Do the Math: Author Bill McKibben Visits Minneapolis


The turnout was astounding: 1296 in attendance (fire code limit: 1306).

This post is by sustainable community organizer Patricia Lamas. You can read her last post here.

This past Friday night, environmentalist, author, and founder of Bill McKibben came to Minneapolis as part of his Do the Math tour through twenty-one cities across the country. His message? A call to action in response to his July 2012 article in Rolling Stones Magazine, “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math.”  

In his article, McKibben pieces together a stark picture of our present reality. To summarize, the fossil fuel industry has in its total known reserves five times the amount of coal, oil and gas we would need to burn in order to cause a global climate catastrophe. The numbers are fairly simple. Though not much else was decided at the Copenhagen Climate Summit in 2009, it was agreed that a 2ºC rise in global temperatures is the absolute highest that we can “safely” allow (see a breakdown of scenarios here). We have already raised the global temperature by 1°C. To raise it one more degree, we would need to emit 565 gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Sounds like a lot, but we already have 2,795 gigatons at our taking. So much for peak oil, right? Continue reading

Unifying Aquaponics at Unity

This post is by sustainable community organizer Carey deVictoria-Michel. You can read her previous posts here and here.

I started my positions with YEA in September when I helped launch one of our programs at Unity Minnesota Internship Center (MNIC) in lively North Minneapolis. Yea Corps’ mission is to provide hands-on sustainable education to youth empowering them for life, education, and employment. This is what YEA has been gradually implementing at Unity MNIC students during this school year into the Spring.

The YEA Unity field trip to an aquaponics business in Minneapolis.

YEA program managers, including myself, arrive at Unity MNIC most every Wednesday. Usually we get to the school, greet our regular students at the entrance when they are hanging out and taking one of their breaks. Our program is based out of the top level of the school in the upper-class classrooms in a shared two room space. Students work in this space with teachers, scattered at different tables and working on various assignments, or taking one the required standardized tests. Students at Unity come from diverse backgrounds, and have the opportunity of alternative education at MNIC, where they are given flexible classes and assistance in getting their diplomas. 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

Alternative economies in the Twin Cities

This post is by sustainable community organizer Patricia Lamas. You can read her first post here.

With the MN350 Barter-to-Cash Network project well underway, we’re now beginning to reach out to the community in search of talent, time, and underused belongings here in the Twin Cities. We have set November 30th as the official launch date for the online platform, just in time to give it a publicity jumpstart when Bill McKibben comes to town for his “Do the Math” Tour on the same day. (He’s touring the whole country! Do you have your ticket yet?) Continue reading

North Minneapolis Youth Visit the Urban Farm Project

Chad (L) sharing his knowledge with the students (R).

This is Carey with some updates from the YEA Corps program at Unity high school in Minneapolis where YEA is teaching sustainability and entrepreneurial education. YEA Corps is a month into our school programs, and recently we took students on a field trip. We got to the Unity campus last Wednesday prepped and ready to bring students to the Urban Farm Project. The first thing I heard once we got to the school was a couple students making jokes about churning butter and petting the cows at the ‘farm’. This was pretty funny, because there would be no cows, no farm animals, and no butter churning on this farm visit (although that would be fun). The Urban Farm Project is not your classical farm on the countryside. The Urban Farm Project is a for-profit operation in South Minneapolis that produces perch and a plethora of fresh vegetables, and they grow all of this through aquaponics systems in a large converted warehouse space. Continue reading

Barter to Cash with MN350

This is the fourth post in a series of introductions by Sustainable Community Organizers working in the Midwest. This post is by Patricia Lamas from the Twin Cities Summer of Solutions program.

