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Local food resources

The Putting Down Roots Sustainability Salons have continued each month.  The second Sustainability Salon (as well as the 14th15th, 26th27th, 38th39th, 51st, and 52nd) focused on food -- growing it, sourcing it locally, and eating more humanely.  Afterwards, Maren put together a list of many such local sources:  CSA farms, farmers' markets, grassfed and humanely raised meats and dairy, natural foods suppliers, bakeries, and advocacy organizations.  This list now resides on a growing Resources section of the Putting Down Roots Blogger site.

Apr 26, 2019: House concert with Tom Neilson

Looking ahead, please mark your calendar for an amazing house concert next April!  Singer, songwriter, guitarist, and lifelong activist Tom Neilson was born on a dairy farm in upstate New York, and has traveled and lived around the world while organizing against wars, pipelines, and other forms of injustice (and often making music).

Winner of the Kerrville Folk Festival, The Great Labor Arts Award, and the People's Choice Song of the Year (among others), and a nominee for the UN Nelson Mandela Award for Lifetime Achievement in Peace and Justice.  

This is very good music and very good politics.
                                                   --Tom Paxton 

One of the savviest songwriters I know.

                                     --World Soul Records

Politically cutting-edge, warm, & very funny; Raucous satire & quick wit  
                 -- Cathy Gilbert, Miami Dade Greens

Skewers the behavior of the greedy & powerful in the media, corporations & government.  
                              -- People’s Voice CafĂ©,  NYC

A global sophistication put into extraordinary performance art!
--Kathy Hersh, Miami Friends

...Reminding people of what is really important, and the power of folk music to say it.
            -- Michael Stock, WLRN, Miami, FL


7 p.m. (door 6:30) at Maren's house in Squirrel Hill.  Light fare to share (food contributions appreciated, but not expected).  Directions and other info will come after RSVP -- and please do RSVP even if you know your way!  Email me with "concert" in the Subject line, with name(s) of attendees -- or via Eventbrite if you're on the email list for Sustainability Salons (email me with "salon" in the Subject line if you'd like to be added).  You can also call 412-251-5814 (9-9, please).

Nov 10: Sustainability Salon on Air Quality



Enjoy breathing?  Our health depends on clean air.  The 82nd Sustainability Salon will be our annual fall focus on Air Quality.

Sue Seppi, Project Manager (and former Executive Director) of the Group Against Smog & Pollution (GASP, on whose board I serve) will bring an update on the organization's legal, education, and advocacy work -- including the ongoing lawsuit calling the county to task for spending air quality funding on building renovations, and efforts to bring the region into compliance with hydrogen sulfide standards.  Shaena Berlin Ulissi will talk about source attribution analyses:  how to quantify air quality and health impacts of air pollution sources.  And Conservation Luminary Linda Wigington will be here to share progress and results from the residential monitoring research in the ROCIS project (Reducing Outdoor Contaminants in Indoor Spaces).  Stay tuned for more details as the date approaches!

Two other upcoming events of particular interest:  Action on climate change will naturally improve air quality.  I'll be hosting a satellite livestream of an Omega Institute program with Project Drawdown and Paul Hawken on October 19th.  And the next week, on October 25th, GASP's latest  Making the Connection event will feature researchers linking manganese contamination to children's IQ.

Salons run 3-10 p.m. at Maren's house in Squirrel Hill.  Please don't arrive before 3 p.m.  We generally start the program not long after 4pm, 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 with salon in the subject line 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 a trail map 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 (see below), 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, it's a mini-conference, it's a venue for discussion and debate about important environmental issues, it's a house party with an environmental theme.  We usually have featured speakers on various aspects of a particular topic, interspersed with stimulating conversation, lively debate, delectable potluck food and drink, and music-making through the evening.
Past topics have included solar poweryouth activismgreening businessgreenwashing, the petrochemical buildout in our region, climate/nature/peoplefracking, health, & actionglobalizationecological ethicscommunity inclusionair quality monitoringinformal gatherings that turn out to have lots of speakersgetting STEM into Congresskeeping Pittsburgh's water publicShell's planned petrochemical plantvisualizing air quality, the City of Pittsburgh's sustainability initiativesfossil energy infrastructure, getting money out of politicscommunity solar power and the Solarize Allegheny program, the Paris climate negotiations (beforeduring, and after), air quality (again, with news on the autism connection), reuse (of things and substances), neighborhood-scale food systems, other forms of green community revitalizationsolar powerclimate changeenvironmental art, environmental education (Part I & Part II), community mapping projectsenvironmental journalismgrassroots actionMarcellus shale development and community rightsgreen buildingair qualityhealth care, more solar powertrees and park stewardshipalternative energy and climate policyregional watershed issues, fantastic film screenings and discussions (often led by filmmakers) over the winter with films on Food SystemsClimate Adaptation and MitigationPlastic Paradise, Rachel Carson and the Power Of One VoiceTriple Divide on fracking, You've Been Trumped and A Dangerous GameA Fierce Green FireSustainability Pioneersfilms on consumptionLiving DownstreamBidder 70YERTGas Rush Stories, and foodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodand 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:  wine, hard or sweet cider (the latter we can mull if you like), juice, tea, whatever.  The more the merrier!  Local fare is always particularly welcome, whether homemade or boughten.  Dishes containing meat or dairy are fine, though if it isn't really obvious please make a note of it.  We refill a bunch of growlers at East End and provide a big batch of mostly-homegrown pesto (cheesy and vegan), and other things as needed.  More details will come after you RSVP (hint, hint!). 

