By Danny Butler, Assistant News Editor, The University Echo
Majora Carter implored UTC to reach out to the community while working on the campus’s sustainability in speech Tuesday at the Roland Hayes Concert Hall.
“No community should have to face environmental burdens without enjoying environmental benefits,” Carter said.
Carter is known both nationally and internationally for her work on community sustainability project, environmental justice advocacy and “green-collar” environmental recovery job training.
One of the programs that she has helped create, the Bronx Environmental Stewardship Training, or BEST, focused on turning the high unemployment rate of the South Bronx into a massive workforce committed to restoring life and community to the neighborhood.
“Why can’t we train our own people to do the ecological restoration work?” Carter asked, referring to New York’s tendency to outsource the restoration contracts.
Carter said that the program, on top of being a success, resulted in eighty-five percent of those trained ending up being placed in a job, a rate that Carter referred to as “obscenely high.”
Ten percent of those who were placed in jobs later on went to college.
“[BEST was like] getting a two-for [-one],” Carter said. “We were taking people who were a tax burden, and we were turning them into tax payers.”
Linda Collins, a professor in the Biology Department, had the opportunity to attend a lunch at the Bethlehem Center with Carter and members of several community organizations and EDGE.
Collins said Carter is inspiring but she does remind Collins of how much farther both local and national environmental campaigns have to go.
Jessica Kinsman, a Chattanooga sophomore, said that after hearing some of Carter’s achievements and ideas, she became more interested in working similar community improvement programs like BEST.
Carter said in Chattanooga area, Alton Park is a classic example of a community that needs environmental justice advocacy.
“We all pay the price of poor health… lack of opportunity… it just says we are not working hard enough to engage those who need to be engaged.”
Carter believes that this is an era of change and growth for the country, nicknaming it the OBAMA era, but not for the reasons most might think.
According to Carter, OBAMA is an acronym for “officials behaving as magnificent Americans.”
“[If you want environmental justice] just get out there and work with the community,” Carter said. “I didn’t have a background of knowing who I wasn’t suppose to talk to.”