Solutionary summer and the road ahead

Well, summer is ending, and a semester starting. This is the last semester for me, so my past summer is particularly making me think about what comes next after I graduate in December. Like most things in these momentous times, the obstacles are awe-inspiring and the opportunities are dire.

I spent most of this summer helping facilitate the Summer of Solutions in St. Paul, as well as supporting the eight other Summer of Solutions programs that launched across the country this past year. if you haven’t heard, the Summer of Solutions is a summer program by and for emerging leaders (mostly college age) that helps them build skills in social innovation, sustainable entrepreneurship, and community organizing while working to develop cutting edge projects and programs that demonstrate the promise of a sustainable economy founded on clean energy, healthy food and industrial systems, strong locally-based job creation and economic development, and profound and creative community. Since helping launch the Summer of Solutions in Spring 2008, I’ve dived deep into the realm of non-profit fundraising, program development, and transformative leadership training around solutions for our pressing climate, energy, development, and social justice challenges. Its been a wild ride as the organization grew from a single Twin Cities program in 2008, to 9 nationwide this summer. Some of the press hits have been pretty cool too, like this one on Grist. If you want to learn more about what this is all about what happened this summer all across the country, check out our Solutionaries blog.

Looking ahead, I’m really excited as we start the process of launching even more great programs next year. I’m also excited to see the growth of the programs generated in the process, like Cooperative Energy Futures, the community-based energy start-up company that has emerged from the work of Mac students and community partners across the Twin Cities, and ongoing collaboration with national organizations like the Energy Action Coalition and campus groups like MacCARES. If you want to get involved, contact me at

Zooming out, I’m starting to ask the broader question: not just how can I make a living by innovating, creating, and working for my values, but how can all people do the same? All summer, I’ve seen people light up inside when they find a space where they can do what makes them shine, where its most important, in a way that supports them to. As I join others in starting to create it it, I’m dreaming of a clean, just, and meaningful economy where that’s all we ever do. What if figuring out how to build that world and find your own niche in it was what being at Mac was all about?

Well, I have from now until December to complete the Mac journey and turn my work into something full-time that can support me. Better get back to it! I’ll keep you posted.

About timothydenherderthomas

Timothy is the General Manager of Cooperative Energy Futures and a member of the Community Power Steering Committee. He's all about people power, and being the changes we actually want to see. Timothy has been heavily involved in community development and using climate solutions as incredible opportunities for local economic activity, collective empowerment, and self-determination. He does lots of network building with buddies in the youth movement as well as labor, faith, agricultural, small business, and neighborhood groups.

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