Sustainable South Bronx

Happy Fourth of July!

Today I am proud to spotlight what I think is an organization that is making a difference in environmentally friendly urban living here in NYC: Sustainable South Bronx led by their Executive Director and Founder Majora Carter.

Sustainable South Bronx Mission Statement:

Sustainable South Bronx (SSB), founded in 2001 by Majora Carter, is a community organization dedicated to the implementation of sustainable development projects for the South Bronx that are informed by the needs of the community and the values of Environmental Justice. SSB was conceived to serve as a dedicated mechanism that could thoroughly address and implement policy and planning issues in such areas as land use, energy, transportation, water, waste, and sustainable development in the South Bronx by working to implement the community's visions for sustainable community development. Its programs are designed to provide tangible projects and/or advocacy for policy decisions that advance the environmental, social and economic rebirth of the South Bronx.

So what have they accomplished so far? Quite a bit....

On the Transportation front, they have two innovative ideas to transform the car dominated landscape into one that mixes in greenways, access to the waterfront and more parkland - which also means less pollution, less obnoxious car noise and more space for the residents to exercise.

They received a $1.5m grant to plan a greenway for their waterfront district and have now secured $30m in funding for actually bringing the project to a reality

In addition they are now advocating for decommissioning the Sheridan "Highway to nowhere" to provide more area for parks as well access to the riverfront and more public space.

On the sustainable buildings front, they have a great resource page on green roofs - lots of great information there on why green roofs are so important to saving energy on cooling , saving water and simply making the urban area more pleasant to live in during the hot Summer months.

Activating and educating the community is another important element of their success - they have a 3 month Summer course for local youths called B.E.S.T. Bronx Environmental Stewardship Training, which is also open to youths from around the 5 boroughs.

The South Bronx is also the site of waste treatment facilities, garbage transfer stations and power plants. They are working on an alternative vision for the area to reduce waste, pollution and increase recycling.

This is the type of organization that every neighborhood in NYC (rich or poor) needs, but very few have. It's sort of my dream for what the Upper Green Side could one day become, but we are a long way from something like what SSB has already done.

This Independence Day, why not show your support with a small donation to Sustainable South Bronx for a piece of America that is trying to become less dependent on foreign oil, improve the health and well being of it's residents and pulling itself up into a greener 21st Century after generations of misallocated priorities.

Sustainable South Bronx is one of those organizations that makes me optimistic about the future of cities in an energy-scarce environment.  I am a tremendous fan of their work.  Peak Oil or not, the decomissioning of the Sheridan Expressway is an absolutely great idea.