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New bus service for veterans

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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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Farmers Market opens in the rain

The Hope Street Farmers Market returned on May 6 in Lippitt Park at the intersection of Hope Strret and Blackstone Boulevard. It will be there Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon and Wednesday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The Hope Street Farmers Market returned on May 6 to Lippitt Park at the intersection of Hope Street and Blackstone Boulevard. It will be there Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon and Wednesdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

But one attendee didn't mind the rain. A puddle ie meant for a child in boots.

But one attendee didn’t mind the rain. A puddle is meant for a child in boots.

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Gardens take (almost) final step

Wheelbarrows and muscles were used to get mulch onto the garden paths.

Wheelbarrows and muscles were used to get mulch onto the garden paths.

After about five years of preparation, the Summit Neighborhood Community garden has finally gone to seed.

On Earth Day – Saturday, April 22 – the hardy gardeners braved a slight drizzle to distribute mulch along the paths between the raised beds, which had been filled with soil the previous weekend. In addition to the mulching, there were free seeds offered to the public from the supply provided to the workers by the University of Rhode Island as well as starter plants for sale. This was in conjunction with the Parks Department’s city-wide cleanup activities.

The mulch was raked smooth.

The mulch was raked smooth.

Already, some of the beds have seeds planted and sections laid out, with more to come as the weather improves. It is the culmination of a project begun by the Summit Neighborhood Association about five years ago.

SNA started with extensive public-opinion polling of the neighborhood as to interest in community gardens as well as fears that the effort would reduce the area for children in the traditional “tot lot.”

As part of Earth Day, the gardeners offered free seeds and plants for sale.

As part of Earth Day, the gardeners offered free seeds and plants for sale.

     As about 80 percent of the poll respondents gave a favorable reaction to the concept of gardens, the Parks Department got on board with a design to refurbish the entire playground as well as lay out the gardens. Several public meetings were held to introduce the plan and react to suggestions. More polling about the specifics of the proposal were done and met with general approval.

Miriam Hospital was approached for funds and enthusiastically responded, with the garden part of the project to be done first. SNA continues to work with the city on completing the playground renewal.

A core group of garden planners was established and they took over the implementation of the design, putting in weeks of organizing and ultimately building fences and raised beds. People who worked on the project from the beginning were guaranteed plots, with the rest to be determined by a lottery. Fortunately, the number of gardeners seeking plots exactly matched the number of plots available.

Some of the beds are already sectioned and have seeds planted.

Some of the beds are already sectioned and have seeds planted.

Still to come in the garden is a work shed to be provided by the Parks Department, which already had installed a water line.

But the green thumbs of the gardeners have been busy and seeds have been planted. As the vegetables and flowers grow, so will the opportunity for the children in the park to participate and learn from the blossoming community gardens.

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Community gardens get new bedding

The gardeners toiled for soil as they loaded mulched dirt into the raised beds Saturday.

The gardeners toiled for soil as they loaded mulched dirt into the raised beds Saturday.

The gardeners dedicated to the community plots in the Summit Avenue “tot lot” dished some dirt on Saturday.

Working in two shifts, about 20 people used wheelbarrows, shovels and rakes to move truckloads of earth to the raised beds the workers had constructed the week before. Because one dump truck was too big to get through the garden gate, its load had to be strong-armed across the playground, but the children playing in the park took it all in stride.

Now that the beds, which are lined with plastic, have been filled, there is only the spreading of wood-chip mulch between them for the gardens to be ready for planting. The mulching is planned for Earth Day, Saturday, April 22, as are other cleanup activities. As of Saturday, the water line in the park had not been turned on by the Parks Department, but that is expected soon.

All of the plots in the garden have been spoken for, but there is a wait list and other information at https://summitcommunitygarden.org.

Plans and fund-raising continue to develop among the Summit Neighborhood Association, the Parks Department and concerned residents for the refurbishment of the playground equipment at the park.

A parade of wheelbarrows through the playground didn't seem to bother any of the children playing there.

A parade of wheelbarrows through the playground didn’t seem to bother any of the children playing there.

Even beginning gardeners provided sweat equity to fill the beds.

Even beginning gardeners provided sweat equity to fill the beds.

Already some of the children in the park were interacting with the gardens, one of the major goals of the programs.

Already some of the children in the park were interacting with the gardens, one of the major goals of the programs.

The beds filled up as a second shift of gardeners took over.

The beds filled up as a second shift of gardeners took over.

A backhoe from the Parks Department put the finishing touch to the project by straightening a damaged gate post.

A backhoe from the Parks Department put the finishing touch to the project by straightening a damaged gate post.

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Public notice from Miriam Hospital

Dear Neighbors,

Please be advised that on Saturday, April 15, Otis Elevator, Bay Crane, with support from Advanced Building Concepts, will remove one of our old Elevators and replace with a new one.

The crane will be positioned in the receiving area on Highland Avenue.  Start time will be 8:00 am, with anticipated completion about 2:00 pm.  In addition, be advised that that there will be a series of crane uses in the weeks to come needed to update our elevator services and to remove and replace air handling units. Per our commitment to the neighborhood, work will not commence before 8:00am.

We don’t anticipate any impact to our neighbors as we will contain all crane use within our property.  Should you have any questions please feel free to email me back with questions or call The Neighborhood Hotline at (401)-793-4040.

Sincerely,

Monica Anderson

Director Community Relations and Corporate Citizenship

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Join us to help shape your neighborhood

Dear Summit Neighbors,

The annual membership meeting of the Summit Neighborhood Association is scheduled for Monday, May 1, at 7 pm at the Highlands on the East Side, 101 Highland Ave. As usual, a key agenda item will be the election of new Board of Directors for 2017-2018. While a number of Board members will be returning, a few are departing, and we need to fill those seats with new people.

As chair of the nominating committee I am writing to ask you to please consider joining the SNA Board. It’s a great place to meet your neighbors, learn more about the community, and take an active role in trying to improve and enhance life in Summit.

The Board typically meets 10 or 11 times per year on the evening of the 3rd Monday of the month. At these meetings, we discuss community affairs, from traffic signals and crosswalks to crime reports and local politics. Our events committee plans events and activities (the music festival and the snow shoveling brigade, etc.). Our membership committee explores ways to promote the organization. The zoning committee keeps tabs on zoning changes and variances that affect the neighborhood, and the newsletter committee produces and distributes the SNA newsletter.  In election seasons, we host candidate forums. There are many other possible activities, and you can be part of deciding which ones SNA engages in.

In addition to attending Board meetings, members are expected to help deliver newsletters (when physical able), and participate in at least one event or serve on one committee.

If you are interested, please email me at thomas.a.schmeling@gmail.com or the other members of the nominating committee, Anneliese Greenier or Kerry Kohring   We’ll be happy to answer any questions. We are planning a luncheon on Sunday, April 23 for those who wish to join. There, you can meet other members of the Board and learn more about what we do.

Sincerely,

Tom Schmeling

Secretary, SNA

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Yard waste pickup begins April 10

yard waste

The city will start picking up yard waste at curbside on April 10.

Residents are instructed to place yard debris in paper bags and/or open barrel containers (no larger than 33-gallon) labeled “Yard Debris.”

Free stickers for the barrels are available for residents to pick up at the Department of Public Works, 700 Allens Ave., Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. For information, call (401)680-7522 or (401)467-7950 during those hours.

 

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