A Beautiful Day in Portland

Last week our Portland Enrichment team divided into sub groups so we could have a few people focus on particular goals that we wanted to achieve by the end of the summer.  At our meeting we brought out a large, white sheet of paper that we filled out from launch week. On the paper were certain job descriptions such as Media, Community Events, Data Management, and Contacting Partners.

Each category had a leader and one or two other people to help out the leader in that category as well. This structure allowed individuals to focus on what they want to do as well as maintain a balance of power between everybody.

At the meeting we also decided who will be facilitating the next meeting, who would be doing a confluence call with other programs nationwide, and discuss our shifts for working at the farmers market that Sunday.

Sunday was our group’s first time at the farmers market and we were able to have a tent and table set up for us. At our table, we had a poster size map of the Lents area and we asked people at the farmers market what their favorite place in the Lents area was.  When people decided on a favorite place, they would write it on a sticky note and place it on the map wherever the place happened to be.

We got a lot of responses and our map became full of colorful sticky notes. People really took pride in where they live and what they like to do in the area. In fact, many people said their favorite place was the farmers market that we were currently at.

After asking residents what their favorite place was, we asked them if they would like to take our survey. Many people decided to take the survey because they were already talking about all the things they liked in the neighborhood. We received a lot of input from people at the farmers market and I’m excited to see/talk to more people the next time our group goes and maybe even see some of the people that we that were at the market last time.

At the end of the day, we accumulated about 15 surveys and had the pleasure of watching and talking to a variety of people. The farmers market offers something for people of all ages and is a great place to spend the day, especially in the summer, here in Portland.

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This Summer Filled with Solutions in Corvallis, OR

As communications director for Summer of Solutions, I’m featuring every program to paint a picture of the diversity of solutions young people are building across the country. This post features the powerful work happening in Corvallis, OR, as related to me by Nathan Jones.

Oregon’s Summer of Solutions program is three years in the making. In the summer of 2008, Nathan and others led a summer program called the Northwest Institute for Community Enrichment. Throughout the summer, the NICE kept in touch with Summer of Solutions – Twin Cities, and at the end of the summer they decided to team up for summer 2009 to run their programs simultaneously on a national scale.

Since then, the NICE has turned into an organization that runs year-round, and the programs have been growing and expanding.

The Projects: This summer, the Summer of Solutions – Corvallis team will be continuing a listening project that has already started. While the team currently working on the listening project finishes it up, new program participants will begin a replica of the listening project in another neighborhood.

Teams of solutionaries will enter specific neighborhoods in Corvallis and conduct a listening project surrounding how solutions for energy efficiency. After the listening has been conducted, the people working on the listening project will provide specific follow-up and support to this neighborhood, at the same time that a new listening project is begun in a different neighborhood in Corvallis.

After this initial follow-up stage is completed, solutionaries will bring interested community leaders together in a forum. Nathan said he’s not quite sure what will come out of these forums, but that’s part of the point. Community members will form groups around their interests that will create community-based solutions for Corvallis.

NICE Projects: The NICE is positioned to run Grand Aspirations programs year-round. Programs that he and his fellow Oregon-ites are moving forward with are designed to be year-long programs that Summer of Solutions participants can plug into.

One really exciting project in particular is the development of a permanent site for the Northwest regional Summer of Solutions. The idea is to get an old abandoned house, school, church, any sort of building, and then fix it up. The building would serve as a model for sustainable living, as well as a space to host people for conferences and gatherings.

The physical space for the NICE building will more likely be in Portland than in Corvallis, but participants who are interested in this particular project would be able to plug in in various ways.

To apply:

As a Coordinator: Go here

As a Participant: Go here

For more information, contact Nathan Jones at nathan [@]thenice[.]org

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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