TED Talks are forums where people share how they are making a difference. Sometimes those ideas bring generations together and create solutions to big challenges. One such challenge facing South Bronx schoolteacher and 2012 TEDxManhattan speaker Stephen Ritz was how to best help his classroom contribute to the community, discover new skillsets, and foster better health in spite of poor economic conditions.
Teaching the urban poor, Stephen wanted to find a way to bring the outdoors indoors. Working with a local supplier, he created an edible garden on the wall of his classroom. Sixth grade students were arriving early and staying late in order to care for their garden. Soon after, they went on a class trip to Manhattan and installed indoor garden walls in high rises and other locations, and began getting paid for their work. This project grew into an economics lesson. Thereafter, they were helping establish outdoor garden spaces that brought together all facets of the community. His sixth graders were becoming leaders. Some of his students learned to cook what they grew, and were soon giving classes within the community. The school then authorized the students to use what they grew to help feed other students and teachers in the cafeteria. Ultimately, his “green” project helped to turn students into urban farmers and smart living advocates. The end result was (and continues to be) a heightened cycle of learning, interaction, and collaboration across the community.
How to Use
Local, inexpensive solutions that benefit all generations are worth emulating. Celebrating new possibilities by highlighting best practices and profiles can help change local cultures from being passive to becoming actively involved in community planning and practices. Knowing whom or what to celebrate is a key to success. Community planners and local leaders should use this profile as inspiration for implementing or building on existing ideas for future livability solutions.
View the website: Ted Talk – Green Bronx Machine