Xena was an another abandoned puppy in the rain in 1998. She was adopted by Majora Carter, a young woman, resident of South Bronx that was, at the time, taking her first steps in the field of urban planning with the idea of improving the living conditions of those settled at this disadvantaged neighborhood. Working at a community development corporation, she advocated for a better urban development of this place.
Majora grew up in the South Bronx surrounded by empty buildings and pollution levels hard to find elsewhere. The disadvantages for the people living there were reflected not only by the increase of Asthma cases, but also by the high unemployment and poverty rates.
Forced by the circumstances, she focused on her education as her only ticket to a better lifestyle and life conditions. After getting her high school diploma in sciences at Bronx High School of Science, she got a Bachelor of Arts from Wesleyan University and she returned to live with her parents to help herself save money during her Graduate Studies at New York University, where she graduated with a Master of Fine Arts.
One morning, while she was running with Xena, the dog started to insistently pull her to the end of a dead-end street and continued dragging her into an abandoned lot full of trash. The dog was so determined to go through the land that her human friend decided to let her lead. After walking past a group of old buildings, both friends found themselves at the shore of the Bronx River. It seemed as if Xena knew what exactly was in Carter's heart and mind, since she brought the latter to a hidden place, where the river could be accessed. Majora considers this moment as the starting point for the creation of Hunts Point Riverside Park, a new waterfront park at South Bronx, one of her many sustainable urban development projects to create healthy communities with access to open spaces as well as clean air and water.
It was thanks to Xena, she says, that Majora set in motion a new vision in city planing and sustainable economic development that unlocked the potential of the South Bronx called Sustainable South Bronx Organization. This changed the lives of its residents as well as those of New Orleans, Detroit and certain small towns in North Carolina. Xena passed away only a week ago and Majora beautifully wroteXena, Warrior Puppy 1998-2012 on her company's web site as a tribute to her beloved furry friend.
The following video is a presentation of Majora at TEDTalks explaining her project.