Working w/ Burns school

Working w/ Burns school

The Burns school team moved 4 yards of compost without a wheelbarrow! Getting ready to plant with kindergarteners this week!!!

Wesley Colbert Zion St Community Garden

Wesley Colbert Zion St Community Garden

Preparing are community garden for our neighbors. Creating available space is fun and exciting especially if you find roots as big as this one



This week was Summer of Solutions Hartford’s first week with our brand new internship. We had a blast. Spent day one with a meet and great. But then we day 2 was all about getting dirty. Here is our Zion St interns cleaning the community garden companied by good weather

Summer of Solutions becomes an all year program.

Starting April 1st. Our non-profit program expands. We are looking for 7-12 new interns to work in  urban agricultures.Working in our community garden and local schools in Hartford Connecticut. On winters day we are still busy, we’re getting ready to kick off our program, by preparing  leadership training for our up coming youths. We are super excited as Summer of Solutions takes on a new adventure. We might even change our name to something relevant and hip. Stay tuned! 


Link to apply for our internship:

Urban Farming Internship

Summer of Solution Hartford is hosting a 7-month internship in urban agriculture. We are looking for up to 12 interns to work with us in community and school gardens in Hartford. You can apply here!


We are looking for 12 young people (ages 14-30) to intern with our program this year. The internship commitment is 10 hours/week from April 1st-October 31st. Interns will work in one of our community or school gardens for 8 hours/week. Their time will be spent building and maintaining growing spaces, organizing community events, teaching gardening to children, and harvesting with our neighbors.
For 2 hours/week the whole group will come together to participate in a workshop series on leadership development and environmental justice.
Each intern will receive a $2,500 stipend for successful participation in the program. Some travel assistance is also available based on need.
The application closes on March 1st, and applicants will be notified over email if they are accepted by March 10th.

Here is the link to apply:


Last week Summer of Solution Hartford was in Washington, DC attending a January gathering for Grand Aspiration. That week was about LEADERSHIP!!!!! We worked in DC trying to build leadership skills to bring back for our interns in the new 7 month program. Cant wait to get the program stated. Image

Food Security Awards

I was honored to be a part of the moment when Summer of Solution accepted an award for food security. Watching Summer of Solution Hartford Team be appreciated for doing what is right —caring for a community that other people look at as garbage—that is breathtaking. It is honestly very beautiful to see a group of youth (such as my self) enjoy and thrive working in the community—It seems like working in the community is natural to them. I thank Jennifer R. for letting me be a part of this program. It was and is such a humbling experience for me.

-Sonsharae Owens

Power Shift 2013 Pittsburgh

This was my first time at power shift. It was a abstract experience for someone such as my self. A high schooler from Hartford Connecticut. It was one of those memories that you can never forget. I took back so much to help better yet humble my self as I continued on to live my life. It was so comforting to be in a room with positive young people whom made me feel free to be myself.  Whom also felt similar toward the corrupt world as I do.  They inspired me to make an action and not just sit and feel useless. I learned that I have to protect my mother nature and I will do so to the best of my ability. 

-Sonsharae Owens  

5 Senses at Burns!

This fall, we’ve resumed our kindergarten class at the Burns Latino Studies Academy! Their kindergarten science curriculum revolves around learning about the world with the 5 senses, so we designed our gardening curriculum to supplement it.

For one month, I’ve been teaching Burns kindergarteners gardening every Friday. Every time I’m there I’m surprised and honored that playing in the garden with kids gets to be my job! This is what we’ve done so far in our four lessons:


  1. Touch! We started by learning about the garden with our sense of touch. The kids picked leaves from the garden and then made leaf rubbings of leaves with different textures and shapes.

Continue reading

Start Your Own Summer of Solutions Program!

Grand Aspirations is now seeking applications for new Summer of Solutions and Local Initiative programs for 2014. LETS GO Chicago, our local chapter, strongly encourages the growth of new solutionary initiatives in the Chicago region and would love to help you make it happen! The priority deadline to apply is October 11th, with a final deadline of November 1st.
Read on for more info on what a Summer of Solutions or Local Initiative program can accomplish and feel free to email me if you have any questions!

Apply to Start a Summer of Solutions Program in Your Community!

In the face of a falling economy, an energy crisis, fragmented and inequitable communities, and the growing threat of global warming, youth are coming together to create solutions that address all of these challenges together.  These are solutionaries – youth leaders who work as innovative organizers across issue lines to build the green economy as an engine for local opportunity, climate and energy solutions, and social justice.

Every summer, youth gather in communities across the nation for the Summer of Solutions – a training ground for its participants and a launching pad for the Solutionary vision.  With the support of local partnerships and a national network of fellow solutionaries, participants create self-sustaining projects that have a direct impact on their communities and that serve as models for others to build on.


Running a program gives you the opportunity to create and support green economy projects that build power for people who currently don’t have as much access AND to empower young people from your community and beyond with the skills and strategies they need to do the same thing wherever they go next.


In 2013, Summer of Solutions programs:

  • Hosted two public forums and submitted an energy efficiency proposal to City Council (Iowa City, IA)

  • Cleaned up a community ravaged by illegal dumping and neglect (Detroit, MI)

  • Grew 350 lbs of organic produce to supply their backyard CSA program (Chicago, IL)

  • Ran a free summer camp for 30 children in the Fruitvale community teaching lessons on sustainability, personal empowerment, and community action (Oakland, CA)

  • Hosted 7 awesome workshops teaching community members how to grow organic food, experiment with vertical gardening, make lotions and balms, raise chickens, save seeds, grow shiitake mushrooms, lacto-ferment pickles and krauts, and raise bees for honey (Johnson City, TN)

  • Constructed community gardens at a food bank, veterans’ hospital, and seven other locations (Southern WV)

  • Secured an agreement from Centerpoint Energy to assist Minneapolis in reaching 30% emissions reductions by 2030 and addressing methane leakage in natural gas and secured City Council support for a year-long process to secure clean, affordable, reliable, and local energy (Twin Cities, MN)

  • Managed 7 community gardens, including three gardens at local schools with which they are developing year-round school gardening curricula (Hartford, CT)

Read more about these and other stories at our program pages.

Interested in doing work beyond the summer?

Local Initiatives are year-round sites of solutionary work where emerging leaders focus on designing, testing, and replicating innovative solutions in the green economy. They are, in essence, launching pads for new community project models that could be replicated elsewhere.

Unlike Grand Aspirations’ other programs, Local Initiatives focus less on training and more on project development and implementation. We envision them as the testing grounds for entrepreneurial projects that can out-compete unsustainable economic models while addressing social injustice and building community.

We want to invite YOU to be one of those young people building those solutions. Apply here to start a program in your community. Priority will be given to programs that apply by October 11th, with a final deadline for summer programs of November 1st. For more details on the guidelines for running a program, including January Training Gatherings and other forms of support, click here.

If you have any questions about what being a program leader entails, please contact Alexis Close at or 423-946-1673. Please share this opportunity with young people and leaders in your community and beyond!



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