Excerpt from Creating better Neighbourhoods at Home ‘ by Zach Gianotti.
“I believe you don’t have to move out of your neighbourhood to live in a better one”
Majora Carter started off her work in her neighborhood and is now a leader in the world of sustainable business. All of her achievements have been built on a foundation of her park initiative and her desire to better her community. There is often a misconception that to fight for the environment you need a national park or some plot of pristine nature to protect. Carter has shown that we should fight for and reclaim our own communities. Majora Carter is a modern sustainability icon for her work taking back the rights to her community’s land, and fighting environmental and socially unjust situations to do so.
Beginnings – Majora Carter was running with her dog one day in her neighbourhood of the South Bronx when it pulled her into a weedy vacant lot. The lot, strewn with trash and an illegal dumping site, was a waterfront property to the Bronx River. Carter saw its community building potential, and immediately started working on creating a new park.
Majora Carter was born in 1966 in the South Bronx. She grew up in a troubled time for the Bronx. The Bronx was originally a northern borough of New York City with mostly working class white families, but during the mid 20th century when black families were moving into the area ‘white flight’ occurred. What resulted was a loss of investment in the neighbourhoods from big banks, and landlords torching building to collect insurance money. The leveling of buildings to make a highway connecting NYC to surrounding rich suburban areas only added to the plights of the Bronx . The degradation of the Bronx physically and financially resulted in environmental and social degradation as well . Policies put in place from the New York City elite resulted in having a higher density of highly polluting facilities in the Bronx . Unfortunately, race and class seem to correlate to locations of environmentally harmful facilities, like waste treatment plants . Carter being raised in this scene of neglect for her community knew she had to change the standard.