May 31: Spread (sheet) out at the Green House

An opportunity to expand your skills, and check out the new Pittsburgh Green House at the same time!
As a community service and entrepreneurial endeavor, Mark Dixon (of YERT fame) will be teaching a beginner's spreadsheet class.  He's been working with spreadsheets for so many years he can barely count them (without the help of a spreadsheet? ;-) and would love to share some of that knowledge with interested people in town. Registration is $20 for a two-hour class.

Class is Thursday, May 31 at 5:30pm-7:30pm at the Pittsburgh Green House: 308 N. Sheridan Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15206 (next to Home Depot).

Registration and additional information at: 

You can also sign up and/or share the event on Facebook:

May: Putting Down Roots Plant Sales

Your faithful blogger Maren has many vegetable, herb, and perennial plants for sale -- seedlings and transplants, some quite mature.  Also worm castings and some cool garden tools (the CobraHead, also known as a "steel fingernail").  You may be able to take Maren aside at Sunday's Sustainability Salon, or you can come by for a visit at another time;  just email to set up a time.

Plants include tomatoes (dozens of varieties of large and small tomatoes -- some have flowers and fruit already!), several varieties of cucumbers, summer & winter squash, gourds, pie pumpkins, broccoli, kale, collards, savoy cabbage, red mustard, mizuna, lettuce, mesclun mix, several kinds of basil, flat & curly parsley, thyme, tarragon, raspberries, strawberries, sweet woodruff, sunflowers, jerusalem artichoke, amaranth, dame's rocket, bronze fennel, anise hyssop, ostrich fern, tansy, hosta, black-eyed susan, forget-me-not and, well, I forget.  For most of the perennials, if I run out of specimens in pots then additional transplants can be dug to order.  Some of the varieties can also be seen on my Facebook page, in the Plant Sales album.  I also have CobraHead garden tools (a weeder/cultivator also known as a "steel fingernail"), as well as locally-produced worm castings (generously pooped by Matt Peters's busy worms in Hazelwood).  And lots of advice, if you'd like, to help get your garden going.

May 26: PRC Composting workshop

Backyard Composting Workshop:
This workshop thoroughly covers the importance of composting, setting up a compost pile, proper maintenance, and ways of using finished compost.
11am – 12:30 pm at Construction Junction in Point Breeze.  Cost is $50 single/ $55 couple and includes one compost bin.  Register here or call Donna at 412-488-7490 ext. 246;  more information on this and other workshops here.

May 26: Share Faire

A Space To Share Goods and Services With Your Neighbors+ Frozen Yumminess
-Potluck Dishes And More

East End Mutual Aid (EEMA) would like to invite you to the East End Share
Faire! East End Share Faire is an event where we can get together as a community
and provide for our own necessities, and have a darn good time doing it. To
participate is simply to attend. Bring things to share that you no longer need!
Share a skill/talent! Come partake in the generosity of others! Just stop by and
say Hi! Don't know what to bring or want to know what others have in the past?
Anything from food, clothes, toys, working appliances, chairs, seeds, comics,
computers, books, and tons of other miscellaneous items.

Too much of our lives revolve around selling our labor and sacrificing our time
to acquire more material things. Some go hungry while food goes to waste. We
grow tired of a possession that could be used or valued by another. We are
taught that everything is scarce and this breeds competition rather than
cooperation. The truth is that we live in a world of abundance. Within our own
communities, our own neighborhoods, the skills and items that we all need
already exist, and much of those are not in use. By coming together and sharing
all of our excesses, we can help provide for each other.

1-5pm. in Friendship Park, S. Mathilda & Friendship Ave in Bloomfield 1pm to 5pm Rain Date: Saturday, June 2 (same time and place).  Organized by East End Mutual Aid.  For more information, contact or feel free to give us a call at 412-385-3362

Common questions:
-Can I attend if I don’t live in the Bloomfield-Garfield-Friend​ship-East
Liberty area?

YES! The event is open to anyone. While our immediate organizational priority
is outreaching to, and working with, our neighbors in the surrounding community
we welcome the participation of anyone who’s interested.

-Do I need to stay with the items I bring? Or take them back with me
afterwards? What happens to the trash?

