Aug 25: Plastic-Free Picnic

The What'sSUP? Challenge has transitioned to a new organization called Pittsburghers Against Single-Use Plastic (PASUP).  This new organization will be holding a potluck picnic to help connect folks concerned about SUPs.  Bring a food item to share (plant-based options encouraged), and try to avoid single-use plastic in preparation as much as possible.  Bring along any plastic packaging used in food purchase or prep as a visual demonstration, as well as your own re-usable plate, utensils, cup and cloth napkin to enjoy a delicious meal.  Please label dishes with ingredients to help people with allergies or food sensitivities decide what they can eat.  Come celebrate waste-free living, and see how well we all can do at minimizing single-use plastic in the creation and enjoyment of food.

3-6 p.m. at the Friends Meeting House (4836 Ellsworth Avenue in Oakland).  

Aug 24: Sustainability Salon

The 91st Sustainability Salon will (in theory) be our annual No-Topic Salon.  I say "in theory" because topics and speakers invariably arise!  In this case, I'm sure we'll be talking about climate change and possible solutions following Congress member Mike Doyle's Climate Crisis Town Hall and PA Rep. Summer Lee's Environmental Forum, as well as Sunday's (single-use) Plastic-Free Picnic -- I hope many of you will attend one or both of those events!  But, in theory at least, I won't plan to interrupt the Conversations for the Presentations.  In a departure from our usual format of talks and discussion focused on a single topic, this month we'll have more informal, free-flowing conversation.  Overall event timing remains the same, but I won't rearrange the furniture as for a regular salon.  And if the Right Folks turn up (you know who you are!), we'll have a bit more time for music after the potluck supper.   

Salons run 3-10 p.m. at Maren's house in Squirrel Hill.  Please don't arrive before 3 p.m.  We usually 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 -- but this time there is no program, so come hang out!  In the early evening, we'll 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 notice (if you're not already on my list, just email me with salon in the subject line to be added!).  

Please do RSVP each time -- it helps greatly in several ways.  Among other things, 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.  If you drive down our street, please park only on the uphill-facing side, and take care not to block driveways on either side of the street.  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 (usually Friday night).  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;  fit'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 election activismelection law, whether to preserve existing nuclear power plantsadvanced nuclear technologiespassenger and freight trainsconsumption, plastics, and pollutionair qualitysolar poweryouth activismgreening 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 foodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodand 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.  Please try to minimize single-use plastic -- if you're thinking of a deli tray of vegetables, just get some whole veggies and we can cut 'em up here!  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 (again, no single-use packaging) and provide a big batch of homemade/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. 

Aug 22-24: Oilfield art installation at Carrie Furnace

Breaking Ground
An Immersive Meditation on the Oilfields of North Dakota

Documentary artist Valery Lyman spent 4 years photographing and recording audio in the Bakken Shale region of North Dakota (2013-2016), documenting the rise of the oil industry there and the large worker migration that went along with it.  Hers is the most comprehensive visual-aural archive of this particular time and place in American history.  In Breaking Ground, this documentary material will be projected directly onto the machinery in multiple points throughout the Carrie Blast Furnaces.  This multi-channel photo-phonic installation is both an invitation to explore what is occurring in North Dakota now, and an opportunity to reflect on the cyclical nature of industrial booms and Pittsburgh's own history.  

Built in 1884 and operating for 98 years, the Carrie Blast Furnaces are remains of the massive U.S. Steel Homestead Works, and helped forge the Pittsburgh region into a 20th-century industrial powerhouse.  Now a National Historic Landmark, this unique site allows for a play with density, echo, and the ephemeral nature of industry. 

Breaking Ground has had 4 previous public exhibits at industrial sites across the country.

Aug 20: Environmental Forum with Summer Lee

Join State Representative Summer Lee and local activist groups to address the climate crisis, and become engaged in the policy-making process at the local and state level.  Topics will include fracking, the Mon Valley Works, other sources of pollution, and the next steps in the fight for a stable, equitable, and healhty future for the Mon Valley and for our planet.  

6:30-8 p.m. at the Forest Hills Borough Building (4400 Greensburg Pike, 15221).  There is ample parking in front of and behind the Borough Building (ADA accessible, zero waste, and net zero energy).  Please RSVP here!

Aug 20: Election security (County Council)

Election Security in Allegheny County? 
Will it get better or worse?

Allegheny County Council August 20, 2019

The County is selecting new voting equipment, but the process is not transparent.  The options include voting equipment the Blue Ribbon Commission on Pennsylvania's Election Security found to be vulnerable and lacking voter-verifiable ballots.*  The Mueller report underscores the fact that this is a national security issue.  Our democracy is at stake.  What goes on behind closed doors in Allegheny County?

County Council will express the public’s concerns about election security on August 20, 2019.  Their proclamation honoring the Blue Ribbon Commission on Pennsylvania's Election Security will also put a spotlight on the County’s upcoming decision about new voting equipment.  County Council has no direct authority in selecting the new equipment, but it can address the powers that be through this proclamation.

Please come to the County Council meeting on August 20th;  the bigger the crowd the more seriously they'll take this issue.

5 p.m. at the Allegheny County Courthouse (4th floor Gold Room, at 436 Grant St., 15219)

The Blue Ribbon Commission on Pennsylvania's Election Security presented its study and recommendations In January 2019.

* A hand-marked paper ballot is inherently voter verified because the voter filled it out. In contrast, voting machines with an electronic touch screen that produces a paper ballot with the voter's choices cannot be voter verified. The problem is these ballots have barcodes, and barcodes can be manipulated. Humans cannot read bar codes so they can’t verify these ballots are accurate.

Aug 14: Climate Crisis Town Hall with Mike Doyle

Congressional Representative Mike Doyle is convening a Town Hall meeting to raise awareness and inspire action on the climate crisis.  Through presentations, panel discussions, and audience questions, we'll consider challenges and solutions for addressing climate change.  The conversation will cover the options that are currently available and the innovation that is needed for the future, and will bring together the coalitions that are on the front lines of this issue.  We all know that climate change is real, so how do we solve it and get people engaged in this current political climate?  
There will be two panels of experts to discuss reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, the technology that will be needed to meet these goals, and the role of the workforce in the energy economy.  In addition, Congressman Doyle will speak about action underway at the federal level to address climate change, and there will be an opportunity for people in the audience to ask questions.

6:30-8:30 p.m. at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum in Oakland (4141 Fifth Ave. 15213).  Free and open to the public.  Please register here, and let folks know you're going on the Facebook event page