Majora Carter on The Power of Placemaking

Carter emphasizes that you don't have to move out of your neighborhood to live in a better one. Her latest talk, available here on video, highlights the key dimensions of a community that retains talent and fosters success.

Real estate developer and urban revitalization specialist Majora Carter has dedicated her life to leveraging diversity to bolster community resilience. She was born in the South Bronx, a low-status neighborhood, with which she has a tactile relationship.


Carter describes the neighborhood as “one of those places where schools, public health, air and water quality, environmental issues, food options, and career opportunities are much worse than any other part of the same town, village or city.”

These are places where inequality is assumed, she says, and “kids who grow up in them are expected to measure success by how far away they get from those areas. We don’t really do much to retain the talent that is born and raised in those communities, even though they’re the ones that produced it.”

Breaking a Bad Pattern

Today, she laments, many neighborhoods in markets across the country lack social and economic diversity to the detriment of residents. So, she is reimagining neighborhood development to empower residents and reduce pervasively high poverty, illness and incarceration rates.

In her presentation at the Sustainability Symposium 2023: The Great Conversion, Carter delineates her holistic approach to community development focussing on talent retention. “We spend billions of government, philanthropic, and private dollars in low-status communities to allegedly support the people in them, yet overall outcomes don’t change,” Carter claims with frustration.

As she ticks off the many institutional and environmental injustices that shaped her community and many others alike, she’s not just doom-and-glooming. She’s using them as a springboard to show how these obstacles can be overcome. She and her peers have worked  tirelessly to push through change, to create a healthy community with parks, social spaces, art and programming. She offers example after example of how to fight the financial disinvestment.

You can watch the recording of her session, The Great Rehumanization: Cities Regenerated, to learn more about her journey and the challenges and successes she experienced through her mission to transform her hometown and provide a roadmap for similar communities.

Learn more about Green Builder Media’s Sustainability Symposium .

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