No, you do not need to take the items back with you afterwards, although if you
would like to, or are able to, feel free! We always assume responsibility for
ensuring that everything brought (or used) for the event is properly disposed of
afterwards. Trash will be bagged and carted off. Items that aren’t claimed
will be stored for use at a future Share Faire, or donated to community thrifts
stores if appropriate. 

-How does this impact the Park?
We have hosted a half dozen Share Faires with a consistent record of respect
for the location and other community members. The space has always looked nicer
upon our departure. By containing the event to one particular area there has
always been ample space for other activities to occur. 

-Will there be blankets? How will items be arranged?
Organizers will bring some blankets and we will attempt to separate items into
different categories.

-Can I sell things?
Intrinsic to this political event is the creation of space that is free of
exchange of money. While it is of course a public space we respectfully ask that
folks respect the event and not engage in selling or barter.

May 25-28: Heartwood Forest Council

Heartwood is a regional network of public forest defense and advocacy grassroots organizations, with member groups in most states where the Eastern Hardwood forests once covered majestic and wild, from the Ozarks to the Appalachians. Each year Heartwood hosts two regional scale events, one held annually over the Memorial Day weekend in a different state each year. This year Heartwood’s 22nd Annual Forest Council will be hosted by the Allegheny Defense Project (ADP), and held at Camp Olmstead (316 4th Ave., Warren, PA 16365).  This weekend conference will focus on the how-to and what-next of state and national forest protection.  Marcellus threats in PA and NY are among the many threats in the Appalachian region, and share many parallels with the Mountaintop Removal fight in southern West Virginia where the Forest Council was held last year, or with lead mining in Missouri’s Mark Twain National Forest where Heartwood also has member organizations. Biomass incineration for electric power is a particular threat to our forests and farm soils alike, but discussions of scale come into particular focus on this topic. We want to build on the work done at APIEL and other recent regional conferences, and provide a forum to build momentum in these grassroots movements. Networking across this region has proven to be an effective tool in forest protection, and we are reaching out to you to strengthen that network in the face of these new threats because you already share a part of this movement to build a new vision.

This year’s theme is drawn from the nature of the major threats to our forest region, and explores their impact on both rural and urban life ways. Marcellus drilling, the Seneca bid to take management of the Kinzua Dam Hydro power rights, coal, solar and wind issues, all suggest that we think deeper about energy production and consumption in our society and our daily life, as we prepare to reclaim the structures that have led to such tremendous inequity around the globe. The primary focus or goal of the weekend is to share skills and provide training for activist Forest Watch, and coordinate local and regional forest protection and advocacy. Speakers this year will include Thomas Buchele, the Clinical Professor of Law and Managing Attorney, Pacific Environmental Advocacy Center ("PEAC") at Lewis and Clarke Law School who has fought for the protection of public lands for more than 25 years. Past attendees and featured speakers have included Woody Harrelson and US Congress Representative Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), both champions of public forest protection among the hundreds and dozens who stop timber sales every day with letters, appeals, litigation and direct action.

One of the outcomes from the Forest Watch agenda in the program is a monthly Pittsburgh outing to Marcellus permit sites on nearby state forests, game lands, and parks, monitoring and commenting on the Permit from the beginning of the process, and alternating regular meetings with day-trip outings to collect on-the-ground data, and rescuing some of the plants from these threatened sites. Volunteers with computer mapping skills will be needed to incorporate data into strategic and interactive formats.

More information and a solicitation for participating organizations can be found here.  If you are interested in hosting a workshop topic or have any questions about Heartwood or the upcoming Forest Council, please contact HW Board Member and Pittsburgh contact Matt Peters at 412-320-0739 or .

May 24: An Evening with Seamus McGraw at WYEP

     Join author and journalist Seamus McGraw for a discussion of his new book, The End of Country , which explores the Marcellus shale gas industry's impact on rural life.  Tom Brokaw calls the book "a cautionary tale... required reading for all those tempted by the calling cards of easy money and precarious peace of mind." 

