Sep 29: EPA hearings on methane emissions (and rally)

After publishing its proposed measures to reduce methane emissions in the oil and gas industry, the EPA is holding a series of three hearings for public comment.  They've chosen Dallas, Denver, and Pittsburgh.  The proposed measures are aimed at combating climate change and improving air quality, and have generally earned the support of environmental groups, although even stronger action is warranted to fight climate change.

9 am to 8 pm at the William S. Moorhead Federal Building (1100 Liberty Ave, Pittsburgh PA 15219).   A rally will be held at 10:15 at the Westin Convention Center Pittsburgh (Allegheny Conference Room, on the 3rd floor;  1000 Penn Ave. 15222) followed by a short march across Liberty Avenue to present the EPA with a banner.  Citizens wishing to testify can sign up HERE.  Written comments may also be submitted by E-mailing to with the Subject line reading: Attention Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2010-0505.  (See EPA’s tips for submitting comments.)

Sep 26: Sustainability Salon on the Paris Climate Summit.

Warm enough for you?  This just in:  July 2015 (above) was  the  hottest  month  on  record.  The 44th Putting Down Roots Sustainability Salon & Sing will take a hard look at where we are on global climate change.  Local environmental filmmaker Mark Dixon, who represented Pittsburgh at the World Summit Climate & Territories meeting in Lyon in July and will be attending the Conference of the Parties (COP) international climate summit in Paris this December as a journalist and activist, will fill us in on the path to Paris, and his efforts to connect Pittsburgh to the process.  Mark is a familiar face from salons past when we featured his films YERT and The Power Of One Voice.  We'll also have insights from previous COP negotiations from Angela Wiley, a librarian, filmmaker, and youth delegate to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.  She has worked with US, Puerto Rican, and Chinese youth at COP gatherings in South Africa, Poland, and Peru.  This year, Angela is facilitating decision making among a delegation of US youth who will attend negotiations in Paris and generate actions domestically.  
While thinking globally, we are also acting locally and regionally;  other local climate-change leaders will be here as well.  Susan Hoppe will talk about DivestPittsburgh (aimed at getting the City of Pittsburgh's investments out of fossil fuels).  Pittsburgh 350's Kate Fissell will map out the local and national plans leading up to the Paris summit as well as a broader divestment strategy (encouraging the defossilization of both finances and energy practices, for institutions and individuals), and Bob Mitchell will fill us in on Citizens Climate Lobby's work to convince legislators on both sides of the aisle to adopt a Carbon Fee & Dividend program.  (Michael Goodhart has been taken ill.)
While we're getting inspired, note that there are a great many other exciting climate events happening around Pittsburgh this fall.  Earlier this week, Mark will be giving a version of his Pittsburgh to Paris talk (if you have to come late to the salon, consider attending that and you'll be golden -- he'll be our first speaker of the afternoon.)  Right before the salon, Pittsburgh 350 will be firing folks up about Paris, a perfect prelude to our salon.  Next Tuesday the EPA will be in Pittsburgh taking public comment about controlling methane emissions from the oil & gas industry;  there will of course be a rally or two.  Coming up in October, Citizen's Climate Lobby is holding a two-day workshop to give citizens the tools to help give policymakers the political will to take action.  And there'll be more events through the fall, so keep an eye on MarensList and other sources.

The 45th Sustainability Salon will be on October 24th, and we’ll feature Solarize Allegheny and Solarize Squirrel Hill, encouraging and enabling local residents (and those not-so-local) to consider solar power, which is now quite competitive with fossil-based energy.  Check back here on MarensList for updates (as well as lots of other environmental events in and around Pittsburgh).  Please always RSVP if you might come to any of our events...  and read on for important information:  

Salons run 3-10 p.m. at Maren's house in Squirrel Hill.  Please don't arrive before 3 p.m.  We usually aim to start the program 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 (at maren dot cooke at gmail dot com) 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.  

