Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Majora Carter

The Awesome Woman of the Week is Majora Carter (born October 27, 1966), an environmental justice advocate and economic consultant from the South Bronx in New York City. While she was in graduate school pursuing a Fine Art degree she visited... her family home in the Hunts Point neighborhood, which for a time had the distinction of being the poorest Congressional district in the United States. 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." (Landscape Architecture Magazine)

She organized a community effort, obtained funds from the Forest Service for river-access restoration and Hunts Point Riverside Park was developed. Following this success Carter moved forward into a career that revolves around identifying and developing small-scale projects that provide jobs, boost the local economic engine, and improve the environment and quality of life.

In 2001 Carter founded Sustainable South Bronx, "a non-profit organization that champions hope and opportunity for our community and other urban communities with innovative programs that improve both our economy and our environment," ( where she served as executive director for seven years. In 2007, she secured funding for the 2007 groundbreaking of the South Bronx Greenway, which will bring 11 miles of bike and pedestrian paths to this urban community.

Since then Carter has moved on to make appearances in a variety of venues, to produce radio and television programs, and to author papers on environmental issues that affect impoverished communities. She is also a gutsy activist. When carrying the Olympic torch in San Francisco during the 2008 Summer Olympics opening, she pulled out a small Tibetan flag, causing members of the Chinese torch security escort team to pull her out of the relay and San Francisco police officers to push her into the crowd on the side of the street.

Carter has received numerous awards and honors -- among other distinctions she is a 2005 MacArthur Fellow and recipient of New York University’s 2007 Martin Luther King, Jr. Award for Humanitarian Service. She has served on New York Governor Elliott Spitzer’s Energy and Environment Transition Team and the Clinton Global Initiative’s Poverty Alleviation Panel.

This TED Talk given by Majora Carter in December 2010 is worth spending 18 minutes on. 

She presents inspiring examples of green entrepreneurs who are Doers, real Problem Solvers who have designed solutions to local economic/environmental problems, all with a social-justice twist. She shows the way to actually effect change in our world, against the odds: "How the hell did a poor girl from the South Bronx get here? Imposter syndrome aside, statistically speaking, I really shouldn’t be here."

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