Majora Carter is a MacArthur “genius” award recipient for her work as “a relentless and charismatic urban strategist,” pioneering green-collar job training and placement systems through her organization, Sustainable South Bronx (SSB) in one of the most environmentally and economically challenged inner cities of the United States.
She says the “social gains that men and women died for in the labor, suffrage, civil rights, and environmental movements of the past, have been largely circumvented by outsourcing production to many countries that don’t recognize human rights, environmental protection, or democracy.”
Beginnings in Hunts Point
In the late 1990’s Majora Carter took a bold step into the world of urban planning. Simultaneously she initiated re-routing a Giuliani-era plan for additional waste handling in the South Bronx, and converting policy towards positive green development in environmental justice neighborhoods. One $1.25 million Federal Transportation planning grant later, designs and plans for the South Bronx Greenway – an 11 mile network of bike and pedestrian paths meant to connect neighborhoods to the river front and each other with cost-effective, low impact storm water management capacity, local entrepreneurship opportunities, and active living features to improve public health and reduce traffic congestion – were set in motion.
Unlocking the Economic Potential in Environmental Justice Communities
Think energy consumption, public health, storm-water management, prison recidivism, school performance, social services, stagnant property values, climate change adaptation, and income & health disparities – all these can all be tied to environmental remediation on a municipal or regional scale. The communities of interest that make up a village, a city, a region, are all connected by the people and dollars circulating through them.
Money spent on public health and incarceration costs, imported energy resources, and conventional waste disposal, creates one-way movements of capital out of local economies. By contrast, robust distributed investments – adapted to local climactic conditions – pay for themselves through more effective economic multipliers as money works from the pockets of people who are presently regarded as problems. We help create new tax-bases, while removing obligations from the tax ledgers.
This is how real change will happen.