Conference inspires students to act
Even New York resident Majora Carter, founder of Sustainable South Bronx, knows that Indianapolis has a bad reputation regarding eco-friendliness. She suggested that we “assess what we can do better,” at the IMAGINE Conference on Friday, Oct. 17 at The Dignity Center of The Orchard School.
Carter has been working with her home community in the South Bronx, which is forced to manage 40 percent of the city’s commercial waste, and she has established the first park there in over 60 years.
The South Bronx has dealt with many years of poverty, crime and a lack of green spaces. By looking at our own communities in Indianapolis, we can see that our greenways tend to stop once they reach the edge of poorer neighborhoods.
“This work that we are doing really involves respecting the dignity of all people regardless of their race or their class and that’s a really important way to think about how we can support our environment and our planet in the future,” Carter said.
With Sustainable South Bronx, Carter wants to fight environmental injustices by creating green jobs and promoting a healthier environment. One out of four people in her community suffer from asthma and many are obese.
“We also believe that as you nurture the environment the environment should be nurturing you as well,” said Carter.
Carter has been touring the country giving speeches and sharing the environmental strategies that have worked in her own city. From green roofs to fossil fuel emissions, Carter spoke of her experience of rewards and setbacks in her work.
“Even though we’re in one of the richest cities in the world, my neighborhood was one of the poorest progressional districts in the country,” said Carter. “Forty percent of the folks in my community live at or below the poverty line in the richest city in the world.”
Carter was the key speaker for The Orchard School’s second annual middle school global leadership conference. This conference was hosted by The Dignity Center (www.orchard.org/program/dignitycenter.asp), a unique program dedicated to teachers, students and the community to foster knowledge of current issues and to share with them the perspectives of others. Orchard invited over 100 students from 17 different schools to take part in the event. The goal was for students to create service action plans dealing with the environment and implementing them into their own schools.
To help in the expression process of the students’ plans was the Theatre of Inclusion lead by founders Dante Ventresca and Rebecca Hutton. They helped the students make an artistic portrait to take back to their school to help illustrate what their plans were and what they had learned.
The Orchard School’s own science teacher, Holli Joyal, instilled some bright ideas in her lecture on problem solving for environmental justice. Joyal wanted students to be excited about their plans, but also to stay dedicated to them.
More info: www.ssbx.org