This post is by Kwame Ntiri Owusu-Daaku, program leader at Iowa City Summer of Solutions.
I can’t believe I have changed this much in a year. I can’t believe I’ve stayed involved this much for a year either. What started out as a the need to find a summer internship in Iowa City has turned into an amazing journey of discovery from which I’m moving on to a PhD in Geography in which I plan to focus on development and climate change adaptation.
Kwame learns to caulk a window.
I came to Iowa City in August 2011 to begin a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Iowa. Before then, climate change for me was something Americans and Europeans rambled on about. Coming from Ghana, I was more concerned about social and economic sustainability than environmental protection and preservation. For me then, the tensions inherent in environment versus people and economy saw an obvious winner – I wasn’t about to let people continue to be impoverished while the ground lay fallow. I’ve expanded my thought processes since then and now I have no clear cut solutions. Continue reading
It’s 12:10 on a Sunday afternoon. I’m walking between two buildings at the University of Minnesota, carrying my carefully scribed flip-chart pages for the Next Generation Environmental Congress. We couldn’t get into the building where the event was being held until noon, right when registration started, and while I had promised to help with registration, I was running a little late. I was amazed to see, as I walked up the stairs, a line of people stretching back from the registration table. I quickly set up to help Abbie and Natalie check people into the event, and we were consistently welcoming new people until after the welcome speech started at 1pm.
This is the state of youth environmental activism in Minnesota, as I see it — fired up, ready to collaborate, and eager for opportunities. The Next Gen Environmental Congress was proposed by the state government in order to engage the youth voice in advance of the big Environmental Congress on March 15th. Organized by the MN Youth Environmental Network and the Young Environmental Advocates of MN, this conference brought together high schoolers, college students, and non-student youth from all corners of the state. I had the privilege of helping to plan the agenda for the day in order to create a positive experience while getting effective feedback to present at the Environmental Congress. Continue reading
Our journey begins on December 28th in our nation’s capital. A dozen young Solutionaries from all ends of the country are convening at the Steinbruck Center in downtown DC. From Arleta, California and Reno, Nevada in the west to West Virginia in the east, these intrepid travelers join up with hosts from the new Washington DC Summer of Solutions program to learn the skills they will need to empower other young people through their programs and produce real green economy solutions. It is the beginning of the first of the 2013 January Gathering trainings (yes, even in late December), where we will work together to transform our minds and get prepared to run incredible programs this summer.
Solutionaries at the DC January Gathering map their feelings of interconnectedness at the end of the week.
This post is by sustainable community organizer Lookman Muhammed. You can read his first post here.
Lookman Muhammed (r) with Ethan Viets-VanLear, building a rain garden in Rogers Park.
My name is Lookman Muhammed. I work with A Just Harvest’s Genesis Project specifically the “Aquaponic Social Enterprise”. My first blog post explained a lot about my work here, what I do, and the purpose of my work with A Just Harvest and LETS GO Chicago. These two organizations have a common goal to fight hunger and poverty through urban agriculture. My responsibility is working to maintain and increase the effectiveness of our aquaponic system located in Gale Academy on Marshfield and Jonquil in the community of Rogers Park. The North of Howard area is where a great majority of the population we engage reside. Continue reading
This post is by sustainable community organizer Patricia Lamas. You can read her first post here.
With the MN350 Barter-to-Cash Network project well underway, we’re now beginning to reach out to the community in search of talent, time, and underused belongings here in the Twin Cities. We have set November 30th as the official launch date for the online platform, just in time to give it a publicity jumpstart when Bill McKibben comes to town for his “Do the Math” Tour on the same day. (He’s touring the whole country! Do you have your ticket yet?) Continue reading
Cooperative Energy Futures (CEF) is a cooperative that has co-developed with the Twin Cities Summer of Solutions program over the last five years. Developing the legal structure and community organizing for CEF was one of the three projects that participants in the first Summer of Solutions collaborated on. The organization currently in the running for a $5000 online voting grant from Green America. Read about the project and then vote for CEF once during the month of November! The top three vote-getters win.
If this is the first time you’re hearing about CEF, it’s an energy efficiency cooperative helping Minneapolis neighbors work together to make energy efficiency and clean energy accessible, easy, social, and fun. CEF helps communities make the biggest positive environmental impact possible by working together to lower energy bills, generate energy revenue, improve home comfort, and create a healthier community and planet.
This is the fourth post in a series of introductions by Sustainable Community Organizers working in the Midwest. This post is by Patricia Lamas from the Twin Cities Summer of Solutions program.
Hello! My name is Patricia Lamas, and I began working with MN350 this September on a project called the “Barter to Cash Network.” We’re developing a new system for creative resource generation and community engagement, and we aim to spread it as a model for nonprofits and to our partners in climate movement. How will it work? Instead of sustaining our organization on direct monetary donations, we are inviting people to offer their diverse skills and resources – truly anything on hand. Maybe Susan has a surplus of cinder blocks, or a knack for home repair. Jim might take his dog to the park every morning, and wouldn’t mind picking up another playmate on the way. Whether or not MN350 can use these contributions, someone else in the community can! The idea is a system similar to craigslist.com, only the proceeds go to funding the work of the organization. This way, donations can be infinitely creative, and just as fun – all while creating new connections among members of the local community. Continue reading
An off-grid solar panel in Detroit. A bike shop in South Minneapolis. A chicken coop at the Coal River Mountain Watch homestead. Two hundred filled-out surveys on visions for the community in Portland. Five summer camps in Oakland, Raleigh, Lexington, Chicago, and Hartford. A dozen farm plots across the country.
Members of Middleton Summer of Solutions in their Children’s Garden.
Over 300 participants trained in community organizing, sustainable venture development, and distributed leadership. Young people who learned how to plant a seed for the first time. How to help a child believe in herself. How to develop a community owned solar business. How to listen. How to build something that works.
This is a small slice of the legacy of the sixteen 2012 Summer of Solutions programs. We are inviting other young people to join in and become a part of the Grand Aspirations network of empowerment through getting things done.
This is the third post in a series of introductions by Sustainable Community Organizers working in the Midwest. This post is by Lookman Muhammed from the Chicago Summer of Solutions program.
Lookman Muhammed at the greenhouse
My name is Lookman Muhammed. I’m originally from Nigeria, I’ve been residing in Chicago, IL in the Rogers Park neighborhood for 15 years since the age of 3. I initially began working with Summer of Solutions LETS GO Chicago based at the United Church of Rogers Park on the north side of Chicago under Peter Hoy. From the month of May 2012 up until August I worked building rain gardens, advocating for more sustainable ways to live, and educating the community on how to grow food and become sustainable.
At first I looked at this as simply a job where I can make money to provide for myself and my unemployed mother. But after these long months of being around nothing but people who were so passionate about urban agriculture and changing the Rogers Park community for the better It rubbed off on me and I started loving this job much more than I did in the beginning of working with Summer of Solutions. I completed the summer program and learned about the many possibilities that exist if we can spread this idea of sustainability throughout the country. The many jobs that can be brought to the U.S. and the possibility of ending hunger appealed to me the most because of the growing poverty I’ve witnessed in Chicago over the years.