GREENevada Student Leadership Retreat

In the past GREENevada has hosted the Student Sustainability Summit twice, once in April 2011 and again in April 2012. All northern Nevada high schools were invited to participate. Students performed live presentations in front of a panel of distinguished judges, as well as friends, family, and members of the community.

GREENevada – Growing Resources for Environmental Education in Nevada. GREENevada is a coalition of eight non-profit organizations: Alliance for Climate Education, Black Rock Solar, Envirolution, GreenPower, Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful, Sierra Nevada Journeys, Urban Roots Garden Classroom, Reno Bike Project.

Schools are encouraged to seek help from any or all of our organizations to help bring sustainability into their classrooms.

We believe that every school can be green and every child can learn global responsibility through local example. Together, we can transform the way students learn.Image

This year for 2013 we did things a little different  than in the past. Instead of a competition where schools are working against each other for prize money to fund a sustainable project in their school. we decided to host a youth retreat for students passionate about the sustainability of our community where youth can network, build leadership skills, and learn how to work as a team. We called it the GREENevada Student Leadership Retreat — a 2-day green leadership extravaganza. It happened Friday and Saturday, March 22-23, 2013.

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Reno, NV Envirolution Three Spheres Leadership Academy

The Three Spheres Leadership Academy (TSLA) is an Envirolution summer program, which engages local youth in our community by introducing them to local entrepreneurs, leaders, businesses, and sustainable practices. TSLA first kicked off in the summer of 2012; for five weeks area youth learned about the Reno community and its leaders. Participants saw that it can be one thing to live in the community, but it is a whole other thing to be actively involved in helping the community to become more sustainable!

Intro to sustainability, (TSLA)

Intro to sustainability

Building a solar pump @ girlfarm

Building a solar water pump at Girlfarm

TSLA empowers our local youth to step up, and take leadership roles in the community. Participants are encouraged to become youth leaders and are given the opportunity to hear and connect with local leaders. In 2012 TSLA participants heard 23 people discuss how they have made an impact in our community. These youth leaders participated in
24 field experiences around the Reno-Tahoe sustainability community, and engaged in a variety of service learning projects in our community, like building a solar water pump for irrigation at a local farm, and helping frame a storage shed for a non-profit. The TSLA students were trained and certified to perform a triple bottom line analysis, evaluating the economic, environmental, and social perspective in making decisions. Continue reading

Thank You Grand Aspirations

This is Carey, a Program Manager of the Unity MNIC program for YEA Corps. I’ve been writing blogs for the past few months with updates of an aquaponics project that YEA launched at a high school in North Minneapolis. I was initially pulled to YEA for it’s focus in sustainable and entrepreneurial education. Through my work with YEA I’ve been immersed in the challenging and exciting ventures of teaching students about agriculture, the environment, aquaponics, and other related subjects. It’s been exciting to observe the positive trends in emerging environmental education programs in Minneapolis and around the country.

All that I’ve learned has given me a great amount of hope in shifting education systems and providing the next generations with the knowledge and tools to face oncoming environmental challenges. I was lucky enough to become a part of YEA Corps through a Grand Aspirations grant for Sustainable Community Organizers, and I’ve been very appreciative of the chance to work with these organizations and on the Unity aquaponics project.

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(Above is a picture of YEA staff running an interactive ‘Systems’ activity with Unity students.)

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Constructing Unity Gardens

Hey ya’ll, this is Carey here, a Program Manager of the YEA Corps initiatives at Unity MNIC. I’ve been providing updates each week on the progress of the Unity Gardens program that launched back in September. Below are updates from the past two weeks on the Unity Gardens, soon to be blooming and bursting with life!

The YEA team at Unity works to manage and direct the students towards our project goals, and these students never fail to bring energy needed to accomplish them. We have spent the last two work sessions at the school directing the energy of the students towards painting projects, construction of biofilters, project planning, and engaging worksheets. On December 5th our team, Zach, Saeed, Mike, and myself came to Unity with painting supplies, constructions tools, and materials for the aquaponics systems. We also brought in the first garden bed for the systems. Greg, a student, helped the team to bring the garden bed from the parking lot up to the classroom, which is not as easy as it sounds. The bed is four by eight feet, and however large, fits very well in the project room.

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Unity Student, Mike, and Saeed from YEA are constructing a biofilter.

