Local Solutionary Stories

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.

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All Solutionary Systems Go!

Summer is back already!..wait, it’s not? Well, with sixty degree weather in November and December it sure feels like it. The physical season of summer may not be here but the problem-solving and action-oriented spirit of summer which earns us the name “solutionary” is most certainly in full swing.

Iowa City solutionaries hard at work at Wildwoods Farm in Solon, Iowa.

Iowa City solutionaries hard at work at Wildwoods Farm in Solon, Iowa.

Since a group of us Iowa Citians got back from the 2012 Grand Aspirations August Gathering, we have been quite a busy bunch. For starters, we have applied for two grants for our energy efficiency campaign Our Power. The funding organizations were the United States Climate Action Network (USCAN) and RE-AMP, a network of Midwest nonprofits and foundations working to reduce global warming pollution. We successfully secured the RE-AMP grant. In fact we were awarded $5,000 over our expected amount, allocated for the purpose of hiring consultant to help us identify viable ways of engaging landlords in our campaign for city-wide energy efficiency. We could not have achieved this without the hard work and dedication of our program leaders Nick Gerken and Zach Gruenhagen. Most exciting, and frightening, of all, was that in the message accompanying our RE-AMP grant, we were referred to by the grant selection committee as the only youth doing solutionary work in the state of Iowa. Needless to say we’re determined to live up to our status. Continue reading