Stephen Ritz is the most loved teacher in the United States at all. He cultivates minds to build the future through the Green Bronx Machine model, that uses urban agriculture as a tool to impact the key indicators of academic performance, growing healthy students and healthy schools.
Ritz’s project aims to transform even the most fragmented and marginalized communities into inclusive, thriving and flourishing neighborhoods. No one can say that Stephen’s inspiration has turned into an amazing reality. He and his students have grown more than 27,000 kilograms of vegetables in the South Bronx so far and, in the meantime, Ritz moved school attendance from 40% to 93% and helped provide 2,200 jobs for young people in the Bronx, one of the American areas with the highest crime and poverty rate. Besides, due to the enormous availability of junk food, one of the most afflicted communities of childhood obesity, diabetes, heart disease and food insecurity in the State of New York. Transferred to Community School 55, known as the worst school in the city, the science teacher involved guys and girls with profound emotional discomforts in gardening courses, which helped about 2,200 children in being hired and in taking a source of income from sectorial and singular competences.
This project has also evolved to the “Green Factory Box”, a start-up that Stephen created with his students and that transforms food deserts and waste stocks into green spaces and vertical farms, providing organic food and value for the entire community. An experience that in the past led the Bronx school to the White House, received by President Obama and brought the teacher into the Top Ten of the Global Teacher Prize.
Stephen and his inspiring story of human ecosystems’ regeneration will finally be in our Living Lab in Bologna on November 28th! Coltivare futuro will be the special event in which Ritz is going to give a keynote speech about Green Bronx Machine and the pathways to be followed to build and re-build communities through social inclusion and sustainable cities, taking part to a special panel dedicated to the role of education in shaping the future of education.
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