Annual meeting elects directors, gets updates from activists in the community

State Sen. Gayle Goldin and Rep. Aaron Regunberg discuss their legislative priorities at the SNA annual meeting at the Highlands on the East Side.

Almost 60 people attended the annual meeting of the Summit Neighborhood Association May 20 to get updates from its officers plus elected officials and public servants as well as enjoy a social evening with other residents.

Gathering at 7 p.m. in the main dining area of the Highlands on the East Side, 101 Highland Ave., the audience, sipping wine and beer and munching on pizza as well as Highlands-supplied desserts, was welcomed by SNA President Dean Weinberg, who then quickly introduced two speakers who had commitments elsewhere.

First, Wendy Nilsson, the recently named director of the Providence Parks Department, described her excitement of her new post and said she intended to work with the people of the neighborhoods, adding that she was already familiar with the efforts of SNA to develop community gardens in the Summit Avenue park and “tot lot” playground as part of its refurbishment.

Second, state Sen. Gayle Goldin spoke of her efforts in the General Assembly, in cooperation with Summit’s Rep. Aaron Regunberg, who said he agreed with her, to raise the minimum wage so workers could contribute to an economic revitalization of the city, an objective she cited as vital to the quality of life of residents.

Weinberg then turned to a review of SNA’s accomplishments of the previous year, listing the huge music festival in Lippitt Park, the yard sale at the Church of the Redeemer, the bake-off competition at Seven Stars, the holiday caroling for charity, the snow-shoveling program to aid the handicapped and elderly and the group’s cooperation with various efforts by the Hope Street Merchants Association.

HSMA co-president Pernilla Frazier elaborated on those efforts, stressing the block party scheduled for June 6, the project to bring solar-powered streetlights to the area, a volunteer cleanup of the winter’s debris and new bicycles racks coming.

Regunberg returned to the floor, and in response to a question, said he generally is cautious about the proposal for a new stadium, but is keeping an open mind and listening to his constituents.

The main business event of the evening, the election of a new SNA board of directors, was conducted by Secretary Thomas Schmeling . The following officers were approved by a unanimous voice vote: Weinberg, president; Schmeling, secretary; Kerry Kohring, vice president; and Vishal Jain, treasurer. Re-elected as directors were Jim Barfoot, Grant Dulgarian, Anneliese Greenier, Daniel MacLellan, Michael McGlynn, Britt Page, Sheila Perlow and Sharon Lee Waldman. New directors approved were Erik Christiansen, Lee Clasper-Torch, Emily Spitzman, Mark Tracy and Karina Holyoak Wood. (See profiles below.)

Providence Police Capt. George Stamatakos concluded the presentation part of the meeting with an update on the string of burglaries and breakins around the neighborhood, explaining how a few known juveniles have been arrested but released by the courts numerous times. Answering questions from the audience, he urged residents to take common-sense precautions to deter crime, especially not having open doors or windows and never leaving anything in parked cars.

Some audience members stayed afterwards to chat with the speakers and to have a last glass of wine or a pastry delight.

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Here are profiles of the new board members.

Erik Christiansen lives on Rochambeau Avenue and has been a Summit resident for four years. He is a history professor at Rhode Island College and is involved in local community-history projects, including one at the North Burial Ground. His special interest is in promoting walkability and safety in the neighborhood.
Lee Clasper-Torch lives on Fourth Street and has been a Summit resident for 25 years. He is an adjunct professor of the philosophy of religion at the Community College of Rhode Island and is men’s engagement coordinator for the R.I. Coalition Against Domestic Violence. His special interest is in community building and neighborhood advocacy.
Emily Spitzman lives on Lauriston Street and has been a Summit resident for 6 1/2 years. She is an assistant professor at Johnson and Wales University with a special interest in education and language learning.
She has previously served on the SNA Board of Directors.
Mark Tracy lives on Arlington Avenue with his wife and two children. He is on the boards of both Home and Hospice Care of Rhode Island and Brown University’s Association of Class Leaders. He earned his B.A. at Brown and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Harvard. His “day job” is with Cargill, working with public pension funds, foundations and endowments. His wife, Molly, is a pediatric neurologist at Hasbro Children’s Hospital.
Karina Holyoak Wood lives on Ogden Street and has been an East Sider for 18 years, moving to Summit last year. She is the public policy director for the American Lung Association in Rhode Island and is a parent advocate for improving the public schools. Her special interests include local politics and running.

SNA President Dean Weinberg briefs members on the organization's accomplishments.

Annual meeting to be held here

Reminder – The Summit Neighborhood Annual Meeting is at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 20, at the Highlands on the East Side, 101 Highland Ave. (See picture above) There will be wine, beer and pizza as well as a chance of rub elbows with neighbors, politicians and civil servants. Also the election of the board of directors. All welcome – members and non-members alike.

