The Goldman Environmental Prize announced that their 2021 winner for “outstanding environmental achievement for North America” is our grantee Sharon Lavigne, founder of RISE St. James, according to the Goldman Prize announcement. The organization was started in 2018 to fight the construction of a petrochemical plant in her community in Louisiana. Watch the video below.

An article in The Guardian notes her success in preventing a new addition to Louisiana’s notorious “cancer alley”:

A spokesperson for the Goldman Prize said: “Lavigne’s grassroots campaign successfully defended her community from the construction of yet another toxic plant in its midst. Her activism prevented the generation of a million pounds of liquid hazardous waste each year … for her unwavering commitment and dedication to her community, Sharon Lavigne will receive the Goldman Environmental Prize.”

Lavigne added: “I didn’t realize I’d become an activist. I was just a concerned citizen trying to save lives.”

Established in 1990, the annual awards recognise grassroots environmentalists from the world’s six inhabited continents. This year’s winners, five of whom are women, include the indigenous Peruvian activist Liz Chicaje Churay, who helped save 2m acres of Amazonian rainforest from loggers and Gloria Majiga-Kamoto, who helped persuade the Malawi government to ban single-use plastics.

Read the Goldman Prize announcement.

Related reading: The Atlantic Features Grantees’ Fight Against a Louisiana Petrochemical Plant