WEEKEND READING: November 16-November 30, 2007 (Guest Post by Colin Kloecker)

Fair warning: this installation of Weekend Reading is kind of one huge shameless plug for a project I'm involved with called Solutions Twin Cities.

The project was born out of what I think is a very common frustration in our hyper connected online world: we have so much access to great work being done all around the world that it is easy to loose sight of the great work happening right in our own backyards. Being junkies of great websites like WorldChanging, TED Talks, Inhabitat, and others – we were constantly inundated with inspiring projects, but living smack in the middle portion of the United States, we hardly ever had a personal connection to them. This made us sad.

So after one too many alcohol induced pity fests, we decided to do something about that. We set out to find our very own world-changing neighbors and figure out how to celebrate their work while connecting them to other people yearning for a more personal connection to their sources of inspiration. The event we created takes inspiration itself from the Pecha Kucha model: short presentations (each under 7 minutes) comprised of both visual and spoken input. We put together each show with an eye towards conveying the full spectrum of projects happening in the Twin Cities and as you'll see below, it's all about diversity. We throw in live music, good food, and cheap drinks and… well, people show up, over 300 at our last event.

So this is the meat and potatoes of this weeks WR. I'd like to introduce you to some of my neighbors:

ITEM ONE: Ramy Selim just opened Minneapolis' first one stop eco-shop, Sunny Day Earth Solutions. More then just selling eco-friendly home products, Ramy is the guy to go to if you want the dirt on photovoltaic panels, solar water heaters, straw-bale construction, and bio-diesel auto conversions. See video here.

ITEM TWO: Chuck Olson and The Uptake are enabling citizen journalists nation-wide to better cover the stories that are meaningful to them. Their next project? Putting 100 citizen journalists with video cameras on the streets of downtown St. Paul for 2008's RNC Convention.

ITEM THREE: Chris Wegscheid and Corrie Zoll started RoofBloom with the simple goal of bringing green roofs to the Twin Cities en mass. Rather then encouraging consumption of any particular commercial green roof system, they empower individuals with the knowledge and materials needed to install green roofs themselves. See their presentation here.

ITEM FOUR: Stephanie and Kelly Kinnunen sold all of their possessions and invested their lives in the creation of NEED Magazine. With smart design and beautiful photography, NEED Magazine showcases the work of humanitarian organizations around the world and provides readers with the information needed to get involved and make a difference. They also just got hugged by Bill Clinton. See their presentation here.

ITEM FIVE: Jennifer and Jessica own the Smitten Kitten, a feminist sex toy boutique in Minneapolis. They also started the Coalition Against Toxic Toys (click to find out why they heart Arnold Schwarzenegger), because if we really care about what we put into our bodies, why should sex toys, a notoriously dirty industry, be any different?

ITEM SIX: Arlene Birt is a young graphic designer whose Background Stories project might just revolutionize the way socially and environmentally conscious companies package and market their products.

ITEM SEVEN: Christian Trifilio & Jacqui Belleau work for the industrial design firm Worrell, Inc. A connection made through NEED Magazaine led them to FilmAid International and a very cool collaborative project designing a mobile movie theater for refugees. This project was a 100% volunteer effort. See their presentation here.

ITEM EIGHT: Cathy Ten Broeke is the Coordinator to End Homelessness in Hennepin County and the city of Minneapolis. She is spearheading a fresh, solutions based movement to end homelessness in the county within the next 10 years. See her presentation here.

So who are your neighbors? When was the last time you were inspired by somebody face to face, did you get to meet them? Solutions Twin Cities is looking for partners to help spread the event to other cities around the world. Please don’t hesitate to email us if you’re interested. And please check out our website for more on Solutions Twin Cites and to watch more videos from our first event last May.

Thanks for reading, and Happy Friday!

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