Letter from the Director
This past August, we lost two very different and powerful leaders from our movement when Michaelann Bewsee and Pauline Rodrigues lost long battles with cancer.
Michaelann co-founded Arise for Social Justice in 1985, based on the belief that people most impacted by government decision-making need to make their voices heard. She and Arise have been a powerful force for change in Springfield, Massachusetts, working to advance housing justice, end homelessness and lead the way on environmental justice. Among Michaelann and Arise’s accomplishments were winning ward representation on the Springfield City Council, leading the long-term fight against a construction and demolition waste incinerator and biomass power plant in East Springfield, and winning a climate justice plan for the city.
Over the last decade, Pauline led the Coalition for Clean Air South Coast, working for a healthier and more economically vibrant Somerset, Massachusetts. Pauline never wanted to be an activist or a leader. She lived just one block away from the former Montaup coal-burning power plant. She was convinced that her grandkids’ severe asthma was due to breathing in toxic coal emissions. So Pauline became determined to hold Montaup to its commitment to retire in 2010. Over the past decade, Pauline became a powerful organizer for clean air. She was always ready to open her home, listen to new ideas, and fuel meetings with her famous lasagna. Today both coal-fired power plants in Somerset have retired.
I was very lucky to know Pauline and Michaelann, and to work together with them for a healthier and more just world.