Information bringing people together...


Local food resources

The Putting Down Roots Sustainability Salons have continued each month.  The second Sustainability Salon (as well as the 14th15th, 26th27th, 38th39th, 51st52nd, 62nd, 63rd, 64th, 74th, 75th, 87th, and 88th) focused on food -- growing it, sourcing it locally, and eating more humanely.  Afterwards, Maren put together a list of many such local sources:  CSA farms, farmers' markets, grassfed and humanely raised meats and dairy, natural foods suppliers, bakeries, and advocacy organizations.  This list now resides on a growing Resources section of the Putting Down Roots Blogger site.

Nov 20: House Concert with Lui Collins

Putting Down Roots is pleased to announce a house concert with New England favorite Lui Collins!

“… one of New England's clearest and most distinctive folk voices, with unusually piercing lyrical insight..." - Hartford Courant

“Folksinger for our times” - The Boston Herald

“… one of New England’s first and brightest stars.” - The Boston Globe

Folk singer/songwriter Lui Collins has been performing, writing and recording for over 40 years, her early Philo and Green Linnet recordings earning international acclaim and establishing her as a respected voice in the folk world.  Lui has shared the stage with such notables as Pete Seeger, Bonnie Raitt, Stan Rogers, Dar Williams, and John Gorka.  Renowned guitarist Dave van Ronk called her “one of the best guitarist-arrangers I have heard in years.”

“Lui sings my songs better than I do.”  
- Canadian folk icon Stan Rogers

From playful 4-string arrangements of some favorite original songs, to the fabulous jazz chords in American standards and bossa nova, Lui translates her rich and complex guitar arrangements onto her tenor ukulele to create something unexpected and delightful.

"Lui has a gentle way of capturing the hearts of her audience and having what amounts to a musical conversation with them during her performances… No one weaves a spell quite like she can." —Champlain Valley Folk Festival Newsletter

Nov 20, 2020 at 7 p.m. (door 6:30), at Maren's house in Squirrel Hill.  Light fare to share (food contributions appreciated, but not expected).  Suggested donation $15-20.  Directions and other info will come after RSVP -- and please do RSVP even if you know your way!  Email me with "concert" in the Subject line, with name(s) of attendees -- or via Eventbrite 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).  You can also call 412-251-5814 (9-9, please, and do leave a message!)

Previous Putting Down Roots house concerts have included Tom Neilson & Lynn WaldronTwo of a Kind and Brad YoderMike AgranoffSparky & Rhonda RuckerPutnam SmithKen Gaines and the Squirrel Hillbillies, and Randal Bays & Davey Mathias.

Jul 25: Sustainability Salon on Social Investment

Following last month's Econ 101 examination of the economics of energy, the 102nd Sustainability Salon will look at ways to channel investment into better things than fossil fuels and war machines.  We've talked about institutional and personal divestment before, but now we'll focus on where money *should* go.  More details to come;  watch this space!

Coronavirus update:   As you know, people in Pittsburgh and around the world are sequestered at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Social distancing is still the rule for most Americans.  That's a bit of a misnomer, though -- we need physical distancing to flatten the curve, but technology now allows for rich interactions even so!  I believe that community is one of our greatest strengths, so in March as events began to be cancelled, I hosted the first virtual  Sustainability Salon via Zoom teleconference -- rather than gathering our usual 50-80 people in a contained space.   It went quite well (even engaging participants from hundreds of miles away), and we're looking forward to June's salon!  Please be sure to RSVP (via email with "salon" in the Subject: line, or via Eventbrite) so you'll receive the sign-on information.  

Salons usually run 3-10 p.m. at Maren's house in Squirrel Hill -- but this time we're on Zoom.  Plan to join the call after 3 p.m., and we aim to start the program not long after 4, after folks have had a chance to (virtually) meet, mingle, and tour around an interesting and productive urban permaculture site.  Talks and discussion will probably wind down by around 7.  If you're new to Zoom, you may find my Zoom Reference Guide helpful.  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   (and with a virtual event, it's how you'll get the call-in info!).  Please make every effort to RSVP well in advance -- I'll be sending out the registration link manually, so could miss last-minute registrations while setting up and hosting the event!  Be sure to include salon in the Subject line if you email, 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!  


