Twin Cities Summer of Solutions hits the ground running!

This is the first post in our National Blog Series, and we’ll be featuring … The Twin Cities program!

After two summers of amazing work and programs in the Twin Cities, the TC Summer of Solutions Planning Team is back in business and ready to amplify their already very strong programs!

Programs in the Twin Cities: The TC Summer of Solutions is the first program run, and two of the projects from that very first summer are still maintained.

CEF LogoCooperative Energy Futures (CEF) is a business that connects home- and business-owners in St. Paul with the resources to weatherize homes and implement very practical energy efficiency strategies to save energy and money. The broad vision of CEF is to reframe the debate about energy and climate change by demonstrating how the average household can play a role in building solutions through community collaboration. First envisioned in early 2008, and is running strong today.

The Alliance to Re-Industrialize for a Sustainable Economy is a coalition of groups working together to transform the St. Paul Ford Plant, which is slotted to close, into a mixed-use site that would act as an example of how green manufacturing can very positively act as an ecosystem-like community. The manufacturing spaces already existing on the site would be converted to manufacturing solar panels or wind equipment. Within the blueprints for the site are high-density, mixed-use housing, green space, business establishments, and transit systems. The site would be a whole community. Last summer, SoS participants took an integral part in developing a fiscal impact statement, and the project was taken to the St. Paul City Planners in the fall.

These are two programs that have been running for a while, but Twin Cities leaders have told me they have much more up their sleeves for this summer!

Much of the program expansion this summer is in the exciting move out of the Macalester Neighborhood. Program leaders the past two summers benefited greatly from the local community around Macalester College, but the projects of the Summer of Solutions – Twin Cities are meant to be scalable into many different neighborhoods, and have reached a point of stability where that is possible.

However, there are a couple of really new, exciting opportunities that set this summer apart from other summers. A local bike co-op is hoping to implement a bike loan program this summer for those coming from low-income backgrounds to save costs on transportation. There are also several exciting opportunities to collaborate with local urban agriculture/community gardening groups, and the program leaders are excited to expand their focus on Community Gardens this summer.

About the Cities: St. Paul and Minneapolis, MN have grown together since the mid-late 1800s into a center point for urban life in the Midwest. Matt explained that the Twin Cities are the most metropolitan area within 300 miles, and are extremely neighborhood focused.

Jason highlighted the cities as a focal point for immigration to the Midwest – until about the 1970s, that immigration had been largely white, but has become very diverse. Three immigrant populations in particular are highly present in the Twin Cities metro area: East African, Hmong, and Mexican populations thrive within the two cities. The Twin Cities are very bikable, have a (decent?) transportation system, and, in true Minnesota fashion, are a very friendly place to live.

The Planners: Full-time planners for this summer are Timothy DenHerder-Thomas, Matt Kazinka, William Raedy, Jason Rodney, and Ruby Levine. For more detailed information about these wonderful people, check out their bios on our website.

We hope to see you here in June! Apply here to participate in the Twin Cities Summer of Solutions!

If you have any further questions, please email Matt at

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