As always, 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 air quality (again), reuse (of things and substances), neighborhood-scale food systems, other forms of green community revitalizationsolar powerclimate changeenvironmental artenvironmental 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 Rachel Carson and the Power Of One VoiceSustainability Pioneersfilms on consumptionLiving DownstreamBidder 70YERTGas Rush Stories, and foodfoodfoodfoodfoodfood, and more food (a recurrent theme;  with California running out of water, we'd better gear up to produce a lot more of our own!).

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.  

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.  

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 26: Allegheny Green + Innovation Festival

A new fair for a New Economy...
The 6th Annual Allegheny Green + Innovation Festival (AGIF) is a free green-living festival held each September at the Hartwood Acres Park Amphitheater.  Featuring numerous local exhibitors, food and craft vendors and nonprofit organizations, the festival highlights innovation and sustainability in our region. 

At the Festival, you can learn how to reduce your carbon footprint and green your community.  Interactive, educational exhibits have included bike-powered squirt guns, holistic health, renewable energy, alternative forms of transportation, and storm water retention, all designed to engage every age group.   

AGIF occurs in conjunction with Hay Day - a fun-filled family event featuring a petting zoo, hay rides, inflatables, arts and crafts, and other activities for individuals, kids and families. 

11 a.m. - 4 p.m. at Hartwood Acres Park Amphitheater (4070 Middle Road, Allison Park, PA. 15101).  More information including links to exhibitors and vendors, and a free ride to the Festival if you need one, are here.  And if you'd like to share your plans with friends, there's a Facebook Event page, too.

Sept 26: Pittsburgh 350 Power Through Paris workshop

2015 is on track to be the hottest year in recorded history. Political and religious leaders are beginning to get the message-that people like you have been voicing for years. We are carrying this momentum to the global gathering of governments at the Paris climate change talks - and beyond. Events are being organized across the world in November and December, and in order to make them powerful everyone needs to work together.

This workshop will help us build energy, learn how movements build momentum, and lay out 350's plans of "Power Through Paris"-including how we're planning now to escalate after the Paris climate talks, regardless of their outcome.

Discussion will likely continue later in the day at the 44th Sustainability Salon.

12 -2 p.m. in Chatham University's Sanger Auditorium (Coolidge Hall;  entrance is across from the Buhl Science Building by the greenhouse, off Woodland Road.  Please RSVP online.  

Sep 24: Making the Connection: Air Pollution & Physical Activity

Sep 24: Pittsburgh to Paris: Connecting for the Climate

This December, nations around the world will send delegates to the COP21 climate negotiations in Paris, France.  This is quite possibly the most important climate-related event in all of human history, and Mark Dixon will be bringing his eyes, ears, and voice (and audio/video/photography gear) to this gathering to raise awareness about this important issue and urge responsible action by lawmakers – particularly in the Pittsburgh region.

Already an accomplished environmental filmmaker (YERT – Your Environmental Road Trip, and The Power of One Voice: A 50-Year Perspective on the Life of Rachel Carson) and climate presenter, Mark Dixon further bolstered his awareness of the UN climate negotiations by formally representing Pittsburgh’s Mayor Peduto at an official UN COP21 precursor event: the World Summit Climate and Territories in Lyon, France.  Based on this event and subsequent research, Mark has developed a detailed COP21 climate presentation to inform and entertain audiences with the drama and nuance around our civilization’s greatest attempt to address the climate crisis.  Mark has pre-processed the complexities of the COP21 process and our collective global response so that you can be well-informed without devoting days of your life to working through all the details.  We hope you can make it!  More information at  And Mark's crowdfunding campaign here: . 

Mark will also be speaking at the 44th Sustainability Salon on September 26th, along with other local climate leaders -- come continue the discussion!

