Nov 30: Real Costs of Fossil Fuels & Next Steps

The Real Health, Economic, and Climate Crisis Costs of Fossil Fuels to Southwestern PA -- and next steps.  Join the JCC's Center for Loving Kindness and Civic Engagement for a great program of speakers, and get to know what's going on in our region.

Our Moral Challenge  (Rabbi Ron Symons, JCC of Greater Pittsburgh)
The Global Climate Crisis 
     (Joy Blaustein, PennFuture, Climate Reality Project Leader)
Potential Environmental Hazards Associated with Petrochemical 
     Development in Southwestern PA    (James Fabisiak, Ph.D., 
     University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health)
The Petrochemical Build Out — Corporate Power versus Community Rights 
     (Lisa Graves Marcucci, Environmental Integrity Project)
Fossil Fuels versus Green Energy: Competing Narratives for 
     Economic Development in Southwestern PA 
     (Matthew Mehalik, Ph.D., Breathe Collaborative)
The Future Is Here: Big Problems, Simple Solutions.  
     What's Happening in Pittsburgh? (pediatrician Edward Ketyer, M.D.)
Getting Involved  (Rabbi Ron Symons)

Many local organizations will be tabling at the event;  come learn how you can get involved!
          Beaver County Marcellus Awareness Community (BCMAC )
           League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania
           Clean Air Council
           Penn Environment
           Citizens’ Climate Lobby
           Allegheny County Clean Air Now

7-9 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh(5738 Forbes Avenue, 15217).  Free and open to the public.  For more information, contact Rabbi Ron Symons ( 412-339-5395).

Nov 18: Sustainability Salon on Ecological Ethics

Environmental ethics as a basis for moving from awareness to action on climate change and social justice. Continuing our Environmental Justice theme into the realm of ethics, the 70th Sustainability Salon will feature salon stalwart Patty DeMarco and her new book Pathways to our
Sustainable Future:  A Global Perspective from Pittsburgh.  Patty, an energy and environmental policy expert and local policymaker as well as a Rachel Carson scholar and general visionary, will provide a framework for our discussion, as we think about the ethical ramifications of the Anthropocene.  Joylette Portlock, geneticist and educator, president of Communitopia, producer and star of Don't Just Sit There, Do Something, and one of the facilitators of the recent Climate Reality Leadership Corps training will share her thoughts on international and intergenerational justice.  And ecological ethicist and theologian Dan Scheid, of Duquesne University, will explore the grounds for ecological ethics, the "Cosmic Common Good," in many different religious traditions and in Pope Francis's Laudato Si.  We'll have a book signing with Patty -- she'll have a limited number of books available, as well.  I'll be hosting a house concert with Michael Holt on December 1st, and the 71st salon will almost certainly take place on December 9th.
By the way, if you are interested in becoming involved with the new local chapter of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps (and haven't yet), email me with CRL in the Subject line, and I'll connect you!  The next general meeting will be on November 29th.  And, speaking of climate as we so often do, two important events coming up:  This weekend, people will gather from all over to strategize about how to keep fossil fuels in the ground at the People's Summit. And on Nov 30th, speakers and tabling at the JCC about the all too often under-counted Real Costs of Fossil Energy in our region. 
Salons run 3-10 p.m. at Maren's house in Squirrel Hill.  Please don't arrive before 3 p.m.  We aim to start the program not long after 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!).  
July's salon with Bill Peduto
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 (see below), 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, it's a mini-conference, it's a venue for discussion and debate about important environmental issues, it's a house party with an environmental theme.  We usually have featured speakers on various aspects of a particular topic, interspersed with stimulating conversation, lively debate, delectable potluck food and drink, and music-making through the evening.
Past topics have included community inclusionair quality monitoringinformal gatherings that turn out to have lots of speakersgetting STEM into Congresskeeping Pittsburgh's water publicShell's planned petrochemical plantvisualizing air quality, the City of Pittsburgh's sustainability initiativesfossil energy infrastructure, getting money out of politicscommunity solar power and the Solarize Allegheny program, the Paris climate negotiations (beforeduring, and after), air quality (again, with news on the autism connection), reuse (of things and substances), neighborhood-scale food systems, other forms of green community revitalizationsolar powerclimate changeenvironmental art, environmental education (Part I & Part II), community mapping projectsenvironmental journalismgrassroots actionMarcellus shale development and community rightsgreen buildingair qualityhealth care, more solar powertrees and park stewardshipalternative energy and climate policyregional watershed issues, fantastic film screenings and discussions (often led by filmmakers) over the winter with films on Food SystemsClimate Adaptation and MitigationPlastic Paradise, Rachel Carson and the Power Of One VoiceTriple Divide on fracking, You've Been Trumped and A Dangerous GameA Fierce Green FireSustainability Pioneersfilms on consumptionLiving DownstreamBidder 70YERTGas Rush Stories, and foodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodand 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:  wine, hard or sweet cider (the latter we can mull if you like), juice, tea, whatever.  The more the merrier!  Local fare is always particularly welcome, whether homemade or boughten.  Dishes containing meat or dairy are fine, though if it isn't really obvious please make a note of it.  We refill a bunch of growlers at East End and provide a big batch of mostly-homegrown pesto (cheesy and vegan), and other things as needed.  More details will come after you RSVP (hint, hint!). 

