Politics/Community Involvement

In addition to a traditional focus on the public realm of governance and power structures, this theme should also reflect a feminist understanding of “the personal as political.” We are interested in women’s opinions, values, and activities as they relate to a broad sphere of social relations.

Pamela Pollan

Realtor; Former Journalist; Founder of Warm up Worcester
Interview Date: 
Wed, 10/11/2017
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Heather Mangione

PhD Candidate Developmental Psychology; Founder of Airspray; LGBTQ Advocate

So it’s a really important time in our history and in our lives not to be incredibly discouraged, but to move your efforts and energy elsewhere. And to really educate yourself on what’s going on in your community as opposed to the national government. I think also I’m always really reminded of the radical feminist phrase, “The personal is political,” in that we always are engaging in political rights and activism just by virtue of living as marginalized groups. As women, as queer people, whatever, I think for me getting active in the various dyke marches I have participated in, [laughs] it has been very powerful to see communities and people who look like me and are like-minded and often that I don’t see in my visual sphere.

Heather Mangione was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1985 and is currently 32 years old. She moved to Worcester in 2009 to attend Clark University, pursuing her Ph.D. in developmental psychology. Post graduation, Heather gravitated towards community development, looking to create change for those around her. As an advocate for the LGBTQ community, she quickly recognized the lack of a social scene, founding a group called Airspray. This monthly event held at a bar in downtown Worcester has successfully filled that gap for the residents of Worcester.

Interview Date: 
Sun, 09/24/2017
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Stacy Lord

Art Teacher; stART on the Street Volunteer; Owner of the largest LEGO collection

It kind of saved my life in a way. I had a learning disability growing up and I didn't speak until I was in first or second grade and school was very difficult.  My parents have always been wonderful and just encouraged me in whatever I did.  So I would draw and draw and draw and they’d buy me whatever paper, pens, paint to draw.  They took me to the Worcester Art Museum as a kid to take classes there even though they didn’t have a lot of money. And full circle is when I got into high school I ended up teaching there.  So here I am eight years old taking classes and seeing my artwork up on the wall and then high school I get accepted to teach at the Worcester Art Museum. So I see the benefits of the arts and I grew up in music as well and how it can change someone’s perspective from being, “Ugh, I can’t do this, I’m a failure,” to “Oh, guess what, you can attempt and you can do things.” As long as you can find that niche of something to keep you going, that passion, that drive, that place where you can fall back on when things get tough.

Stacy Lord was born in Holden, Massachusetts in 1969, grew up in Princeton and moved to Worcester in 1996. She attended Wachusett High School and Anna Maria College where she discovered her love for the arts. Stacy is a loving partner as well as mother to two boys. Throughout her life, Stacy had many jobs involving the arts and now is a devoted middle school art teacher in Worcester.

Interview Date: 
Fri, 09/29/2017
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Julie Holstrom

Senior Project Manager, Worcester Business Development Corporation

My work has been very rewarding in this job in that I’ve been able to see change happen in a community that I love and be a part of that change which is really exciting for me. I was just talking with a group of students a couple of weeks ago and they asked why I liked my job and I said because I love being able to be a part of something that you can see. And I always say that I don’t know that I would be able to do my job as it is today in Boston. Because I have lived in Boston, but I do not have that type of connection to Boston. I grew up here and being able to improve an area where you grew up, that’s something special. That is one of the highlights of my job.

Julie Anne Holstrom was born on August 4th, 1981. An only child, she grew up in Auburn, Massachusetts with caring, loving, supportive parents. Julie often visited Worcester as a child and holds fond memories of the city close to her heart. Julie went to the Auburn Public Schools, got her undergraduate degree in political science from Providence College, and after graduating earned her master's degree from Clark University in public administration. Today, Julie is a senior project manager for the Worcester Business Development Corporation.

Interview Date: 
Thu, 10/05/2017
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Jo Massarelli

Director, SRV Implementation Project; Treasurer, Mustard Seed

I would say when I began to take my Christianity seriously, it all began to make some sense. And Dorothy Day inspired me; Wolf Wolfenberger is an inspiration for me.  Those were the main influences, but really it was informed by my faith.  Now all of the work I do is in the secular world and we teach workshops basically on the sanctity of human life, but we don’t use that term because we teach them in a secular context.  But I find that you can get pretty far with people who are of good mind and heart, to prompt them to think about really the value of the human life, which is at the basis of all of my work.

