Jan 31: Mother Earth News Fair discounts end

Tickets for the Mother Earth News Fair are deeply discounted through January 31st -- the whole weekend is only $15 now, and will be $35 at the gate.  The Fair is in September, but plan ahead to get a really great deal!

Jan 26: Summit Against Racism

The 15th Annual Summit Against Racism will educate and inspire attendees to build bridges.

The Black and White Reunion (BWR), an organization working to end racism, racial profiling, and police brutality, will host its 15th Summit Against Racism from 9 a.m. (registration at 8) to 3 p.m. on Saturday, January 26, 2013 at East Liberty Presbyterian Church, 116 S. Highland Avenue 15206. 

Held annually on the Saturday after Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the event has been recognized as a day when everyone—from students to seasoned activists—can come together to start the new year by making or renewing and revitalizing commitments to ending racism in Pittsburgh.

The $25 all-day admission includes continental breakfast, lunch, speakers, films, a commemorative program book, one-year membership in the Black and White Reunion, and several workshops from which to choose.   A reduced admission fee of $10 per person is available for students, groups of five or more, and low-income attendees. Some scholarships are available for those who cannot pay, and organizers say no one will be turned away.

Workshop topics for the 2013 Summit will include Voting Rights, Racism in the Workplace, Unlearning White Supremacy, Injustices in the Criminal Justice System, and more.  Members of BWR who are involved in police accountability issues anticipate reporting at the Summit on results of a Right To Know request for public disclosure of the police union agreement with the City of Pittsburgh, and also about police and community members’ testimony at a public hearing held December 12 by the Citizen Police Review Board on the police “99 Units,” the crews of non-uniformed officers in unmarked cars patrolling city neighborhoods. It was one such unit that was involved in the case of Jordan Miles, who was chased and beaten by police in 2010, and whose case is still unresolved.

The roster of prospective workshop sponsoring organizations includes Election Protection, WWHAT’S UP! (Whites Working and Hoping to Abolish Total Supremacy Undermining Privilege), and the Alliance for Police Accountability, among others. 

Films being considered for screening at the Summit include two documentaries: “What Does Trouble Look Like?  Nate Smith’s Revolution,” and “Enough IS ENOUGH:  The Death of Jonny Gammage.” 

Nate Smith single handedly forced Pittsburgh’s trade unions to hire Black workers on construction sites during the city’s Renaissance of the 1970s. Jonny Gammage was a Black businessman and philanthropist who died at the hands of white police from positional asphyxiation during a “routine” traffic stop in a Pittsburgh suburb in 1995. It was this incident, and the “not guilty” verdicts in court cases against the police, that inspired the founding of the Black and White Reunion and BWR’s development of the Summit Against Racism and the Jonny Gammage Memorial Scholarships.

A portion of the proceeds from the Summit supports the Jonny Gammage Scholarships, which are presented by BWR, NAACP Pittsburgh, and the Negro Educational Emergency Drive (NEED) to support Black law students with an interest in studying civil rights and social justice issues at the University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne University.  The scholarships are awarded to the winners of an essay contest that challenges them to answer a relevant question. 

This year’s question, written by 2012 scholarship winner Chris Carter, asks applicants to choose from among several cases of individuals killed by law enforcement personnel and to write documents that the victim’s survivors could use as the basis for a legal case against the killers.  The cases are selected from the book Stolen Lives, a compilation of hundreds of such cases, beginning with 500 from 1990 to 1997 in just the first edition.  Scholarship applications will be available at the Summit or by contacting BWR atblackandwhite_reunion@yahoo.com or 412-322-9275.

New at this year’s Summit will be the availability of childcare.Please register online

BWR urges everyone to pre-register online at so that they can make sure to have room and food for all.   

Jan 18-28: Squirrel Hill Library Sale

The Friends of the Squirrel Hill Library are hosting a massive clearance sale of their used book inventory.  EVERYTHING MUST GO!

Friday, January 18th through Monday, January 28th!

We are renovating the Friends Room and the new Friends shop, and we
need the space to let the workmen in.

Come see our great bargains -- Fiction!  Non-Fiction!  AV!  Everything!

