paradigm shifts

Greening South Bronx



Do you know what South Bronx is famous for?

I would have to say spunk. Reading the list of famous people from one of the poorest congressional districts in the United States, I can’t help but feel that drive for success. Al Pacino, Bobby Darin, Jennifer Lopez, to name a few + rappers and athletes. And that can’t-beat-me-down survivalist energy that underlies grassroots movements to revitalize this area.

But I didn’t get turned onto what’s happening in the South Bronx because of this glitzy list…but by Stephen Ritz and his TED Talk. His idea that started with seeds (heirlooms, I believe) and bringing the plants from the outside to the inside, has made a tremendous difference in so many lives, especially those of his students, many of them homeless, come with handicaps, in foster care and almost all live in poverty (40% of South Bronx live below the poverty line).

Hopefully, my reach will exceed my grasp.

What did Steve and the kids do? They built an indoor edible wall (with help from George Irwin from Green Living Technologies who assisted with getting the patents and connecting the kids to more learning).

The first edible wall in New York City.

And from one edible wall in the classroom to more edible walls in the school, harvest going to the cafeteria (feeding kids vegetables, aka real food, instead of junk!), to building green roofs in the Hamptons to Grow for Green Justice to growing plants for public schools. It just balloons. And keeps on rolling.

Side effects? Kids get real skills and have real jobs. They get nutrition in school which has shown to improve brain functions, among other things. Mindsets change, and possibilities appear on the horizon. Confidence soars. Connection happens. Attitudes change. Lives broaden.

“The kids learn to get, they learn to give” and they start giving back, buying gifts for the homeless. Like I said, it just keeps going. And you know what they say… the kids are our future…I can’t wait to see the future these kids will build…are already building!

Isn’t “green graffiti” good?

Watch the TED Talk Stephen Ritz: A Teacher Growing Green in the South Bronx. Be inspired.


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