7 p.m. at the Church of the Redeemer in Squirrel Hill (5700 Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15217).
The presentation will be followed by a reception with MANY DOZEN French mini-pastries from Jean-Marc Chatellier's French Bakery in Millvale, as well as additional opportunities for engaging in climate conversation and community.  Free and open to the public;  no RSVP required (there's plenty of seating!).   For more information, call Wanda at 412-661-1529.
Sponsored by the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer and the Environmental Justice Committee Thomas Merton Center and endorsed by Divest Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh 350.

Sep 21: DEP hearings on carbon & climate (one of a series)

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is hosting a series of Listening Sessions (along with a 2-month public comment period) in order to hear public input on the PA response to the national Clean Power Plan.

One session 6-9 p.m. in the Singleton Room in Roberts Hall at Carnegie Mellon University.  Other dates are listed here.  Please consider attending and speaking at one of the listening sessions --  call 717-783-8727 to register for a speaking slot.

Sep 16-18: Conference on Toxin-Free Products

The International Living Future Institute, ILFI, best known for starting the Living Building Challenge, will be hosting a national conference on Toxin Free Products in Pittsburgh on September 16-18. 

The International Living Future Institute will hold its first Living Product unExpo at the David L. Lawrence Conference Center.  The focus of the unExpo is on creating and sharing information about healthy products of all types, with the intention of transforming the materials marketplace. The unExpo will present a unique opportunity for manufacturers and designers to network, learn from one another and aggregate market power to demand toxin-free ingredients and sustainable practices, and participate in a stimulating agenda of education tracks, tours of Pittsburgh-area Living Building projects, networking and product demonstrations. Interactive events will include an interactive Inspiration Wall to identify the key leverage points needed to change the materials economy; a Public Day for Pennsylvania residents to participate; inspirational Keynote addresses; custom booths showcasing sustainable products and services and the LPrize, rewarding the best ideas in green chemistry, industrial design and manufacturing.

·         The world’s leading place for design and manufacturing professionals to learn about game-changing products that will transform the marketplace.
·         A unique opportunity for manufacturers and designers of all sizes to network, learn from one another and aggregate market power to create transformative impact.
·         A stimulating agenda of education tracks, inspiring keynote presentations, tours, networking and product demonstrations showcasing the latest trends in sustainable products.
·         Announcing the LPrize, a new competition to celebrate and reward the best ideas and innovation in green chemistry, industrial design and manufacturing.
·         Exciting interactive events, including:
o   Innovation Wall, a facilitated workshop/art installation that identifies key leverage points needed to change the materials economy.
o   Public Day: the unExpo hall will be open to the general public.
o   Custom booths featured at the heart of the conference, with main events on the unExpo floor.

·         Not another sales conference—instead, a curated program that will inspire an industry revolution.
·         Not a cramped facility with no windows and low ceilings. The David L. Lawrence Conference Center is LEED Gold Certified—all sessions, including the exhibit hall, are in beautiful day-lit spaces.
·         Not a conventional trade show—exhibitors will have interactive opportunities to connect and build relationships with key thought leaders in their target market.
·         Not limited to the building industry—designers and manufacturers of all types will be in attendance.
·         Not a shotgun approach to sales. Rather, this is a highly targeted audience focused on innovation, design and sustainability.

At the David L. Lawrence Conference Center downtown.  Online registration, program information, and sponsorship/exhibitor opportunities are here. 

Sep 12: Fossil Free Energy Fair

Featuring the latest green energy sources and technologies such as electric vehicles, sustainable products and green business solutions. Tesla, Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf and other electric cars will be on display.

This year’s fair will incorporate an electric car show and cruise in conjunction with National Drive Electric Week. Owners of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid cars are invited to log in and register to display their vehicles.

11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Cranberry Commons Shopping Center (Rt. 228, Kohl’s lower parking lot) Cranberry Township, PA 16066.

Sep 12: Passive House tour

For those interested in seeing how one can have a house in Pittsburgh without a furnace, Lucy and Ayres will host a tour of their in-progress Passivhaus in Squirrel Hill.

