Summer of Solutions

 

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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Late Bloomers

June 5, 2013

Over the past few weeks in Arleta, we have been prepping for a Summer of Solutions where our focus will be community involvement in the city of Arleta and the surrounding cities (Pacoima, Panorama City, Van Nuys.) We have been reaching out to parents, students, and teachers at the garden where we have received support.

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Ear to the Ground

June 2, 2013

This post is from Little Rock Summer of Solutions!

One of my personal sheroes, the 97-year-old Detroit activist Grace Lee Boggs, talks often about the importance of keeping an "ear to the ground, " or understanding deeply the evolution and current struggles of the community within which one is working.  But staying grounded and aware can be difficult, especially as a Summer of Solutions program coordinator responsible for logistical planning that leaves me with less time than I would like to be out directly engaging with community members and surveying the social/physical/economic/political environment.

Several recent occurrences have been jolting reminders of the importance of remaining grounded.  One realization was thanks to a friend who came to our April 27th garden work day and imparted some of her knowledge of Permaculture design.  She was helping us to build a lasagna bed, which basically incorporates layers of green material (nitrogen-rich) and brown material (carbon-rich) over a layer of weed block (pictures below!).  I was lamenting the fact that we hadn't bought mulch or synthetic weed block, but she said, "what do you mean? It's all around us for free!"  She sent a team down the alley behind the garden and they returned with wheelbarrows full of fallen leaves, which made excellent mulch.  We raided recycle bins nearby for discarded newspaper and snipped overgrown bushes and vines in an empty lot next door for green material.  The world is brimming with ample and free resources, if only we can open our eyes and our minds enough to SEE!

Lasagna beds:

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Rebekah Israel was a Summer Fellow with the Raleigh Strong Camps in the summer of 2012. Since then, she has continued to work on issues related to girls’ empowerment, economic justice, and sustainability. In this entry, Rebekah shares with us her recent experiences in South Africa, where she participated in an alternative break trip that focused on gender equality, youth empowerment, and HIV/AIDS. Read on!

Hello world! My name is Rebekah Israel and I had the honor to work with Full Circles in the summer of 2012. It was an incredible experience and I feel blessed to have met all the girls of the 2012 Strong Camps. Since then, I trekked back to Washington, D.C. where I currently attend graduate school at American University. At American, I spent most of my time this past fall semester planning an alternative break trip that would become instrumental to who I am and what I want to do with my life. Alternative breaks provide students an opportunity to engage in a particular social justice issue either domestically or abroad during one of their breaks from school. “Alt breaks” usually incorporate a service component in which students work on specific project in addition to a learning component that stresses the connection of specific experiences to broader social justice issues.

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This post is from Growing Food and Sustainability, a Summer of Solutions program and Local Initiative in Middleton, WI.

Kids in the Garden: We just wrapped-up our first after school program! We had a wonderful five weeks learning about the greenhouse and seed starting, planning dream gardens, preparing the garden for planting, and cooking!

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Showing off their dream gardens

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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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FCF Joins One Billions Rising along with other Community Organizations 

On February 15, Full Circles Foundation joined Cirque de Vol for an event celebrating One Billion Rising, a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls. Seventy-five people came together to enjoy a parade/march in downtown Raleigh, speakers and performers, and a local market and non-profit fair. Part of the donations received throughout the day went to support the 2013 Raleigh Strong Camp! One Billion Rising organizer, Grayson Gant, reports that “on the day of and during the event, people were smiling at us, running through the hills of downtown to join us in our march, stomping their feet and honking their horns at us as we marched by. It was beautiful to see Raleigh come alive and I was proud to see they welcomed our approach to sharing love, joy, and our vision for a beautiful and healthy world!” Grayson says she was particularly touched by “two women who had three children with them who joined our march – one lady asked us what we were marching for and I told her – she proceeded to tell me that last month her ex had severely beaten her and broken her nose in several places- we both teared up and we hugged and I told her I was happy she was with us today- they stayed with us for the rest of the march and for the public speaking events that followed on the lawn. It felt very healing, empowering and intense.”

**Many thanks to Cirque de Vol for including FCF Raleigh in this amazing day of empowerment.**

Community members supporting One Billion Rising  in Downtown Raleigh!

Community members supporting One Billion Rising in Downtown Raleigh!

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Hello. 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.

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