University News

Majora Carter to Give WIU Environmental Summit Keynote Address

April 3, 2007

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MACOMB, IL - - Majora Carter, founder and executive director of Sustainable South Bronx (, will present the keynote address at Western Illinois University's fourth annual Environmental Summit Tuesday, April 17.

Her presentation, "Green the Ghetto," will begin at noon in the University Union Grand Ballroom.

This year's Environmental Summit theme is "Environmental Justice," which focuses on the relationship between the environment and social and economic issues of sustainability in ways relevant to the residents of west central Illinois, as well as other rural and urban communities, said Summit Chair Mindy Harpman, program coordinator of Western's Horn Field Campus.

The day's activities will include an Expo from 9 a.m.-2 p.m., featuring displays showcasing areas related to this year's theme, in the University Union Prairie Lounge. A 4-6 p.m. reception for Carter will also be held at Western's Horn Field Campus Lodge, south of Macomb. All events are open free to the public.

Carter will also visit the WIU-Quad Cities campus and make a presentation at noon Wednesday, April 18 in Room 102.

Carter is a lifelong resident of the Hunts Point community in South Bronx. As a youth, her neighborhood was surrounded by garbage dumps, waste treatment plants and power stations. As an adult in the same neighborhood, she rallied her neighbors to oppose further dumping and waste treatment. In 2001, she founded Sustainable South Bronx (SSB), with the mission of "environmental justice through innovative, economically sustainable projects that are informed by the needs of the community" (

Among the projects Carter has spearheaded through SSB are Green Roofs, Greenway and B.E.S.T.

She brought nature to the inner city by designing "green roof" gardens, which generate oxygen; insulate buildings; cut energy costs; and absorb rainwater, which reduces the amount of runoff water that the sewage plants must process. The Greenway project has secured nearly $30 million to build a bicycle/pedestrian greenway along the South Bronx waterfront, to provide much needed open space, waterfront access and opportunities for economic development. The B.E.S.T. (Bronx Environmental Stewardship Training) Program teaches inner city residents about environmental stewardship; including training in hazardous materials handling, biodiversity monitoring, habitat restoration and more.

Carter also created, and secured funding for, Hunts Point Riverside Park, the first South Bronx waterfront park in 60 years; co-founded the Southern Bronx River Watershed Alliance; and designed the community waste reduction project, Hunts Point Community Composting Project.

For her work as an urban revitalization strategist, Carter received a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, nicknamed the "genius grant," for $500,000 in 2005. According to the MacArthur website (, the fellowship is awarded "to individuals across all ages and fields who show exceptional merit and promise of continued creative work."

She is the 2007 winner of the New York University Martin Luther King, Jr. Award for Humanitarian Service; a featured panelist on the 2006 Clinton Global Initiative, "Anti-Poverty Working Group;" the 2006 winner of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Earth Day Environmental Advocates' Award; and received a 1999 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Quality Award. Carter has also been featured in The New York Times, New York Daily News, Bronx Times, Essence, New York Times Magazine and Newsweek, as well as on National Public Radio.

Western's fourth annual Environmental Summit is sponsored by the WIU Sustainability Committee; the recreation, park and tourism administration department; Horn Field Campus; the Institute for Environmental Studies; Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs; Sodexho Campus Services.

Additional support for Carter's keynote presentation has been provided by Western Illinois' Program for the Study of Ethics; Peace Corps Fellows Program; Center for Innovation in Teaching and Research; University Housing and Dining Services; Visiting Lectures Committee; WIU Campus Greens; WIU-Quad Cities Campus; WIU Human Resources; the departments of biological sciences, English and journalism, and health sciences; Phi Kappa Phi; College of Arts and Sciences; College of Education and Human Services; Cross-Cultural Diversity Committee; Women's Center; and the Macomb Area Chamber of Commerce.

For more information on the Environmental Summit, contact Harpman at 309/833-5798 or

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