grand aspirations

 

By: David Mack

Location: Chicago, IL

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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.

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IMG_8583Written by Katherine Dennis, a Nashville native and the Little Rock SoS Garden Manager!

This past week has been our orientation & training week for the Little Rock Summer of Solutions team. We have gone through a myriad of trainings including community organizing, conflict resolution, and social entrepreneurship.

One of the most meaningful trainings in which we participated was focused around environmental justice. I have studied this topic academically, and I understand what it generally means: how the environmental and people interact, and is it just. That is a really naive definition, and so I googled it to find out a little more about what it means. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, Environmental justice is “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, sex, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.” Okay, this is another academic definition, and I’m going to try and break it down a bit. Are people being treated fairly, regardless of their income, race, etc., in terms of the development and policies that are affecting them? I can think of national examples: The Exxon oil spill in Mayflower, AR on March 29, 2013 that killed flora and fauna. Another example are the oil operations in Niger that have spilled oil slowly over the past twenty years, thus, destroying their precious ecosystems. I understand environmental justice on the global scale, but how does it affect singular neighborhoods in the US?

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Have you been reading Grand Aspirations' blog posts and are you curious about how our organization empowers youth all across the country?  Learn all about us in our new video!

Special shout outs to Full Circles Foundation, LET’S GO Chicago, Build it Up! and Twin Cities Summer of Solutions.

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A Year of Solutions

May 24, 2013

This post is by Kwame Ntiri Owusu-Daaku, program leader at Iowa City Summer of Solutions.

I can’t believe I have changed this much in a year. I can’t believe I’ve stayed involved this much for a year either. What started out as a the need to find a summer internship in Iowa City has turned into an amazing journey of discovery from which I’m moving on to a PhD in Geography in which I plan to focus on development and climate change adaptation.

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Kwame learns to caulk a window.

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By: Dorthea Thomas

Northeast Detroit is an area stricken with environmental degradation, illegal dumping, and an unreliable trash management system. Because of this, months of trash and debris starts to pile up in our communities leaving the health and safety of our residents at risk.

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However the team of HOPE4GREEN Detroit is pushing to restore Northeast Detroit with community clean-ups, urban gardening, and boarding up abandoned homes that are open and dangerous.

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Summer of Solutions Hartford is one of a few local organizations participating in the food justice workshop series at the CT River Academy in East Hartford, CT. Last week, we had a booth at their food justice fair. Students had an hour in the fair to talk to representatives from urban farms, seed companies, dining services, green jobs organizations, and local food producers.

At our booth, we had information about the program, and an origami seed pot activity. We had a big box of soil, some basil, parsley, and flower seeds, and a lot of newspaper.

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Despite the rain and the cold, summer in Bulgaria is approaching fast. Our team is trying hard to get things ready for the SoS and beekeeping season.

We are encountering the first difficulties with meeting our goals and deadlines…As we need to purchase some initial equipment; we turned to advice to local beekeepers and friends, who could direct us to the best source. One of our mentors recommended a Bulgarian company that makes demonstration beehives with a glass wall and a lid to cover it. Those would be perfect, we thought. The glass wall is covered, and light cannot bother the bees too much. They have a good design and are interactive—easy to show children, and a good asset for the University Botanical Garden, who have accepted our request for outdoor space. We managed to see how these look like and take a picture in front of the Hilton Hotel.

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Last month, I attended the Sierra Club’s Global Population and Environment Program Fellowship training in Washington, DC.  I was joined by several other youth from across the country who were interested in making the connection between empowering women and sustainable development.  I applied for this fellowship as I have become increasingly interested in learning more about gender issues due to the Gender Economics class at American University that I am taking this semester.  Through this class, I have been learning more about the importance of incorporating gender when developing macroeconomic policies.  Many of our initial readings for the class discussed how much of the work that women do such as cooking, giving birth to and taking care of children, and other household tasks are not accounted for in the formal economy or in the country’s GDP.  Yet, women’s role in the care or reproductive sector, while often unacknowledged in formal economic policies, is crucial to the continued development of a country.  For without women to give birth and take care of children, there would no future generation and no future economy to talk about.

Despite women’s importance in the economy, the impact of economic policies on women are rarely given special consideration when country leaders develop economic policies.  As a result, these policies often have a disproportional impact on women.  For example, policies to increase trade between countries may seem beneficial for both of the countries’ economic growth.  However, in countries where human labor is their main resource, this means that women are increasingly employed to work in the factories as they are considered a source of cheap labor.  As the women may not have many other options, the factory bosses can pay them low wages and force them to work long hours without breaks.  (This is greatly simplifying the situation as each country is different, but I am trying to be brief.)  Additionally, the women often still have to take care of children and perform other household tasks, placing a huge strain on their welfare.

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Summer of Solutions Middleton (aka Growing Food and Sustainability) is running an Indiegogo campaign until May 1st!  Learn more and donate on their Indiegogo page!

Indiegogo facebook profile

One of Growing Food and Sustainability’s core goals is to train and inspire a new generation of youth leaders to create their own solutions to the world’s challenges.  Our Indiegogo campaign is focused on raising money for stipends so that we can train youth through our summer internship program.  Last summer, two local college students participated in our internship.  This summer, we plan to select five interns to participate in this leadership development experience.  Interns learn through peer-lead trainings as well as by taking an active, hands-on role in our organization. They learn how to plan curriculum for the summer garden camp, serve as camp counselors, workshop leaders, and meeting facilitators, coordinate community workdays, harvest days, the weekly compost pick-up, and the weekly produce delivery, and will learn green entrepreneurship skills by helping to run our farmers’ market stand.   Our goal is to make sure that every graduate of our internship program leaves with the skills and knowledge to start an initiative of their own.

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