Join Us for our Annual Meeting

Join us for the Summit Neighborhood Association Annual Meeting!

Everyone Invited – members and non-members.

WHEN:  7 p.m. Wednesday, May 20, 2015

WHERE: Highlands on the East Side, 101 Highland Avenue

Plenty of parking
Wine, beer and pizza

Here’s what’s happening…

  • Election of board of directors
  • Update on activities
  • Conversations with neighbors, politicians, civil servants

Annual meeting to be at Highlands

Highlands on the East Side, an assisted-living and memory-care center at 101 Highland Ave., has agreed to again be the site of the SNA annual meeting, this year on May 20.

In the past, the event had been in January or February, but the board of directors decided to move the date out of the cold and snowy New England winter to make the meeting more easily accessible.

As it did last year, the annual meeting this year will combine the election of a new board of directors with a social gathering. It will be an opportunity to get up close and personal with elected officials as well as other people of influence in the neighborhood and city, a “who you need to know” party. Participants can expect to sample wines, foods and other offerings of local merchants as well as voice opinions as to the proper direction of the association. It is also a good time to join or renew a membership.

The Highlands is also sponsoring a shoes and socks drive to assist shelters and agencies for the homeless.

Carols brighten the night in Summit as neighbors assist neighbors for the holidays

The carolers stop at a house on Sixth Street, where the residents brought out snacks for the singers and donations of peanut butter for a local food pantry.

On a clear, cold, star-blessed Saturday night, about 30 Summit neighbors went caroling for a cause.

After meeting at event partner Miriam Hospital for refreshments at 5 p.m., Dec. 13, and singing some nonsectarian holiday tunes including the Dreidel Song, the group went a-wassailing among the streets so clean.

Led in traditional carols, and a few more-modern selections, by voice and performance coach Ellen Santaniello, the singers wound their way along Sixth, Bayard, Fifth, Summit and Fourth, finishing just short of Hope Street as a star of wonder, star of night example of the Geminid meteor shower silently streaked overhead.

Along the way, doorbells of illuminated houses were rung by the teenagers among the carolers, and residents, alerted by leaflets the previous weekend, came out to listen and donate cash plus peanut butter to benefit the St. Raymond’s church food pantry. The collected jars were piled in the back of an appropriately decorated accompanying vehicle provided by another event partner, Zipcar.

As the temperature plunged, some of the youngest carolers had to drop out and head home, but the rest kept making spirits bright until about 6:45 when they finished walking, and singing, in a winter wonderland.

The carolers weren’t able to build a snowman in a meadow, but they did collect $120 plus about 140 jars of peanut butter, much of which was donated by employees of the hospital.

The next week, representatives of organizers Summit Neighborhood Association and Miriam, bearing the gifts, travelled not far to the food pantry, where they were gratefully received in the true spirit of the season.

Zipcar, in partnership with SNA, provided a decorated vehicle to transport the growing weight of jars and jars of peanut butter.

The donated peanut butter sits on the receiving platform at St. Raymond's food pantry before being taken inside to help nourish needy neighbors.

Please join us in Caroling for a Cause

Neighborhood carolers in 2012.

Sing all ye citizens of the Summit neighborhood to benefit St. Raymond’s food pantry.

In order to help diminish hunger in our midst as well as have some fun, we will assemble at our event partner Miriam Hospital at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 13, for refreshments, then at 5:30 head out, caroling all the way. We plan to finish on Hope Street about 7:30 so participants may avail themselves of the many dining and drinking opportunities there, but completing the entire trek is not mandatory.

As we go a’wassailing, we will ask for donations of cash, checks made out to St. Raymond’s food pantry or jars of peanut butter, put them in our accompanying convertible, provided by our other partner, Zipcar, and drop them off at the church.

Parents, children, singles and doubles are encouraged to attend. Songbooks will be provided but please bring flashlights. And be sure to dress for the weather.

Oh come all ye faithful, and neighborly, to help make this season a little more joyous.

Candidates for Ward Three City Council seat discuss issues at SNA forum

Incumbent Kevin Jackson, left, and Marcus Mitchell at Summit Commons.

Ward Three incumbent City Councilor Kevin Jackson and his write-in challenger Marcus Mitchell both came in for some pointed questions at a forum sponsored by SNA.

For Jackson, part of the focus was on his failure to file the necessary campaign finance reports and his subsequent fines, but the most heated questions concerned his support of Vincent “Buddy” Cianci in the race for mayor.

For Mitchell, there were harsh allusions to his time on the staff of U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Penn., an extreme conservative.

