Urban Alchemy: Restoring Joy in Our Cities with Majora Carter & Molly Rose Kauffman

Original Air Date Wednesday, October 12, 2022 

With many US cities falling into disrepair following the pandemic, business downturns, and brain drains, the term ‘Hometown Proud’ has become almost non-existent. Young talent looks elsewhere for opportunities to make their mark leaving once vibrant towns uncared for.

What will it take to empower inhabitants to restore our beautiful cities and rekindle once thriving communities? To merge architecture, positive psychology, urban alchemy, and what it means to create a better and just life for all, Positive Psychology Podcast Host Lisa Cypers Kamen speaks with two women who invest their home and work life into their communities. Majora Carter is a real estate developer, urban revitalization strategist, and author who strives to inject joy back into the South Bronx and other established communities like it. She shares key concepts from her book, Reclaiming Your Community: You Don’t Have to Move Out of Your Neighborhood to Live in a Better One, and her strategies for getting residents to reinvest in their communities. Molly Rose Kauffman is the co-founder of the University of Orange, a free people’s university centered in Orange, New Jersey. She describes the major strides the university is taking to reignite people’s passion for enlivening public spaces and further enriching the existing culture.

Majora Carter — Restoring Joy in Our Cities:

  • Majora describes what inspired her to write Reclaiming Your Community: You Don’t Have to Move Out of Your Neighborhood to Live in a Better One. [2:15]
  • Brain Drain affects low-status U.S. communities that have not yet begun to reinvest in themselves. [5:35]
  • Historically, development has created an architecture of hopelessness and has often had a predatory nature. [10:57]
  • How Majora is changing the game of real estate development to get a better return on investment. [16:59]
  • Reclaiming a community like the South Bronx offers value to not only the real estate but also to the families who call it home. [19:43]
  • Majora Carter describes what she means by ‘Planning with Joy’. [23:20]

Majora Carter, guest of Harvesting Happiness podcast episode about urban alchemy with Molly Rose Kauffman and Lisa Cypers KamenMajora Carter is a real estate developer, urban revitalization strategy consultant, MacArthur Fellow, and Peabody Award-winning broadcaster. She is responsible for the creation of numerous economic developments, technology inclusion, green infrastructure projects, policies, and job training and placement systems. She currently serves as Senior Program Director for Community Regeneration at Groundswell, Inc. Carter applies her corporate consulting practice focused on talent retention to reducing the Brain Drain in American low-status communities. She has firsthand experience pioneering sustainable economic development in one of America’s most storied low-status communities: the South Bronx.

Book: Reclaiming Your Community: You Don’t Have to Move Out of Your Neighborhood to Live in a Better One

Majora Carter Group
@majoracarter on Twitter
Majora Carter on Facebook
@majoracarte on Instagram





Molly Rose Kauffman — Urban Alchemy:

  • Molly co-founded Orange University with her mother and grandmother in the city of Orange, NJ. [29:00]
  • There are four core urbanism principles at Orange University. [32:21]
  • Molly describes how the organization is making new connections beyond the previous policies that left cities physically and socially fractured. [34:30]
  • Some cities and experiences are glamorized but every town has a surprising story to tell. [43:20]
  • Place-making is an event and a class at the University of Orange. [47:32]
  • Molly Rose Kauffman felt 100% called to do her work at the University of Orange. [51:58]

Molly Rose Kauffman, guest of Harvesting Happiness podcast episode about urban alchemy with Majora CarterMolly Rose Kaufman is director of the University of Orange, a free people’s university dedicated to education for equitable cities. She co-founded the organization in 2008 alongside her mother and grandmother.

University of Orange
@uoforange on Instagram

This episode of Harvesting Happiness Pödcast about urban alchemy is sponsored by:

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Are We Happy Yet? Eight Keys to Unlocking a Joyful Life A boot camp manual for greater emotional fitness. Happiness waits for no one and sometimes we all need support. What is getting in the way of your happiness right now? 

HFactor: Where is Your Heart? — Lisa’s documentary film explores the journey of human happiness. Emotions are contagious and happiness is a universally desired state. We tend to forget we all have the freedom to be happy or the liberty to be miserable each day.

“As people, we are averse to discomfort.” @LisaKamen on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“With an increase of happiness comes an increase of health.” @LisaKamen on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“Americans love a good Cinderella story … They love the idea of someone working really hard and pulling themselves up and out.” @majoracarter on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“There are homegrown talented people who are deciding to stay, open businesses, keep the family home and create opportunities here for themselves.” @majoracarter on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“Community is not just a place, it is an activity.” @majoracarter on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“I consider the work I do to be my personal ministry.” @majoracarter on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“People give up on their communities because they feel like there is nothing there to have hope in.” @majoracarter on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“If we think of the city of Orange itself as the university, how much can we learn from this place?” @uoforange on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“One of our core urbanism principles is — everything we need is already here.” @uoforange on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“In over 100 years of urban planning in the US, we have to acknowledge that there are policies that were an enactment of racism in our society. These policies left places physically and socially fractured.” @uoforange on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“We have workshops on how to enliven public space.” @uoforange on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet



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