Jennifer Szweda Jordan, host of The Allegheny Front, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Pipeline editor, Erich Schwartzel, will moderate the evening with McGraw, following his readings from the book. Award-winning science reporter Reid Frazier, who covers gas drilling for The Allegheny Front, will be on hand to discuss the book and the ongoing impacts of Marcellus development. There will be opportunities for audience questions.  Copies of McGraw's book will be available for purchase and signing.

6:30-8 at WYEP Community Broadcast Center on Pittsburgh's South Side (67 Bedford Square, Pittsburgh 15203)  The event is free, but please RSVP .

May 23: Call-in day for education funding

This is our last chance to make our voices heard loud and clear in the Governor's Office and in the State Legislature. We need all of you to participate in the statewide call-in day for public education funding and convince everyone you know to participate. The Call-in Day and flyer published on Yinzercation is pasted below so you can easily circulate it via email to friends and colleagues. 

Q. I've already called my representative and the Governor; they know how I feel. Why should I call again on May 23rd?
A. We need to keep the pressure on, especially now while the Governor’s additional $100 MILLION in proposed budget cuts to public schools are under consideration. (That’s on top of the continuation of the $1 BILLION in cuts our schools suffered last year.) It’s not like voting: you can, and should, call your legislators more than once! When we participate in these call-in days scheduled by our friends at Ed Voters PA, we add our voices to a state-wide movement – there’s a real multiplier effect when we all do this together on a single day. Legislators hear us!

Q. But my legislator is already supportive of public education. Why should I bother him (or her) about this?
A. Even if your representative generally supports public education, we want her (or him) to take a more active role – especially during these next few critical weeks. You might ask your legislator to become a public education champion. And it doesn’t hurt to let them know that we “have their back” on this issue. We will never see sustainable dollars put back into our schools unless our legislators take this issue by the horns.

Q. Phone calls seem so simple. Is this really working?

A. Yes! Legislators and others in Harrisburg tell us that they are hearing from parents in numbers they have never seen before. Our other actions are important, too (rallies, letters, face-to-face meetings) – but these call-in days are an opportunity for all of us to speak up and be heard directly by our politicians. They are listening!

Q. What should I tell them?

A. Give a couple examples about how these state budget cuts are having a devastating impact on our school. At Colfax, we:
• Lost our after-school and Saturday tutoring program for struggling students
• Had to layoff paraprofessionals (adults in classrooms) and custodians
• Have larger class sizes and no more supply or text book money
• Will lose our Parent Engagement Specialist, our Gifted Education teachers, our instrumental teacher, and possibly our librarian next year

Q. Where should the state find money to pay for public schools?

A. We need our legislators to find a sustainable way to support public schools, using an equitable formula (like the one recently abandoned by Governor Corbett). It’s a matter of priorities. Here are some suggestions for sources of revenue:
• Close the Delaware Loophole, one of the single largest forms of corporate welfare
• Tax Marcellus shale (even the drilling companies have said they’re willing to pay)
• Eliminate the bonus depreciation rule passed by the Revenue Department last year without a legislative vote (cost us $260 the first half of this fiscal year alone)
• Repeal the sales tax exemptions for things like coal ($120M) and candy ($90M) which essentially give away state revenue

Gov. Corbett:  

Rep. Frankel:  (717) 705-1875 or (412) 422-1774
PA House District 23: Squirrel Hill, Point Breeze (South), Greenfield, Park Place (west of Braddock), Regent Square, Shadyside

Sen. Costa:  (717) 787-7683 or  (412) 241-6690
PA Senate District 43: Squirrel Hill, Point Breeze (South), Greenfield, Park Place (all), Regent Square, Shadyside

Rep. Preston:  (717) 783-1017 or  (412) 361-3692
PA House District 24: East Hills, East Liberty, Highland Park, Park Place (east of Braddock), Point Breeze (North)

Sen. Ferlo:  (717) 787-6123 or (412) 621-3006
PA Senate District 38: East Hills, East Liberty, Highland Park, Point Breeze (North)

Find your legislator at:

1. You will be speaking to a staff member. Introduce yourself and identify yourself as a constituent. For example: “Hi this is _____, I am a constituent of Representative _____, and I am calling because I strongly support public education and I am very concerned about the impact of budget cuts on my school, and on our community.”

