Dec 15: Nelson Mandela tribute

Celebrate the life and work of Nelson Mandela with a keynote by Trans Africa chair, actor, and activist Danny Glover.  Elie Kihonia will lead everyone into the theatre with his drummers and dancers.

2-5 p.m. at the Mt. Ararat Baptist Church, 271 Paulson Ave. in Lincoln-Larimer.  Organized by Sala Udin-Howze, Trans Africa, the United Steelworkers,and the A. Philip Randolph Institute.  For more information, call or email Sala Udin (412-600-6090,

Dec 14-15: Holiday Open House

A new Pittsburgh source for toys, silks, and eco-goods:  Our Children Our Earth!  

Unique products for you, your children and your home!  Come to the Holiday Open House for a relaxed place to shop where you can experience many cool products you thought only available online; where friends, cookies, and the perfect gift (perfectly kind to Mother Earth) can all be found!

Eco-goods (reusable, nontoxic versions of many things you use every day), wooden toys, play silks, baby toys, puppets, cooperative games, kids’ jewelry, play food, dolls, architectural building blocks, castles, scarves, puzzles, fairies, wooden modeling beeswax, & more.

Holiday Open House hours:  Sat. Dec. 14, 10:00-5:00 and Sun. Dec 15, 1:00-5:00
at 125 Woodshire Dr., Pittsburgh (412) 772-1638

Additional hours available by appointment
Check Facebook for additional open house hours

Dec 14: Sustainability Salon on Community Mapping

What can we learn about our community through geography?  What stories can maps tell?  What connections emerge?  The 23rd Putting Down Roots Sustainability Salon & Sing will focus on several different community mapping projects.

Pittsburgh is part of a multi-city collaborative called the Climate & Urban Systems Partnership.  One of the components of this initiative, pioneered at the New York City hub, is a regional map showing climate change indicators.  As Pittsburgh is sharing its interactive educational activity kits with the other cities, we are also implementing New York's model mapping project here.  Project leader (and Carnegie Museum of Natural History's director of learning research) Mary Ann Steiner and the Pittsburgh CUSP team will talk about the project as a whole, discuss how the map can reveal Pittsburgh's stories, and lead a design charrette to figure out what local examples of climate impacts, adaptations, and mitigation programs we can display in the Pittsburgh version.

Another local mapping project is being spearheaded by the New Economy Working Group of the Thomas Merton Center for Peace & Social Justice.  It will highlight local businesses, activists, and resources supporting a diverse, sustainable, cooperative, and democratic economic system for our region.  Mark Dixon is leading this effort, and will bring us up to date on the progress so far as well as the philosophy behind this kind of New Economy.

We'll also hear from Alexis Rzewski, who recently completed detailed trail (and stairway) maps of Frick Park and the South Side Slopes.  And we'll have an update from Sam Thomas on GASP's Bike Air Monitor program, showing crowd-pedaled pollution maps of our region.

3-10 p.m. at Maren's house in Squirrel Hill.  Please don't arrive before 3pm;  we usually introduce speakers beginning around 4pm after folks have had a chance to meet, mingle, and tour around an interesting and productive urban permaculture site.   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 widely, and it helps to have a handle on numbers in advance (we may need to begin limiting attendance);  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 on Friday or Saturday.  Be sure to include salon in the Subject line, as I receive a ridiculous amount of email every day.  Bring food and/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.  If you'd like to start making your own kombucha, please bring a pint jar along.  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.

Note that 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.  One of these days I'll streamline this process a bit (assistance would be welcome -- thanks to Beth for all her help so far with the transition to EventBrite), but for now it takes a while to to dot all my i's and cross all my t's.  
For the uninitiated, a Sustainability Salon is an educational forum, a venue for discussion and debate about important environmental issues, a house party with an environmental theme.  We usually have featured speakers on a particular topic, interspersed with stimulating conversation, lively debate, delectable potluck food and drink, and music-making through the evening.
Past topics have included environmental journalismgrassroots actioncommunity solar powerMarcellus shale development and community rightsgreen buildingair qualityhealth care, solar powertrees & park stewardshipalternative energy & climate policy, regional watershed issues, fantastic film screenings & discussions (led by the filmmakers) over the winter with both YERT and Gas Rush Stories, and foodfood, and more food.

