Aug 27: Trees and Air Quality

Tree Pittsburgh invites you to learn about the connection between trees and air quality and how the Green Heart Project in Louisville, KY is putting trees to the test as a human health intervention.
Their investigation will measure and assess the impact of trees on air quality and noise levels and correlate with health outcomes and measurements taken from over 800 community residents participating in the study.
Presenters will share how the air quality benefits of trees are modeled using the i-Tree program, provide context behind the study, and how it’s being implemented, as well as the details of how tree species and planting locations are selected to maximize health benefits.
Tree Pittsburgh has invited an expert panel from across government, healthcare, and nonprofit organizations to share the details of their ground-breaking research that can help inform our common goals toward achieving a greener, healthier, and more equitable region.  
10 a.m. to noon, online.  Please register here!

Aug 15, 22, 29: Fracking and Community Health

Fracking and Community Health series:  
Gas drilling activity near Knoch School Campus and Saxonburg
Presented by Marcellus Outreach Butler

On September 15. 2011, South Butler School Board approved a gas lease with Phillips Exploration, a part of XTO and a subsidiary of Exxon Mobile.  The School District joined with privately owned property to form a 640 acre “pool” or drilling unit.  Since then, the area has become inundated with gas wells and related infrastructure.  Marcellus Outreach Butler asked then and asks still, “What are the risks and impacts of placing such fracking activity so close to human habitats, especially a school campus?”  Join MOB for a series of online meetings to discuss these concerns about the intensive drilling near Knoch Schools Campus and Saxonburg.

Register with link below for each program by 6:30 on the day of the program.
PART 1, Aug. 15, 7 PM: Overview of the area, including drone footage, and Dr. Ned Ketyer who will review the health risks and impacts fracking and related activity pose to those who live in close proximity. Register at
PART 2, Aug. 22, 7 PM: Dr. John Stolz on Radioactive Fracking Waste and Sanitary Landfill. Register at
PART 3, Aug. 29, 7 PM: EHP’s Sarah Rankin and Nathan Deron on potential impacts of fracking. Register at
Join MOB for Parts 1, 2, and 3 by clicking links for each Part above.  They will send you the Zoom call link to join each session individually.
Each session will run from 7 to 8:30 and will include time for Q&A.

Saturday, Aug. 15:  Ned KetyerM.D., F.A.A.P.
Dr. Ned Ketyer is a Pittsburgh-area pediatrician with special interests in developmental pediatrics, preventative medicine, and environmental health. After his pediatric residency at Pittsburgh’s Children’s Hospital, Dr. Ketyer practiced general pediatrics for 26 years. Although retired from patient care, he writes and edits his practice’s popular blog, The PediaBlog, and remains a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Environmental Health. He is a consultant for the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project bringing attention to the health impacts of shale gas development, a board member of Physicians for Social Responsibility - Pennsylvania, and a Climate Reality Project Leader.
In all these roles, Dr. Ketyer connects the vast petrochemical “clusterfrack” underway in SW Pennsylvania with local and regional health impacts, and the global ecological and public health catastrophes resulting from plastic pollution and climate change that threaten the health and well-being of all passengers on this shining ball of blue.
Saturday, Aug. 22:  John Stolz
Director, Center for Environmental Research and Education
Professor, Dept. of Biological Sciences,
Duquesne University
Dr. Stolz studies the microbial metabolism of metals and metalloids, 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.
Most recently, Dr. Stolz has been looking at sanitary landfills in Pennsylvania and New York that 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 questionable ways in which the industry, with the help of legislators and regulators, are using to dispose of their wastes.
Saturday, Aug. 29:  Sarah Rankin, MPH, BSN, RN
Public Health Nurse
and Nathan Deron, MSPPM-DA, Environmental Data Scientist at Souhwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project
The SW PA Environmental Health Project is a nonprofit public health organization that assists and supports residents of Southwestern Pennsylvania and beyond who believe their health has been, or could be, impacted by shale gas development (or fracking).

Sarah and Nathan will review the literature and EHP’s findings about potential health impacts of fracking.  They will also discuss how a community science air monitoring project can measure the pollution faced by communities.

Aug 22: Sustainability Salon on Social Investment

The way business has been conducted for the past few centuries, and especially in recent decades, has led to Earth Overshoot Day shifting earlier and earlier (actually a bit later this year, due to the pandemic).  August 22nd is now the date that humanity has used up all of the biological resources that can be renewed this year, according to the Global Footprint Network.  Closing out our Economics series, the 103rd Sustainability Salon will look at ways to channel investments large and small 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.  Local tech entrepreneur, business advisor, and avid dog-fosterer Josh Knauer will share insights on banking, retirement, and mutual funds, all with an eye toward the triple bottom line.  We'll hear from Julia Frost and Sierra Flanigan of Arjuna Capital about how your portfolio can be a tool to promote the change you want to see in the world.  Working on behalf of their clients to activate shares in public companies, Arjuna effectively leverages the tool that is ‘shareholder activism’ to make the business case for companies to do the right thing, focusing on a range of issues from gender and racial pay equity to climate change to fake news.  And Pittsburgh-based Honeycomb Credit offers a new way to connect with small businesses and promote local economic self-determination, while earning a good return on your money.  Honeycomb's chief of staff Topiltzin Gomez will share how you can get involved, at either end of the transaction.  

