Nov 23: Sustainability Salon on Fracking & Climate

Fracking and Climate:  
On the Ground and In the Halls of Power
For the 94th Sustainability Salon, we'll return to the perennial topics of fracking and climate, and learn about different approaches taken by activists through recent years and into the future.  Activist, educator, and policymaker Michael Bagdes-Canning of Marcellus Outreach Butler will share the experiences of Butler County residents living through the shale rush, and how their activism has evolved, now with the addition of an enviro-Bat Signal as another tool in their Activist Toolbox.  He'll also relate the recent Toxic Tour led by Beyond Extreme Energy as part of their efforts to foil FERC.  Karen Feridun, founder of Berks Gas Truth and co-founder of the Better Path Coalition, will talk about their efforts in Harrisburg and around the state, educating legislators and rooting out conflicts of interest.  And David Lampe, Duquesne biology professor and outreach director for Extinction Rebellion's local chapter, will talk about the reality of climate change (it's worse than you think!) and will look at XR's global presence and how to address our particular regional challenges (gas extraction, pipelines, and plastics) in the face of climate emergency.  Check back here for more details!
The December salon (date TBA) will, as always, relate to Consumption.  In the meantime, the next meeting of PASUP (Pittsburghers Against Single-Use Plastic) will be this Sunday, Nov 17th, and on Tuesday the 19th is the excellent annual Conference on Shale and Public Health.  On Wednesday the 20th, please consider joining me for a reception with Joe Sestak, now a presidential candidate -- with a special focus on climate change (Note:  this event was postponed).  While we're on the topic of climate (when aren't we?), on Nov 21st there's a gathering of climate educators at the Carnegie Museum.  And if you're feeling more down-to-earth, the Three Rivers Soil Symposium is the same day, over at Phipps.
Salons run 3-10 p.m. at Maren's house in Squirrel Hill.  Please don't arrive before 3 p.m.  We aim to start the program not long after 4, after folks have had a chance to meet, mingle, and tour around an interesting and productive urban permaculture site.  After the talks and discussi
on, we'll break for a potluck supper (and more conversation).  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 notice (if you're not already on my list, just email me with salon in the subject line to be added!).  

Please do RSVP each time -- it helps greatly in several ways.  Among other things, 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.  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.  
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 (usually Friday night).  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;  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 air quality, technology, and citizen sciencesingle-use plasticselection activismelection law, whether to preserve existing nuclear power plantsadvanced nuclear technologiespassenger and freight trainsconsumption, plastics, and pollutionair qualitysolar 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 foodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodand 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 sort 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.  

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. 

Nov 21: Three Rivers Urban Soil Symposium

Join nationally acclaimed experts, professionals and community practicioners for an exploration of urban soils and their relation to agriculture, stormwater management, habitat and climate.
The second annual Three Rivers Urban Soils Symposium (TRUSS) brings together community leaders, researchers, scientists, students, policy makers and anyone interested in Pittsburgh’s soil conditions to discuss the state of urban soils and their interconnectedness to public health, urban agriculture, stormwater management and climate.  Speakers will explore how urban soils relate to many other environmental factors, such as agriculture, stormwater management, trees and parks, and climate change.  Community and residential concerns will also be addressed.
Symposium presenters include nationally acclaimed experts in addition to the research- and community-based efforts of regional academics, students and professionals, with speakers from institutions as diverse as the Rodale Institute, Heritage Farms, the EPA, the New York City Composting Program and several other universities and nonprofits.
In Pittsburgh, as in other post-industrial cities, understanding both the limitations and potential of urban soils is essential to address current and future environmental challenges. According to the United Nations, it's estimated that nearly 90% of America’s population will reside in urbanized areas by 2050. The challenges they will face are prominently represented here in Allegheny County. The Symposium will connect people across a broad range of disciplines and experiences to fully understand and evaluate these issues, fostering a new level of awareness, understanding and engagement that will benefit our region and beyond.
8:15 a.m. – 5 p.m. at Phipps Conservatory, followed by a reception from 5 – 6:30 p.m. with refreshments provided by Great Lakes Brewing (beer) and A Few Bad Apples (cider).  TRUSS is organized by Phipps Conservatory, Allegheny County Conservation District, and members of the Pittsburgh Urban Soils Working Group.  For more information and to register ($45), please click here.  Full and partial scholarships are available by applying to the Pittsburgh Urban Growers Professional Development Scholarship
Speaker bios and additional presentation information are here;  to participate in the poster session, please submit your abstract here.