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:  wine, beer, hard or sweet cider (the latter we can mull if you like), juice, tea, whatever (I've got the kombucha covered, though it's always fun to compare).  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 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. 

Dec 12: UnLOCKing Doors fundraiser at the Mattress Factory

Join the Door Campaign as they launch their first fundraising event, unLOCKing Doors. This is an effort to engage community residents, leaders, workers and stakeholders with building an innovative aquaponic green house on the Northside. Help unlock the community, while trimming Quincy Kovi Swatson's locks.

5:30-8 at the Mattress Factory (500 Sampsonia Way on the Northside, 15212).
More information and registration at

Dec 12: Inspire Lecture with Bill Strickland and Jim Hartzfeld

Baby, it's cold outside - but it's warm and cozy among the flowers and lights at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.  Join Green Building Alliance for an evening of celebration, inspiration, food, and great friends.  Here's the latest outing in the Inspire Speakers Series:

A unique chance to hear from two champions of sustainable communities and businesses: Bill Strickland and Jim Hartzfeld!

Bill Strickland:  MacArthur Genius Fellow, community leader, visionary, social architect, author, and more.  You have a special opportunity to hear Bill tell an authentic Pittsburgh story of self-empowerment and transformation that has grown from his powerful and broad vision of arts, youth, and unlikely partnerships into a model that is being replicated throughout the United States via the National Center for the Arts and Technology.
Jim Hartzfeld:  Two-term chairman of the U.S. Green Building Council, sustainable manufacturing pioneer, consultant to 40 Fortune 100 companies, and advisor to the President’s Council on Sustainable Development.  Hear Jim's experiences from his days with the legendary Ray Anderson and how he works to to develop sustainable enterprise through innovation, policy, and business development.

5-8 p.m. at Phipps Conservatory.  Register here.

Dec 12: Gas Rush Stories

Third monthly Gas Rush Stories Screening and Community Conversation at Point Breezeway, 8113 Reynolds Street! The screening lasts about 50 minutes, followed by free community conversation. Wine and popcorn provided.

Kirsi is fundraising for GRS Roundtable, a 53 min documentary based on the series, so there's a suggested donation of $5-15.  No one turned away for lack of funds, though.

WELCOME ALL TO THIS NEIGHBORLY EVENT! Even if you cannot come tonight, come next time and bring a friend with you!  Next GRS Nights at Point Breezeway will be on Thu Jan 9th and Thu Feb 13.

Dec 12: Film screening and Co-op discussion

Please come out for an initial discussion about the trajectory of the co-op, the role of coop members, and how we can hold the co-op accountable to our collective visions and values. (Discussion facilitated by Zoe Mizuho, EEFC member, member of the Big Idea Bookstore cooperative, and cofounder of CooperatePittsburgh).

The conversation will take place after the screening of "Food for Change" a documentary about food co-ops and their unique place in American's economic and political landscape.

6:30 PM in the Gemini Theater, adjacent to the co-op.  This event is free, but if possible, call 412-242-3598 to reserve a spot.

Dec 12: Drones in Pakistan

Talha Rehmani is a Pakistani Fulbright Scholar at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute. He will be speaking not only on the impact of drone strikes in his country but also on the ethics of drones use in general.

7 p.m. at the Friends Meeting House, 4836 Ellsworth Ave, Oakland.  Sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee, PA ; Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Thomas Merton Center, Anti-Drone-Warfare Coalition, Code Pink, and Veterans for Peace.  For more information contact Scilla Wahrhaftig at (412) 315 7423 or .

Dec 10: International Human Rights Day Rally

In 2011 Pittsburgh City Council issued a proclamation declaring Pittsburgh the 5th Human Rights 
City in the United States.  It is time for our city to live up to its pledge to protect our citizen’s rights. On December 10th we will highlight the various human rights concerns we want our new mayor to address: 

• Homelessness and poverty 
• Protection for immigrants 
• Education and city schools 
• Worker rights 
• Safe & healthy environment 
• Public transportation 
• Violence, sexism and racism 

For too long, human rights have been treated as a by-product of pro-growth policies.  Policymakers have prioritized the voices of businesses, assuming that when they succeed human rights will automatically improve.  We see all around us that this is not the case.  If we truly value human rights, we need policies that make achieving these rights top priority.