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 green and 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. 

Oct 25: GASP Making The Connection on Manganese and IQ

Manganese is an essential additive in the steel making process, with as much as 90% of manganese consumption worldwide being used by the steel industry alone.

During this presentation, Drs. Erin Haynes and Vincent Schmithorst will discuss the links between manganese in air pollution to neurodevelopment and lowered IQ in children.

5-8 p.m. at Magee Womens Hospital (300 Halket St., 15213).  The event begins with an hour of refreshments and networking.  Visit the registration page for more details about this event;  you can register online or on site, but please come on out!



Manganese is an essential additive in the steel making process, with as much as 90% of manganese consumption worldwide being used by the steel industry alone. Throughout this process stray manganese particles escape into the air. These particles are related to a variety of adverse health effects, and are especially harmful to the central nervous system. During this presentation, Drs. Erin Haynes and Vincent Schmithorst will discuss the links between manganese in air pollution to neurodevelopment and lowered IQ in children.
Dr. Haynes, an environmental epidemiologist at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, will discuss her research on impacts of manganese in two Appalachian communities in Ohio. Dr. Schmithorst, of UPMC Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital, will discuss how advanced MRI imagining can be used to further understand the relation between neurotoxicity and neurodevelopmental outcome.
This event is part of GASP’s Making the Connection series, intended for medical professionals as well as community members interested in learning more about the links between air pollution and various health problems. It will begin with an hour of networking and refreshments from 5pm-6pm outside of the Hutchinson and Hayashi Auditorium, before moving into the auditorium for the main program. Walk in registration is welcomed.

Oct 24: Defend Our Water: Day of Action

You may have heard about a major shale gas industry conference here in Pittsburgh.  Outside the conference, activists will be bringing attention to the hazards and injustice being fomented inside.  Lots more information and registration here.

Oct 19: Project Drawdown livestream


In 2017 Project Drawdown mapped, measured, and modeled the 100 most substantive solutions to reversing global warming (learn more at drawdown.org).  Now comes a critical next step: Drawndown Learn, a collaborative effort to develop the tools, training, innovative project-based learning, and other curriculum integration needed to unpack and engage schools and communities in the rich learning opportunities of Drawdown and its data. 
Friday Evening Satellite Gathering will include:
• Overview Presentation with Paul Hawken followed by a panel discussion with the Project Drawdown team, including updates on what’s emerged since Drawdown was published last year — the partnerships, ideas, community organizing, Drawdown hubs, and more.
• Friday evening will include time for questions from in-person and online participants and satellite viewing sites. 
Pittsburgh satellite event hosted by Putting Down Roots, in collaboration with 350 Pittsburgh, the Omega Institute, and Project Drawdown.  Please be sure to RSVP via Eventbrite!  

Oct 14: Energy Efficiency Fair


Did you know that the average home emits 15 tons of CO2 every year? 

At one of the greenest places around, you can learn from experts and become a climate hero! Minimize your home's impact with the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and Conservation Consultants, Inc. at this free Energy Efficiency Fair.
Talk with experts; meet homeowners who cut their energy use by up to 40%; learn about programs and financing options; dive into climate solutions; and get inspired!

2-5 p.m. at the Frick Environmental Center (2005 Beechwood Boulevard 15217)

Oct 10 & 23, Nov 5 & 29, Dec 12: Food Systems 101

Want to know more about the practices, policies, and paths that help food get to your plate? Interested in creating a community with other curious people? Join us for a series of five potluck dinners to examine and better understand these issues.

6-8 p.m. each evening at Repair The World (6022 Broad St., 15206).  Aiming to find people that will attend ALL of the dinners.  By registering you are committing to all of the dates;  please email samapplefield@gmail.com if you have questions!  Please register online here:  https://rpr.world/FoodSystems101

Oct 6: Sustainability Salon on Solar Energy

Solar in October!  Once again we'll follow up the Pittsburgh Solar Tour with deeper discussion in a Sustainability Salon on solar power.  Visit a few other solar homes during the afternoon, or jump on the bus or an e-bike for a guided tour, and wind up at our house in Squirrel Hill to talk about the reasons to go solar, meet local providers, and reflect on our own PV installation.

