Graduation season has ended and school is wrapping up which means one thing for the Twin Cities Team, we held our first in person meeting since January Gathering. Patricia, Elizabeth, and I met at Ruby and Timothy’s house early last week to discuss our Training Week Schedule. It was good to see everyone back in Minneapolis again (except Aly who couldn’t make it). Plus, meetings in person are just so much more fun and productive than Skype meetings.
Some of the TC Team planning training week!
From Left: Patricia, Elizabeth, Timothy, and Maddie Continue reading
It’s almost May in Minnesota, and spring is in the air!
…Except maybe for the two massive snow storms we got this week.
It’s sure pretty to look at, but it isn’t quite making for optimal planting conditions. Earlier this year, I mentioned in another solutionaries.net blog post that my joint positions as a Summer of Solutions program leader and a waitress might breed some sort of synergy. As it turns out, Twin Cities SoS will be tending a garden for Gandhi Mahal Fine Indian Cuisine. The restaurant started a pilot garden project last summer, and is expanding this year to include several more plots. Ours will be at the site of the first garden, as pictured in the blog post. Of course at this rate, only time will tell if we’ll just end up growing Thai chili pepper popsicles. Maybe we would be better suited toward a Gandhi Mahal ice fishing venture? Continue reading
The 2013 Summer of Solutions programs are accepting participant applications until April 14th! Apply here! Keep reading to learn about the life-changing experience that Summer of Solutions was for our alumni!
Emily Stiever: “It was one of the first times where I could see what my life could look like in the future: the ability to work on social issues that I cared about and to live sustainably in community with people who shared a similar passion.” Read more…
Ashley Trull: “I learned how to have creative confidence, which to me is being willing to put yourself and your ideas out there, boldly, knowing that you have the skills and resources within yourself and your community to make it a reality.” Read more…
Nathaniel Cook: “Summer of Solutions was probably the most influential experience that I have ever had, and it has shaped me, my experiences, and my relationships ever since.” Read more…
Shoshana Blank: “Even as young college students, we were able to do some big things in Summer of Solutions-Twin Cities because we were well organized. We could offer solutions to community members and be taken seriously because we had a plan of action and materials to back us up.” Read more…
Colin Higgins: “One of the main things that I took away is that I really enjoy teaching others, especially youth, about environmental issues and solutions.” Read more…
Cecelia Watkins: “The greatest thing I took with me was a deep sense of practical empowerment—a sense that money is far from the only resource we can leverage for change, a sense that we are rich in those other resources.” Read more…
Brianna Besch: “I still remember the first week of Summer of Solutions training as one of the most inspiring things I have ever done.” Read more…
Ethan Viets-Vanlear: “SoS really taught me a way to help a community without being part of various systems of oppression and control that dominate most organizations and institutions in our society.” Read more…
Become a solutionary and apply to join Summer of Solutions 2013!
During the Summer of Solutions, you will receive training in community organizing and sustainable community development techniques. You will use these skills to demonstrate the promise of energy efficiency, community-based energy, green industry, local food production, and/or smart design as described in the locations you choose. Beyond the concrete skills you learn, Summer of Solutions will be a really fun community-based experience. It is a great chance to grow with, learn from, and work with other incredible young people and community leaders who are building a better future.
Now accepting participant applications: Arleta, CA; Chicago, IL; Hartford, CT; Iowa City, IA; Ithaca, NY; Johnson City, TN; Lexington, KY; Little Rock, AR; Middleton, WI; Oakland, CA; Raleigh, NC; Southern West Virginia; Twin Cities, MN; and Washington, DC!
Applications are due on 4/14/2013. Some programs may keep their local applications open beyond 4/14, but there is no guarantee that any specific program will do so.
Find more details and the online application here!
Hello all! My name is Elizabeth Kahn and I am currently one of the program leaders for the Twin Cities Summer of Solutions 2013 program. I was a part-time participant last summer and I am excited to continue my involvement with the program for this summer. I am excited once again to work in the Minneapolis area. It is a great city with a lot of potential for sustainable development.
The Summer of Solutions program teams up with many different organizations and various people to get the word out about sustainability in the city. Last year I did research with an ARISE, an organization, that looked into implementing alternative energies into the abandoned Ford Power Plant site in St. Paul, MN. I also worked with a group of participants from Summer of Solutions last year creating a “farming business.” Or goal was to make a business installing urban gardens in people’s yards and teaching people how to can their food; because we had such a short amount of time to implement everything, we ended up creating cookbooks that we sold in the Minneapolis area with local recipes in it. We used the money funded towards the program. Working with ARISE and the farm group was a great experience. We are planning on having the same organizations that participated for last years program to continue on this summer as well. Continue reading
We are now accepting applications to participate in our 2013 Summer of Solutions programs! Apply here!
My name is Cecelia Watkins, and I am a proud Summer of Solutions alum. This is my SoS story.
After four years in a liberal arts college and many more years spent desperately wondering how to funnel my passions and skills into making a difference in this crazy, suffering world, I found myself at somewhat of a loss. I was a second semester senior in college, and despite an incredible amount of growth and community support, I found myself looking into my future with a deep and unrelenting anxiety. First off, I struggled to determine what I wanted to do in the next year (not to mention the much larger perceived struggle of deciding what I wanted to do with my life). Secondly, I felt a deep fear that even if I miraculously decided what I wanted to do, there was no way I’d ever be able to get paid a living wage to do it (let alone a student-debt-alleviating wage).
While at the PowerShift convention in Washington DC that spring, I ran into two young men standing behind a table with the banner “Summer of Solutions.” A few lengthy conversations later, and I decided to sign on to the SoS program based in the Twin Cities—the land where I grew up, where I’d hardly been since leaving for school four years prior. Why did I sign up? It neatly filled a gap of time between my graduation and a work exchange I had set up starting in late August. It sounded cool. And it would fulfill my guilt-driven longing to bring my new passions and energy back to my neglected hometown. Continue reading
In the weeks since the January gathering the Twin Cities team has been getting used to Skype, lots of Skype. We are currently all in different cities: Patricia is in Minneapolis; Aly is in Northfield, MN; Elizabeth is in Ashland, WI; and Maddie is in Canada. So we have been faced with the challenge of 4 different schedules, 3 states, 2 time zones, and 2 countries. Needless to say I think all of us are pretty excited for when we can all be I the same place.
Despite all this we have been having fun and getting a lot done! Only two of us were able to make it to Chicago for January Gathering, so we had fun sharing everything we learned with our fellow program leaders. We planned lessons in Chicago which we then shared with the rest of our team in the weeks following. There was and Anti Oppression session, a Media and outreach session, ahow to work google docs session. We used the time to practice facilitating, and we are planning on having a facilitation recap when we are all back in the Twin Cities.
Hello! My name is Shoshana Blank. I went to St. Olaf College and participated in the Summer of Solutions in 2009. I joined SoS because I wanted to get involved in the Twin Cities community with students from other colleges. Also, I was so passionate about trying to create solutions to climate change, I knew from the title of the program that I wanted to be a part of it. I think that I found out about the program through an email from the Environmental Coalition at St. Olaf.
Even as young college students, we were able to do some big things in Summer of Solutions-Twin Cities because we were well organized. We could offer solutions to community members and be taken seriously because we had a plan of action and materials to back us up. I am specifically thinking about Cooperative Energy Futures, with structured meetings, a nice website, and a good business model. I have so many good memories of my time with SoS, and I particularly love my memories from the potlucks we would have, at least once a week. It was such a good way to create community! 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
This post is from our Alumni Spotlight series, featuring stories and reflections from past Summer of Solutions participants. The 2013 Summer of Solutions programs are now accepting participant applications! Apply here!
Hi All! I’m Emily Stiever, a native of Minnetonka, MN. I was part of the inaugural batch of Solutionaries at Macalester during the summer of 2008. As I think back now, it’s difficult to remember exactly how I stumbled across the awesome group of people that morphed into Summer of Solutions (SoS). I think I had just come back from studying abroad in Nicaragua and I heard about the first January Gathering (in 2008). I have a vague recollection of showing up for a meeting at Macaleter’s Eco House over winter break and (since I got the time wrong) everyone was still sleeping. But once we got going, the January Gathering was really interesting and I was on board for spending the summer at Macalester and working on a number of the projects we’d dreamed up.
My experiences in SoS
One of my favorite experiences was riding back from a meeting at the Ford plant one evening. We’d just come from having a great discussion about ARISE (The Alliance to Re-Industrialize for a Sustainable Economy), “a coalition of local stakeholders, advocacy groups, and students seeking to create a sustainable redevelopment plan for the closed Ford factory in Highland Park, St. Paul.” (The Twin Cities SoS program will once again be working with ARISE this summer!) It was warm, and we all biked quietly home along the river trail on the Mississippi. It was one of the first times where I could see what my life could look like in the future: the ability to work on social issues that I cared about and to live sustainably in community with people who shared a similar passion. SoS helped me translate a general feeling of, “it would be cool to work on these issues at some point in my life” to a much more tangible, “this is how my life could look now.” The experience helped me clarify what I am looking for, both in my professional life and how I want to live personally, and has guided me as I’ve sought out living arrangements and jobs in recent years.
The other big take-away from my experience with SoS was the need to ground my activism and social justice work in extensive background knowledge about the issues. Throughout my summer in SoS, I learned a lot about climate change and renewable energy. Timothy, one of the program leaders, taught an ExCo (Experimental Community Education) class on climate, we met with multiple speakers, got into the nitty-gritty details of how to implement an energy efficiency program with Cooperative Energy Futures, and I borrowed a couple of great books from others in the program. I learned a lot of information that summer and I am surprised even now how often I use that technical and philosophical information even today. Continue reading