Detroit Gets Ready to Kick-off Educational “Urban, Young, and GREEN” Campaign for HOPE4GREEN Detroit


In the mist of some of the biggest civil rights movements of our Generation in Motown, the diverse group of international leaders in HOPE4GREEN Detroit plans to gather young people to push for more involvement in the urban planning process by educating and empowering our communities through grass-root organizing and energy and environment networking. The planning process is in effect! We are preparing to start door knocking, attending community forums, and getting the word about our initiatives for the city of Detroit. HOPE4GREEN Detroit has some pretty BIG goals for our community. But we’re ready, willing, and fired up! Stay tuned to hear more about the change we’re making in our Detroit by cleaning and maintaining one of 50 public parks Mayor Dave Bing has shut down in Detroit, volunteering in a community garden, and potentially working on Street Lights on the Northeastern District. It’s time to be the change we wish to see for our future. The world needs us!

Think Global, and ACT Local!


Capping Off the Summer

August Gathering was a fantastic cap off to my Summer of Solutions (SoS). I arrived to this gathering confused about the purpose of SoS and my experience in Portland. Now that we’re done, I’m less confused and more resolved in my future objectives.

August Gathering began Monday in a Lutheran Church somewhere in Hartford, CT. Program leaders and volunteers from every nook and cranny of the US participated in sustainability workshops, agenda planning sessions, and urban farming tours. It was a gathering of different accents and experiences that created and shared a common vision.

What I ultimately learned from all this is that sustainability is a value I support, but it isn’t a cause I plan to actively participate in. However, I do plan to keep in touch with the friends I’ve made here and to offer what little I can to the Portland SoS program over the next year.

What really affected me here is the way we ate this week. Many of the participants who worked on farms brought with them a heap of tasty vegetables. Previous to this week, I’ve never spent one without eating meat—and vegetables have always just been an addition to my meal, never the centerpiece. Now I’m seriously considering a vegetarian diet because this week we ate like royalty. It’s nan-sense how good we ate (an inside joke, har har har), and I’m ecstatic to implement this change in my life.

The two discussions I attended and appreciated most were about how to incorporate different people into sustainability initiatives. We all agreed the lack of diversity in sustainability activism is not progressive; yet none of us had an idea of how to become effectively inclusive–it’s still a work in progress. Through discussion, I learned there are ways, difficult as they may be, to incorporate diverse groups of people and to help impacted communities. I might seek further opportunities with the Portland hub during the year.

The best part of this gathering is all the connections and friends I’ve made. I don’t know what will become of them or how they’ll be involved in my life in the future, but I’m hopeful something special will result from being involved with such an ambitious, inspiring, and brilliant group of people.

So the future is still ambiguous for me, but from this gathering, I’m certain to be involved with sustainability initiatives in some capacity in the future, to visit friends in different areas of the US, and to live a healthier, environmentally friendly lifestyle. I’d say this gathering was a success. Thanks again, Grand Aspirations!

A Time of Transition

By Casey Wojtalewicz

My introduction to Summer of Solutions was in 2010, when I was a full-time participant in the Twin Cities program. As it has done for hundreds of other young people, the program and its model of cyclical empowerment transformed my self-identity from something akin to “just another student” to an organizer / agent of change / Solutionary.

Me reading goals as a participant in the 2010 Twin Cities Summer of Solutions program.

Fast forward two years: I’m sitting in a classroom at LA CAUSA (Los Angeles Communities Advocating Unity, Social Justice and Action) in East LA. I’m helping lead the LA CAUSA Summer of Solutions program. We’re at week two, having wrapped up our training launch last week. I’m sitting in on a meeting of our clean energy team as they lay out the groundwork to bring community-owned solar panels to this area. Several weeks ago, I knew none of these people. Now we operate together in well-constructed and organized teams. We’ve created shared visions, set goals to help us achieve our vision, and outlined steps to get there–literally.

Pam, Maite, Tony & Miguel during LA CAUSA SOS’s training week.

It’s a sunny day outside in this industrial part of town. A lot of trucks pass by on the roads. It’s busy. Everything’s moving. The crosswalks usually don’t give enough time for one to walk casually across the streets. Concrete is everywhere. But there’s a cool breeze. I can see the San Gabriel mountains in the distance, and large white clouds are slowly moving across the sky to the north. Inside LA CAUSA, we are laying out plans to create a healthy environment that works for everyone. Everything’s moving.

It feels to be a great time of transition for our planet. I recognize the conflicts and challenges we face today as profound opportunities for transformation. I can feel the potential and momentum building up for change across the city, the state, the country, the world; just like I can feel it building in this very room. And as a Summer of Solutions affiliate, I feel connected to people feeling and doing the same things across the United States right now.

Some LA Solutionaries

Surrounded by these other young people who are turning ideas and visions into reality, I feel the completion of a cycle. Two years ago, I was given the inspiration and skills to become an agent of change. Today, I have given them, and the cycle continues.

This is what the world changing looks like. There’s a feeling of transition, of momentous energy. Like clouds moving on a windy day. People are coming together, working to make changes in their lives and their immediate surroundings.

