Returning to the Twin Cities

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.

1 Some of the TC Team planning training week!
From Left: Patricia, Elizabeth, Timothy, and Maddie Continue reading

Late Bloomers

Over the past few weeks in Arleta, we have been prepping for a Summer of Solutions where our focus will be community involvement in the city of Arleta and the surrounding cities (Pacoima, Panorama City, Van Nuys.) We have been reaching out to parents, students, and teachers at the garden where we have received support.

We are reminded that the garden would not have been possible without the help from the 10 volunteers and the 80 hours that we all have dedicated. We only hope for anyone who eyes the garden to think briefly that people in the community care and want to create a space for children to visually see the beauty, and the gifts that this earth continues to bless us with. Kids are asking questions about the garden and if they can help watering the garden. That is enough to keep the children engaged in something that can show them about how nature works. Continue reading

Kids in the Garden and Community Support

It’s already been a busy month in Middleton!

Kids in the Garden: We just wrapped-up our first after school program! We had a wonderful five weeks learning about the greenhouse and seed starting, planning dream gardens, preparing the garden for planting, and cooking!

2Showing off their dream gardens

We made many tasty seasonal dishes with the kids including carrot muffins, apple crisp, spinach frittata, and oven fries. Our snack for the last day of the program was 5 weeks in the making: we planted greens in the greenhouse back in April and they were finally big enough to harvest for a tasty salad. We made a home made balsamic vinaigrette dressing and enjoyed the fruits of our labors 🙂 Continue reading

Getting Girls in the Know

Generation Know is a program started by the members of Girls For a Change, a non-profit organization sponsored by U by Kotex. The mission of Girls For a Change and Generation Know is to end the taboo about vaginas and women’s health by empowering girls and getting them to talk. As a society we don’t talk about the vagina, we might occasionally refer to it in a degrading way in a rap song or a movie but we don’t really just talk about what it is and what it needs. 1

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Communities Together for a Better Future – SOS Oakland Summer Camp

Hello. Today is nearing the end of April. Anahi and Sergio, Program Leaders of SOS Oakland, are working hard on getting everything ready for this year’s summer camp.  “We are very excited for this year’s summer camp. Last year I was part of SOS Oakland and I really enjoyed it,” says Sergio, “Working with kids and with my peers was a very exciting and fun experience. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to return this year not only as a part of it but as a Program Leader.”

SOS Oakland camp gives the opportunity to youth to be a part of the community. They get to work with kids and have the opportunity to obtain the skill of being leaders themselves. This program is quite grabbing, “I heard so many good things about last year’s program from Sergio that it caught my attention. I liked the fact that teens got to work together and collaborate as a team to put together last year’s camp for the kids,” says Anahi. Continue reading

Finding Kind

This morning through my other job with the a middle school, I viewed a screening of the documentary Finding Kind with over 600 6th and 7th grade students. Briefly, Finding Kind features two mothers and daughters who travel cross-country spreading the importance of being kind to girls from kindergarten to 12th grade. The film focuses on “the girl world,” specifically the ways in which girls bully and mistreat other girls through name-calling, spreading rumors, and essentially, lowering each others self esteem.

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Gearing Up For Summer

As spring arrives, Full Circles Foundation Lexington is gearing up for summer! We getting ready to hire two new Summer Fellows and are preparing our spring fundraiser, which will be held at Lexington’s Orange Leaf. While supporters chow on tasty frozen yogurt, FCF Program Leaders, Summer Fellows, and volunteers will be on location spreading the importance of our three goals: supporting girls’ personal health and wellness, building girls’ skills and confidence as community change-agents, and fostering girls’ appreciation for the interdependence of life on earth. 

We have also been hard at work recruiting future camp participants, by meeting with guidance counselors and social workers from local middle schools. We recently found out that at least 8 campers from last summer will be joking us for our second year, and we couldn’t be more excited! We are working on developing a mentor/mentee program in which campers from last year assist in guiding new campers through FCF’s Strong Camps.  Continue reading

Listening to the Community

Summer of Solutions Ithaca continues to be hard at work with both fundraising and program development. It’s been a busy month for us… we’ve spent late nights furiously typing away on google docs for a grant application, spent hours on conference calls figuring out programming and application criteria, and tossed emails back and forth about housing decisions.

After spending many hours together trying to articulate our personal visions of program outcomes, key learnings, and goals for the project, we realized that our program and our community could benefit from a youth listening project. A listening project is a powerful organizing tool for nonviolent social change. A listening project builds trust and channels of communication within a community. It is a positive and sustainable form of community engagement that strengthens the ties people have to each other. It makes our communities more resistant and resilient to threats and injustices. By conducing a listening project and training for it in conjunction with our training institute, we can lay the groundwork for young people to engage in our community for future projects, actions, and communications around hydraulic fracturing, race, class, and other difficult topics.  Continue reading

Food Justice at the CT River Academy

Summer of Solutions Hartford is one of a few local organizations participating in the food justice workshop series at the CT River Academy in East Hartford, CT. Last week, we had a booth at their food justice fair. Students had an hour in the fair to talk to representatives from urban farms, seed companies, dining services, green jobs organizations, and local food producers.

At our booth, we had information about the program, and an origami seed pot activity. We had a big box of soil, some basil, parsley, and flower seeds, and a lot of newspaper.

IMG_6823Each student learned how to fold a square of newspaper into a little seed pot, and then planted some seeds to take home! The boxes turn out impressively sturdy. Continue reading

Inspiration to Join Summer of Solutions 2013 by April 14th!

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!

1Emily 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…

1Ashley 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…

1Nathaniel 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…

1Shoshana 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…

1Colin 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…

1Cecelia 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…

1Brianna 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…

2Ethan 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…

Inspired yet?
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!