Aug 27: Going vegan

It’s Easy to Start Eating Vegan!  Vegan Pittsburgh and the East End Food Co-op present Rebecca Gilbert, founder of Yummy Plants vegan lifestyle website and author of It’s Easy to Start Eating Vegan! YUMMY PLANTS 101, a step-by-step plan to help you start eating vegan today. In this presentation, Rebecca suggests vegan protein sources, easy egg and dairy substitutions, how to stock a vegan pantry, and how to stay vegan in social situations. ​ She’ll demo and sample her recipe for “No Chicken Salad” and share tips on how to turn traditional recipes into vegan delights. Attendees will have the opportunity to buy her book.

6:30 p.m. at the Carnegie Library in Homewood.  Free and open to the public;  please call 412-242-3598 to reserve your spot.

Aug 26: Methane and Climate in Pennsylvania

The National Academies’ Science & Engineering Ambassadors presents 

The Methane Martini:  Pennsylvania’s Next Popular Cocktail

Burning natural gas for energy results in less carbon dioxide emissions than coal, but methane (the primary component of natural gas) is a potent greenhouse gas with 30 times more warming power than CO2. In other words, a little bit of methane goes a long way in terms of warming the planet.

Daniel Tkacik and team of scientists from Carnegie Mellon University spent much of the past year measuring natural gas leaks around the country. He’ll share stories about this project, explain the innovative methods devised for this work, and discuss the implications of how these leaks will complicate the ongoing debate about natural gas and its impact on climate.

Daniel is communications manager for the College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. He received his doctorate in mechanical engineering at CMU as a student in Neil Donahue’s lab.

This is the second in a three-part series called “Climate Change Here and Now.”  The third, and final, presentation will feature Ellis Robinson, who will illuminate yet another piece of the climate puzzle with his research on the chemistry of particulate air pollution:  Smoke Gets in Your Eyes (Lungs Too).
6 p.m. at Bar Marco's Union Hall (2216 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222).   Complimentary hors d'oeuvres will be provided, and the event is free but please be sure to RSVP here.

The Science & Engineering Ambassadors program is an activity of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). We connect opinion leaders with local experts, building relationships at the community level on the topic of energy.  The NAS and NAE are private, non-profit societies of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the public good.

Aug 24: Red, Ripe, and Roasted

Summer Crops Steal the Show at Phipps’ Red, Ripe and Roasted Celebration
10th annual tomato and garlic festival to benefit Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

Come out to Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens to celebrate two of summer’s most bountiful crops at its 10th annual Red, Ripe and Roasted tomato and garlic festival. Held on the public garden’s sustainably managed front lawn and in the Outdoor Garden, this family-friendly event features cooking demonstrations, a tomato contest, a farmers’ market and activities for kids — all to benefit Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.
   Always a seasonal highlight, Red, Ripe and Roasted is a foodie’s dream-come-true with a focus on fresh, local produce and its many culinary possibilities. CafĂ© Phipps — a 3-star Green Restaurant Certified® eatery — will prepare and share a variety of delicious dishes to sample, there will be cooking demonstrations and a Phipps-grown garlic roast, and a farmers’ market featuring organic and Certified Naturally Grown produce will give guests an opportunity to buy plenty of tomatoes and garlic to experiment with at home. Beloved garden writer and television/radio host Doug Oster — author of Tomatoes, Garlic, Basil — and food writer Miriam Rubin, author of Tomatoes, will also be in attendance to present some of their favorite recipes and sign copies of their books.
   Another popular festival activity is a tomato contest for which home gardeners are invited to enter their ugliest, smallest or largest ripe tomatoes for a chance to win special prizes— among them a membership to Phipps. And, as always, a variety of discovery activities, including a fun food matching game and opportunities to pot garlic cloves to take home, will delight children of all ages. Let’s Move Pittsburgh and several other local organizations will also be in attendance to engage event-goers.
   While highlighting western Pennsylvania’s quintessential crops, the festival also encourages guests to share the season’s harvest with Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. By donating a bag of fresh produce to help community members in need, festival participants will be admitted for free to both Red, Ripe and Roasted and to Summer Flower Show, featuring bright blooms and whimsical model train displays, during event hours. In 2013, the festival resulted in the collection of 2,174 pounds of food.

