A Beautiful Day in Portland

Last week our Portland Enrichment team divided into sub groups so we could have a few people focus on particular goals that we wanted to achieve by the end of the summer.  At our meeting we brought out a large, white sheet of paper that we filled out from launch week. On the paper were certain job descriptions such as Media, Community Events, Data Management, and Contacting Partners.

Each category had a leader and one or two other people to help out the leader in that category as well. This structure allowed individuals to focus on what they want to do as well as maintain a balance of power between everybody.

At the meeting we also decided who will be facilitating the next meeting, who would be doing a confluence call with other programs nationwide, and discuss our shifts for working at the farmers market that Sunday.

Sunday was our group’s first time at the farmers market and we were able to have a tent and table set up for us. At our table, we had a poster size map of the Lents area and we asked people at the farmers market what their favorite place in the Lents area was.  When people decided on a favorite place, they would write it on a sticky note and place it on the map wherever the place happened to be.

We got a lot of responses and our map became full of colorful sticky notes. People really took pride in where they live and what they like to do in the area. In fact, many people said their favorite place was the farmers market that we were currently at.

After asking residents what their favorite place was, we asked them if they would like to take our survey. Many people decided to take the survey because they were already talking about all the things they liked in the neighborhood. We received a lot of input from people at the farmers market and I’m excited to see/talk to more people the next time our group goes and maybe even see some of the people that we that were at the market last time.

At the end of the day, we accumulated about 15 surveys and had the pleasure of watching and talking to a variety of people. The farmers market offers something for people of all ages and is a great place to spend the day, especially in the summer, here in Portland.

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Fayetteville Summer of Solutions Grows Community Power!

As Communications Facilitator for Summer of Solutions, I’m featuring every program to paint a broad picture of the depth and variety of solutions young people are building across the nation.

This post is drawn from a conversation I had with Amanda Bancroft, an AmeriCorps*VISTA volunteer at the OMNI Center for Peace, Justice, and Ecology. The main organizers of Fayetteville SoS are: Andrea Love, Maggie Strain, Karina Hunt, Banah Ghadbian, Jeanie Lopez-Hall, Chelsea Mouber, and Brian Kupillas. The post is co-authored by me and the Fayetteville team.

Leaders in the program have a strong interest in gardening and permaculture. There are already over 50 gardening projects, organizations, and networks in Fayetteville, and so Amanda sees the role of Summer of Solutions as one that will connect these already dynamic organizations together. The Fayetteville team has already partnered with the OMNI Center’s garden, the World Peace Wetlands Prairie, and the community garden at Unity church. In addition, the group has been given several acres of land and a greenhouse, which the team is hoping to develop for gardening.

Through building collective growing power in Fayetteville, Summer of Solutions participants will be facilitating a beautiful expansion of the amazing work already happening around the city.
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Summer of Solutions Hits the Streets in Cleveland, OH!

As Communications facilitator of Grand Aspirations, I am featuring local programs to paint a picture of the diversity of solutions young people are building across the country. This week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tim Krueger and Nora Graubard, two of the program leaders for Cleveland SoS. The other program leaders are Erika Zarowin, Ben Shapiro, and Phoebe Flaherty.

Leaders of Cleveland Summer of Solutions focus on connecting participants and interns with the broad network of organizations in Cleveland already working on issues of community development and sustainability.

Summer of Solutions in Cleveland is a project of the Ohio Student Environmental Coalition (OSEC). This coalition is a statewide network of student groups that work together to create a clean, safe, and just future. Participants in this program will be hired as interns of the OSEC, and will participate in as many aspects of the summer as they choose.

Members of the OSEC at their most recent retreat

The program’s main initiative is an energy efficiency project with the potential to effect change across the city.

Cleveland is an amazing city, with wonderful city officials to go with it. The goal of these elected officials is to weatherize every home in Cleveland in the next nine years. They are therefore partnering with SoS to collect data on weatherization in two key neighborhoods – Detroit-Shoreway and Clark Metro.