Nov 21: Climate educators' meetup

Building on the success of the Climate & Urban Systems Partnership, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History is proud to launch the new Climate & Rural Systems Partnership! 
You are welcome to join other educators, climate scientists, activists, and community members for this Climate Educators Meetup.  You'll learn more about the partnership, get to share your own practice and interest in climate education, and hopefully meet someone new! 
Food will be provided and you will also have FREE ACCESS to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History on late night Thursday! 
As always, this is free and open gathering designed to forge and develop relationships between the educators, innovators, and change agents that make up the Remake Learning Network.  Join us to discuss your craft, address issues, share opportunities, and connect to resources.  Learn more at
Lunch will be provided with a vegetarian option.  Please help reduce food waste by letting us know if you need to cancel your registration. The cut-off date for special food requests is November 18.  Email Ani (address below) with requests.
Not quite sure what to expect?  We're here to help!  Email Ani (ani (at) remakelearning (dot) org) with any questions or concerns.

Nov 20: POSTPONED: Presidential candidate Joe Sestak

Four years ago, Joe walked across Pennsylvania during his Senate run.  This year, walking across New Hampshire, he once again connected with citizens all along the way.  (Photo by Fred Kraybill)
Because of timing relative to the presidential debates scheduled for the same evening, this event has been postponed to a future date TBA (to contribute in the meantime, go here). 

...I'm honored to host a fundraiser for presidential candidate Joe Sestak!  Four years ago, ninety Pittsburghers joined me to learn about his vision for Pennsylvania and the nation.  Now, in a more crowded Presidential field, Joe is bringing his global experience and cross-party appeal to take a stand for ethics, unity, accountability, and stewardship with his comprehensive and pragmatic Plan for America.  Come learn more about his campaign and his message, with a special focus on climate change -- and join his gathering base of support!  Right now, he needs funding for ads in New Hampshire, to help get the message out!

In a time of uncertainty, with Twitter-fed presidential leadership, an economy on the brink of recession and a nation fighting terrorism around the world, spend the evening with one of our country's true leaders, and envision a bold future.
Join Presidential Candidate Joe Sestak
Joe Sestak
  • Former 3-star Admiral; commander of aircraft carrier battle group
  • Interacted with Presidents, Parliamentary Members, and leaders of Ministries
  • President Clinton’s Director of Defense Policy; head of Navy’s Strategic Anti-Terrorism Unit
  • PhD in Political Economy & Government and Masters in Public Administration from Harvard
  • Former U.S. Congressman; Vice Chairman, Small Business Committee; most productive Congressperson in his class; saved over 800 homes from foreclosure
  • Elected and re-elected (by 20 points) in a 2-1 Republican Congressional District
  • Challenged former Republican Senator Arlen Specter and won the primary, after being 40 points down.
Joe is running to unite this country, to convene the world under U.S. leadership, and to bring about pragmatic policies that move America forward and serve all Americans.  
His presidential campaign launched on June 23 in Iowa. The editorial board of the Des Moines Register said, “[Joe] impresses with experience, smarts and discipline…" and The National Review called him “the most interesting Democrat” in the race.  Joe has launched his TV ads and walked 'in our shoes' across New Hampshire, meeting people and discussing their challenges. His showing in the latest CNN poll clearly demonstrates these actions have resonated.  Come and learn more about Joe’s Plan for America, and the restoration of trust, unity and accountability.

