CURWOOD: Yeah, you've got to think in a place like the south part of the Bronx, where joblessness, and violence, and a lot of other pressing social problems are still clambering for attention; it's got to be kind of tough to get your voice heard about the environment?
CARTER: Well, it's not so tough when we pitch it the way that we do, which is about how do you create wealth and health for people? We actually learned the lesson a long time ago that in our community we don't really talk about the environment – we talk about things like public health; we talk about things like job creation. And starting one of the country's first green jobs training and placement system, right here in the South Bronx, we were able to do that because we listen to people talk about what was important to them. And, in particular, economic empowerment via i.e. jobs was a huge thing. What we wanted to do was help them see how they're both economic, as well as their personal self interest was tied up to make the environment a better place for them and their families.
CURWOOD: ...how do you get the message across that you don't have to be well-to-do to be an environmentalist?
CARTER: You know, look, I gotta tell you that many of the folks that came through our Green Jobs training program, many of them had been arrested, many times over in some cases, for selling weed on the street. These guys - and gals - are not making huge amounts of money, so when many of these folks were able to get jobs 25,000 dollars a year, with bennies, they were thrilled.
You know, whether they were putting green roofs on or doing wetland restoration or urban forestry management or cleaning up contaminated lands - these people should be viewed as the heroes that they are.
This is one of those stories that if you'd have told me, back in 1995, I'd be listening to today, I'd have laughed in your face. We're in the midst of changing times, folks...
Listen to the whole interview>>