Rere, another student, is in the marketing group that focuses on managing media, product design, branding, and other aspects of the project. Last week, Rere was talking about how she was ready to plant and grow vegetables. When the garden bed was brought into the school she asked if we would be planting seeds that day. Students will be planting seeds very soon, but not till after the Holidays. The students are engaging in different aspects of the project but they will all take part in the process of producing fish and plants through the Spring. This project is great in many ways, and one positive aspect is giving the students opportunities to work on a wide variety of subjects. Students like Rere, focus on planning and marketing of the project, and also participate in the more hands-on learning activities. Continue reading

Little Rock Summer of Solutions: Getting off the ground

This Winter and Spring, our team in Little Rock, Arkansas will be organizing Little Rock Summer of Solutions. We are really excited about putting together this 8-week summer program that will address environmental justice issues in a traditionally underserved area of town. Our focus area is ripe for social reform, we have a passionate team, and we believe that our initiatives will bring healthy food, homes, and community feeling to our neighborhood focus: the 12th Street Corridor of Little Rock Arkansas.

The Central Arkansas community:

There is already a huge movement in the central Arkansas community for urban development and community cooperation. Young people are breaking new ground in the local food movement, alternative energy sector, anti-oppression work, and entrepreneurial innovation as evidenced by a growing wave of youth-run urban farms, energy auditing businesses, feminist book clubs, non-profit organizations, cooperative start-ups and other initiatives.

For the last few years, members of the Little Rock community have worked towards the historic preservation of the downtown area, a traditionally low-income neighborhood. Assortments of sustainable, small businesses are opening here, and seasonal community festivals are bringing new energy downtown. While several of our potential Summer of Solutions program leaders and participants have been elbow deep in this work for years, the low-income inhabitants of the neighborhood have been excluded from the benefits that are accruing to already privileged individuals and groups. Our work will be focused on co-creating community programs that are designed to benefit the members of the community where we will be working. Continue reading

Unifying Aquaponics at Unity

This post is by sustainable community organizer Carey deVictoria-Michel. You can read her previous posts here and here.

I started my positions with YEA in September when I helped launch one of our programs at Unity Minnesota Internship Center (MNIC) in lively North Minneapolis. Yea Corps’ mission is to provide hands-on sustainable education to youth empowering them for life, education, and employment. This is what YEA has been gradually implementing at Unity MNIC students during this school year into the Spring.

The YEA Unity field trip to an aquaponics business in Minneapolis.

YEA program managers, including myself, arrive at Unity MNIC most every Wednesday. Usually we get to the school, greet our regular students at the entrance when they are hanging out and taking one of their breaks. Our program is based out of the top level of the school in the upper-class classrooms in a shared two room space. Students work in this space with teachers, scattered at different tables and working on various assignments, or taking one the required standardized tests. Students at Unity come from diverse backgrounds, and have the opportunity of alternative education at MNIC, where they are given flexible classes and assistance in getting their diplomas. Continue reading

Experimental Learning

Part of the reason why I love Summer of Solutions is that I’m learning an incredible amount by doing hands-on work that includes gardening, speaking at community meetings, and building and painting at Spokes bike center. As much as I am empowered by these learning experiences the value of classroom learning cannot be discredited. In fact, one of the most remarkable aspects of the Summer of Solutions Twin Cities program is our EXCO class, Climate Solutions, Economic Renewal, and the Energy Transition.

EXCO, Experimental Community Education of the Twin Cities, offers free classes that anyone can teach or take in order to build a community around social change. Summer of Solutions’ own Timothy DenHerder-Thomas teaches Climate Solutions, Economic Renewal, and the Energy Transition. My favorite part about this class is that I never know what exactly to expect, but I am sure to leave feeling awakened by the conversations that are shared.

For example, our first class was spent sharing our experiences with community and the environment and I left with a feeling of camaraderie with my fellow Summer of Solutions Twin Cities participants. One class was spent labeling all the climate changes we’ve ever heard about on a giant world map… I have to admit this particular lesson left me slightly depressed, but I was glad to learn all that I did about strange weather phenomena, fossil fuel dependency, and more. During my favorite lesson (so far at least!) we shared our ideas of what would convince the world that a sustainable, green economy can work. The brainstorming, collaborative thinking, and creativity I experienced during that class left me feeling so invigorated and excited to be a part of the environmental movement.

Overall I’m thrilled to indulge in so many different avenues of learning through Summer of Solutions Twin Cities!

Zelalem A.

