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!

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

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

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

Alumni Spotlight: Colin Higgins

Hello!  My name is Colin Higgins, and I participated in Summer of Solutions last summer with the Middleton, WI program called Growing Food and Sustainability.  My initial motivation for participating in SoS was that it was a project based in the community where I grew up that was focused both at youth education (which I am passionate about) and sustainable agriculture (which I am also passionate about).

I think one of the main things that I took away is that I really enjoy teaching others, especially youth, about environmental issues and solutions.  I also learned that all students have very unique motivations, interests and backgrounds that led them to our program, and I really enjoyed learning about those as well.

2Colin at the Youth Farm

Continue reading

Alumni Spotlight: Shoshana Blank

Hello!  My name is Shoshana Blank.  I went to St. Olaf College and participated in the Summer of Solutions in 2009.  I joined SoS because I wanted to get involved in the Twin Cities community with students from other colleges. Also, I was so passionate about trying to create solutions to climate change, I knew from the title of the program that I wanted to be a part of it. I think that I found out about the program through an email from the Environmental Coalition at St. Olaf.

2 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. I am specifically thinking about Cooperative Energy Futures, with structured meetings, a nice website, and a good business model.  I have so many good memories of my time with SoS, and I particularly love my memories from the potlucks we would have, at least once a week. It was such a good way to create community! Continue reading

Minnesota Youth Take Action

It’s 12:10 on a Sunday afternoon. I’m walking between two buildings at the University of Minnesota, carrying my carefully scribed flip-chart pages for the Next Generation Environmental Congress. We couldn’t get into the building where the event was being held until noon, right when registration started, and while I had promised to help with registration, I was running a little late. I was amazed to see, as I walked up the stairs, a line of people stretching back from the registration table. I quickly set up to help Abbie and Natalie check people into the event, and we were consistently welcoming new people until after the welcome speech started at 1pm.

This is the state of youth environmental activism in Minnesota, as I see it — fired up, ready to collaborate, and eager for opportunities. The Next Gen Environmental Congress was proposed by the state government in order to engage the youth voice in advance of the big Environmental Congress on March 15th. Organized by the MN Youth Environmental Network and the Young Environmental Advocates of MN, this conference brought together high schoolers, college students, and non-student youth from all corners of the state. I had the privilege of helping to plan the agenda for the day in order to create a positive experience while getting effective feedback to present at the Environmental Congress. Continue reading