Reclaiming Your Community
Majora Carter shows how to end the brain drain that cripples low-income communities, mapping out a development strategy focused on encouraging talented people to stay and help lift up the community.
"My musical, In the Heights, explores issues of community, gentrification, identity and home, and the question: Are happy endings only ones that involve getting out of your neighborhood to achieve your dreams? In her refreshing new book, Majora Carter writes about these issues with great insight and clarity, asking us to re-examine our notions of what community development is and how we invest in the futures of our hometowns. This is an exciting conversation worth joining.”
How can we solve the problem of persistent poverty in in low-status communities? Just like companies have talent-retention strategies, Majora Carter argues that these communities need them too. They cannot succeed if their most gifted residents measure their success by how far away they get. Carter—a MacArthur fellow, Peabody award-winner, and serial entrepreneur—could have left too, but she chose to stay in the South Bronx and develop a new way to revitalize and preserve her home. She advocates measure like:
• Building mixed-income instead of low-income housing to create a diverse and robust economic ecosystem
• Developing vibrant “third spaces”—restaurants, bookstores, places like Carter’s Boogie Down Grind Cafe—to keep people and dollars in the community
• Showing homeowners how to maximize the value of their property so they can resist selling out and build generational wealth.
This is a profoundly personal book. Carter is candid about her success and setbacks, and her struggles as a woman of color confronting the mostly “male and pale” real estate and nonprofit and philanthropic establishments. It is a powerful rethinking of poverty, economic development, and the meaning of success.
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