Apr 30: ACHD on Shenango Coke

The Allegheny County Health department has taken enforcement action against the Shenango Coke Works.  What will it mean for the community?

Join Jayme Graham, ACHD Air Pollution Manager and Dean DeLuca, ACHD Enforcement Chief, for a presentation and Q&A session with the Neville Island Good Neighbor Committee.

6-7:30 pm. at the Avalon Borough Building, 640 California Ave, Pittsburgh PA 15202.  For more information, contact Julie at 412-765-3053 x214 or jstjohn@cleanwater.org .

Apr 24: Green Drinks at the Porch, with Bike Pgh

This month's Green Drinks is excited to be partnering with The Porch at Schenley to highlight their part in farm source and sustainability practices as part of the Eat'nPark Hospitality Group.
Green Drinks will also highlight the work of Bike Pittsburgh's spring events, including the upcoming The Urban Biking Forum on April 28 and National Bike to Work Day on May 16. Come and learn all about all they do and how you can get involved.

5-8 p.m. at The Porch at Schenley (221 Schenley Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15213).  Free and open to the public.  Complimentary appetizers and drink specials!

Green Drinks Pittsburgh is a sustainability network platform to inspire new ideas and awareness, find out what is happening in Pittsburgh, meet up with friends you haven't seen for a while and make new ones too!  

Email with any questions or comments! And you can find Green Drinks on the web 

Apr 24: Growing Cities screening

Filmmakers Dan Susman and Andrew Monbouquette take a cross country road trip and meet men and women who are challenging the way this country grows and distributes food -- one vacant city lot, rooftop garden, and backyard chicken coop at a time.
"Growing Cities" is the story of their journey as they discover that good food isn't only the crop these urban visionaries are harvesting.  They are producing stronger and more vibrant communities too.
Filmmaker Dan Susman will lead a panel discussion among the audience and local food and urban gardening specialists.  Attend this free screening and meet some of Pittsburgh's urban visionaries.
6 – 8:30 (Film starts at 6:30, panel discussion follows) at 1400 S. Braddock Avenue, Pittsburgh 15218 (CLASS – Community Living Support Services, in Regent Square near the on ramp to 376).
Hosted by The Penn State Center Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, the East End Food Co-opGrow Pittsburgh, the Kingsley Association, the Larimer Green Team, and PASA.  To RSVP and for more information, email  cjh47@psu.edu.

Apr 24: Climate video virtual release party and Communitopia launch

There’s a new name in environmental communication with an unusual approach to climate change education: humor. Communitopia, a nonprofit that uses video and new media to reach viewers, is hosting a virtual party from 7:30-8:30 p.m. on April 24, two days after Earth Day. The event will include giveaways, special guests, behind-the-scenes footage, and the release of a new music video parody. The new video is about climate change and energy-and-money-saving consumer choices, featuring cameos by Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto and several other prominent Pittsburghers working on sustainability issues (including your friendly neighborhood Sustainability Salon hosts).

The video release party is coming as the organization reintroduces itself to members with a new name and several new faces. “Through this re-launch of Communitopia, we’re renewing our commitment to inspiring grassroots climate engagement and action,” said board member and veteran environmental filmmaker Mark Dixon. “It’s an exciting time, and we can’t wait to get working on many new ways to engage audiences.”

“Rather than try to get people to act by focusing on the many serious and depressing consequences of climate change,” says Joylette Portlock, Ph.D., Communitopia’s new president, “we’re confident we can engage and empower more people more effectively by using humor.” Humor is a hallmark of Communitopia’s main project, the newly-acquired Don’t Just Sit There - Do Something! video series that stars Portlock performing as a wide range of characters. Each video discusses a short topic about climate change, incorporating science, news, humor, and easy actions for viewers to take. The new music video is the 18th in the series, but the first to be produced under the Communitopia banner.

As they are released, more details about the event can be found at communitopia.org. One thing is for sure; the conversation about climate change just got a bit brighter.

“It doesn’t make sense to try to depress people into action, and we urgently need climate action,” says Portlock. “Therefore, we’re pretty serious about the silly.”

Communitopia is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to the empowerment and engagement of the public in meaningful climate action. Through new media and project-based campaigns, we work to slow climate change and create healthier communities by identifying, researching, and advocating for individual, community, and federal solutions to reduce pollution and improve community resilience. We are helping lay the foundation for the climate-friendly, energy-independent society of tomorrow.

