Jun 27: Backyard goats

Learn the basics of keeping goats in your back yard with Dr. Susan Beal, DVM.

10 a.m. - noon;  location TBD.

Jun 27: Third Annual PA Firefly Festival

The 2015 firefly season has officially begun.  Hundreds of fireflies of many different varieties were seen in the Black Caddis Ranch field this weekend, with some synchronous activity on the fringes of the field and trees.  Join other firefly observers for a fun day and evening of music, arts, food, educational activities, woodswalking -- and fireflies, of course!

The Photinus carolinus, the Synchronous Firefly, was discovered and confirmed to be in the Allegheny National Forest in the summer of 2012.  A team of world-class Firefly scientists from Tennessee and Georgia came to Black Caddis Ranch for 10 days, and traveled throughout the ANF collecting specimens and studying the diversity of fireflies.

The P. carolinus is unique in that its flash patterns are in synchrony with each other, so they appear to be a string of Christmas lights hanging in the forest. Other witnesses have likened it to camera flash bulbs at a sporting event. The only other confirmed habitat in North America is in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee.
Over 15 different species were identified along with the Synchronous. One other local species was a Photuris species dubbed the "Chinese Lanterns" by the scientists. These were observed floating across the Tionesta creek casting there glow onto the water. Which ever species you witness during the approximately 2-week season, you can be sure to have a moment of awe and wonder at this display of nature.

We encourage you to go out at night in your own backyards or neighborhoods to observe the firefly activity for the next week to 2 weeks.  You should try to eliminate all lights possible, wear long sleeves and pants,  if you need to wear bug spray, don't handle the lightning bugs, and bring your patience.  You may need to sit and wait until 11:00 pm to see all the different species.

If you are coming for the day of music and festival activities, please bring a lawn chair, wear sunscreen and plan on eating here!  We have 3 different food trucks coming offering an international menu of gyros, burgers, hot dogs, tacos and Cuban sandwiches.  You should also bring your wallets so you can shop at the arts/crafts vendors, and of course we will have PAFF merchandise on sale.  All the PAFF proceeds go to support the musicians, presenters and sanitation services.  Remember this is a family-friendly, alcohol and drug free event.

We have activities for kids and families all day. Seven different forest naturalists will be here and our resident entomologist, Dr Denise Piechnik is going to return, they have exhibits and activities for children of all ages to learn more about the fireflies and the habitats. 

Noon to midnight on the grounds of the Black Caddis Ranch B & B in Kellettville, just 15 miles east of Tionesta on Route 666. The address is 13558 Route 666, Tionesta, Pa 16353.  Arts & crafts exhibits are open from noon to 5 p.m.;  the fireflies tend to show up around 10 p.m.  The event is free (donations and volunteering welcome!), with tent camping available for $10 (please call 814-463-7606 to reserve a spot).  Lots more information at http://pafireflyfestival.blogspot.com

June 21: Climate Action in Pittsburgh

Two events in Pittsburgh on the Summer Solstice:

Pittsburgh 350 First Walk for Paris
9 am, Sunday, June 21

Please note that plans are underway for a series of walks connecting local environmental problems with the upcomomg UN Climate treaty negotiatiuons in Paris in December. The first walk will be on the morning of June 21 to communities affected by the air pollution from the Shenango Coke Works.  Details on the Sierra Club Web site later.

Pittsburgh’s First Ever Climate Action Rally 
2 pm, Sunday June 21
East Park, Allegheny Commons
Intersection of Cedar Ave and Lockhart Street 

On the day of the Summer Solstice join us and show your concern about the climate crisis by participating in Pittsburgh’s first ever Climate Action rally.  

Following music by the Squirrel Hillbillies, Pittsburgh City Councilman Dan Gilman will present the proclamation of June 21 as Climate Action Day.  Dr. Patty DeMarco will make introductory remarks followed by Wanda Guthrie, Michelle Naccarati-Chapkis, Veronica Coptis, Chris Bangs, and Joylette Portluck.  Mayor Bill Peduto will provide the concluding remarks. 

After the rally join us in walks with hand-made signs to different locations to demonstrate and to distribute leaflets to the public on the Sister Bridges, North Shore, Point State Park, and even the Strip.

Organized by Pittsburgh 350, the list of co-sponsors for the rally currently includes: 
Allegheny Defense Project, Allegheny Group - Sierra Club, Citizens Climate Lobby, Clean Water Action, Divest Pittsburgh, Fossil Free Pitt Coalition, GASP, Mountain Watershed Association, Nature Abounds, Pennsylvania Chapter–Sierra Club, SEIU35BJ, Solarize Allegheny, and the Thomas Merton Center.

For more information contact Peter Wray at pjwray@verizon.net with 'Climate Action Rally’ on the subject line.

Jun 20: Sustainability Salon on Turning Waste into Resources (Part 2, Substances)

One (wo)man's trash is another's treasure.  Or, at least, useful item!  Reclaiming, reusing, redistributing, rejuvenating, salvaging, upcycling, composting...  that's what we're talking about at the 40th & 41st Sustainability Salons on May 2nd and June 20th.  For your summer calendar, the next two salons will be on July 25th and August 22nd.

