MarensList is Experiencing Technical Difficulties

Due to a change in how this platform works, it has become very difficult to make new postings for future events.  I hope to find a solution soon, but in the meantime my apologies for a rather thin slate of events!  There really is a lot going on... note that I also share events on Facebook, so look me up there if you're at loose ends.  

Local food resources

The Putting Down Roots Sustainability Salons have continued each month.  The second Sustainability Salon (as well as the 14th15th, 26th27th, 38th39th, 51st52nd, 62nd, 63rd, 64th, 74th, 75th, 87th, and 88th) 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.

Sept 25: Sustainability Salon on Preserving Pittsburgh's Forest

As global climate disruption intensifies, more and more people are learning the importance of  biodiversity and natural ecosystems to mitigate climate change -- and for resilience to climate impacts like heat waves, flooding, and landslides.  And we are gaining understanding of the threats to this resilience, both from climate change itself and from unchecked human development.  


Join us for the 116th Sustainability Salon, as we explore the co-benefits of urban trees, threats to Pittsburgh's urban and peri-urban forest, the ins and outs of municipal land designations -- and ways that citizens can influence that process.

This month, there will be a bonus track between 3 and 4, if there’s a critical mass of early folks.  Vivienne Shaffer (former director of the Rachel Carson Homestead, now at the Children’s Museum) has been looking at another challenge to tree preservation involving construction projects (even green infrastructure projects) and street trees.  She’s not available after 4, but offered to lead a discussion about this starting at 3.  

Hart Hagan is an attorney, activist, radio host, and environmental educator in Louisville, Kentucky who thinks a lot about how climate change relates to water and biodiversity.  He's chair of the Louisville chapter of Wild Ones, an organization dedicated to promoting native plants (see below for our own fledgling chapter).  Hart will share insights on the importance and co-benefits of urban trees, especially on steep slopes.  

The Pittsburgh neighborhood of Hazelwood, diverse and hilly, is known for a lot of firsts.  The first Hungarian church, and the first First National Bank, in the U.S.  The modern game of Bingo was invented there.  And fittingly, the oldest residence in Pittsburgh (dating from 1784) is there, too.  That stone house has recently been renovated into a traditional Scottish pub, the Woods House (named for its first resident, John Woods) -- so far, so good! -- but now the same developer that brought about that project wants to take a patch of actual woods, adjacent to the Hazelwood Greenway, and cut down the trees in order to build modular housing, capitalizing on the real-estate boom expected in conjunction with the high-tech R&D facilities starting up in the former J&L Steel Mill No. 19 (originally a WWII munitions plant).  However, Hazelwood has plenty of vacant land, as well as existing housing in need of rehab or rebuilding -- would it make more sense for the city and the developer to direct their attention there, instead?  

Matt Peters, a Hazelwood resident and longtime forest activist, is administrative coordinator and editor for Heartwood, co-founded the Allegheny Defense Project, serves as a local Stormwater Ambassador and Tree Tender, and is Community Gardens Manager for the Hazelwood Initiative, a community development corporation in the neighborhood.  Matt is gathering allies for a campaign to stop this development project, and aims to reform the way that the City deals with its land into the future -- a system-wide assessment of lands and lots held by the City and the Urban Redevelopment Authority, and to help Pittsburgh find ways to meet the goals laid out in its Climate Plan by increasing forest cover (and establishing continuous canopy where possible.  

Tiffany Taulton is adjunct professor of environmental justice at Duquesne University’s Center for Environmental Research and Education, and Director of Community Initiatives for the Hazelwood Initiative.  In February, HI began a planning process for the restoration of the Hazelwood Greenway after receiving a grant from The Trust for Public Land as part of its 10-Minute Walk to a Park campaign.  Administered through the OnePGH Fund, the grant serves both as a tool for increasing equitable access to greenspace and as a pilot program to show how funding public greenways can enhance a community’s climate resilience.  In the context of the COVID crisis, access to high-quality greenspaces for all communities has taken even greater significance in terms of public health.  Tiffany will share the steps that HI and its partners have taken to improve the Hazelwood Greenway and what lies ahead.  


