Application deadline for Summer of Solutions is 4/14 Apply here!
My name is Ethan Viets-Vanlear, I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois where I am currently a student, activist, poet, and organizer. I started Summer of Solutions in the summer of 2012 through Let’s Go Chicago.
My initial motive for joining SoS was to spend more of my time outside building tangible solutions to some of the issues I noticed around me. I was also excited to spend my time growing food. I think the biggest thing that I got from SoS was the notion that any problem has a solution that I can take part into making happen. SoS really taught me a way to help a community without being part of various systems of oppression and control that dominate most organizations and institutions in our society. My favorite memories from SoS would have to be our various trips offsite to places like a farm, or spending time with all the participants around a campfire.
Hey everyone, Im Jason from the Rogers Park area. I am a member of LETS GO Chicago and i’m here to explain to everyone about what we did this wonderful summer. At first, I thought it Summer of Solutions going to be extremely boring ,since all we did was discuss problems about the world around us. I thought myself, “This was not what I signed up for”, but after our training week was completed, we were ready to get some work done. As a team we all started constructing raised beds on the first day. At first, i felt nervous since i didn’t talk to no one, let alone build with them. But since these were all good-hearted people, everyone got along in an instant. Even with the humid air and harsh sun, nothing could’ve stopped us, because we were committed!
From there on we’ve contacted our neighbors from around the area to see if they were willing to lend us a part of their yard for us to construct more raised beds. Then came along Bob, a friendly neighbor who lives on Ashland. he was kind enough to lend us 2 plots for gardening and a great spot for a fire pit for gatherings. We’ve called local neighbors who are associated with the church to offer them for a gardening space at different gardens around the area. gardeners have grown eggplants, tomatoes, radishes, and arugula. As you can see below we have posted a sign that says “Rogers Park Yard Sharing Network”. We have posted these signs in all 5 yards that we have worked in to let the people know we mean business! (Here are the before and after pics)
We also had a program for kids that was called “Childrens Garden” in which kids from around the neighborhood would come to learn about gardening and have fun projects to do that involved face painting, tea making, transplanting, etc. Kids were also able to have their own raised beds to grow their own crops. We taught them about the soil and how to properly space their seeds so they can grow comfortably. As you see here we have 2 brothers from Childrens Garden planting their seed sand watering them, as well as Greg (who is a member of Summer of Solutions) helping them out.
Hopefully by next year ALL of our lovely gardens will look like this, maybe even better!
With our first signs up in front of our yardshares, we decided to kick off a week in “Green Economy!” LET’S REVIEW! As a program, we worked on developing potential business models. We came up with many ideas as well as questions. We discussed about what a “green economy” meant and what we could do to make a model that we could apply to our current system. This was important to us because we are trying to develop a self-sustainable model. For ideas on how to do this, we went to a place called the Green Exchange in Logan Square. The Green Exchange is a hub for sustainable and green businesses. While we did meet a variety of businesses, the one we spent the most time with was WeFarm America. We were able to meet some inspiring individuals that were making it easy for people to garden. They are doing exciting things with urban gardening. They developed a working business model for financial sustainability, and it was great to see how they were doing things. On Friday, we were able to close the week by getting to know some of the businesses in the neighborhood. We canvassed the neighborhood to talk with business owners and employees about their own business practice as well as what we were doing. We happened to run into the president of the Rogers Park Chamber of Commerce, Bill. Bill was supportive of our desire to know more about the neighborhood businesses and gave us his contact information. It was awesome getting to know the neighborhood businesses and seeing what they were doing.
ALSO, Molly taught us how to make paper for the week’s skill share! Many of us were very excited.
With the end of the summer coming into view, our seedlings are long gone and the harvest is nearly here. The garden is full of life, and this week we’ll be completing this summer’s planned gardens. We’re currently tearing up the grass on a front lawn on the 6700 block of Ashland, so if anybody has seen the construction, yep, that’s us.
Biodiversity is crucial to a healthy garden, and we’re happy to see all manner of bugs and beetles all over the place, fighting it out to make sure nobody gets to sit around and eat the produce. We haven’t yet figured out how to keep yellow finches off of the rainbow chard, and we certainly didn’t expect to find this:
At least three baby bunnies have been sighted in our ‘home base’ Bosworth backyard garden, and they’re almost too cute to consider them a pest.
We’re also learning how to put new things together outside of the garden, and in the last couple of weeks we’ve built sub-irrigated planters, swales, cold frames, A-frame levels, worm compost set-ups, and reclaimed lumber raised beds. We’ve learned how to save seeds, mulch with weeds, and dumpster dive both food and materials. Maybe the most spectacular, though, was last week’s paper-making workshop:
This week we’re learning about bee keeping, so stick around for the inside scoop!
Molly and children in the garden during water week
The week of July 9, which focused on water issues, was so busy we didn’t have time for a mid-week blog post, but we have plenty of water-themed stories to tell. We kicked off the week by watching a documentary called Flow: For Love of Water on Monday. It’s about issues of clean water scarcity, and how the privatization of clean water sources by big business is hurting our communities and forcing people to suffer. It was shocking to see such a phenomenon taking place, but it energized our discussion of global water issues, and inspired us with stories of how communities have successfully fought for their right to clean water. Continue reading →
The relentless heat this week kept things exciting as we finished the second week of the program. In the Children’s Gardening Class, we saw some new, and familiar faces. We made small pots out of clay for the children to plant their own plants. Clay was everywhere, from faces of children to the participants. The kids loved the clay and getting their hands messy while making the pots. In addition to making pots, we taught them about the different kinds of soils and identified which is the best for growing plants. After that, we had the children add soil to the potato plants.
Later on in the week, the participants did some canvassing training. We canvassed for the Children’s Gardening Class. We went around the neighborhood and talked to community members to find children that could join our class. I was a bit nervous going door to door canvassing, but it was actually a pleasant experience. We saw a few children from the class in the neighborhood, and got to know the community by meeting and talking to the people that live in neighborhood. People were interested in what we were doing and passed out quite a few applications for the class. We hope to see some new faces next week in gardening class. We ended the canvassing with some seriously refreshing paletas, or popsicles, from a store a couple blocks away. The weather forecast next week looks comfortable and sunny, I’m looking forward to making progress with our gardens. Look out for a new post later this week.
It’s hard for us to believe that just a few short weeks ago we were in the midst of the successful Kickstarter campaign to raise $4,000 for the Rogers Park Yard-Share Network. With less than a week till the summer program starts, we want to stop and take some time to thank all of you for your support.
Your generosity helped us move beyond the stress of fundraising:
To the excitement of success and program launch:
And now because of your support, soon Rogers Park will look like this:
Nell, Molly, Peter, and Ben