Sustainable South Bronx

photo from http://www.pbs.org/kcet/tavissmiley/archive/

Majora Carter. What a woman.

Sustainable South Bronx. What an organization!

I heard her speak on Tavis Smiley’s podcast, and the concept struck me especially hard. Living in Windsor, home of Canada’s Big Three auto giants, and being Canada’ Motor City, it seemed almost natural to make the transition to environmental implementation that Dr. Carter teaches and preaches in the South Bronx.

You see, her organization has taken steps to improve the poorest congressional district in the U.S. by offering job training and development skills in the environmental sector. I want to give you an overview of our e-mail transaction…between myself and one of the many assistants at Sustainable South Bronx:

“Having heard Majora Carter on Tavis Smiley, I knew that she would be tough to get a hold of…but here goes…
I write columns for a daily newspaper in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, across the river from Detroit.
With the Big 3 car companies jumping ship, slow but sure, we are looking at ways to diversify the area, but this blue-collar town doesn’t really have a green-leader, someone waiting to usher a burgeoning job sector into fruition.
I wanted to simply ask for a quote that I can include in my weekly, tiny, 400-word column.
I would ask, “Why should a town who has depended heavily upon industry to keep the city going, should a city like Windsor consider taking the initiative to teach, cultivate, and grow the community into a green-minded municipality?”

If this question gets answered it would be greatly appreciated, as it will add some strength to my argument FOR greener thought in our city.
The work that all of you are doing is inspiring and reaching beyond the bounds that you may be aware of…
Thanks
Best
Tom Lucier”

And James Chase, of the Sustainable South Bronx, responded by including her thoughts for use in the story!

“Hi Tom –
Thanks for including Dr. Majora Carter in your important work. In fact we grow more and more aware of the reach of our example each day; and Majora is now leaving the day to day management of Sustainable South Bronx to her great staff, and concentrating on mass media outreach, and a consulting firm that will advise cities like Windsor on how they can smoothly manage a transition to a green collar economic base. I would be grateful if you could mention that new venture in your article!

Long quote is below. Hope you can use it all, but understand if you need to edit.

Please let me know if you ever need any photography or other biographical info. Majora will be speaking in Detroit on June 24 at 9am for the Kellogg Foundation Conference, and if you want to observe/talk to Majora some, I can happily arrange to have your name on the list.
thanks agian,
james chase
ssbx.org

“Cities that are watching their income base shift overseas are still responsible for all of the services that communities depend on. Horticultural infrastructure solutions to things like storm water management, public health, education, and law enforcement have all been proven to be much more cost effective than the typical “end-of-pipe” solutions that we are saddled with today. By training people to design, build, and maintain these living machines, a city can realize a net savings on sewerage, respiratory disease treatment, educational outcomes, and reduced incarceration. That’s because green solutions improve environmental, social, and economic concerns with the same dollar – but only if that dollar is coordinated with policy, incentives, and training programs that respect existing market forces as we guide them towards a healthier more productive future for everybody.

“Cities that were built on industries whose environmental costs the world is paying for through the climate crisis we are now entering, are in a unique position to turn their industrial base towards clean-tech manufacturing like wind and river turbines, photo-voltaic and solar water heating systems, and electric car components and assembly.

“In the 1940’s, North American auto industry switched from producing cars to tanks and other military vehicles in a matter of months because we had visionary leadership that recognized the looming crisis of international fascism. Stopping Hitler seemed like an insurmountable task at the time, and climate change seems that way now. Stopping the climate crisis will also require an extraordinary level of leadership, commitment and a massive mobilization of resources.

“Cities that take the initiative and start the transition now will be rewarded. Those that don’t adapt, will be left behind. It’s important to learn from all the wonderful examples I see in my travels around the world, talk them through, and implement. In this rapidly changing economic landscape, if you are not at the table, you’re on the menu.”
– Dr. Majora Carter
MacArthur “Genius” Fellow”

I don’t think I can add any more.

Pretty awesome to have them respond overnight with this kind of info eh?!

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2 responses to “Sustainable South Bronx

  1. Wonderful post Tom! If you like Majora, then you’ll love seeing this blog
    http://noimpactman.typepad.com/
    Colin is my hero! I wish I could be more like him, that all of us could be more like him. The world would be a better place.

  2. right on!!!

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