Check back on MarensList (where you can find information on all sorts of environmental and social justice events, as well as better formatting for this event description) 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 (in this case Zoom instructions), 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. 
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 mutual aid networksocean healththe rise of the radical rightthe back end of consumptionapproaches to activism on fracking & climateair quality, technology, and citizen sciencesingle-use plasticselection 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 food, 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!).


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.  If interested folks are online and everything is working smoothly by around 3:30, perhaps I can conduct a virtual tour.

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.  (with a virtual event this is less likely to happen, but we can share music by turns, reminisce, chat online, and look forward to the post-COVID era!) 

Jul 21: Attorney General on fracking

"PA’s Fracking Failures" Webinar

Join Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and PennEnvironment to learn more about the AG’s recent report that uncovered egregious activity by fracking companies in the state--and the failure of state officials to rein them in and enforce basic environmental and public health protections. Get the inside scoop on the development of this report, and hear about the report’s recommendations to better protect public health & the environment from fracking.


1-2 p.m. online.  Register here for sign-on details.  Sponsored by PennEnvironment.  

Jul 20 How to Be an Antiracist

2019 Guggenheim Fellow and New York Times bestselling author Ibram X. Kendi will discuss his renowned book “How to Be an Antiracist” on Monday, July 20 at 7:00 p.m. with Dr. Charlene M. Dukes, president of Prince George’s Community College. Dr. Dukes is the first African-American woman to serve as president of the College and has 30 years of progressive leadership experience and administrative responsibility in higher education. The conversation will be streamed live online on Crowdcast, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter/Periscope, and will air on PGCC TV on a later date. 
Praised as “The most courageous book to date on the problem of race in the Western mind” (New York Times), Kendi’s groundbreaking work has provided a major new counterpoint in the national conversation about race in America and resonates in this, our collective moment of reckoning. 
Ibram X. Kendi is a No. 1 New York Times bestselling author, a professor of history, and the founding director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research. He is a columnist at The Atlantic and a correspondent with CBS News. He is the author of five books including “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America,” which won the National Book Award for Nonfiction; “How to Be an Antiracist”; “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You,” co-authored with Jason Reynolds; and “Antiracist Baby,” illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky.
7 p.m. online;  more info and RSVP here.

Jul 16: Extend Your Harvest





Summer Planting Tips To Extend The Harvest


4-5 p.m., online.  Register here ($20 fee;  discount for entire series).  Check out the series on Facebook.  Hosted by Buy Fresh Buy Local/Farm to Table Western PA


Jul 15: Last day to order BLM signs

Given the recent desire to visibly show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, friends have created a fundraiser that will provide a lawn sign, funds for organizations working locally in the Black community, and a resources doc of 24 pages (and growing!).  

NOTE: If you already have a sign, please note donations w/o sign purchases are also gladly received. Thank you!
            Also please consider checking out the resource doc referenced on this sign! 

Jul 13: White Fragility discussion



Webinar discussion of Part 1 of White Fragility (48 minute listen). The discussion will be led by Elizabeth Denevi, PhD, Co-founder of Teaching While White. See how white fragility shows up in our work and what we can do to become less fragile and more proactive when it comes to challenging racism advocating for racial justice. 

Please listen to the podcast here prior to the webinar  — especially helpful since copies of the book are currently sold out!

Introductory remarks by Randolph Carter:  As both a parent of a student with dyslexia and an educator, Randolph will open our session and frame the important intersection of race and ability. He will discuss why racial identity matters when thinking about students, teachers, and service providers.
Randolph Carter As both the founder of East Ed and a member of the Black Panther Party, Randolph has devoted his career to promoting equity and diversity in education and communities. Most recently, he directed the campus diversity efforts at Portland Community College, Cascade Campus. He was a Fellow in the Harvard University School Leadership Program, Graduate School of Education, where he received a master’s degree in education with a school leadership qualification. He is currently a doctoral student in the School of Education Leadership and Change at Fielding University. He was a middle school reading specialist, a school administrator, and while at the National Association of Independent Schools, he directed their equity programming and founded two of their signature projects: People of Color Conference and Student Diversity Leadership Conference. Randolph has also served on numerous school boards, including Fielding Graduate University and the Institute for Community Enrichment. He is a member of the Education Committee of the New Press. His publications include peer-reviewed articles and book reviews published in national journals.
Suggested donation of $5 to assist with meeting costs.  More information and RSVP here.

