Community & Arts

Rebuild Woonsocket is a new effort to reshape city politics

“This project represents the coming-together of many different leaders and groups who’ve been pushing for transformative justice in Woonsocket,” explained community activist Nwando Ofokansi. “We are grassroots organizers and former political candidates; we’re people with a lot of different experiences and identities who all see the possibility for a better future for our city.”
Photo for Rebuild Woonsocket is a new effort to reshape city politics

Published on May 12, 2021
By Uprise RI

A group of community members and activists from across the city are excited to announce the formation and launch of a new organization, Rebuild Woonsocket. The virtual launch will take place on Wednesday, May 26th at 5:30pm, and will feature a line-up of exciting speakers who will get us ready to re-engage the community and move forward together.

Members of the public and the press are encouraged to sign up to attend the May 26th virtual launch

Rebuild Woonsocket’s mission is to work toward a more equitable, just, and vibrant community and a livable future. The organization will do that by registering voters, re-engaging community members whose voices have been suppressed, reaching out to and educating the public on the root causes of our problems, fighting for transformative policies to rebuild our city, and organizing protests to pressure our leaders to act. The organization is also looking forward to providing resources for, and supporting the work of, groups and leaders in the community who’ve been fighting for transformative justice all along.

“For decades, the people of Woonsocket have been left behind by the leaders we’ve elected to serve us,” wrote the board members on Wednesday. “Our community is struggling, and it’s hard to deny the things our families need – quality affordable housing, fully-funded schools, healthy and accessible food, good-paying jobs in a vibrant local economy, a green and sustainable future, and a government that truly represents us. But well-connected politicians would rather focus on petty personal feuds than on the lives of the people they represent.”

“Woonsocket deserves so much better. If our local and state politicians won’t fight for us, their time is up. It’s time we come together, build community power, and fight for ourselves”, said Bonnie Piekarski. “And that’s why we founded Rebuild Woonsocket.”

The organization’s board members include: Charmaine Webster, a Resident Advisor for Woonsocket Health Equity Zone and a founding member of the W.A.T.C.H. Coalition; Bonnie Piekarski, the Unit Director of the Boys & Girls Club of Northern RI, Woonsocket Clubhouse, a founding member of the W.A.T.C.H. Coalition, and a founder of The Milagros Project; Marlene Guay, an educator and staunch advocate for education, mental health, and equity at The United Way; Caol Bresnahan, a Woonsocket-based Brand Identity Designer; Nwando Ofokansi, a Project Officer for the RI Department of Health’s Health Equity Zone Initiative, the Site Coordinator at the NeighborWorks College Ready Communities C3 Center, and a founding member of the W.A.T.C.H. Coalition; Vaughan Miller, a veteran and student of political science at URI; and Alex Kithes, a former Woonsocket City Council member, a writer, an engineer, and an organizer with Sunrise Providence, Climate Action RI, and the W.A.T.C.H. Coalition.

Guay, Webster, Miller, and Kithes were also 2020 candidates with the Woonsocket Democrats team for City Council. The four made it clear, “our 2020 campaign was the beginning of a longer fight. Woonsocket’s progressive stronghold has grown so much in the past couple of years, and Rebuild Woonsocket is another serious step towards building power in our community.”

“This project represents the coming-together of many different leaders and groups who’ve been pushing for transformative justice in Woonsocket,” explained Nwando Ofokansi. “We are grassroots organizers and former political candidates; we’re people with a lot of different experiences and identities who all see the possibility for a better future for our city.”

“Rebuild is an incredible group of advocates and leaders that I’m excited to be working alongside,” said Caol Bresnahan. “We all love our community, and after the rapid economic & social change we’ve seen in the past year, we’re ready to get to work bringing this city into the future.”

Find Rebuild Woonsocket on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook @RebuildWoon

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