We encourage groups around the city to work to raise awareness of human rights on December 10 when the world recognizes the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Then, join other human rights defenders across the region to mobilize sustained pressure on public officials to make Pittsburgh a “Human Rights City.”  Watch this site for more information on opportunities to help draft the new Human Rights Agenda for Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh will inaugurate a new mayor in early 2014.  Organizers and activists in Pittsburgh are discussing how to bring diverse groups together to advance a human rights agenda for our city. We invite your group to recognize International Human Rights Day on Tuesday, December 10, 2013.Together we will demand that the newly elected mayor Peduto make good on the promises he and others on the City Council made in 2011 to make Pittsburgh a Human Rights City. 

4:30 PM at the City-County Building (414 Grant St., downtown).  For more information contact Scilla Wahrhaftig 412 315 7423

Dec 10: Sustainability EXPOsed

Rediscovering sustainability -- ideas and innovations that are making businesses, governance, and community better for our region.  Get ready for a whirlwind of ideas that will change the way you think about our region and the world – and sustainability itself. With 650 attendees, EXPOsed features 11 remarkable speakers in an exciting format to surprise, motivate, and lead to action. Roll-up your sleeves and get to work during the event through salon-style discussion, interaction with exhibitors, and a facilitated session by the Allegheny Conference on Community Development to collect your recommendations as it develops its next three-year agenda, setting the stage for 2020 and beyond. 

Help our region. Help your organization. Help yourself. Rediscover sustainability and the triple bottom line it offers to your organization and to our region.

Sustainability EXPOsed will feature presentations and exhibits designed to surprise, motivate, and lead to action. It will tap into professionals' and community leaders' interest in learning, sharing bold new ideas, and networking about sustainability innovations and applications that are shaping our region. And, timed to kick-off the Allegheny Conference on Community Development's next agenda-setting process, Sustainability EXPOsed has the potential to influence a broader regional agenda. 

8:30 am - 4:00 pm (registration starts at 7:30 am) at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.  
Registration $45 until 11/8, after 11/8 $55.  Register by 11/8 and be entered to win one of four prizes from REI, totaling $500 in value!  A few highlights are below;  for information on other speakers, exhibitors, sponsors and collaborators, visit the event web site.

Keynote: Paul Hawken, with special introduction by Andre Heinz

Paul HawkenPaul Hawken is an environmentalist, entrepreneur, journalist, and author. Paul is one of the most respected and widely read thought leaders of the sustainable business movement. Starting at age 20, he dedicated his life to sustainability and changing the relationship between business and the environment. His practice has included starting and running ecological businesses, writing and teaching about the impact of commerce on living systems, and consulting with governments and corporations on economic development, industrial ecology, and environmental policy. He has appeared on numerous media including the Today Show, Larry King, Talk of the Nation, Charlie Rose, has been profiled or featured in hundreds of articles, and his writings have appeared in numerous publications, including the Harvard Business ReviewBoston GlobeChristian Science MonitorMother Jones, and Utne Reader.

He has written seven books including four national bestsellers, The Next EconomyGrowing a BusinessThe Ecology of Commerce andBlessed UnrestThe Ecology of Commerce was voted in 1998 as the #1 college text on business and the environment by professors in 67 business schools. Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution, co-authored with Amory Lovins, has been read and referred to by several heads of state including President Bill Clinton who called it one of the five most important books in the world today. His books have been published in over 50 countries in 28 languages. Growing a Business became the basis of a 17-part PBS series, which Mr. Hawken hosted and produced. The program, which explored the challenges and pitfalls of starting and operating socially responsive companies, was shown on television in 115 countries and watched by over 100 million people.

Paul has founded several companies including some of the first natural food companies in the U.S. that relied solely on sustainable agricultural methods. He founded OneSun, an energy company focused on ultra low-cost solar based on green chemistry and biomimicry. Paul also founded the Natural Capital Institute, a research organization whose main project is the creation of the first open source platform for global social change, WiserEarth.