Participants will schedule interviews with residents of these blocks, collect data about receptivity to weatherization, residents’ income levels, and how much work is needed on the homes. As well as gathering information, participants will also teach residents about weatherization and energy efficiency.

After these interviews have been conducted, solutionaries will figure out what programs residents may be eligible for. This kind of follow-up will continue throughout the summer, with participants constantly striving to find the best way to meet the needs of residents, and by personally weatherizing homes.

Residents of Cleveland face the problem of food inaccessibility. Sometimes, Clevelandites have to travel across several neighborhoods to get to a grocery store. Many organizations throughout Cleveland have started up to focus on food availability, and gardening is one of the tactics employed to solve this problem. Though Cleveland is a national leader in urban gardening projects, there is still more work to be done.

Because the growing season is fairly short, one project is to look into forms of alternative agriculture and food justice initiatives that will last longer than the original growing season. In particular, they will be exploring straw-bale greenhouses on the East Side of Cleveland, near the Detroit-Shoreway and Clark Metro neighborhoods.

Cleveland Summer of Solutions is a multi-faceted program designed to make a sound, green future available to everyone. By focusing on these two neighborhoods in particular, solutionaries will be able to make dynamic, personalized changes to problems that are very real. Tim, Nora, Erika, Phoebe, and Ben are incredibly excited to meet the participants in the program, and to get the program running!

If you have specific questions about Cleveland SoS, contact the team at osecsummer [@] gmail [.] com.

If you know you would like to apply for this or any other Summer of Solutions program, please go here.

The priority deadline for application has already passed, but the program will be accepting applicants until April 19th.

Asheville Summer of Solutions: An Invitation

To the restless young person who wants to spend their summer collaborating with a community to usher in solutions to our planetary woes,

You are invited to join Summer of Solutions Asheville for a summer of extraordinary possibility. Unique to the city of Asheville, and yet tied to the other Summer of Solutions programs, SoS Asheville will work within our community to strive towards sustainable community development. This summer program, led-by and geared towards youth, will offer different levels of participation with some participants living together, while others work on projects for short term or part-time durations. Projects will focus on things, which are, or can become, solutions to the underlying global, regional, and local challenges we face, whether that is our fossil fuel dependency or our fractured local communities.
As this is the first year of the program in Asheville, every participant can have a hand in shaping the outcomes and creating the projects that will define our Summer of Solutions. We will live and work together on at least one large-scale project and several smaller projects through the summer that will challenge us to develop new skills.

Asheville has played host to adventurers, artists, and visionaries throughout its history and provides a fertile ground for a program like Summer of Solutions to emerge. Building on generations of this experience we will collaborate with partners from city council to art collectives. We are initiating SoS Asheville with a listening project in order to become more keenly aware of the possibilities for our place within the community. As the listening project continues we suspect that projects will come out of the countless conversations and public dialogues we have. Currently though, we are beginning to develop potential projects that will support an integrated understanding of the community, alternative economic models, and energy efficiency and conservation.

Tiffany Frye and JC Brew, who spent last summer with Summer of Solutions in St. Louis, are bringing Summer of Solutions to Asheville. JC, a student at the University of North Carolina Asheville, has been working in the Asheville community for several years now on many projects that have ranged from supporting green job creation with Asheville Green Opportunities (Asheville GO), to developing campus gardens that integrate permaculture techniques. Tiffany, a recent graduate from Washington University in St. Louis, is currently working with an afterschool program for middle school kids where she is helping to draw connections between their food and the land with gardening projects. Both JC and Tiffany are also helping to build the national organization, Grand Aspirations, which Summer of Solutions is a project of.

So, to the restless young person who is ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work, come to Asheville, for a summer of solutions (or continue to work from where you are) to truly “be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Apply HERE today!