Jo Massarelli was born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1958.  She is involved in several organizations in Worcester, such as Family Matters, the Medical Safeguards Project, and the Social Role Valorization Implementation Project (SRV Implementation Project).  She travels the globe to teach courses on such topics and highly values the sanctity of all human lives.

Interview Date: 
Wed, 03/01/2017
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Janette Greenwood

Clark University Professor; Coolaborator on WAM Bullard exhibit on African American Worcester residents

I have always felt that there has got to be much more of a connection between what we do on any college campus and what gets out in the community.  And that, we can’t keep what we learn in our own research, just among ourselves.  It has to go back to the community and we have to be informed.  Out of the blue three years ago I got this email from this man. Somebody I didn’t know and he said, “I have these old photos from African Americans in Worcester that you might be interested in,” and it was the end of the semester and I blew him off quite frankly.  And he called again and I said, “You know, I’m going to Worcester tomorrow, I’ll go see what he has.”  I had no idea.   So we made arrangements and his name is Frank Morrill and he lives out in Charlton and he’s a collector of many things.  He said he had a collection of 5,400 glass negatives.  The entire work of one photographer [William Bullard].  It was a white photographer.  And within that collection, he has come across this fortress of over 200 portraits of people of color that were taken in Worcester.  And he started showing me these and I was thinking, these are amazing I had never seen anything like this.  And I mean not just for Worcester but anywhere in the country.  And then he said, “Oh, by the way, I have the photographer's log book so I can tell you who most of these people are.”  And I said, “Are you kidding me?”  And then I started recognizing names because I had just written this book. I know this family, I know this person they are from North Carolina, this person is from Virginia.  And I just couldn’t believe it.  In October we will be opening an exhibition of 80 of these photographs at the Worcester Art Museum.  So since that time, since 2014 I have been working on this and I have gotten my Clark students involved with it too and they have been doing research on them.  This semester they have been writing captions to put under these and we are putting a website together to have additional information and even when the exhibition is gone we will have a virtual exhibition.  So I guess where I have really connected, this project has really connected me in many and more ways, locally and in my own kind of activism.  Because we know who these people are we can trace them back, but we can also trace them forward.  We were able to find descendants and, “You don’t know me, but I teach at Clark and I have this   really amazing photo of your grandmother, I’m not sure that you’ve ever seen it.”  And so we connected with lots of descendants and family members and they have been wonderful in sharing their information with us.  So, we are able, so the goal is to basically to tell the story of this community which really hasn’t been told.  It’s been left out of the general history books of Worcester. We are calling the exhibition, “Rediscovering an American Community of Color, Photographs by William Bullard."

Janette Greenwood was born in the mountains of western Pennsylvania into a working-class home.  Janette and her family were a part of a Baptist faith that played a big role in her life and her career.  Janette was given the opportunity to attend Kenyon College in Ohio on scholarship after finishing her schooling at a vocational high school nearby.  After Janette finished her undergraduate degree she went to the University of Wisconsin to get her master’s before taking eight years off.  During these eight years Janette got married, started a family, and began teaching.&nb

Interview Date: 
Thu, 04/27/2017
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Katie Green

Peace activist; Quaker; Storyteller; Author

I was really very active in the Worcester Safe Energy Project back in its day, and when we were looking at the connections between nuclear energy and militarism, I was very involved with  organizing for the Nuclear Freeze.  That was when a million people marched on New York City against nuclear weapons.   We organized that, we organized buses that went down to Washington D.C. several times. There was also the Women’s Pentagon Action.  There were two of those. I took my van to D.C. with seven other women, most of whom were from Worcester, to participate in the Pentagon Action.  It was really very impressive and moving. We women completely circled the Pentagon.

Katie Green was born in Virginia in 1942 and moved to Worcester, Massachusetts with her family when she was 11 years old. She attended college and graduate school in Ohio and received her master’s degree in speech and language pathology from Case Western Reserve University.

Interview Date: 
Sat, 04/01/2017
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Cynthia Enloe

Professor of Political Science, Clark University; feminist author; specializes in gender and militarism

I offered a new course called Women and Comparative Politics which meant looking at women in revolutions and women in elections and women in social movements around the world. And that would all be 1975/76, but what also happened is that we formed a women’s faculty group and the women’s faculty group became—we loved each other, we learned from each other, we taught each other.  How do you know that your chair is crazy? We have to learn these things. How do you know whether your tenure, your promotion experience is fair or not? And women faculty all got together and they compared notes. This is what a fair department looks like, this is what a crazy department looks like.  Is your workplace crazy or is it normal? And sometimes you have to get together with other people saying, “Woah, we didn’t want to do it like that. That’s not fair.” And then we thought there must be faculty members around Worcester that we should get together with and we formed the Women’s Studies Faculty Consortium and that’s when we all got to know Theresa McBride and Karen Turner right at Holy Cross. And then we joined with Kris Waters at Worcester State who’s a philosopher and so we formed this fabulous group and we would have dinners every fall, they were the best thing ever. So we really began to trade ideas with each other, we began to think of each other as feminists, that was new, we began to tell each other what kind of research we were doing and we all got excited about everybody else’s research. So that kind of brings you up to where we are now. But it was all new. 1970s were so exciting.

Cynthia Enloe was born in New York City, New York in 1938. She grew up in Manhasset, Long Island.  After studying at Connecticut College, Enloe went on to further her studies in political science at University of California, Berkeley. After beginning her teaching career at University of Miami in Ohio, Enloe was offered a job at Clark University, where she taught for several years. Although she does not teach full-time at Clark anymore, she still travels, lectures, and conducts research. Her celebrated work is in militarism, race and ethnicity, and gender.

Interview Date: 
Thu, 03/16/2017
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Geri DiNardo

Worcester activist;co-founder, The Mustard Seed; Catholic Worker house; author

But we were close to getting arrested that day, really close.  The protest that we had at Seabrook, we were being trained in case we were arrested.  It turned out to be a legal protest. They negotiated for it to be a legal protest and we didn’t get arrested there either fortunately.  I haven’t been arrested but Michael has.  He went to jail for I think 20 days, one of those farm jails where you have to work on the farm.  Yep, and what else? I’ve done a number.  Not a lot. I haven’t done a lot of protests but I’ve done some and I’ve done some Catholic Worker house of hospitality stuff.  I was there for five years and feeding—one time we had lettuce soup.  Most of the time we had enough food, but one time we had lettuce soup because we didn’t have enough food.  Didn’t have enough food, so we had to have lettuce, serve lettuce.

Geri Dinardo was born in Hopedale, Massachusetts.  She attended Our Lady of the Elms College where she studied sociology. She earned her graduate degree in education from Worcester State University. She has lived in Worcester, Massachusetts for over 50 years.  Geri spent many years teaching and has been involved with the Catholic Worker and the founding of The Mustard Seed in Worcester, Massachusetts.  Within the interview, Geri discusses her experiences as a woman and the influential individuals who inspired her when founding The Mustard Seed.  

Interview Date: 
Mon, 04/03/2017
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Martha Assefa

Manager, Worcester Food Policy Council

So I’m now doing food policy on behalf of the food bank, working on anti-hunger which is absolutely my background growing up in Kenya and having family in Ethiopia and knowing what hunger was. I was like, “What the hell are we doing with so much a hunger problem in this community?” You know, 90,000 folks in just Worcester County alone are food insecure.  We’re the richest country in the world and yet we cannot find a way to feed all of our people with what they need. It’s mind blowing.  So working on hunger I built up a relationship with the congressman so it was already like this is great this is just an extension of work because that’s one of his biggest issues.  And then also looking at the food system, and farmers’ markets, and urban agriculture, and federal feeding programs to state legislative programs, local stuff.  So we’re working on urban agriculture culture next week at city council.  Just being able to work on all levels of government and then connecting people from the food pantry level to foodies who are all obsessed with local food and bringing all those people together.  That’s the work that I’m up to now. 

Martha Assefa was born in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.  She moved to Kenya with her parents and older sister at the age of 3 and lived there until she was 18.  When she was 18, she moved to North Carolina to attend Guilford College where she studied community and justice studies.  She eventually moved to New England and received her graduate degree in Women in Politics and Public Policy from the University of Massachusetts Boston.  Martha moved to Worcester and has been a part of countless accounts of community and political organizing.  Today, she serves as the Worcest

Interview Date: 
Thu, 04/27/2017
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