A summer of green solutions


From my grandma to college students to the president, lots of people have been talking about sustainability. Some are waiting for business or government to take the lead, but a group of Macalester students have put their own plan into action, and now the initiative is growing.

Summer of Solutions (SoS) is a program aiming “to build the green economy and youth leadership,” says program participant Martha Pskowski. This summer marked the third year for SoS, which is run through the non-profit Grand Aspirations.  Macalester students founded both in 2008. Now, nine SoS programs have spread nationwide.

With urban agriculture, SoS partnered primarily with the Harrison Neighborhood Association and worked to build up and network preexisting urban gardens while helping implement a market at which to sell produce from the gardens.

Finally, for their green manufacturing focus, SoS partnered with the Alliance to Re-Industrialize for a Sustainable Economy (ARISE) and designed a plan for transitioning a St. Paul Ford manufacturing plant slated to close in 2011 into a green technology plant. SoS also built a universalized template from the plan that can be utilized elsewhere.

Though the SoS program itself will come to a close with the end of July, its projects are designed to sustain throughout the year until SoS launches again next year. Pskowski and Raedy are proud of their service within local communities in the Twin Cities over the summer and of the groundwork they have laid for the future. Looking ahead, Raedy hopes SoS participants will start down the entrepreneurial path and create future green jobs. He says interested individuals should look to apply for Summer of Solutions 2011 next spring, and hopes the program can fundraise enough to offer participants some financial support.

Pskowski hopes that their work will prove “being socially and environmentally responsible can work for businesses and communities as a whole… It’s about creating a system that can make money, but has greater benefits as well.”