By Julia DiGiacomo
A renowned urban-revitalization strategist and environmental advocate shared her experiences and ideas with the University of Iowa community on Monday night.
In an event presented by the UI Office of Sustainability and the Tippie College of Business, Majora Carter delivered a lecture titled “Home (town) Security,” which focused on improving communities through sustainable economic development.
Carter has a long history of working toward environmental justice and economic development in communities. For example, she founded and served as the executive director of the environmental justice nonprofit Sustainable South Bronx from 2001-2008. She now has an economic consulting and planning firm called the Majora Carter Group. She has advocated for and helped implement numerous projects throughout her career.
Carter is also notable for her work as a real-estate developer and radio broadcaster. She won the Peabody Award for a public-radio show that she co-produced and hosted in 2010. Carter won a MacArthur Genius Grant in 2005, and her 2006 TED talk, “Greening the Ghetto,” was one of the six first TED talks released to launch the website.
Carter’s lecture Monday night recounted her projects involving green infrastructure and eco-entrepreneurship. Several of these projects include her work advocating for the restoration of the Bronx River and her work with the tech-startup in South Bronx called “Start Up Box.” Her lecture referenced being from the South Bronx as her inspiration to work to improve communities.
Carter iterated her ideas for improving low-status communities through economic development.
“We shouldn’t have to move out of our neighborhoods in order to live in a better one,” she said.
She said she hopes to “raise the bar for what economic development looks like in a low-status community.”
Sara Maples, the interim director of the UI Sustainability Office, said, “So much of what we do is looking at and broadening the area of sustainability and the understanding of what it means to be sustainable.”
Maples said she thinks that Carter’s work is thoughtful and is impressed with the way she looks at economics and works to understand communities.
Eden Dewald, the outreach and engagement director of the Sustainability Office, said she thought Carter was great at articulating issues regarding sustainability, land use, and community culture.
“It’s great to see that there is hope for communities who have felt like they have been targeted or let down by their governments,” she said.
“Carter’s work relates so much to the work that we’re doing at Iowa. Her work epitomizes using an economic, social, and environmental lens for solving problems,” Maples said. “What we do at the university is so much in line with that. We’re trying to tackle the challenges of the 21st century in the spirit of inclusion and equity.”