Please RSVP via email to or on the Facebook page for the event:  (CTRL-R will take you past the facebook login, if you're not a Facebook user).

3 p.m.;  please arrive on time!

Sep 12: Summit on the impact of fossil extraction

Landscape Today: Community Impact Summit

Join the Center for Coalfield Justice for a community-wide summit bringing together local and regional community members, organizers, experts, and leaders.  The summit is the last installment of CCJ's Landscape Today series, which has produced several specialized atlases and reports focused on the landscape and community in southwestern Pennsylvania.  

Residents of Washington and Greene counties and others in this region who live with the daily impacts of fossil fuel extraction are experts on coal mining, shale gas drilling, and health effects, as well as our land, air, and water. We know that there are rarely spaces for both local and regional leaders to come together, share knowledge, and collaborate where extraction is actively occurring. We are glad that we can provide an opportunity for people to come together to discuss continued work on these crucial issues. Please register for the summit because we will be providing a catered lunch and only 90 spaces are available for the day. You can read more about CCJ's Landscape Today projects here:

8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the Washington & Jefferson College campus in Washington, PA.  The summit is free and open to the public, and will include lunch and a cocktail hour at the end of the day.  Please register here (, or call (724)-229-3550 or e-mail for more information and questions.

Below is an overview of the summit schedule (more details to come):
  • 8:00-8:45     Sign-in and Orientation 
  • 8:45-9:00     Welcome
  • 9:00-9:45     Environmental Justice Presentation
  • 10:00-10:45   Watershed Panel
  • 11:00-11:45   Mining & Drilling Panel
  • 12:00-1:00   Lunch (lunch will be provided)
  • 1:15-2:00    Indicators of Community Health
  • 2:15-3:15    Workshops
  • 3:30-4:30    Workshops
  • 4:30-5:00    Closing
  • 5:30-7:30    Cocktail Hour at the Washington Winery  

Sep 9 - Oct 14: GASP/Osher class on air pollution

GASP to Teach OSHER Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) Classes
What role will you play to provide clean air for our children and grandchildren? Air pollution, one of the primary causes of climate change, is also a cause of asthma, lung diseases, and other health related issues (that particularly affect young people). This September and October, GASP and other experts will present classes that examine air pollution in Allegheny County and its effects on our health.

You will learn about the main air pollutants affecting human health, the sources of those pollutants, and what is being done locally to reduce pollution. You will also learn how to advocate for healthy air, including receiving information about regulatory agencies, public hearings, community monitoring opportunities, and more. You can help clean up the air and minimize health and environmental effects of air pollutants!

1-2:50 p.m. on Sept 9, 16, 30 and October 7, 14, at the University of Pittsburgh.  See page 8 of the Fall 2015 Catalog for more details.  Learn more about OLLI and their classes here.  The normal OSHER fees/membership costs and age requirements do not apply for these classes, so feel free to call 412-624-7072 and sign up today!

Sep 5-27: Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks with King Lear

Once more into the parks, dear friends!  Once again Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks has created an outdoor, interactive version of a classic -- this year, King Lear -- and will perform in several of our great local parks.  

Free and open to the public (but donations are welcome!) on Saturdays and Sundays in September:

Sept. 5-6, 2 PM: Frick Park
      Beechwood Blvd. & Nicholson St., Squirrel Hill (map)

Sept. 12-13, 2 PM: Arsenal Park
      40th and Butler Streets, Lawrenceville (map)

Sept. 19-20, 2 PM: Schenley Park
      Flagstaff Hill, Schenley Drive and Frew Street (map)

Sept. 26, 11 AM & 2:30 PM: Frick Park (Note: This is a two-show day!)
      Beechwood Blvd. & Nicholson St., Squirrel Hill (map)

Sept. 27, 2 PM: Frick Park
      Beechwood Blvd. & Nicholson St., Squirrel Hill (map)