Majora Carter and her dog Xena
October 27, 1966 |
South Bronx, New York, United States
|Residence||South Bronx, NY|
|Education||New York University|
|Occupation||Economic Consultant, Public Radio Host and Environmental Equality Advocate|
|Title||President, Majora Carter Group, LLC|
Majora Carter (born October 27, 1966) is an urban revitalization strategist and public radio host, from the South Bronx area of New York City. Carter founded the non-profit environmental justice solutions corporation Sustainable South Bronx before entering the private sector.
Carter attended the Head Start Program and primary schools in the South Bronx. After graduating from the Bronx High School of Science, she entered Wesleyan University in 1984 to study film and obtain a Bachelor of Arts. In 1997, she received a Master of Fine Arts from New York University (NYU). While at NYU, she returned to her family's home in Hunts Point, and later worked for The Point Community Development Corporation. As Associate Director of the Community Development Corporation, Carter developed Hunts Point Riverside Park. Carter was "pulled by her dog into a weedy vacant lot strewn with trash at the dead end of Lafayette Avenue. As the pair plowed through the site they ended up, much to Carter’s surprise, on the banks of the Bronx River."
From there, Carter secured a $10,000 grant from a USDA Forest Service program to provide seed money for river access restoration projects. Working with other community groups and the Parks Department, over a five-year period she helped leverage that seed money into more than $3 million from the mayor’s budget to build the park into the award winning iteration which re-opened in 2006.
In August 2001, after exploring and then declining to engage in a campaign for NY City Council, Carter founded Sustainable South Bronx (SSBx), where she served as executive director until July 2008. During that time, SSBx advocated the development of the Hunt's Point Riverside Park which had been an illegal garbage dump. Majora was a co-founder of the Bronx River Alliance [bronxriveralliance.org], and SSBx continued to carry on Majora's involvement in Bronx River waterfront restoration projects. In 2003, Sustainable South Bronx started the Bronx Environmental Stewardship Training program. This was one of the nation's first urban green collar training and placement systems. From there, Majora Carter co-founded Green For All with Van Jones  Other SSBx projects have centered around fitness, food choices (including the creation of a community market), and air quality.
A December 2008 New York Times profile called Carter "The Green Power Broker" and "one of the city’s best-known advocates for environmental justice" but reported that some South Bronx activists (who would not go on record) stated that Carter has taken credit for accomplishments when others should share the credit as well as taking credit for uncompleted projects. Other Bronx activists (who did agree to be named) stated that her recognition was well deserved.
Carter was a torch-bearer for a portion of the San Francisco leg of the torch relay of the 2008 Summer Olympics. Many portions of the torch relay, including the San Francisco leg, were met with protests concerning the policies of the Chinese government toward Tibet. Although Carter had signed a contract pledging not to use an Olympic venue for political or religious causes, when she and John Caldera were passed the torch during their part of the relay, she pulled out a small Tibetan flag that she had concealed in her shirt sleeve.
Members of the Chinese torch security escort team pulled her out of the relay and San Francisco police officers pushed her into the crowd on the side of the street. Fellow torch-bearer, retired NYFD firefighter Richard Doran, who was honoring the firefighters who died in the September 11 attacks, called Carter's actions "disgusting and appalling" and said that he thought "she dishonored herself and her family". Another torch-bearer, retired NYPD police officer Jim Dolan, agreed with Doran.
Majora Carter's TED talk was one of the first 6 publicly released talks to launch the TED.com website in 2006. Carter has made appearances in, and/or written, and produced television and radio programs, including HBO's The Black List volume 2, American Public Media's Market Place, and PRX's This I Believe series and has hosted several pieces on urban sustainability with Discovery Communications' Science Channel. From 2007 - 2010, Carter has appeared on The Green, a television segment dedicated to the environment, shown on the Sundance Channel. The first season consisted of a series of 90 second op-eds shot in studio. The second season consisted of a series of short interview pieces with people who are taking uncommon approaches to environmental problems.
In 2008, Carter and Marge Ostroushko co-produced the pilot episode of the public radio show, The Promised Land (radio), which won a 3-way competition for a Corporation for Public Broadcasting Talent Quest grant. The one-hour programs debuted on over 150 public radio stations across the US on January 19, 2009, have been renewed for the 2010/2011 season, and has since earned a 2010 Peabody Award
Carter has co-authored a white paper on Urban Heat Island Mitigation and a peer-reviewed article, Elemental carbon and PM(2.5) levels in an urban community heavily impacted by truck traffic.
In Majora Carter’s passionate TED talk, ‘Greening the Ghetto’ she discusses the importance of green space to marginalized communities. She discusses the likelihood of racialized and working class groups to live near nuclear plants and garbage dumps. These areas are also likely experience high rates of asthma, obesity, and diabetes and Carter highlights the connection. Why would people want to go exercise when all they experience outside is pollution and factories? It is also clear that this lack of pleasure in one’s neighbourhood could also have terrible repercussions for mental health. Vitamin D, commonly received from the sun, can have a profound effect on happiness; in this way lack of time outside could certainly be a problem. Carter speaks from personal experience of growing up in the South Bronx and the understanding it has given her of this environmental injustice.