Hardcovers $1
Paperbacks $0.50
Special Collection is Half Price!

Come on down for some great bargains.

The Squirrel Hill library is located at the corner of Forbes and Murray (over a public parking lot), and can be accessed either from Forbes Avenue or from Marlborough Road.  The used book sale (which is always ongoing at this branch, but will have more books and lower prices during this time) is over on the Marlborough side.  

Jan 15: Cincinnati's green infrastructure

Beyond Tunnel Vision
Good Jobs & Green Communities Speaker Series

Join the Clean Rivers Campaign as we welcome Sharon A. Jean-Baptiste, P.E.Project Manager with the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati (MSDGC) in the Office of the Director’s Environmental Programs. Sharon will kick off our speaker series in 2013 with her presentation, Lessons from Cincinnati: Working Together for Green Infrastructure.

Sharon has thirteen years of experience delivering water resources management projects and developing utility management solutions for water and wastewater industry clients. Since June 2010, she has worked to develop large scale integrated sustainable solutions for MSDGC that link wet weather goals with environmental, economic, and social benefits.

Reception at 5:30 p.m., presentation at 6:30 at the Kingsley Association (6435 Frankstown Avenue, 15206).  Please RSVP online at www.cleanriverscampaign.org .

Jan 12: Home Energy Efficiency & Power Choice

Home Energy Efficiency and Power Choice Seminar -- Construction Junction welcomes local energy experts to talk about energy use and the options available to consumers.
Energy Efficiency in Buildings:
Occupant behavior and maintenance habits can affect utility consumption, comfort, and safety.
Jonathan Nadle, Senior Energy Auditor, Conservation Consultants, Inc., a Pittsburgh nonprofit promoting responsible energy use in homes and other buildings. 
Mr. Nadle, a RESNET/BPI certified home energy auditor, will be discussing residential buildings and showing many examples of what not to do and what to do to increase your home's comfort, safety, durability, and efficiency.

The Pennsylvania Power Choice Process, Making The Green Choice In Electricity
Greg Winks, Market Outreach Coordinator, Community Energy, Inc., a renewable energy supplier in Pennsylvania.
Mr. Winks will be talking about the choice that every consumer has in selecting their energy generation company for their electric service.  He will review the process involved in selecting a supplier, the different choices a consumer has and how to evaluate them, and understanding the benefits of renewable energy, including energy security, clean air and green job creation.
11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Construction Junction in Point Breeze (Lexington at Meade St.).

Jan 12: Sustainability Salon & Sing: YERT!

Get ready to roll!  On Saturday January 12th, we'll ride 'round the country with YERT: Your Environmental Road Trip.  Pittsburgh's own Mark Dixon -- environmentalist, filmmaker, and all-around fun guy -- will be here to share this amazing award-winning, ground-covering docu-comedy at the 12th Sustainability Salon.  And the weather is cooperating (no ice on the streets), too.  So here's a reminder, as well as confirming our featured film and speaker!  Thanks to all those who have RSVP'd already, and if you think you might come but haven't emailed, it would be great if you can send word.

Hey -- along with being the 12th in our Sustainability Salon series, I just discovered in the Blogspot statistics that this event is the 800th MarensList posting.  Information, bringing people together...

Called to action by a planet in peril, Mark and a couple of friends spend a year roving across all fifty states in search of solutions to environmental worries.  They explore the good, the bad, and the weird and find many of the extraordinary innovators and courageous citizens who are tackling humanity's greatest environmental crises. As the YERT team layers outlandish eco-challenges onto their year-long quest, an unexpected turn of events throws the project for a loop in this award-winning docu-comedy. Featuring Bill McKibben, Wes Jackson, Will Allen, Janine Benyus, Joel Salatin, David Orr, and music by Ben Sollee, Mark Geary and more.

The film is enlightening and engaging, goofy and hopeful, thought-provoking and occasionally serious.  It'll be even more fun when we watch it together and have the opportunity to talk about the discoveries Mark, Julie, and Ben made along the way as they traveled the nation in a hybrid car (along with all the trash they generated along the way…  hint: don't buy takeout!).

