ACTION alumni meeting

Adam and Sharon, thanks for inviting me to the 4th annual ACTION Family & Alumni Holiday Dinner! It was a great overview of everything that high-school students in ACTION at the Point CDC, The South Bronx, are doing. Students have conducted short presentations about each of their numerous projects such as the Green Way, Urban Farming, restoration on the North Brother Island, and Go Green. While I am already familiar with some of these projects, I was surprised to learn that ACTION goes beyond the local environment: sometimes this education program sends students to experience the environment in other cities, countries, and even Antarctica. I look forward to conducting narrative inquiry with some of the most experienced ACTION participants next year to learn more in-depth about their experience in environmental restoration projects and how it influences students’ sense of place and social capital.


Toxic Tour

Organized by the Sustainable South Bronx (SSBx), the Toxic Tour can be an eye-opening experience. I came to this walking tour with youth from the Civic Action Education Program at the Rocking the Boat run by Chrissy Word. Usually these young people help the local communities to improve the environment through restoration. But today they were just learning from Marta Rodrigues in SSBx about environmental problems in the Hunts Point neighborhood in the South Bronx. In short, Marta suggests that the Hunts Point belongs to the poorest congressional district in the nation with the highest rate of asthma in residents, and very little access to natural sites. Local residents, most of whom are Latino and African-American, experience the disproportionate density of industrial facilities and prisons in the Hunts Point. Marta has also acknowledged that bottom-up initiatives have recently brought the first public parks in this neighborhood, but a lot still has to be done to make this area a safer environment for urban residents.

South Bronx Food & Film Expo

The South Bronx is sometimes called a food desert because it’s hard to find fresh produce here and because poor residents often can’t allow the price of healthy food. Adam Liebowitz at The Point Community Development Corporation, as well as his colleagues and ACTION youth have organized this event to feature various organizations that are trying to promote urban farming such as the Urban Farming, and to teach residents about healthy eating. More than 200 people have attended this event despite the rainy and cold weather. The program included documentary movies about food (“What’s on Your Plate” and “FRESH!”), and serving vegetarian and locally grown food. Youth from ACTION at the Point, who are part of my research project, were demonstrating the plan for a new community garden that they will plant next spring near the Bronx River in the Hunts Point. They have also demonstrated earth boxes that they use when there is no space for traditional raised beds or when the soil is too contaminated.