With Liberty and Environmental Justice for All

Activist and consultant Majora Carter explains how "greening the ghetto" doubles our impact on healing short- and long-term health problems.

| May/June 2009

  • Activist and consultant Majora Carter strives to improve health and sustainability in our nation's poorest communities.
    Photo By James Burling Chase

South Bronx native, activist and consultant Majora Carter fosters conversation and action among community members and large corporations in one of New York City’s most economically disadvantaged areas. She founded the nonprofit Sustainable South Bronx (SSBx), an environmental justice solutions company, in 2001, and transitioned to consulting in 2008 with the foundation of her firm, The Majora Carter Group. Carter fights to “green the ghetto,” encouraging urban renewal, green-collar jobs and environmental justice.

What does “greening the ghetto” mean?

Poverty exists all over America. These are often the places of greatest environmental degradation, as well—for example, in the South Bronx with power plants and trucking, or in West Virginia with mountaintop removal coal extraction. Not only are these public health burdens that we all pay for now, they are major sources for greenhouse gases. If we green these areas first, we double our impact on the short- and long-term health of our society and planet.

Poor communities often have the most energy-inefficient homes. Energy costs represent a greater percentage of household income there as well. Greening those areas first will help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and help create jobs, because somebody has got to do the work of retrofitting buildings.

How do you define environmental justice? 

No community should have to face more environmental burdens than any other. Period. We have to strive for equality in all aspects of life, but the environment is chief because it affects everything—how we breathe, what we eat and how we move through our communities and our lives.
How has bringing green to the South Bronx changed the community? 



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