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!) 

Jun 20: Poor People's Campaign

We hope you’ll join with countless others across the nation to stand against the ills of systemic racism, poverty and inequality, militarism and the war economy, and ecological and climate devastation. 

Because there is no climate justice without racial and economic justice.

Before the big event, please Register here!    You can also use the Poor People’s Campaign Digital Toolkit to encourage your networks to attend.

Jun 20 & 22: Fracking and Zoning webinar

Food & Water Action is hosting a two-part webinar series on fracking, zoning, and public health in your community!
Part One: Saturday, June 20, from 9:30 a.m. to noon
Part Two: Monday, June 22, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
RSVP here for sign-on info.
Many densely-populated communities are vulnerable to the impacts fracking and drilling operations. During this two-part webinar series, we'll discuss the health impacts of fracking, and how we can protect our communities from the adverse impacts of fracking through protective and legally-standing zoning.
Speakers and panelists include:
Denny Puko, Principal, Denny Puko Planning Consultant
Nicholas Mackereth, Local Government Planning Policy Specialist, PA Department of Community and Economic Development.
Joseph Horowitz, Esq., Commissioner, South Fayette Twp
David Vento, Council Member,Plum Borough
Nicole Ruscitto, Council Member, Jefferson Hills Borough
Patricia DeMarco, PhD, Council Member, Forest Hills Borough Council / Scientist, Educator, Chatham University
John Smith, Esq., Smith Butz Law
John C. Dernbach, JD, Widener University, Commonwealth Law School
Edward (Ned) Ketyer, MD, Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Environmental Health Project
Sarah Rankin, MPH, BSN, OCN, Public Health Nurse, Environmental Health Project
Laura Dagley, BSN, Medical Advocacy Coordinator, Physicians for Social Responsibility
For speakers' full bios and contact info, please click here 
Once you RSVP, we'll send you an email with instructions for joining the event online.

Jun 16, 18: A-Z Impacts of Plastic

Tackling the A-Z Impacts of Plastic is a webinar series happening on the third Tuesday and Thursday of each month from May through August.

This will be a monthly webinar series to discuss the various impacts of plastic production on health, environment, climate, and economics. This month’s webinar will focus on the economic impacts of plastic production

For each month, Tuesday will be presentations by our featured speakers and Thursday will be an opportunity to continue the discussion, share your concerns and issues in your community, and network with others.

Get more information and register to participate today at www.impactsofplastic.com.

Jun 16: Climate Action Lobby Day

Join PennEnvironment (virtually) for PA’s largest lobby day for climate action!

On Tuesday, June 16th, PennEnvironment will be bringing together hundreds of Pennsylvanians from all across the state to hold video lobby meetings that you can participate in from your own home. We’re planning over 100 meetings with state representatives and senators and their staff to advocate for legislation that will help fight climate change, so sign up today to make sure your local elected officials get to hear from concerned constituents.

You'll have 1-2 video meetings with your elected officials and other constituents (30-45 mins each) to discuss the importance of implementing policies to tackle climate change. There will also be a virtual rally and action stations for you to participate in throughout the day.

All you need to do is sign up, and they'’ll handle the rest!
When: Tuesday, June 16th. Meetings and activities throughout the day.  
Where: Online-- participate from the comfort of your own home. 
Check out the Facebook event to learn more and invite your friends.

Jun 7-8: Plant sale redux

Putting Down Roots "distancing" plant sales continue (not at the scale in the photo, though!)  Update:  I still have some tomatoes and other things available.  Not a lot, but better to spread 'em out!  

Due to the pandemic, lots of people are at home and gardening more ambitiously than before!  Hence, seedlings are hard to come by this year.  So while I don't have as many as some years (and have never been on the scale of Grow Pittsburgh or Garden Dreams, now combined), I want to be sure to share what I have as widely as possible.  And I'll be donating the proceeds to 412 Food Rescue, which is helping meet the food needs of vulnerable people all over Pittsburgh.  I'll be available for visits during limited hours this Sunday & Monday -- partly for distancing, partly because I have other stuff I need to do (fancy that!).  Located near the Frick Environmental Center; text (418 4943) or PM me with your ETA and to get the address.  Be sure to wear a mask and (gardening) gloves, walk around the house on the uphill side to the back, make sure the gate is closed behind you, and if you drive here, please drive to the bottom and park facing up (being careful of neighbors' driveways).  Hours this week:  Sunday 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.;  Monday 2-5 p.m.  Another FAQ, payment mode:  prefer cash, check, or Venmo if necessary (in that order).  
I've grown 50 varieties of tomatoes, brassicas (kales, collards, and cabbage), and cucurbits (cukes, squash, and such) from seed this winter and spring -- and will also have (or can dig) transplants of various perennials from ostrich ferns to sweet woodruff as well as black raspberries, dame's rocket, false lamium, jewelweed, Egyptian walking onion, red mustard, fennel, many members of the mint family including (emphatically) catnip, blue vervain, evening primrose, and lots more.  Also CobraHead gardening tools, perfect for rooting out plants-in-the-wrong-place (often referred to as "weeds").  
If you are interested in particular things and let me know in advance, I can try to have them ready -- some of the perennials, especially, I'm digging as needed, and not all of the seedlings have been repotted yet.  

Jun 5: Environmental Outreach Strategies

Registration now available!
Effective Environmental Outreach Strategies Webinar

Effective Environmental Outreach Strategies Webinar 450x300

Join Penn State Extension for a webinar on Effective Environmental Outreach Strategies, to learn new strategies for increasing the impact of your environmental outreach program and cultivating trust among staff and stakeholders.
10-11 a.m. via webinar... more info and registration are here