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‘Undebate’ brings forth questions for Ward Three City Council candidates

Candidates, from left, Mark Santow, Daniel Chaika, David Lallier and Nerva LaFortune listen to questions from a resident assisted by co-moderator Mike Ritz.

Candidates, from left, Mark Santow, Daniel Chaika, David Lallier and Nirva LaFortune listen to questions from a resident assisted by co-moderator Mike Ritz.

Voters in Providence’s Ward Three had a public conversation Thursday night about the issues confronting their neighborhood and a panel of City Council hopefuls sat and listened.

About 150 East Side residents gathering at Martin Luther King Elementary School to pose questions to four of the people running to replace recalled Councilman Kevin Jackson. It was the first session of a two-part event cosponsored by the Summit, Mount Hope and Observatory Neighborhood Associations.

In this initial “undebate” stage, neighbors brought their concerns, their questions and their aspirations out into the open and the candidates were instructed to listen only. In the second stage, they will get their chance to state how they intend to address the issues. That will be at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 27, also at King School. In between, the questions raised at the first meeting will be collated, given to the candidates and made public on electronic media. As at the first stage, there will be light refreshments as well as child care.

“You’re in charge, you the voters. You’re affecting the next debate,” said Mike Ritz, who with Angie Ankoma, both of Leadership RI, co-moderated the event.

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First of two sessions

Undebate poster

UPDATE/CLARIFICATION: This event is a *COMMUNITY CONVERSATION* and while the candidates will introduce themselves, they will NOT be speaking extensively or answering questions. This is a listening opportunity for them, and will be driven entirely by (moderated) comments and discussion among YOU, the community members. It’s a chance for your concerns to be brought forward, and your voice to be heard. The SECOND event, on 6/27, will be a more traditional candidate forum with direct answers from candidates.
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Other gardeners need our help

Garden volunteers

A new community garden (built about the same time as ours) run by the African Alliance of Rhode Island was substantially damaged earlier this week when a truck ran over their fence and into the garden.  They are looking for volunteers to help with the re-building this Saturday from 9:00 AM to noon at 621 Prairie Ave/Elma St. in Providence

Cordless drills, saws and shovels are needed. They also need use of a truck early (8.30am) to remove the damaged wood.  If you have a truck and can help, their phone number is:  331-5535.

If you have some time to help out on Saturday, that would be wonderful.  As members of a sister organization (with skills!), I’m sure our help and solidarity will be appreciated.

Thanks so much and take care –

Nancy Buron

Summit Neighborhood Community Garden

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Join the discussion of the plans for the future of the tot lot and the fountain

The tot lot playground in the Summit Avenue Park.

The tot lot playground in the Summit Avenue Park.

The Henry Bowen Anthony Fountain in Lippitt Park.

The Henry Bowen Anthony Fountain in Lippitt Park.

The SNA is sponsoring separate public forums on the future of two iconic features of the neighborhood – the tot lot in the Summit Avenue Park and the fountain in Lippitt Park.

The discussion of the playground will be at 5:30 p.m. Monday, June 12, in the park.

The discussion of the fountain will be at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, June 13, in the Summit Commons café area at 99 Hillside Ave.

In the tot lot, the city Parks Department will present its plans for the next phase in the park’s renovation, the first phase of which implemented the community gardens. This next phase focuses on playground updates, new play features, new safety features, new seating and plantings.

There are more details on Facebook at https://tinyurl.com/y8v65j2o.

In Summit Commons, Parks Department Director Wendy Nilsson will share data, costs and other information to foster discussion and help answer questions (and perhaps even come up with some solutions) prompted by the recent reminders that the Henry Bowen Anthony Fountain is unsafe and off-limits for people, whether to play in the water or be on the structure itself.

The Facebook event here is www.facebook.com/events/282409535498160/.

Please join other members of your neighborhood in either or both of these opportunities to make your views heard.

 

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Ward 3 City Council Community Un-Debate & Candidate Forum

Providence City Council Chambers in Providence City Hall interior.

Please join the neighborhood associations of Ward 3 for a two-part series designed around community conversation and getting to know the candidates for city council.

Mount Hope Neighborhood Association, Summit Neighborhood Association and Observatory Neighborhood Association are proud to work together to co-host this opportunity for our unique and diverse community to come together and consider the future of our representation at City Hall. The series will include two evening engagements at Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary on Camp Street.