We are also seeking funding for our program. If you are in a position where you can give, please help sustain our program by contributing here.  For any questions, suggestions, or ideas that need digestion, please send us an email at sos.asheville@gmail.com

Summer of Solutions in Burlington, Vermont

As communications director for Summer of Solutions, I’m featuring every program to paint a picture of the diversity of solutions young people are building across the country. This post will feature the amazing work happening in Burlington, VT and the dynamic leaders there.

There are seven projects happening this summer in Burlington. Some are continuations/expansions of last summer’s programs, and others are completely new.

The Programs: There are seven basic contiguous programs set to run this summer. Here’s a sampling of four programs:

1. Vermont Sustainable Heating Initiative

Last summer, participants worked with the Vermont Sustainable Heating Initiative to bring pellet-stove heating systems to low-income households. They received a grant for $20,000 to buy and install pellet stoves. Over the year, Tom and Beth Tailor have been keeping in touch with/checking up on recipients of the stoves. There are currently 15 different stoves in 2 counties in the state (Addison and Washington).

This summer, they are applying for another grant to expand this project. The program participants will continue the process of bringing pellet stoves to low-income households, and will be ahead of the learning curve, picking up the project after a year of research.

2. Bio-Fuel Feasibility study for Chittenden County

The program leaders received $25,000 in federal money, and $5,000 in local funding. This study will be researching the feasibility of starting a pellet manufacturing co-op in Chittenden County. Tom said that while it’s great to give pellet stoves to low-income people, a whole systems change also means a way to provide jobs. In particular, the manufacturing plant would be aimed at producing grass-based pellets, as a more sustainable pellet than wood.

3.  Passive Community Refrigerator/Freezer

Construction of a passive refrigerator freezer  construction for community use using W(n)IMBY {Why not  In My Back Yard}. The passive community freezer will freeze 2000 two liter soda bottles next winter and use them to keep the freezer cold year round.  It will be made in part out of recycled and natural materials. Construction of eatible landscape, including localavore rabbit warren, and sustainable gardens.

4. Vermont Engineering Summer Camp at UVM

Another aspect of the program involves educating high school students about green engineering. Last summer, Summer of Solutions program participants taught for a week at the Vermont Engineering Summer Program. According to Beth and Tom, this was one of the most fun aspects of the summer, and they are looking to partner as trainers again.

Last year, SoS participants and high school students built a small-scale, working windmill. This summer, a new strand of the engineering camp will focus on the engineering aspects of de-commissioning a nuclear plant.

The other three projects include starting a rabbit colony for meat and yarn, a permaculture garden, and a community garden.

To apply as a participant to Summer of Solutions – Burlington, go here: http://grandaspirations.org/apply/burlington.html

For more information, contact Tom and Beth Tailer at: tbtailer [@] hotmail[.]com

This Summer Filled with Solutions in Corvallis, OR

As communications director for Summer of Solutions, I’m featuring every program to paint a picture of the diversity of solutions young people are building across the country. This post features the powerful work happening in Corvallis, OR, as related to me by Nathan Jones.

Oregon’s Summer of Solutions program is three years in the making. In the summer of 2008, Nathan and others led a summer program called the Northwest Institute for Community Enrichment. Throughout the summer, the NICE kept in touch with Summer of Solutions – Twin Cities, and at the end of the summer they decided to team up for summer 2009 to run their programs simultaneously on a national scale.

Since then, the NICE has turned into an organization that runs year-round, and the programs have been growing and expanding.

The Projects: This summer, the Summer of Solutions – Corvallis team will be continuing a listening project that has already started. While the team currently working on the listening project finishes it up, new program participants will begin a replica of the listening project in another neighborhood.

Teams of solutionaries will enter specific neighborhoods in Corvallis and conduct a listening project surrounding how solutions for energy efficiency. After the listening has been conducted, the people working on the listening project will provide specific follow-up and support to this neighborhood, at the same time that a new listening project is begun in a different neighborhood in Corvallis.

