in Jacksonville, Florida (top, with stones) and Jack Goodwin (with plates).

Sep 12-14: Allegheny Defense Project fall gathering

Please join the Allegheny Defense Project at the 21st Annual Fall Gathering, to celebrate the important work of defending the Allegheny. Take part in the camaraderie with fellow activists and friends while camping, hiking, participating in discussions, listening to music, eating great food, and just having fun!
Please RSVP so they can plan for food.  

The Fall Gathering is a family oriented event providing time for Allegheny Defense Project members, supporters and environmentally conscious individuals to come together in the fall to camp, hike, eat, and learn about issues impacting the Allegheny National Forest, Pennsylvania’s only national forest.

You can come out and spend whatever time you have whether it’s for one event, a meal, any day, the whole weekend, or just stop by for the campfire in the evening.

If you can provide a dish, or can help with kitchen duties please let us know :) Please also bring all of your own camping equipment including cup, plate, and spoon.

If you would like to join us, but do not have equipment, we may be able to hook you up with some...let us know!

From Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon, at the homestead of of Bill and Mary Belitskus in Kane, PA, near the Allegheny National Forest.  For more information contact Mary by email or at (814) 778-5173.  RSVP by email to  Donations will be requested for each meal, or a donation of $30 for the weekend.  Meals / desserts are vegetarian, some vegan, but feel free to bring your own supplies to supplement.

Note: The Allegheny Defense Project is an organization founded on principles of non-violence. We request that participants do not bring any illegal substances. Your well-behaved pets are always welcome.

Sep 10: Preserving the Season

Susanna Meyer, author of Saving the Seasons: How to Can, Freeze, or Dry Almost Anything, and Danielle Marvit of the Pittsburgh Canning Exchange will introduce you to simple and fun ways to preserve seasonal specialties.  Learn how to freeze and dry herbs, prepare a quick batch of refrigerator pickles, and make a fail-proof water bath processed jam.  The presenters will share samples of easy and delicious recipes that you can use at home to help you enjoy local foods all year long!  There will also be plenty of time for questions. 
6:30 p.m. at the Carnegie Library in Homewood.  Free and open to the public, though a suggested $10 donation will be accepted by the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA);  please call 412-242-3598 to reserve your spot.

Sep 8: Local organizing meeting for People's Climate March

From Pittsburgh to New York City, let's make climate change history!

In September, world leaders are coming to New York City for a UN summit on the climate crisis. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is urging governments to support an ambitious global agreement to dramatically reduce global warming pollution.  With our future on the line and the whole world watching, we’ll take a stand to bend the course of history.  On September 21, hundreds of Pittsburghers will join thousands of people from around the world on the streets of New York City to demand the world we know is within our reach:  a world with an economy that works for people and the planet;  a world safe from the ravages of climate change;  a world with good jobs, clean air and water, and healthy communities.

Join the Pittsburgh mobilization for the People’s Climate March.  Learn about this historic mobilization and find out how to get involved — here in Pittsburgh, or in New York City!  Find out how to take part in this mobilization and hear from local environmental, labor and faith leaders who are mobilizing for the People’s Climate March as well as organizers who are working on the ground in New York City to make this historic event possible.

7pm at the First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh (605 Morewood Ave, Pittsburgh, PA).  Light refreshments will be served.  For more information, contact

Sep 6: Sustainability Salon on Climate Change

With the NYC climate rally coming up on September 21st, we're going to talk about climate happenings here in Pittsburgh, across the country, and around the world.  The 32nd Sustainability Salon will take place on Saturday, September 6th (3-10 p.m.).  We'll cover science, local and national policy, and individual action.  The next Salon will be on October 18th, in conjunction with the annual Pittsburgh Solar Tour.

What's going on with climate change deniers, and how can they be convinced?  Recent news articles have reported on a "warming hiatus," claiming that there has been little or no warming of the planet for the past 15 years, contradicting predictions of the climate models.  Dr. Neil Donahue examines the details of climate models, how they construct predictions about global warming, and whether the warming hiatus is real or imagined.  The link between climate and our energy choices becomes clear as each piece of the climate model is examined for its effects on global temperature trends.  This understanding is especially timely as Iceland experiences the eruption of the massive Bardarbunga volcano.  Neil (your Salon co-host) teaches in the Departments of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, and Engineering & Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University.  He was founding director of the Center for Atmospheric Particle Studies, and now directs the Steinbrenner Institute for Environmental Education and Research and serves as a National Academies Science & Engineering Ambassador.

What is Pittsburgh doing?  We'll hear from Dr. Aurora Sharrard, the Vice President of Innovation for the Green Building Alliance.  In 2008, she became the original convener of the Pittsburgh Climate Initiative, which works collaboratively in the Pittsburgh region to reduce greenhouse gases through measurable actions.  Following the adoption of two Pittsburgh Climate Action Plans and a the adoption and an update of the Pittsburgh Greenhouse Gas Inventory, GBA transitioned the PCI convener role to the City of Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania Environmental Council.  GBA remains a strong PCI Partner through its Pittsburgh 2030 District program, which Aurora co-founded.  (Photo:  Mark Dixon)

What can individual citizens do?  
Ray Roberts leads the new Pittsburgh chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby, a nationwide network engaging and empowering people in efforts to make real, effective change in public policy to mitigate climate change.  Their main aim has been to pass a revenue-neutral carbon fee-and-dividend program -- which will naturally incentivize reductions in fossil fuel consumption while encouraging development of renewable sources and energy efficiency -- and putting money in most people's pockets.

We'll also have Barb Grover, president of the Sierra Club's Allegheny Group, to talk about the upcoming People's Climate March and rally in New York City, and gather more participants for the Pittsburgh contingent, and fill us in on what will be happening here at home that day.  Jonathan Gray, Pittsburgh Climate Defender organizer for PennEnvironment and an activist in the labor, economic justice, and social justice movements. will talk about ongoing local volunteer opportunities.

For Salons in general:
3-10 p.m. at Maren's house in Squirrel Hill.  Please don't arrive before 3pm.  We'll aim to 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 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 environmental artenvironmental education (Part I & Part II)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. 

Sep 6: Tree Tender class

Become a Tree Tender in 2014!

"Tree Tenders are the national guard of the arborist world: a civilian group taking care of what the pros can't quite get to." -Pittsburgh City Paper, Best Way to Get Your Hands Dirty, 2011
Join over 1,300 Pittsburghers, Greening the City One Tree at a Time!  Tree Tenders are making a difference in Pittsburgh, planting trees and caring for existing ones--ensuring a healthy urban forest for generations to come.  Tree Tenders take an 8 hour course and learn about urban forestry practices, tree biology and health, proper planting, pruning, and maintenance, and lead their communities in organizing tree plantings and tree care there.

Tree Tender courses will be offered in two formats. You can choose an all day Saturday course, or an evening series; breaking down the content into 3 blocks of time. The cost is $40, which includes registration, materials, light food, and instruction. Scholarships are available, contact or call 412-362-6360 for more information. 

Due to the nature of this course, we prefer Tree Tenders be at least 16 years of age. If you have any special needs, please inquire and we can provide for them.  Pre-Registration is required.

Upcoming classes:

Class 4: September 6, 9am-4pm, Pittsburgh Public Market (strip district) Register HERE.

Class 5:** Must Attend all 3 evening sessions.October 1, 8,  and 15 5:30pm-8:30pm, Lawrenceville (location TBD) Registration will open soon!