Providence

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The chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, Jane Chu, toured the Ocean State Friday. The visit was part of the 50th anniversary celebration of the NEA.

Chu says she was surprised by what she called a “thriving” arts community in Rhode Island. She said the state recognizes the impact of the arts on the economy.

"When we put the arts in a corner, or we think that it’s a frill, we’re really doing a disservice to the transformational power of the way arts touches our lives every day; everything from jobs to career training, to the beauty of arts themselves," said Chu.

John Bender / RIPR

An investigation is underway in Providence after white supremacist flyers were found in an East Side neighborhood. Authorities are classifying the incident as a hate crime.

Twenty-two flyers were found by law enforcement on Thursday morning, stuffed into rice filled plastic baggies. They were dropped in a neighborhood that’s home to a large Jewish Community Center, and Brown University. The flyers contained racist and anti-Semitic messages. Initial tests for toxic substances came back negative

John Bender / RIPR

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza has set himself an ambitious goal: to rid the city of all housing blight in the next six years. If the city reaches that goal, Elorza said it would be the first city of its size to do so.

On Tuesday, the mayor unveiled his initiative to deal with hundreds of vacant and abandoned homes in the state capital. The project, called EveryHome Providence, offers what the administration calls a suite of tools for taking on these properties.

Lisa Williams / flickr

Downtown Providence might get a little noisy Monday as the Providence Honk Festival makes its annual parade through the city. The PRONK festival features a variety of marching bands and community groups. The groups will make their way from Kennedy Plaza to the mouth of Narragansett Bay.

The What Cheer? Brigade of Providence will be one of the bands taking part. Drummer Jori Ketten calls Pronk! an alternative street festival.

“A large part of the festival is about claiming the streets and spending time in the streets and reveling in the streets,” said Ketten.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Children who know more words tend to do better in school, and that has some researchers wondering whether early language may offer a key to closing the achievement gap. That’s why Providence has launched Providence Talks, with millions of dollars from the Bloomberg Foundation. The program hopes to boost children’s vocabularies by teaching parents to be chattier with their babies and toddlers.

Data from a pilot study due out Monday show promise. Rhode Island Public Radio’s Elisabeth Harrison went on a home visit with a Providence Talks coach, to see how the program works.

After being a part of efforts to reduce violence in Providence for 15 years, Teny Gross says it’s time to take on a new challenge.

Gross established and led the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence after being recruited from Boston. The organization has been credited with helping reduce bloodshed in poor city neighborhoods. Gross helped create the institute's non-violence education model, including the "street worker" program, which sends former offenders back onto the streets to mediate conflicts and help prevent violence.

Maggie Hall / Wilbury Theatre Group

Using the same theater space where Trinity Rep began more than 50 years ago, The Wilbury Group is another young theater willing to take a chance. Bill Gale says their latest work, “Dry Land,” is certainly risky.

Ah, yes, so it is. Written by Ruby Rae Spiegel when she was still an undergraduate at  Yale University, “Dry Land” rushes you into a vortex of, well, you could say a bunch of  kids being young and stupid.

Ian Donnis/File Photo / RIPR

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza and Local 799, the International Association of Firefighters, are locked in an increasingly bitter dispute about cutting overtime spending in the Fire Department, the latest in a string of conflicts between the union and city leaders. 

RIPR FILE

At Brown University, a campus-wide survey shows one in four female undergraduates said they had experienced some type of unwanted sexual contact. Further, the survey found ten percent of female undergraduate students had experienced attempted rape. For female graduate students, that number was eight percent.

In a statement Brown's President Christina Paxson said, “[t]he results of the survey establish a clear baseline against which we can assess ourselves going forward."

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Governor Gina Raimondo and the state’s congressional delegation were on hand Monday to announce a $25 million initiative to help low income Rhode Islanders. The money comes from state, federal and private donations. It will be distributed by the Rhode Island chapter of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation.

The money will be doled out over the next twelve months in the form of grants and loans for affordable housing, daycare and education, and public safety.

Ian Donnis/File Photo / RIPR

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza considers Victory Place -- offered in April as an alternative ballpark site for the PawSox -- a potential home for the Triple A team, even though Lifespan acquired it earlier this month.

John Bender / RIPR

In an effort to keep more college graduates in Rhode Island, Roger Williams University is making some changes. The university is preparing to open a $10 million campus in downtown Providence, at the former site of 38 Studios and a marine center in Bristol.

Ian Donnis/File Photo / RIPR

The Pawtucket Red Sox officially pronounced dead Saturday night their quest to build a ballpark on part of the former I-195 land in Providence, an effort that went onto life support in recent weeks due a variety of hurdles.

In a statement, PawSox Chairman Larry Lucchino said the team was suspending its pursuit of the I-195 parcels and "will cease its public campaign for the I-195 riverfront site."

Happy Friday, and thanks for stopping by for my weekly column. 

John Bender / RIPR

There are a few less parking spaces in downtown Providence today. The city is taking part in the worldwide phenomenon known as Parking Day.

Parking Day is an event meant to promote awareness of the importance of parks and greenspace in cities.

Artists and designers have taken over dozens of parking spaces in the city, and transformed them into tiny parks. Most feature seating and greenery. Some offer ping pong, reading nooks, and even an outdoor café.

Organizer and landscape architect Jenn Judge says parks build community in urban areas.

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