Monday, February 8, 2010

A High School For Green Teens

Excerpted below is a delightful and inspiring story of green community leadership from the weblog titled, The Green Fork on the Eat Well Guide, website, a free online directory for anyone in search of fresh, locally grown and sustainably produced food in the United States and Canada.

A High School For Green Teens
February 4th, 2010 by kerry

With unemployment in the dismal double digits, there’s a lot of chanting and ranting about jobs right now. China’s cleaning our clock when it comes to clean tech, even as its growth continues to rely on dirty ol’ coal. And so does ours, for that matter. The difference is that China’s forging ahead with alternative energy while we bury our heads in the tar sands.

Our national unemployment rate seems stuck at 10 percent and in some urban areas, it’s risen above 15 percent, according to CNN. Creating more jobs is clearly job number one. But what color will those jobs be? A generation or so ago, jobs came in just two basic colors: blue collar and white. Now, we’ve got one black-collared Jobs, trotting out another supposedly game-changing gadget in his trademark mock turtleneck (color Pee Wee Herman among the unimpressed ).

The real game changer, though, is the thousands of green jobs we could be creating, if only we’d reallocate our deficit-depleted resources. And the Steve showing us how to do this is named Ritz, not Jobs.

Steve Ritz is a trail-blazing teacher with an impressive track record of achievement working with students in one of the most challenging environments in New York City, the South Bronx–that eternally dumped-on borough whose name is synonymous with urban blight.

Ritz has figured out how to grow good food, good jobs and good citizens by tapping into one of our greatest wasted resources–urban youth. And he’s doing it in Hunts Point, a quintessential “food desert” that, ironically, just happens to also be one of the world’s largest food distribution centers; 2.7 billion pounds of fresh produce from 49 states and 55 foreign countries passes through Hunts Point’s New York City Terminal Market annually on its way to more affluent neighborhoods.

Sadly, those endless truckloads of fresh fruits and vegetables don’t do the locals much good. In fact, all the fumes from that commerce contribute to the South Bronx’s extraordinarily high rate of respiratory illness, with a death rate from asthma that’s about three times the national average.

Hunts Point is also part of the poorest congressional district in the country, with over half the population living below the poverty line. The unemployment rate is at a whopping 28 percent. And the neighborhood’s 41st police precinct consistently records the highest violent crime rate per capita in New York City.

Undaunted by these grim statistics, Ritz took classes with a 40 percent attendance rate and brought them up to 93 percent. More remarkably still, his students have consistently achieved 100% passing grades on the state Regents exams in math and science.

Ritz’s current goal is to establish the Hunts Point High School for Sustainable Community Initiatives, an open enrollment NYC public school that would train local youth in emerging fields such as green roofing, urban agriculture, natural resource management, brown field remediation–in short, all the 21st century post-petroleum vocations in which our labor force needs to be skilled.

At his current position teaching at the Discovery High School in the Bronx, Ritz just oversaw the installation of a living, edible green wall in partnership with a for-profit enterprise called Green Living Technologies, a pioneering developer of cutting edge urban agricultural systems.

Green Living Technologies is sponsoring a team of Ritz’s students, bringing them to Boston later this month “to be the first high school students in America to be trained and certified as green wall and green roof installers,” Ritz told me, adding that this is “proof that we are poised, ready, willing and able to export our talent and diversity nationally as we transform the landscape and mindset of the South Bronx.”

Accelerating Solar Power Adoption: Compounding Cost Savings Across the Value Chain

This is a very important article excerpted from the Rocky Mountain Institute's (RMI)website. See more about the RMI below.

Accelerating Solar Power Adoption: Compounding Cost Savings Across the Value Chain
AUTHOR: Newman, Sam;Doig, Stephen;Hansen, Lena;Lacy, Virginia
DOCUMENT ID: 2009-03
YEAR: 2009
DOCUMENT TYPE: Journal or Magazine Article
PUBLISHER: American Solar Energy Society

This paper discusses common barriers to solar power adoption and techniques for getting around those barriers. The authors argue that for solar power to become a significant contributor to energy supply, and hence greenhouse gas emissions reductions, the industry has to achieve high annual growth rates for decades. The challenge cannot be overstated, especially once subsidies can no longer be relied upon to drive industry growth. Several barriers, including high costs, lack of reliable demand, supply chain dynamics, and utility integration issues, threaten to prevent adoption rates from rising as fast as is required. In particular, high costs are a major barrier, since solar power must soon be cost competitive unsubsidized.

