Antoinette Gomez is an environmental consultant working with Sustainable South Bronx, a grassroots environmental justice organization. She is also a fellow in the Environmental Leadership Program.

Monday, 10 Feb 2003

BRONX, N.Y.

My day begins in my home office (one benefit of being a consultant) with follow-up calls on two projects. In January I began working on an ecological restoration curricula for Sustainable South Bronx, a grassroots environmental justice organization housed in the Hunt’s Point community.

The South Bronx has historically been associated with urban blight. While conditions are improving, the area is still plagued by environmental racism. Parts of the community were destroyed to make way for highways, and hazardous industries are common in the neighborhood’s commercial/industrial zone. There are lots of waste transfer stations, heavy truck traffic, a plethora of locally unwanted land uses, and high rates of asthma. The South Bronx is also seriously lacking in parks and other green spaces. Sustainable South Bronx works with the community to ensure that the physical environment and local economy are improved but not at the cost of human health or a safe environment.

One of Sustainable South Bronx’s initiatives is the Bronx River Restoration Workforce Development Project, an apprentice program that trains young people on river and estuary restoration, while also helping them to develop life skills and job readiness. The five-month program, to take place along the Bronx River, will create sustainable environmental jobs for community residents. My role is to design curricula on ecological restoration, environmental justice, and life skills for the program participants. Today I’m meeting with Annette Williams, the project’s coordinator, to discuss the training schedule and trainers. By the end of this month, I’ll complete the curricula and develop the training protocol with Hugh Hogan of the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance.

This afternoon I’ll be sending out public relations information about an upcoming conference being put on by the National Society for Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences (MANRRS). The symposium brings together professionals in agriculture, natural resources, and environmental sciences with middle- and high-school students interested in pursuing careers in these areas. Last year I coordinated this event in Portland, Ore., for more than 200 youth. This year the conference will be held in Atlanta in March and we are planning for 400 youth. MANRRS aims to encourage and support students and professionals of color working in forestry, agriculture, fisheries, environmental law, engineering, education, wildlife, veterinary medicine, and other related career fields. I have been a member since I received my B.S. from Penn State in 1995 and I serve on the conference planning team.

My day will end with revising my schedule and following up on potential contract work that two former Environmental Leadership Program fellows have passed along to me.