On Saturday, August 7th Rise St. James is celebrating their founder Sharon Lavigne's victory as the North American recipient of the 2021 Goldman Environmental Prize.
"Our movement has a lot to celebrate right now, they say, with Formosa still stopped and our support growing stronger, and we have you to thank for making it all possible!"
The event will take place on 1041 Frontage St. in St. James from 6 P.M. to 10 P.M.
Sharon Lavigne never imagined herself an environmental activist, according to Nola.com. The retired teacher had spent much of her life working with special education students in the St. James Parish public school system.
But the idea of another chemical plant being built in her parish, particularly the 4th and 5th districts, after she had lost many acquaintances to cancer, made Lavigne have a new change of heart.
She blames her community's deadly future on industrial pollution.
In 2018, Lavigne began organizing and educating neighbors on the risks, that effort, gained her global recognition.
Lavigne's community is the site of ever-expanding industry, including Nucor, South Louisiana Methanol and Formosa Plastics to name a few. This is happening by design. The parish land-use plan designates only the 4th and 5th districts for industry, they say.
She told NOLA.com, "I'm doing this to save our community. I'm doing this to breathe clean air and drink clean water. I wasn't looking for recognition," the St. James resident said. "I had no idea people could win awards for this."
Masks will be mandatory for the event.
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