2. In your own words, say something like the following (pick a few points):
• Stop these drastic budget cuts! The $1 BILLION cut last year was devastating to our district and we can’t lose another $100 MILLION.
• I am concerned / outraged / distressed that (give examples, see list on reverse)
• Every kid must have an opportunity to learn and good schools make stronger communities; education is a human right.
• Education is my top priority issue as a taxpayer and voter – a responsiblecommunity with strong values educates all of our children and makes it a priority.
• We can find the money to pay for schools. It’s just a matter of priorities.

3. Let them know you plan to follow these issues and see what happens. For example: “I am interested in the Representative’s position on these cuts and would like to hear back about it. My email address is …. Thank you.”

Phone Tips
Be really pleasant to the staff. They take a lot of calls, often from people who are upset about things. Think of it as a conversation you might have at work or a meeting: keep the tone professional and courteous, make your point about the issue.

Try to sound like yourself. It is okay to prepare notes to remind yourself what you are calling to say, but try not to read something. Share your sincere personal opinion and your reasons for it, in your own words.

Keep it short: a 2-3 minute call is usually plenty to say WHAT you SUPPORT (or oppose), WHY, and to give your contact information and ask for a response.

May 22: Fragrance-Free Day in Pittsburgh

WHE LogoMay 22, 2012 will be designated Fragrance-Free Day in the City of Pittsburgh. What does this mean? You will have an opportunity to find out "what your nose doesn't know" about this mystery ingredient found in hundreds of consumer and personal care products. We invite you to join Women for a Healthy Environment during several free events planned for next Tuesday including: 
  • a Fragrance-Free proclamation by City of Pittsburgh Council at 10:00 a.m. in Council Chambers located at 414 Grant Street;     
  • an educational webinar from 11:00 am -12:00 pm that addresses fragrance-free workplace policies. Experts will discuss health effects, legal issues and sample workplace policies. (Click here to download the flyer); and  
  • a lunch-time event in Market Square where you can receive a fragrance-free toolkit, take the "Don't Spray for a Day" pledge, and enjoy live music provided by singer-songwriter Bill Deasy.    
To register for any of these events, please click hereYou can also click here to download a copy of the poster to share with family, friends, and colleagues.

May is Asthma and Allergy Awareness month. What a better way to celebrate than with Women for a Healthy Environment on Fragrance-Free Day next Tuesday, May 22, 2012!

Many thanks to event sponsors the Highmark FoundationThe Heinz Endowments, andPipitone Group. 

May 21: Film screening: "In Transition 2.0"

Join TransitionPGH for a special screening of the film "In Transition 2.0"-- for which Pittsburgh's own Mark Dixon filmed a chapter about the Whitney Avenue Urban Farm in Wilkinsburg. The creator of that farm and a few of his helpers (also featured in the film) will be on-hand for Q&A, along with Mark. Please come on by to show your support for local urban farmers!!
If you want to know the present state of Transition both here in Pittsburgh and all over the globe, this is your movie (site and trailer here!). It covers Transition Initiatives and the diverse, powerful communities driving their relocalization and community-rejuvenation efforts, from Europe to Asia to America and beyond, including an appearance from the Whitney Avenue Urban Farm right here in Wilkinsburg!
The filmmakers' description: "In Transition 2.0 is an inspirational immersion in the Transition movement, gathering stories from around the world of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. You'll hear about communities printing their own money, growing food, localizing their economies and setting up community power stations. It's an idea that has gone viral, a social experiment that is about responding to uncertain times with solutions and optimism. In a world of increasing uncertainty, here is a story of hope, ingenuity and the power of growing vegetables in unexpected places".
7pm to 8:45pm at First United Methodist Church Shadyside (5401 Centre Avenue).  Doors will open at 6:30pm, and after a short introduction to Transition Pittsburgh's recent activities (namely a recap of Larimer activity) starting at 7:00pm, the movie will start around 7:10pm. The movie should end before 8:45; the audience can stay afterwards for group discussion of Transition in Pittsburgh past, present, and future, leading into some planning.

May 20: Sustainability Salon: Trees!