So that we have plenty of time for discussion, Mark will be bringing a special one-hour cut of the film;  the full 113-minute version will also be available on DVD.  

3-10 p.m. at Maren's house in Squirrel Hill.  (Please don't arrive before 3pm; we plan on introducing Mark and his marvelous movie beginning around 4pm.)  Please email me to RSVP (important for yesses and maybes, please do so each time -- it helps greatly in several ways.  Among other things, attendance varies from 25 to 75, and it helps to have a handle on numbers in advance;  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/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 on MarensList (where you can find information on all sorts of environmental and social justice events), for updates.  

Note that I'll be sending out directions and such, and any late-breaking info, to all the RSVP'd folks on Saturday morning;  there are lots of email addresses to transcribe and it's been a really long day/week!  One of these days I'll streamline this process a bit (assistance would be welcome), but for now it takes a while to to dot all my i's and cross all my t's.  Speaking of which, the photo of Julie, Mark, and Ben is by Gregg Dixon (others are by yours truly).


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. 

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.  

Various dates in Jan, Feb, & Mar: A Garden Primer

Don't know the first thing about vegetable gardening? Never even picked up a spade? Fear not - A Garden Primer will cover all the basics, including which tools beginner gardeners will need, what and where to plant, and when to harvest. In addition, those taking part in the course will be given step-by-step instruction on everything from starting a compost to properly transplanting seedlings. Whether working with a spacious backyard or an apartment balcony, participants will receive specialized advice and guidance to get their vegetable gardens going whatever the space.

Classes will run from 7 to 9 p.m. in the McKelvy Room of the East Liberty Presbyterian Church. Snacks will be provided by Panera.  Cost is $50 for Grow Pittsburgh members, $60 for the general public (
Please select the month you wish to participate in carefully as we are not able to accommodate transfers to different classes or refunds due to complicated logistics).  The three-part course will be offered three times early in the year:
Thursdays:  January 10, 17, and 24
Tuesdays:  February 12, 19, and 26
 Mondays:  March 11, 28, and 25

For more information and to register online, visit http://www.growpittsburgh.org/garden-primer-2013/ 

Jan 10: Living buildings in Seattle & Pittsburgh

iss logo
The Green Building Alliance's INSPIRE speaker series brings a whole raft of green building luminaries in January.  

5:30-8:30 p.m. at Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens.  For more information and to register online, go here.  Cost:  GBA or partner organization member: $25;  non-member $45.  For group rates and scholarship information, please contact Jenna Cramer.  

Chris HellstromChris Hellstern | M. Arch. | NCARB | LEED® AP BD+C | CDTholds a Masters of Architecture degree from Texas Tech University. His thesis work focused on designing a sustainable elementary school in Seattle that allowed both students and faculty to experience the building’s many environmental features through education and practice.
An Associate with KMD Architects in Seattle, Chris has been with KMD over six years working on a variety of building types and LEED projects. Those projects include hospitals, justice, offices and master planning. His most recent project involved the design and construction administration of a pro-bono Seattle project for the Bertschi School that is aimed to achieve The Living Building Challenge v2.0.
Chris serves as a Cascadia Green Building Council Branch member and a Living Building Ambassador for the International Living Future Institute. He also co-founded the Restorative Design Collective and KMD’s Sustainability Committee working to increase the company’s commitment to the environment through their work and practice. He founded the Seattle 2030 Roundtable, which works with local architects to achieve the 2030 Challenge, and was appointed as the first Regional Chair of Washington and Alaska for USGBC Students. Chris has been a speaker at numerous environmental conferences and also volunteers with local school groups, mentoring high school students about sustainable practices.
Before his career in architecture, he spent many years in Alaska serving as a Certified Level III Alaska Naturalist leading outback kayak trips.
Stacy SmedleyStacy Smedley, Executive Director+Chief Enrichment Officer
Membership Chair – Cascadia Green Building Council Seattle Branch, National Emerging Professionals Recruitment Chair –United States Green Building Council, Member – University of Washington Department of Architecture Professional Advisory Council, Mentor – various elementary and high school sustainability programs, LEED BD+C