We'll have Greg Winks of Solbridge EA, which helps people and institutions figure out how and why to go solar.  Henry McKay of Solar United Neighbors will introduce the new Allegheny County Solar Co-op, which will lower system costs through bulk purchasing.  And we'll hear from two terrific local solar installers,  Hal Saville of Energy Independent Systems and Evan Good of Scalo Solar.

The next salon will be on Air Quality, and will take place on November 10th (not the 17th as suggested earlier).  A couple of other events I'm hosting in the meantime:  a potluck discussion for the PA Women's Agricultural Network on October 5th, and a satellite livestream of an Omega Institute program with Project Drawdown and Paul Hawken on October 19th.  And as we get ready for our annual autumnal air-quality salon, note GASP's upcoming Making the Connections event, linking manganese contamination to children's IQ.

Salons run 3-10 p.m. at Maren's house in Squirrel Hill.  Please don't arrive before 3 p.m.  (and Solar Tour participants will overlap, as that event goes 'till 4).  We generally start the program not long after 4pm, 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 with salon in the subject line 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 a trail map 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 (see below), 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, it's a mini-conference, it's a venue for discussion and debate about important environmental issues, it's a house party with an environmental theme.  We usually have featured speakers on various aspects of a particular topic, interspersed with stimulating conversation, lively debate, delectable potluck food and drink, and music-making through the evening.
Past topics have included youth activismgreening businessgreenwashing, the petrochemical buildout in our region, climate/nature/peoplefracking, health, & actionglobalizationecological ethicscommunity inclusionair quality monitoringinformal gatherings that turn out to have lots of speakersgetting STEM into Congresskeeping Pittsburgh's water publicShell's planned petrochemical plantvisualizing air quality, the City of Pittsburgh's sustainability initiativesfossil energy infrastructure, getting money out of politicscommunity solar power and the Solarize Allegheny program, the Paris climate negotiations (beforeduring, and after), air quality (again, with news on the autism connection), reuse (of things and substances), neighborhood-scale food systems, other forms of green community revitalizationsolar powerclimate changeenvironmental art, environmental education (Part I & Part II), community mapping projectsenvironmental journalismgrassroots actionMarcellus shale development and community rightsgreen buildingair qualityhealth care, more solar powertrees and park stewardshipalternative energy and climate policyregional watershed issues, fantastic film screenings and discussions (often led by filmmakers) over the winter with films on Food SystemsClimate Adaptation and MitigationPlastic Paradise, Rachel Carson and the Power Of One VoiceTriple Divide on fracking, You've Been Trumped and A Dangerous GameA Fierce Green FireSustainability Pioneersfilms on consumptionLiving DownstreamBidder 70YERTGas Rush Stories, and foodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodand 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:  wine, hard or sweet cider (the latter we can mull if you like), juice, tea, whatever.  The more the merrier!  Local fare is always particularly welcome, whether homemade or boughten.  Dishes containing meat or dairy are fine, though if it isn't really obvious please make a note of it.  We refill a bunch of growlers at East End and provide a big batch of mostly-homegrown pesto (cheesy and vegan), and other things as needed.  More details will come after you RSVP (hint, hint!). 

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 green and 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. 

Oct 6: Pittsburgh Solar Tour

Interested in going solar, meeting some fellow Pittsburghers who have, or just learning more about the possibilities?  Register for the annual Pittsburgh Solar Tour on Saturday, October 6th to meet some Pittsburgh residents who have gone solar -- see their installations, and ask all your questions! Register at pghsolartour.org for guided bus or electric bike tours starting at Millvale or the Frick Environmental Center. Promo code: PGHSOLARTOUR2018 gets you on the bus (or bike) for free! Or just use the map for a self-guided tour of homes you choose.

Oct 5: Women farmers potluck

Women farmers, gardeners, food activists -- Pennsylvania Women's Agricultural Network (PA-WAgN) and Maren are hosting a Walk a Mile potluck!

This is your chance to meet, learn, share, and build your real, person-to-person network!  Whether you're an urban grower, rural farmer, suburban food activist - come and share your stories, your ideas, your passion for our food system.  

5-7 p.m. at Maren's house in Squirrel Hill.  More information and registration here.   Address will be provided after registration;  please register even if you know the way!  You can always send an email if you need to cancel, but if you don't register then we don't know how many people to expect or who to inform if there are any last minute changes!

This is a kid-friendly, friend-friendly potluck, so please bring a dish to share, and also please feel free to bring others.  Your children, your friends or family, your neighbor...all are welcome.