This month, we'll begin a two-salon feature on Elections. Part I, on June 29th, will focus on election law -- gerrymandering, election integrity, and voter access. Part II, coming soon after on July 13th, will look at grassroots activism and ways that individuals can get involved.
State Representative Sara Innamorato will talk about legislation that she and colleagues have been working on, from automatic voter registration to extending voting times and no-excuse absentee ballots (PA's rules are pretty limiting). Doug Webster of Fair Districts PA will bring clarity to redistricting, reapportionment, gerrymandering, and their implications for democracy -- and physicist John Nagle will share maps and analysis of different approaches to redistricting. And do you trust our voting machines? Ron Bandes, president of Vote Allegheny, will bring us up to date on the pros and cons of different polling systems under consideration. Also, David Tessitor will share a new vision for an independent Election Commission in Allegheny County (and the bill to implement it).
Following the talks and discussion, and returning to our recurrent theme of plastics -- a major health and environmental issue as the petrochemical hub invades our region, and a persistent pollutant killing marine life all around the world -- we’ve initiated a monthly dinner-table conversation for those interested in how to avoid pervasive single-use plastics (SUPs), and how advocacy may be able to limit regional impacts. Quite a few local initiatives have been working on this issue (No Plastics Please, What's SUP, SUPless Mondays, No Straws 'n'At), and this is a great place to connect with them!
The next salon will take place on July 13th; speakers will include Marie Norman, founder of the Order of the Phoenix!
In the meantime, also on the topic of Elections, I'll be hosting a fundraiser for Food & Water Action on June 24th -- they're doing great work protecting municipalities in southwestern Pennsylvania from fracking and related activities, and are gathering support for candidates who put a high priority on public health and safety.
And if you work with kids, learn how to unleash the power of young people to make the world a better place! Join us for an educator workshop on June 26th at the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden. Lynne Cherry, who was with us for April's salon, is the force behind the Young Voices for the Planet project. YVFP is a series of short films about young environmental activists -- inspiring to kids and adults alike, and also demonstrating the power of youth in public discourse. Lynne is leading a series of educator workshops on civic engagement and democracy that will enable teachers and informal educators in our region to foster a new generation of activists using these amazing films. As always, you can browse around MarensList for more events!
Also apropos of the last salon, Grow Ohio Valley, the great food-policy organization just over in Wheeling, WV that we heard from in May, is doing some hiring (with the Americorps program)! Several positions are open; there's more info on the MarensList Resources page.
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. After the talks and discussion (hopefully by around 7:30), we break for a potluck supper. 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 3 (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. 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. If you drive down our street, please park only on the uphill-facing side, and take care not to block driveways on either side of the street. 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.
Sustainability Salon is an educational forum; it's a mini-conference; it's a venue for discussion and debate about important environmental issues; fit'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 whether to preserve existing nuclear power plants, advanced nuclear technologies, passenger and freight trains, consumption, plastics, and pollution, air quality, solar power, youth activism, greening business, greenwashing, the petrochemical buildout in our region, climate/nature/people, fracking, health, & action, globalization, ecological ethics, community inclusion, air quality monitoring, informal gatherings that turn out to have lots of speakers, getting STEM into Congress, keeping Pittsburgh's water public, Shell's planned petrochemical plant, visualizing air quality, the City of Pittsburgh's sustainability initiatives, fossil energy infrastructure, getting money out of politics, community solar power and the Solarize Allegheny program, the Paris climate negotiations (before, during, 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 revitalization, solar power, climate change, environmental art, environmental education (Part I & Part II), community mapping projects, environmental journalism, grassroots action, Marcellus shale development and community rights, green building, air quality, health care, more solar power, trees and park stewardship, alternative energy and climate policy, regional watershed issues, fantastic film screenings and discussions (often led by filmmakers) over the winter with films on Food Systems, Climate Adaptation and Mitigation, Plastic Paradise, Rachel Carson and the Power Of One Voice, Triple Divide on fracking, You've Been Trumped and A Dangerous Game, A Fierce Green Fire, Sustainability Pioneers, films on consumption, Living Downstream, Bidder 70, YERT, Gas Rush Stories, and food, food, food, food, food, food, food, food, food, food, food, food, food, food, food, 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: 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. Please try to minimize single-use plastic -- if you're thinking of a deli tray of vegetables, just get some whole veggies and we can cut 'em up here! 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 (again, no single-use packaging) and provide a big batch of homemade/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.