This event will take place on a future date TBA... at Maren's house in Frick Park (directions and other information will be sent after you RSVP).   To contribute in the meantime, you can go here or mail a check payable to “Joe Sestak for President” to Joe Sestak for President, PO Box 17246, Alexandria, VA 22302.  For questions or to RSVP (and contribute at the reception), email or call 610-757-5051.  

Nov 19: LWV Shale and Public Health Conference

Presented by the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania’s “Straight Scoop on Shale” initiative and hosted by the University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public Health.  As in previous years, this year’s conference will feature important new research on shale and public health impacts. 

8:30-5:30 at Pitt's University Club, 123 University Place in Oakland.  The event is free, but you must preregister and there is a $14 charge for lunch (you can also BYO).  For more information and to register, please visit

Speakers will include
Justin Nobel, journalist, for Rolling Stone and other publications, on radioactive waste
Nicole Deziel, PhD MHS, principal investigator for the Yale Drinking Water study
Tara McAlexander, Johns Hopkins PhD candidate, results from research on unconventional natural gas development, heart failure hospitalizations, and the BNP biomarker
Michael McCawley, PhD, of West Virginia University, on compressor station emissions and health
Bruce Pitt, PhD, Professor, Pitt Graduate School of Public Health
Brian Schwartz, MD, Johns Hopkins; Senior Investigator, Geisinger Health Research Ctr.
Lisa McKenzie, PhD, MPH, Asst. Research Professor, Colorado School of Public Health (Congenital Heart Defects, Cardiovascular Disease)
Scott Perry Esq., Deputy Secretary, Office of Oil & Gas Management, PA DEP
Bobby Zirkin, J.D. Maryland State Senator    
Lee Ann Hill, MPH (Waste Management)
Joan A. Casey, PhD (Mental Health in Pregnancy, Birth Outcomes),
Steven Feit, JD, on Plastic and Climate
Andrew Williams, JD, on Methane and Climate
Linda Wigington, ROCIS Team Leader on Citizen Science: Indoor Air Monitoring -- with Annette & Preston Shimer, sharing their experiences as citizen scientists.

Nov 17: PASUP action meeting

PASUP (Pittsburghers Against Single-Use Plastic) is meeting to take action once again! Everyone who is concerned about the negative effects of single-use plastic is welcome. We will have a group meeting, then break into action groups to tackle various solutions of interest.

2-4:30 p.m. at 
Construction Junction in Point Breeze. Light refreshments will be served; we encourage you to bring your own dishware. Let us know you're coming on the Facebook event, and you can find lots of shared information on the PASUP group page.

Nov 11: Armistice Day event

Learn from the Past; Move into the Future
Join the local chapters of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and the Izaak Walton League to hear Wali Jamal re-enact Martin Luther King's speech, "Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence." This will be followed by a discussion about the effects of war, a comparison of the 1960s and now, the impact of war on people of color, and actions we can take.

7 p.m. at Warren United Methodist Church, 2604 Centre Ave. 15219. Free and open to the public; donations welcome! Find updates on the Facebook event.

Nov 9: Extinction Rebellion talk

Heading for Extinction and What To Do About It
Join XR Pgh to discuss the climate crisis affecting all of us. Learn about what is happening and what we can do to create the change we desperately need.

Dr. David Lampe of Duquesne University's Department of Biological Sciences will discuss the latest climate science and where the Earth is heading, the current psychology of the climate crisis, and a look at social movements and the solutions they present.

3-4:30 p.m. in the Maurice Falk Auditorium at Mellon Hall, Duquesne University. Bring your questions and join us afterwards for discussion. Admission is free, but donations are welcome! You can check for updates or RSVP on the Facebook event.

Nov 6: Shell's Environmental Impacts

Please join Beaver County Voice for Change and special guest speaker: Matt Mehalik, director of the Breathe Project, to answer your questions about the environmental impact of the cracker plant in Potter Township.

6:30 at the Beaver Area Memorial Library (100 College Ave. in Beaver).