Majora Carter, Sustainable Communities Advocate


Majora Carter

Majora Carter, center, is the founder of the Majora Carter Group, which bases its research on environmental issues in South Bronx. Photo from the Majora Carter Group Flickr photostream.

This profile is part of a series of stories highlighting sustainability leaders that advocate for diversity and equity within the environmental movement. George Bandy, a vice president at Interface, Inc., will speak about the built environment, nature, and issues dealing with diversity and corporate responsibility at the University of Utah on Sept. 19 at 11:30 am in the Union Saltair Room.

By Jai Bashir, Office of Sustainability

“It’s time to stop building the shopping malls, the prisons, the stadiums and other tributes to all of our collective failures. It is time that we start building living monuments to hope and possibility.”

— Majora Carter, founder of Sustainable South Bronx and the Majora Carter Group

Born and raised in the South Bronx area of New York City, Majora Carter is a major symbol and innovator of the environmental justice movement that in her words, “ [means that] no community should be saddled with more environmental burdens and less environmental benefits than any other.” Carter is well-known for coining the phrase “green the ghetto,” which refers to her passion for urban renewal and connection through the lens of sustainability and healthy environments in poor areas. Carter focuses on communities that are left vulnerable because of economic hardship, which leads to crime, poverty and the “ghetto”tization of parts of cities with low-income residents.

Carter’s integration of race, politics and the environment sheds light onto the complexities of sustainability. In her TED talk, “Greening the Ghetto,” she states, “As a black person in America, I am twice as likely as a white person to live in an area where air pollution poses the greatest risk to my health. I am five times more likely to live within walking distance of a power plant or chemical facility — which I do.” From her observations of injustice and her passion for sustainability, she sought to illuminate the potential of every community and group by starting with her very own. Her organization, Sustainable South Bronx (SSBx), is dedicated toward creating a more “green” Bronx area by advocacy for parks and green development. She served as the director for seven years.

For her efforts, Carter was awarded a MacArthur “genius” grant in 2005. Since leaving SSBx, she has formed the economic and planning firm the Majora Carter Group, which offers services such as green jobs strategy development and community engagement consulting. Carter is an example of strong leadership, commitment to change, and passion for the local, and how the environmental movement must involve all types of community groups and leaders.

Jai Bashir is a senior in Environmental and Sustainability Studies and Gender Studies. She is a sustainability ambassador for the Office of Sustainability.

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