Late Bloomers

Over the past few weeks in Arleta, we have been prepping for a Summer of Solutions where our focus will be community involvement in the city of Arleta and the surrounding cities (Pacoima, Panorama City, Van Nuys.) We have been reaching out to parents, students, and teachers at the garden where we have received support.

We are reminded that the garden would not have been possible without the help from the 10 volunteers and the 80 hours that we all have dedicated. We only hope for anyone who eyes the garden to think briefly that people in the community care and want to create a space for children to visually see the beauty, and the gifts that this earth continues to bless us with. Kids are asking questions about the garden and if they can help watering the garden. That is enough to keep the children engaged in something that can show them about how nature works. Continue reading

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!

A short photo story of the garden in Arleta

Over the past few weeks this has been happening in our very own city Arleta, Pacoima, how ever you want to identify it. I’m very proud and happy to have found great people that keep inspiring all of us to create sustainable projects in our community. From gardening, to circles about our struggles and the simple joy of gardening, like life -it just keeps on giving. Thank you all. Lets keep building and supporting each other, where ever we are.


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Working Collaboratively

My reflection from last Friday’s gathering at Canterbury Elementary where a group of great people put hands on the land that we’ll all be tending for the season. I was very happy to have worked with those who showed up.

We came across a couple of teachers that showed interest in what we as a team of (7) were doing. The teachers asked questions like, “What school do you all go to?” and “Are you high school students?”  We answered that we were all members of the community, some in college etc. Teachers briefly shared ideas and included that they too had worked hard in the garden but that there were to many bugs that were no good for gardening and did not continue. Challenges will come about and part of creating some lube for those challenges will be through communication and meetings.

The following are my thoughts on working in a collaborative manner. Continue reading

Canterbury Garden in the Works

An update from Summer of Solutions Arleta!

In mid-February, we met up and discussed some visions that we have for the garden at a local elementary school which include monthly or biweekly cleanups and tree care. We took a short tour and learned some background info on what we’ll be diggin’ into and plant the growth that is deeply welcomed in our lives and those of our community. There is an application that will need to be filled out to be able to work as a volunteer during the day and after school hours. There is a lot yet to be communicated, but for the most part things are moving forward. :) We will be continuing to do some work on Fridays.  Come and share your visions and work on spreading a beautiful message through gardening to the 1000+ children attending this elementary school. There will be some milk and cookies, and maybe coffee too. ;)1

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Getting to Know Our Community

Project Youth Green provides 60+ farmers with plots for a small fee that creates a sense of community in the city of Pacoima.

Last weekend Jackie and I (from the Arleta SoS program) had the opportunity to meet a couple of folks who have planted some veggies on the land supported by Project Youth Green. PYG is a part of the Youth Speak Collective organization. Youth Speak Collective has many branches that engage the youth on productive projects. These projects are long-term in scope and involve the community along the way.

We took a look at the gardening branch of PYG which allows for members of the community to rent a plot for the year with a small fee of ten dollars a month. Located on a hillside, this garden space gives us a sense of serenity. The streets below hold bustling cars and the fast pace of a busy city. In the garden we see bees pollinating, families enjoying nature together, lots of good energy emanates from the people around us and the plants that welcome us to this lovely place. A fruit tree orchard is found on one of the hills. Seeing the avocado trees makes me crave some yummy homemade guacamole. Now I see what the modest fee is for. This cost covers the plants most essential element for nourishment, water. This allows for residents who live in a place where there is little to no space for gardening the opportunity to grow something of their liking on a piece of land. Farmers can either consume the food they grow or trade with the 60+ farmers growing food there.


Its not the first time I see something amazing like this happening in our own Valley. It is people that keep that motivation high for the rest who want to contribute to the solution. I’m glad that I had the chance to spend time with my team member and absorb the beauty that keeps on thriving with the help from people. We also met and talked to some vendors who were selling crafts, homemade dips, and citrus fruits. On this particular day PYG had a DJ and various vendors for the Farmer’s Market that they host every first Saturday of each month. Continue reading

Building Community in Arleta

I hope that you’re enjoying this time of the year with loved ones. I really appreciate the holidays because it gives me a chance to spend quality time with those who I am close to. This year has been very busy for me as I am going to school and starting a community program in Arleta with the guidance of Grand Aspirations. I’ve gotten to know some of the people behind this organization over the past five months due to my participation in a program partially supported by GA located in East Los Angeles called La Causa Summer of Solutions. I’m happy to be under the wing of an organization that is run by young people who are enthusiastically and successfully creating programs that integrate community building, social justice, and sustainability.

1Jaqueline Bartz, Program Leader

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