Environmental Justice Practitioners Network Webinar Series

Pictured: Sharon Lavigne (center) testifying to the St. James Parish Council to oppose a new Formosa chemical plant in her community, on Dec 19, 2018; Photo by David J Mitchell via The Advocate

The Environmental Justice Practitioners Network (EJPN) is a webinar series and community of practice for Unitarian Universalist environmental and climate justice leaders and community partners. Its purpose is to engage in reflection and discussion to deepen understanding and faith grounding for environmental justice.

The special guest speaker for the March 2019 EJPN webinar will be Sharon Lavigne, founder of RISE St James. RISE St James is a grassroots, Christian faith-based environmental justice organization based in St. James Parish, Louisiana.

When: Wednesday, March 27th, at 7:30 – 9 pm EST / 4:30 – 6 PST
(Note: this is a change from the previously-scheduled 4th-Thursday time)

Where: online or by phone using Zoom.us video conferencing

RSVP to recieve the call information & the link to the video recording:


Learn more about Sharon Lavigne and why she founded RISE St James in her article on Storycenter.org, “St. James Parish Rising: Documenting a Legacy of Environmental Racism in Louisiana“. Here is an excerpt:

I am a life-long resident of St. James Parish, Louisiana, the daughter of a civil rights leader from the 5th District, in the west side of St. James. Our community is predominantly African American. When I was a little girl, we lived off the land. Before industry took over the parish, we had clean air and productive land. My parents had gardens, cattle, pigs, and chickens­­ that was our food. My grandfather caught fish and shrimp in the Mississippi River. Our fig and pecan trees kept us well-fed and even provided enough for us to sell. It was peaceful and quiet.

Now the land and everything that grows on it is poison. In the past, we were seldom sick. Now, we are almost always sick. I moved into my current house in 1987, the same year that national reporters were investigating elevated cancer rates of those born in the area, and coined the term “Cancer Alley,” now used regularly to describe the 85-mile stretch of the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. But despite decades of resistance to dangerous petrochemical pollution, facilities continue to be built. We are boxed in from all sides by plants, tank farms, and noisy railroad tracks. We live in constant fear that settlement ponds containing wastewater will leak; that tanks holding toxic chemicals will explode. This unwanted intrusion is not of the people, by the people, and for the people; it is of, by, and for those who see us as nothing, not only in the eyes of history, but in the eyes of today.

UU Ministry for Earth’s Program Director Aly Tharp recently met Sharon Lavinge at a Moral Revival hosted by RISE St James and the New Poor Peoples Campaign, which she wrote about in a reflection titled “How Will We Stop this Flood of Poison?”.

Aly tells us, “I am thrilled that Sharon Lavigne has agreed to speak with the UU Environmental Justice Practitioners Network, and I hope that you will honor her time and hard-fought wisdom by joining the EJPN webinar this month!”

You can read even more about Sharon and RISE St. James at DesmogBlog.com

RSVP to recieve the call information & the link to the video recording on the EJPN YouTube channel: