The 85th Sustainability Salon will conclude our annual wintertime film series -- and begin a two-month pairing on "Nuclear Surprises." Surprising, because many environmentalists would not have considered ever supporting nuclear, but might just do so after our discussions! In February, we'll screen the documentary The New Fire, about advanced small-scale nuclear technologies that address most of the concerns about conventional nuclear: they're incapable of melting down, and instead of burning fuel that has to be mined, transported, refined, and kept safe from diversion into weaponry along the way -- they burn existing nuclear waste. We'll explore the possibilities and the challenges of this kind of new technology. For discussion following the film, we'll be joined remotely by Jessica Lovering, Director of Energy for The Breakthrough Institute, (featured in the film, currently in Tasmania), and prominent climate blogger Joe Romm (from Washington, DC). And, in person, Dr. Rita Baranwal, Director of the DOE's Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) initiative.
A month later, on March 23rd, we'll be looking at the here and now, when many nuclear power plants are failing to compete in an era of cheap gas. However, if they're shut down then more gas plants will be built (which will be in operation for many decades, compounding climate damage). Some states are considering keeping them online for a while while we transition to renewables -- another kind of "bridge fuel". Might Pennsylvania do this? Come to the March salon and find out!
Following the talks and discussion, and returning to our recurrent theme of plastics -- a major health and environmental issue as the petrochemical hub invades our region -- we’ve initiated a monthly dinner-table conversation for those interested in how to avoid pervasive single-use plastics, and how advocacy may be able to limit regional impacts.
In the meantime, here are a few other events of note: Extreme activism is on the big screen at CMU's International Film Festival on Friday the 22nd, with the amazing Icelandic film Woman At War (I'll be speaking on a panel following the film). On Saturday morning, you can get a handle on our region's industrial history and its impact on air quality with a trail walk through the site of the Great Homestead Strike with GASP and Venture Outdoors -- or get a jump-start on the growing season with the annual Seed Swap. Note that the Young Voices for the Planet educator workshop previously scheduled for Feb. 23rd has been postponed (because of an opportunity to document more kid-activists, this time protecting Monarch butterfly overwintering habitat in remote mountains in Mexico!) -- the next workshops are on March 9th (in Butler) and 10th (at Phipps). Delve deeper into renewables at the Solar Congress on Sunday the 24th, and/or learn about the environmental impact of war in Scarred Lands, Wounded Lives. For those who missed last months Trains salon (or want an update), Rail Pollution Protection Pittsburgh will be holding more informational meetings on Feb 25 & 27. And on the plastics front, there's a screening of Bag It next Wednesday the 27th. As always, you can browse around MarensList for more events.
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. After the talks and discussion (hopefully by around 7:30), we break for a potluck supper. 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. 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.
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 passenger and freight trains, consumption, plastics, and pollution, air quality, solar power, youth activism, greening business, greenwashing, the petrochemical buildout in our region, climate/nature/people, fracking, health, & action, globalization, ecological ethics, community inclusion, air quality monitoring, informal gatherings that turn out to have lots of speakers, getting STEM into Congress, keeping Pittsburgh's water public, Shell's planned petrochemical plant, visualizing air quality, the City of Pittsburgh's sustainability initiatives, fossil energy infrastructure, getting money out of politics, community solar power and the Solarize Allegheny program, the Paris climate negotiations (before, during, 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 revitalization, solar power, climate change, environmental art, environmental education (Part I & Part II), community mapping projects, environmental journalism, grassroots action, Marcellus shale development and community rights, green building, air quality, health care, more solar power, trees and park stewardship, alternative energy and climate policy, regional watershed issues, fantastic film screenings and discussions (often led by filmmakers) over the winter with films on Food Systems, Climate Adaptation and Mitigation, Plastic Paradise, Rachel Carson and the Power Of One Voice, Triple Divide on fracking, You've Been Trumped and A Dangerous Game, A Fierce Green Fire, Sustainability Pioneers, films on consumption, Living Downstream, Bidder 70, YERT, Gas Rush Stories, and food, food, food, food, food, food, food, food, food, food, food, food, food, 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: 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.