Green Roof Block Party


The Green Roof Block Party and 350 Event @ Boston Latin School

Hosted by the Boston Latin School Youth Climate Action Network (BLS Youth CAN)

Saturday, October 24th 2009



At the Green Roof Block Party 70 BLS Youth CAN students received delivery of 350 trays of vegetation that they raised funds for in September and October ($11,000.00 was raised by students “selling trays” to BLS friends and family).  After taking a aerial photo of Youth CAN students with some of the trays spelling out a giant “350” (the trays were part of BLS Youth CAN’s “350 Action” for the block party because the trays of vegetation will help reduce C02) students then helped install the trays of vegetation on a light court in the music wing as the first phase of the Sustainable Roofscape project.


The block party served as a fun way to bring together the Youth CAN member groups allowing them to display information about the work each group is currently doing.  The network was founded by Boston Latin School Youth CAN in 2007.   There are now 16 Youth CAN member groups at schools in Massachusetts.  Five other Youth CAN groups attended the block party along with BLS Youth CAN:  the Abbey Kelly Foster Charter School, Codman Academy, Boston Latin Academy, Prospect Hill Academy, and Kipp Academy.  The Youth Climate Action Network posed in a large group photo in front of 4’ high numbers spelling out 350 and wearing glasses that said “350”  The photo was taken in support of 350.orgs’ day of international action aimed at raising awareness about the need to get back to 350 parts per million of carbon in the atmosphere -- 350 ppm being the level of carbon in the atmosphere that scientists have determined as sustainable.  The planet is currently at about 390 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere and climbing.


The Boston Latin School Youth Climate Action Network invited ten neighboring colleges and universities to join with us in forming a new coalition.  At the block party, three of the schools were able to join us to kick off the Fenway Area Green Roof Student CoalitionBoston Latin School Youth CAN was joined by Simmons SOS group (Sustain Our Simmons), Harvard Medical School SEAM students (Students for Environmental Awareness in Medicine) and the Massachusetts College of Art and Design Green Hands.  The coalition took group photo our signature photo-shopped image of the Longwood area portraying the group’s future vision of 100% green roofs a  Wentworth Institute is also interested in participating in the coalition.  The hope is that other neighboring schools will join the coalitions’ effort to establish the first green roof enclave in Boston serving as a model to inspire the rest of the city towards greater sustainability, youth leadership, collaboration and green roofs.


13 Youth Service and Community Service Organizations attended the block party displaying booths to inform attendees about their programs and adding to the festival atmosphere. 

The Alliance for Climate Education (ACE)

Boston Nature Center/Mass Audubon Teen Ambassadors

Roots and Shoots

Youth Build Boston

Boston Harbor Islands Teen Ambassadors (BEAN)

Do Something

Earth Our Only Home:  Foundation for A Green Future

Green Schools

Corporate Accountability International

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology)

BYEN (Boston Youth Environmental Network)

BCAN (Boston Climate Action Network) 

BLS STAND (Student Anti-Genocide Coalition)


The block party featured lots of games including: the 350 toss; the carbon footprint quick step; the C02 Limbo; the Earth in the Balance game; the Polar Bear Jump; the Climate IQ Quiz; and more.  There were also activity booths such as the photo booth, which featured a 7’ tall polar bear and Mr. Flynn a penguin suit; a YouTube Booth where climate messages could be filmed and uploaded; an opportunity to learn climate steps with BLS step squad; sculpting with Vermont Soap; and 350 Splatter Painting to name a few. 


BLS Youth CAN students made a decision to teach about sustainability with the food that was served at the Green Roof Block Party.   Attendees who tried a free soy dog or veggie burger received buttons that said “I don’t make GAS, I tried a veggie burger”  or “I have green guts, I tried a soy dog!” Other options were available for a fee to support the green roof initiative.  See our menu below and the recipe that was used for the very popular sloppy joe veggie burgers. 


Vegetarian Sustainable Snacks - Free!!!

Smart Dog

Veggie Sloppy Joes

New England Apple Cider, Hot and Cold

Help raise funds for our Green Roof

Upper Crust Pizza2. 00        

New England Clam Chowder   2.50

Chips                              .50

Fair Trade Hot Chocolate 1.50

Fair Trade Coffee      1.00

Local Apple w/wedge cheddar 1.50

(Sweet Macs and Tart-Sweet Empires)


**350 Sloppy Joes was adapted from below.  Changes:  2- 12 oz packs Smart Ground (instead of Turkey); 1 1/2+ c. Tomato Sauce, depending on how ‘sloppy’ you want it (instead of Ketchup); 2 T brown sugar (if you use ketchup you won’t need this); at least 2 onions and 2 red peppers (instead of one onion).    

The Ultimate Sloppy Joes

Recipe created by Tyler Florence  - From

Ingredients:Serves 4

Extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion , diced

1 1/2 pounds lean ground turkey

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 cups ketchup

1/4 cup yellow mustard

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 Tbsp. brown sugar

2 Tbsp. tomato paste

1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

5 whole wheat hamburger buns

Set a heavy-based pot over medium-high heat and add a 3-count of olive oil. Add onions and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until translucent. Add ground turkey, season well with salt and pepper and brown well all over, breaking it up with a wooden spoon—about 7 to 10 minutes. Add ketchup, mustard, cayenne, brown sugar and tomato paste. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes. Finish with a splash of apple cider vinegar and season it once more before serving on toasted whole wheat hamburger buns.

BLOCK PARTY PHOTOS - click here to see more photos from the Block Party and Tray Installation



The oldest school, the newest thinking: educating for sustainability.  That’s how Boston Latin School Youth Climate Action Network characterizes their student-initiated, student-led green roof project.  The Sustainable Roofscape Learning Lab is a multi-phase plan to transform an urban school roof (at the oldest school in the country) into 60,000 sf of natural learning environment replicating such New England microclimates as a small orchard, meadow, and woodland area interspersed with outdoor classrooms for interdisciplinary use. It will allow students to grow produce for the cafeteria in a greenhouse; conduct inquiry-based learning about CO2 exchange, rain acidity, wind, and solar power; track reduced carbon, storm water, and heat island effects; and study the flora and fauna attracted to the roof. The project provides onsite opportunities for hands-on outdoor learning (none currently exist) integrating the big ideas of sustainability into daily experience.  Faculty are developing a related curriculum pilot to be promoted statewide. Youth CAN students participated in a collaborative design process led by Studio G Architects, resulting in concept designs and 3D computer model (  Students raised funds, introduced designs to BLS, and oversaw a Phase I tray installation in a light court that is now visible from hallways in order to raise awareness in the building about the project. 


Youth CAN students have engaged faculty and parent partners to work with them on the project, as well as a Youth CAN Advisory Board.  Youth CAN students are currently working to engage BLS science students in a one-year baseline data collection program on the roof.  Students are also maintaining several community partnerships with Boston youth groups who are collaborating on the project (Codman Academy, Boston Latin Academy, Dorchester Bay Youth Force), as well as adult community partner organizations.  Youth CAN is working to establish a Farm to School and greenhouse program and seeking to partner with the Food Project to provide summer programming for Boston youth using the Sustainable Roofscape. The roofscape will be shared with the community in numerous ways, including school field trips to the roof, virtual web cam tours of the roof that will be accessible online; data sets generated by the roof that will be available for classroom use; and an education for sustainability curriculum pilot that will be available for use online.  Youth CAN students are securing assessment reports from architectural, structural, and mechanical engineering consultants; develop a phased implementation plan.

Promoting Green Change & Education for Sustainability Statewide

A Shared Green Roof

The proposed roofscape was envisioned with the express purpose of creating a “whitman’s sampler” of green roof features wherein students at Boston Latin School (as well as student groups from other Massachusetts schools who visit the roofscape for a field trip or access it offsite via webcam) will be able to collect and consider comparative data as a means of engaging with the big ideas of sustainability. 

Streaming Data Sets Shared Online 

For example students will have the opportunity to study the differences in heat and CO2 exchange between the intensive and extensive portions of the roof, as well as high and low albedo areas.   Students will collect realtime data about wind, rain acidity, solar power, solar thermal power, and storm water absorption.  They will also collect information about and nitrogen capture from rooftop composting, and bio systems in the rooftop greenhouse.  Streaming data sets from the roofscape will be posted online for access and classroom use by offsite schools.

Multiple School Use

Other Massachusetts schools will be able to access and use the roofscape, both by means of actual visits to the roofscape in the form of field trips, as well as via virtual tours of the roofscape through the use of web cams.  Offsite schools will engage with the roofscape itself as well as data sets generated by the roofscape, curriculum generated for the roofscape, and student generated models designed to encourage and promote faculty implementation and integration of roofscape curriculum and data sets. 

Interdisciplinary Education for Sustainability Curriculum 

Curriculum will be developed to be used in conjunction with the Roofscape Learning Lab to engage students in place-based, inquiry based learning.  The curriculum will be combined in an Education for Sustainability pilot that will encompass teaching well beyond the science related to the data collected on the roofscape.  It will, across disciplines seek to engage students in the big ideas of sustainability.  For example the idea of the interdependence and interrelatedness of systems will be emphasized in an economics class studying systems, by exploring the relationships between economic systems, social systems and natural systems using the sustainable roofscape learning lab.   Access to the natural systems on the roof will provide extensive opportunities to increase student skills in the large-scale systems thinking that future leaders and problem-solvers will need.   All curriculum developed for the pilot will be fully aligned to National Education for Sustainability Standards (

as well as Massachusetts Frameworks and standards for the particular content areas. 

Summer Institute on Education for Sustainability 2010

Curriculum for Youth CAN’s Massachusetts Education for Sustainability Campaign pilot will be developed by educators during a week-long summer institute on education for sustainability for educators that is being offered in the summer of 2010 at Simmons College.  The institute is being hosted by Children’s Environmental Literacy Foundation (CELF) and BLS Youth CAN with coordination by Sarah Mills, Sustainable Milton.  The Summer Institute will feature training led by CELF