Mar 14: Sustainability Salon on Food

Post-salon update:   The first-ever Virtual Sustainability Salon was a great success.  Thanks to all the participants, and especially to all our speakers!    Pre-salon update:  As the salon date approaches, I have been monitoring the situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, and what it might mean for our region.  As you've probably heard, events are being cancelled left and right, with universities suspending travel and shifting to remote classes while evacuating as many students as possible.  Rather than gathering our usual 50-80 people in a contained space, this salon will be done using teleconferencing (via Zoom).  If you have expertise in this realm and would like to help or advise, please email me (with "salon" in the Subject line, natch).  Watch this space for further updates!  I'll put word out via Eventbrite as feasible, but note that there's a limit to how many people I can send to on a single day (which is less than the size of the list, so it takes two days to get a message out that way).  As always, if you RSVP then I can get a message to you directly -- and I'll need to send you the teleconferencing information for you to participate!

A further comment... I've received quite a few responses already from folks happy to have the remote opportunity in this time of uncertainty.  I appreciate the fact that we *can* maintain community connections and sharing of information and insights in this way.  I'm more concerned, however, with problems less easily solved:  people who are elderly or ill (and here in Pittsburgh there are a quite a lot of people with preexisting respiratory conditions), those who can't take their work home or afford to take time off, business owners facing an unknown gap in income and/or supplies, students who are missing out on interactions important to their education, for people who don't have a zillion things they need to do at home, and especially the health-care workers and first responders who put their health on the line every day.  

For the 98th Sustainability Salon, we aim to return to our annual springtime Focus on Food!  Pending remote connectivity... 

1918 propaganda poster
Did you know the average age of farmers in the U.S.?  (58.)  Organic farmer Don Kretschmann will share the experience of transitioning the region's largest CSA farm to the next generation -- while also navigating the challenges of the Marcellus shale gas industry and the evolution of the CSA model.  Expert beekeeper Christina Joy Neumann of Apoidea Apiary will reveal the amazing world of bees, and the Certified Naturally Grown Apiary guidelines that help many beekeepers maintain and demonstrate natural, healthy, and sustainable management practices.  Dan Dalton, the Three Rivers Hub Manager of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA), will fill us in on the organization's education and research activities, including his Diversified Vegetable Apprenticeship and recent Soil Health studies.  Jonathan Burgess, Programs & Policy Director of the Allegheny County Conservation District (ACCD), will talk about preserving farmland to ensure the longterm viability of our region's agriculture -- and will share upcoming soil testing opportunities here in Pittsburgh.  And Maren will provide an update on the new Master Composter training program, the Garden Resource Center (opening for the season earlier in the day!) and other programs of Grow Pittsburgh.  

Earlier in the day, you can learn about beekeeping or seed starting, or join in the opening celebration at the GRC, at events that each slot in perfectly with the salon!  (sorry, you can't do all three!)  The next Sustainability Salon, concluding our annual Food focus, will take place on April 4th.  In the meantime, check out the annual Farm To Table Expo, now in conjunction with the Home & Garden Show.  On March 22nd there's a PASUP action meeting and another session in the GND discussion series.  

Salons run 3-10 p.m. at Maren's house in Squirrel Hill (usually).  Please don't arrive before 3 p.m. (this time, please don't arrive at all!  I'll send out teleconferencing details to those who RSVP.) 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.  After the talks and discussion, we'll break for a potluck supper (and more conversation).  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 (including pandemics!) 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!

For in-house 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 ocean 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 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 sort 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. 

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