Churchill Borough is a residential community just east of Pittsburgh, and also faces big changes -- this time by Amazon.  The modern-day behemoth hopes to turn the site of a former Westinghouse R&D facility into a 2.9 million square foot distribution warehouse, felling some 1400 mature trees, regrading the hilly campus, destroying wetlands, and eliminating a Native American trail.  The loss of 100 acres of green space to impermeable surfaces will transform the watershed, and huge retaining walls are likely to be unstable.  The warehouse will require hundreds of tractor-trailer trips each day, with attendant noise, traffic congestion, and diesel emissions -- and is surrounded by homes and schools.  A new grassroots organization formed in response to this threat, called Churchill Future.  Churchill resident and activist Sandra Fox will share progress so far, what comes next, and ways you can get involved.


And some good news -- another large parcel in Churchill, the former Churchill Valley Country Club, is being turned into a greenway.  The organization taking the lead is the Allegheny Land Trust, which facilitates the preservation of land (protecting 3300 acres so far, in 33 municipalities).   At the same time, they're working in Garfield to convert a former farm to community green space through a collaborative process.  Alyson Fearon, Senior Director of Community Conservation and Resiliency at ALT, will share what's happening at Healcrest, and talk about ALT's work protecting greenways and green spaces.


Either next month (October 16th or 30th) or another month soon, we'll continue our walk through the woods and take a look at forest restoration.


A few other items of note:  


•  Climate Strike!  On September 24th, Sunrise Pittsburgh and lots of other folks are taking to the streets as part of a global march for intersectional climate justice.  Starting in Oakland (Schenley Plaza) and heading downtown to the City-County Building.  Noon to 3 p.m. on Friday the 24th -- more information here
•  The big march planned to begin on September 25th from Beaver (where Shell's ethane cracker plant is nearing completion) has been postponed to next year due to COVID concerns.  We'll still be doing a smaller march in October;  if you're interested participating or helping with either, please fill out this form
•  On October 7th, the Allegheny County Medical Society will focus its annual Community Impact Gala on childhood asthma, raising funds to support the development of a comprehensive treatment and prevention program for children with asthma in the Mon Valley.  A number of awards will be presented during this virtual event, including yours truly.  Please consider attending, and supporting this worthy cause!  
•  Speaking of climate and air pollution (as we often do), conventional lawn care produces something like 5% of the air pollution in the U.S., as well as considerable greenhouse gas emissions and runoff that pollutes our waterways.  Larger plants, especially natives, would instead sequester carbon, need less maintenance, hold more water in place when it rains, increase biodiversity, and benefit the local ecosystem in many other ways.  Wild Ones is a national organization promoting native plants and environmentally-friendly landscaping practices;  there's a new chapter starting up in our region!  Email Tamara for more information.  
•  We cover a lot of important topics at Sustainability Salons.  If you're looking to get involved in any of them, feel free to connect with me (email with "salon" in the Subject is always a good method) and I can probably find a good match!  I also often post job opportunities on the Resources side of MarensList.  

Talks and discussion will run from 3 p.m. (usually 4 p.m.) to 7:30 or so on Zoom (sadly, no potluck supper these days).  You're welcome to join the call for informal conversation after 3 p.m. (today, about protecting street trees from construction), and we aim to start the main program right around 4.  If you're new to Zoom, you may find my Zoom Reference Guide helpful.  If you RSVP via Eventbrite, you'll receive the Zoom registration link right away.  If you're not already on my Eventbrite list, please email me (maren dot cooke at gmail dot com) with salon in the Subject line to be added -- and let me know how you heard about salons!
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 (if there weren't a pandemic) with an environmental theme.  Each month we 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 (though the potluck and the music are on hiatus during the pandemic, so you're on your own for the delectables).
Past topics have included climate modelingapproaches to pipelinespipeline hazardsthe legacy of the Fukushima nuclear disasterthe judiciary and fair electionsconsumptionpandemics and air,  election law and activismair quality and environmental justicesocial investment,  local economies, the economics of energymutual aid networksocean healththe rise of the radical rightthe back end of consumptionapproaches to activism on fracking & climateair 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 foodfood, food, 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!).

