In the concrete jungle, we found an oasis. This week's New Yorker of the Week has found a way to use the environment to pave the way for a better future for teenagers.

Adam Green says he’s not just building boats, he's helping to build kids one piece at a time.

“This is something that can make them stand out in their own minds and make them feel really special,” he says.

Green didn't know when he started a volunteer boat building project in college it would lead to his life's passion. But eight years later, he's still going strong with Rocking the Boat, a non-profit boat building program for teenagers with a far greater goal.

“Knowing that they can solve problems, knowing that things happen and we can deal with them,” says Green. “We can’t deal with everything in our lives, but certainly when you're working with wood on a boat you can talk things out, look at the problems and resolve them. I think that kind of problem solving, as deep as you can imagine, is a really, really powerful part of this.”

More than 20 kids work together in Green’s shop in the Bronx for a semester or for the summer, learning everything from sanding to steam-bending to sawing. They start the course by traveling into the woods for their own lumber, and then begin building the traditional wooden boat from scratch.

Edmanuel Roman has been with the program for three years, and says it was Green who helped him realize his dream of being a carpenter.

“He puts me into harder stuff, he challenges me, and I actually like that about him,” says Roman.

The kids all seem to agree that the process is incredible, but they all say that the greatest reward of all is seeing the boat finished and actually being able to use it.

“Just to see you worked on a project and see a final project, it's a great feeling. It’s undescribable. And it gives us youth something to do. I'm really proud of what I'm doing,” said Meliza Pena.

“When we go from scratch like that, then it’s like you started from the very beginning on my own, and I used my skills and the help of others to make this,” says Elliyaas Carter.

Rocking the Boat doesn't stop there. They've partnered up with five environmental groups to research, get water samples, and physically revitalize and purify the Bronx River. The Parks Department has now even invested in Rocking the Boat, funding them to do some of their research.

So whether they're in the shop or on the water, the students learn their impact on the community is limitless.

“It's using a real medium to teach students,” says Green. “In the shop it's wood and tools in the process of making a real wooden boat that really works, and on the water it’s taking those real boats and really using them.”

“I feel like I can achieve anything,” says Pena. “If you put your mind to it you can.”

So, for giving these kids a chance to build a better future, Adam Green is our New Yorker of the Week.

For more information on Rocking the Boat, or to donate, please call (718) 466-5799, or visit

If you know someone who would make a good New Yorker of the Week, or if you have an idea for a story you'd like to see, send an email to, or mail a letter to:

New York 1
75 Ninth Avenue, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10011