With the philosophy that green space is necessary for social development, mental health, and physical health, Carter has worked to ‘green the ghetto’. Carter established Hunts Point Riverside Park the South Bronx’s first open-waterfront park in sixty years. She was then granted $1.25 million in federal funds to create a greenway along the South Bronx waterfront. This new park provides open space, pedestrian and bike paths, and space for mixed-use economic development, to the neighbourhood. Majora Carter has continued to work to revitalize the neighbourhood she grew up in and others across the United States. Providing green space, for Carter, is not just the right choice because it is good for people—it is also good for the economy. More people out and about in a neighbourhood makes people feel safer to shop, contribute to tourism, or open businesses in that community. There are also clear environmental benefits to more green space, like cleaner air, as well as fringe benefits like, more people walking or biking to work.
Carter speaks to the fact the sustainability is an important issue to the nation as a whole. Healthier citizens are a clear benefit, since health can be a very complicated policy issue, especially mental health. There are also huge potential economic benefits to this community revitalization. She sees grass roots and bottom up approaches as having a lot to offer policy makers. In her TED talk she mentions that upon receiving her grants she was thankful, but also felt like she was offering an important service and expertise. Carter encourages the audience to keep working on and talking about environmental justice and sustainability throughout their daily lives.
After leaving Sustainable South Bronx, Carter has served as president of a private consulting firm, Majora Carter Group, LLC. In the June 2010 issue of Fast Company magazine, Majora Carter was listed as one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business
In 2012, Carter took FreshDirect on as a client for her consulting firm, Majora Carter Group LLC (MCG), to help the company and local organizations connect prior to its proposed relocation to the Harlem River Yards in the South Bronx. South Bronx youth development NGO leader Maryann Hedaa noted that "(Carter) realizes that fighting poverty has to be a partnership between the public interests and the private interests."
People opposed claimed New York City Government and FreshDirect failed to conduct sufficient environmental review and community outreach. A lawsuit and boycott campaign were initiated to stop the relocation. That lawsuit was dismissed. Subsequent votes by local Community Board 1  and the NYC Industrial Development Agency  both voted to approve the move to the Bronx.
- 2013 Honorary PhD: Wesleyan University 
- 2011 Peabody Award - The University of Georgia
- 2011 Commencement speaker at Knox College
- 2010 Star Award: International Interior Design Association (IIDA)
- 2009 Fellow: Post Carbon Institute
- 2009 Honor Award: Visionary in Sustainability, by the National Building Museum 
- 2008 Named a "visionary" as one of Utne Reader magazine's "50 Visionaries Who Are Changing the World."
- 2008 Appointed to America's Climate Choices: Panel on Limiting the Magnitude of Future Climate Change: National Academy of Sciences
- 2008 Liberty Medal for Lifetime Achievement: The New York Post
- 2008 The Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal: Eleanor Roosevelt Society
- 2008 Hollister Award: United Nations Temple of Understanding
- 2008 Paul Wellstone Award: Campaign for America's Future
- 2007 Rachel Carson Award: National Audubon Society
- 2007 New York State Women of Excellence Award: Lt. Gov. David Paterson
- 2007 Honorary PhD: Mercy College
- 2007 Martin Luther King Jr. Award for Community Service: NYU
- 2007 Lawrence Enersen Award: National Arbor Day Society
- 2005 Fellow: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
- 2002 Union Square Award: Fund for the City of New York
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- Dorian Block (September 4, 2007). "Newly-opened Hunts Point Riverside Park already a hit". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2010-01-13.
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- "Brains of Science: Majora Carter Extended Interview". The Discovery Channel. September 19, 2008. Retrieved 2010-01-13.
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- DNAinfo"DNAInfor.com Article: FreshDirect Hires Majora Carter to Round Up Local Support for Bronx Move".
- NY Daily News"FreshDirect Hires Green Activist Article Link". Daily News (New York).
- Daniel Beekman (Oct 1, 2012). "FreshDirect hires environmental activist Majora Carter to aid in relocation bid". Daily News (New York). Retrieved 2012-10-01.
- Bernard L. Stein (September 28, 2012). "FreshDirect hires Majora Carter: Company opponents denounce ‘turncoat’". Mott Haven Herald. Retrieved 2012-10-01.
- Annie Karni (June 3, 2013). "FreshDirect foes lose in court". Crain's New York. Retrieved 2013-06-03.
- Denis Slattery (July 11, 2013). The New York Daily News http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/bronx/bronx-board-approves-fresh-direct-move-port-morris-article-1.1396378. Retrieved 2013-07-11. Missing or empty
- http://blog.tstc.org/2013/07/23/despite-community-opposition-nyc-industrial-development-agency-votes-to-allow-fresh-direct-relocation-to-the-south-bronx/. Missing or empty
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