Coronavirus update:   As you know, people in Pittsburgh and around the world are sequestered at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Social distancing is still the rule for most Americans.  That's a bit of a misnomer, though -- we need physical distancing to flatten the curve, but technology now allows for rich interactions even so!  I believe that community is one of our greatest strengths, so in March as events began to be cancelled, I hosted the first virtual Sustainability Salon via Zoom teleconference -- rather than gathering our usual 50-80 people in a contained space.   It went quite well (even engaging participants from hundreds of miles away), and we're looking forward to June's salon!  Please be sure to RSVP (via email with "salon" in the Subject: line, or via Eventbrite) so you'll receive the sign-on information.  

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.  If interested folks are online and everything is working smoothly by around 3:30, perhaps I can conduct a virtual tour.

And if you like to make music or listen to homemade music, think back to our evening sings -- we typically ran the gamut from Irish fiddle tunes to protest songs to the Beatles, and a fun time was had by all.  Folks would bring instruments, and/or pick up one of ours.  Conversations would continue through the evening, as well.  With a virtual event this is less likely to happen, but we can share music by turns, reminisce, chat online, and look forward to the post-COVID era!

Sept 24: March for Climate Action

Rise Up and Strike for Climate Justice!

Join Sunrise Pittsburgh and many other local groups, along with millions of others around the world, as we take to the streets for intersectional climate justice!


12-3pm on Friday the 24th, starting at Schenley Plaza and marching to 414 Grant Street (City-County Building) downtown for a rally.  Please wear a mask, and bring your own reusable water bottle.  Check out the Facebook event for updates and to RSVP.  


The world is in a state of emergency.  Across the globe the climate crisis is wreaking havoc on our communities, destroying our homes and livelihoods, and leaving death and destruction in its wake.  The message is clear: our extractive system has resulted in the greatest crisis we have ever faced, and now we must rise to combat this monster of our own making for all of our futures.  We cannot let politics or corporatism convince us that there is no way to stop it, because there is: a just transition from fossil fuels to a regenerative economy.


We know this can't be done in a day, but the fight has begun and now we must act strongly to show those in power that we are united and will not back down.  That is why we are calling on you, citizens, organizations, and communities, to join us in this fight.  To be truly united for a future that reflects justice for all.


Our Demands:

• Represent Youth in Local Climate Decisions.  Pittsburgh politics has failed to be truly representative of all its communities, especially its youth.  We want diverse representation at the table and an actual part in the decision making process -- we are not pawns for press points.

• Ban Fracking!  In addition to exacerbating climate change, fracking harms our communities and destroys our county's beautiful wild spaces.  That is why we demand that Allegheny County ban all new fracked gas wells and move towards closing all remaining wells, while ensuring the protection and new employment of their workers.

• Tax Big Business for Green Infrastructure.  Big Businesses like UPMC and fossil fuel companies must be taxed to help fund new Green Infrastructure programs; these programs will get us to the 100% renewable energy threshold mandated by the latest IPCC report

• Stop Line 3!  We are demanding that the US Federal Government halt ongoing construction of Line 3, an oil pipeline being constructed in Minnesota which will not only potentially leak harmful chemicals into the environment, but contributes to fossil fuel infrastructure and the ongoing environmental racism and treaty violations against Native Americans particularly the Anishinaabe.  (More info: stopline3.org)

• Just Transition and Clean Jobs for All.  We are demanding a Just Transition to 100% renewable energy and a regenerative economy by 2050 and a crucial part of that will be ensuring that all people have clean, green, healthy jobs that pay a living wage.

