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Summer of Solutions: St. Paul/Minneapolis, MN: Past Experience and Program Purpose

Program leaders in the Twin Cities Summer of Solutions have worked through two previous Summer of Solutions programs and year-round as volunteers on a broad range of green economy projects, which has allowed us to build this long-term base of partnerships and to develop the experience to support and coordinate these various initiatives. As volunteers and through past programs, we have led efficiency outreach campaigns in partnership with Cooperative Energy Futures, the energy efficiency and community-based renewable energy cooperative launched through the program in 2008, and with an alliance of labor, non-profit, and community-based leaders seeking to create jobs by turning old industrial sites into locations for green manufacturing. We’ve worked with Permaculture enthusiasts, community gardeners, and urban farming experts to expand our urban agriculture focus this year. The multiple focuses of our work reflect the need for closing loops between producing green products, distributing those products for use, feeding our communities, improving urban design to make accessing jobs and goods and services easier for communities, and providing the energy needed for these functions in a sustainable, people-supporting way. We are creating a new economic ecosystem in the Twin Cities, linking the various pieces we have developed over the past three years and giving participants the opportunity to understand and create it as a whole.

The specific strategies that we will use and train participants in are highly replicable. These include community engagement strategies for residential and commercial energy efficiency, innovative community-based renewable energy models, creating YIMBY (yes in my back yard) momentum for clean, community-supporting green industries, creating viable jobs in urban agriculture, and advancing smarter urban design.

Check out our past work from the Summer of Solutions 2008 (filmed by participant Rio Tazewell), and join us:

Grand Aspirations empowers, connects, and supports youth leaders as they create innovative, self-sustaining, and inter-dependent initiatives that systemically integrate climate and energy solutions, economic security, and social justice.
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