Check out Growing Food and Sustainability’s (Middleton, WI) snazzy new infographic featuring our accomplishments for the 2013 season!
Power Shift is an incredible opportunity for environmental activists, a vital moment in capitalizing on the momentum of increased awareness about climate change, fracking, and the green economy (to name a few). But what about those of us who aren’t professionally involved in going green? What does Power Shift have to offer to, say, someone who is involved in social services? What about activists that work with at-risk populations in their communities?
As someone deeply committed to social justice, I saw the potential for accomplishing important work in Power Shift immediately. My connections to the green economy are vague – as a native of southwestern Pennsylvania, I have seen firsthand the problems that come with the proliferation of fracking sites, but my understanding of the movement mostly ends there (something I hope will change after next weekend!). My forte lies more in working with communities to encourage healthy choices, self-agency, and positive change that benefits generations to come.
Still, I sense that there are important things for people involved in social services and community health to take away from the conference. Powershift is all about organizing – organizing around issues, organizing with each other, organizing in communities across the country. This past summer, I worked out of the western governor’s office in Massachusetts with the family homeless shelter of the Department of Housing and Community Development. Many families we served had been homeless for extended periods of time, and sometimes even struggled to find food, let alone shelter. Unfortunately, the requirements of the program prevented some families from utilizing our services. It was very difficult to turn away people I knew probably had no alternative – I could literally have been sending them back to sleeping on the streets. Networking between organizations became key in these situations: even if I couldn’t place them in one of our shelters, I could still give them a list of community resources that might be able to give them better support.
And here’s where Power Shift comes in. What’s transpiring this October is a meeting place for all kinds of activists, working on all types of issues, to come together and build a network of support which reaches far beyond any single community. It’s going to be a place to exchange ideas, inspire others, and lend a shoulder to commiserate about a line of work that is, at times, extremely daunting. No matter what cause we are fighting for, we can draw strength from each other and find new ways to better serve our communities. With coordinated efforts, our reach can only improve.
By: Chanel Copeland
Location: Chicago, IL
Hi my name is Chanel and I work for the Chicago Summer of Solutions. I began working with them through YEP (Youth Employment Program). I really enjoy working with Summer of Solutions because it’s showed me a lot of things I didn’t know. I’m still open minded to know more but from what I have done so far it has been the best experience. I signed up to work with Children’s Garden at The United Church of Rogers Park. However, we recently began new garden classes at the Westwood Manor nursing home where we run a greenhouse. We teach the kids from the YMCA Summer Camp next door about gardening so they will start their own garden with their families.
Eli Shepherd’s Story
As is the tradition, many folks like to use the beginning of the year to reflect on the past year, and also to look forward, to set, if you will, their Grand Aspirations for the year ahead. As a 2013 program leader with the Iowa City Summer of Solutions program, I am just too excited to keep my Grand Aspirations for the program from the rest of the world.
I stumbled into Summer of Solutions in June of 2012- rather, I came across a Facebook post soliciting “solutionaries,” and subsequently walked over to a church basement in downtown Iowa City in June of 2012- and at first had no idea what to think. There was one really excited person who greeted me at the door, one person who I later discovered was also in high school, several people who attended the University of Iowa, several people who were studying engineering, and enough chairs and pumpkin muffins for the whole lot of us. By the end of our training week I knew I had found a home but it wasn’t until early August that I became truly invested in the work.
We are excited to introduce our 2013 programs, which include 10 Summer of Solutions programs (8 returning and 2 new), 5 programs that are both Summer of Solutions and Local Initiatives, 5 new Local Initiatives, and 2 Hubs. Here is a map of all of the program locations, from New York to Arkansas to California. And did you know that we have our first international program this year, located in Sofia, Bulgaria?
Take a look at the amazing work being planned below!