Our Vision
Summer of Solutions
Our Projects


It's Getting Hot in Here


The Listening Project

The Listening Project is an ongoing process that participants have already begun.  Our process of listening exists in many contexts ranging from town hall meetings to urban planning seminars to conducting interviews with community members.  It is part outreach, part idea collaboration and part consciousness raising.  Through actively and compassionately asking and listening for what our community envisions for the future, we hope to build our lives and our work on a foundation of inclusiveness and sustainability.  We do not view ourselves as outsiders coming in to fix problems in our community; rather, we see Summer of Solutions as one piece of a very long healing process that must begin by listening to ourselves and our neighbors.  While the Listening Project will continue into the summer and beyond, and really never ends, we hope to showcase our community's thoughts and visions through a multimedia art display that will perhaps travel around to libraries, cafes, community centers and other places of public gathering in order to tell stories that would otherwise go untold and shed light on the amazing innovations that are developing in all areas of Asheville. 

Connecting Craft Economy with Recycled Material and Renewable Energy

Crafts are a defining feature of Western North Carolina.  North Carolina has historically been known for beautiful furniture making and is currently home to several well-respected craft schools and an emerging craft center at the University of North Carolina-Asheville. 

One of the ideas currently in development in the SoS Asheville community is to use recycled materials (glass, or old furniture) in sustainable craft production.  Energy would be harvested through methane capture at the local sewage waste treatment facility to power necessary machinery and the crafts produced could include bottles and plates for local breweries and restaurants and trinkets to be sold in the tourism economy of Asheville.  This endeavor will create jobs that will be permanent, carbon-reducing and empowering.  Partners would include Joseph Malki, of Seven Star Studios, and SCS Engineering. 

For this summer, SoS Asheville hopes to complete a pilot program that will explore the feasibility and potential shortcomings of this project.

Food Security

We strive to connect ourselves to an understanding of the origins of our food and to recognize how we can contribute to food production.  To that end, we will teach ourselves and other community members to grow food in otherwise unproductive spaces (lawns).  To have the knowledge of food production is to have knowledge that is necessary to thrive in a system that separates us from our food sources.  With your input, we hope to create a collaborative environment for the sharing of experience, seeds, tools and labor so that we are supported in our endeavor of sustainable, resourceful living, because we cannot only be sustainable in our food production, we must also be sustainable socially.

Western North Carolina is home to over 200 farms.  In a region with such strong agricultural ties, supporting local food production is seen as an integral part of supporting the local economy.  As part of our goal to be engaged with our food production, we are working to set up urban-rural connections that will provide secure opportunity for SoS participants to sojourn to the countryside for a few days at a time to live on a farm and experience full-time engagement with the land.  We hope that this back and forth movement from the city to the country will open up avenues of communication about the similarities of these environments and how we can better support one another. 

We value food security not only because it unites us with an essential area of sustenance, but also because it unites us with each other.  Understanding our own food is not enough - we must understand the food ecology of our community.  Where does the food come from?  Why is this type of food more prevalent in this area of the city?  Why are farmers' markets not evenly distributed?  We recognize that we can only have a liberated relationship with our food if that liberation is extended throughout the community.  And food is culture - the types of food, the ways in which it is prepared, the ways in which it is enjoyed.  We connect over food.  We hope that community potlucks, garden work days and cooking classes will encourage conversation and continued collaboration and deepen our connection with the cultural food traditions of the Appalachian region.

Systems Understanding of Community

The SoS Asheville will have a component of intellectual activity, in addition our on the ground infrastructure work.  Ideas currently in development include an ecological understanding of Asheville, a tour of the history of development in Asheville and a discussion of a post-consumption tax.

Through an ecological understanding of Asheville, we hope to see the community as a system of interconnected parts, all dependent on one another.  We want to explore this idea in terms of economic and social strucutres, as well as in the context of our bioregion identity.  We will integrate organizations, institutions and businesses into this model as much as possible in order to elucidate ignored avenues for collaboration and to avoid unnecessary competition in the non-profit sector. 

A compliment to an understanding of the current ecology of Asheville is an understanding of the history of the city's development.  There are currently databases being expanded at local institutions, including at the University of North Carolina-Asheville, that catalog various areas of city development.  We want to plug into some of these projects and eventually create a guided walking tour that will explore the causes of the flow of money and land ownership and how this affects community and social structure.

We also hope to open up a dialogue addressing the possibility of a post-consumption tax.  A post-consumption tax would account for the cost of what happens to goods after they have been used and discarded.  This will inform our ecological understanding of Asheville, as we must see how our waste affects our environment and what we can do to offset the damage this can create.

These are all long-term projects that will be begun this summer.  There exists clear potential for this to become part of academic study for SoS participants and a way to earn class credit through SoS. 

Resourcefulness and Urban Self-Sufficiency

The SoS Asheville team will develop and provide "eco-kits" to students and other youth that are interested in making their households more sustainable.  This will include weatherization information and materials as well as garden starter-kits.  Making one's own home sustainable is a good step toward being independent from centralized energy sources.  Less energy that is necessary for our day-to-day consumption means fewer mountains lost to mountain-top removal and less nuclear energy production. 

Participants may also work on a proposal for a cooperative housing option for students at University of North Carolina-Asheville and potentially other colleges in the area.  Cooperative living leads to an expansion of social capital and more mature communication skills, both of which aid the strengthening of an interdependent and self-sustaining community.

Creative Public Outreach

At SoS Asheville, our outreach will go beyond fliers and email lists.  We seek to have a public image that embraces the inherent creativity of the solutionary mindset.  We will actively include art, music and dance in our collaboration with one another and collaborate with local skill share groups to learn more processes to empower our creative expression.  We will then harness this energy to reach out to a wider community and communicate across boundaries that often are not crossed through traditional outreach techniques.  This can include public art displays, hosting collaborative choreography sessions, public parades and participation in local festivals.  These creative pursuits will serve not only as outreach, but also as a compliment to other methods of documenting ourselves and our unfolding solutionary process.

Alternative Education

SoS Asheville views a do-it-yourself approach to education to be essential to the solutionary process.  We are learning by doing in a way that allows the unfolding of self to be present at each step of the learning process.  This is education that does not alienate, but instead empowers. 

We want to encourage youth that have recently graduated from high school, are between high school and college, are leaving college for a non-institutionalized learning exploration, or that have recently graduated from college to embrace learning as a process that we must take ownership of in order to recognize our potential for self-realization.  We hope to develop a framework for "gap-year" learning in leadership, community understanding, civic engagement and entrepreneurship.  This type of education will compliment and support the classroom learning that is also necessary for development.  Participants will develop a more complete sense of self and direction, as well as discover the tools and skills for realizing their dreams. 


Grand Aspirations empowers, connects, and supports youth leaders as they create innovative, self-sustaining, and inter-dependent initiatives that systemically integrate climate and energy solutions, economic security, and social justice.
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Questions and comments to kai.bosworth@gmail.com