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Green the Ghetto inspires SUNY Plattsburgh students BY ALLI DILLENBECK Improving city planning, advocating environmental justice,

and building the framework for a sustainable local economy are some tasks that Majora Carter has accomplished within the South Bronx. Majora Carter came to SUNY Plattsburgh to present some of her accomplishments and advocate for local sustainability and environmental justice. Many of the areas in the South Bronx became illegal garbage dumps and parks were almost non-existent. I can pretend to not see what is literally right in front of me, or I can do something about it, she said during her presentation. One of the biggest problems she saw was the effect the environment was having on children growing up in the South Bronx. She looked to a study from Columbia Universitys that linked childrens learning disabilities to how closely the children lived to fossil fuel industries. That creates a pipeline from poverty right into prison, Carter said. Carter founded the non-profit environmental justice solutions corporation Sustainable South Bronx in 2001. The main focus of Sustainable South Bronx was for people to transform the place they live, instead of fleeing or becoming trapped. Carter changed a piece of the South Bronx in a huge way. She was pulled by her dog into Hunts Point Riverside Park, which was formerly an illegal garbage dump. Xena, Carters dog, pulled her past the garbage to the river, which Carter forgot existed. I can pretend to not see what is literally right in front of me, or I can do something about it, Carter said in reference to the dump. After getting a $10,000 grant, the dump was transformed into a green, flourishing park. After writing a $1.5 million Federal Transportation planning grant, the park became The South

Bronx Greenway. The South Bronx Greenway became the first waterfront park in 60 years and won a national award for planning. In 2003, Sustainable South Bronx started occupational training for green jobs. Many of the students had been in jail or prison. The training system yields an 85 percent employment rate and 10 percent have gone to college. All of this out of folks that people had written off, Carter said. Carter believes that Sustainable South Bronx will create opportunities to make poor people less poor. SUNY Plattsburgh student, Michelle Trimper had the pleasure of going to a dinner with Carter before the presentation. She was incredibly interested in the Sustainable South Bronx occupational training. Its inspirational as an environmental studies major with environmental justice being my concentration. Its something I'd like to see as a model used across communities in the United States, Trimper said. Its not the most obvious place to talk about changing the environment, because people assume they have other problems, Carter said, but the impact of make strides toward better social, environmental, and economic situations is deeper. It was great to see so many people, students and faculty alike, with an interest in her work, Trimper said. Being so busy with the academics sometimes I forget what Im working toward. While I spoke with her personally, she reminded me to keep an eye on the big picture and to not take No for an answer.