116. Stephen Ritz – The Power of a Plant

Stephen Ritz cover art

The one thing that we have to do is continue to be courageous. And the opposite of courage is not cowardice. The opposite of courage is conformity because even a dead fish can go with the flow. And here in the South Bronx, we are not dead fish.” – Stephen Ritz

“I am not willing to accept the things I cannot change. I am going to change what I cannot accept.” – Stephen Ritz

Stephen Ritz

Guest Bio:

Stephen Ritz is an internationally acclaimed, award-winning educator, author of best-selling book, The Power Of A Plant and Founder of Green Bronx Machine. Known as America’s favorite teacher and 2015 Top Ten Finalist for the Global Teacher Prize, Stephen is responsible for creating the first edible classroom in the world. He and his students have grown more than 165,000 pounds of vegetables in the South Bronx, were celebrated at the Obama White House three times, have been featured on the cover of TIME for KIDS, and are the subject of a new, full-feature documentary, Generation Growth. A replica of his classroom was installed in the US Botanic Gardens in Washington, DC and his curriculum is being used in hundreds of schools across the United States, and internationally from Colombia to Dubai, from Canada to Cairo, to Doha, and beyond. 

To date, Stephen’s work has been featured by Forbes, Fast Company, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX, TNT, Disney, Discovery TV, NPR, Teach Middle East, The Gulf National, and countless others. His TED talk boasts more than 1 million views, ranks in the Top 10 Food/Education TED Talks of all time, and is used for teacher training/workforce development globally. Stephen was featured in the film adaptation of Michael Pollan’s best-selling book, In Defense of Food and appeared on ABC’s The Chew, The Rockefeller Foundation’s Food for Thought, NPR’s 50 Great Teachers, All Things Considered, and American Graduate. The State University of New York uses his curriculum to train teachers in all content areas. His recent appearance on PBS’ Growing A Greener World (Episode 808) won an Emmy Award, the first ever in the ten-year history of the show. 

Stephen serves as a Senior Fellow in Social Innovation at Babson College and as a Board Member for the NYC Nutrition Education Network. Stephen is now appearing in the new PBS educational series Let’s Learn with Mister Ritz, was named the 2020 Change-Maker Award by NYC Food Policy Center for his response to COVID, named a 2021 Food Hero by TMZ Live, testified for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ending Hunger in America, and was awarded the 2021 Artemis CEA Disruptor Award for his work, advocacy, and impact in public schools across NYC and America. Stephen was just named to the Food Transition Team for NYC Mayor, Eric Adams.

R.O.G. Takeaway Tips:

  • Wherever you go, there you are. 
  • Put your best two feet on the ground and stand up straight. 
  • Seek the sun. Seek the light, and seek to nourish yourself in the best way possible. 
  • In a world where you can be anything to be kind, to be kind to yourself, to each other, to the planet. 
  • Put the phones down. Put the social media down. Find some time to be in love, to be still, to be quiet. 
  • Realize that every drop fills the cup. 
  • Lots of people can do great big things. 
  • It’s the small stuff daily that really adds up. Showing up is very powerful. Being consistent in what you do and what you say is very powerful.
  • No one will go broke giving love. So, give love freely and you know, you’re always going to get it back. 

Stephen Ritz in the Green Bronx Machine


Video Resources:

Mini-Documentary with NYC Mayor Adams:

Coming Next:

Episode 117, Building Bridges Coaching Tips for Generous Leaders with Shannon Cassidy. Topic: Pura Vida. 


Stephen Ritz, Sheep Jam Productions, Host Shannon Cassidy, Bridge Between, Inc.

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