One Square Mile

About once a year, our newsroom will devote an entire week to award-winning reporting that covers "one square mile," somewhere in Rhode Island.  One town/location gets in-depth look at variety of stories from a diversity of angles: politics, education, health care, the economy, its character and history.  

OSM locations have included:

John Bender / RIPR

Hockey runs deep in Burrillville. The town’s junior hockey league started in the early 1950s making it one of the oldest youth hockey leagues in the country. The town also boasts one of the oldest public rinks attached to a high school. Today, families continue a tradition of hockey prowess.

As part of our series One Square Mile: Burrillville, Rhode Island Public Radio’s John Bender spent some time at the local hockey rink.

Catherine Welch / RIPR

In our series One Square Mile we're exploring Narragansett Bay: what's lurking in the bay, its rich natural resources, how it affects the state's economy and the lives lived on the bay.  One of those lives is that of a tour guide who for years has delighted ferry passengers with fascinating stories of the many lighthouses in and around the bay.  

At Quonset Point, the ferry called The Ava Pearl idles along the dock as passengers line up to board. A man with a shock of white hair stands near the front of the line.

One Square Mile: Kayaking Narragansett Bay

Oct 10, 2014
Catherine Welch / RIPR

All this week we’re looking we’re looking at one of the Ocean State’s most visible resources: Narragansett Bay, with a series we call One Square Mile. There are plenty of ways for residents and tourists alike to get out onto the water: sailboats, surfboards, even jet skis.  

Rhode Island Public Radio’s John Bender went kayaking to get a feel for why people choose to pick up the paddle.

Catherine Welch / RIPR

We’re extending summer just a little longer this week with our series One Square Mile focused on Narragansett Bay. Now we offer a little poetry. Rhode Island Public Radio’s Catherine Welch caught up with Rick Benjamin, the state’s poet laureate, who wrote a poem about the bay for our series.

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Newport Historical Society

We continue our series One Square Mile: Narragansett Bay with a look at the bay’s role in the slave trade. Tens of thousands of slaves were traded on ships out of Narragansett Bay, more than any other part of North America.

Newport was at one time the largest slave-trading port in the region. To find out more, Rhode Island Public Radio's education reporter Elisabeth Harrison met Newport history teacher Matt Boyle at Bannisters Wharf, which was built by a merchant involved in the slave trade. She asked him what it would have looked like in mid-18th Century.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

On a brilliantly sunny recent day at Oakland Beach in Warwick, waves from Narragansett Bay splash against sea rocks, a few sailboats bob in the distance, and scores of people enjoy the chance to be outside.

But the head of Save The Bay, Jonathan Stone, is thinking about a very different kind of situation at Oakland Beach from the summer of 2013. "This beach was closed for half the summer last year," Stone says, "and it wasn’t closed from pollution from Providence. It was closed because of local pollution, a significant source of which is cesspools."

One Square Mile: An Audio Postcard From Hope Island

Oct 8, 2014
Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Narragansett Bay is home to more than 30 islands. Some are bustling with people; others with birds. Rhode Island Public Radio’s summer intern Molly Malinowski set out to explore some of the lesser known islands in the bay and went on a boat tour with the Narragansett Bay Research Reserve. As part of our One Square Mile: Narragansett Bay series, she filed this audio postcard about Hope Island.

An old dock and a small concrete fort greet us, as the boat approaches Hope Island. In the distance, some wooden telephone posts peek out from the overgrown trees. 

Elisabeth Harrison

All this week, Rhode Island Public Radio is bringing you stories of Narragansett Bay in our series One Square Mile. Beachgoers love the bay for swimming, kayaking and fishing. But where the bay meets the Atlantic Ocean, there are waves, and that means… surfing!  Rhode Island Public Radio’s Elisabeth Harrison caught up with some local surfers to find out what the scene is all about.

One Square Mile: An Audio Postcard From Dyer Island

Oct 8, 2014
Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

More than 30 islands dot Narragansett Bay. They range in size from as big as Aquidneck Island to as small as Whale Rock, a flat rock ledge about half an acre in size. Few have remained undeveloped, giving birds and other plant and animal species a protected space to be. As part of our One Square Mile: Narragansett Bay series, our summer intern Molly Malinowski took a boat tour with the Narragansett Bay Research Reserve and filed this audio postcard about Dyer Island.

Dave McLaughlin with Clean Ocean Access takes us into the bay to take a water sample, one of many his group collects year round to help monitor the cleanliness and safety of Narragansett Bay.

dave mclaughlin head of clean oc from Kristin Gourlay on Vimeo.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

This week we’re bringing you stories from our series One Square Mile: Narragansett Bay. We’re taking a deep dive into the bay that helps define the Ocean State. Its history. Its present. Its future. Now, a look at how the bay keeps us healthy, through the eyes of a few of the growing numbers of open water swimmers.

Gathering for an evening swim

We’re sitting on a ledge at Narragansett town beach. The sky is overcast, it’s early evening. Dozens of people are suiting up for a swim.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Lobster populations in Southern New England were booming in the 1990s. Since then, their numbers have declined, from more than 36 million lobsters in 1997 to about 14 million in 2007. But commercial fishermen in Rhode Island say lobsters are making a comeback. And a pilot program in place today is giving lobster fishermen an opportunity to work with state and federal managers to collect data about the lobster populations in Narragansett Bay and the Rhode Island and Block Island sounds.

John Bender / RIPR

All this week we’re taking a close look at the Narragansett Bay, for a series we call One Square Mile.  Today we look at the heavy industry that relies on the Providence waterfront.  Specifically, where those big piles of coal, scrap metal and salt,  sit along the Providence River.

Tuesday, independent Providence mayoral candidate Vincent “Buddy” Cianci, Jr. details his plan to turn the industrial waterfront to mixed use development, with things like hotels and marinas.   As Rhode Island Public Radio’s John Bender reports, that's been the subject of a decades-long battle.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

For the past 55 years, researchers and students from the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography have trawled Narragansett Bay on a weekly basis. These trawls are one of the world's longest running surveys that track the type of fish that come and go from season to season. For our One Square Mile: Narragansett Bay series, we turn to these trawls to give us a snapshot of how fish have responded to changes.

Three URI students board the 53-foot research vessel Cap'n Bert at Wickford Harbor, as they do each week, to trawl the bay at two stations.

In our series One Square Mile Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island Public Radio’s Scott MacKay sits down with Vincent Mesolella, chairman of the Narragansett Bay Commission board, about how the commission takes care of sewage treatment and keeping water pollution out of the bay.