The two council candidates spoke Thursday evening to about 100 people in the main dining room of Summit Commons, 99 Hillside Ave. The exchange of views was introduced by SNA President Dean Weinberg and moderated by Mike Ritz, executive director of Leadership Rhode Island. Weinberg stressed that the forum was the result of Summit residents asking for an opportunity to discuss issues with the office seekers face to face.

Each of the two men had opening statements, then began the question-and-answer segment. Three of the questions were prepared by SNA, but the rest came from the floor.

Both candidates said their backgrounds and records showed their qualifications.  Jackson listed his legislative accomplishments, including being instrumental in repaving streets and repairing sidewalks, restoring parks and recreational facilities plus writing ordinances to protect residents, even to suing the city to demand compliance with job-creation laws. Mitchell cited his years of community service based upon the civil rights movement, his authorship of a book on leadership and his role in forming the Providence Community Library organization.

Soon, however, the questioning from the audience became more pointed.

A resident asked Jackson about the $30,000 in fines that had been levied against him for not filing the proper campaign reports. The councilman responded that the “administrative” fines had “been settled” and the situation was “my mistake.” Later, another resident asked Jackson when he had filed the missing reports since “as of noon” they were not on the web site of the Board of Elections. He replied that the reports had been filed and cleared, and that he could not “speak to why they’re not evident.”

Then near the end of the forum, another audience member said he had just checked the Election Board site and the reports were still missing.  Jackson then said the “paperwork had not been submitted” and “was still being developed.”

Jackson also came under intense questioning over being co-chair of Cianci’s campaign. Responding to a question about which candidate he supported for mayor, Jackson said he clearly backed Cianci. The councilman said he “was and am disappointed with what happened in his administration,” but “we need to get things done.”

Another questioner demanded to know how a candidate could support Cianci when during his terms as mayor “$1 million went to a crony” to register children for school “in a dirty garage.” Jackson said he was not at the forum “to defend Cianci” but that city services had deteriorated and “we need someone who could step in” and improve the situation.

An irate listener then said he was “insulted by support of Cianci” and asked Jackson how he could represent the community by supporting the former mayor. The councilman said he was exercising his “right of individual choice” and he was making “a personal decision.”

During these exchanges, Mitchell said campaign financing was a matter of ethics and that he had filed all the required reports on time. He further said he backed Jorge Elorza for mayor and that he didn’t “want to go back to criminal enterprises” of the Cianci administration.

Mitchell was asked if he had run for office in Philadelphia as a Republican. He responded that he had indeed run for court clerk there as a Republican to get into an administration that was blocking the distribution of funds for needy people and that he sought to build coalitions. Under pressure from Jackson, who said he had always been a “liberal Democrat” and noted that Santorum “has rightist views,” Mitchell said he was asked to join that administration and “went into office” to try to temper that attitude. He said he spent a night in a homeless shelter to understand the situation and was “very proud” of his work for which he won citizenship awards.

On many other issues, the two council candidates had similar priorities. They both see economic development and job creation as a major concern, both advocate “green” practices to mitigate climate change and both support an emphasis on improving schools.

One issue they differed on was discovered by moderator Ritz when he asked for questions from some school-age children in the audience and one wanted to know each candidate’s favorite color. Jackson replied quickly that he liked purple on black, but Mitchell said “my wife dresses me” and that she liked green “because it’s nature.”

The forum ended after the candidates thanked the audience for the opportunity to speak and SNA for arranging it.

Fourth annual SNA cook-off competition features squash as main ingredient

Participants sample one of the squash offerings at Seven Stars bakery.

More than 50 people crowded into Seven Stars bakery on Hope Street Oct. 29 for the Summit Neighborhood Association’s fourth annual cooking competition whose unifying ingredient was, appropriately, squash.

There were about 15 different dishes using it and a panel of three experts to judge them. In addition, there was a people’s choice determined by paper balloting by everyone who got to sample the offerings. Prizes were gift certificates to local businesses.

Rounding out the culinary nature of the evening were beer tastings presented by the Berkshire Brewing Co. brought in by Swan Liquors and olive-oil samplings from Olive del Mondo, both Hope Street merchants.

First prize, a $25 certificate to Seven Stars, went to a squash/garlic dish made by Dan MacLellan. Second, $25 to Olive del Mondo, was for farro by Meg Griffiths and third, $20 to Kreatlier fabrics, for triffle by Lexi Dantzig. The people’s choice award was a tie between roasted butternut squash lasagna by Elise Meyer and butternut squash hash by Kim Ahern and Jenna Lafayette, so they each got certificates, one to Frog & Toad gifts and the other to Stock kitchenware.

The judges were Jan Faust Dane, of Stock, Peter Kammerer, of The Sandwich Hut, and Sandy Kohring, last year’s first-place winner.

Recipes for the winning dishes are below. Next year’s main ingredient is open to suggestion.

