The Power of Placemaking

Community isn’t just a place, it’s also an activity.  Hear what an urban revitalization specialist has to say about bolstering community resilience. 

Over the past few years, there has been a marked shift in homebuyer demands. Led by Millennials and older Gen Zs, today’s buyers not only want homes that are healthy, efficient, connected, and resilient, they’re also looking to live in communities with amenities like walking trails, community gardens, co-working spaces, cafes, and community gathering areas.

In a divisive and confusing world, individuals have turned their homes into sanctuary spaces, and they look to their neighborhoods to serve as safe havens—places where they can find peace and solidarity.

In response to these shifting homebuyer expectations, some builders and developers are rethinking traditional development models for new and infill communities, implementing a different hierarchy of priorities to design human-scale communities in urban, suburban, and rural areas.

This process of reimagination is spurring a new wave of thinking: Rather than designing “monoculture” neighborhoods, innovative developers are embracing diversity— biodiversity, housing diversity, and social diversity—to enhance the resiliency of their developments. 

Intentional Communities

Real estate developer and urban revitalization specialist Majora Carter knows something about leveraging diversity to bolster community resilience. Born in the South Bronx, a low-status neighborhood where inequality was assumed, she is now reimagining neighborhood development to empower residents and reduce pervasively high poverty, illness, and incarceration rates.


Carter has modeled her approach to community development after corporations. “When businesses hire employees, they do everything they can to retain talent by addressing the wellbeing of those individuals,” she explains  “Communities should do the same thing. In low status communities, successful people are expected to move out. It’s considered to be a Cinderella story, but it actually has the opposite effect on the community—it’s the worst kind of brain drain.”

Carter relays that in her native New York City, different ethnic groups historically lived in distinct neighborhoods that were economically diverse. “It wasn’t uncommon for a doctor to live next to a janitor. That model helped make aspirations possible, because children had exposure to different professions and saw what the options were. It helped them understand what was possible for themselves.”

Today, she laments, many neighborhoods in markets across the country lack that type of social and economic diversity, to the detriment of residents.

An ambitious entrepreneur, Carter created a plan to be a part of the solution. First, she started a hip-hop café in the South Bronx, Boogey Down Grind, modeled after the historical roots of community itself. She filled it with people who had a vested interest in the community. 

Then, she helped friends and neighbors open other cafes, boutique shops, and cottage industry businesses in the neighborhood. As the businesses opened, the community transformed, and residents felt a newfound sense of hope and pride.

What happened next? You’ll have to attend Carter’s session, “The Great Rehumanizing: Cities Regenerated,” at Green Builder Media’s upcoming virtual Sustainability Symposium 2023: The Great Conversion on April 19 & 20 to find out.

Registration is free, so reserve your spot today!

A heartfelt thank you to Trane Technologies and Whirlpool Corporation for their continued support of our annual Sustainability Symposium, as well as their total commitment to corporate sustainability.