Majora Carter Inspires Students toward Growth

The 2011 Ted Prize winner, Majora Carter, spoke in a “Home (Town) Security” seminar at Florida A&M’s School of Architecture. The Eco-Entrepreneur spent time discussing urban sustainability with Rattler students and staff. Carter said her perception of her neighborhood in the South Bronx was not a positive one and wanted change.

“This is not the place that I wanted to stay. It wasn’t until I came back home in the 90s when i started to see my community in much different eyes,” Carter said. “I believe that you shouldn’t have to leave your neighborhood to live in a better one.”

Carter said she realized that communities don’t just happen, there are policies that are put in place. Recognizing that, she began to work on advocating for communities to see how natural resources can play a role in making a better life with urban sustainability.

“What I’ve recognized is what can be fixed, I want people to remember what it was like and think about the previous moments and eventually celebrate the new moments to remember how far they’ve come,” Carter said.

Carter started her consulting firm, Majora Carter Group, when she realized that there was a lot of work needed to be done locally and outside her community. Carter developed services that promote project consulting to aid in leadership training and green jobs strategy.

“I work to start helping people have more of a personal and dynamic city and development of their own communities,” Carter said. “The kind of work that was pioneered in the South Bronx could be used in different parts of the country.

Viniece Jennings, professor in the school of environment, said that there was a desire to bring Carter to the university.

“Ms. Carter is a notable figure in the environmental movement. She received a MacArthur genius grant, she has spoken on the TED speakers series, she speaks on a radio show titled The Promised Land, and is an eco-entrepreneur,” said Jennings. “We were interested in bringing her to FAMU since she is a vibrant example of the power of being involved in the movement and transferring skills to be marketable in the ‘green’ economy.”

Jennings said Carter is a testament of how a concerned citizen strategized efforts to revitalize her community.

“Many people may look around their hometown and desire change but matching that desire with action is the backbone of grassroots change. It is important that students are exposed to these conversations as they pursue higher education and develop skills to be empowered citizens,” Jennings said.

Jennings said Carter’s projects relate to environmental sustainability.

“The Bruntland Commission says sustainability is about using our resources in a way that it meets the needs of today without comprising the needs of future generations,” Jennings said. “The paradigm of sustainability is connected to the economy, social issues, and several factors in society. Her project connects environmental quality to the way that we use land and job placement.”

Jennings said students should be motivated and encouraged by Carter’s visit.

“It is imperative that today’s student connects how their existence is related to environment and sustainability issues. Minorities and low income persons are disproportionately impacted by the effects. Therefore, it is important for us to engaged in the discussion,” Jennings said. “Ms. Carter not only spoke about her projects and its accomplishments, but also included how her work connected with a strong community, lasting bonds, and a legacy to inspire others.”

Audrinne Wong, a 20-year-old accounting student from Tampa said she has an interest in sustainability and sought more inspiration.

“I am currently a member of the Famu Green Coalition, and I wanted to know more about Majora Carter and how she how she personally feels about her work,” she said.

Wong said Carter motivated her and hopes to see more students support sustainability.

“Carter was really passionate about her work, because she truly wants to change South Bronx,” Wong said. “Student support of the Student Green Energy Fund is a start to change in our community and would help support a recycling innovative at FAMU.”