Episode 77 Majora Carter

Community is an essential foundation for sustainability and equity. I believe the spirit of change starts inside, and then in our homes, and then radiates outwards to our neighbors and shared community, expanding out to the Earth where we share the air, water, soil and precious life sustaining resources.

I’m thrilled to interview Majora Carter on her brand new book called Reclaiming Community: You Don’t have to move out of your neighborhood to live in a better one. Majora is a true inspiration and source of hope for us as we regroup to address systematic inequality. She is the Executive Director of Sustainable South Bronx, a MacArthur Fellow and winner of the prestigious Peabody Award. We met when Majora served on the Board of the U.S. Green Building Council. I first heard her speak at GreenBuild and was deeply moved by her incredible passion, vision and guidance for sustainable communities.

This interview with Majora is important to me on many levels, including that my parents grew up in the Bronx, about three miles from where Majora was born, and the community that is the main case study for her vital book. In our conversation, we discuss how to regenerate our communities, especially those where success typically meant leaving home to seek greener pastures. Majora shows us that this practice isn’t necessary and can be reversed. 

We discuss:

  • The shame and regret when Majora felt she had to leave the Bronx to be more successful.
  • The importance of creating the infrastructure to help residents aspire for beauty and wealth: economically, emotionally and spiritually.
  • That gentrification isn’t always “success” and that we don’t need to escape.
  • We talk about a higher passion, spirit that calls us and inspires us to create our own ministries. I have felt this calling deeply for decades since I first began to work in green building in 1991, and later helped found the green building council movement.
  • The importance of mentors.
  • Community isn’t just a place, it’s an activity.
  • Majora’s Community Development Retention Model, adapted from leading corporations. 
  • Majora’s Equation: Idea to Reality = Discipline + Hard Work + Time + [Love]

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