Evening #1 – Thursday, June 15 at 6:30pm: In the “Un-Debate” format, Ward 3 residents will have the opportunity to speak and voice their concerns to the candidates. Other than a brief introduction, the candidates’ job will be to listen rather than talk. In a conversation moderated by Mike Ritz of Leadership RI and Angie Ankoma, we hope to share our differences and highlight our similarities across the place we all call home. Questions and comments will be distilled by the neighborhood associations into a list that candidates will be given the opportunity to respond to in writing. Written answers will be posted online prior to the second event.

UPDATE/CLARIFICATION: This first event is a *COMMUNITY CONVERSATION* and while the candidates will introduce themselves, they will NOT be speaking extensively or answering questions. This is a listening opportunity for them, and will be driven entirely by (moderated) comments and discussion among YOU, the community members. It’s a chance for your concerns to be brought forward, and your voice to be heard. The SECOND event, on 6/27, will be a more traditional candidate forum with direct answers from candidates.

Evening #2 – Tuesday, June 27 at 6:30pm: In the more traditional candidate forum format, moderator Ted Nesi of WPRI will pose questions on a variety of issues to the candidates and allow them to respond and explain their positions. The questions will be developed from the questions and concerns raised during the Un-Debate on the first evening.
Facebook event: www.facebook.com/events/454639951538424

All Ward 3 City Council candidates who qualify for the ballot are invited to participate in both events, regardless of party affiliation. Our neighborhood associations are run as non-partisan organizations, and this candidate series will reflect that.

Light refreshments will be served during each event. Child care will be available.

We hope that you will join us and help us make this conversation great!

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Lippitt Park Fountain Meeting

SNA-Lippitt-fountain

The recent reminders by the Providence Parks Department that the Henry Bowen Anthony Fountain in Lippitt Park is unsafe and off-limits for people (whether to stand or play in the water or be on the structure itself) prompted a lot of conversation on SNA’s e-mail listserv (sign up for it here!).

To continue that conversation in a productive way, SNA has asked Parks Department Director Wendy Nilsson to meet with community members to share data, costs, and other information to foster discussion and help answer questions (and perhaps even come up with some solutions).

 

Tuesday, June 13th
6:00-7:00pm
Summit Commons (1st Floor Dining Area)
99 Hillside Avenue
Facebook event here: www.facebook.com/events/282409535498160/


All community members are invited to attend this one-hour discussion. Please come with questions and ideas. SNA will provide light refreshments. An RSVP to SNAProv@gmail.com would be helpful to determine an approximate head count.
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New bus service for veterans

riptalogo

The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) and the Rhode Island Office of Veterans Affairs (RIOVA) announced a new pilot bus pass program today for local veterans. Funded by a grant from Rhode Island Office of Veterans Affairs, the project will enable RIPTA to learn more about the transportation needs of veterans while also offering fare products to some veterans.

This pilot project will provide up to 200 qualified U.S. military veterans with free, unlimited rides on RIPTA’s fixed-route buses through the end of 2017. Passes will be available beginning June 1, 2017 through June 29 on a first come, first served basis while supplies last. Under this pilot project, RIPTA will also offer free service on Memorial Day, Monday, May 29, 2017, to all Rhode Island veterans with proof of eligibility.

In order to apply for this pilot project, qualified veterans must present a completed application and proof of eligibility to RIPTA’s Photo ID Office starting Thursday, June 1, 2017. Participating veterans will also be required to participate in a survey aimed at gauging veterans’ transportation use and needs. Veterans can present one of the following forms of identification as proof of eligibility for this pilot program: Active Duty Military ID, Retiree Military ID, RI Driver’s License with Veterans Designation, VA Medical Card. Approved applicants will receive a “Veterans Pass” smart card with their name on it. Veterans do not need a special pass to travel for free on Memorial Day and can show RIPTA bus drivers any of the above forms of military identification.

RIPTA’s Photo Identification Office at One Kennedy Plaza in Downtown Providence is open Monday and Wednesday from 9am to 12pm and 1pm to 4pm. The Photo Identification Office at RIPTA’s headquarters, 705 Elmwood Avenue in Providence, is open on Tuesday and Thursday from 9am to 12pm and 1pm to 4pm.

For information on RIPTA’s services, call 781-9400 or visit ripta.com.

For more information, on RIOVA’s programs, visit http://www.vets.ri.gov/

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SNA board members meet and greet at Hope Street merchants’ spring festival

Emily Spitzman brought her son Ezra for an early shift at the information table Saturday, May 20.

Emily Spitzman brought her son Ezra for an early shift at the information table Saturday, May 20.

Later, from left, Sandra Lee, Anneliese Greenier and John Pettinelli rounded out the afternoon, telling passersby about SNA's activities and recruiting new members.

