Creating the Space for Solutions

-from Summer of Solutions Omaha organizer and Midwesterner extraordinaire: Lance Brisbois-

Creating the Space…

This summer, I had the opportunity to participate in the Omaha Summer of Solutions program. The Summer of Solutions began in the summer of 2008 in St. Paul, Minnesota by an ambitious group of student environmental activists. Being from the greater Omaha area, I decided that I would love to get involved with something like that in Omaha for summer 2009. Planning began many months in advance and became a very inclusive process with anyone who wanted to help out…either from a distance or on the ground. Dozens of people expressed interest in the program. The possibilities seemed endless—we could work on energy efficiency, clean energy, transportation, local food, building community, and myriad other sustainability-based initiatives.

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…the Only Thing That Could Have Happened

Almost 3 months to the day since I arrived back home in Omaha, NE from school out East and started working on the Summer of Solutions Omaha with my great friends Lance, Tyler and Matt. I was a wide eyed visionary, believing I would change the face of my fair city with my bold and organized climate activism. I believed I would engage hundreds, if not thousands, of citizens and neighbors, empower them to create real climate solutions and establish a kick ass organization that would have me leaving the summer wiping my hands on my jeans, brushing my shoulders off and whistling dixie at having solved climate issues in Omaha. I expected to hop on a plane to head back east at the end of the summer and see solar panels on every roof, smile at the wind turbine production factory in low income North Omaha and notice waves of native prairie grass being grown for sustainable bio-fuel production. In short, I expected to make the sort of drastic changes that usually take years if not decades.

Needless to say this didn’t happen. But a lot of things did happen. Continue reading

Journey along Salted Earth & Struggle

I don’t think that struggle, or having a struggle, is a sign of weakness. I think that struggling is, like so many other less sturdy things people associate with leadership, the capital achievement of anybody living the robust life of an American citizen.

My name is Seth, and I am trying to build the model for the world’s next great discovery. It’s not an engine that turns water into fuel, but ‘struggle’ into ‘triumph.’

Cover of Farmers and Fisherman

Cover of Farmers and Fisherman

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One hot solutionary summer!

I have become an organizer first, and then a student. Over the past term I have struggled to keep up with the normal cycle of homework, class, work, and the small social life I can afford time for. Papers stack up, grade points slip down, and my general health and happiness has felt the toll of the average and everyday workload of a student in America. I know that by the time I earn my degree, there will be thousands of other young, unemployed degree holders competing in the job market. I also know that there will be tens of thousands of dollars of student loan debt looming over my head like storm clouds. I have experienced firsthand some of the difficulties associated with the tough choices being made by our generation. When I chose to move to Arizona to help my brother pay for school, I was making a tough choice to help a loved one get ahead. This choice set back my own struggling education by two years. When he chose to use his degree get a job in Baghdad that would allow him to work limitless hours in a war zone, he was making a tough choice to sacrifice his safety and happiness in an effort to live the majority of his life debt free.

Compared to the choices like those, that young Americans are making every day, the choice to sacrifice some of my grade in a couple of my classes to take a group of students to Power Shift was an easy choice to make. I had already dug a deep hole in a couple of classes, having also spent many volunteer hours this term helping a group of students with shifting the OSU Green Energy Fee toward a model that would also address energy efficiency on campus. I knew that attending Power Shift would spell almost certain failure in a couple of my classes. I also knew that the challenges facing my generation are bigger than maintaining a robust GPA.

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Welcome to Solutionaries

Timothy speaking. I’m a very long way into a dark and confused something-or-other and I’m in the long process of real-izing vision. You’re here in this very dark and confused space with me. Let’s figure it out together.

It’s March 6th 2009, I’ve just come back from PowerShift 09, and am trying to launch this program called the Summer of Solutions while keeping track of all my classes and all the other things I have going on. The world is pretty hectic these days: the economy is tanking – another 4% drop in the Dow Jones today, the Obama administration is planning withdrawal from Iraq and a focus on Afghanistan and Pakistan, and with little notice, methane – a greenhouse gas 21 times stronger than carbon dioxide – is bubbling up from thawing Arctic permafrost. This sounds big and vague, but it’s also about where my friends and I can find a job, real people in Gaza picking up the pieces of their lives, and real leaders working across boundaries to build a green economy.

The global gets personal fast. Untangling the self means untangling the world. No more band-aids. Just solutions.

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