11 a.m. –  4 p.m. at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens 

About Phipps: Founded in 1893, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh, Pa. is a green leader among public gardens with a mission to inspire and educate all with the beauty and importance of plants; to advance sustainability and promote human and environmental well-being through action and research; and to celebrate its historic glasshouse. Learn more:

Aug 23: Permaculture Design workshop

Darrell Fry, regional permaculture leader and owner of Three Sisters Farm in Sandy Lake, will teach a three-hour "Introduction to Permaculture Design" workshop at Slippery Rock University's Robert A. Macoskey Center for Sustainable Systems Education and Research.  The Center, begun in 1987, will serve as a model for the program.

Frey has been a permaculture design professional since 1986 and is the author of "Bioshelter Market Garden: A Permaculture Farm."
The center's sustainable systems include gardens, an edible landscape, natural building methods, LED-certified building design and renewable energy systems. The center has used permaculture practices is its guide in the design and development of it facilities as a holistic and organic system.

Participants will learn the principles and practices of permaculture and see firsthand how they have been applied at the center.

9 a.m. to noon at the Macoskey Center (247 Harmony Road, Slippery Rock, PA 16057).  Cost of the workshop is $25 and pre-registration is required.  For details and registration information call 724.738.4050.  Fran Bires is the center's director.

Aug 22: Benefit poetry & music concert

House concert of poetry and music in support of the Thomas Merton Center's local "Stop Sexual Assault in the Military" project  Jan Beatty, Tracy Drach, Celeste Gainey, Eve Goodman , Leslie McIlroy and Ginny Hildebrand.

7:30 p.m. at a home near Penn Ave. & Dallas Admission is only $10! What better way to spend a summer evening than with friends working to make a positive impact in the world?

Seats are filling up fast so RSVP ASAP!  

To reserve call Jan (412) 241-8154

Aug 20: Homemade green cleaning products

Learn how to make your home sparkle with eco-friendly solutions! Green cleaning products are easily made at home with common ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, essential oils, and most of all water. There are many reasons to try these child and pet friendly products – improved air quality, reduced amounts of toxic chemicals in our waterways, and hundreds of dollars saved on store-bought products! Naturally Clean professional Rachel Breit will demonstrate how to make all-purpose cleaner, stain remover, bathroom cleaner, and air freshener, and attendees will take home recipes and a sample!
6:30 at Gemini Children's Theater in The Factory in Point Breeze (enter parking lot from Penn Ave. or from Meade Street).  Free and open to the public;  please call 412-242-3598 to reserve your spot.

Aug 16: Sustainability Salon on Environmental Art

The 31st Putting Down Roots Sustainability Salon (see below if that's new to you) will take place on Saturday, August 16th (2-10 p.m).  The topic will be Environmental Art. And mark your calendar:  the 32nd Sustainability Salon on Climate Change will be on September 6th, and we'll be hosting a house concert on September 14th.  Please be sure to RSVP if you might come...  and read on for important information:  

The 31st Sustainability Salon will focus on environmental art:  art that teaches us about the natural environment, art that makes us think about our relationship to it, and art that is in direct service to the environment -- and thus to humanity, for we are part of it.  We'll hear from three very different Pittsburgh collaboratives.

The passenger pigeon returns -- to Sustainability Salons:  Artist, educator, and writer Ann Rosenthal addresses the local manifestation of global concerns, including climate change, food safety, and nuclear waste. Her work has been shown at the Andy Warhol Museum and the Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh;  Exit Art and the Hudson River Museum in New York;  the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education in Philadelphia;  and Kunsthaus Kaufbeuren in Germany.  She also directs LOCUS – a creative commons where art, community and ecology meet.
For 2014, Ann and collaborator Steffi Domike are developing Moving Targets, an art installation that links the artists’ shared cultural heritage and family migrations to the story of the American passenger pigeon.  For the centenary of the extinction of the passenger pigeon this year, the artists are working with a coalition of environmental and arts institutions in Pittsburgh to promote a series of regional events.  In case the reference in the title of this section is obscure to you, I'll note that in May, CMNH's Pat McShea brought an actual passenger pigeon to share this century-old cautionary tale of species extinction with salongoers.

