Building POWER and Growing Food in Rogers Park

This is the third post in a series of introductions by Sustainable Community Organizers working in the Midwest. This post is by Lookman Muhammed from the Chicago Summer of Solutions program.

Lookman Muhammed at the greenhouse

My name is Lookman Muhammed. I’m originally from Nigeria, I’ve been residing in Chicago, IL in the Rogers Park neighborhood for 15 years since the age of 3. I initially began working with Summer of Solutions LETS GO Chicago based at the United Church of Rogers Park on the north side of Chicago under Peter Hoy. From the month of May 2012 up until August I worked building rain gardens, advocating for more sustainable ways to live, and educating the community on how to grow food and become sustainable.

At first I looked at this as simply a job where I can make money to provide for myself and my unemployed mother. But after these long months of being around nothing but people who were so passionate about urban agriculture and changing the Rogers Park community for the better It rubbed off on me and I started loving this job much more than I did in the beginning of working with Summer of Solutions. I completed the summer program and learned about the many possibilities that exist if we can spread this idea of sustainability throughout the country. The many jobs that can be brought to the U.S. and the possibility of ending hunger appealed to me the most because of the growing poverty I’ve witnessed in Chicago over the years.

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Building Solar Energy in Highland Park

My name is Jackson Koeppel. This is my first blog post about my work through Grand Aspirations for solar energy in Highland Park this year. For those who don’t know, Highland Park (known locally as HP) is its own city, entirely surrounded by Detroit. It was the center of the Ford manufacturing economy, and was built to house affluent autoworkers who were once upon a time paid a fair wage. The place I live now, two rows of red apartments with a courtyard between them, used to be hospitality suites where Henry Ford housed distinguished guests to his Model-T factory, located three blocks away. Most of them no longer have electricity or running water. Keith and Diane Hoye, the current owners, housed the Green Economy Leadership Trainees last summer. Continue reading

After the Summer of Solutions: Employment

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.

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Grand Aspirations August Gathering Announced!


Members of Grand Aspirations at the 2011 August Gathering in Raleigh, NC.

Grand Aspirations will be hosting an end-of-summer event, the August Gathering, in Hartford, CT, from Monday August 20 to Friday August 24. We are extremely excited to invite our associates and allies to join members of all 16 of our Summer of Solutions programs for this week. If spending a week with amazing green economy building youth is exciting enough for you, go ahead and register here. If you want more information, read on. Continue reading

2-for-1 Webinars!

Grand Aspirations is offering a special deal for our webinar series. Now, if you register for one webinar, you get a second one free! This is on top of the discounts for program leaders, GA members, students/unemployed/underemployed participants.
To participate in this offer, register for your first webinar at and then email Ruby at to sign up for the second one.
Grand Aspirations is piloting this webinar series as a creative way to generate funding while offering a valuable service to our contributors. We really hope you can take advantage of this opportunity to support Grand Aspiration’s work while gaining organizing skills.
Also, please note that Joshua Kahn Russell’s webinar on Social Movement Strategy has been rescheduled to Thursday, May 24 at 8 pm EST/7 pm CST/5 pm PST. Register now at
Can you take a minute and post this on your Facebook: “Grow your organizing toolkit  with Grand Aspirations Webinars! Now 2 for 1 deals on an incredible series of webinars:”
We appreciate your support of GA!

Grand Aspirations Webinars are Live

Grand Aspirations is launching a new series of webinars designed to help you build your skills as an organizer. From fundraising to social movement strategy, join in to learn about the diversity of skills you can use to organize your community more effectively. You can read full descriptions of the webinars and register at

Joshua Kahn Russell will help you learn how to build powerful movements that are bigger than the sum of their parts. Timothy DenHerder-Thomas will walk you through the steps to building a successful sustainable business that also serves your community. Zach Wahls will give a crash course in public speaking 101 and then share some ways to avoid common rhetorical traps that environmentalists fall into. (If you want to check out his public speaking chops, look up his David Letterman appearance earlier this week.) Rachel Aitkens will walk you through the basics of effective fundraising from individuals and help you get volunteers fired up about fundraising. Zo Tobi will help you bring ease, clarity, grace, and focus to your work and your life as a whole.

Each webinar costs $25, with $5 discounts for Grand Aspirations members and for students, seniors, and under- and unemployed people. Please sign up and tell your friends! Webinars are an exciting new way for Grand Aspirations to connect you with powerful skills and generate valuable resources for the organization’s work.

Something’s Growing in the Pioneer Valley

The Pioneer Valley Summer of Solutions in Northern Massachusetts is growing into our second summer! Check out this awesome video of program leader Martha Pskowski breaking down what the program is all about:

Now that you’re all fired up about community education and farming in Turners Falls and Greenfield, MA, apply to join our program before April 12.

If you aren’t interested in joining our program, but you want to get involved, look up our ‘Field to ‘Field bike ride fundraiser from Springfield to Greenfield! You can sponsor a rider or join us for the ride. We’d love to see you there!