Sunday, December 07, 2008

Majora Carter and the Sustainable South Bronx Project

Too many liberal/progressive/lefties spend a disproportionate amount of time complaining about the way things are, but relatively little time actually building concrete and creative grassroots solutions. Lots of talk, not so much walk. So, I have begun collecting interesting models of social justice activism at the local level to serve as "idea incubators" for others. Periodically I will post about some of these models, with the hope that someone out there might find something useful in their own context. Today, I want to let folks know about Majora Carter and the Sustainable South Bronx Project she started... (Click here, too)

Majora Carter is an AMAZING WOMAN and I hope you will take some time and watch a relatively brief, but incredibly emotional and inspirational TED talk she gave not too long ago on her "Sustainable South Bronx" project. In it, she "details her fight for environmental justice in the South Bronx -- and shows how minority neighborhoods suffer most from flawed urban policy." She's working not just to hold back the polluters who target poor neighborhoods and neighborhoods of color like hers, but to bring back the green.

Carter is a visionary voice in city planning who views urban renewal through an environmental lens. The South Bronx native draws a direct connection between ecological, economic and social degradation. Hence her motto: "Green the ghetto!"

With her inspired ideas and fierce persistence, Carter managed to bring the South Bronx its first open-waterfront park in 60 years, Hunts Point Riverside Park. Then she scored $1.25 million in federal funds for a greenway along the South Bronx waterfront, bringing the neighborhood open space, pedestrian and bike paths, and space for mixed-use economic development.

Her success is no surprise to anyone who’s seen her speak; Carter's confidence, energy and intensely emotional delivery make her talks themselves a force of nature. (The release of her TEDTalk in 2006 prompted Guy Kawasaki to wonder on his blog whether she wasn't "every bit as good as [Apple CEO] Steve Jobs," a legendary presenter.)

Carter, who was awarded a 2005 MacArthur "genius" grant, now serves as executive director of Sustainable South Bronx, where she pushes both for eco-friendly practices (such as green and cool roofs) and, equally important, job training and green-related economic development for her vibrant neighborhood on the rise.

"We could not fail to be inspired by Majora Carter's efforts to bring green space for exercise to the South Bronx. We need more ideas like these to bring solutions to minority communities."
Time Magazine

This 18 minute presentation is WELL worth the time and effort.  Check it out. Seriously!

And, as always, if you know of any interesting, creative and effective grassroots work going on in your area, please post something in the comments...

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