Twin Cities SOS 2012

Weekend Warriors

Last weekend in the Twin Cities, SoS participants and community members came out to donate their time and talent to building the SPOKES Bike Walk Connect Center. Everyone who walked through the door was greeted with a smile, a tour and a paintbrush. In one weekend SPOKES went from white drabby walls to a vibrant place for the community built with love and a steady hand from many supporting community members.

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Daria, Twin Cities Program Leader and epitome of a SPOKES Weekend Warrior.

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Fun on the Job. Painting the main room of the center.

ImageEveryone hard at work and painting away.

ImageBuilding work benches for the bike mechanic stands.

ImageHard work deserves a hearty lunch break. We love our Pizza Luce in MN!

ImageDonated bikes for parts and repair.

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Now, a bright and happy space!

Courtney Dowell

Summer of Solutions Twin Cities

Excerpts from Minneapolis

Part of the reason why I love Summer of Solutions is that I’m learning an incredible amount by doing hands-on work that includes gardening, speaking at community meetings, and building and painting at Spokes bike center. As much as I am empowered by these learning experiences the value of classroom learning cannot be discredited. In fact, one of the most remarkable aspects of the Summer of Solutions Twin Cities program is our EXCO class, Climate Solutions, Economic Renewal, and the Energy Transition.

EXCO, Experimental Community Education of the Twin Cities, offers free classes that anyone can teach or take in order to build a community around social change. Summer of Solutions’ own Timothy DenHerder-Thomas teaches Climate Solutions, Economic Renewal, and the Energy Transition. My favorite part about this class is that I never know what exactly to expect, but I am sure to leave feeling awakened by the conversations that are shared.

For example, our first class was spent sharing our experiences with community and the environment and I left with a feeling of camaraderie with my fellow Summer of Solutions Twin Cities participants. One class was spent labeling all the climate changes we’ve ever heard about on a giant world map… I have to admit this particular lesson left me slightly depressed, but I was glad to learn all that I did about strange weather phenomena, fossil fuel dependency, and more. During my favorite lesson (so far at least!) we shared our ideas of what would convince the world that a sustainable, green economy can work. The brainstorming, collaborative thinking, and creativity I experienced during that class left me feeling so invigorated and excited to be a part of the environmental movement.

Overall I’m thrilled to indulge in so many different avenues of learning through Summer of Solutions Twin Cities!

Zelalem Adefris

Growing Roots

One may never notice, when walking down 24th and 17th ave. in South Minneapolis, the abundant community garden oasis that sits in the middle of this block. A group of us solutionaries have been working over the past couple weeks at the permaculture garden with Lynn Mayo, a passionate woman full of agriculture wisdom who initiated the gardens in 1990’s. Much of what I have learned working at the permaculture gardens, has been through experiences and tasks, like shoveling soil for a green house, planting morning glories, harvesting garlic, or learning the proper technique for rolling up a garden hose.

On Tuesday, Maddie and I were weeding in the 17th ave. garden, to prepare a plot for planting. There are times when we are kneeling in dirt, with our hands in soil, and the sun on our back, that I forget that we are in a city. This is a wonderful sensation, but on Tuesday when I dug my hand in for weeds, I found yellow plastic. I pulled the object out of the dirt and brushed off the soil to find that this was a yellow razor. I don’t think it is all too common to find yellow plastic razors in the soil on farms out in the country; nor is it probably common to find candy wrappers, sharpie pens, toothbrush, glass shards, and other various trash that we find while gardening on the block. So, it turns you can find a lot more than plants in a garden. I do have to emphasize though, that the joy and fulfillment I have gained from working in Lynn’s garden, far outweighs finding a bit of trash sometimes.

We continued to weed in the garden, and as Maddie dug into the soil, she came across a deep and plump root. If one has weeded before, they know that rich satisfaction one gets from ripping out a full weed, from stem to the tip of the root. Maddie is familiar with this too, and as she dug, she could not find the tip of this root. When working in this city garden, one seeks to dig up as much substance and knowledge as we can. In Maddie’s case, she was seeking the satisfaction of getting that root out of the soil. After tugging out 5 feet of the root, about equal to Maddie’s height, Lynn walked by and Maddie asked about what she could do about this. Lynn said, “that’s the root of a tree, leave it”.

Keep digging, and we may find that these roots run deep. Keep digging in these gardens, and we may find the roots of an entire tree. Well, that wasn’t quite the weed we expected to pull, but we are students, and we are digging, and learning, as we garden away.

Carrie dV-M
Twin Cities SOS 2012