Debrief of the 2013 Lexington Strong Camp

By Amahlia Lena, 2013 Lexington Strong Camp Program Leader

Originally posted on July 11th, 2013

Full Circles Foundation Lexington began our debrief session on Monday July 8 with a successful program leader meeting. At this meeting we discussed our hopes for next year, which focus on expanding and improving Strong Camp. One aspect that we hope to change for next year is to tighten up the camper enrollment process, which was not as timely and organized as it could have been.

On our second day of debrief, the whole team gathered; this meeting included all three program leaders, our two summer fellows, and two of our volunteers. We went through and discussed each aspect of this year’s camp agenda, and commented on what we thought went well or what didn’t go so well for each activity.

Lex 2013 Continue reading

Painting Windows and Building Community

By William Perry of the Iowa City, Iowa program

After a week long orientation with our group leaders Nick Gerken, Eli Shepherd, and Kate Anstreicher, we split up into subgroups run by each leader geared toward specific causes.  Eli is in charge of ‘Our Power,’ which is an energy sustainability initiative with an end goal of addressing the split incentive issue for city counsel in regards to rental properties in Iowa City.  Kate leads ‘Iowa City Roots,’ which is a community gardening force working with the Iowa City landfill to implement a composting collection service for downtown businesses.  Then there is ‘Sustainable Art,’ the program that I am in.  Nick heads this subgroup and our weekly activities for a range of summer camps with the goal of educating about waste and waste management through hands on activities and recycled artwork.  Our group of about four people just recently came up with an idea we are very excited about: downtown window painting.

Children painting windows as part of the Iowa City Downtown District’s ‘Kidows’ initiative. Continue reading

Perspectives on our Garden Progress

Location: Hartford, CT

Originally posted on July 12th, 2013 on Summer of Solutions Hartford

Perspectives on our progress in the garden from two participants: 

Wesley Colbert Zion Street Community Garden:

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Working on Zion St was a big task. We had many challenges that we got through and made a tremendous change in the Zion St garden appearance as in weeding , cutting, planting and growing. We’ve made it all happen in just three weeks and we are still working to make it better . Continue reading

Dedication of the Zion Street Community Garden

Location: Hartford, CT

Originally posted on July 3rd, 2013 on Summer of Solutions Hartford

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A year ago today Wesley Colbert, our neighbor at the Zion Street Community Garden, passed away. He has been our most enthusiastic supporter and advocate, he taught our whole team how to properly shovel, and he came to every event we ever put on at the garden.
We met Wes our first day working on Zion Street. We had just started cleaning out the lots, when a man poked his head over the fence and said “are you guys building a garden or something?” When we said yes, he didn’t wait for any explanation, grabbed tools from his house, and came over. He helped us every day that first summer and in no uncertain terms made the Zion Street Community Garden possible. We are so grateful for his enthusiasm, love, understanding, and astounding gardening skills. We miss him dearly.
Today we will be officially naming the Zion Street Garden after him – The Wesley Colbert Zion Street Community Garden.

Diversity: why is it important to me?

By: Josephine Chu
Location: Washington, D.C.

This blog post is the first in a series about what diversity means to me.

Back in May, I had the awesome opportunity to participate in the Byron Fellowship. a week-long course in leadership and sustainable community development with a focus on place-based learning. When I initially found out about the fellowship in March, I was finishing my last semester for my MA in Global Environmental Politics at American University and was very excited by the prospect of being able to meet and connect with people from across the country and world working on sustainability issues from a variety of perspectives and fields. I was particularly intrigued by its focus on place-based learning as the DC program is working to create an intergenerational food justice curriculum, of which place-based learning is a key component.  I had heard and read a bit about place-based learning, but was not sure what it looked like in practice so was very curious to participate in a program that explicitly emphasized it. My understanding of place-based learning was learning that emphasized discovering the place and history of a community so that students can have a better understanding of their role in shaping it. One project that the DC program plans to do this summer is an oral history project to interview a host of people who have been deeply involved with growing food in DC to showcase their stories. (For those interested in learning more about about the many community gardens and gardeners in DC, the documentary A Community of Gardeners is a good film to check out.)