Sustainability EXPOsed will ignite enthusiasm about sustainability by pouring fresh ideas into a ballroom full of motivated leaders. Conceived as a combination ideas/best practices expo, conversational salon and regional strategic planning forum, Sustainability EXPOsed will provide a dynamic venue for exploring, challenging, and recommending innovative approaches to sustainability opportunities.

Dec 6: Benefit concert for youth program & the Philippines

An evening of music featuring The Raging Grannies, Smokestack Lightning & friends, and recording artists Callán and Mark Dignam, will perform to benefit the American Friends Service Committee PA Youth Program and the National Nurses' Relief Group for the Philippines.

7:30 (door at 7) at the Friends Meeting House, 4836 Ellsworth Ave.  Suggested donation $12 ($6 for students/unemployed).  Tickets at the door.  For more info, contact Scilla Wahrhaftig, 412-315-7423 or .

Dec 4: Environmental History lecture

The Lost History of the New Madrid Earthquakes
Conevery Bolton Valencius, Assistant Professor of History, University of Massachusetts, Boston

In the winter of 1811-1812, powerful earthquakes shook the Mississippi Valley. These quakes were big news in 1812: some people thought they were bringing God’s judgment, and others thought they would inflame war between Americans and Native tribes. People recorded the tremors, argued about them, and tried to discern their causes. Yet by the late nineteenth century, they had been forgotten. Why? This presentation, from a newly-published history, traces how environmental transformations, the Civil War, and changes within seismology erased memory of the New Madrid quakes—and how recent science is bringing them back to scientific and civic attention.

Lecture: 4:30 - 6:00 PM, Reception: 6:00 - 6:30 PM in Porter Hall 100 at Carnegie Mellon University.  Free and open to the public.  More information on CMU's Environmental History lecture series here.

Dec 2: Deadline for supporting Gas Rush Stories funding

Have you seen Gas Rush Stories?  Please help Kirsi get funding ($10,000) to continue her amazing documentary series about shale gas extraction, and vote for GRS Trailer at the Sprout Fund film competition. Watch the trailer and like it here BEFORE DEC 2nd:

And please serve the common good and get your peeps to vote for GRS also!  Six out of ten Americans don't know about shale gas drilling at the time when shale gas exploration is rapidly expanding. The academic community is feverishly trying to catch up with the development to be able to answer some very essential questions - like how much methane is leaking to the atmosphere from this development. The scientists that presented their work at Duquesne Facing the Challenges research symposium this week are VERY concerned about this  - and the main media stays pretty quiet about this.  Gas Rush Stories is an easy and old-school journalistic way to learn about this complex issue.

Here's the NYT's Andrew Revkin's Dot Earth blog yesterday, with his take on Gas Rush Stories:

Even more people need to see these films.  Kirsi wants to continue with GRS, but cannot do it without funding.  Please help her continue her work as a messenger of this highly important topic.  Go to the Sprout Fund site and Like her series (click the heart in the upper right), and share this posting!  Thanks.

Dec 2: Cafe Scientifique on Eco-Innovation

Eco-Innovation: Are We There Yet?

Have you seen products that call themselves "green" – and you wonder what that claim is based on? Misleading "green" claims have led some to question whether truly greener products are feasible without government support.

Join the discussion! University of Pittsburgh professor Eric J. Beckman will give a brief talk about eco-innovation and how we can enhance product performance while reducing environmental impact, then open the floor for questions. Discuss today's hottest science in an informal setting.

7 p.m. at the Carnegie Science Center, 1 Allegheny Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA (map).  Meet in the lobby/main entrance to go in at 6:45 sharp!

Dec 2: Sustainable Monroeville on the Living Building Challenge

Please join Sustainable Monroeville for a Vegan holiday pot luck dinner, followed by Elisa Beck with a talk about What is the Living Building Challenge? and making plans for 2014.

Potluck dinner at 6 p.m. (Bring along a dish to share. Remember to bring along your own plate, silverware and a cup too!)  and talk at 7 p.m.  All meetings of Sustainable Monroeville are free and open to the public, and take place at the Monroeville Public Library.