By Raymond Pultinas
What happens to school based environmental sustainability projects when their captains or champions retire? I started asking this question at least six years ago as I was about to retire from classroom teaching after 27 years (which I did in 2017 at age 57) – and the answers in return were not promising. It seemed that a majority of environmental sustainability projects in schools did not survive. To ensure that ours on the campus of DeWitt Clinton High School did, we started James Baldwin Outdoor Learning Center to keep several gardens on campus including an edible forest resplendent with fruits and nuts and medicinal and native plants and their pollinators alive! I have learned over the past few years why a majority of sustainability projects probably do not survive. Until today, our own continued rights to protect and steward these environmental and educational resources started over a decade ago are, as yet, not assured.
My way into the field of environmental stewardship and sustainability is by way of the English Department. I was blessed to be allowed more or less complete academic freedom as a teacher and proposed and taught Activism, Advanced Literary Criticism, James Baldwin seminars and finally, Sustainability. This seems long ago and was perhaps in hindsight a golden age of teaching, without the insistent drum roll of standardized curriculums or outright politically charged prohibitions on books and subject matter.
About Ray Pultinas
Currently authoring a JBOLC series of the EEAC Newsblog.
Ray taught English at DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx for 25 years and served as the school’s Sustainability Coordinator. He continues to consult and work part-time gardening, permaculture farming, maintaining fruit trees, promoting zero waste,composting, administering student internships, fostering community partnerships, and designing curriculum. Ray is Founder and Director of James Baldwin Outdoor Learning Center a 501c3 nonprofit organization that strives for project based solutions at the juncture of food, environmental, and social justice. All JBOLC initiatives rely upon community engagement and utilize sustainable practices. He has been blogging (jamesbaldwinoutdoorlearningcenter.blogspot.com) since 2010 and has presented to both local and national audiences.
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