Stephen Ritz, Changing the Bronx

24 Feb 2014 by Carlie Ranno, 1 Comment »



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In Bronx, New York, an enthusiastic teacher, Stephen Ritz, wants to change the Bronx and he needs our help. He notices 3 major realities in the Bronx.

1) 25% unemployment

2) 40% poverty

3) 20k median income

Stephen wants to change the reputation for the Bronx. The Bronx was referred to as a desert, but has changed over a course of time due to his motivation and determination. One of his most famous motto’s is, “Kids should not have to leave their community to live, learn, and earn a better one.”  Stephen is correct students should not have to leave their community. We should have to start to change in that very spot.

In fact, Stephen started to change the Bronx all with one minor act. He started to plant seeds in his very own classroom. This was the very first act to change the world and start a new revolution. It all starts with incredible students who are willing to come early and stay late.  So he constructed an indoor edible wall with his south Bronx students. This was the first edible wall in NYC.

His students then went to Boston and became the first to build a green wall designed by a computer 21 stories up on top of the John Hancock building.

They also started to install multiple green walls inside of their schools with 21st century technology with LED lighting. Isn’t this absolutely awesome? The students used the fresh food that was grown to cook for their school and their teachers! The food was fresh, healthy, and most likely tasty because the food is natural and not processed. What if our school cafeterias actually served real, healthy food that tastes good too! Can you imagine what that would be like? Or how awesome that would be?

Stephen and his students were invited to the Hamptons to turn plain old rooftops into green gardens, full of color, plants, and fresh food.

People started to notice. Stephen was starting conversations with his gardens.This was the new green graffiti!  Stephen and his students were grasping a ton of national attention, interviewing with CNN and meeting the state Senator.   Stephen believed that together the Bronx COULD Change Attitudes NOW.

When kids from the poorest congressional district in America can build a 30 ft. by a 15 ft. wall, design it, plant it, and install it in the heart of NYC that is powerful and simply amazing. Stephen’s class was the greenest class in New York City. His students learned to give. He was creating organic citizens! 

He realized that the greening of America first starts with the pockets, then the heart, then the mind. They were definitely onto something. The Green Bronx Machine was born. It teaches kids to revision their communities. They wanted to green their community. It starts in schools. Throw out all of the junk and bring in the fresh produce. It was time to spread the green.

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So what do you think Hillcrest Falcons, is it time to spread the green in our community?  What if we transformed the virtually empty flower beds above into edible gardens like this?

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We could start off small by creating a couple of herb and vegetable gardens in the square garden beds right in front of our school, on either side of the crosswalk. Right now, there is not much in those garden beds. Then if those are a success, we could add additional gardens throughout the school.  We could also partner up with the PTSA, NJHS, Student Council, and FCA groups to take this to the next step. Home Depot and Lowes often will donate materials and plants to schools.

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According to, “There are two main growing seasons in Phoenix: from mid February until the end of May, and from September to mid November.”  The website recommends the following fruits and vegetables for planting in the month of March: Plant beets, bush beans, cantaloupe, corn, eggplant, peppers, radishes, summer squash, tomatoes, watermelon, winter squash

So what do you say Falcons, are you up for the challenge?

Check out Stephen Ritz speaking about the Green Bronx Machine at the Tedx event below:

 For more info, check out

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One Comment

  1. keana says:

    keana maynard
    fact: steven belived if everyone tried he could change the
    what i liked most about this story is that insted of hoping
    that the world would be greener in one second, he did
    something to help not only the world, but the school.

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