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Carl Anthony
Born February 8, 1939 Philadelphia, PA
Alma mater Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation
Known for Environmental justice

Carl Anthony (born February 8, 1939) is an American architect, regional planner, social justice activist, and author. He is the founder and co-director of Breakthrough Communities, a project dedicated to building multiracial leadership for sustainable communities in California and the rest of the nation. He is the former President of the Earth Island Institute, and is the co-founder and former executive director of its urban habitat program, one of the first environmental justice organizations to address race and class issues.

Early life

Carl Anthony was born in a predominantly African American neighborhood in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, known as Black Bottom. His parents, Lewis Anthony (born William Edwards) and Mildred Anthony (née Cokine), sent Carl and his older brother Lewie to B.B. Comegys, an integrated elementary school in which only about a dozen of the 300 students were African American, rather than the segregated school called Woodrow Wilson, which was only a block away from their home. They later went on to attend Dobbins Vocational School, where Anthony was enrolled in the carpentry and cabinet-making shop. His teachers were impressed by his drawings and suggested that he transfer to the architectural drafting homeroom, where he fostered his interest in architecture.


Anthony graduated from Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation in 1969. Upon his graduation, he was awarded the William Kinne Fellowship, a grant to enrich students’ education through travel. Anthony visited traditional towns and villages in West Africa, studying the ways in which people utilized their few resources to shape their environments.

Early Career: Architect’s Renewal Committee and UC Berkeley

Anthony began his professional career in the late 1960s at the Architect's Renewal Committee in Harlem, one of the first community design centers in the United States. Upon his return to the United States from West Africa in 1971, he relocated to California and taught at the University of California, Berkeley as an assistant professor of architecture in the College of Environmental Design, later becoming a faculty member of the university's College of Natural Resources. In 1980 he left UC-Berkeley to work as an architect and urban planner.

Urban Habitat (1989–2000)

Anthony served as President of Earth Island Institute from 1991 to 1998. During this time, in spring 1996, he was an appointed Fellow at the Institute of Politics, housed within the John F. Kennedy School of Government, at Harvard University. Alongside his colleague Luke Cole at the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, Anthony founded and published the Race, Poverty, and the Environmental Journal, which was the United States’ first environmental justice periodical. In 1989, Anthony founded Earth Island Institute's Urban Habitat Program, the mission of which is to combine education with advocacy and coalition building to advance environmental and social justice in low-income communities in the Bay Area, with David Bower and Karl Linn, and he served as the initiative's Executive Director until 2000. Anthony directed various projects of Urban Habitat:

  • Bay Area Justice and Sustainability Project: developed and promoted a regional agenda for justice and sustainability while addressing planning policies that lead to inner city abandonment.
  • Leadership Institute for Sustainable Communities: leadership training program for land use policies and practices.
  • Transportation and Environmental Justice Project: advocated for changing the priorities of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District toward addressing the transit needs of low-income communities of color.
  • Brownfields Community Leadership Project: worked with leaders of low-income communities of color in the Bay Area to ensure Brownfields redevelopment addressed their needs.
  • Hunter's Point Environmental Health Project: trained residents and community leaders in Bayview Hunter's Point in environmental health, justice issues, and laws. Partnership with the Southeast Alliance for Environmental Justice and Golden Gate University Environmental Law and Justice Clinic.
  • Parks and Open Space for All People: worked toward revitalizing San Francisco Parks System by focusing on the needs of low-income communities of color, ensuring that a diverse range of people could have access to the parks.

Ford Foundation (2000–2008)

In 2000, Anthony joined the Ford Foundation. There, he served as acting director of the Community and Resource Development Unit. He was also Director of the Sustainable Metropolitan Communities Initiative for seven years, and funded the Conversation of Regional Equity, a dialogue between policy analysts and advocates concerning racial justice and sustainability.

Breakthrough Communities (2008–)

In 2008, Anthony co-founded Breakthrough Communities, a project of Earth House Center, an advocacy nonprofit for regional equity and environmental and climate justice and is serving as the co-director. Anthony founded Six Wins, an initiative in the Bay Area addressing the mitigation of carbon dioxide emissions.

The Earth, the City, and the Hidden Narrative of Race (2017)

Anthony's memoir, The Earth, the City, and the Hidden Narrative of Race, addresses regional equity and climate change.

Boards, Commissions, and Awards

  • 2015: Trailblazer Award from the Sierra Club
  • 2015: UC Davis Community Engagement Award
  • 2014: Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition by Congresswoman Barbara Lee
  • 1999–2001: Co-chair, Community Capital Initiative of the Bay Area Alliance for Sustainable Development
  • 1997: Josephine and Frank Duveneck Humanitarian Award
  • 1996–1997: President, Board of Directors, Alameda Center for Environmental Technology
  • 1996: Fellow, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard, university
  • 1995: San Francisco Foundation, Humanitarian Award
  • 1995: KQED, Honoree, Black History Month
  • 1993–1996: Chair and Principal Administrative Officer, East Bay Conversion and Reinvestment Commission
  • 1993–1995: Founder, President, EDGE, Alliance of Ethnic and Environmental Organizations of California
  • 1991–1993: President, City of Berkeley, Planning Commission
  • 1990–1998: President, Earth Island Institute
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