-from Summer of Solutions Omaha organizer and Midwesterner extraordinaire: Lance Brisbois-
Creating the Space…
This summer, I had the opportunity to participate in the Omaha Summer of Solutions program. The Summer of Solutions began in the summer of 2008 in St. Paul, Minnesota by an ambitious group of student environmental activists. Being from the greater Omaha area, I decided that I would love to get involved with something like that in Omaha for summer 2009. Planning began many months in advance and became a very inclusive process with anyone who wanted to help out…either from a distance or on the ground. Dozens of people expressed interest in the program. The possibilities seemed endless—we could work on energy efficiency, clean energy, transportation, local food, building community, and myriad other sustainability-based initiatives.
Almost 3 months to the day since I arrived back home in Omaha, NE from school out East and started working on the Summer of Solutions Omaha with my great friends Lance, Tyler and Matt. I was a wide eyed visionary, believing I would change the face of my fair city with my bold and organized climate activism. I believed I would engage hundreds, if not thousands, of citizens and neighbors, empower them to create real climate solutions and establish a kick ass organization that would have me leaving the summer wiping my hands on my jeans, brushing my shoulders off and whistling dixie at having solved climate issues in Omaha. I expected to hop on a plane to head back east at the end of the summer and see solar panels on every roof, smile at the wind turbine production factory in low income North Omaha and notice waves of native prairie grass being grown for sustainable bio-fuel production. In short, I expected to make the sort of drastic changes that usually take years if not decades.
Needless to say this didn’t happen. But a lot of things did happen. Continue reading
“July, July, July, never seemed so strange!”
Sitting here in our Omaha office in the bottom of St. John’s Church, Lance Brisbois, one of our organizers put the above song on. At first I thought it was just another song by The Decemberists, but then I noticed the deliberate look Lance was giving me.
“Aaron”, he said, “It’s freaking July!!!”. I couldn’t argue with his infallible logic, my computer calendar confirmed that truth. It was indeed, July. A month since our program started. Whoa. Now, I’m not entirely sure about how other programs are being run, but I think Omaha is a little bit different. See we’ve been semi-intentionally & semi-unintentionally creating a space where we as organizers can truly run wild with our ideas for a sustainable Gifford Park (the neighborhood we’re working in) and a sustainable Omaha. Another way to frame that is, we have sort of abandoned any structured process right now with out program and adopted a very loose style of working together and working on our projects. There are definitely positives and negatives to this, and seeing as it’s now JULY, and our program is somewhere between 1/2 and 1/3 over, I’d like to take a second to reflect on the style we’ve been using so far, and examine how it can be applied to both the Summer of Solutions and organizing as a whole. This is far too much information for one post, so I think this will be done over a few posts in the next few days and maybe weeks!
For this first post, I’ll give my view of how things in Omaha have been going down so far.