From 2001 to 2008 Majora Carter was Executive Director of the non-profit she founded, Sustainable South Bronx. There she pioneered green-collar job training and placement systems in one of the most environmentally and economically challenged parts of the US. This MacArthur "genius" is now president of her own economic consulting firm, a co-host on Sundance Channel's The Green, and host of a special public radio series called The Promised Land.
Topic: The Human Cost of Environmental Degradation
Majora Carter: It’s so interesting, because so many of the folks that we work with in our community are actually from places where nature was such an important part of our lives. From down south or they’re from Caribbean, where people were naturally drawn to the water, to the forests, et cetera. And so to see people disconnected from that, I think is almost as a spiritual disconnect from their real lives. And what we were essentially the legacy that we were born into.
So when we are missing that, being able to help people reconnect with a natural part of the world that is in their community is such a valuable thing that may, number one, feel better about it.
There’s studies that are written now. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, actually, did this huge amount of studies on what are the effects of urban forestry. Like, a cluster of three trees, what it can do on a block that has not others, in terms of lowering stress rates, improving girls’ self-esteem, lowering stress levels in adults. And recognizing that they, also, play a role, especially if you have more of them in actually cleaning the air.
Creating more opportunities for urban forestry management and creating jobs, as well. And so it’s a whole slew of things that. They’re, actually called Environmental Services, when you actually use the value of nature to take care of an industrial problem that we have.
Recorded on: April 28, 2008