The Power of Youth

By: Rita Chen
Location: Middleton, WI

There are countless and valuable things I have learned as an intern of Growing Food and Sustainability. In this entry, I want to talk briefly about my feelings over using young people as productive power across cultures. I was born and raised in Taiwan, a country where Chinese is the dominant culture. After coming to the US to study as an undergraduate student, I observed difference in people’s attitude and faith in what children and young people could achieve between the two continents.

Nothing has moved me more than seeing our members cooperate and accomplish so many things with our bare hands and sweat. Within a couple months, we restarted compost, weeded and seeded the Youth Farm, ran a stand at the Farmers’ Market, set up a drip irrigation system, and built a fence around the farm to protect vegetables from hungry wild animals. The children at the summer camp also eagerly participated in our farm works. They proved to me that young people, even teenagers, are just as capable at many tasks as older adults are.

Communities Together for a Better Future – SOS Oakland Summer Camp

Hello. Today is nearing the end of April. Anahi and Sergio, Program Leaders of SOS Oakland, are working hard on getting everything ready for this year’s summer camp.  “We are very excited for this year’s summer camp. Last year I was part of SOS Oakland and I really enjoyed it,” says Sergio, “Working with kids and with my peers was a very exciting and fun experience. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to return this year not only as a part of it but as a Program Leader.”

SOS Oakland camp gives the opportunity to youth to be a part of the community. They get to work with kids and have the opportunity to obtain the skill of being leaders themselves. This program is quite grabbing, “I heard so many good things about last year’s program from Sergio that it caught my attention. I liked the fact that teens got to work together and collaborate as a team to put together last year’s camp for the kids,” says Anahi. Continue reading

Asheville Summer of Solutions: An Invitation

To the restless young person who wants to spend their summer collaborating with a community to usher in solutions to our planetary woes,

You are invited to join Summer of Solutions Asheville for a summer of extraordinary possibility. Unique to the city of Asheville, and yet tied to the other Summer of Solutions programs, SoS Asheville will work within our community to strive towards sustainable community development. This summer program, led-by and geared towards youth, will offer different levels of participation with some participants living together, while others work on projects for short term or part-time durations. Projects will focus on things, which are, or can become, solutions to the underlying global, regional, and local challenges we face, whether that is our fossil fuel dependency or our fractured local communities.
As this is the first year of the program in Asheville, every participant can have a hand in shaping the outcomes and creating the projects that will define our Summer of Solutions. We will live and work together on at least one large-scale project and several smaller projects through the summer that will challenge us to develop new skills.

Asheville has played host to adventurers, artists, and visionaries throughout its history and provides a fertile ground for a program like Summer of Solutions to emerge. Building on generations of this experience we will collaborate with partners from city council to art collectives. We are initiating SoS Asheville with a listening project in order to become more keenly aware of the possibilities for our place within the community. As the listening project continues we suspect that projects will come out of the countless conversations and public dialogues we have. Currently though, we are beginning to develop potential projects that will support an integrated understanding of the community, alternative economic models, and energy efficiency and conservation.

Tiffany Frye and JC Brew, who spent last summer with Summer of Solutions in St. Louis, are bringing Summer of Solutions to Asheville. JC, a student at the University of North Carolina Asheville, has been working in the Asheville community for several years now on many projects that have ranged from supporting green job creation with Asheville Green Opportunities (Asheville GO), to developing campus gardens that integrate permaculture techniques. Tiffany, a recent graduate from Washington University in St. Louis, is currently working with an afterschool program for middle school kids where she is helping to draw connections between their food and the land with gardening projects. Both JC and Tiffany are also helping to build the national organization, Grand Aspirations, which Summer of Solutions is a project of.

So, to the restless young person who is ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work, come to Asheville, for a summer of solutions (or continue to work from where you are) to truly “be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Apply HERE today!

We are also seeking funding for our program. If you are in a position where you can give, please help sustain our program by contributing here.  For any questions, suggestions, or ideas that need digestion, please send us an email at