Jul 15: AQ and COVID

Air Quality and COVID-19: Connections, Health Impacts, and Racial Disparities

Wednesday, July 15, 2020: 3 p.m.-4 p.m. CT
This webinar will discuss the preliminary implications of findings that suggest higher death rates of COVID-19 in individuals who have faced long-term exposure to poor air quality (PM 2.5). It will also focus on the findings that communities of color, especially African Americans, are especially at risk from the health impacts of both air pollution and COVID-19. Speakers will include researchers and experts from both the health and public policy perspectives working to understand and combat these synergistic health threats.
Moderated by Kelly Crawford, MS, the Associate Director of DC Department of Energy & Environment, Air Quality Division and Chair of DOEE's Equity Working Group.  Speakers include Francesca Dominici, PhD. Director of the Harvard Data Science Initiative, Harvard University and the Clarence James, Gamble Professor of Biostatistics;  Tesfaye Mersha, PhD., Associate Professor in Human Genetics, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Department of Pediatrics, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine; and Claudia Persico, PhD., Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Administration and Policy, American University.
4-5 p.m. online.  More information and registration here.  Sponsored by the American Lung Association.

Jul 3: White Accomplice training

Thomas Merton Center is hosting a weekly training series for white accomplices and allies;  this week's topic is "What is a White Accomplice?".

7-9 p.m. online;  register here for sign-on info.  There's also a Facebook event page.


Jun 30: Clean Air Project kickoff

 Virtual kickoff for the Clean Air Project

Join local air quality experts, activists, and elected officials June 30th to learn about air pollution in Pittsburgh. Where does it comes from? What are the health implications, and how can you become more engaged? See, for the first time, the design of new air quality monitoring stations being installed in Millvale, Etna and Sharpsburg, which will display the real-time Air Quality Index (AQI) in each of the three boroughs.

Participants include:
  • Breathe Project, a clearinghouse for information on air quality in Pittsburgh, southwestern Pennsylvania and beyond.
  • GASP, the Group Against Smog and Pollution, a citizen-led advocacy group founded in 1969 by volunteers concerned about air quality in southwestern Pennsylvania.
  • Rep. Sara Innamorato, PA State Representative for the 21st District, and longtime advocate for clean air in Western Pennsylvania.
  • New Sun Rising’s Director of Sustainability, Zaheen Hussain.
  • Mark Dixon, award-winning filmmaker, activist, and public speaker, currently developing the documentary “Inversion, The Unfinished Business of Pittsburgh’s Air.”

6 p.m. online.  Hosted by the Triboro Ecodistrict, New Sun Rising, and Work Hard Pittsburgh.  Learn more and register here.  This kickoff event will be followed by three virtual events unveiling air monitoring stations in Millvale on July 22nd, Etna on August 12th and Sharpsburg on September 1st.

Jun 23: Radioactive frack waste webinar

Hot Water: Radioactive Fracking Waste and Sanitary Landfills with Dr. John Stolz


Sanitary landfills in Pennsylvania and New York have been allowed to take both solid and liquid waste from oil and gas operations. The leachate is now contaminated with toxins and radioactivity. Dr. Stolz will present the results of his investigation and the "innovative" ways in which the industry, with the help of legislators and regulators, are using to dispose of their wastes.
Dr Stolz is a Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and the Director of the Center for Environmental Research and Education at Duquesne University. His career has been dedicated to studying the microbial metabolism of metals and metalloids (iron, chromium, arsenic, selenium, nitrate), microbial communities in hypersaline environments, and water quality. He has published 95 peer reviewed articles, 37 book chapters, and author/edited two books. He is currently co-authoring/editing a book on the "Environmental Impacts of Unconventional Oil and Gas Reserves Development" for Cambridge University Press.
8 p.m. via Zoom.  RSVP here for sign-on info before 7:30 p.m., or tune in for the livestream on The Better Path Coalition's facebook page.