Join us for the Sylvanian Sustainability Salon, the fourth in our ongoing series of monthly enviro-conversational gatherings with potluck food and homemade music.  Following our rousing discussions on solar power and food, and wide-ranging topics prior to Earth Day, this month we'll be all about trees.   Protecting old-growth forest and wildlands from drilling and other development, planting and tending urban street trees and city parks, understanding ecosystem services including watershed benefits, monitoring tree health, creating edible forest gardens, forests as Commons.  We'll talk about the upcoming Heartwood Forest Council, held in western Pennsylvania this year.  The Salon will be on May 20th (3 p.m. 'till 10 or so, including a potluck supper and a mostly-musical evening), the weekend right before the Heartwood gathering, and we'll hear from Matt Peters about that event and about forming a local chapter of Forest Watch to keep tabs on drilling permits and the places they affect, and a Plant Rescue program to transplant specimens from about-to-be-disturbed sites to safer places (like city parks).  Jake Milofsky of TreePittsburgh will talk about our local Tree Tenders program, where a growing corps of volunteers helps plant and care for Pittsburgh street trees after completing a brief training program.  And Erin Copeland of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy will be here to talk about the Urban Ecosteward program and other PPC initiatives.

3-10 p.m. at Maren's house in Squirrel Hill.   Please email me to RSVP (important, even if you know right where we live, or are a maybe, please do so each time -- it helps greatly in several ways) and I'll send directions and/or a trail map if you need 'em.  Be sure to include "salon" in the Subject line, as I receive a ridiculous amount of email every day.  Bring food or drink to share if you can, along with musical instruments if you play.  Check back here for event updates.

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.  The more the merrier!  Local fare is always particularly welcome, whether homegrown or boughten.  Dishes containing meat are fine, though if it isn't really obvious please make a note of it.  

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, 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.
-salon |səˈlän; saˈlô n |:  (historical) a regular social gathering of eminent people (esp. writers and artists) at the house of a woman prominent in high society;  a meeting of intellectuals or other eminent people at the invitation of a celebrity or socialite.
Regular, that's the plan.  Eminent and intellectual people, to be sure -- that's yinz.  House, check.  Woman, c'est moi.  High society, celebrity, socialite?  Not so much.  Salons occurred in 17th-century France, purportedly powering the Enlightenment, and were more recently repopularized by the Utne Reader.  I've long contemplated hosting an ongoing series of conversational salons in this tradition: informal gatherings around the notion of sustainability.  Some will have a featured guest to lead a discussion on a particular topic, others will be open to whatever comes up. 

May 19: Peaceful Gathering of Hands (Anniversary!)

Peaceful Gathering of Hands ~ 1 Year Anniversary Peaceful Gathering of Hands ~ 1 Year Anniversary

Sat. May 19th - Schenley Oval Meadow (By Ice Rink) 1-6pm

A free event to unify diverse groups and individuals from the entire city

Please bring food, instruments, and your peaceful puzzle piece (whatever else you want to share). 

If you are driving, we recommend entering from the Blvd. of the Allies.  

Please share any questions or ideas here or email

****Please bring cameras and video to share this event with the whole globe****

Please invite your friends to the Facebook Event by clicking (Invite Friends) - Facebook Event Page

May 18: Farm to Table Lunch & Learn

Farm to Table Logo

American Healthcare's monthly Farm to Table Lunch & Learns feature Erin Hart's Eating Local presentation that highlights retailers, restaurants and resources that utilize local farm products.  Alice Julier, PhD, from Chatham University's Food Studies program will join us.
11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Pittsburgh Public Market ;  free.  Click here to Register .

May 18: Women of the Great Migration

Women of the Great Migration - A Listening Experience - Come listen to a multimedia, oral history, audio documentary. Listen to the personal stories of women who migrated to Pittsburgh from the South between 1910 and 1970. 
Produced by Erika Beras;  this presentation is part of First Voice: Pittsburgh's International Black Arts Festival 

7 p.m. at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture (980 Liberty AvenuePittsburgh, PA 15222-3736).

May 18: Green Drinks at the Harp & Fiddle with the Irish greenies

Pittsburgh Green Drinks
This month's host is Jim Lamb, President of the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh and Honorary Consul of Ireland

Come meet the 2011-12 class of Carbon Zero Northern Ireland students and find out what they have discovered in Pittsburgh and what they plan on taking back home!  Sustainability will travel from the 'burgh back to Ireland!

Carbon Zero
Carbon Zero Northern Ireland
In 2009, the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh established a training program for Northern Ireland graduate and student engineers pursuing careers in sustainable technology. Having identified Pittsburgh's strengths in a variety of "green" sector industries, including green building, water treatment, brown field remediation, and alternative energy, the Institute proposed an on-the-job training program.  The 2011-2012 class of the Carbon Zero Northern Ireland program continues on their one-year program, and have been placed with Pittsburgh area companies developing or deploying sustainable technologies.
The Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh

The Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh was founded in 1989 to address problems stemming from the sectarian (Catholic/Protestant) conflict in Northern Ireland, and unemployment across the island of Ireland. The Institute began managing Pittsburgh-based cross community, cross-border training programs for Ireland's unemployed young men and women. These eight-week programs provided job skills, personal and professional development, cultural exchange, and conflict resolution training, empowering young people to return to Ireland to pursue careers, develop their communities, and contribute to the ongoing peace process.

Attuned to these trends, the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh developed various economic and professional development programs, continuing to impact positively the progress for peace and empowerment in Ireland, North and South. Programs include, but are not limited to professional on-the-job training, student work visas; two-way business, trade, and investment opportunities; cultural exchange; academic partnership; travel and tourism; community development; genealogy; and transatlantic cooperation.

5-9 p.m. at Mullaney's Harp & Fiddle, 2329 Penn Ave.  Pittsburgh, PA 15222  
Green Drinks 2012 Calendar 

 May 18th Harp & Fiddle 
June 15th  
July 20th Elements 
August 17th  
September 21st 
October 19th Elements 
November 16th 
December 21st 

What is Green Drinks? Every month, people who work in the environmental field or have an interest in a greener planet meet up for drinks all around the world at informal sessions known as Green Drinks. We have a lively mixture of people from NGO's, academia, government and business. Come along and you'll be made welcome. Just say,"are you Green?' and we will look after you and introduce you to whoever is there. It's a great way of catching up with people you know and also for making some new contacts. Everyone invites someone else along, so there is always a different crowd, making Green Drinks an organic, self-organizing network.

These events are simple and unstructured.  Make friends, develop new ideas, do deals and forge a new organic future. It's a force for the good and we' like to help it spreading to other cities.  Green Drinks meets on the third Friday of the month.  Put it on your calendar and count on it: Green Drinks is happening every month.

Email us at with questions, comments. 

May 16-18: NRC Sustainability Solutions webcast

A National Academies Symposium Webcast: Partnerships, Science, and Innovation for Sustainability Solutions 

The National Research Council’s Science and Technology for Sustainability Program (STS) will organize a two and a half day public symposium, Science, Innovation, and Partnerships for Sustainability Solutions at the Pew DC Conference Center in Washington, DC on May 16-18, 2012. During the symposium, experts will examine the National Science Foundation’s and other Federal agencies’ investments in research related to sustainability, including the most significant outcomes of these investments. In addition, participants will identify opportunities and key priorities to enhance the link between science and decision making and to help encourage practices that would promote sustainability; and to foster partnerships and linkages between disciplines, sectors and agencies. The symposium will include participants from federal, state and local government, the private sector, academia, nongovernmental organizations, and international bodies involved in sustainability issues. A brief summary of the event will be issued and widely disseminated to the public. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012 9:00 am – 12:00 pm; 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm 
Thursday, May 17, 2012 9:00 am – 12:15 pm; 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm 
Friday, May 18, 2012 9:00 am – 12:00 pm This webcast is free and open to the public. 
Please register to attend the webcast by completing this form For more information about this symposium, please visit here.  This symposium is supported by the National Science Foundation.   For more information, please contact the STS program at 

