Book Talk on Reclaiming Your Community
Majora Carter is the author of Reclaiming Your Community; senior director of Groundswell, Inc.; CEO of Majora Carter Group LLC; owner of Boogie Down Grind Café; and a Columbia Community Business Program Graduate.
How can we solve the problem of persistent poverty in low-status communities? Majora Carter argues that these areas need a talent-retention strategy, just like the ones companies have. Retaining homegrown talent is a critical part of creating a strong local economy that can resist gentrification. But too many people born in low-status communities measure their success by how far away from them they can get.
Carter, who could have been one of them, returned to the South Bronx and devised a development strategy rooted in the conviction that these communities have the resources within themselves to succeed. She advocates measures such as:
- Building mixed-income instead of exclusively low-income housing to create a diverse and robust economic ecosystem.
- Showing homeowners how to maximize the long-term value of their property so they won’t succumb to quick-cash offers from speculators.
- Keeping people and dollars in the community by developing vibrant “third spaces” — restaurants, bookstores, and places like Carter’s own Boogie Down Grind Cafe.
This is a profoundly personal book. Carter writes about her brother’s murder, how turning a local dumping ground into an award-winning park opened her eyes to the hidden potential in her community, her struggles as a woman of color confronting the “male and pale” real estate and nonprofit establishments, and much more. It is a powerful rethinking of poverty, economic development, and the meaning of success.