Portsmouth wind turbine disassembly begins (with Rilke quote)

wenn ein Glückliches fällt<

In the tennis courts by the high school, cranes and other heavy equipment are staging to begin the disassembly of Portsmouth's wind turbine. The town has entered into a public-private partnership with a developer replace the current machine, installed in 2009, which suffered a major gearbox failure that took it offline. While it's a good deal for the town, it's still sad to see this device, which went up with such high hopes, coming down.

It reminded me of the last lines of Rainer Maria Rilke's Duino Elegies:

Und wir, die an steigendes  Glück
denken, empfänden die Rührung,
die uns beinah bestürzt,
wenn ein Glückliches fällt.

You can find reasonably good translations online here and here and an idiosyncratic one by Robert Hunter here (For Hunter fans, there's an interview with him that touches on his process).

Bernie Sanders signature event in Portsmouth Jan 30

Local supporter Linda Ujifusa is hosting an event to gather signatures to get Sen. Sanders on the ballot in Rhode Island on Saturday, Jan. 30 at Foodworks in Portsmouth from noon-2pm.

You can find out more information or RSVP online.

My Arisia schedule

This weekend, Jan 15-18, the always awesome Arisia science fiction con kicks off at Boston's Westin Waterfront hotel. This four-day event features as guest of honor the inimitable John Scalzi and offers rich, diverse programming for all sf and fantasy tastes. There are multiple tracks with sessions featuring anime, comics, film and video, gaming, science, literature, media, writing and more, plus there's LARPing and filking, an always awesome masquerade, art show, and dealers' room — all with very cool fans in a most congenial space full of cosplay and whimsy.

I'll be on a couple of panels — one on interactive fiction and one on the Terminator franchise, plus I'll be one of the presenters at the Ig Nobel readings, and I'll likely be hanging out in the filk circles late into the evenings. Hope to see you there!

5:30pm Friday
40 Years of Interactive Fiction - Gaming, Panel - 1hr 15min - Alcott (3W)
Since Colossal Cave Adventure’s release in 1976, text adventures and interactive fiction have been an important part of gaming. Now with tools like Twine and Inform 7, the genre is being put into more hands and pushed in new directions. Panelists will look at the text adventures of old and tell us where interactive fiction is going.
John G. McDaid, Caelyn Sandel, Rebecca Slitt, Carolyn VanEseltine

9:30pm Friday
Improbable Research and the Ig Nobel Prizes - Trackless events, Participatory Event - 1hr 30min - Grand CD (1W)
Highlights from Ig Nobel prize-winning studies and patents, presented in dramatic mini-readings by luminaries and experts (in some field). The audience will have an opportunity to ask questions about the research presented—answers will be based on the expertise of the presenters, who may have a different expertise than the researchers.

11:30am Monday
Terminator: Is There any Hope for Salvation? - Media, Panel - 1hr 15min - Marina 4 (2E)
Terminator Genisys was not only a (domestic) box-office bomb, it was a critical failure and a mess of a movie. But the franchise doesn’t have to be terrible; we’re only a few years removed from The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which were as well received as anything since the second movie, and there’s clearly still a ton of potential here. What, if anything, can be done to save this former A-list franchise? What went so horribly wrong with the last two films?
Bob Chipman (m), John G. McDaid, Jennifer Pelland, Santiago Rivas

Linda Finn launches campaign for state rep

16jan08_finn_sm.jpgFormer Democratic state rep Linda Finn announced in a statement to local media today that she is running for State Representative in House District 72, including Middletown and Portsmouth, setting up a rematch against Republican State Rep. Dan Reilly.

“I am running for State Representative because Aquidneck Island needs more effective representation at the State House,” said Finn, who previously represented the district from 2012 to 2014 after years of leadership in community and neighborhood initiatives throughout Aquidneck Island. “Our community faces pressing issues. From securing a fair share of education funding for our schools to working for a competitive regulatory climate where our small businesses can grow and thrive, District 72 deserves an independent advocate who will fight hard for our interests every single day. I am excited to use my experience and passion to be that voice for our district.”

Known as a highly energetic and active legislator during her tenure, Finn advanced many economic development initiatives throughout her previous term. “As a former small business owner, I understand the critical importance of supporting job growth,” she said. “I was proud to work with my colleagues in the General Assembly to pass legislation increasing the size of the enterprise zone in Portsmouth, and I was excited to help establish the Rhode Island Renewable Energy Growth Program, which stimulates economic development through energy diversification.”

Finn also prioritized women’s issues in the State House. “Women remain a small minority in our legislature, and our voices are important,” she said. “As state representative, I worked hard to stand up for the safety and equality of all our citizens. I am proud to have passed legislation prohibiting insurance companies from discriminating against victims of domestic violence, and I am more inspired than ever to be a champion for pay equity in the House of Representatives. If we want independent voices in government, we need to elect independent perspectives that are willing to challenge the General Assembly’s old boys’ club.”