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 right around 4, after folks have had a chance to (virtually) meet, mingle, and maybe 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 local economies, the economics of energymutual 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!) 

Aug 15, 19, 22, and 30: Rachel Carson EcoVillage events

Rachel Carson EcoVillage is full steam ahead! 

Have you ever thought about living in cohousing? Rachel Carson EcoVillage, the Pittsburgh region’s first ecovillage, is a new way of life built on an idea we’re all familiar with—a neighborhood where we know our neighbors. As the building of the village continues, members from the various working groups that comprise the community so far have organized these events for August, and would love for you to join them. You can also find out more by visiting their website or emailing them at

August 15th @ 7pm - Virtual watch party of the American Experience series featuring Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (email for Zoom link)

August 19th @ 6 pm - EcoWalk of the ecovillage site campus (Eden Hall, Chatham's Falk School of Sustainability, 6035 Ridge Rd., Gibsonia) with members of the Fourth River workers Guild. This 2nd walk from leaders Mitch & Ben will continue the exploration of the land and its composition from an ecological point of view. Email your RSVP now as space is limited. 

August 22nd @ 10:30am - Introductory Zoom meeting of Rachel Carson EcoVillage. Heard about us, want to know more? Join us for a virtual tour of the campus, presentation of the ecovillage, and Q&A session. Email for zoom link. 

August 30th @ 11am - BYO physically distanced picnic in the Laurel Highlands. Come meet some of the members for a relaxing time on the property of one of the ecovillage’s members. Short hike to follow. Email to RSVP.

Aug 18: Suffrage film and discussion

The Battle of Homestead Foundation and League of Women Voters of Greater Pittsburgh proudly present a *free* evening of conversation for viewers of the PBS film The Vote, with commentaries by Dr. Jacqueline Cavalier, CCAC Professor of History and Battle of Homestead Foundation Board of Directors, and Dr. Ebony English, CCAC Endowed Professor of Teaching and Learning and Professor of Social Work and concluding statements by Ms. Eileen Olmsted, Communications Director, League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania.
The award-winning PBS film The Vote details the historic campaign waged by American women for the right to vote — and connects the strategies used by the early 1900s women’s suffrage movement with today’s voting rights challenges.
Watch the film beforehand, and then join the discussion 7:30-9 p.m. online.  More details, film trailer, and online registration here -- after you register, you'll receive a Zoom link and password for the event. 
MAKE SURE to watch The Vote ahead of the discussion by visiting here.

Aug 14: The Story of Plastic screening and panel

Allegheny CleanWays and No Plastic Please are hosting an online screening of THE STORY OF PLASTIC, a new documentary film directed and produced by Deia Schlosberg, which exposes the astonishing global environmental, climate, justice, and health impacts of the plastic industry. 
In light of the film’s importance and the relevance of the debate over single-use plastics in the covid-19 pandemic,  Allegheny CleanWays and No Plastic Please have organized a special screening on August 14th to make it available to wider audiences and let local groups in the growing movement to curtail plastic production interact with one another.  
To participate in the screening, register online here, and you will receive a link to access the film, as well as information on how to attend the panel discussion following the screening.  Watch the film any time prior to the panel discussion at 6 p.m. on Friday.   

Aug 5: Clean Air Project

Join local air quality experts, activists, and elected officials on Aug. 5 for the unveiling of the new Air Quality Station installation in Grant Avenue Pocket Park in Millvale.
GASP Executive Director Rachel Filippini will be among the speakers, joining award-winning filmmaker and local activist Mark Dixon of Inversion Documentary, Matt Mehalik of the Breathe Project, state Rep. Sara Innamorato, and New Sun Rising’s Zaheen Hussain.
Participants will explore the opportunities and challenges of air quality in Pittsburgh – learning about sources of air pollution, as well as the associated health impacts.  Most importantly, those in attendance will learn how they can become more engaged in clean air advocacy.
But that’s not all: Those who attend the virtual event will be see – for the first time – the design of new air quality monitoring stations being installed in Millvale, Etna, and Sharpsburg. These stations will display the real-time Air Quality Index (AQI) in each of the three boroughs.
6-7 p.m. -- please register for the event online.  Not able to attend?  Then mark your calendars because the Aug. 5 event will be followed by two others: where air monitoring stations will be unveiled in Etna (Aug. 19) and Sharpsburg (Sept. 2).  

Aug 4: Making the Connection -- Fast Fashion

Whether we are talking about fast fashion, food waste, planting trees, or cleaning our homes, there is a connection to air quality that GASP's new Making the Connection series will explore with special guests.
Participants will be exposed to the myriad organizations and businesses in the Pittsburgh region and beyond that are working to make our world a better, greener, more sustainable place. 
Our first event involves the subject of fast fashion. 
Making the Connection: Fashion & the Environment is slated from 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Aug. 4 online. GASP will be joined by:
You can register to attend the event via Zoom here. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.