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

Report-Back on the Hartford Environmental Summit

On October 25th, Dave and Jen represented Summer of Solutions Hartford at the Hartford Environmental Summit.

We enjoyed a keynote address by Gwendolyn Hallsmith who has worked globally to help cities become sustainable, and found that Summer of Solutions was featured in her presentation! About halfway through her Power Point, this picture popped up:

This photo is from the August Gathering, which our team hosted at the end of our program this year. Program leaders and participants from all around the country came to the Emanuel Lutheran Church in Hartford to celebrate successful summers and plan for the future! It was so cool to see this great group of people highlighted in Gwendolyn Hallsmith’s presentation about the cool sustainable things happening in Hartford!

Continue reading


Been waiting to start growing your own food?

Start today! Track down some healthy soil, exchange some change for seeds at your grocery store, and find some old newspaper. Tony will show you were to take it from there.

Hello to Solutionaries from the Twin Cities!

Welcome to TC SoS!

Hi all! Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Courtney Dowell, and I am one of the new program leaders in the Twin Cities team. I am very excited to be a part of Summer of Solutions for the first time and get our programs planned and underway. I wanted to give everyone an update of what we are doing here in Minneapolis and introduce our new 2012 Program Leader Team to Solutionaries.

Courtney (L) and Libby (R). Twin Cities New Program Leaders.

This year we have two new program leaders, Libby London and me. Libby and I are both seniors at the U of M and excited to be planning and leading our Urban Agriculture program. Also, on our program leader team, are veterans Ruby Levine and Daria Kieffer. Together, we are heading up four programs this summer. First, we are starting a community garden for our participants to plant, grow, and learn with the community. Second, we are partnering with other Minneapolis organizations to pilot a bike caravan to get youth to summer programs. And, in addition, we are continuing to work the Minneapolis Hubs or ARISE and Our Power. Continue reading

All the way from Mountain Standard Time – Denver, CO

By: Chris Morgan

Chris Morgan here! I’m very happy to introduce everyone to Denver’s Summer of Solutions! First, let me say that I wish I could write this introduction using the “we” pronoun, but I’m still looking for team leaders! Feel free to send any connections my way! Feel like coming to Denver? Email me!

The Idea

So here’s the idea. Let’s find some people who really care about growing, eating, and cooking food in the city, and we’ll live and learn together! What if we produce not only food to eat, but solutionaries to lead in this new, green economy? I’m confident that the handful of people who will come out for the summer of 2012 in Denver will finish as competent gardeners, if not entrepreneurs and advocates for urban agriculture and food justice in Denver. One of the best parts about this is that there are so many options in Denver to accomplish it! I have been lucky enough to connect with a number of great organizations to work in partnership with! I would love to tell you about a few of them! All of them influence me in some way when envisioning this summer! [I’m going to try to let them use their own words as much as I can.] Continue reading

Creation is Our Essence

Our economy is crumbling. One in seven Americans live in poverty. The only thing our partisan politic-deadlock government can agree on is a free trade agreement with South Korea that isn’t likely to produce anything different from every other free trade agreement we’ve created.

More for the rich, less for the poor.

So why the squirrel?

It brings me back. Back to the single greatest period of growth and leadership development I’ve experienced in my life: Summer of Solutions – Twin Cities. It was the summer of 2010, and it was when my potential to lead, to challenge, to create, was unlocked.

I learned how to organize, how to facilitate, how to create a proposal for successful implementation of energy efficiency measures in homes and then how to present it to the administration of an electric utility, the imam of a local mosque, the head of a children’s summer program. I learned about oppression and privilege. I learned how to use Google Docs.

Together, we door-knocked, created an urban farm in a day, fixed and rode bikes, hosted community listening sessions, developed plans to convert an old car factory into a green manufacturing and living zone, planted and harvested food across Minneapolis, wrote business plans, toured renewable energy facilities, organized fundraising events, and ate a lot of delicious vegan food.

That summer changed me, because it empowered me. It gave me the tools I needed to help create the vision I and others have for our world. A world where communities overcome divisions and rise up together to take head on the economic, social and environmental challenges we face.

There’s a reason the dandelion is the focal point of the Summer of Solutions logo. A versatile, highly nutritious plant that can take root almost anywhere, grow, and disperse for miles around the parent plant, the dandelion defines the methodology of the program to gather in low-income communities, build up local infrastructure while training the next generation of green social entrepreneurs, and spread.

I was fortunate enough to go through this great experience, and now it’s time for me to return the favor. So I’m creating.

In 2012, application pending, there will be a Summer of Solutions program in Los Angeles. Building largely off the great work of a local organization, La Causa, we will be working with various different organizations and leaders, and our focuses are likely to include food access, green business, urban agriculture, complete streets and bike advocacy, green manufacturing, renewable energy projects, and community organizing.

I can’t wait to see what creations emerge.

The application to build your own Summer of Solutions program is open until next Saturday, October 29th. I encourage others who are ready to take this step: to join an incredibly talented and growing network of young leaders who aren’t waiting for help from above–they are working now to create the change they wish to see in the world.