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October 15, 2009

Majora Carter, Founder of Sustainable South Bronx, Will Speak Nov. 12

Talk is part of the President’s McDonogh Lecture Series
Majora Carter, founder of Sustainable South Bronx and president of her own “green collar” economic consulting firm, will deliver a talk titled “Green the Ghetto: And how much it won’t cost us” 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12, in Oechsle Hall room 224.

Part of the President’s McDonogh Lecture Series, the talk is free and open to the public. Carter will be on campus Nov. 12-13 for a two-day residency. She will meet with students and faculty throughout her stay including an open student forum at 9 a.m. Nov. 13 in the Wilson Room of Pfenning Alumni Center. She also will hold a workshop for members of the Lafayette and Easton communities focusing on environmental efforts in urban settings.

In addition to the residency activities, the Office of Intercultural Development is coordinating a bus trip to the South Bronx on Oct. 30 to see the work being done there. Carter’s residency is an example of the outstanding opportunities Lafayette students have to engage with prominent leaders in their fields and an example of the special opportunities afforded by Lafayette’s proximity to New York City.

Carter is a life-long resident of the Hunts Point community in the South Bronx. In the late 1990s, she secured a $1.25 million federal transportation planning grant to design the South Bronx Greenway, an 11-mile network of bike and pedestrian paths connecting neighborhoods to the riverfront and each other with low-impact storm-water management capacity, local entrepreneurship opportunities, and active-living features that improve public health and reduce traffic congestion.

She went on to spearhead the first South Bronx waterfront park in more than 60 years, part of a larger strategy to move under-performing communities into more healthy and productive economic conditions. In 2001, she founded Sustainable South Bronx and by 2003 had implemented the highly successful Bronx Environmental Stewardship Training program, a pioneering green-collar job training and placement system seeding communities with a skilled workforce that has both a personal and economic stake in the urban environment.

The recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, known as a “Genius Grant,” Carter is now president of the Majora Carter Group, a green-collar economic consulting firm advising cities, foundations, universities, businesses, and communities around the world. She is a co-host of Sundance Channel’s The Green and host of The Promised Land, a new series on public radio.

She was named one of the 25 most influential African Americans by Essence Magazine in 2007 and one of the most influential women in New York City by the New York Post in each of the last two years. Carter holds a bachelor of arts degree from Wesleyan University and a master of fine arts from New York University.

The talk is sponsored by the Office of the President, Office of Intercultural Development, Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences, Africana Studies Program, and Landis Community Outreach Center. Carter’s visit is funded in part by an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant supporting the new environmental initiative at Lafayette.

The President’s McDonogh Lecture Series, formerly the Presidential Speaker Series on Diversity, was initiated in 2000 to encourage intellectual discourse on diversity. It is named for David Kearney McDonogh, Lafayette’s first African American graduate and perhaps the first person with legal status as a slave ever to receive a college degree. Historian Douglas Brinkley, who authored a biography of Rosa Parks, was the inaugural speaker in the program. Other past lecturers have included Angela Davis, an activist and professor at University of California-Santa Cruz; David Levering Lewis, a Pulitzer Prize winner and recipient of the MacArthur Foundation’s Genius Grant; and Oscar Arias Sanchez, former president of Costa Rica and 1987 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.

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