Founder of Greening for Breathing killed
Megan Charlop, an environmental crusader who founded Greening for Breathing, a grassroots initiative that planted hundreds of trees in Hunts Point, was killed on March 17, when a bus hit her bicycle.
Charlop, 57, embodied the history of Bronx activism. She joined Peoples Development Corporation, which in the early 1970s reclaimed abandoned apartment buildings, helping to inspire President Jimmy Carter’s famous trip to the South Bronx.
She served as a tenant organizer with the Fordham-Bedford Corporation, then went to work as a health advocate for Montefiore Medical Center, heading its Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, and, most recently, serving as director of community health for the School Health Program.
According to the hospital, she was bicycling on Crotona Avenue on her way to work when she swerved to avoid a car that had opened its door and was hit by a bus, dying instantly.
Charlop created Greening for Breathing in the mid-1990s in response to the growing asthma epidemic. It became the inspiration for the city’s current Million Trees Initiative, according to South Bronx environmental activist Omar Freilla, founder of Greenworker Cooperatives.
On the Bronx News Network Website, Freilla called Charlop “a tireless lover of justice, people, and the planet.” Her death, he said, was “a horrible tragedy,” that should lead the city to do more to make cycling safe.
On The New York Times Cityroom blog, former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer saluted Charlop as “one of the rare, selfless, unsung, but indispensable Bronx heroes.”
A version of this article appeared in the April 2010 issue of The Hunts Point Express.