If you haven't been here before, you may enjoy checking out our roof garden and solar installation (and now apiary!) as well as the many other green and interesting things around our place.  

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. 

Nov 17-20: People vs. Oil & Gas summit

Pittsburgh, the epicenter of shale gas exploitation, has been selected as the location to gather for the national People vs. Oil & Gas Infrastructure, A Summit for Communities Fighting Back.

Pittsburgh is hosting one of the largest gatherings of communities fighting back against fossil fuels. The oil and gas industry is aggressively planning expansion, putting more and more lives and livelihoods on the line.  Whether you’re fighting fracking, tar sands, pipelines, oil trains, gas storage, refineries, chemical plants, you'll be able to share stories, strategy, skills, and plans to collaborate.

This summit is for any grassroots or frontline activists ready to do more.  The program will include key panel discussions, trainings and collective strategy building.  The local Pittsburgh community will also open the summit with a big welcome and close the last day by leading us into the streets for a fun, cooperative action.

The training sessions will be split into four fun, informative tracks:  
Advocacy and technical legal skills, political campaigning, action/arts workshopping, and organizing/recruitment training.
For more information and online registration:

Nov 16: Fracking info session

Horizontal Fracking in Bell Acres?

All are welcome to attend a FREE informal program about natural gas operations, often called “Fracking”, and what we have learned from science and other community’s experiences.  

Background: A natural gas well pad has been proposed in nearby Economy Borough, and land owners in Bell Acres have been approached with leases to drill under their property. 

The informational program is designed to answer questions that community members, including land owners, have about fracking and the risks to water quality, air quality, health, and safety. 

Speakers are:
• Dr. John Stolz, PhD, Director of Center for Environmental Research and Education, Duquesne University, “Water Quality”
• Dr. Marsha Haley, MD, Radiation Oncologist, “Public Health and Safety”
• Ryan Grode, Environmental Health Project, “Air Quality”
• Lisa Graves Marcucci, Environmental Integrity Project, “Community Advocacy”

7-8:30 p.m. at 1850 Big Sewickley Creek Rd, Sewickley, PA 15143.  Free & open to the public;  light refreshments will be served. RSVP is appreciated but not required. For questions about the program contact Patrice Tomcik at 

For questions about Community First Sewickley, contact or connect on Facebook at Communities First - Sewickley

Program is hosted by Moms Clean Air Force Pennsylvania and Communities First - Sewickley in partnership with Clean Water Action - PennsylvaniaEnvironmental Health Project, and Environmental Integrity Project.

Nov 13: LWV Shale & Public Health conference

The fifth annual Shale & Public Health Conference will be presented by the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania and hosted by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, and will feature new research and practical applications:
  • New health registry research results
  • The latest Geisinger studies from Johns Hopkins’ Brian Schwartz MD and Tara McAlexander MPH 
  • Researching the public health impacts of an ethane cracker and petrochemical development
  • Gwen Ottinger PhD on Fenceline Monitoring
  • Walter Tsou MD MPH, Executive Director Philadelphia PSR, past president of the American Public Health Association and former Health Commissioner of Philadelphia
… and more!
8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Pitt University Club(123 University Place, Pittsburgh PA 15260).  The conference itself is free, $14 for buffet lunch.  More information and online registration here.  

Nov 8: ACCAN's Music & Air Fest

Join Allegheny County Clean Air Now to celebrate cleaner air! 

Enjoy music with Roger Day on tuba, Clint Hoover on harmonica and Martin Rosenberg on guitar. 

6:30-8:30 at the Anchor and Anvil Coffeehouse (7221 Church Ave., 15202).  Dessert and coffee/tea/soft drinks will be served.  RSVP on Facebook if you are a facebooker!

Nov 8: Speak out for public water

Our Only Option is Public Water

What should happen to the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority? The people have made it clear that we want public control of our water. Now, the Mayor and his team of outside consultants will be presenting their recommendations to the City on Nov 8th. The future of our drinking water is at stake! 

Join the Our Water Campaign to make our voices heard and to demand a fully public solution to solving Pittsburgh's water crisis!

#OurH2o is too vital of a resource to be sold off to a private company for profit. Join us and stand up for PUBLIC water!

2:30 p.m. at the City-County building (414 Grant St., 15219)

Nov 6-Dec 8: Sustainability Pioneers course

Climate change is a challenging topic to face. Yet, an inspiring and empowering reality is emerging as a response to climate change.

In this interactive class, participants will learn about sustainability, energy, climate science and climate solutions through presentations by Rachel Carson scholar Patricia DeMarco. Documentary filmmaker Kirsi Jansa will screen her Sustainability Pioneers short documentaries showcasing communities and states taking bold climate action.

This five-week course will empower participants to have constructive conversations about global warming and make changes for a sustainable future.

6-8 p.m. each Monday from November 6 to December 4 at the Frick Environmental Center.  Free, but registration is required:

Patricia DeMarco and Kirsi Jansa are both visiting researchers at the Institute for Green Science at Carnegie Mellon University.

More information: