Our Experience

Residency facilitators in Minneapolis are social entrepreneurs and innovators who have experience in a wide range of social change and community-based enterprise approaches around creating community-based green economy solutions. Since 2007, we’ve laid the foundation for the guidance we are able to provide. Our accomplishments include:

  • Founding Grand Aspirations (www.grandaspirations.org) in the Twin Cities in 2008, incorporating it as a 501c3 non-profit in 2010, and supporting its growth to 16 communities nationwide and over 300 participants through networking and training other leaders.
  • Working in partnership with the City of St. Paul, green design firms, labor unions, and transit, affordable housing, and green jobs non-profits to develop a mixed-use, clean-energy, transit-oriented development plan for the 135 acre Ford Motor Plant site (closed December 2011).
  • Organizing the South Minneapolis neighborhood coalition-guided campaign, Our Power (www.mnourpower.org), to help local residents and businesses work together to bring forth an affordable, reliable, healthy, job-creating, and environmentally sustainable energy future in South Minneapolis. Coordinated service provisions from other organizations and developed a neighborhood outreach campaign reaching over 3,000 households to date. We are developing a parallel business sustainability outreach program through the Latino Economic Development Center.
  • Launching the neighborhood energy efficiency and community energy co-op (member-owned business) Cooperative Energy Futures (www.cooperativeenergyfutures.com) to develop a community-based approach for wealth building through community organizing in the energy sector. This 308B energy co-op has provided training workshops to over 50 homes and coordinated insulation on 17 properties to date and is developing innovative models for community ownership of solar energy.
  • Convening and providing technical support to the founders of Concrete Beet Farm, an urban farming CSA that has since merged with others to form Stone’s Throw Farm, a profitable urban farming venture employing Twin Cities residents growing sustainable local food.
  • Teaching over 120 adults and youth through a 24 hour (12-session) free class on peak energy, climate change, and the economic transition. Students from this class have gone on to found solar leasing companies, organize non-profit and community sustainability programs, integrate green economy approaches into city government operations, and more.
  • Securing over $170,000 in grant funding and over $20,000 in grassroots donations for the above efforts since late 2009.
  • Speaking and training at conferences to over 6,000 people.
  • Coordinating and delivering 10 organizing trainings of between 5 and 8 days each.
  • Running four 2-month Summer of Solutions training programs in the Twin Cities with a total of 120 participants and mentoring an additional 19 Summer of Solutions training programs over the past three years with a total of 300 participants.
  • Learning, developing and implementing leadership development curricula around green business development, participatory facilitation, building effective teams, community-based social marketing, asset-based community development, movement strategy, personal transformation, and training techniques.

We have piloted this residency program with one participant already. Here’s a few words from his experience:

“Grand Aspirations evoked in me the entrepreneurial spirit that I never realized I had. They’ve given me the encouragement to become more strategic in my thinking, more long term, more focused. I don’t know now when it will happen, but I know I want to run/own my own business one day.  Many of Grand Aspirations core philosophies are the genetic code of my organizer DNA. I felt the incredible high of having seen the far reaches of my vision/growing edge and the incredible low as I’ve slowly realized how far I am from it.  This is a process still in action and one that humbles me and that I learn from every single day. Grand Aspirations gave me many people who I will always love – in GA, I met my family.” – Jared Schy