Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit 2011 Episode 5: Greenroofs & Walls for Educational & Social Equity in the Bronx

January 11, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Today we have the pleasure to air our first of seven panel sessions from our  Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit on and our  GreenroofsTV channel on YouTube:  “Greenroofs & Walls for Educational & Social Equity in the Bronx” featuring New York State Senator Gustavo Rivera, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Robert Bieder, Jon Beuttler, Jess Dannhauser, Javier Lopez and Steve Ritz.

We feel extremely honored to have had seven luminaries join us from New York City who are all passionate about where they all work, The Bronx.  This is a very important roundtable discussion to hear for those people interested in learning about the passion and commitment of the civic, education, and business leaders of The Bronx and her constituents – and it’s also a great venue to see their real life challenges and triumphs of promoting and implementing greening policies as well:

Fueled by a passionate and committed Bronx Borough President, Ruben Diaz Jr., it is common knowledge that the Bronx is leading NYC in embracing green technologies and the green economy. To wit, the policies and educational initiatives underway in and of the Bronx are making dramatic strides in the quality of life and opportunities for all residents with concentric benefits and ripples felt citywide, statewide and nationally.

This panel featuring: a State Senator, noted business leader, NYC project manager, health care manager, social service providers and a dedicated educator speaks to triple bottom line benefits, impacts and the uses of green roofs, green walls, and urban agriculture as highly replicable, critical components to creating and leveraging social equity and economic and educational opportunities in challenging times.

“Greenroofs & Walls for Educational & Social Equity in the Bronx” Panel
Robert BiederBronx, NY, USA. Robert Bieder is a third generation Bronx businessman who, with his family, owns and operates Westchester Square Plumbing Supply where this past December they had installed solar panels and reduced their electric costs by 60%. In addition, they are a leading distributor of water and fuel saving devices. Bob is also a member of the Bronx Coalition for Parks & Greenspaces, Chairman of the Bronx Merchants Coalition, and a member of Bronx Community Board 10.

Bob is the Moderator for “Greenroofs & Walls for Educational & Social Equity in the Bronx.”

Jon BeuttlerNew York, NY, USA. Jonathan Beuttler is a Project Manager in the Division of New Construction of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), the largest municipal developer of affordable housing in the nation. Prior to joining HPD, Jonathan wrote successful grant proposals for urban farming start-ups and policy proposals supporting growth in the urban farming industry. Jonathan has worked at the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, the Fashion Center Business Improvement District and is a return Peace Corps volunteer.
Jess DannhauserNew York, NY, USA. Jess Dannhauser is Graham Windham‘s Senior Vice President for Program Performance and Planning. Jess came to Graham Windham from the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) where he had been serving as the Associate Commissioner for Performance Measurement, Monitoring and Improvement. As Associate Commissioner, he was in charge of ACS’s performance measurement and consultation system which aims to drive performance improvements in all of New York City’s non-profit child welfare agencies. He has extensive experience in New York City agencies as the former Chief of Staff for Commissioner John Mattingly and the Special Assistant to now Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs when she was Commissioner at the Department of Homeless Services. Jess received his Master’s of Social Work from the University of California, Berkeley and his BA in Psychology from Duke University.
Ruben Diaz, Jr.Bronx, NY, USA. Elected Bronx Borough President in the Special Election on April 21st, 2009, Ruben Diaz Jr., previously served in the New York State Assembly since 1997, representing the 85th Assembly District. He demonstrated passion for constituent service, social advocacy and community empowerment balanced with support for sensible, green economic development and job creation programs. He sponsored and secured passage of important and innovative laws to address the consequences of the intolerable levels of asthma in the South Bronx, healthcare insurance fraud, and quality of life concerns. Throughout his seven terms in the State Legislature, Ruben Diaz Jr. was a champion for working families in the Bronx. A staunch defender of the environment, he is a leading voice against environmental racism and injustice. He graduated from Lehman College, City University of New York, with a Bachelors degree in political theory.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. was interviewed after the panel session for at the Bronx County Courthouse.

Javier LopezNew York, NY, USA. Javier Lopez is the Director of the New York City Strategic Alliance for Health (SAfH). SAfH is a consortium of advocates, community activists, organizations and professionals with an interest in lessening the impact of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease in Northern Manhattan, North and Central Brooklyn, and the South Bronx. The goal of the consortium is to develop local obesity prevention policy, system, environmental changes that can be adopted citywide. Javier has a BA from the State University of New York at Albany and a Master’s of Public Administration from Baruch College where he was also named a member of the National Urban Fellow program. In 2007 he was named a member of Cornell University’s “Strength through Diversity” Young Professionals Leadership Program.
Gustavo RiveraBronx, NY, USA. New York State Senator Gustavo Rivera was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico and graduated from the University of Puerto Rico. In 1998, Rivera came to New York to begin a doctoral program in political science at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He has lived in the Bronx for ten years. Gustavo Rivera was elected State Senator for New York Senate District 33 in November of 2010. The 33rd Senate District consists of the Northwest Bronx including Kingsbridge Heights, East Tremont, Crotona Park, Fordham, Bedford Park and parts of Riverdale. As a State Senator, Gustavo Rivera has been working to change the way business is done in the legislature and to ensure that the families of the 33rd Senate District have a voice in Albany. In addition to serving as a State Senator, Gustavo Rivera continues to serve as an adjunct professor at Pace University, where he teaches courses in political science. For the last ten years, Rivera has also served as a faculty member and mentor for “Somos el Futuro,” the annual Model State Senate program sponsored by CUNY, SUNY, the NY State Assembly, and the Puerto Rican Hispanic Task.
Steve RitzBronx, NY, USA. Stephen Ritz is an acclaimed NYC DOE educator/administrator whose work in the Bronx continues to attract national attention and support. To date, he has grown more than 20,000 pounds of Bronx vegetables with his extended Bronx Family – the youngest certified workforce in America – who operate a profitable, in school, student Farmers Market and routinely install green walls and green roofs across NYC/NYS. Steve continually champions living wage opportunities along with stellar academic results for his students and his work has been recognized and celebrated by CNN, NBC, ABC, NY Academy of Medicine, US EPA, USS Intrepid, United Nations amongst others. Learn more about him and support his newest vision on Facebook and YouTube.

The “Greenroofs & Walls for Educational & Social Equity in the Bronx” video was filmed at the Bronx office of State Senator Gustavo Rivera in September, 2011. Enjoy!  Visit to see “Greenroofs & Walls for Educational & Social Equity in the Bronx” or click below:

Next week on January 21st, 2012, Bronx educator Steve Ritz will be presenting at the sold-out  TEDxManhattan on this very subject.  See him at right, standing next to one of the GLT Mobile Edible Wall Units – full of fresh herbs and veggies -which he uses in his classrooms.  (See Caroline Menetre‘s related “GLT in NYC: A Weekend of Training, Education, & Fun”  Sky Gardens Blog post of January 21, 2011.)

Congratulations, Steve!

Watch earlier videos on our exclusive Virtual Summit playlist, or see the following Virtual Summit videos now available on our GreenroofsTV channel on YouTube:

If you’re looking for an overview, make sure to see our  2011 Virtual Summit Highlights video (6:18) and our  2011 Virtual Summit Trailer (2:59).

Check back next week on GreenroofsTV for our 6th installment from the Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit 2011!

~ Linda V.