Coming back for a second Summer of Solutions

By: David Mack
Location: Chicago, IL

circleyear2012

David Mack (center) talking with the LETS GO team in summer 2012

Hello everyone! My name is David Mack. I am from Evanston, but have lived in Rogers Park all of my life. I just finished my freshman year on June 12. I’m one of the youngest to join Summer of Solutions at the age of 13 (I am 14 now). I am doing my second year here. I like this program because it gives me the chance to make a change in my town. I mean, who wouldn’t want to make their home a better place if they were given the chance? I was given the chance, and now I’m making my home a better place. Continue reading

LETS GO Chicago announces Summer of Solutions 2013

Cross-posted from LetsGoChicago.org

A stiff breeze off the lakefront may have chilled our vegetation until the spring, but
an exciting fervor for planting and growing has been brewing in our solutionary
meetings with new and evolving plans for the future!

Our three main programs have reaped great success and lessons for us this past
year.

blog-garden

Students showing off pickles made in the fall children’s garden class

The children’s garden remains an active staple in the ‘playground’ of LETS GO
Chicago. We maintain a fruitful partnership with the United Church of Rogers Park to help elementary school students to dig in and learn in our victory garden. Their textbooks are the raised beds in front of Koinonia house, an intentional community that is part of our home base, where they learn to identify, cultivate, know and love the land. This summer was jam packed with all kinds of fun games and activities with new kids and instructors. This fall we continued the fun pickling cucumbers and painting pumpkins ahead of the first frost. Just like perennials, the children’s garden will blossom once again in the Spring bringing with it new adventures and lessons. Continue reading

Rain gardens, greenhouses, and hunger walks

This post is by sustainable community organizer Lookman Muhammed. You can read his first post here.

Lookman Muhammed (r) with Ethan Viets-VanLear, building a rain garden in Rogers Park.

My name is Lookman Muhammed. I work with A Just Harvest’s Genesis Project specifically the “Aquaponic Social Enterprise”. My first blog post explained a lot about my work here, what I do, and the purpose of my work with A Just Harvest and LETS GO Chicago. These two organizations have a common goal to fight hunger and poverty through urban agriculture. My responsibility is working to maintain and increase the effectiveness of our aquaponic system located in Gale Academy on Marshfield and Jonquil in the community of Rogers Park. The North of Howard area is where a great majority of the population we engage reside. Continue reading

Water week in Chicago

Greetings from Chicago, fellow Solutionaries! The following is cross-posted from LetsGoChicago.org. After Middleton’s post below, it seems there is a water conscious trend happening here in the Midwest. We are glad to be a part of it! Read on to learn about our take on water awareness and water conservation.

Molly and children in the garden during water week

The week of July 9, which focused on water issues, was so busy we didn’t have time for a mid-week blog post, but we have plenty of water-themed stories to tell. We kicked off the week by watching a documentary called Flow: For Love of Water on Monday. It’s about issues of clean water scarcity, and how the privatization of clean water sources by big business is hurting our communities and forcing people to suffer. It was shocking to see such a phenomenon taking place, but it energized our discussion of global water issues, and inspired us with stories of how communities have successfully fought for their right to clean water.

Participants showing off their complete sub-irrigated planter (SIP)

We continued to work with water Tuesday by making rain barrels out of materials that we purchased at the hardware store for about thirty bucks per unit, using large plastic trash cans. It was great fun using power tools, teflon tape, and various brass doodads to make a functional and highly economical water management solution that any home owner could easily accomplish. On Wednesday, we also made sub-irrigated planters from discarded 5-gallon pickle buckets that would have ended up in the city landfill. Instead, using pieces of copper pipe and a homemade soil mixture, we created cheap, highly efficient devices for growing huge tomato plants with minimal water usage! Check out the link to learn more about SIPs and the great work of Green Roof Growers.

Aquaponics Facility at Whitney Young Magnet High School

One of our Solutionaries, Anna Greenberg, shares responsibility for maintaining a small greenhouse and aquaponics facility at Whitney Young Magnet High School, where she is entering her senior year. Our team visited her school on Thursday, where she gave us a tour of the project and put us to work on everything from rotating compost to testing the chemical concentrations in the fish tank. It was a great hands-on learning experience to work on an aquaponics system which both produces perch, a delicious edible fish, and sustains a large number of useful plants.

Volunteering at the Center for Neighborhood Technology

We took another field trip Friday to the new CNT-Energy headquarters in Chicago, where we worked on their rain garden, which is centered around a massive elm tree. It’s a beautiful sight in the middle of the city, standing starkly between the office buildings on either side, and it soaks up plenty of excess rainwater, but the downside is the multitude of tiny elm saplings that need to be pulled out by hand.

After a couple of hours working and learning about their plants, we took a tour of the facility, which is still in the earliest stages of sustainable retrofitting but already buzzing with activity. Then we enjoyed a pizza lunch and a presentation from our partner in landscape architecture, the incredible Alexia Paul, who spoke to us about stormwater management issues in Chicago (especially relevant given the downpour that shortly followed – see her video of the rain garden in action here).

Moving dirt for the construction of our French drain

Overall, we had a fantastic week of learning and getting things done. My project team, which focuses on green infrastructure, finally completed the French Drain component of our first rain garden contract! We finished right on schedule despite the unbelievable challenges we faced, and I could not be more proud of our Solutionaries. Look out for an upcoming post all about our project (with lots of pictures)!

-Pavan