Local ecoartists with a global reach:  The Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) gathers ideas that seek to create substantive models for change by addressing renewable energy infrastructure within the genre of public art.  The goal of the founders, Robert Ferry & Elizabeth Monoian, is to design and construct a series of large-scale site-specific installations that uniquely combine art with utility-scale clean energy generation.  The artworks utilize the latest in renewable energy science as media for their construction, and help to innovate the application of new technologies. Each land art generator sculpture has the potential to provide power to hundreds or even thousands of homes, while fulfilling its traditional role—public art as conceptually engaging amenity to our common space.
Elizabeth and Rob will discuss the LAGI competitions held for Dubai/Abu Dhabi, New York City, and Copenhagen and the portfolio of ideas that have come from the project. But we will begin the talk by providing a context for LAGI within the history of art and architecture, eco art, sustainable urban planning, and the net positive movement. 

Artists, educators, and activists Tom & Connie Merriman have been working on projects in academia and in the community for decades.  
Constance Merriman creates art works that are made in response to formal issues of art and to the social and environmental impact caused by the worldwide extraction of fuel for energy.  She uses a wide variety of media to create works that have been exhibited in galleries, museums and other public settings.  Connie is an adjunct professor in the School of Architecture at Carnegie Mellon University and an instructor at the Carnegie Museum of Art.  She also engages in residencies with communities and schools through the Mattress Factory Museum and The Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.
Thomas Merriman is a teaching professor in the School of Design and teaches courses in furniture design, form generation, and prototyping.  His primary interest is in the process of reconciling design intent with the constraints of materials and process in the generation of form.  As a fellow at the STUDIO, Merriman, he and Connie studied the role of the natural world in urban environments and the role of humans in the natural world.  Merriman also collaborated with faculty from the School of Psychology at New York University to develop methods and instrumentation for studying motor skill development in infants.  Merriman holds a BFA in Sculpture from Carnegie Mellon University and previously worked for the U.S. Steel Corporation and was a partner of The Transit Shop, a co-operative furniture making shop.  He continues to design and build furniture for private clients.

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 interesting things around our place.  That'll mainly be happening between 2 & 4 p.m. 

2-10 p.m. at Maren's house in Squirrel Hill.  Please don't arrive before 2pm.  We'll aim to introduce speakers beginning around 4pm after folks have had a chance to meet, mingle, and tour around an interesting and productive urban permaculture site.  With the earlier start time (tested during our recent Sunday salon, when we also ended early) we're going to try really hard to get the talks started in a timely manner while still having enough mingling-time!  Please email me with salon in the Subject line to RSVP (yes or maybe), or click on the link in your EventBrite invitation (if you're not already on my list, please email me to be added!).  Please RSVP each time -- it helps greatly in several ways.  Among other things, attendance varies widely, and these events have been so successful that we need to begin limiting attendance.  So RSVP early if you can, to ensure your participation!  The free virtual "tickets" on Eventbrite may run out (you don't need to print any tickets, by the way, just be on the list).  Also, 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/or a trail map if you need 'em 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, along with musical instruments if you play.  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.  

Note once again that 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.  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;  a venue for discussion and debate about important environmental issues;  a house party with an environmental theme.  We usually have featured speakers on various aspects of a topic, interspersed with stimulating conversation, lively debate, delectable potluck food and drink, and music-making through the evening.
Past topics have included environmental education (Part I & Part II), community mapping projectsenvironmental journalismgrassroots actioncommunity solar powerMarcellus shale development and community rightsgreen buildingair qualityhealth care, solar powertrees and park stewardshipalternative energy and climate policy, regional watershed issues, fantastic film screenings and discussions (led by filmmakers) over the winter with Living DownstreamBidder 70YERTGas Rush Stories, and foodfoodfoodfood, and more food.

