A Garden Takes Root in Minneapolis

By: Aly Young
Location: Twin Cities, MN

The storms that felled trees in Minneapolis and St. Paul have come and gone, and the Gandhi Mahal/HECUA garden project is in full swing! Solutionaries have been hard at work weeding, watering, planting perennials, and scraping and painting the fence.

This summer, we’re growing eggplant, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, basil, beans, strawberries, cilantro, okra, tarragon, and more! Here’s a taste of what’s growing:

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Greetings from Sunny Minnesota


Preschoolers everywhere are probably wondering what kind of alleged May flowers are supposed to come out of these April showers.

It’s almost May in Minnesota, and spring is in the air!

…Except maybe for the two massive snow storms we got this week.

It’s sure pretty to look at, but it isn’t quite making for optimal planting conditions. Earlier this year, I mentioned in another solutionaries.net blog post that my joint positions as a Summer of Solutions program leader and a waitress might breed some sort of synergy. As it turns out, Twin Cities SoS will be tending a garden for Gandhi Mahal Fine Indian Cuisine. The restaurant started a pilot garden project last summer, and is expanding this year to include several more plots. Ours will be at the site of the first garden, as pictured in the blog post. Of course at this rate, only time will tell if we’ll just end up growing Thai chili pepper popsicles. Maybe we would be better suited toward a Gandhi Mahal ice fishing venture? Continue reading

Hello from Elizabeth of the Twin Cities Program

Hello all! My name is Elizabeth Kahn and I am currently one of the program leaders for the Twin Cities Summer of Solutions 2013 program. I was a part-time participant last summer and I am excited to continue my involvement with the program for this summer. I am excited once again to work in the Minneapolis area.  It is a great city with a lot of potential for sustainable development.

The Summer of Solutions program teams up with many different organizations and various people to get the word out about sustainability in the city. Last year I did research with an ARISE, an organization, that looked into implementing alternative energies into the abandoned Ford Power Plant site in St. Paul, MN. I also worked with a group of participants from Summer of Solutions last year creating a “farming business.” Or goal was to make a business installing urban gardens in people’s yards and teaching people how to can their food; because we had such a short amount of time to implement everything, we ended up creating cookbooks that we sold in the Minneapolis area with local recipes in it. We used the money funded towards the program.  Working with ARISE and the farm group was a great experience. We are planning on having the same organizations that participated for last years program to continue on this summer as well. Continue reading

The Joys of Telecommunication

In the weeks since the January gathering the Twin Cities team has been getting used to Skype, lots of Skype. We are currently all in different cities: Patricia is in Minneapolis; Aly is in Northfield, MN; Elizabeth is in Ashland, WI; and Maddie is in Canada. So we have been faced with the challenge of 4 different schedules, 3 states, 2 time zones, and 2 countries. Needless to say I think all of us are pretty excited for when we can all be I the same place.


Patricia and Maddie talking about the Twin Cities program at the Chicago January Gathering

Despite all this we have been having fun and getting a lot done! Only two of us were able to make it to Chicago for January Gathering, so we had fun sharing everything we learned with our fellow program leaders. We planned lessons in Chicago which we then shared with the rest of our team in the weeks following. There was and Anti Oppression session, a Media and outreach session, ahow to work google docs session. We used the time to practice facilitating, and we are planning on having a facilitation recap when we are all back in the Twin Cities.

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MN350 Is Going to D.C.!


On President’s Day weekend, MN350 will join thousands of others in Washington, D.C. to ask President Obama to honor his commitment to the environment by rejecting the Keystone LX pipeline once and for all. Keystone XL, proposed in 2008, is an extension of the Keystone Pipeline, which transports synthetic crude oil and “dilbit” (diluted bitumen, or asphalt thinned enough to fit through a pipe) to from Alberta, Canada, to various places in the United States. Continue reading

Introducing Two New Twin Cities Program Leaders!

