Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Goddess Files Sunday: Majora Carter, Greening the Ghetto

Popularizing the term "Greening the Ghetto," the South Bronx Born, Majora Carter has branched out to be one of the top recognized people in the Green Movement in the U.S., especially when it comes to urban green development.

Majora makes me think about the dire need for a complete rejuvenation and the return to respecting the land in black and brown inner cities.

At one point, African-Americans were the bricks in U.S. agriculture. We owned millions of acres of land and cultivated it well. It was our connection to Mother Earth and a way that we sustained our communities with organic food and food grown out of love. From the South to all points outside, we had farms and when we did not have farms, we had our own little gardens in the city.

When the mass exodus took place and people migrated to the North and West, many blacks abandoned their land and lost precious soil. What we once did out of survival and culture, growing organic and participating in recycling, repurposing and reclaiming products, we are now watching it on HGTV. How does the saying go. "At one time, we owned the land and they had the bible, now we have the bible and they own the land."

Today, the black farmers association and the small number of those that have maintained their land are the most underrepresented and neglected in the farming industry. Now, I am struggling to pay for high cost, low grade tomatoes at Shop Rite. Oh boy, I gave up on Whole Foods several years in to graduate school.

What is more troubling is living in the inner city in neighborhoods that are severely neglected. Everywhere I go to black city USA where there is a mixture of economic status, the streets are usually unkempt and often dirty. The pavement and roads are worn down, and the businesses usually cater to unhealthy living such as mini-marts with horrible food, no grocery stores, cheap clothing outlets, liquor depots and run down hair salons. But best believe, the churches are the nicest thing on the block. People save their souls on Sunday and die spiritual deaths the rest of the week.

Majora Carter has pushed her dream of continuing to revitalize her neighborhood and those around the country. I have included a small excerpt of her story, but you can go to her site and check her out more.

Majora Carter's Story
In the late 1990's Majora Carter took a bold step into the world of urban planning - simultaneously working to shift a Giuliani administration plan from additional waste handling for the South Bronx to positive green development, while scoring a $1.25M Federal Transportation planning grant to design the South Bronx Greenway. This 11 mile network of bike and pedestrian paths connects neighbohoods to the river front and each other with low impact storm water management features, local entrepreneurship opportunities that economically encourage active living and reduce traffic congestion.

She went on to spearhead the first South Bronx waterfront park in over 60 years (see image left), and in the process Majora amassed a beautiful collection of strange bedfellows from policy makers to business leaders and community members that made those projects happen. While this project is an important and very visible accomplishment, it was only a part of a larger strategy to move under-performing communities into a healthy and productive economic condition.

In 2001, Majora Carter founded the pioneering and highly successful non-profit environmental justice solutions corp: Sustainable South Bronx (SSBx); serving as Executive Director until mid 2008.

With a focus on goals over ideology, Majora Carter then built one of the nation's first and most successful urban green-collar job training and placement systems by 2003. Moving on from Sustainable South Bronx, Majora Carter brings the value of this type of leadership & talent to bridge the gaps between clients and the interests we all want served. Majora Carter Group, LLC can help clients connect the value of governm goalsent, business & industry and community. We want to use our integrity and abilities to bring disparate parties together to help break the impasse between sustainability goals and entrenched inter-stakeholder distrust with buy-in from all parties, by creating an environment where all dreams can thrive.

You can read more
Here is a Youtube video at a Green conference:

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