To follow last month's Sustainability Salon on Waste into Resources:  Things, we will focus this month on Substances.  We'll learn about ways that excess food is connected with hungry people, via 412 Food Rescue, from co-founder Leah Lizarondo (upper left), and how Steel City Soils, founded by Jeff Newman,  (upper right) turns less appetizing food "waste" into fantastic soil.  We'll hear from Michael Sturges about a great community composting program he manages in Stanton Heights.

Leftover hotel soap is being recycled and provided to communities in rural Cambodia where improving hygiene can make a big difference by the Eco-Soap Bank, and we'll have founder and director Samir Lakhani (left) here to tell us all about it.  We'll talk a bit about an innovative program to make use of leftover medicines so that they can provide for those in need instead of adding to the pharmaceutical waste stream -- and whether we might implement such a program here.  We’ll also (almost certainly, pending smooth travel) have Jacob Shuford, campaign staffer for Senate candidate Joe Sestak, here to speak briefly and answer questions about Admiral Sestak’s campaign to unseat Senator Toomey.  

Salons run 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 program 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 (at maren dot cooke at gmail dot com) 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.  

As always, 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 reuse, neighborhood-scale food systems, other forms of 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 Rachel Carson and the Power Of One VoiceSustainability Pioneersfilms on consumptionLiving DownstreamBidder 70YERTGas Rush Stories, and foodfoodfoodfoodfoodfood, and more food (a recurrent theme;  with California running out of water, we'd better gear up to produce a lot more of our own!).

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. 

Jun 20: NMRWA's Summer Storm

Summer Storm is the Nine Mile Run Watershed Association's quasi-annual fundraiser.  Tickets will be available for purchase online until 12 PM on Friday (or until they sell out!); after that, Twilight tickets will be available at the event, but at an increased price. So, don't wait! Get your tickets today!
A reminder about the types of tickets available:

SOLSTICE - This VIP ticket grants you entrance to the party starting at 6:30 PM & includes complimentary food from some of Pittsburgh’s favorite food trucks, libations, and an acoustic performance by Bill Deasy. Stay for more music from Donora and DJ Hank D after the sun goes down!
TWILIGHT - Dance in the park under the stars! Beginning at 8 PM, the Twilight ticket includes drinks, light snacks, and music by Donora and DJ Hank D. If all the fun makes you hungry, delectable fare will be available for purchase from some of Pittsburgh’s most loved food trucks.

Jun 20: Allegheny SolarFest

Join SUNWPA (Solar Unified Network of Western Pennsylvania) and the Borough of Millville for Allegheny SolarFest!  Celebrate the power of the sun, and find out how to go solar in Western Pennsylvania!  
Last year’s SolarFest was such a glowing success (more than 800 people attended!), it's happening again this year -- with expanded activities and great music!  SolarFest is an opportunity to demonstrate to Allegheny County that we can realize the full potential of clean, renewable energy in Southwestern Pennsylvania.  SolarFest will include opportunities to visit with solar installers, solar owners and 25 exhibitors, take a trial run on an electric assist bike, look under the hoods of a Tesla, Chevy Volt and BMWi3 electric cars, climb Venture Outdoors climbing wall, listen to some great live music by Ben Shannon, Tiger Maple String Band and Beagle Brothers, and partake in fun activities for kids of all ages with our vendors and exhibitors, including a solar toy car races, scavenger hunt, face painting, and human-powered water cannons.  Solar demonstrations and activities will occur throughout the day. Food will be available from the well-known solar-powered food trucks, including Pittsburgh Taco Truck and Randita’s -- and the entire event will be powered with solar generators.  And, did we mention?  Microbrews will be available from Millvale’s Grist House Brewing this year!

11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Millville Riverfront Park.  Register and more information at www.sunwpa.org.  Facebook: www.facebook.com/sunwpa .

Parking Note:  While there will probably be ample parking at the festival site, there is also abundant parking at on Washington’s Landing under the 31st street bridge.  From there, it’s an easy walk or bike ride on the North Shore Trail Riverfront (going north) to the Millvale Riverfront Park.

Jun 20: Rachel Carson Trail Challenge

The nineteenth annual Rachel Carson Trail Challenge will take place on June 20, 2015, the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. The Challenge is a 34-mile long, one-day, sunrise to sunset endurance hike on nearly the entire brutal Rachel Carson Trail.  Unlike a footrace, the "challenge" is not to win, but to endure, to finish the hike in one day.  This time, the Challenge starts in North Park at sunrise, 5:50 AM, and ends 34 miles later in Harrison Hills Park.  The deadline for finishing is sunset, 8:54 PM or 15 hours 4 minutes, whichever comes first.

