Dec 30: House party for Summer & Sara

As 2017 winds to a close, please join us for a Meet & Greet with two amazing progressive candidates for the PA House!  Sara Innamorato and Summer Lee are helping to lead a movement right here in Pittsburgh to bring politics in our Commonwealth and in our nation back from the brink.
Summer (34th District - is a lawyer, community organizer and advocate from Braddock and Swissvale.  She has been active in civil rights, labor issues, local and national elections, and her local school district -- and is ready to take on statewide issues in the State House!

Sara (21st District - is the founder of She Runs PA - an organization encouraging women to run for office.  She owns a small business that works with nonprofits and advocacy groups.  I met her years ago when she worked at GTECH, and have been impressed with her ever since!
4-7 p.m. at Maren's house in Frick Park.  We'll provide some light fare.  Directions & other information will come after you RSVP (yes or maybe) -- you can email me with "house party" in the Subject line, or RSVP via the Eventbrite page).  If you can't make it and would like to donate anyway, just click here!

The next Sustainability Salon will take place on January 13th, continuing our annual Wintertime Film Series.

Dec 9: Sustainability Salon on Globalization

As we move into the holiday season, we'll commence our annual Wintertime Film Series with December's recurring theme of Consumption, on the theory that we all can use a little more mindfulness during a time when we're bombarded with cultural cues to buy, buy, buy.  For the 71st Sustainability Salon we'll feature the documentary "The Economics of Happiness" -- surveying the broad-ranging effects of economic globalization, and suggesting alternative paths that focus on local, and on human relationships.  Both hardhitting and inspiring, this film showcases many of the millions of people across the planet who are already engaged in building a better world – that small-scale projects are happening on a large scale.  We'll see countless initiatives united around a common cause: rebuilding more democratic, human-scale, ecological and local economies – the foundation of an ‘economics of happiness’.  The film features a chorus of voices from six continents calling for systemic economic change, including David Korten, Bill McKibben, Vandana Shiva, Rob Hopkins, Richard, Heinberg, Juliet Schor, Michael Shuman, Helena NorbergHodge, and Samdhong Rinpoche the Prime Minister of Tibetสนs government-in-exile.  

We'll also have a few related short films, and international educator Elisabeth Yesko (who has spent time in Ladakh, from whence much of the inspiration for Norberg-Hodge's work has come) will facilitate our discussion!  

The January event, marking six years of Sustainability Salons, will almost certainly take place on January 13th.  
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 ecological ethicscommunity 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. 

Dec 4: Food & Water Watch fundraiser

Please join Food & Water Watch and Sustainable Monroeville for a potluck celebrating a year of Allegheny County communities standing up to fight the fracking industry.

6-10 p.m.  Help the organizers keep track of how many people to prepare for for by RSVPing here: Once you RSVP, they'll send you an email with the event location.
We’ve seen amazing victories over the past year.  In Monroeville and Oakmont, ordinances were passed to protect communities from seismic testing, and oil and gas zoning ordinances to protect families from fracking are moving forward.  The Plum Borough community is fighting newly proposed fracking wells and underground injection wells for the disposal of fracking wastewater.

These victories show what is possible when we get organized to fight for our health and safety.  Food & Water Watch wants to replicate this fight in many of the surrounding communities, such as North Huntington, Upper and Lower Burrell, Pitcairn, and Penn Hills.  That means building the resources needed to scale up this important work.

Please consider signing up as a monthly contributor to Food & Water Watch at this event! If you can't make the event, or want to sign up as a member before you come, you can do so here:

We’ll have de-toxifying green drinks, made with organic veggies and roots, as well as delicious salad and soup. There will be a potluck starting at 6 PM so please feel free to bring vegan, preferably organic, dishes.

Starting at 7 PM we'll have a short program with speakers including former Pittsburgh City Councilman Doug Shields, who has led the Food & Water Watch’s Municipal Outreach Project.

RSVP at this link and you'll receive an email with the event location:
There's also a Facebook event:

Dec 2: Power Pittsburgh Forward rally

In the aftermath of our Mayor publicly announcing that Pittsburgh would run on 100% renewable electricity by 2035, and over 500 local leaders being trained by Al Gore and colleagues at the Climate Reality Workshop, this is our moment to seize our vision for an equitable, sustainable future for Pittsburgh.

The Power Pittsburgh Forward rally aims to bring together faith groups, government, community groups, energy workers, non-profits and the indigenous population for a broad perspective on what this transition could mean.  Changes are coming, but our vision and how that happens should come from our communities, particularly the most impacted.

Come hear from community leaders from all walks of life, and take immediate action with many local organizations: from helping to build a mural project, letter writing, video story capturing, to making calls to legislators, this will be a great opportunity to connect to our broader community and make a difference.

Interested in tabling?  Sign up here and our event organizers will be in touch ASAP!

The rally will mark the beginning of our community dialogue tour, going neighborhood to neighborhood, group to group, dialoguing and envisioning of energy future for Pittsburgh.

Dec 1: House concert with Michael Holt

Please join us for another great show in the Putting Down Roots Occasional House Concert Series!  This time, we are proud to present genre-crossing, community-building multi-instrumentalist Michael Holt!

Fresh back from his latest European tour, Michael will join us for a concert at our home in Frick Park.  Formerly performing with various bands including The Connotations, Pajama Garden, the Mommyheads, and The Kids, nowadays Michael puts on a spontaneous, one-man variety show using multiple instruments, moods, and characters.  He weaves covers of Debussy, Dylan, Dizzy Gillespie, and Fela Kuti in with Beatlesy pop songs on the guitar, original classical pieces on the piano, and Fellini-esque lounge music on the organ.  His newest material is about the converging social, environmental, and economic crises facing our world today, but he's just as likely to don a strange costume and sing a song that will make you laugh.  He also believes that "house culture" can be an important part of political activism and community-building -- right in line with our Sustainability Salons and occasional house concerts!

"Michael Holt writes an all-too-rare kind of music, in which sophistication is in the service of emotion.  His personal, powerful songs are really smart, but you realize that only after you first experience them as intimate, direct, and deeply meaningful.”
                  – David Garland
                     WNYC (America's most-listened-to public radio station)


House concert at 7:30 p.m. (doors open at 6 for an optional potluck) at our home in Squirrel Hill.  Directions and other info will come after you RSVP -- and please do RSVP even i f you know your way!  RSVP by email to maren dot cooke at gmail dot com with "concert" in the Subject line, with name(s) of attendees -- and/or via the Eventbrite notice that will appear soon, if you're on the email list for Sustainability Salons (email me with "salon" in the Subject line if you'd like to be added!)  Suggested donation is $10-15 (goes to the performer);  we won't use Eventbrite tickets but we will be passing the proverbial hat

Previous Putting Down Roots house concerts have included Layla Frankel and Brad YoderTwo of a KindMike AgranoffSparky & Rhonda RuckerPutnam SmithKen Gaines and the Squirrel Hillbillies, and Randal Bays & Davey Mathias.  We also host a regular monthly environmental education event called Sustainability Salons;  the next one is on December 9th.