Majora Carter, 43, has been described as a green powerbroker and a visionary in environmentally sound urban renewal. Carter is the president of The Majora Carter Group LLC, a green, for-profit consulting firm.
“I believe that you shouldn’t have to leave your neighborhood to live in a better one,” Carter said on her company’s Web site. Born and raised in New York’s South Bronx, Carter, now married, still calls the area home. When she was growing up, Carter says, many South Bronx problems centered on economic and social degradation.
“Everyone wants clean air, decent jobs, safe streets, and aesthetic beauty,” she said. “Folks with enough money, buy into communities that have those things. If you are poor, you are often stuck where you are.”
Carter left the South Bronx to attend college but returned home to live with her parents and save money while in graduate school.
WATCH MAJORA CARTER TALK ABOUT WOMEN LEADING THE GREEN ECONOMY
“Coming back with a little bit of distance, education, and for an extended period, made it possible for me to really ‘see’ my hometown,” Carter said. And what she saw wasn’t pretty. Poverty had increased, unemployment hovered three times above the city’s average, and waste-handling plants had moved into the area.
“Poverty looks very similar wherever you go,” Carter said. “It looks vulnerable to city planners who want to place noxious facilities with the least amount of political resistance or costs associated with designing safeguards for public health.” In 2001, Carter founded the environmental justice non-profit group, Sustainable South Bronx. Her first major project was applying for and receiving a $1.25 million federal grant for the South Bronx Greenway. The 11-mile-long stretch, which is still in the works, will be the first new South Bronx waterfront park in more than 60 years.
In 2005, Carter was awarded one of the MacArthur Foundation’s prestigious $500,000 “genius” grants in part for her work with Sustainable South Bronx, which she left in the hands of colleagues in 2008.
Through her consulting work, Carter now hopes to take her message, on the benefits of going green, across the nation and globe.
“By incorporating environmental concerns into all of our calculations…, we can really make an America as good as its promise in our lifetimes!” she said.