Majora Carter made her waterfront sparkle

March 14, 2009 at 1:05 am Leave a comment

Urban renewal strategist Majora Carter fights for communities that, in her words, have been “disproportionately burdened” with pollution.

They’re typically poorer communities, says Carter, an advocate for environmental justice who hails from the South Bronx in New York City.

Carter played a leading role in stopping a waste treatment plant slated to be built in her community and in getting a $3 million waterfront park built there in 2006.

Lessons learned in her battles against local government and backers of the waste plant – including heavyweights like former New York governor George Pataki – can be applied anywhere, she argues.

“You can literally look at maps showing point sources for greenhouse-gas emissions and overlay them on the exact same places where there’s poverty and high incarceration and all sorts of public health problems,” Carter, 42, says.

Carter first delved into the realm of environmental justice – the belief that no community should be saddled with more environmental burdens than others – after learning about the plans for the neighbourhood she’d left behind.

The area, in about a 1.6-kilometre radius, was already handling 35 per cent of the city’s commercial waste. There were also four power plants, a sewage sludge pelletizing plant, a sewage treatment plant, and seemingly countless diesel trucks, she said in an interview yesterday.

She was shocked by the plans to add still more – and even more shocked so many people in the community seemed resigned to it.

She managed to rally the community against the facility, an effort that “came directly as a result of seeing the neighbourhood was about to treated again as another huge repository for fossil fuel-based industries,” she says.

She noticed the large facilities had cut off a waterfront area she felt was worth saving. That turned into another community drive, which ended with the creation of Hunt’s Point Riverside Park. Soon after, she began one of the country’s first programs to train people in “green” jobs –wetland restoration, green-roof installation, urban forestry management, and cleanup of contaminated lands.

Today, she heads the Majora Carter Group, a green-economic development consulting firm.

By Donovan Vincent
The Star

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Entry filed under: Dive In, Public Waterfront. Tags: , .

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