Jun 20: ECON 101 (Sustainability Salon on Energy Economics)

ECON 101:  The 101st Sustainability Salon will focus on the economics of energy at different scales, and in the very different realms of fossil fuel (and associated petrochemical development) and renewables (mostly solar).

The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) recently released a report which outlines the risks facing Shell as it continues to develop its giant petrochemical complex just down the Ohio River from Pittsburgh.  This massive plant is planned as the first of several in our region, with tremendous potential to pollute the air and water and exacerbate climate change.  IEEFA's conclusions were not new news to local analyst John Detwiler, who has been studying the economics of fracking and plastics for some time.  John will outline the sorry state of the fossil energy and petrochemical industries, characterized by debt, oversupply, and falling demand.  The business case for fracking-based plastics is collapsing, and the build-out issue is no longer a choice between environment and economics.

Our region “won” Shell’s site-selection competition with billions in tax breaks and subsidies, and industry advocates are hoping for still more public subsidies for additional plants and infrastructure.  We’ll talk about the arguments being made in favor of expanding this industry, and why those arguments aren’t holding up (if in fact they ever did).

On the renewables side, on this Summer Solstice, solar expert Ian Smith of Energy Independent Solutions (EIS-- who coordinated our own solar installation in 2011, and spoke at the very first Sustainability Salon in February 2012 -- will answer your questions about the finances of going solar.

A couple of other events earlier in the day:  We know that environmental health is tied closely to issues of poverty and discrimination, and BIPOC (black and indigenous people of color) are on the front line for industrial pollution and climate change.  Hence, we are natural allies, and I wanted to make sure that folks are aware of the national Poor People's Campaign and its virtual March On Washington.  (I note that that event will be rebroadcast at 6 p.m., and with only two speakers this month our salon talks and discussion may wind down in time to jump over if you miss the morning event).  Also, one way that communities work to protect citizens from the often-devastating impacts of industry is through zoning;  Food &Water Action is hosting a two-part webinar on this topic.

Coronavirus update:   As you know, people in Pittsburgh and around the world are sequestered at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Social distancing is still the rule for most Americans.  That's a bit of a misnomer, though -- we need physical distancing to flatten the curve, but technology now allows for rich interactions even so!  I believe that community is one of our greatest strengths, so in March as events began to be cancelled, I hosted the first virtual  Sustainability Salon via Zoom teleconference -- rather than gathering our usual 50-80 people in a contained space.   It went quite well (even engaging participants from hundreds of miles away), and we're looking forward to June's salon!  Please be sure to RSVP (via email with "salon" in the Subject: line, or via Eventbrite) so you'll receive the sign-on information.  

Salons usually run 3-10 p.m. at Maren's house in Squirrel Hill -- but this time we're on Zoom.  Plan to join the call after 3 p.m., and we aim to start the program not long after 4, after folks have had a chance to (virtually) meet, mingle, and tour around an interesting and productive urban permaculture site.  Talks and discussion will probably wind down by around 7.  If you're new to Zoom, you may find my Zoom Reference Guide helpful.  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   (and with a virtual event, it's how you'll get the call-in info!).  Please make every effort to RSVP well in advance -- I'll be sending out the registration link manually, so could miss last-minute registrations while setting up and hosting the event!  Be sure to include salon in the Subject line if you email, 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!  


Check back on MarensList (where you can find information on all sorts of environmental and social justice events, as well as better formatting for this event description) 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 (in this case Zoom instructions), 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. 
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 mutual aid networksocean healththe rise of the radical rightthe back end of consumptionapproaches to activism on fracking & climateair quality, technology, and citizen sciencesingle-use plasticselection 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 food, 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!).


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.  If interested folks are online and everything is working smoothly by around 3:30, perhaps I can conduct a virtual tour.

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.  (with a virtual event this is less likely to happen, but we can share music by turns, reminisce, chat online, and look forward to the post-COVID era!)