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 of any kind:  wine, beer, hard or sweet cider (the latter we can mull if you like), juice, tea, whatever (I've got the kombucha covered, though it's always fun to compare).  The more the merrier!  Local fare is always particularly welcome, whether homegrown or boughten.  Dishes containing meat or dairy are fine, though if it isn't really obvious please make a note of it.  

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. 

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 16: 8th annual DRYerson Festival

Join the Center for Coalfield Justice, Sierra Club, and the Izaak Walton League Harry Enstrom Chapter for a festive celebration of the fight to restore Duke Lake in Ryerson Station State Park.  There will be free food, live music, and entertainment for the whole family. Join us in the fight to protect the park from more mining.

1 to 4 pm at Ryerson Station State Park in Greene County.  For more information contact Veronica at

Aug 14: PRC Composting workshop

You can attend PRC's Backyard Composting Workshop, receive an 80-gal compost bin, and tour Chatham's Eden Hall campus, all in the same evening! 

6:30-8:30 at the Field Labs of Chatham University's Eden Hall Campus.  Fee : $25;  $30 for a couple (receiving one composter).

Register online or contact Ann Payne for more info by email or at (412) 365-1375).

Aug 13: GMO OMG film screening

How do GMOs affect our children, the health of our planet, and our freedom of choice? Is it possible to reject the food system currently in place, or have we lost something we can’t gain back? These questions take film director Jeremy Seifert on a journey from his family’s table in California to Haiti, Paris, Norway, and ultimately to the lobby of agra-giant Monsanto, from which he is unceremoniously ejected. Along the way we gain insights into a question of growing concern to citizens around the world: what’s on your plate? After the film, Sara Heald of GMO FREE PA will be on hand to discuss the film and answer your questions.
6:30 p.m. at the Carnegie Library in Homewood.  Free and open to the public;  please call 412-242-3598 to reserve your spot.

Aug 9: H20 In the Know workshop

​​Ever wonder why a street or basement floods?  Or how to build a rain garden?   Join the Larimer Green Team​ for their Annual Community Cookout and explore how water affects Larimer, and how to create easy and helpful water elements for your home, streets, and neighborhood.  

1 p.m. at the Larimer Village Green and Community Garden (Larimer Avenue + Mayflower Street).  Free, and open to all ages!!  Please register online at

*U R Here workshops are offered as part of Carnegie Mellon University’s 
 Architecture Explorations k-12 outreach program.  You can a
ttend this workshop and enroll in CMU's Saturday Architecture Camps for only $25!  For more information please contact Outreach Coordinator:  Samantha Carter, 412-268-5551 or email

Aug 7: Climate volunteer meetup

PennEnvironment Climate Defenders -- come to PennEnvironment's volunteer meetup to learn about how you can help beat the coal industry and cut global warming pollution from power plants.

7 p.m. at 1831 Murray Ave, 15217 (suite 219);  please call Jonathan at 412-593-7208 to RSVP.

Aug 7: Film screening on restoring buildings as green building

The Greenest Building: The Role of Historic Buildings in Creating a Sustainable Culture”

Restoring old and historic houses is "green building" because repurposing our built environment helps reduce our impact on the natural environment.

Join the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation for a screening of “The Greenest Building,” by Jane Turville, a preservationist, writer, and producer of this important documentary that examines the cost of tearing down our historic built environment.

Following the film, Ms. Turville will discuss the connection between built heritage and natural heritage, and their important role in creating sustainable societies.

Jane Turville, writer, producer and director of "The Greenest Building," received her Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Oregon and interned with the National Trust for Historic Preservation in London, England.  She has worked for several architectural firms in the Portland area and more recently as non-profit development director/program manager for the Northwest Earth Institute. With over 12 years experience in historic preservation, architectural design and construction administration, Ms. Turville has given presentations on Portland, Oregon's Old Town historic district and has organized and presented various sustainability conference workshops for teenagers and adults.

Film screening and filmmaker discussion 6-8 p.m.  at the Landmarks Preservation Resource Center (744 Rebecca Ave. in Wilkinsburg).  Free and open to the public, but RSVPs are appreciated!  Contact Mary Lu Denny: 412-471-5808 ext. 527.