Summer of Solutions is a nationwide program that helps American youths develop leadership skills for a clean, self-sustaining economy. The program is through grandaspirations.org and has 15 chapters throughout the U.S.A. Peter Hoy and Molly Costello lead the Chicago chapter.
The Chicago program ran from June 20th through August 20th and was stationed at the Koinoia House in Rogers Park. In addition to Ms. Costello and Mr. Hoy, 14 interns worked on the project, four of whom lived on site and experienced intentional community living.
The goal of the program is to build new leaders for clean economy projects. The main project for Summer of Solutions is a children’s garden in front of the Koinoia house. The children’s garden brought 25 children from the area together to educate them on sustainable organic gardening practices. The garden consisted of several raised beds, a compost heap, and plenty of delicious vegetables and herbs.
The program also set up a rain garden to educate on sustainable water conservation. This garden consists of deep-rooted native plants, donated from the Center for Neighborhood Technology. Rattlesnake Master, Echinacea, and Prairie Dropseed receive water directly from the rooftop, allowing a substantial amount of storm water to remain onsite.
Mr. Hoy and Ms. Costello have gotten creative in their methods for making the garden sustainable. The garden has chickens on site graciously donated by backyardchickenrun.com. The chicken coop actually contains a green roof that insulates the structure, allowing the temperature in the coop to be warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer!
The other main project for Summer of Solutions is to turn the inside of the Koinoia house into an experimental station for sustainable solutions. The aim is to educate on ways an old city home can reduce waste and be sustainable. They do this through weatherization practices, composting, energy efficiency, and a window farm. A window farm is a simple home farm consisting of plants and bottles with holes in the bottom. The plants are grown in volcanic ash instead of soil; there is compost on the bottom bottle and through a tube and old aquarium pump, the compost reaches all 5 bottles…a simple and efficient way for indoor growing!
The leaders of the Chicago Summer of Solutions program realize the importance of community and its role in the sustainability movement. Peter and Molly are constantly making connections with members of the community and educating them on sustainability. They have even turned a neighbor’s backyard into a thriving organic garden complete with Watermelons, Tomatoes, Squash, and Basil! The Summer of Solutions program is a step in the right direction towards a sustainable city. Through education, networking, and plenty of hands on experience, Molly and Peter are making an impact in the Rogers Park area. Surely, these neighborhood heroes should be applauded!