New Garden Classes at the YMCA

Hi my name is Chanel and I work for Summer of Solutions. I began working with them through YEP (Youth Employment Program). I really enjoy working with Summer of Solutions because it’s showed me a lot of things I didn’t know. I’m still open minded to know more but from what I have done so far it has been the best experience. I signed up to work with Children’s Garden at The United Church of Rogers Park. However, we recently began new garden classes at the Westwood Manor nursing home where we run a greenhouse. We teach the kids from the YMCA Summer Camp next door about gardening so they will start their own garden with their families.


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OMG Corn is so big!


So seriously, the garden has been the most exciting working group ever ALWAYS.  But this week especially, things have gone NUTS. Before my eyes an epic opera of life and death, of vegetable and gardener, of difficulty and triumph has slowly unfolded.

We’ve been pulling in beans on beans, squash is shooting out of the ground left and right, and the first dark purple blobs hinting at future eggplants have appeared.  Despite this, not everything in the garden bodes so well.

Screening of film Shift Change July 30th


My name is Elizabeth Zurita, This year I am a participant in the Summer of Solutions program that LETS Go Chicago runs every summer. I am from very small town south Venezuela.  As a person that comes from an undeveloped country I know how important is to work for the less privileged communities finding the way to empower them with more dignifying and democratic workplaces.

To achieve a better living standard does not have to be an unreachable dream for all those that find themselves in the need to so. This is why I want to dedicate this week’s post to let you know about the benefits of worker owned cooperatives.

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Thanks to all for supporting our dinner fundraiser!

LETS GO members build raised beds at a local nursing home

LETS GO members build raised beds at a local nursing home

We just wanted to give a shout out to all the people who came out to support LETS GO Chicago and Gutting the Heartland at our Solutions Not Extraction event on July 13th. Altogether, we raised over $600 toward both causes. Your money will help fund sustainability projects in Rogers Park this summer and make sure the Gutting the Heartland Photo Exhibition Tour makes its way from Chicago to Puget Sound and back! Thanks to all for their contributions and a special thanks to Mercedes Inez Martinez, Jovan D. Mikhailovic, and Old Lazarus’ Harp for their musical additions to the evening!

Week 2 at LETS GO!


My name is Marlon English. I’m a Chicago native originally from the south side.I currently  live on the northside of Chicago in Rogers Park. I’m familiar with community organizing, but the work I’ve done prior to this type of work is around juvenile justice and health care\equity in the southside’s Woodlawn neighborhood.

I found out about Summer of Solutions through a few friends that worked in the program last year and it caught my attention to learn solutions for storm water and living more sustainably. Every person in our Summer Of Solutions was given choices on project groups that strike their interest. Out of 3 groups(Green business pilot,Yardshare,and Children’s Garden), I chose Green Business Pilot, which is a worker cooperative development project. As a worker cooperative we will all have shared resources and shared power/authority. I decided to join the co-op project  not only tobecome more business savvy, but to learn more about stormwater solutions and being hands on in a worker owned business.

During week 2 of Summer Of Solutions Green Business Pilot has been planning marketing strategies. We all did some research on prices for rain barrel parts,preferably buying supplies in bulk for inexpensive prices.We meet for 3 and a half hours everyday to work on our project area and we all made a commitment of taking on several tasks.Toward the end of the week we did site analysis at a few houses we plan on installing rain barrels at. We got measurements on a number of downspouts per house.I intend to become more knowledgeable about gardening and worker cooperatives during our Summer Of Solutions program. My experience in  S.O.S so far has been very positive and I enjoy all the exercises.Both the leaders and participants have positive attitudes that make even some of the more tedious work more enjoyable.Weekly 1on1 sessions are very effective to give an analysis on our participation . I’m very excited to see our progress next week  being more hands on in our Green Business Pilot project area.

Fundraiser Event THIS Saturday – Solutions Not Extraction

1064803_10201378098075147_887880031_oThis Saturday, 7/13, from 6:00-9:00pm, Gutting The Heartland and LETS GO Chicago are teaming up for an evening full of art, food, and music. The event features a one night only art gallery highlighting the impact of the coal and natural gas industries in the Illinois Coal Basin as well as showing community based solutions to the world’s addiction to fossil fuels. There will be a silent auction, and a delicious menu of 100% local organic food.

The event will take place at United Church of Rogers Park, 1545 W. Morse Ave., Chicago, IL  60626.

RSVP on Facebook and get your tickets at

The top five craziest things I’ve learned in the first two weeks of Summer of Solutions Chicago

by Anthony Betori

You learn a lot in this program, about food systems, climate change, harvesting techniques and how to resist oppression. But let me break down the top five craziest things I’ve learned with my friends in this years Summer of Solutions in Chicago.


1) Hugelkultur is next-level, serious composting.

