Sep 26: Mustafa Santiago Ali

The Pitt Honors College presents a talk by Mustafa Santiago Ali, the Senior VP of Climate, Environmental Justice & Community Revitalization for the Hip Hop Caucus.
Mustafa is a renowned activist for social justice for our most vulnerable communities. He has worked with more than 500 domestic and international communities to secure environmental, health and economic justice. Mustafa Ali joined the Hip Hop Caucus after working 24 years at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

4 p.m. at the Twentieth Century Club (4201 Bigelow Blvd, Pittsburgh, PA  15213). This lecture is free and open to the public but space is limited; please register here.

Sep 24: Empowering Communities through Energy Efficiency

Ecologic Institute and the Center for Energy and the Energy Grid Institute at the University of Pittsburgh, within the framework of the Energy Future Exchange project, host a workshop about the future of sustainable energy, highlighting local and regional economic, social and environmental benefits of energy efficiency products and services and emerging innovative business models, strengthening communities for a resilient future. Speakers from Pittsburgh join experts from Germany and Croatia to start a vibrant conversation. 

9:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. at the University Club in Oakland (123 University Place, 15260).  For more information and online registration, please go here.  
Ecologic Institute Washington, DC, along with consortium partners Ecologic Institute Berlin and ACEEE, initiated the Energy Future Exchange (EFEX) project, a two-year transatlantic conversation on the future of energy, financed in large part through the European Union Delegation to the United States Transatlantic Civil Society Dialogue program. EFEX comprises conferences, study tours, workshops, webinars, pop-up actions and online forums in the US and Europe. More information can be found at

Sep 22: Sustainability Salon on Youth Activism

"We don't inherit the Earth from our ancestors;  we borrow it from our children" -- a saying so ingrained in our consciousness that its origin is uncertain.  What is certain is that the future belongs to the young, and to the yet-unborn.   At the 80th Sustainability Salon we'll hear from some young people who are taking a very active role in determining that future.

Student groups like Free The Planet, the Fossil Free Pitt Coalition, and Sustainable Earth are working on important initiatives at local universities.  A panel of college-aged activists will include Anaïs Peterson and Young Sarah Grguras from Pitt, and CMU's Chandler Sabourin.

Anaïs has organized marches and rallies, testified at government hearings, and worked to green the University of Pittsburgh's finances, pressuring them to divest from fossil energy.  She'll share insights about how to engage with and respect student activists.  Young Sarah has been working both within the University and with regional groups from Clean Water Action and the Center for Coalfield Justice to Pittsburgh Parks.  Young Sarah will talk about failing -- and learning -- in activism.  Chandler will talk about Sustainable Earth’s role in activism on the Carnegie Mellon campus.

Even younger activists are featured in the award-winning film series Young Voices for the Planet, which is establishing a local presence in Pittsburgh while continuing to find and document more kids taking a stand on climate change and related environmental issues.

Please check back for updated speaker info as the date approaches!

The next salon will be on October 6th, in conjunction with the annual Pittsburgh Solar Tour.

Salons run 3-10 p.m. at Maren's house in Squirrel Hill.  Please don't arrive before 3 p.m.  We generally start the program not long after 4pm, 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 with salon in the subject line 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 a trail map 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 greening businessgreenwashing, the petrochemical buildout in our region, climate/nature/peoplefracking, health, & actionglobalizationecological 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 foodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodand 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. 

Sep 22: Electronics recycling event


-Desktop, laptops, tablets, servers, hard drives (optional on-site hard drive shredding will be offered for $10 per hard drive)
-Cell phones, Ipods, MP3 players, etc.
-Computer peripherals include keyboards, mice, printers (
-Phones, phone systems
-AC adapter & wiring

THE FOLLOWING ITEMS WILL BE ACCEPTED FOR A FEE (sign up in advance via Eventbrite):
-32in and smaller TVs and monitors ($35/unit - pre registration is required)*
-32in and larger TVs and monitors ($50/unit - pre registration is required)*
-Audio/video equipment ($10/unit)
-Radio, receivers, amplifiers, tuners, equalizers, tape decks ($10/unit)
-VCR, DVD & Blue Ray Players ($10/unit)
-Consumer/household goods ($10/unit)
-Wooden speakers ($20/speaker)
-Small Freon containing appliances including window air conditioners and dehumidifiers ($20/unit)

*Coupon of equal or greater value provided

-Universal Waste
-Alkaline batteries
-Light bulbs
-Large Freon containing appliances

10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Calvary Episcopal Church (315 Shady Avenue, 15206).  More information on Facebook and Eventbrite.  A portion of proceeds will benefit Shadyside Calvary Episcopal Church.

Sep 18: Economic Impacts of the Ethane Cracker

Symposium on the Potential Regional Economic Impacts of the Ethane Cracker Plant  

W&J Economics professors Robert Dunn, Ph.D., and Leslie Dunn, Ph.D., recently completed a study to examine possible effects of the ethane cracker plant on the region's economy.

We invite policymakers, public officials, business owners, and residents from across the region to learn more the impacts, the study, and the methodology and take part in a lively discussion about the project. 

Presented by the Center for Energy Policy and Management and Local Government Academy, this event will showcase the work of Robert Dunn, Ph.D. and Leslie Dunn, Ph.D., along with that of other speakers and researchers. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions and engage with the speakers.

Additional Speakers:
Rebecca Matsco, Chairwoman, Potters Township & Sabina Deitrick, Pitt Researcher
John Goberish, Dean of Workforce Development & Continuing Education at Beaver County Community College
Lance Grable, Executive Director of Beaver County Redevelopment Authority

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Washington & Jefferson College Ballroom (60 S. Lincoln St., Washington, Pennsylvania 15301).  The Symposium is free to attend, but you must register here.

Sep 17: Plastics and Our Future

The effects of plastic pollution globally and locally will be discussed, as well as the importance of the 4 R’s:   Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.
Speakers include Patricia DeMarco from Forest Hills Borough Council, Erica Deyarmin from Waste Management, and 
Dianne Peterson from Our Children Our Earth
 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Forest Hills Borough Building (4400 Greensburg Pike, Forest Hills).  Free and open to the public;  light refreshments will be served.
Sponsored by the Forest Hills Environmental Advisory Council

Sep 8: Pittsburgh Urban Farm Tour

The Pittsburgh Urban Farm Tour highlights the agricultural production capacity in urbanized areas of Pittsburgh and surrounding neighborhoods.  This self-guided tour provides a unique opportunity to connect with local food and farmers on commercial farms, community gardens, and apiaries throughout Pittsburgh.  Featured neighborhoods include the East End, Garfield, South Side, and North Shore.  Choose your own course and bike or drive to each destination. 

Organized by the East End Food Co-op (EEFC), Pittsburgh Food Policy Council (PFPC), and Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA), the tour’s purpose is to promote urban agriculture as a viable means for food production, build connections between consumers and farmers, and support the future of farming. 

Urban farms have a significant impact on the food system, local economy, and urban environment. To ensure the farmers who manage these plots have access to resources and capital they need to be successful, proceeds from the Farm Tour will provide an honorarium for each participating farm and fund a new Urban Growers Scholarship. 

Join us to see these once vacant lots now revived into beautiful, productive spaces! 

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (or any subset of that, at your own pace). Select locations will have refreshments, items for sale, and offer demonstrations. Admission is $15/person;  kids 12 and under are free. Purchase tickets here Event is rain or shine.  Sponsored by Trellis Legal, Sustainable PittsburghConstruction JunctionFour Seasons Produce, and Healthy Ride Pittsburgh.  

Participating Farms:
        African Healing Garden
        Ballfield Farm
        Bandi Schaum
        Black Urban Gardeners & Farmers Co-op
        Braddock Farms
        Burgh Bees Apiary
        Centervue Gardens
        Drew Mathieson Center
        Garden Dreams Urban Farm & Nursery
        Garfield Community Farm
        Hilltop Urban Farm
        Mt. Oliver Community Garden
        Shiloh Farm
        Steel City Soils