After closing up sixteen successful Summer of Solutions programs around the country, Grand Aspirations is ready to help a handful of young people move on to the next step: employment. Five solutionaries who just finished the Summer of Solutions programs in Detroit, MI; Twin Cities, MN; and Chicago, IL are ready to get going with new jobs. Thanks to a grant from REAMP, Grand Aspirations is providing matching funding to these young people to go out and create their own jobs with partner organizations based in these local communities. Read more about the change each solutionary is ready to go out and make.
Carey deVictoria-Michel will continue her work with YEA Corps in the Twin Cities. Carey will work with a variety of other partners at the Unity Project in North Minneapolis to educate high school students about sustainability and agriculture utilizing learning tools such as aquaponics systems, compost systems, and mushroom cultivation. Carey will build connections with members of the community in which the project is located to promote environmental education, and to engage youth in the community in entrepreneurial ventures in urban agriculture. Carey will also work within YEA Corps to develop curriculum and resources for school programs and communities in the Twin Cities focused on food systems and agriculture.
Chris McMillian will continue his work with Distributed Power in Highland Park, a municipality embedded within Detroit. Chris’s work will focus on rebuilding community space in Highland Park, a community facing a lot of challenges, at the new Bene Hall Community Center. This center will create vital space for members of the community to talk with each other about the issues that are most important to them. Chris will support people with ideas for community improvements to make those improvements happen, particularly improvements that also reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as local food and community renewables. Chris’s project during the fall will be largely focused on listening to what the community needs, which will inform the shape his work takes in the winter and spring.
Jackson Koeppel will also continue his work with a different arm of Distributed Power. Jackson will be working with the Solardarity project to connect people in Highland Park with various ways they can access solar energy. Many people in Highland Park struggle with high energy bills and aren’t able to keep the lights on, making solar an important opportunity for the community. The local utility recently repossessed the street lights in Highland Park because the city was in default on its energy bills. Jackson will work with community partners to pursue the possibility of replacing these needed lights with off-grid solar street lights to keep the community safe at night.
Lookman Mohammed will work with A Just Harvest to build community access to healthy foods in Chicago. Lookman will focus his work on the Genesis Project, which provides intensive internships to young people North of Howard to become professional aquaponics farmers, hosts a business incubator and a micro-lending program, and works for food justice. Additionally, Lookman will be a part of Northside P.O.W.E.R., a program of A Just Harvest working to use community organizing to address issues of poverty and hunger on the North Side of Chicago.
Patricia Lamas will be partnering with Minnesota 350 to pioneer an innovative, community-based fundraising model. MN350 wants to create a barter-to-cash network, where people from the community can barter items and skills in exchange for donations to nonprofits fighting climate change. In the process of developing this project, Patricia will also bring people together to talk about alternative economies and how they relate to climate change. How can we build resilient communities through non-cash economies? Patricia is ready to help her community answer this question.
Look for more blog posts from all five of these young people about their work and the progress they are making towards a just, sustainable world.