ImageHello! My name is Patricia Lamas, and I began working with MN350 this September on a project called the “Barter to Cash Network.” We’re developing a new system for creative resource generation and community engagement, and we aim to spread it as a model for nonprofits and to our partners in climate movement. How will it work? Instead of sustaining our organization on direct monetary donations, we are inviting people to offer their diverse skills and resources – truly anything on hand. Maybe Susan has a surplus of cinder blocks, or a knack for home repair. Jim might take his dog to the park every morning, and wouldn’t mind picking up another playmate on the way. Whether or not MN350 can use these contributions, someone else in the community can! The idea is a system similar to, only the proceeds go to funding the work of the organization. This way, donations can be infinitely creative, and just as fun – all while creating new connections among members of the local community. Continue reading

Building POWER and Growing Food in Rogers Park

This is the third post in a series of introductions by Sustainable Community Organizers working in the Midwest. This post is by Lookman Muhammed from the Chicago Summer of Solutions program.

Lookman Muhammed at the greenhouse

My name is Lookman Muhammed. I’m originally from Nigeria, I’ve been residing in Chicago, IL in the Rogers Park neighborhood for 15 years since the age of 3. I initially began working with Summer of Solutions LETS GO Chicago based at the United Church of Rogers Park on the north side of Chicago under Peter Hoy. From the month of May 2012 up until August I worked building rain gardens, advocating for more sustainable ways to live, and educating the community on how to grow food and become sustainable.

At first I looked at this as simply a job where I can make money to provide for myself and my unemployed mother. But after these long months of being around nothing but people who were so passionate about urban agriculture and changing the Rogers Park community for the better It rubbed off on me and I started loving this job much more than I did in the beginning of working with Summer of Solutions. I completed the summer program and learned about the many possibilities that exist if we can spread this idea of sustainability throughout the country. The many jobs that can be brought to the U.S. and the possibility of ending hunger appealed to me the most because of the growing poverty I’ve witnessed in Chicago over the years.

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Building Solar Energy in Highland Park

My name is Jackson Koeppel. This is my first blog post about my work through Grand Aspirations for solar energy in Highland Park this year. For those who don’t know, Highland Park (known locally as HP) is its own city, entirely surrounded by Detroit. It was the center of the Ford manufacturing economy, and was built to house affluent autoworkers who were once upon a time paid a fair wage. The place I live now, two rows of red apartments with a courtyard between them, used to be hospitality suites where Henry Ford housed distinguished guests to his Model-T factory, located three blocks away. Most of them no longer have electricity or running water. Keith and Diane Hoye, the current owners, housed the Green Economy Leadership Trainees last summer. Continue reading

YEA Corps Launch Day

My name is Carey deVictoria-Michel. This summer, I was a participant in the Twin Cities Summer of Solutions and during this time my eyes were opened to all the amazing things that are happening in this city.  Through funding available to Summer of Solutions participants, I was able to create a position for myself at YEA Corps, a Minneapolis based non-profit that leads educational programs focused on entrepreneurship and sustainability. This is the first blog post in a series by the five Summer of Solutions alumni who will be building their own careers with support from Grand Aspirations in the coming year.

Me (r) talking to a student at the YEA Corps launch day at Unity Charter School.

My job with YEA Corps this year will be to mange a project at the YEA Corps program at the Minnesota Internship Center at the Unity Campus. Unity is a charter school located in North Minneapolis working with students who come from diverse backgrounds, in a neighborhood considered to be a food desert. YEA Corps and Minnesota Internship Center received a grant from Hennepin County to start an experiential learning program for environmental education in North Minneapolis. By the end of the year these kids will have built their own aquaponics systems, created their own business and marketing plan to sell fresh produce and fish, and have learned about sustainability and food systems. We had our big launch day with the students this past week. Continue reading

After the Summer of Solutions: Employment

After closing up sixteen successful Summer of Solutions programs around the country, Grand Aspirations is ready to help a handful of young people move on to the next step: employment. Five solutionaries who just finished the Summer of Solutions programs in Detroit, MI; Twin Cities, MN; and Chicago, IL are ready to get going with new jobs. Thanks to a grant from REAMP, Grand Aspirations is providing matching funding to these young people to go out and create their own jobs with partner organizations based in these local communities. Read more about the change each solutionary is ready to go out and make.

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