If 34 miles sounds too daunting, we offer two shorter events that same day. The first is the Homestead Challenge, an 18-mile hike from near the Rachel Carson Homestead. The second is a 7-mile Friends & Family Challenge from Tarentum.  All events finish in Harrison Hills Park.

Jun 17: Panel discussion on oil train risk

Danger on the tracks: The risk of crude oil trains in Pittsburgh

Please join PublicSource for a panel discussion about the public concerns and safety plans for crude oil trains going through Pittsburgh.  There will be a Q&A session at the end of the discussion, and refreshments will be served.

Ray DeMichiei - Pittsburgh’s Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, deputy director
Evan Endres - PennFuture Energy Center, project manager
Randy Sargent - Carnegie Mellon University’s CREATE Lab, senior systems scientist
Natasha Khan - PublicSource, environmental reporter
Sharon Walsh - PublicSource editor, panel moderator

In the meantime, you might like to check out these articles from the FracTracker Alliance:
     Increasing Risk from Exploding Crude Trains
     Oil Trains Passing Through Pittsburgh

6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. in Porter Hall Room 100 at CMU (accessible from Frew Street).  
$10, $5 for students, free for PublicSource members.  Register online here.  
Metered parking is available along Frew Street and Schenley Drive.  Here is an interactive map of the Carnegie Mellon University Campus: http://www.cmu.edu/about/visit/campus-map-interactive.  There will also be signs and people in the lobby of Porter Hall directing you to Room 100.

Jun 13: ReuseFest

PRC's Reuse Fest is here!  Clean out the garage, the basement, the overflowing closets, the attic, and your storage unit!  Then take them to UPMC Passavant employee TAN parking lot in McCandless on Saturday, June 13th, 9am-1pm so that they can be REUSED!

Bring your bikes, medical supplies, usable building materials, clothing and household goods, gently used furniture and mattresses, art supplies, fabric, pet supplies, backpacks, DVDs, and much more. CJ would like to remind you to bring us your clean dimensional lumber (over 4' long, no nails sticking out), tools (including garden tools), hardware, and light fixtures!  Click here to see what you can drop off and the list of nonprofits participating (includes Animal Rescue League Shelter & Wildlife Center, CJ, Free Ride, Global Links, Goodwill, Off the Floor Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse and #PghGivesBack)!
9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the UPMC Passavant (TAN) parking lot in McCandless:  Cumberland Road near Peebles Road, Allison Park, PA  15101.

Jun 7: Plant sale

Putting Down Roots plant sales continue:
By popular demand, I'll be available again on Sunday June 7th, from noon to 5 p.m., but I will probably need to duck out for a bit to get kids from one place to another;  you can call (251 5813 or 418 4943) if you need to find out if I'm here -- otherwise, enjoy the birdsong and lemon water and I'll be back shortly.  I may also have other days, though perhaps without the fill setup (but I and plants will be available while gardening);  just check back here on MarensList for times.
I've grown 40 varieties of tomatoes, brassicas (broccoli, kales, collards, cauliflowers and cabbage), cucurbits (cukes, squash, and such), herbs, and flowers from seed this winter and spring -- and will also have transplants of various perennials from ostrich ferns to sweet woodruff as well as black raspberries, strawberries, many members of the mint family, blue vervain, and lots more.  Also CobraHead gardening tools, perfect for rooting out plants-in-the-wrong-place (often referred to as "weeds").  And black gold, also known as worm castings, from Full Circle Soil in Hazelwood, in 2# and 5# bags.
If you'd like to come over, it would be great if you can let me know (by email to maren dot cooke at gmail dot com, with "plants" in the Subject line).  Among other things, I need your email to send you Directions & Other Info.  Also, if you are interested in particular things and let me know in advance, I can try to have them ready -- some of the perennials, especially, I'm digging as needed.  Times outside these hours are also possible;  just contact me and we can set up a time!  

Jun 6: PGH -- Peaceful Gathering of Hands

Please join Peaceburgh for the 5th Annual Peaceful Gathering of Hands on Saturday, June 6th at Point State Park.   The gathering will run from noon to 7 p.m. in the grass by the fountain, picnic-style, with a Big Peace Circle every hour on the hour beginning at 1pm. 

Between circles there will be drumming, potluck, art, networking, and relaxation in the shade. 

Please bring blankets, musical instruments, information to share (on any groups or activities you want to publicize), cameras, friends, food ( and a bowl & utensils ) -- and (((♥)))

Check out the official documentary “Cultivating Community” 

Stay connected by joining and posting in the Facebook group :

Jun 6: Hazelwood Summer Market opens!

Maren will be there with the Putting Down Roots Plant Emporium, along with lots of other purveyors of plants, produce, prepared food, and poop (worm poop, that is, a.k.a. black gold), as well as participatory art & music!  

Noon to 3 p.m. (at least) at 4812 2nd Ave., 15207 in Hazelwood (next to the Josza Corner restaurant, between Hazelwood and Flowers Avenues).  Planned for the first Saturday of every month, all summer!  For more information as it evolves, check out the Hazelwood Summer Marketplace's Facebook page.