Category Archives: Providence News

Perception is Something People Care About — Chafee Caves to Angus Davis

Angus Davis feels better, so I guess everything is right and good in the fiefdom of downtown Providence.  Lame duck Governor Chafee is not feeling like having a big fight, so Angus will get his way.  As the new corporate zoning Czar for the city, I wonder if Mr. Davis would consider helping to rehabilitate the poor and downtrodden, rather than just exiling them from his high tech encampment.

Read more from Natasha Lennard at Salon.  

An Excuse to Sleep Late on Friday

Liberate Your Friday

If you want to enjoy some good company and a chance to help your neighbor, here’s one of many opportunities the season offers (thank you Phil Edmonds)…

16th Annual Buy Nothing Day Coat Exchange

Thinking globally, acting locally.

The Providence 16th annual Buy Nothing Day Coat Exchange takes place Friday November 23rd 10AM-1PM on the State House lawn, opposite Providence Place mall (rain/snow site Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 15 Hayes St. on north side of mall).

Buy Nothing Day began in 1992 by Adbusters Media Foundation in Vancouver, Canada, as a way to resist the advertising industry that abets over-consumption by causing people to feel unfulfilled with what they have. Since then, Buy Nothing Day has evolved into a

global phenomenon creating awareness of how entangled we are in the web of consumerism.

One may ask: “will it really make any difference if I buy nothing on the November 23 ?” If more and more people join the millions worldwide who do observe Buy Nothing Day, then the answer is yes. A quote from Hope’s Edge by Frances Moore Lappe and Anna Lappe helps put this into perspective.

What we choose to buy, where we choose to shop, even whether we choose to be part of campaigns…all this is not a homage to some weighty obligation; it’s a celebration of the world we want…My choices as a consumer used to feel so small, but now I’m convinced they have real power. Together we are a sleeping giant and, awakened, we can really stir things up.

While critics of the day charge that Buy Nothing Day simply causes participants to buy the next day, Adbusters state that it “isn’t just about changing your habits for one day but about starting a lasting lifestyle commitment to consuming less and producing less waste.”

Another focus of Buy Nothing Day is to “stir things up” – with a clear message that we no longer will be duped by the endless advertisements telling us the way to happiness. People are beginning to question this consumer-globalized economics way of life realizing we are not as happy as we thought we were, and as a result, are thinking more and taking steps in daily living where quality, rather than quantity, is the priority.

With global warming, along with the depletion of some of our natural resources and the loss of many species of life as a result of over-consumption, our planet is at a breaking point, and it is time to face up to it. Let’s think globally and act locally. On Friday November 23rd stop by the State House lawn in a show of solidarity for Buy Nothing Day. If you have a winter coat to donate, please drop one off; if you need a coat, come pick one up.

More on this at Rhode Island’s Future from Greg Gerritt

And Bob Plain say that Americans would like to save the tinsel until after Thanksgiving.

Diane Ravitch Talks about “Waking Up the Town” to Face the War on Public Education

I got to meet Diane Ravitch today as she served on a panel at Netroots about the war on public education. She spoke with amazing authority about what is going on in public education now with the overemphasis on testing, the blaming of teachers and teachers unions, and the right-wing money that is being poured into the movement for “education reform.” The best way to experience what went on is to watch the video.

Link to video of the panel.

Netroots Nation Opening Day

Here’s what is on the agenda for opening day at Netroots:

9:00am – 10:15am

From Defeat to Triumph: Erasing the Death Penalty in America
Taking the Offense in State Elections
The Heart of the Beast: How the Grassroots is Taking on Big Banking
Agitation and Inspiration: The Power of Art and Cultural Organizing

10:30am – 11:45am

Handcuffs, Conventional Wisdom and Dirty Oil: Activism’s Big Win Against the Keystone XL Pipeline
Collaboration, Not Co-option: Labor, Community Organizations and Occupy Wall Street Working Together
Organizing Lessons from SOPA and PIPA
Beyond Occupy: What Does a New Economic System Look Like?

3:00pm – 4:15pm

Whose Law Is It Anyway? ALEC’s Influence on State Legislatures and What We Can Do About It
The Battle for Congress: Q&A on the 2012 Elections
Liberate Your Ass: Why Sexual Freedom is Key to Fighting the Right
Occupy Goes Home: The Occupy Movement and the Foreclosure Crisis

4:30pm – 5:45pm

Protecting Voting Rights in Communities of Color in 2012
Marriage Equality: Past, Present and Future
Emerging Movements: The Face of New Progressive Online Communities
Why the Fed is the Most Important Economic Issue You Know Nothing About

7:00pm – 8:30pm

Opening Keynote featuring Eric Schneiderman

Providence Ranked in Bottom 5 for Job Creation

You hate to see it, but Providence is really struggling to hire.  I am sure Mayor Angel Taveras is doing all he can to put us on the road to job creation, but it’s not easy when his own city is so financially strapped.  Full article:  Oklahoma City Leads Large Cities in Job Creation.

Kiersten Marek:

Scott MacKay considers the question of whether Brown University should pay more to the city of Providence.

Originally posted on On Politics:

  Once again, Providence politicians are looking to the city’s private colleges for money to help shore up the city’s poor finances. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says these non-profit institutions shouldn’t be seen as cash cows for the city.