Fortunately, large cost reduction potential is available, which has not been captured during the hectic expansion of the industry. Based on experience in other industries, the basic tools of end use efficiency, whole systems design, lean manufacturing, and economies of scale will let technology manufacturers and PV installers drive down costs by a factor of two or more. These savings, enabled with support from government policies, industrial collaboration, and process efficiency gains, can bring today’s PV technologies to grid parity in many markets, allowing the exponential growth curve to continue.

Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI)
Vision and Mission

RMI’s vision is a world thriving, verdant, and secure, for all, for ever.

Our mission is to drive the efficient and restorative use of resources.
RMI's style is non-adversarial and trans-ideological, emphasizing integrative design, advanced technologies, and mindful markets. Our strategic focus, executed through specific initiatives designed to take our work rapidly to scale, is to map and drive the transition from coal and oil to efficiency and renewables.

We work extensively with the private sector, as well as with civil society and government, to create abundance by design and to apply the framework of natural capitalism.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Majora Carter: Activist for environmental justice

Majora Carter fights for environmental justice in her hometown of New York's South Bronx. She's working not just to hold back the polluters who target low-income neighborhoods like hers, but to bring back the green -- and create green jobs.

Why you should listen to her:

Majora Carter is a visionary voice in city planning who views urban renewal through an environmental lens. The South Bronx native draws a direct connection between ecological, economic and social degradation. Hence her motto: "Green the ghetto!"

With her inspired ideas and fierce persistence, Carter managed to bring the South Bronx its first open-waterfront park in 60 years, Hunts Point Riverside Park. Then she scored $1.25 million in federal funds for a greenway along the South Bronx waterfront, bringing the neighborhood open space, pedestrian and bike paths, and space for mixed-use economic development.

Her success is no surprise to anyone who's seen her speak; Carter's confidence, energy and intensely emotional delivery make her talks themselves a force of nature. (The release of her TEDTalk in 2006 prompted Guy Kawasaki to wonder on his blog whether she wasn't "every bit as good as [Apple CEO] Steve Jobs," a legendary presenter.)

Carter, who was awarded a 2005 MacArthur "genius" grant, now serves as executive director of Sustainable South Bronx, where she pushes both for eco-friendly practices (such as green and cool roofs) and, equally important, job training and green-related economic development for her vibrant neighborhood on the rise.

"We could not fail to be inspired by Majora Carter's efforts to bring green space for exercise to the South Bronx. We need more ideas like these to bring solutions to minority communities."

Monday, February 1, 2010

Social Compact

About Social Compact

Social Compact is a non-profit organization that breaks down barriers to public investment in underserved urban areas. Since its founding in 1990, the organization has become a powerful force for change in overlooked urban markets by delivering the reliable, representative, and up-to-the-minute information about a community’s economic health needed to make critically important investments possible and partnering with investors, municipalities, and community leaders to leverage this valuable information in the decision-making process.


Over the last decade, Social Compact has focused its work on the development and deployment of a collection of innovative economic and demographic analyses custom tailored for inner-city neighborhoods. When these analytical tools, most often as part of a Social Compact DrillDown profile, are applied to a wide range of transactional data sets, the resulting information is an invaluable tool for attracting local investment. Findings have been successfully used by cities and businesses to provide quality financial and municipal services, encourage property as well as small business development, and attract retail investment.

Unlike most other methodologies, Social Compact’s analyses are not derived from census data and are calibrated to measure the vibrant, informal economies of underserved urban areas, integrating information about real estate, consumer expenditures, utility usage, bill payments and other critical factors. The organization’s groundbreaking research replaces outdated and outmoded, deficiency-based data on lower-income communities with current and reliable market analysis.

Cumulatively, Social Compact has identified:
• Aggregate household income $35 billion (22%) higher than census trend projections
• 350,000 more households than census trend projections
• 1.25 million more residents than census trend projections


More than 20 cities have partnered with Social Compact to conduct analyses in over 350 urban neighborhoods. Because Social Compact is uniquely able to statistically capture the real-life picture of a community’s economic health, it can incisively identify and quantify opportunities in areas traditionally overlooked and underserved by businesses, financial establishments, and other services. Social Compact’s reports, and the investment that often follows, can catalyze the redefinition of a neighborhood’s business profile, create jobs, bolster the tax base, improve the availability of goods, and help create better-served, healthier, and safer neighborhoods.