Dec. 17: UPMC Workers Solidarity Event

This November, illegally fired UPMC workers Jim Staus, Ron Oakes and Al Turner rejected UPMC’s offer of big money to walk away from their coworkers and their fight to form their union.  Within weeks, their courage was vindicated when a federal administrative judge ruled that “UPMC Presbyterian-Shadyside has engaged in such egregious and widespread misconduct so as to demonstrate a general disregard for employees’ statutory rights," and ordered UPMC to put them back to work and pay them back pay since the time of their firing.

UPMC is appealing.

On December 17th, let’s offer thanks to workers who stand up for our city and get a bit of holiday cash in their pockets while they carry on their fight with UPMC.  Please join the United Steelworkers, the Allegheny County Labor Council, Pittsburgh United, City Council member Natalia Rudiak, and Rev. Rodney Lyde at a special holiday fundraiser for Jim Staus, Ron Oakes, and Al Turner.

5:30 PM – 7:30 PM at the US Steelworkers Building (60 Blvd of the Allies, Pittsburgh PA 15222).  Free Parking for Guests in Boulos Parking Lot (114 Boulevard of the Allies):  Print out the registration page to place on your dashboard;  if you don't have a printer, someone on the first floor of the Steelworkers building can provide a copy.)
Cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and entertainment – RSVP Online: Click Here
To donate by check, pay to the Order of: "SEIU Healthcare PA UPMC Workers Hardship Fund" (with "Ron, Al, & Jim" on the Memo line), and hand in at the door on the 17th or mail to 
     SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania
     UPMC Workers Hardship Fund
     1500 North 2nd Street
     Harrisburg, PA 17102

A poignant short film about one of the fired workers can be viewed online.

Dec 13: Sustainability Salon Film Series: Consumption

Are you a consumer?  Or a citizen?  

The 35th Putting Down Roots Sustainability Salon will take place on December 13th (3-10 p.m., with potluck food and drink), kicking off our third Wintertime Environmental Film Series. With the holiday season upon us, first-worlders are constantly urged to buy, replace, upgrade... so this time, we'll watch and discuss several short films on the theme of consumption. With a collection of well-researched films full of important insights and possible solutions, we'll look at the life cycle of products from extraction to disposal, the dangerous notion of perpetual growth (and its historical context and evolutionary roots), and paths toward greater sustainability.  Perhaps folks will emerge with attitudes and tools to engender a little less consumption this holiday season, and thus change the status quo for the better.
Why films this time (and in January and February)?  During the winter (when weather can throw a wrench into the best-laid plans), we take a break from speakers to host screenings of important environmental films, sometimes with the filmmakers on hand to lead the discussion.  Please be sure to RSVP if you might come (email Maren with "salon" in the Subject line).  General information and links to past Salon topics are below.  January's Salon will be either on the 10th or the 17th;  check back on MarensList for updates!

3-10 p.m. at Maren's house in Squirrel Hill.  Please don't arrive before 3 p.m.  We'll aim to start the film sometime around 4, 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.  And if you're new, please let me know how you heard about the Salons!

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, but for now it takes a while to to dot all my i's and cross all my t's.  (All the extraneous requests for the address don't help;  I have lots of other stuff I send out with it, but don't like to let them go unanswered so it adds hours to my prep time.  If you RSVP properly (see above), you should get the info by the morning of the salon!)

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 green community revitalizationsolar powerclimate changeenvironmental art, environmental education (Part I & Part II), community mapping projectsenvironmental journalismgrassroots actioncommunity solar powerMarcellus shale development and community rightsgreen buildingair qualityhealth care, more 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 foodfoodfoodfood, 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. 

December 11: Power of 32 Conference

Energy for the Power of 32
Establishing a baseline and catalyzing a regional energy plan and strategy
Energy for the Power of 32 is a momentous start of the process to create a regional energy plan and strategy for the Power of 32 region uniting Pittsburgh and 32 counties across western Maryland, eastern Ohio, southwestern Pennsylvania, and northern West Virginia. Time is ripe for this effort given the staggeringly fast pace of energy innovations, new opportunities, and escalating stakes associated with environmental, social, and economic values. 

The launch of this energy future planning process places our region among the nation's first to lead this trend of regions stepping up to determine their brightest energy futures. A regional plan and strategy will fill a void. It will position the region to be a global leader by providing an energy framework for regional prosperity that leads to more informed decisions and investments, mitigates negative impacts, and unleashes innovation necessary to hasten our progress.
You are invited to attend and provide input that will be formative in shaping the design of the regional energy plan, helping to establish its focus and overarching values. More information and online registration here!

8:30-3:30 at the David Lawrence Convention Center.

Dec10: Composting 101 class

Learn the principles and practices of turning organic "waste" into fertile soil for your home or community garden! Taught by gardener, permaculture practitioner, and all around soil enthusiast, Curt Ries.  This will be a broad overview of the endlessly complex topics of soil science and compost, organized around three fundamental questions: What is compost? Why is it important? How do we make it?  

Whether you're a complete compost novice or an enlightened humus guru, there will be something here for you. Walk away with the knowledge you'll need to begin turning your home and neighborhood organic wastes into the life-giving soil that our urban farms, gardens, and ecosystems depend upon. 

7 p.m. at City Grows Garden Center, 5208 Butler Street, Pittsburgh, PA in Lawrenceville.  Registration is $15 -- you can preregister online.


Dec 4 & 6: PNC and MTR

While PNC Bank is a regional leader in clean construction for their corporate buildings, they are not as virtuous in the realm of energy generation:  they are still helping to finance mountaintop removal coal mining.  Clearly, they need some more encouragement to get out of that business.  The Earth Quaker Action Team is helping to organize non-violent direct actions around the country to bring attention to the practice, in the community and within the bank itself.

The Pittsburgh Friends meeting (the local Quaker community) is leading one such event, a ceremonial divestment of their own funds from PNC Bank -- along with account closures by many individuals.  If you currently bank at PNC, consider being one of those individuals!  Even if you don't bank at PNC, you can support this action by coming to the event, holding a sign, and singing along.

The timing is perfect.  This is a practical follow-up to September’s People’s Climate March in NYC.  JP Morgan Chase and European banking giant UBS are already pulling out of funding mountaintop removal in Appalachia.  The focus is on PNC, a major funder.  The EQAT action in the headquarters city of PNC engaged 200 Friends from all over the country.
In that context, generating grassroots action in many states within the PNC footprint sends a very clear signal to PNC that this issue is not going away.  The people of Appalachia deserve a break from a century of their wealth being extracted while they are left in poverty and toxic dirt and the rest of us stuck with asthma and global warming.
11 a.m. on Saturday the 6th at the Squirrel Hill branch of PNC Bank (5810 Forbes Ave., 15217).  Training/info session and signmaking at the Friends Meeting House on Ellsworth Avenue in Oakland, from 7-9 p.m. on Thursday evening the 4th.  More info via the Sierra Club.