It feels wonderful to be a part of it.

Old Friends and New Connections

This week at Growing Food and Sustainability was a blast!

The week started out with an enjoyable Downtown Middleton Farmers’ Market. There were more people than the previous week, due to the more moderate and pleasant weather. This was great because our stand had many new children and families stopping by to participate in our kids’ activity. This week the topic was waste disposal. They had to match up different types of household waste, like plastic baggies or apple cores, with composting, recycling, garbage, or hazardous waste. The kids really enjoyed it, and some of the parents learned something new too!

Farmers’ Market Kids’ Activity Table

The Farmers’ Market was also especially fun this week because there was a new produce stand! This new stand, called “The First Acre”, is run by a couple mutual friends of Growing Food and Sustainability, who are fresh out of college. It was great to see old friends at the market, as well as to see some fresh and young faces. Overall, it was my favorite Farmers’ Market of the year! Now our mission is to make more consumers aware of the market to help support these hard-working farmers.

The First Acre Farm Stand

The other part of the week that really stood out to me was an activity that we did with our middle and high school aged participants on Wednesday. We used chalk to trace out the energy system, starting with the sun. It was especially illustrative because the youth participants could literally see the closed loops with systems like composting, and the literal dead ends with the fossil fuel system. The discussion surrounding this activity was quite deep, though a bit heavy, and it seemed as though all the participants were engaged and learned something.

Energy mapping with chalk

This activity had an unexpected result for me. I really enjoy making flow diagrams like this (which I knew already), but I learned that they are an extremely good way to convey information to others, and they’re great discussion starters. I also learned that I enjoy teaching about systems very much. These are both things that I think I will find useful in my future, since I plan to become a high school teacher.

Overall this week was excellent, and I look forward to the upcoming weeks of Farmers’ Markets and lessons. I also enjoyed the unexpected benefit of learning something new about myself from the activity!


SOS | Seattle Gaining Momentum

Program Co-coordinators, Barbara and Dan

The sun has begun to shine and cherry blossoms are in full bloom all across Seattle, serving as an apt metaphor for the exploding momentum of our summer program! Last week marked the launch of our participant outreach campaign, including a new Facebook page and website ( which are now up and running. Just two weeks ago we secured our first major donation: $10,000! These initial funds, from a family foundation, have provided a great jumping off point for our larger fundraising efforts. Local non-profit, Sustainable Seattle, is serving as our fiscal sponsor this summer, providing shared use of their 501c3 status, accounting support, and many great connections throughout the community.

Seattle Center

As we launch the first ever Summer of Solutions program in Seattle, we could not be happier about our home base: we will be operating from the heart of Seattle Center, home of the Space Needle and Monorail. We’re partnering with The Next Fifty (, a six-month, citywide celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 1962 world’s fair, which brought those iconic structures to Seattle. This partnership gives our program unprecedented access to some of the most innovative and exciting workshops, performances, and exhibits ever to grace the Emerald City. Our presence at The Next Fifty offers us a unique opportunity to amplify and extend the stories of our local program onto the global stage, where we will harness the power of new media to interact with others doing similar projects worldwide.

One of the most exciting elements of our program is our DIY guidebook. Throughout the program, participants will document their experiences via journalism, photography, videography, and mixed media to create and share powerful stories of their work online with the world. We will combine these multimedia stories with step-by-step instructions for replicating the projects we’ve engaged in to create a digital DIY Guide to Solutionary Living, which will be made available to the public at a closing celebration event in early August. This guidebook will serve as a powerful, accessible, and incredibly practical tool for community engagement and action.

Summer of Solutions | Seattle is now accepting applications for program leaders, participants, and volunteers to join us for a deeply creative, connected, and energizing summer experience! Apply Now: We look forward to seeing you in Seattle!

Much love from the SOS | Seattle crew,

~Dan, Barbara, Mia

Corvallis SoS Launch Week

The NICE Summer of Solutions launch week imploded my brain and lassoed my soul, forcing me to reflect on my life in ways I never have, but have always wanted to. The deep and penetrating introspection divulged thoughts I’d never thought, connections I’d never seen, and worldviews I’d never considered. These views exploded outward from within making me feel and see the world in entirely and fundamentally different ways. These trainings lassoed my soul, asking not only what do I want to do, but what I need to do it, and how I am going to. The most powerful realization for me was that I can dream big, big, big, but I never seem to plan how to reach those dreams. This was a pretty amazing realization for me because I’ve always known this, but haven’t felt so determined to overcome it before. But more than introspection, this week was about imagining ourselves in our highest vision and visioning a world beyond the horizon. Loosening the lasso, my soul soared. It’s not so much that I haven’t had visioning sessions before, but that I realized by thinking and stating out loud the world we wished to see, by living it in our thoughts, words, and actions, we created it right where we were. Our training week was spectacular.

You know, clicking on the Summer of Solutions tab on the Grand Aspirations site, I saw our lonesome green balloon in Oregon, signifying our program in Corvallis. Despite being the only SoS program west of the Mississippi, I couldn’t be prouder and happier to be here.