Apr 19: Hands Around the Park

In a few weeks' time, Allegheny County Council will vote on a proposal from County Executive Rich Fitzgerald to allow fracking under Deer Lakes County Park.  Fracking is an inherently harmful process exposing our families to unhealthy air and water for questionable financial gain.  If fracking is allowed at Deer Lakes Park, will any of the other eight County parks be safe?

The 'Protect Our Parks' coalition invites you to a ‘Hands Around the Park’ rally and some family-friendly springtime fun.  

1 to 3 p.m. at Deer Lakes Regional Park, near Russellton (Tarentum, PA 15084).

Come to Veteran’s Pavilion #1 by the lower lake, rain or shine, and learn what you can do to help save this gem of a park.  Speak out if you have a personal story, enjoy live music from The Hills and the Rivers bluegrass band, contribute to a paper quilt to be shown to County Council to demonstrate your love for the parks, and participate in Hands Around the Lake/Across the Bridge, led by the May Day Marching Band.

If you might have trouble getting to the park, or can offer a ride to others, Jessica McPherson has offered to help coordinate ridesharing.  Email her at jessica_mcp@yahoo.com to touch base!

Apr 17: Paul Sabin on Earth's Future

The Bet: Paul Ehrlich, Julian Simon, and Our Gamble over Earth’s Future
Paul Sabin, Associate Professor of History and American Studies, Yale University

Are we headed for a world of scarce resources and environmental catastrophe, or will market forces and technological innovation yield greater prosperity?  In this lecture, Yale University Professor Paul Sabin will draw on an iconic story to examine the historical conflict between environmentalists and their conservative critics and trace the origins of the political gulf that separates the two sides.  In 1980, the iconoclastic economist Julian Simon challenged celebrity biologist Paul Ehrlich to a bet.  Their wager on the future prices of five metals captured the public’s imagination as a test of coming prosperity or doom.  Ehrlich, author of the landmark 1968 book, The Population Bomb, predicted that rising populations would cause overconsumption, resource scarcity, and famine—with apocalyptic consequences for humanity.  Simon optimistically countered that human welfare would flourish thanks to flexible markets, technological change, and our collective ingenuity.  Sabin’s lecture will weave the two men’s lives and ideas together with the era’s partisan political battles to show how the clash between environmental fears and free market confidence helped create today’s gaping and rancorous political divide.

4:30-6 p.m. in Margaret Morrison A14 at Carnegie Mellon University

Apr 15: Public hearing on fracking in County parks

Concerned about having Fracking under Deer Lakes Park?  (and possibly the start of fracking under all of our county parks)?  Rich Fitzgerald wants approval to frack under OUR county parks!  Allegheny County Council will soon vote on Ordinance number 8182-14 (see below) which will grant him that power!

A total of 8 NO votes (or abstentions) are needed to stop fracking from starting in our parks!  There are 15 council members, one from each district and 2 at-large members.

MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD!  Attend and speak at the April 15th County Council public hearing.  You can speak for up to 3 minutes if you preregister by Monday afternoon at 4:30, but even just attending sends a message!

Tuesday April 15th 5pm at the County Courthouse (436 Grant Street Gold Room 4th floor).  You can register online or via phone at (412) 350- 6490 (by 4:30 p.m. on Monday).

Whether or not you can attend the meeting, please make your council member and the 2 at-large members aware of your opposition to fracking under the county parks.  Write or call them.
All Council members email addresses and phone contacts 

Ordinance Number 8182-14:

An Ordinance of the County of Allegheny, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, authorizing the leasing of the County’s interests in the oil, natural gas and other hydrocarbons from all formations deeper than six hundred and fifty feet (650’) above the top of the Tully Formation underlying Deer Lakes Park on the condition that no drilling activity to extract oil, natural gas and other hydrocarbons shall be conducted anywhere on the surface of Deer Lakes Park.