Please help welcome our newest additions to the team, Aly and Elizabeth! They’ve arrived just in time for a massive transfer of information from last week at Chicago’s January Gathering. Though that’s a lot to digest over our long-distance Skype call meetings, they’ve already hit the ground running!

182590_4478390169950_1592946254_nAly Young

I’m from Rochester, Minnesota, but I’ve made Northfield my home (I’m a junior at St. Olaf College). I love to ride and fix my bike, run, play music, ski, cook, build things, knit, read, write, draw, and make things in general. I first heard about the program from my friend and former RA, Patricia Lamas, who told me all about the awesome things she got to do in the summer of 2012. I’m passionate about helping create strong, supportive communities; when a group of people care strongly for each other and the land around them, that’s when social and environmental change happens! This summer, I’m really excited to help foster that community as part of Summer of Solutions; I’m especially eager to become a part of the active Twin Cities urban farming and biking scene. Prior to becoming a Summer of Solutions program leader, I’ve been a SustainAbilities Representative at St. Olaf, served actively in residence life, and studied ecology in the Boundary Waters and Costa Rica. Outside of the academic year, you’d most likely find me paddling up at my family’s cabin on Pelican Lake or playing banjo on the street in downtown Rochester. I’m thrilled to be a part of something great! Continue reading

Looking Ahead to Twin Cities SoS 2013

As a born and bred Minnesotan, there is nothing better than coming home to Minneapolis, especially in winter. I love the winter wonderland Minneapolis is transformed into aftera huge snowfall. However, as much as I have enjoyed the snow, relaxation, and copious amounts of tea that come with being home for winter break, I keep thinking about how excited I am for Summer of Solutions Twin Cities 2013.

2012 Solutionaries and a beautiful new wood chip path

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MN350 and Gandhi Mahal: Growing Energy Through Collaboration


Gandhi Mahal staff, all dressed up for the 2013 New Year’s party co-hosted by MN350. Every Tuesday night, the restaurant donates 10% of its proceeds to sustaining the climate movement through MN350.

They say the first year out of college is usually a tough one. As many of my peers will testify, one of the biggest frustrations is seeking the security of that ever-elusive “full-time” work situation. But, all things considered, a handful of occupations can certainly have its perks. One of the best parts about juggling my part-time jobs and activities has been the rare opportunity to get so deeply involved in inter-organizational collaborative projects. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that everything I do right now is practically joined at the hip.

Through connections made as participant of the 2012 Twin Cities Summer of Solutions program, I began my Sustainable Community Organizer position with MN350 in September. At about the same time, a connection through MN350 led me to an additional position as a server at Gandhi Mahal Fine Indian Cuisine. The match couldn’t better! The close working relationship between restaurant owner Ruhel Islam and MN350 director Julia Nerbonne has created a dynamic that adds layer upon layer of enrichment to each organization. Gandhi Mahal has developed into much more than the home of the best Indian food in town, while MN350 has found a supportive partner and and a lively outlet for reaching out to the community.

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Do the Math: Author Bill McKibben Visits Minneapolis


The turnout was astounding: 1296 in attendance (fire code limit: 1306).

This post is by sustainable community organizer Patricia Lamas. You can read her last post here.

This past Friday night, environmentalist, author, and founder of 350.org Bill McKibben came to Minneapolis as part of his Do the Math tour through twenty-one cities across the country. His message? A call to action in response to his July 2012 article in Rolling Stones Magazine, “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math.”  

In his article, McKibben pieces together a stark picture of our present reality. To summarize, the fossil fuel industry has in its total known reserves five times the amount of coal, oil and gas we would need to burn in order to cause a global climate catastrophe. The numbers are fairly simple. Though not much else was decided at the Copenhagen Climate Summit in 2009, it was agreed that a 2ºC rise in global temperatures is the absolute highest that we can “safely” allow (see a breakdown of scenarios here). We have already raised the global temperature by 1°C. To raise it one more degree, we would need to emit 565 gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Sounds like a lot, but we already have 2,795 gigatons at our taking. So much for peak oil, right? Continue reading