Isn’t it great when you get to meet someone you really admire, and she turns out to be just as intelligent, interesting, and just darn nice as you had always hoped? That was my experience at Majora Carter’s Green The Ghetto event in North Minneapolis. The event was put on by Matt Entenza’s campaign for governor. Majora even took a picture with those of us who’d come from the Twin Cities Summer of Solutions program:
She started out talking about her experience growing up in, leaving, and returning to the South Bronx. She told the story of how her dog, Xena, led her into a trash dump that she discovered was covering up access to the waterfront. She worked for years to clear out that area and there is now a beautiful park there. Before I heard about this project, I hadn’t really thought about access to green space as an environmental justice issue.
I liked the way she tied together specific problems, like redlining, incarceration, health problems, and environmental blight. She talked about mountaintop removal mining and how “poverty comes in all colors.” I really appreciated the way she drew together the problems that she saw in South Bronx with environmental injustice all over the country. The problems she talked about really resonated with the problems I want to solve, and her methods with the way I want to solve them.
In addition to the inter-connection of the problems, she also focused on the multiple benefits of the solutions. Sustainable South Bronx does a lot of work on green roofs which:
- Create good jobs that can’t be outsourced
- Filter the air
- Reduce water runoff, thereby reducing the work of the many sewage treatment plants in the South Bronx
- Provide a basis for a flourishing business
- Preserve roofs by reducing sun damage
- Make space for food production
- Build greenspace, which has been correlated with many benefits like reducing depression, increasing children’s test scores, and even lowering teen pregnancy rates
Pretty much, green roofs are great. While we’re not working on green roofs at the moment at the Twin Cities program, we are pursuing the same kind of solutions that have cascading benefits instead of endless negative externalities.
After Majora Carter was done talking, Robyne Robinson and then Matt Entenza, who are running for lieutenant governor and governor respectively, spoke about bringing the kinds of efforts Majora had talked about into real life in the Twin Cities. I need to do more research on the candidates, but I really liked what I was hearing in terms of his outreach into North Minneapolis, intentionally bringing diversity into the campaign, and bringing community-sustaining green jobs into the Twin Cities. (Obviously my political views are my own and not intended to represent the official position of Grand Aspirations.)