Apr 12-13: Earth Day in Frick Park

At the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and the Frick Environmental Center, every day is Earth Day!
Every year, we welcome the entire community to Frick Park for a free, two-day celebration of international Earth Day. No need to register, but early arrival and sign-up ensures your spot at scheduled events.
All events will start at the site of the former Frick Environmental Center (2005 Beechwood Boulevard). Due to limited parking and in the spirit of Earth Day, we ask that you consider carpooling, walking, biking or busing to these events:
Community Campfire
Saturday, April 12th
6:00pm - 9:00pm
Join us for an all-ages community campfire under the stars on Saturday evening! We’ll provide the fire and roasting sticks, you bring your own hotdogs, veggie dogs or s’more fixings.
Nature Walks and Hikes
Click here for the full schedule of events
Sunday, April 13th
Ever hour between 11:30am - 4:00pm
Get outdoors to enjoy a series of hikes and activities throughout Frick Park led by expert naturalists. Brush up on your tree and mushroom ID skills; learn about 'critters in the litter'; volunteer to remove invasive plants; and much more!

Apr 10: Inspire lecture with the Planetwalker

Changing the world starts with one step...  please join the Green Building Alliance and Phipps Conservatory for an inspiring evening with Dr. John "Planetwalker" Francis, Patty deMarco, Mike Schiller, and students from the Environmental Charter School.  You'll hear a truly remarkable story from environmentalist, author and empowering change agent John Francis.  In response to witnessing the devastating 1971 San Francisco Bay Oil Spill, he set out upon a personal pilgrimage of fundamental protest in which he did not use motorized transportation for 22 years, and spoke not a single word for 17 years!  During his journey, he earned several degrees including a Ph.D. in land management, which positioned him in high demand as an expert on oil spills when the Exxon Valdez disaster occurred.  John walked from Wisconsin to Washington D.C. and broke his vow of silence by speaking at Earth Day in 1990.  As a United Nations Good Will Ambassador, John’s message of listening, caring and collaborating for a better world is a coming-of-age story of how any individual can make a profound difference.  

Joining Dr. John Francis on stage will be local community champions Patty DeMarco, Mike Schiller and a group of students from the Environmental Charter School. 

Dr. Patty DeMarco has spent a 30-year career in energy and environment in both the public and private sectors.  She is the former Executive Director of the Rachel Carson Homestead Association and was the Director of the Rachel Carson Institute at Chatham University.  Her current research focuses on removing institutional barriers to sustainability.  As a Rachel Carson scholar, hear Patty explain how the legacy of Pittsburgh’s own Rachel Carson is still alive and singing to our region today.

Mike Schiller is the current CEO of the Green Building Alliance, but also has a long entrepreneurial career in Pittsburgh, helping to found Confluence Technologies Inc. (specializing in investment data management) and Venture Outdoors (helping to connect all of Pittsburgh to the outdoors).  Mike will double-dog dare you to care about reclaiming your connection to nature and your role in making our region a healthy and high-performing place to live, learn, work and play.

Students from the Environmental Charter School may be young in body, but they are bold in spirit and resolute in their visions for what is necessary to enable today’s youth to be tomorrow’s transformative leaders.  These strong voices will remind us of the importance of fostering curiosity in our youth, connecting them to their communities, and how we can create better conditions for our students to thrive.  Read a recent blog post as a preview!

5 – 8 p.m. at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens (1 Schenley Park, Pittsburgh, PA 15213).  Join us at 5 p.m. to enjoy delicious appetizers, a cash bar, an excellent banjo band, and great networking! Lectures begin at 6 p.m.  Sliding scale registration fee;  learn more and register here.
Click here to find out how you could have dinner with Dr. John Francis after the lecture.

You can also view a highlight reel of the entire Inspire Speakers Series events to date.

Apr 5: Sustainability Salon on Food

The 27th Putting Down Roots Sustainability Salon (see below if that's new to you) will take place on Saturday, April 5th.  The topic will be FOOD -- growing it ourselves, and sourcing it locally.  This will be our third annual Food edition, and once again the topic is stretching out into two sessions, because of the wealth of food-goings-on in our region!  This is a good time of year for would-be gardeners to get started, and for urban folks to find their favorite farmers and markets.  

Speakers will include Greg Boulos on the Blackberry Meadows Farm garden share CSA and a produce-to-people program with food banks;  East End Food Co-op manager Justin Pizzella on their local grower/producer program and how it relates to expansion and to ethical and resilient food infrastructure;  local chef Jacob Mains on his innovative traveling Farm Dinner program;  Ian Johnson with a gentle path toward a more plant-based diet called Fooganism;  and organizer Margaret Kran-Annexstein of Food & Water Watch about the new Healthy Farms, Healthy Families initiative to rein in the abuse of antibiotics on factory farms (and the resultant drug-resistant pathogens) here in Pittsburgh and beyond.  Also Marisa Manheim of Grow Pittsburgh;   CSA farmer Don Kretschmann;  CJ Gonzales of Ballfield Farm on the North Side;  T. Lyle Ferderber, farmer, miller, and purveyor of organic & natural foods via Frankferd Farms Foods;  and local rancher Oliver Griswold (who delivers grassfed Scottish Highland beef and pastured heritage Berkshire pork to sites around Pittsburgh, including our front porch).  More speakers may be added;  check back here for updates!