• Fight for Intersectional Climate Justice.  As a movement, as communities, and individuals, we must acknowledge the intersectional nature of our struggles and work together towards the goal of a safe, healthy, and regenerative future.  We need to put aside the idea that our movements are separate, and address issues of race, class, gender, identity, policing, and government in tandem with our environment. 


Who we are:  

350 Pittsburgh, Asian Solidarity Alliance, Beaver County Marcellus Awareness Community, Breathe Collaborative, Casa San José, Clean Water Action, Climate Reality Pittsburgh & SWPA, Concerned Ohio River Residents, Creatives for Climate, FracTracker Alliance, Green New Deal for Pittsburgh, Green Party of Allegheny County, Group Against Smog & Pollution, Heartwood, the Izaak Walton League of Allegheny County, Marcellus Outreach Butler, Ohio Valley Environmental Resistance, OnePennsylvania, Palestinian Solidarity Committee, PennFuturePitt Asian Student Alliance, Pittsburghers Against Single-Use Plastic, Protect Penn Trafford, Putting Down Roots, Socialist Alternative, Sunrise Pittsburgh, Women for a Healthy Environment, and countless individuals.


Aug 21: Sustainability Salon on Climate Modeling

Torrential floods in Europe recently killed hundreds and displaced thousands.  A "heat dome" over the Pacific Northwest this June brought record temperatures (121F in British Columbia?!?) and led to something like a thousand deaths (more like a billion, if you count marine animals).  Wildfires out west and in Canada are sending smoke all across North America.  Climate change is not the only cause of these fires, but is certainly an extremely important factor -- less-frequent but more-intense rainfall leads to landslides instead of recharging aquifers, shorter winters yield less mountain snowpack to melt into rivers,  hotter temperatures draw more moisture out of the soil (turning vegetation into tinder), and stronger storms create more lightning to spark fires.  As summarized in the IPCC's Sixth Assessment Report released this month, all of these events (and more) are predicted to become even more common into the future.  How do we know this?  Scientists often use models to understand and predict how conditions will change in complex systems.  

The 115th Sustainability Salon will be all about climate modeling.  We'll learn about the history of climate modeling, the latest IPCC report, types of models, radiative forcing, climate feedbacks, uncertainties, policy factors, and how we can test models with field measurements, satellite observations, and other data.  We'll be meeting via Zoom, and speakers will include:

Chris E. Forest is a professor of Climate Dynamics and the director of the Penn State Center for Earth System Modeling, Analysis, and Data;  he was also a lead author on the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report.  His research focuses on climate dynamics, quantifying uncertainty in climate predictions, and assessing climate risks.  

Hamish Gordon is an assistant research professor at Carnegie Mellon University, studying the interaction of atmospheric particles (both natural aerosols and pollution) with clouds and climate. 

L. Ray Roberts, a longtime local leader for Citizens Climate Lobby, will demonstrate MIT's En-ROADS interactive modeling tool -- which anybody can use to quantify the effects of different climate policies.  

Joining us for a panel discussion about all these approaches to understanding and predicting climate will be Daniel Kirk-Davidoff, a climate dynamicist whose current research focuses on renewable energy forecasting.  

Following the panel, Ray will lead an interactive En-ROADS Climate Workshop in which you’ll be able to explore the merits of different climate solutions like energy efficiency, carbon pricing, fossil fuel taxes, reducing deforestation, and carbon removal.  The experience will be scientifically-grounded, action-oriented, and eye-opening!