After this initial follow-up stage is completed, solutionaries will bring interested community leaders together in a forum. Nathan said he’s not quite sure what will come out of these forums, but that’s part of the point. Community members will form groups around their interests that will create community-based solutions for Corvallis.

NICE Projects: The NICE is positioned to run Grand Aspirations programs year-round. Programs that he and his fellow Oregon-ites are moving forward with are designed to be year-long programs that Summer of Solutions participants can plug into.

One really exciting project in particular is the development of a permanent site for the Northwest regional Summer of Solutions. The idea is to get an old abandoned house, school, church, any sort of building, and then fix it up. The building would serve as a model for sustainable living, as well as a space to host people for conferences and gatherings.

The physical space for the NICE building will more likely be in Portland than in Corvallis, but participants who are interested in this particular project would be able to plug in in various ways.

To apply:

As a Coordinator: Go here

As a Participant: Go here

For more information, contact Nathan Jones at nathan [@]thenice[.]org

Twin Cities Summer of Solutions hits the ground running!

This is the first post in our National Blog Series, and we’ll be featuring … The Twin Cities program!

After two summers of amazing work and programs in the Twin Cities, the TC Summer of Solutions Planning Team is back in business and ready to amplify their already very strong programs!

Programs in the Twin Cities: The TC Summer of Solutions is the first program run, and two of the projects from that very first summer are still maintained.

CEF LogoCooperative Energy Futures (CEF) is a business that connects home- and business-owners in St. Paul with the resources to weatherize homes and implement very practical energy efficiency strategies to save energy and money. The broad vision of CEF is to reframe the debate about energy and climate change by demonstrating how the average household can play a role in building solutions through community collaboration. First envisioned in early 2008, and is running strong today.

The Alliance to Re-Industrialize for a Sustainable Economy is a coalition of groups working together to transform the St. Paul Ford Plant, which is slotted to close, into a mixed-use site that would act as an example of how green manufacturing can very positively act as an ecosystem-like community. The manufacturing spaces already existing on the site would be converted to manufacturing solar panels or wind equipment. Within the blueprints for the site are high-density, mixed-use housing, green space, business establishments, and transit systems. The site would be a whole community. Last summer, SoS participants took an integral part in developing a fiscal impact statement, and the project was taken to the St. Paul City Planners in the fall.

These are two programs that have been running for a while, but Twin Cities leaders have told me they have much more up their sleeves for this summer!

Much of the program expansion this summer is in the exciting move out of the Macalester Neighborhood. Program leaders the past two summers benefited greatly from the local community around Macalester College, but the projects of the Summer of Solutions – Twin Cities are meant to be scalable into many different neighborhoods, and have reached a point of stability where that is possible.

However, there are a couple of really new, exciting opportunities that set this summer apart from other summers. A local bike co-op is hoping to implement a bike loan program this summer for those coming from low-income backgrounds to save costs on transportation. There are also several exciting opportunities to collaborate with local urban agriculture/community gardening groups, and the program leaders are excited to expand their focus on Community Gardens this summer.

About the Cities: St. Paul and Minneapolis, MN have grown together since the mid-late 1800s into a center point for urban life in the Midwest. Matt explained that the Twin Cities are the most metropolitan area within 300 miles, and are extremely neighborhood focused.

Jason highlighted the cities as a focal point for immigration to the Midwest – until about the 1970s, that immigration had been largely white, but has become very diverse. Three immigrant populations in particular are highly present in the Twin Cities metro area: East African, Hmong, and Mexican populations thrive within the two cities. The Twin Cities are very bikable, have a (decent?) transportation system, and, in true Minnesota fashion, are a very friendly place to live.

The Planners: Full-time planners for this summer are Timothy DenHerder-Thomas, Matt Kazinka, William Raedy, Jason Rodney, and Ruby Levine. For more detailed information about these wonderful people, check out their bios on our website.

We hope to see you here in June! Apply here to participate in the Twin Cities Summer of Solutions!

If you have any further questions, please email Matt at matt.kazinka@grandaspirations.org