Dan MacLellan - first prize

Squash & Garlic

Peel two yellow squash or whatever kind you like.

Heat a large frying pan, add extra virgin olive oil and put in 10-14 cloves of garlic, letting them turn golden brown but be careful no to let them burn.

Add slices of squash and saute slowly on both sides, turning after about 12-14 minutes.

Grate fresh cinnamon all over squash and don’t be afraid to use a lot. Also salt and pepper both sides. When squash is tender, put in half stick of unsalted butter and stir.

Taste and add cinnamon if needed.

Serve with risotto, mashed potatoes, rice, fresh peas or pasta such as orzo as this is a dish from the Perugia province of Tuscany in Italy.

Meg Griffiths - second prize

Sweet Potato Butternut Squash Hash

Ingredients:

Bacon

Sweet potato, cubed

Butternut squash, cubed

Onion, diced

Butter

Olive oil

Salt

Pepper

Directions:

Crisp bacon in fry pan, remove, set aside to cool and chop into small pieces.

Saute onion in the bacon grease, setting aside when soft.

Melt butter in a fry pan, add sweet potato, butternut squash and olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste and sauté covered until soft.

Mix in the onion and bacon and crisp in the hot skillet.

Serve with fried egg on top.


Elise Meyer - people's choice co-winner

Roasted Butternut Squash & Sweet Potato Lasagna

Ingredients

9-12 whole-wheat lasagna noodle sheets (preferably no-boil)

1/2 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed (about 2 cups cubed)

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed (about 1 1/2 cups cubed)

12 ounces mascarpone cheese, at room temperature

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 shallot, thinly sliced

3 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed

1 1/2 cups freshly grated parmesan cheese

1/2 cup freshly grated mozzarella cheese

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

bunch of sage leaves

olive oil for drizzling

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lay cubed squash and potatoes on baking sheet and drizzle with a bit of olive oil (only about 1-2 teaspoons). Hand coat squash and potatoes with olive oil, then sprinkle with nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.

Roast for 50 minutes, tossing about every 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool, then mash with a potato masher or fork.

For mascarpone filling, heat skillet over medium heat and melt butter. Add shallots and garlic, and whisk every 30 seconds or so for 2-3 minutes. Butter should brown and shallots and garlic should be fragrant. Be careful not to burn butter. If it does burn, start over (totally worth the effort). Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.

In a bowl, combine mascarpone, 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, remaining salt and pepper and the shallots, butter and garlic. Mix until somewhat smooth and spreadable.

Spray non-stick coating in 8×8 pan and lay in 2-3 (depending on size/brand) lasagna noodles. Spread half of the squash mixture evenly over top, then spread/crumble half of the mascarpone on top of that. Sprinkle half of the mozzarella and remaining parmesan on next, then repeat with one more set of noodles, squash, mascarpone and cheese.

Top with sage leaves that will crisp up and bake for 45 minutes, or until cheese on top is golden and bubbly.


Kim Ahern - people's choice co-winner

Farro Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash

Ingredients

1 medium butternut squash (about 2 pounds)

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 cup semi-pearled farro

1/3 cup toasted pine nuts

3 ounces ricotta salata (about 3/4 cup)

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon water

1/2 teaspoon table salt

1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar

1/2 small red onion, finely chopped

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Peel squash, then halve lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Cut into 3/4-inch chunks.

Coat large baking sheet with 2 tablespoons oil, spread squash in single layer and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast until tender, about 30 to 40 minutes, turning pieces over halfway. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, toast the farro in a large pot over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 4 minutes.

Stir in 1 1/2 cups of water and pinch of salt, cover, bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer until grains are tender and most water is absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and cool.

While farro simmering, in a small bowl whisk together vinegar, water, 1/2 teaspoon salt and granulated sugar until dissolved. Stir in onion, barely be covered by vinegar mixture. Cover and set in fridge until needed with 30 minutes ideal.

In a large bowl, mix butternut squash, farro, onion and its vinegar brine, crumbled cheese and pine nuts. Toss

SNA to host informal forum for City Council incumbent, write-in challenger

Kevin Jackson, the incumbent member of the Providence City Council, and Marcus Mitchell, the write-in challenger, will appear together at an informal forum to answer constituents’ questions at a forum sponsored by the Summit Neighborhood Association at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 30, in the main dining hall of Summit Commons, 99 Hillside Ave. Light refreshments will be available.

Here are write-in instructions from the Rhode Island Board of Elections.

What if the candidate I want to vote for does not appear on the ballot?

A vote for someone not shown on the printed ballot is called a “write-in.” The write-in option cannot be used during primary elections. You must do two things to cast a “write-in” vote.

  1. Print the name of the person on the blank line labeled “write-in,” and
  2. Complete the arrow pointing to the person’s name next to the write-in line.