Find below a pumped up introduction to the cooperative fundraiser from future worker-owner, Danton Valenzuela — a former Summer of Solutions participant who is, like all of us at LETS GO Chicago, doing the work to build the Green Economy!:


Hi! If you’re reading this you’ve come across my blog post and are probably a good stable person with lots of friends who are doing great things. I applaud you for being born… Now onto the topic of this particular post, LETS GO Chicago! Is currently on day 4 of our campaign to raise money to feed the children, oh wait I mean to start our Co-Op sister/brother group Grassroots ecology which has just been launched by the good people who brought you the Summer of Solutions.  As you may know, a business is not easy to start, especially a worker-owned green co-operative in the middle of Chicago winter.  So what were basically asking for is the startup loot so that we can buy the tools and pay for the man-hours of planning that we need to get us up and going and make ourselves self-sufficient to the point where you’re coming to us for discounts on rain gardens, snow plowing troops, and other green programs that people pay for and receive a service that they know is good for the environment and goes to people that live in your community who have only your best interest at heart.  What more could you ask for this Christmas? Helping the green economy, promoting sustainability and knowing that you contributed to local people who are working to make your community better! Did I mention that we will be donating some of our profits to the Summer of Solutions program?! Well we are, this means that we will have the resources to train young people to do the work that we do, it’s like a summer camp for green super heroes.  Golly gee all it takes are a couple minutes of your time and a tad bit of money and you can know in your heart that you’re not just sitting back letting big business and global warming win.  Times are difficult and we understand if you truly can’t, but if you can (I’m looking at you string bean) than please help a brother out and donate to LETS GO Chicago’s Grassroots Ecology Co-operative.

The Good Life, A Life Worth Living

Our friend Cesar Alvarez took some portraits of our garden and home.
I ask, what, if not this, is the life we should be living?

More from Cesar here:

A Place Worth Living InHeck YeahPumpy BeebsA homeHoop Houses SomedayDreamsGreens!LoveSunflower SaluteSunflower SaluteHoopysReachThe Flags of our MovementYesTomorrow, Today

Announcing Fall Kids Garden Classes

We at LETSGO Chicago are excited to announce the plans for Garden Classes this fall. Classes start September 30th and run for six weeks until November 6th. They will be every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from 4:15-5:45pm. Attendees will choose one day to attend each week. Classes will focus on teaching lessons on garden care, nutrition, arts and crafts, and sustainability for 5-12 year olds.Image

If you have a child you would like to register you can pick up a paper copy of the form at the United Church of Rogers Park, 1545 W. Morse Ave. Online versions of both the Spanish and English registration can be requested through our team email team@letsgochicago.org. Please also feel free to bring any concerns or questions to that email address.

Really like gardens? Really like kids? If you are interested in volunteering in the garden program please email garden teacher Nell at nellsegg@gmail.com  to learn about garden teacher training dates and other opportunities to be involved in fall classes.

What A Yard Can Be

The act of owning property is profound in that you become responsible for stewarding this one piece of our big old Earth. It is bizarre in that you can hide it, you can build a fence around it and tell people to stay away.

You can let just grass grow, which is not only boring, but “the amount of carbon dioxide emitted from lawn-related maintenance is four times the amount of carbon naturally collected and stored by the lawn itself.”

As our Summer of Solutions program has ended, as we look to Fall and to the next year, those of us at LETS GO Chicago are taking a moment to reflect before we dream up our future. As I harvested tomatoes (my favorite!) in our CSA garden today, I couldn’t escape the feeling that I was in an exceptional space–that what was around me was not only beautiful, but full of life, engaging–a shared space that many people love together.

Many people loving something together–that is not a phrase I would use to describe a well-manicured lawn!

And reflecting further, I thought back to the things I have learned in that garden, how to harvest this or that, the way to handle certain kinds of blight, the value of composting, lasagna gardening to reclaim grass-covered lawn and perhaps most importantly the people I’ve met there, the laughs we have shared–the incredible, incredible totality of what that space is. I glanced up at our giant sunflower and thought, “Dang, this is the right way to use property!”



I guess this whole thing is just a giant love letter to Steve, our neighbor and friend who took a risk a few years ago and let some kooky environmentalists take a small part of his backyard and start growing in it. It’s a love letter to the CSA members who took a chance on us and have eaten officially now hundreds of produce, it’s a love letter to the members of LETS GO Chicago and every volunteer who has given their time and hands to the soil, it’s a love letter to everyone who donated money or a plant, it’s a love letter to my dear garden, a place I have come to love so much.

It’s not only a love letter, but it’s a recognition of what we’ve done. It’s recognizing that hundreds of pounds of food were not shipped to our neighborhood using fossil fuels this summer. It’s recognizing that I learned how to garden this summer. It’s recognizing that some of us are a little more food independent now. It’s recognizing that not only can neighbors trust each other, they can build together. Dang!

There’s a lot of ways to attack lawns, to portray them as atmosphere-killing time wasters that have no purpose and exclude people from spaces, but what if instead we asked what a lawn could be, like Steve did? What if instead we dreamed about what a space like that can be? What if we started growing food together all over, and we put art in between, and read poetry there, and taught children there, and took naps there, and and and etc. etc. etc.

What can a yard be? I’m not sure there’s any limits.


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 https://www.wepay.com/events/solutions-not-extraction_1

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!


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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0O43X1tFQQ

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: http://funderhut.com/projects/view/donate-to-summer-of-solutions-2013-with-lets-go-chicago