The youth climate movement has become very good at articulating what we don’t want. At Power Shift, we fully exercised our ability to condemn dirty energy. We demanded that Lisa Jackson put a ban on fracking. We marched on big polluters and their allies like the Chamber of Commerce and the Department of the Interior. We heard Tim DeChristopher put out a call for thousands of activists to collectively shut down coal plants.
Power Shift demonstrated the energy and passion the youth climate movement brings to stopping the polluters who are creating chaos on our earth. But we as a movement have a long way to go in promoting what we do want, and more importantly, knowing how we are going to get there.
Its one thing to shut down a coal plant, but it’s only going to hurt the neighboring community if we don’t have an alternative energy system ready to take its place. Its one thing to know that Monsanto is “evil” but it’s a whole different level if you know how to produce sustainable agriculture. Its one thing to chant “Clean energy now!” but you’re going to be much more convincing if you understand how to make renewable energy economically viable.
That’s where programs like Summer of Solutions come in. Summer of Solutions is a 2-month program that trains participants how to develop the green economy by creating hands-on, community-based solutions to climate change. Throughout the summer, participants learn not just what is wrong with the current system, but also how to make changes that integrate climate and energy solutions, economic security, and social justice.
At Power Shift, Summer of Solutions leaders and past participants, known as “Solutionaries”, ran around with jumbo sunglasses that we called the “Solutionary Lens”. We encouraged people to look through the Solutionary Lens to discover how it feels to use an actively participatory approach to create holistic solutions that confront a broad range of local and global problems through people power, rather than addressing individual issues. The Solutionary Lens views economic collapse, global development, local inequalities and global justice, environmental sustainability and personal fulfillment as not only linked, but sharing the same root causes and transformative solutions.
This summer, there will be 15 programs across the country engaging in their own green economy development projects. We will pioneer urban agriculture ventures, retrofit homes and businesses, create distributed renewable energy opportunities, make biking more accessible, and work towards green manufacturing facilities. Each program engages in its own solutions, which you can learn more about at www.grandaspirations.org/programs.