Hugelkultur, or the burial of branches in a big hole underground, allows for the quick breakdown of sturdy branches into beautiful, loving soil that will nourish our plants. We used this in part of our property reclamation project at the nursing home we partner with, cutting down tree branches to expand our growing area and recycling them to make a closed-circle system where nothing was wasted. And not only will it be delicious soil! Oh no my friend! It will also capture storm water, helping to handle water runoff that is becoming a major problem here in post-climate change Chicago.



Wow!!! A truly inspiring hole.

2) Dumpster diving is the dream.

Two of our program leaders decided to go dumpster diving this weekend to try to pick up some wasted food to help feed our huge program this summer. The result was the biggest and most beautiful dumpster find I’ve ever seen. Candy, juice, pounds and pounds of produce, sunscreen, cereal, and even a trash bag full of roses! We used the roses to turn our house into a Downton Abbey level bourgeois paradise, we did several workshops on cannings (I can make a damn good peach jam now, if I do say so myself!), and we use the sunscreen in our gardens (on us, not the plants) to keep our skin healthy in the sun. We watched Dive as a program to help get deeper into why dumpster diving is not only fun, but important to the revolution and safe in terms of health issues, and the result of that and the major dig this weekend is the founding of a Dumpster Dive Team, committed to finding ‘waste’ and repurposing it!



Joe, Ellie and I found amazing books, a bucket, and a lot of salvageable wood in this one!

3) Barack Obama thinks natural gas is clean energy.

We watched Barack Obama’s disastrous speech on climate ‘solutions’ on Tuesday as a program together. In this speech he referred to natural gas as clean energy, apparently forgetting that 1) it is not clean energy and 2) it is not *%&^#@ clean energy. I personally hold that Barack Obama is the worst president in history for not being a strong leader on climate issues at the time that leadership is most needed, and was happy to have a safe space to talk about these feelings after being so infuriated by his corporate, nonsense, band-aid speech. Guys, Barack Obama literally thinks natural gas is clean energy. Summer of Solutions is even more important than we thought.

4) Seed libraries are sexy.

We are in talks with Chicago seed librarian/activists (yes they exist and yes they are as sexy as they sound) to gain support for our own seed library here in Rogers Park. Seed libraries are a radical gesture for two major reasons. First, we reject the corporate-genetic war-mongering of Monsanto and its affiliated, evil companies. You cannot patent the Earth, she is our Mother! She is not yours! Second, by developing seed cultures in local regions, our seeds will be more resistant on an ORGANIC GENETIC level (WHAT!) to climate shifts as they happen in our area–drought, deluge, etc. The seeds will literally get used to droughts and rain storms as they happen in Chicago if we keep saving them from year to year and replanting with our own stock. I KNOW I AM FREAKING OUT TOO.

5) The revolution is now!

With the collapse of capitalism and the federal government less than three years away (my own opinion, does not reflect Grand Aspirations, LETS GO Chicago, or anyone else’s opinion), it is beautiful to be a part of the grassroots solutionary action that will make our neighborhoods not only resilient, but places of healing and community. We are expanding rapidly and with compassion. We are being noticed! We are making friends! And I can feel the reverberations in the earth of the love we are putting into this work, our gardens, ourselves, and each other. I am proud to be here, working with these people, harvesting these kale and raspberries. I am happy to be an urban forager. I am part of the revolution, and so are all of you! The revolution is nonviolent, anti-capitalist, interdependent, intersectional, a garden, and NOW!


Coming back for a second Summer of Solutions


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. Continue reading

Welcome to the Children’s Garden!

Hello, friends!

Kids sharing their vegetables with the community

Kids sharing their vegetables with the community

Well, maybe we’re not friends yet–let me introduce myself! My name is Desi, I live in Chicago, I’m a grad student/writer/amateur gardener, and I love cheese. This is my first year at Summer of Solutions, and I’m proud to be one of the teachers of the Children’s Garden Class.

Before this program, I was aware of the nutrition deficit that many Americans deal with. A growing number of Americans don’t know what a healthy diet looks like, and even those who do often lack the funds to follow one. But even as aware as I was of the problem, I had never thought much about a solution. And I’m not sure why. Especially because what we are doing this summer–growing food locally and educating the community on how to do the same–seems like such an obvious answer. But now that I’m in-the-know, I’m super excited to pass on my knowledge and skills to a great group of kids. Continue reading

LETS GO Chicago Mini-Documentary

Late last month, we teamed up with independent filmmaker Brendan Brown to produce this short video about our work building up the green economy in Chicago. The video was made for our online fundraising campaign on the FunderHut website, but also tells our story in general for those who are curious.

Watch the video and help us spread the word by sharing the links below on Facebook, Twitter and other Social Media. Here’s some suggested Facebook messages:

Check out this new video about solutionary green economy work taking place in Chicago and pass it on to friends in your networks:

Watch the video and support the work of young Chicago solutionaries taking back the economy with gardens, storm-water solutions, and a worker co-op in the making: