Making a difference is just one short step away from you – Green Bronx Machine and Biochar Bob
Photo credit: Ralf Weiser with Steven Ritz from the Green Bronx Machine
Imagine your neighborhood has a school that grows fresh veggies in the classroom. Greenhouses and vertical veggie and flower gardens are the outdoor classrooms helping beautify the neighborhood. People come together and create a mini park along a few blocks. Would you think of one of the toughest neighborhoods in the Bronx? That is where Steve Ritz lives and works. He started the Green Bronx machine. He helped get homeless and otherwise challenges kids off the street and into classrooms. He is now the principal of the school and is proud of a better than 97% attendance! It started small and now it has become such a remarkable program that let him meet the Pope, Bill Clinton, Oprah, and he has had two TED talk opportunities (check them out here and here).
I met Steve at a local event promoting a solar power project for the area school district. His speech was nothing short of a little miracle: Hope exists everywhere and when you can inspire kids to come to school, grow their and other people’s food in the Bronx – YOU can do this just about anywhere. He is one of the most phenomenal human beings I have gotten to know and his motto “Turning teaching to count to teaching what counts” is truly inspiring. Most of all he has been providing hope to countless young kids and adults who turned their lives away from crisis to using the opportunities that arose from working together on the many projects that helped put the Bronx back on to the map.
Another phenomenal individual who keeps inspiring me is Biochar Bob. He is a fine young man who once struggled through school and now look at him! He is traveling the world trying to teach people about Biochar. It is a way to provide fuel for cooking and heating to people in underdeveloped countries. Here soil erosion is a huge issue. Previously they cut down deep forests to provide rich soil for growing food and at the same time also use the wood for heating and cooking. Biochar from burning anything from cow pies to other renewable sources helps create wood gas and the resulting biochar that remains at the end helps improve the fertilization and moisture retention of the farmed grounds. Amazing!
Both of these phenomenal people started out with a small little idea that they were passionate about. It took a few years of dedication, hard work of following their vision to make our neighborhoods and our world a worthy place to live. Most of all they inspire countless people to help provide hope to our youth.
What will you set your mind to? Remember that we live in a country like no other in which only YOU will stand in your own way to make a difference. Start making a difference with yourself. Begin to do the things that only you are meant to do. Watch in awe what will happen…