Byron workshop Continue reading

A busy third week in Little Rock

By: Ashley Burton
Location: Little Rock
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This week has been very exciting for the Little Rock Summer of Solutions team! We started off the week with maintaining our garden and creating plans for achieving our goals! Through learning about ourselves through character tests we also gained the opportunity to better understand our team.

Tuesday we began another day of gardening, greeting community members, and furthering our entrepreneurship training! During this time, our team members Rebecca and Darryl furthered their weatherizing skills at Pulaski Tech. They passed their final test too and gained a wonderful certificate!

Continue reading

Watch-out Hollow, West Virginia’s Youth are Inspired and on a Mission!

by Jenny Totten and Build it Up! West Virginia Participants

As a born and raised West Virginian, I can say that my state has gotten some pretty bad raps in the past.  Sure, we’ve been last in a lot of things, we’ve been first in some others like obesity rates and unhappiness, but the recent release of the interactive documentary Hollow has ignited a passion and a fire in several of our Build it Up! West Virginia participants to design and create community and economic development activities across southern West Virginia.  Below are their comments about the future of this state, the future of McDowell County, and their place in it.  I hope you feel inspired, I know I do.

McDowell County Build it Up! WV Participants Learn  About Financial Literacy

McDowell County Build it Up! WV Participants Learn About Financial Literacy

Continue reading

Coming back for a second Summer of Solutions

By: David Mack
Location: Chicago, IL

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David Mack (center) talking with the LETS GO team in summer 2012

Hello everyone! My name is David Mack. I am from Evanston, but have lived in Rogers Park all of my life. I just finished my freshman year on June 12. I’m one of the youngest to join Summer of Solutions at the age of 13 (I am 14 now). I am doing my second year here. I like this program because it gives me the chance to make a change in my town. I mean, who wouldn’t want to make their home a better place if they were given the chance? I was given the chance, and now I’m making my home a better place. Continue reading

Welcome to the Children’s Garden!

Location: Chicago, IL
By: Desi

Hello, friends!

Kids sharing their vegetables with the community

Kids sharing their vegetables with the community

Well, maybe we’re not friends yet–let me introduce myself! My name is Desi, I live in Chicago, I’m a grad student/writer/amateur gardener, and I love cheese. This is my first year at Summer of Solutions, and I’m proud to be one of the teachers of the Children’s Garden Class.

Before this program, I was aware of the nutrition deficit that many Americans deal with. A growing number of Americans don’t know what a healthy diet looks like, and even those who do often lack the funds to follow one. But even as aware as I was of the problem, I had never thought much about a solution. And I’m not sure why. Especially because what we are doing this summer–growing food locally and educating the community on how to do the same–seems like such an obvious answer. But now that I’m in-the-know, I’m super excited to pass on my knowledge and skills to a great group of kids. Continue reading

Middleton Embraces Local Food and Sustainability

By: Morgan Ripp
Location: Middleton, WI

Tis’ the season, the growing season that is! It has finally arrived after a long hard winter and for gardeners the growing season beats Christmas by a land-slide. This is Morgan here and I have been part of the Growing Food and Sustainability team since the beginning in 2012. I’ve spent my time this past year volunteering with the Hinahara sisters and working with children at the youth garden. Even though my time spent will be limited this summer with GFS I am continuing to take part in gardening with local community members and will be a face around the town.

I’ve got to say that it has been a splendid summer thus far with plenty of rain and sunshine and I hope we are as lucky in the following months to produce a bountiful crop yield. This past week I have picked more strawberries than I could have ever imagined. Being a new gardener as I have been this past year, I have had an eye opener with how much food one can grow within the own boundaries of their yard. I’m telling you, if anyone would wants to cut down on their grocery bill, all they have to do is plant a small garden in their backyard. 1 Continue reading