Haven’t all of us had those moments in life when we worry that we’re invisible, that no one notices we’re really here? Perhaps we were the new kid at school who seemed to blend into the crowd, or the party goer to whom no one paid much attention. Maybe all of us feel the sentiment shared by Ralph Ellison in his novel, Invisible Man: “I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.” All of us want to be validated, and that’s what we hear from Christina Connett.
Christina Connett teaches art history and the history of cartography at the Rhode Island School of Design. Her love of maps comes from a life of travel by sea, air and land and an interest in how people relate to ideas of place. Connett and her family live in Jamestown.
What does the word ‘family’ mean to you? Does it conjure up images of the proverbial mom and dad with their offspring, or do you have a more elastic sense of what family is all about? On this we would all agree: Family is an essential cornerstone in our lives. In his early twentieth-century masterpiece, The Life of Reason, the philosopher and poet George Santayana said, "The family is one of nature's masterpieces." And as we hear from 12-year-old Matt Lannon, what matters ultimately is how each of us understands what family means in our own unique lives.
Matthew Lannon is a 12 year old sixth-grader at the Wheeler School in Providence. He recently testified in favor of same-sex marriage before the House and Senate Judiciary Committees in Rhode Island in support of his family. The legislation was signed by Rhode Island’s governor on May 2, 2013.
Renowned author Anne Lamott once wrote, “It's funny: I always imagined when I was a kid that adults had some kind of inner toolbox full of shiny tools: the saw of discernment, the hammer of wisdom, the sandpaper of patience. But then when I grew up I found that life handed you these rusty bent old tools.” And doesn’t it often happen that we have to depend on the simplest, most primitive things in our lives when times are tough? That’s exactly what happened with this 13-year old Jeremiah Matos.
Jeremiah Matos is an eighth grade student at TAPA: Trinity Academy for the Performing Arts. He is a visual artist, dancer, and filmmaker. Jeremiah loves exploring the root of his artistic side, and appreciating how a simple pencil changed his outlook on the world.
Madame Marie Curie, the renowned chemist and physicist who was the first female Nobel prize recipient, once said, “Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.” And isn’t it true that perseverance in the face of daunting odds is what helps us get through life’s challenging moments? That’s what we hear from Jennifer Bristol.
Jennifer Bristol is the Executive Director of Mount Hope Farm in, of all places, Bristol, Rhode Island. She reports having two amazing daughters, and lives in Pawtuxet Village with her best guy Jim and their best dog Rocket.
I imagine every single one of us has been deeply moved by a particular song or two that takes us right back to pivotal moments in our lives. It’s almost like imprinting – a certain melody or lyrics can connect us instantly to an earlier moment that was transformative. As the Danish author Hans Christian Andersen said in the 19th century, “Where words fail, music speaks.” And that’s what we hear from 13-year old Jania Brown.
Jania Brown is an eighth grade student at TAPA: Trinity Academy for the Performing Arts. She is a dancer, musician, and cheerleader. For Jania, a voice from beyond the grave changed her whole vision about music.
What life doesn’t have its share of struggles? Some are bigger than others, of course, but surely we’ve all known some measure of disappointment, loss, and sorrow. As the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus said, “You don't develop courage by being happy in your relationships every day. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.” For Francisco Oller, what matters most in life is how we cope with the challenges that come our way.
Francisco Oller is 19 years old and was born with a rare genetic disease called Pelizaeus Merzbacher. Oller was born in Puerto Rico and lived there until enrolling at Providence College, where he is currently a student. Oller says that his disability has made him a determined, courageous, and very resilient person.