In ASTHMA ALLEY, Cynthia Ruales finds hope in music when climate change, air pollution and worsening pollen seasons intertwine in ways that make it hard for her to breathe. Cynthia lives with her mother in an area of the South Bronx known as “asthma alley” where the rate of this chronic disease is 8 to 12 times higher than the national average. While Cynthia fears the drug and gang violence that define her neighborhood, she worries even more about the daily assault on her body caused by the highways, truck thoroughfares, and open-air industrial facilities that surround her. Although she discovers that she can increase her lung capacity by playing the saxophone and clarinet, she continues to suffer life-threatening asthma attacks. Her story sheds light on the complex relationship between fossil fuel combustion, climate change, more potent pollen seasons, and increased emergency room visits. Cynthia performs in a much-anticipated concert organized by community activists to raise awareness about record-high asthma rates in the South Bronx. The widespread distribution of this film is essential to amplify the voices of the environmental justice advocates who are behind the event featured in the film’s finale, and to respond to the fact that environmental harms are distributed along familiar lines of race and poverty.
As a community sponsor of the Mott Haven-Port Morris Community Land Stewards community land trust (CLT), South Bronx Unite has now completed a Feasibility Report for the economically sustainable and adaptive re-use and transformation of the city-owned and vacant Lincoln Detox Center into a center for health (H), education (E) and the arts (ARTS) – H.E.ARTS.
Expanding on the rich history of the building and reversing its existing state of deterioration, our CLT aims to acquire and convert the 22,750 square foot building into a community-owned asset. The building will contain offices, meeting areas, a culinary arts kitchen, classrooms and performance spaces which will house local organizations facing displacement that have been doing critical work in the South Bronx for decades.
The Feasibility Report is the outcome of an ongoing process of community engagement, which has included several large scale envisioning sessions, report backs and festivals. Baretto Bay Strategies conducted an extensive space allocation and economic projection analysis. Bagchee Architects did historical and architectural research and afterwards created the pre-schematic design proposal. KMP Design & Engineering did the MEPS recommendations and preliminary cost estimating. The H.E.ARTS Feasibility Report combines the metrics of zoning, site, building and economic analysis into the conceptual mission and design framework for the H.E.ARTS Community Center. The project has already received letters of support from Congressman Jose Serrano and Councilwoman Diana Ayala.
South Bronx Unite (together with several local businesses and community members) has partnered with Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health on an 18-month collaborative research project measuring air quality, traffic and noise in the Mott Haven-Port Morris area before and after FreshDirect adds its additional 1,000 diesel truck trips through the community every day. This study is unprecedented and critical to demonstrate the need to address the health crises in the South Bronx and enact mitigation measures to change health outcomes.
Power in Place: Building Community Wealth and Well-being in Mott Haven-Port Morris is a community asset mapping and planning project that will support our community land trust, the Mott-Haven-Port Morris Community Land Stewards. The project will make the case for community prioritized use of land by (i) creating a GIS (geographic information system) framework to identify opportunities, constraints, and requirements for the creation and use of public space; (ii) developing a community-driven plan, incorporating the myriad of existing plans (from Pratt, CUNY, MIT, Penn Design and Columbia, among others), to create new and strengthen existing public space utilizing the CLT model; (iii) re-engaging the community and stakeholders for input and direction; and (iv) building a communication toolkit that will strengthen advocacy and education about the CLT model.
When: Saturday, July 16, 11-4 pm
Where: Lincoln Avenue Waterfront (south of East 132nd Street)
- International Musical Line-up – including:
- Bandistan Ensemble * – Musicians from Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan
- Plenatorium – contemporary interpretation of traditional Puerto Rican plena
- UpBeat – South Bronx children’s orchestra
- DJ Manny – Mott Haven’s own resident DJ
- BBQ – with Mott Haven resident garbage can grill master Jake
- Water Activities – water testing, canoeing and fishing (with a $50 1st place prize for the largest fish)
- Unveiling of the Lincoln Avenue and Alexander Avenue Waterfront Renderings from UPenn – based off of the Mott Haven-Port Morris Waterfront Plan
From land and from water, join us for a celebration of South Bronx resiliency and public waterfront accessibility. Despite nine miles of public, state-owned waterfront land along the Mott Haven-Port Morris peninsula of the South Bronx, community members currently do not have a single public access point. This special waterfront event – part of the city-wide Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance’s City of Water Day – celebrates the efforts of the community to build bridges to the public waterfront.