Connecting Communities to Their River

A guest post from Linda Cox, Executive Director for The Bronx River Alliance.
bronx river flotilla

Bronx River Flotilla | Credit: Bronx River Alliance

Today on a 23-mile river in New York, a group of old friends, including American River’s own Jenny Hoffner—along with Majora Carter, Alexie Torres-Fleming and Dart Westphal—will be honored as the founding visionaries of the Bronx River Alliance.

With countless others, the four founders shared their dreams and marshaled their forces to reclaim the Bronx River from a degraded, nearly invisible condition. Their efforts are a testimony to the power of a community-based coalition to effect real, lasting, and meaningful change.

As Bronx River Coordinator for Partnerships for Parks, Jenny Hoffner began combing the Bronx in 1997 for community organizations whose missions might connect them to the river. She sought out additional partners from the public and business sectors, and brought them all together in what would become the Bronx River Working Group. Jenny was committed to connecting communities to the river by engaging imaginations and cultivating visions of a transformed and vibrant river.

She organized a diverse constituency, united disparate perspectives and, together with Working Group partners, developed a sustainable and dynamic structure. By 2001, when the Working Group created the Bronx River Alliance as an enduring presence, it had grown to more than 60 partner groups and had attracted more than $100 million in public sector commitments to river and greenway improvements.

Their vision was to reclaim the Bronx River as a clean, accessible and valuable resource in the heart of the Bronx. Today the river is a source of community pride, where people come to paddle, bike, picnic, and learn. The river and the Bronx are the better for their efforts, and we are proud to salute their fierce hope and dedication at the Bronx River Alliance’s Upstream Soiree.

Linda R. Cox
Executive Director, Bronx River Alliance

The Bronx River Alliance serves as a coordinated voice for the river and works in harmonious partnership to protect, improve and restore the Bronx River corridor so that it can be a healthy ecological, recreational, educational and economic resource for the communities through which the river flows.