More details will be forthcoming, but c'mon out if you want to find out about how to start seedlings, make compost, get a garden going, grow mushrooms, keep bees and chickens, or ferment food and drink;  learn about food foraging or where to purchase wild edibles;  explore healthier eating, organic gardening, and permaculture concepts;  meet farmers and join a CSA;  connect with PASA, our regional sustainable agriculture organization;  find local farmers' markets, community gardens, school gardens, and volunteer opportunities;  see how grocery stores work with local producers;  think about humane and healthy livestock practices;  hear about other upcoming local food events;  source seeds, seedlings, and gardening supplies;  talk about preserving food at home, or learn about a great local restaurant, bakery, or wholesale supplier…  the list will depend in part on who can come!   Last year, we even had a cameo by Bill Peduto:

If you haven't been here before, you may enjoy checking out our roof garden and solar installation as well as the many other interesting things around our place.  That'll mainly be happening between 3 & 4 p.m.

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 with salon in the Subject line to RSVP (yes or maybe), or click on the link in your EventBrite invitation (if you're not already on my list, please email me to be added!).  Please RSVP each time -- it helps greatly in several ways.  Among other things, attendance varies widely, and these events have been so successful that we need to begin limiting attendance.  So RSVP early if you can, to ensure your participation!  The free virtual "tickets" on Eventbrite may run out (you don't need to print any tickets, by the way, just be on the list).  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.  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 once again 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.  So if you don't have it yet, please be patient! One of these days I'll streamline this process a bit (assistance would be welcome -- thanks to Beth for her help 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 various aspects of a topic, interspersed with stimulating conversation, lively debate, delectable potluck food and drink, and music-making through the evening.
Past topics have included community mapping projectsenvironmental journalismgrassroots actioncommunity solar powerMarcellus shale development and community rightsgreen buildingair qualityhealth care, solar powertrees and park stewardshipalternative energy and climate policy, regional watershed issues, fantastic film screenings and discussions (led by filmmakers) over the winter with Living DownstreamBidder 70YERTGas Rush Stories, and foodfoodfood, 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 or dairy 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. 

Apr 4: Charge Car open house

ChargeCar will have an open house to celebrate the installation of a new Tesla HPWC (High Power Wall Connector) at the Electric Garage in Oakland.  Thanks to Dr. Howard Kaplan for the generous donation of installation costs, and to the Tesla Corporation for the donation of their charger.

This is an opportunity to recognize how dramatically the use of the Electric Garage is improving every month, and future plans for the Electric Garage will be discussed.  They have also invited Tesla to come and help to thank them, as well as Solar City.  EV owners are encouraged to bring and brag about their EVs.

4-7 p.m. at The Electric Garage, 4621 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213 (parking available at the garage).  Free and open to the public.  

Apr 1: Town Hall Forum on antibiotic resistance and factory farms

Food & Water Watch will host a Town Hall Forum with speakers from the agricultural, medical, and political communities talking about the problem of antibiotics resistance due to the misuse of antibiotics on factory farms and it should be very informative!

Come out for an evening of education and empowerment and show your support for Food & Water Watch’s Healthy Farms, Healthy Families Campaign! Learn more about the issue of antibiotic resistant bacteria from guest speakers and experts!

For too long, Big Ag has gotten away with prioritizing profit over public health. We need Pittsburgh City Council to pass a resolution, calling on Senator Casey to support the Preventing Antibiotic Resistance Act (PARA), which would end the overuse of antibiotics in livestock feed, and safeguard their effectiveness in treating you and your loved ones.

Guest speakers at the Forum will address the issue of antibiotic resistant bacteria and explain what can and must be done to counter this growing threat. The panel will conclude with a Q&A period and information on how you can get involved in this important campaign.

7 p.m. at Bar Marco's community room (2216 Penn Ave., 15222.  Free and open to the public.  The Facebook event for the event is here.  For questions, please contact Margaret at margaret@fwwlocal.org or 513-886-0879