MLK speaker works to improve neighborhoods

Jeanne Arnold gives an MLK Community Service Award to Steepletown Neighborhood.
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Jeanne Arnold gives an MLK Community Service Award to Steepletown Neighborhood.
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Majora Carter, urban revitalizationist and real estate developer, still lives in the South Bronx neighborhood where she grew up.

This surprises her neighbors, who assume successful people want to move to successful, affluent neighborhoods.

Carter spoke January 24 in the Kirkhof Center as part of Grand Valley’s Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Week. Her presentation was webcast to the Pew Grand Rapids and Meijer Holland campuses.

Carter told those audiences that she believes there are two types of real estate: one that assumes neighborhoods will improve through displacement, and another that assumes poor communities will stay poor.

She wants to create a third type, an economically diverse neighborhood of varied prices of housing, retail development, education institutions and green spaces.

Carter has been successful in the Bronx. Her development projects include an 11-mile greenway, and a training program to teach resident skills to hold green jobs.

Prior to her presentation, Jeanne Arnold, vice president for Inclusion and Equity, presented Grand Valley’s first Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award to representatives from Steepletown Neighborhood Services.

Steepletown, in west Grand Rapids, offers programs and services to new immigrants.