Bringing the Bronx Downstream

The Bronx River Alliance

6. Clean Water and Sanitation 14. Life Below Water

Overview

The business we have selected is The Bronx River Alliance. The Alliance is a business innovation whose purpose is to protect The Bronx River along with the businesses and people in the surrounding area. The main goal of this non-profit organization is to educate and provide awareness of the only freshwater river in New York City. The Bronx River Alliance also exists to improve the economic resources for the community in which the river flows.


Authors

Taylor Cangialosi

Taylor Cangialosi

Godwin Iboyitie

Godwin Iboyitie

Alexander Cabrera

Alexander Cabrera

School

St. John's University

St. John's University

Professor

Charles Wankel

Charles Wankel

Innovation

The Bronx River Alliance exists to protect The Bronx river and to improve the surrounding area so that it can be a healthy, ecological, and economic resource for the community. Particularly, The Alliance works to clean up the river, these renovations are motivated by a team of scientists, regulatory agencies, and community-based organizations. The main goals include to educate and provide awareness to the community. Many people are unaware that there is a river that flows through The Bronx and is in fact, the only freshwater river in New York City. As Christian Murphy states, “First and foremost (our mission is) to let them know them know the river is even there”...”Half of the time people don’t even know the river is even there.” The team at The Bronx River Alliance work diligently to educate students of daily habits that can affect the river and provide people with accessibility to the river.

The Alliance has established strong connections with the community to continue to support local businesses, including hiring nearby restaurants to host events and other local businesses to provide services. They work in partnership with The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation to accomplish their goals within the community. They also acquire financing through fundraising and grant writing.

The Bronx River, a beautiful and natural resource, has been heavily contaminated by industrial and residential wastes for over two hundred years. The innovation emerged in 1974 after a small community of activists teamed up together and established Bronx River Restoration. The main goal of the Restoration was to clean up and restore the river. The creation of this innovation was driven by the Bronx River Working Group who gathered more than sixty community associations, public agencies, and businesses.


Bringing the Bronx Downstream

Inspiration

The original idea came about when the community surrounding The Bronx River wanted to make an impact for the surrounding community. The activists joined forces to restore the river which then led to the formation of The Bronx River Alliance. The Alliance is dedicated to supporting the values of inclusion, collaboration, environmental justice, responsiveness, communication, ecological restoration, innovation, respect, integrity, and public access.

The Alliance heavily relies on the communities along the river to protect the river and its surrounding spaces. The Bronx River Alliance is governed by a board representing the communities along the river. They work to pursue a common goal to improve the development and restoration of the river.

Overall impact

The riverbank gets a lot of attention because there is vast erosion. They are many parks beyond the riverbank, so The Alliance also works actively to restore the parks and create a recreational space. In result, there is a psychological impact because it offers the community a place to take advantage of the outdoors. Studies have proven that there are more social issues and crime when the community does not have access to outdoor recreational spaces. Christian adds to this by stating “Green spaces have a huge sociological impact on people, where people don’t have access to parks we see more crimes and more social issues”…”The river being unhealthy can impact the community as well.”

The straightening of the river has had a long-lasting impact on the environment. The construction of parkways has caused the river to lose its curve which causes flooding. This causes an economic impact because the flooding occurs in parkways, buildings, and houses in the surrounding area. Furthermore, the river being healthy impacts the lives of the community because it ensures there will be no flooding and will offer as a recreational space.

The Bronx River Alliance also serves to socially impact the surrounding community because the board of representatives are made up of people in the community. These people are essentially the decision makers. This offers the community to voice their concerns and opinions which ensures they are being heard.


Business benefit

The Bronx River Alliance is centered on bringing awareness of the river’s health and presence in the community to New York City. The Alliance dedicates their time to hosting events such as parties, lunchins, hosting guest speakers, and taking the community on canoe trips down the river. In hosting these events, the Bronx River Alliance depends on both local and major businesses to help them successfully carry out their message.

One major business that the Bronx River Alliance works very closely with is Patagonia. Patagonia is an American clothing company that specializes in outdoor clothing and is very active in campaigns towards a healthier environment, going as far as calling themselves an “activist company”; this makes for a perfect partnership between the two organizations. With Patagonia sponsoring events and even handing out items, Patagonia gets a word out on their business and the Bronx River Alliance gets an easier time getting their point across. In our conversation with Christian Murphy, he’s also stated that the Bronx River Alliance also depends on local businesses and restaurants to help host and cater these events. Having local businesses help host and cater these events has a great impact on the local economy and boosts sales for venues, caterers, and other businesses all while getting the mission statement of the Bronx River Alliance across. Although the Bronx River Alliance is a non-profit organization, the Bronx River Alliance serves a very important role in benefiting both local and major businesses, all while meeting the United Nations’ sustainability goal.


Social and environmental benefit

By the very nature of the Bronx River Alliance, this organization benefits both society and the environment. The mission statement of the Bronx River Alliance is to “serve as a coordinated voice for the river and work in harmonious partnership to protect, improve and restore the Bronx River corridor and greenway so that they can be healthy ecological, recreational, educational and economic resources for the communities through which the river flows.” With this said, the number one goal of the Bronx River Alliance is to protect, improve, and restore the Bronx River and its surrounding greenways. Because of the Bronx River Alliance’s help in protecting and restoring the river we have seen various birds, fish, and eel return to the river and call it their home. In order to protect and restore the river, the Bronx River Alliance will continuously do river clean up and examinations, water testing, and even creating homes for eels and making sure other organisms have a place to live in the River.

Along with protecting, improving, and restoring the Bronx River and the local ecology and environment of the Bronx, the Bronx River Alliance also benefits the surrounding society. In our interview Christian Murphy states, “Green spaces have a huge sociological impact on people, where people don’t have access to parks we see more crimes and more social issues”…“The river being unhealthy can impact the community as well”. Not only does improving and restoring the Bronx River and the surrounding greenways help the surrounding environment and ecology of the river but also the inhabitants of the surrounding area. Along with providing safe and clean waterways and greenways in the Bronx, the Bronx River Alliance also makes it a point to educate the community on the river. Many people in the area and even in New York City do not know about the Bronx River, let alone knowing it is the only freshwater river in New York City. The Bronx River Alliance organizes canoe trips and lectures to educate students and residents of the Bronx to educate them on the river.


Interview

Christian Murphy, Ecology and Stewardship Associate

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The Bronx River Alliance

The Bronx River Alliance

The Bronx, New York, US

Business Website: bronxriver.org

Year Founded: 2001

Number of Employees: 51 to 200

The Bronx River Alliance is a non-profit organization serving in the environmental protection industry. The business is located in The Bronx, New York. The Alliance serves to restore and cleanup the river along with the surrounding land. The mission of the Alliance is to protect, improve and restore the Bronx River as well as to provide the community with a healthy environment and a recreational, educational and economic resource.