Boston Voyager by Staff

Today we’d like to introduce you to Roseann Bongiovanni.

Roseann, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
As an 18-year-old Chelsea High School graduate with deep roots in Chelsea, the prospect of leaving my hometown to live at Boston University seemed daunting – and far! When a mentor mentioned a part-time employment opportunity as a community organizer in Chelsea, I jumped at the chance to stay connected to the city that I love. I began this job working ten hours per week where I focused on parks and open space issues with the Chelsea Collaborative’s Chelsea Green Space and Recreation Committee.

Though I enjoyed the work, it was far less exciting as I had hoped. That quickly changed when we opened our eyes to see the environmental injustice insults that we had taken for granted as long-time residents simply accepting the status quo. The group transitioned from being a “friends of the park” group to a dynamic, diverse and committed a group of residents tackling some of the most significant and challenging environmental justice issues in the region. Throughout my undergraduate studies, I increased my workload and ignited the passion for community organizing. I began working full time while simultaneously studying to obtain a Master’s Degree in public health.

More than two decades later, it is clear that this work is my life’s passion. Spinning off the Chelsea Green Space Committee into an independent organization known as GreenRoots fulfilled a long-time goal. It is every bit challenging as it is rewarding.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It is surprising to see that even though the community has exerted considerable power through organizing successful and victorious campaigns, the most egregious proposals continue to be proposed to negatively impact our health and environment. We must never rest on our laurels but remain vigilant and ready to organize.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the GreenRoots story. Tell us more about the business.
GreenRoots, Inc., is a grassroots community-based organization with a track record spanning more than two decades of achieving significant environmental justice accomplishments and public health victories.

GreenRoots’ mission is to achieve environmental justice and greater quality of life through collective action, unity, education and youth leadership across neighborhoods and communities.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I feel fortunate to be doing work that I love, in a city that I care deeply about and with some of the most talented, dedicated and committed individuals in the field.