May 15: Rally for students

Act NOW before Pittsburgh students lose great teachers!
Because our students can’t afford to lose even one great teacher.
When it comes to school improvement, research confirms what common sense suggests: of all the factors controlled by schools, it is the quality of classroom teaching that matters most.  In fact, Pittsburgh Public Schools’ (PPS) focus on effective teaching is making a difference, and we are seeing real change and improvement.
HOWEVER, PPS is about to lay off 400 teachers based only on seniority, without considering quality or effectiveness.  While we regret that these painful layoffs must happen, we believe PPS and the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers (PFT) are in a position to make smarter decisions about who stays and who goes — decisions that better serve students and teachers alike.   We’ve come too far to let an outdated way of making these important decisions threaten the progress we’ve made. 
Our students — and the teachers who are at the heart of these improvements — can’t afford policies that fail to put the needs of students first."

6:30 p.m. at Schenley Plaza in Oakland.  For more information, check out the A+ Schools web site

May 14-16: A long walk for mountains

Help Get PNC out of the Business of Mountain Top Removal

A 200-mile walk protesting PNC’s funding of mountaintop removal ends May 16 in Pittsburgh.

To help get PNC bank out of the business of mountaintop removal coal mining, the Earth Quaker Action Team [see] has organized a sixteen day, 200 mile walk from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, finishing at the PNC headquarters May 16.  

Here are the opportunities to join the march and events:

Monday,  May 14,  9:30 am – Walk Greensburg to Murrysville, starting at the PNC office in Greensburg

Tuesday, May 15, 10 am – Walk Monroeville to the Pittsburgh Friends Meeting House on Ellsworth in Shadyside,

Tuesday, May 15, 7 pm – Event at the Pittsburgh Friends Meeting House on Ellsworth Ave, Shadyside

Wednesday, May 16, 11 am -  Rally at PNC head office in downtown Pittsburgh.  

You can find out more here and sign up online .

May 12: Mushrooms in Permaculture workshop

Mushrooms in Permaculture Systems, with Steve Gabriel, Work with Nature, LLC
This class focuses on a discussion of the role mushrooms play in permaculture systems and how functional interconnection of mushrooms can support healthy gardens, farms, and forests. Includes an inoculated mushroom log.

10 am – 4 pm at Three Sisters Farm in Sandy Lake;  $75.  For more information about courses, workshops, or summer internships, visit our website at, or contact us at or (724) 376-2797

May 12: Tree climbing competition

Join TreePittsburgh at the Penn-Del ISA Western 
Tree Climbing Competition!
tree climbing competition
Saturday May 12th, 8am-4pm
Arsenal Park, 40th Street, Pittsburgh 
Watch as professional Tree Climbers take to the limbs to compete for a chance at the State and National titles!

Free Kids' Climb!
 Do you have what it takes to be a professional tree climber?  Learn and test your skills on the Kids' Climb (adults are welcome too).

May 11-12: Silent Spring at 50

Rachel Carson, 1944. Photo Credit: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services
Perspectives on Silent Spring at 50

Brought to you by

Rachel Carson Institute at Chatham UniversityNational Aviary
Chatham University
2012 marks the 50th anniversary of publication of Rachel Carson's seminal book, Silent Spring, considered the most significant influence on the launching of the modern environmental awareness and action movement. In celebration of this anniversary, year The Rachel Carson Institute at Chatham University and the National Aviary are hosting the Perspectives on Silent Spring at 50 Symposium on May 11 and 12.
Conference attendees will also be able to experience WINGS!, the first show to be presented in the National Aviary's new Helen M. Schmidt FlitezoneTM Theater. In the theater's intimate space, live American Bald Eagle flights are paired with music, video, lighting, and stage design – adding drama and context to these remarkable birds and the threats they face in the wild.This two-day event will celebrate and discuss the impact of Silent Spring on environmental writing, the conservation of wildlife, and the future of conservation and preservation of biodiversity. Attendees will hear from some of the country's most respected environmental writing and environmental science experts including Carson biographer, Linda Lear, Ph.D.; Heinz Award Recipients, Louis J. Guillette, Ph.D, and Terry Collins Ph.D.; Carson's grand-nephew and adopted son, Roger Christie, and many more.
For additional details, program, and online registration please click here.