Later, from left, Sandra Lee, Anneliese Greenier and John Pettinelli rounded out the afternoon, telling passersby about SNA’s activities and recruiting new members.

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Shoots sprout in neighborhood gardens

Despite overnight temperatures in the 40s, herbs and vegetables are growing in the raised beds of the community plots.

Despite overnight temperatures in the 40s, herbs and vegetables are growing in the raised beds of the community plots on Summit Avenue.

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Annual meeting elects new board, examines decline of neighborhoods

At the SNA annual meeting, author Mark Dunkleman discusses the decline of community interaction.

At the SNA annual meeting, author Marc Dunkelman discusses the decline of community interaction.

More than 80 people attended the SNA annual meeting May 1 to elect a new board of directors and hear an analysis of the changes in America’s neighborhoods.

Organization members and invited guests gathered at 7 p.m. in the Highlands on the East Side, 101 Highland Ave., for wine, beer, soda and pizza as well as an opportunity to meet new friends and greet old ones.

SNA President Dean Weinberg officiates at his last annual meeting.

SNA President Dean Weinberg officiates at his last annual meeting.

The business of the meeting began with a review by President Dean Weinberg of the Summit Neighborhood Association’s achievements over the past year culminating in the opening of the community gardens in the Summit Avenue park. He also mentioned the neighborhood’s major event – the recall of Ward 3 City Councilman Kevin Jackson – pointing out that the SNA had not taken sides as it is nonpartisan.

SNA Secretary Thomas Schmeling, as head of the board’s nominating committee, presented a change in the organization’s bylaws to allow votes by the board of directors via electronic media. There was some discussion from the floor about the possibility of that violating state law, but with an amendment that the change would be “consistent with state law,” it was passed.

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza outlines his budget priorities to eSNA members.

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza outlines his budget priorities to SNA members.

Schmeling than gave the floor to Mayor Jorge Elorza, who outlined his priorities for the city’s budget. The mayor cited his attempts to balance the budget to include a “rainy day” fund. He emphasized investments in the infrastructure of the public schools with preschool and summer learning programs with technology in classrooms including computers and three-dimensional printers. Elorza also pointed to a drop in gang-related crime, support for recreation and summer jobs for youth and a push for six weeks of paid parental leave. He noted the lack of transportation for the elderly and said the city has its own buses to address that problem. The mayor also cited a work and rehabilitation program for the homeless.

After Mayor Elorza had to leave, Schmeling presented the slate of board candidates, including one who had stepped forward at the meeting, and they were elected by acclamation. President Weinberg had decided to not seek reelection and was presented with a family membership in the Boston Science Museum as a token of gratitude for his service.

The new board consists of: Ethan Gyles, president; Kerry Kohring, vice president; Eric Christiansen, secretary (conditional on board approval since he was absent); Britt Page, treasurer; and returning members Kim Clark, Lee Clasper-Torch, Anneliese Greenier, Schmeling, Emily Spitzman, Sharon Lee Waldman and Weinberg. New members are Anne Holland, Sandra Lee, John Pettinelli and Laura Ramsey.

State Rep. Aaron Regunberger chats with constituents at the meeting.

State Rep. Aaron Regunberg chats with constituents at the meeting.

The final item on the agenda was the discussion of the nation’s changing neighborhoods led by Marc. J. Dunkelman, author of The Vanishing Neighbor: The Transformation of American Community and a Taubman Fellow at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs.

He presented the findings of his research on the evolving American community and said that ordinary citizens have lost faith in traditional institutions. He described a social model of three concentric rings of interaction, with an inner circle of intensity and an outer ring of single common interests. He characterized the middle ring as composed of casual meetings of neighbors sharing common problems and solutions.

His premise is that this ring is deteriorating because of narcissistic emphasis on inner-ring relations and the capitalization of outer-ring opportunities. He said that most American problem-solving institutions are based on middle-ring interactions, and as these diminish, so does the faith in traditional methods. He said U.S. social architecture “was based on common solutions by people who knew each other,” but that has changed and middle-ring “relationships are collapsing,” perhaps as a result of technology.

He said that “if foundations of social interactions change, the institutions based on them crumble and we have to address whether to shore them up or construct new institutions.” He pointed out that new ideas come from “braiding together” different approaches, but that millennials are choosing not to interact with diverse opportunities.

His solution, he told the audience, is to promote interaction by inviting strangers to share viewpoints. This prompted lively discussion until the time allotted for the annual meeting ran out.

 

 

 

 

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