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Majora Carter: Hunts Point, New York

Founder and Executive Director, Sustainable South Bronx

 Majora Carter

Lifelong South Bronx resident Majora Carter witnessed years of myopic city planning that steadily diminished opportunities for people to walk, bicycle or play in her neighborhood. Another disturbing trend was soaring obesity levels among residents, most of whom are Latino and African American.

“We have one of the highest obesity rates in the country and are also in one of poorest congressional districts,” says Carter, founder and executive director of neighborhood development organization Sustainable South Bronx (SSB). “We recognized that poverty and the built environment have all sorts of public health impacts and obesity is one of them. And it’s completely manageable when you design a community with health in mind.”

In 2001, Carter worked to defeat a planned solid waste management plant on the Hunts Point waterfront, proposing instead to create a greenway with bicycle and walking paths, shoreline access and on-street connections to parks. Spearheading a community-wide plan, Carter forged partnerships with local government, galvanized business and community leaders, and wrote a federal transportation proposal that awarded her partnership $1.2 million to design and develop a greenway study. To date, nearly $30 million is secured for the greenway and related projects.

Perhaps Carter’s greatest triumph is her success building strategic partnerships across various sectors—from government to local neighborhood associations—to ensure vibrant, healthy community planning becomes an expectation and a reality. Besides influencing better planning and transportation policy that creates opportunities for people to be active in their daily lives, SSB is organizing walking groups and dispensing advice to locals on resources to promote healthy lifestyles.

When she’s not reading up on the latest research or attending a ribbon cutting for a new park, Carter can be found jogging the trails she’s helping to blaze in the South Bronx.

“Our cities in particular need to embrace [active living] as something that has to happen, especially in the poorest communities,” says Carter. “People need to stop talking about it as if active living is some kind of new thing.”

BeforeCarter after AfterCarter after

Photos courtesy of SSB, New York City Economic Development Corporation and Mathews Nielson Landscape Architects.

Learn more:

Carter’s presentation at the Technology Entertainment Design annual conference

Profile of Majora, Campus Progress

Majora Carter: Landscape Architecture,” Metropolis

Hunts Point in 2006,” New York Magazine

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