Picking the Best Beehive

Despite the rain and the cold, summer in Bulgaria is approaching fast. Our team is trying hard to get things ready for the SoS and beekeeping season.

We are encountering the first difficulties with meeting our goals and deadlines…As we need to purchase some initial equipment; we turned to advice to local beekeepers and friends, who could direct us to the best source. One of our mentors recommended a Bulgarian company that makes demonstration beehives with a glass wall and a lid to cover it. Those would be perfect, we thought. The glass wall is covered, and light cannot bother the bees too much. They have a good design and are interactive—easy to show children, and a good asset for the University Botanical Garden, who have accepted our request for outdoor space. We managed to see how these look like and take a picture in front of the Hilton Hotel. Continue reading

A short photo story of the garden in Arleta

Over the past few weeks this has been happening in our very own city Arleta, Pacoima, how ever you want to identify it. I’m very proud and happy to have found great people that keep inspiring all of us to create sustainable projects in our community. From gardening, to circles about our struggles and the simple joy of gardening, like life -it just keeps on giving. Thank you all. Lets keep building and supporting each other, where ever we are.


2  Continue reading

On being swamped…

We, at Hapeville, have had a very busy fortnight. Things other than Farming Bards with very strict deadlines seem to have taken over our lives. We have been pushed and pulled in different directions, have not slept, and constantly thought about Farming Bards, with this antsy feeling of not being able to do much about it gnawing at us.

Yes, we have felt guilty and over-stretched for time, until we, the program leaders, finally got a Sunday to get together and reflect on our goals. And, of course, Farming Bards came out on top, with very verdant colors. At this point, we took what we think was an important step. Instead of brooding over what we should have done, we decided to start fresh again. We made a new to-do list to mark the beginning of Spring!

Here are some of the highlights from what we are planning on doing this month:

1)     Sell saplings at our community Spring festival two weeks from now

2)     Make flyers advertising our theatre workshop

3)     Lay out the program for the opening week of our workshop

4)     Get ready for our project workshop on the national call

5)     And, most importantly make sure that we work on Farming Bards every day of the week

We would love to hear what’s going on at y’all-s end! What do you do when you get overwhelmed? How do you get back on your feet? And, more importantly how do you keep yourselves from becoming overwhelmed? We would love to listen and learn!

Alumni Spotlight: Ethan Viets-Vanlear

We are now accepting applications to participate in our 2013 Summer of Solutions programs!  Apply here!

My name is Ethan Viets-Vanlear, I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois where I am currently a student, activist, poet, and organizer. I started Summer of Solutions in the summer of 2012 through Let’s Go Chicago.

My initial motive for joining SoS was to spend more of my time outside building tangible solutions to some of the issues I noticed around me. I was also excited to spend my time growing food.  I think the biggest thing that I got from SoS was the notion that any problem has a solution that I can take part into making happen.  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. My favorite memories from SoS would have to be our various trips offsite to places like a farm, or spending time with all the participants around a campfire. 1

Some of last year’s Chicago team Continue reading

Middleton Launches an Indiegogo Campaign!

GFS Middleton (aka Growing Food and Sustainability) just launched an Indiegogo campaign!  Learn more and donate on our Indiegogo page!

Indiegogo facebook profileOne of Growing Food and Sustainability’s core goals is to train and inspire a new generation of youth leaders to create their own solutions to the world’s challenges.  Our Indiegogo campaign is focused on raising money for stipends so that we can train youth through our summer internship program.  Last summer, two local college students participated in our internship.  This summer, we plan to select five interns to participate in this leadership development experience.  Interns learn through peer-lead trainings as well as by taking an active, hands-on role in our organization. They learn how to plan curriculum for the summer garden camp, serve as camp counselors, workshop leaders, and meeting facilitators, coordinate community workdays, harvest days, the weekly compost pick-up, and the weekly produce delivery, and will learn green entrepreneurship skills by helping to run our farmers’ market stand.   Our goal is to make sure that every graduate of our internship program leaves with the skills and knowledge to start an initiative of their own.