A few other items of note:  

•  We've talked a lot about the impacts of fracking, plastics, and the petrochemical industry on air, water, climate, and the health of humans and other living things.  Next Tuesday, the DOE will be holding a virtual public meeting to discuss those impacts.  There will be invited speakers and an opportunity to ask questions, but even just attending should be informative -- and will send the message that people care.  Sign up by this Friday (Aug 20th) to attend!  Visit NoPetroPA for more information.  
•  On September 25th, an intrepid group of activists will set out from Beaver (where Shell's ethane cracker plant is nearing completion) and head toward Belmont County, Ohio (where PTT Global Chemical wants to build another one), to raise awareness about the hazards of these industries -- among the people who will be most affected, and the policymakers elected to represent them.  If you're interested in participating in part or all of the multi-day march, or if you can support the effort in other ways, please fill out this form
•  Speaking of climate and air pollution (as we often do), conventional lawn care produces something like 5% of the air pollution in the U.S., as well as considerable greenhouse gas emissions and runoff that pollutes our waterways.  Larger plants, especially natives, would instead sequester carbon, need less maintenance, hold more water in place when it rains, increase biodiversity, and benefit the local ecosystem in many other ways.  Wild Ones is a national organization promoting native plants and environmentally-friendly landscaping practices;  there's a new chapter starting up in our region!  Email Tamara for more information.  
•  Mask update: I have distributed all of the Breathe99 masks (featured at November's salon on Pandemics and Air (video), and one of TIME's 100 Best Inventions of 2020) from my bulk orders, but the masks are currently on sale directly from the company at a similar discount.  I also still have some of the foam liners that address the condensation issue associated with a well-sealed mask, and a few boxes of filters (please email me with mask in the Subject line if you're interested).  
•  We cover a lot of important topics at Sustainability Salons.  If you're looking to get involved in any of them, feel free to connect with me (email with "salon" in the Subject is always a good method) and I can probably find a good match!  I also often post job opportunities on the Resources side of MarensList.  

Talks and discussion will run from 4 p.m. to 7:30 or so on Zoom (sadly, no potluck supper these days).  You're welcome to join the call for informal conversation after 3 p.m., and we aim to start the main program right around 4.  If you're new to Zoom, you may find my Zoom Reference Guide helpful.  If you RSVP via Eventbrite, you'll receive the Zoom registration link right away.  If you're not already on my Eventbrite list, please email me (maren dot cooke at gmail dot com) with salon in the Subject line to be added -- and let me know how you heard about salons!
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 (if there weren't a pandemic) with an environmental theme.  Each month we 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 (though the potluck and the music are on hiatus during the pandemic;  you're on your own for the delectables).
Past topics have included approaches to pipelinespipeline hazardsthe legacy of the Fukushima nuclear disasterthe judiciary and fair electionsconsumptionpandemics and air,  election law and activismair quality and environmental justicesocial investment,  local economies, the economics of energymutual aid networksocean healththe rise of the radical rightthe back end of consumptionapproaches to activism on fracking & climateair 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 foodfood, food, 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!).

Coronavirus update:   As you know, people in Pittsburgh and around the world are sequestered at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Social distancing is still the rule for most Americans.  That's a bit of a misnomer, though -- we need physical distancing to flatten the curve, but technology now allows for rich interactions even so!  I believe that community is one of our greatest strengths, so in March as events began to be cancelled, I hosted the first virtual Sustainability Salon via Zoom teleconference -- rather than gathering our usual 50-80 people in a contained space.   It went quite well (even engaging participants from hundreds of miles away), and we're looking forward to June's salon!  Please be sure to RSVP (via email with "salon" in the Subject: line, or via Eventbrite) so you'll receive the sign-on information.  

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.  If interested folks are online and everything is working smoothly by around 3:30, perhaps I can conduct a virtual tour.

And if you like to make music or listen to homemade music, think back to our evening sings -- we typically ran the gamut from Irish fiddle tunes to protest songs to the Beatles, and a fun time was had by all.  Folks would bring instruments, and/or pick up one of ours.  Conversations would continue through the evening, as well.  With a virtual event this is less likely to happen, but we can share music by turns, reminisce, chat online, and look forward to the post-COVID era!