 There has been more rhetoric than reality in the latest dispute between Brown University and Mayor Angel Taveras and his city council allies. With city government awash in red ink, the pols are hungrily eyeing the tax-exempt Brown property on College Hill as a source of sorely needed money.

You can’t blame the mayor or the city council. Residents are maxed out on real estate and car taxes. Businesses are fleeing. Two iconic downtown buildings – the Jazz Age Superman Building and the Biltmore Hotel – house tenants facing huge financial hurdles.

Now, Taveras and Brown President Ruth Simmons are jousting over how much Brown can, and should, contribute to…

View original 731 more words

Reading My Tea Leaves About Achievement First

If I had to call it, my call at this point would be that the Board of Regents will vote to approve one, and only one, Achievement First School to start up in Providence.  I have followed this issue closely for the past year, though I am by no means an insider to the process.  I am merely a concerned parent and a somewhat obsessive follower of the corporate-influenced education reform movement and its critics, of which I am one.

But it appears, with the Providence Mayor, the (Providence-Mayor-appointed) School Board, and many Providence legislators on board, this Achievement First thing is headed for a ram-through.  It’s not going to be a big ram-through, and for this I am grateful.  It’s just going to be the first foot onto the slippery slope of the corporate-influenced divvying up of the education money pie.  There will still be one foot on firm ground, so if we want to pull back and cancel this whole thing in a few years with only one Achievement First school opened and closed, that will still be possible.

In the meantime, if you still want to try to influence the vote on this matter by beseeching our Governor to intercede (not sure he could actually do that, other than by trying to influence individual Board of Regents members), you can sign the petition at Change.org.  

Petition Chafee to Say No to Achievement First

There are many reasons why I believe Achievement First is not the answer to our social and educational problems in Rhode Island. I’ll let the petition speak for itself: Go here to read and sign.

Statement from Mayor Taveras on Occupy Providence

This statement clarifies that the Mayor is not planning to go forward with any kind of police action to remove the Occupy movement from Burnside Park. Here is the statement in full:

All citizens have a right to have their voices heard, and I, like the Occupy movement, am concerned about the causes and impacts of the most serious economic downturn in decades. This movement is important because our city, our state, our nation need to do much more to address the jobs and foreclosure crises which are crushing hope and opportunity for the 99% of us.

Here in Providence, the protesters who have camped in Burnside Park since October 15 have conducted themselves peacefully, and the city has had ongoing and respectful dialogue with the group. I commend Occupy Providence for its commitment to nonviolence, and I thank Occupy Providence for publicly recognizing the city’s efforts to ensure their right to assemble and demonstrate.

Unlike many other American cities, Providence is taking a nonviolent approach to the occupation of Burnside Park that has resulted in no arrests and the continued freedom to protest with the full support and cooperation of public safety.

The Commissioner has regularly met with protest organizers and sought open and honest communication about all public safety issues. He has waived multiple requirements and accommodated every public protest and march to date.

However, permanent occupation of the park is unsafe and unwise for compelling reasons both practical and legal. Emergency medical personnel have responded to instances involving drug overdose and fighting. Public safety officials have identified Level 3 sex offenders among those occupying the park. As the weather gets colder, Occupy protesters in other cities have been taken to the hospital with hypothermia.

Yet, Commissioner Pare and I have not taken police action. Instead, in the near future, we will petition the Courts for a ruling on the viability and constitutionality of this encampment. This will allow the protesters to have their day in Court and for a full public, legal vetting of the issues.

Accordingly, we have issued a notice asking the protestors to vacate Burnside Park by Sunday, October 30. We have made clear that protestors are welcome to return to the park everyday during park hours of 7 am to 9 pm. If protestors do not vacate Burnside Park on Sunday, the City will NOT follow the actions of other cities like Atlanta, Chicago or Oakland that have resulted in arrests and violence. Instead, the Courts will consider the merits of this issue over the next few weeks.

The City agrees with the ACLU, which has said that United States Supreme Court precedent “significantly limits” the right to camp out indefinitely in Burnside Park without a permit. In addition, like the ACLU, the city “fully supports the right of Occupy Providence to engage in other forms of peaceful protest at the park or elsewhere in the city.”

I appreciate and share many of the global concerns that the Occupy movement seeks to address. And it is for this reason that I have used civil, nonviolent means to address the future of the encampment.

Together, as one Providence, we can make real progress towards our shared vision for a more just and equitable society: strengthening our schools, creating good jobs, developing safe and affordable housing and leading an open and transparent government.

Talking this morning with some folks, someone talked about a possible strategy of moving the Occupy Movement to Roger Williams Park, as then the legal issues would be in the jurisdiction of the federal courts rather than the state courts, and this could yield a different decision for the occupiers.

Occupy Providence to Be Evicted Sunday Evening, October 30, 2011

A notice has been given to Occupy Providence members and has been posted around Burnside Park: they have 72 hours to vacate or they will be evicted. Given that so many other groups have expressed solidarity with the Occupy movement, it is unclear how this is going to play out. My hope is that it plays out non-violently, and also that the movement is not diminished in its importance. There is so little space for people to rally around an important cause at this point, and corporate pressure is increasingly squeezing out the voices of the 99%. We need to keep our ears and eyes open to what the opposition is saying or we will be increasingly dominated by corporations and their single-minded goal of increasing profits.

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