Voice, Courage, Action

Originally posted, Feb 13, 2013

By Mary Anne Rojas

Summer of Solutions Ithaca is seizing what was once considered to be unimaginable and inaccessible in our time. Reminder, with the histories of revolutions, thus, the ability to see ourselves in mirrors, our generation is doing the imaginable and accessible. This summer, Ithaca will be multiplying this effort for a Sustainable Future. As a generation, we are proving to confront our courage by creating spaces where fear is molded into endurance. In case you are wondering, a Sustainable future is a solution already. Now, what do we do?

As you may have heard, New York State announced yesterday afternoon that the February deadlines will be missed, the reason given being that more time is necessary for the state’s health review. This is a magnificent opportunity to move forward with action and reaching out to more communities to ensure our voices are heard. Today enriches our generations goal by making evident that action asks and promises solution. This morning marks the day when Governor Cuomo was due to release the SGEIS and in doing so move ahead with fracking. Today, communities are sending appreciations to everyone’s courageous commitments and amazing work; we are celebrating all efforts. Though, we are aware of this journeys extended commitment, we are in agreements that this is also a beginning to a beautiful solution. Continue reading

Listening to the Community

Summer of Solutions Ithaca continues to be hard at work with both fundraising and program development. It’s been a busy month for us… we’ve spent late nights furiously typing away on google docs for a grant application, spent hours on conference calls figuring out programming and application criteria, and tossed emails back and forth about housing decisions.

After spending many hours together trying to articulate our personal visions of program outcomes, key learnings, and goals for the project, we realized that our program and our community could benefit from a youth listening project. A listening project is a powerful organizing tool for nonviolent social change. A listening project builds trust and channels of communication within a community. It is a positive and sustainable form of community engagement that strengthens the ties people have to each other. It makes our communities more resistant and resilient to threats and injustices. By conducing a listening project and training for it in conjunction with our training institute, we can lay the groundwork for young people to engage in our community for future projects, actions, and communications around hydraulic fracturing, race, class, and other difficult topics.  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!

Summer of Solutions: Ithaca, March update


Summer of Solutions: Ithaca has hit the ground running from every angle. Program development and partnership work has succeeded tremendously in solidifying local allies, contributors, and educators, and in formulating program design for our 8-week program. Dynamic mechanisms of outreach have been employed to target potential participants, many of whom have gone on to apply to SoSI through our first round of applications.

We also just recently launched our Indiegogo site, full of comprehensive information and opportunities to donate, the link to which is below:


Additionally, we are very proud to announce that we have been awarded a $435 grant through Sustainable Tompkins, an organization that has been at the forefront of community organizing and sustainability in the area.

Our next steps include fundraising veraciously, processing our second round of applicants, continuing to reach out to local partners, and fine-tuning program details. Continue checking in for more exciting updates!

Young People in New York Take on Albany!

It’s been a busy month for Summer of Solutions Ithaca! The hot issue in upstate New York is hydrofracking, and January has been a crucial period for legislative decisions around fracking. As you may know, New York has had a tenuous moratorium for the last 4 years, though Governor Cuomo has nearly given the go-ahead several times. We’ve been fighting our hardest to make sure that doesn’t happen!Image

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Solutionaries at Work in Ithaca

We’ve been playing around with this idea for more than a year, but we are finally on the ground organizing a Summer of Solutions Ithaca! We are thrilled to engage with the community in a new way and it could not come at a more perfect time — Ithaca is undergoing a transformation and our vision of a sustainable future for the area seems closer than ever.

A little background first: Ithaca is a progressive city situated in rural upstate New York and home to two fantastic universities, Cornell and Ithaca College. We have a history of enacting the world we would like to live in. For instance, Ithacans successfully kept Wal-Mart at bay from 1992 until 2005, concentrating on small business development aided by our own currency, “Ithaca Hours”, which are to be used as payment for hours of work. Ithaca and Tompkins County are replete with organic farms, which are often youth led. We’ve seen widespread energy efficiency campaigns and the development of numerous local renewable energy sources. Last year, we elected a 24-year-old Cornell graduate as mayor of the city. Ithaca is home to countless celebrations commemorating this special, beautiful place we call home.

We recognize that Ithaca still has problems. We haven’t transitioned substantially to renewable energy sources. We do not yet have a viable local food system. Race, class and gender injustice persist. Many residents are painfully aware of the natural gas industry’s intention to drill in the Marcellus Shale that lies under Ithaca and surrounding counties in New York.


The Green Umbrella – NY Youth for a Just and Sustainable Future members protesting fracking at Powershift New York, April 2012

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