Though our experience has proven that young people of all ages do care about current social and environmental issues, we realize that summer jobs must often take precedence over unpaid programs. By providing stipends to interns, we will make sure that these opportunities for enrichment and growth are available to all.  Through our model of peer-to-peer training and collaboration, we believe that summer interns will develop leadership and organizational skills that will prepare them for the future as much or more as any summer job. Continue reading

Alumni Spotlight: Brianna Besch

We are now accepting applications to participate in our 2013 Summer of Solutions programs!  Apply here!

Hello!  My name is Brianna and I first got involved with Summer of Solutions the summer after my first year at Macalester College, in St. Paul, Minnesota. That summer my parents were moving from Cairo, Egypt, where I lived for my last three years of high school, to Bethesda, Maryland just outside of DC. I couldn’t really spend the summer ‘at home’ and wanted to do something more engaging than visiting relatives and cleaning the new house. I heard about SoS through my work with Cooperative Energy Futures, an energy efficiency co-op that was started by a lot of the same folks that SoS was founded by. I was already passionate about environmental issues both in the US and around the world, and excited to learn more about the Twin Cities. Given how much I respected the people I worked with in CEF, and how highly they spoke of the program, it seemed like a perfect opportunity.1

I still remember the first week of Summer of Solutions training as one of the most inspiring things I have ever done. Continue reading

Working Collaboratively

My reflection from last Friday’s gathering at Canterbury Elementary where a group of great people put hands on the land that we’ll all be tending for the season. I was very happy to have worked with those who showed up.

We came across a couple of teachers that showed interest in what we as a team of (7) were doing. The teachers asked questions like, “What school do you all go to?” and “Are you high school students?”  We answered that we were all members of the community, some in college etc. Teachers briefly shared ideas and included that they too had worked hard in the garden but that there were to many bugs that were no good for gardening and did not continue. Challenges will come about and part of creating some lube for those challenges will be through communication and meetings.

The following are my thoughts on working in a collaborative manner. Continue reading

DC Seeks a Program Leader!

Exciting news!! The leadership team of Cultivating Intergenerational Leaders (the Washington DC program) is in the process of looking for an additional program leader!  We are looking for a college student who has an interest in food and environmental justice as well as a passion for working with youth. We currently are reviewing the applications and starting our first interviews.  In order to apply, applicants can visit:

While Josephine and I have helped jump-start the program, we look forward to welcoming a new program leader to our team to help our efforts and will post a follow-up blog announcing our new program leader very soon!

– Jeremiah

Alumni Spotlight: Cecelia Watkins

We are now accepting applications to participate in our 2013 Summer of Solutions programs!  Apply here!

My name is Cecelia Watkins, and I am a proud Summer of Solutions alum. This is my SoS story.

After four years in a liberal arts college and many more years spent desperately wondering how to funnel my passions and skills into making a difference in this crazy, suffering world, I found myself at somewhat of a loss. I was a second semester senior in college, and despite an incredible amount of growth and community support, I found myself looking into my future with a deep and unrelenting anxiety. First off, I struggled to determine what I wanted to do in the next year (not to mention the much larger perceived struggle of deciding what I wanted to do with my life). Secondly, I felt a deep fear that even if I miraculously decided what I wanted to do, there was no way I’d ever be able to get paid a living wage to do it (let alone a student-debt-alleviating wage).4

While at the PowerShift convention in Washington DC that spring, I ran into two young men standing behind a table with the banner “Summer of Solutions.” A few lengthy conversations later, and I decided to sign on to the SoS program based in the Twin Cities—the land where I grew up, where I’d hardly been since leaving for school four years prior. Why did I sign up? It neatly filled a gap of time between my graduation and a work exchange I had set up starting in late August. It sounded cool. And it would fulfill my guilt-driven longing to bring my new passions and energy back to my neglected hometown. Continue reading

Sofia’s Better Idea for EU Funds

“In 2012, the CEE Bankwatch Network, in cooperation with its partnering organizations from Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Macedonia, Poland and Slovakia organized a series of contests for best citizens’ sustainable project proposals: ‘Better Ideas for EU Funds’.”

Our Sofia, Bulgaria, program’s project “Bees in the City Park” was selected as one of these projects! 

“The project – settling of a bee colony – will be implemented on the roof of a public building in one of the many parks in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia. Workshops for both children and adults will be run by professional beekeepers, biology teachers and volunteers. Children will be given the opportunity to produce some honey themselves.”

Check out this short video clip of program leader Elena being interviewed at the event!