Stacy has a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from the University of Washington, and 10 years in the architecture profession. Her resume includes the first LEED for Homes Platinum certified project in Washington State as well as the first project built to Living Building Version 2.0 standards, an elementary school science building in Seattle. As an Associate at KMD Architects, Stacy helped found the firms internal Sustainability Steering Committee and continues to affect change within the firm, to increase their commitment to sustainable practices on all of their projects and initiatives. Her inspiration stems from watching her rural childhood family plot of land be encroached upon and eventually turned into a suburban subdivision of asphalt cul-de-sacs and poorly constructed cookie-cutter homes. She told her mom when she was 8 years old that one day she would design buildings that didn’t cut down trees, and that is what she continues to work for today.
mark BuehrerMark Buehrer
Mark is the founder and director of 2020 ENGINEERING located in Bellingham, Washington. He is a registered professional civil engineer, author, and inventor with broad experience in engineering design, construction and project management. Since 1995, 2020 ENGINEERING has been dedicated to providing simple and innovative solutions for the long-term economic and environmental sustainability of local, national and international communities.
Mark conceived and developed the concept of Wholistic Engineering, which provides an integrated "problem solving" approach that considers all issues and possible conditions related to the development of a project, such as: laws & regulations, social concerns, politics, special interests, economic & environmental issues, technology, and resources. 2020’s sustainable and low impact designs include porous pavements and raingardens, rainwater harvesting systems, ecologically based wastewater treatment & water reuse systems, and material recycling and composting facilities.
Mark has provided Master Planning, Engineering Design and/or Construction Management assistance on dozens of LEED, LID and other sustainable type projects in many parts of the U.S.A. He has also been actively involved in 2008 with providing review and comments to codes and standards for sustainable building practices. This has included a white paper by Cascadia Region Green Building Council titled, "Code Barriers to the Living Building Challenge"; Rainwater Harvesting and Water Reuse draft codes for the Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC) and the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO), and the co-authored document "Rainwater Catchment Design and Installation Standards" by the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA) and the American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE).
Mark has served on the Cascadia Region Green Building Council as a technical development member on the "Site Team" and "Water Team" for the development of The Living Building User's Guide, the continued development of The Living Building Challenge standard and as an instructor of the Living Building Leader certification sessions. Mark is a frequent speaker at various sustainable and LID conference and workshops including, most recently, the 2008 Living Future Unconference in Vancouver, BC and the 2008 American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA) conference held in Santa Monica, CA. Mark is a registered professional civil engineer in Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Hawaii and other states. He has over 26 years of Civil Engineering experience.
Richard PiacentiniRichard V. Piacentini Richard V. Piacentini, executive director of Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens since 1994, is responsible for the construction of the first LEED® certified visitor center in a public garden, the most energy-efficient conservatory in the world, the first-ever LEED production greenhouses, and the Center for Sustainable Landscapes, a net-zero energy and water structure designed to meet the Living Building Challenge. Piacentini believes that beautiful gardens can be environmentally friendly, and, with that in mind, Phipps has transformed its operations, displays, flower shows and education programs to reduce waste, save energy and inspire the public with sustainable horticulture and landscaping. Piacentini holds a M.S. in botany from the University of Connecticut, a M.B.A. from Virginia Commonwealth University, and a B.S. in pharmacy from the University of Rhode Island. He is past president and treasurer of the American Public Gardens Association and a recipient of its Professional and Service Awards. Other accolades include a Living Building Challenge Hero Award, USGBC Individual Leadership Award, American Horticultural Society Award, and ASID and Green Building Alliance Leadership Awards.
About the Bertschi School (an elementary school in Seattle): Inspired by the Living Building Challenge and opportunities to apply it to an educational setting, design professionals formed the Restorative Design Collective in order to provide the design and pre-construction services pro brono for the Bertschi School’s Living Science Classroom. The process was non-traditional and highly collaborative in order to design and build a school that not only achieved net-zero energy and water usage, but also serves as an engaging teaching tool for the students. The students contributed to the design process, and brainstormed some of the building’s most unique features. One of these includes a river that runs through a channel in the concrete floor, showing the building’s rainwater harvesting system. The living classroom enhances the school’s sustainability initiatives, programs, and education. Three of the project team members, Stacy Smedley, Chris Hellstern, and Mark Buehrer, will present about this unique and inspiring project. Learn more.
About the CSL: Designed and built by citizens of Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania, the Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL)—a dynamic new education, research and administrative facility opening soon at Phipps public garden —has emerged as one of the greenest buildings on Earth. In aiming to meet or exceed the highest standards for sustainable buildings and sites—including, the Living Building Challenge, LEED® Platinum and SITES™—it will generate all of its own energy with state-of-the art technologies such as solar photovoltaics, geothermal wells and a vertical axis wind turbine; treat and reuse all water captured on site; and feature a restorative landscape with many beautiful varieties of native plants. Richard Piacentini, Phipps executive director, will share the CSL story. Discover more at phippsCSL.org.

