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Inspire Speakers Series Presents: Food and Sustainability

June 6, 2017 @ 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm EDT

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**Please note: Registration for this event closes at 12:00 noon on Tuesday, June 6. If you miss the window for online registration, not to worry! You can register at the door.



Food is the foundation of communities, a means of connecting people to place and place to opportunity. Cultivating this relationship is Stephen Ritz, a dedicated teacher who has spent the last 20 years raising test scores and vegetables in his South Bronx classroom. Stephen lives and works in the nation’s poorest congressional district, and uses food to grow ‘organic citizens’ as part of a new green economy.  Stephen will be joined by the godmother of urban farming Karen Washington, who began one of the first community gardens in the Bronx in 1988. Having founded farmers markets, a garden coalition, and now a farm of her own, Karen plants seeds of resilience, growing food to inspire unity and collaboration among residents.  She understands the power of a tomato to promote racial justice, economic equality, and urban sustainability. The conversation concludes with Raqueeb Bey, president of Pittsburgh chapter of Black Urban Growers (founded by Ms. Washington), and features Jake Seltman, Grow Pittsburgh’s Executive Director, as the evening’s emcee.



4:30-5:30 – Food, Drinks, and Networking

5:30-6:45 – Presentations by national and local presenters

6:45-7:00 – Question & Answer Time

7:00-7:30 – Book Signing with Stephen Ritz; Continued Networking


More About Our Speakers:


Stephen Ritz

Stephen is an educator and green innovator bringing the power of the plant to the world. Stephen teaches Pre-K through 5th grade at CS 55 in the Bronx, and is the founder of the Green Bronx Machine. He was a Top 10 Finalist for the Global Teacher Prize, and is one of NPR’s 50 Greatest Teachers. His work has been featured multiple times at the White House and in 2016 a replica of his classroom was installed in the US Botanic Gardens. Stephen authored the book The Power of a Plant, and his students have been featured on PBS, Disney, TNT, The Chew, and Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food.


Karen Washington

Karen  is a farmer and community activist, and has been advocating for healthy communities for more than 26 years. She is a member of the board of directors of the New York Botanical Garden, Just Food, and Why Hunger. She is also co-founder of Black Urban Growers.  In 2014 Karen was awarded the prestigious James Beard Foundation Leadership Award, and was named by Ebony magazine as one of the 100 most influential African Americans in the country. She is currently a farmer and co-owner of Rise&Root Farm in Chester, New York.


Photo: Kara Hoffman//Allegheny Front


Raqueeb Bey

Raqueeb is an urban agriculturalist, community activist and mother of six phenomenal children. She founded Mama Africa’s Green Scouts in 2011, and she currently works for Grow Pittsburgh as the Garden Resource Coordinator. Raqueeb started the Black Urban Gardeners and Farmers of Pittsburgh Co-op June of 2015 (BUGSFPC), and enjoys working with diverse organizations and people to create sustainable food sovereignty solutions. She is a cohort member of Neighborworks Western Pennsylvania, in addition to being a member of the UpTown Partners real estate task committee.


A special thanks to partners Grow Pittsburgh, Repair the World, Chatham University’s Food Studies Program, Pittsburgh Food Policy Council, The Black Urban Gardeners and Farmers of Pittsburgh Co-op for their insight, expertise, and commitment to designing and implementing this Inspire Speakers Series event!

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Series Sponsors:


Partners and Funders:

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The Environmental Charter School at Frick Park


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June 6, 2017
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Event Category:


Jenna Cramer


GBA Member
GBA Non-Member
Student / EP


Elsie H. Hillman Auditorium at the Kaufmann Center
1825 Centre Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15219 United States
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