Jan 7: Sustainable Monroeville on Marcellus

The monthly meeting of Sustainable Monroeville will include a gift circle, a discussion of the newly-released movie Promised Land, and a visit from Wanda Guthrie of the Murrysville Marcellus Community Group. 

7 p.m. at the Monroeville Public Library, free and open to the public.

Jan 7: Fight Back Pittsburgh! inaugural meeting

Inaugural Meeting of Fight Back PittsburghFight Back Pittsburgh! is the Associate Member program of United Steelworkers Local 3657.
Working class people in Pittsburgh are under attack! We’re facing high unemployment, low wages and poor working conditions, and cuts to essential public services like transit and education. Meanwhile a handful of big companies are getting rich by driving down wages for workers and not paying their fair share of taxes.

Decades ago the Steelworkers fought to win good, family sustaining jobs in Pittsburgh and to create social services to give us all a fair shot at success. We created a decent standard of living for working class people in Pittsburgh once, and together we can do it again.

Fight Back Pittsburgh! is the community union of United Steelworkers Local 3657. We’re not just fighting for good jobs for Steelworkers; we’re fighting for a better community for all of us. But we need you to join us.

You don’t have to work in a steel mill to join Fight Back Pittsburgh. You just need to believe that we need an economy that works for all of us and that together we can stand up and fight back to win a fair deal for working people in our community.

Fight Back Pittsburgh is part of the United Steelworkers Associate Member Program and we work a lot like a local union. We’re a grassroots, democratic organization that works together to fight in our neighborhoods, in our local government, and in our workplaces for change and to improve our lives. We meet monthly, we’re funded by small dues contributions paid by our members, and we take action based on the ideas and proposals of rank-and-file members like you.

6:30 at United Steelworkers Headquarters, 5 Gateway Center, 15222 (downtown).  You can see the agenda and RSVP via Facebook, If you can't make it in person, the meeting will be live-streamed online here.

Jan 4-5: Community Rights Workshop

Not to be missed by those who are committed to community empowerment for a sustainable future!  

6-9 p.m. on Friday, Jan 4 and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Jan 5 at the Friends Meeting House (4836 Ellsworth Avenue in Oakland)  Cost per person is $50 (but no one will be turned away for inability to pay).  Space is limited to 35 maximum;  sign up early, and please share this with people you know who would find this really useful.  Registration information:  http://environmentaljusticetmc.blogspot.com

Wondering why corporations have more power than those of us living in our community?  Wondering why Harrisburg licenses and permits corporations to harm our community?  Wondering why Harrisburg routinely prevents us from making decisions that are in the best interests of our community?

The Pennsylvania Community Rights Workshop takes an in-depth look at how Pennsylvania's political and legal structures have been set up to protect the interests of an elite minority, at the expense of the majority of Pennsylvanians.  We'll look at how Pennsylvania's constitution has continually evolved since the American Revolution to protect wealth and privilege over community self-government.  We'll look at how corporations in Pennsylvania have received more rights and protections than those of us living in our community, and we'll look at how Pennsylvanians have pushed back against these oppressive structures to reclaim democracy in their communities.

Finally, we'll consider what it would take to create a Pennsylvania constitution that protects the rights of people, communities, and nature by securing our inalienable right to local self-government, free from corporate and state interference.