After the 2014 election, Linda Finn continued her advocacy as Vice President of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence, leading statewide efforts to pass common sense gun reform. She has also engaged in many local efforts to build the community of Aquidneck Island, from serving on the board of the Aquidneck Island Planning Commission to working as Board Chair of Baby Steps, an early education program for parents and young children. She was past President of the Women’s Resource Center of Newport and Bristol Counties, and a Troop Leader and Service Unit Manager for Girl Scouts of Rhode Island for 9 years.

For more information about the campaign or how to get involved visit ElectLindaFinn.com.

Editorial note: Written with exuberant gusto from a press release.

Rep. Edwards to attend Ag Summit in Denver

House Majority Whip John G. Edwards (D-70, Tiverton, Portsmouth) will be attending the 2016 Legislative Agriculture Chairs Summit in Denver the weekend of January 9.

The summit, sponsored by State Agriculture and Rural Leaders, is designed for legislative leaders with an interest in agriculture and rural policy. The Summit is by invitation only and brings together state and provincial legislators that are passionate about rural communities and the people, the agriculture and the natural resources that fuel those communities.

“I am looking forward to meeting with legislators from other states to discuss and compare policies that address food production, natural resource management and rural development,” said Representative Edwards. “Agriculture continues to become more and more important to Rhode Island every year, and it’s important that our public policy addresses and reflects the latest issues.”

Since 2001, the LAC Summit has been providing a non-partisan educational opportunity for elected state and provincial officials with an interest in agriculture and rural communities to work together, collaborate and create problem-solving partnerships.

In addition to meeting other legislators and hearing from the experts, Representative Edwards will have an opportunity to make site visits to get a glimpse of agricultural endeavors in Colorado. These site visits include a tour of marijuana production and processing facilities, which will give Representative Edwards an opportunity to see firsthand how marijuana production has had an impact on the economy and tax base of Colorado as well as the state’s culture.

Editorial note: Written from a state house news release

Portsmouth Senior Center Holiday Bazaar this weekend

The Portsmouth Multi-Purpose Senior Center holds its annual Holiday Bazaar on Saturday, November 14 from 9am to 3pm and Sunday, November 15, 10am to 3pm, according to an e-mail circulated to members and supporters. The e-mail goes on:

"Featured are handmade domestics, knitted items, Christmas crafts, jewelry, baked goods, large themed basket raffles, gift table (winner every time), lucky tree plus $500.00 grand prize raffle. Thrift shop and kitchen will be open all day. Drawings at 2:30 pm Sunday."

The Senior Center is located at 110 Bristol Ferry Road in Portsmouth.

This weekend, "Race for Open Space" in Portsmouth

On Saturday, November 7th, the Aquidneck Land Trust will be holding a "Race for Open Space" 5K Run (or walk) along the scenic Sakonnet Greenway Trail. Individuals, families, and teams are welcome, and walkers can bring along strollers or canine companions (on a leash.) Registration details and more info available on the ALT web site.

Contemporary Theater offers dark, potent “Sweeney Todd”

15oct17_sweeney.jpg
Jason Shealy as Sweeney Todd, Eden Casteel as Mrs. Lovett, Terry Shea as The Judge. Photo by Seth Jacobson Photography.

Ezra Pound once said that artists are the “antennae” of the human race, and when Stephen Sondheim was writing what some consider his finest musical, “Sweeney Todd,” back in the late 1970s, he was clearly picking up the grim meathook realities of the impending Reagan years, where unrestrained capitalism first found purchase in our national psyche.

The Broadway production, in 1979, literally opened with a huge illustration of the rigidly hierarchical “beehive of British society” on the curtain; unsuspecting theatergoers were treated to a macabre tale of revenge and class struggle fought with razors and rolling pins.

The show has a message that’s timely now, in an America where the top 1% own 40% of the nation’s wealth. And the Contemporary Theater Company in Wakefield pulls no punches, offering an energetic, unblinking version of “Sweeney Todd” that’s full of powerful voices, fine acting, sly comedy, and moments of inspired stagecraft.

The plot is probably familiar to many. Sweeney Todd (played by Jason Shealy with grim determination) is a London barber who has made his way back home 15 years after being transported to Australia by a judge who coveted his wife. Rescued by the sailor Anthony (wonderfully voiced by Alex Bermudez), he finds his wife has taken poison, and his daughter Johanna (Maggie Papa) is a ward of the evil Judge Turpin (the delightfully sleazy Terry Shea). Anthony and Todd arrive in London only to be immediately accosted by a beggar woman (an evocative, heartbreaking turn by Alison King Anthony). All Sweeney has going for him is his disguise (no one recognizes him as the deported Benjamin Barker), an empty barber shop, and his razors, which have been hidden by the owner of the pie shop below, Mrs. Lovett (Eden Casteel).

What happens then — as the opening number says — well, that's the play, and while it sounds like dark business indeed, there are leavening notes of humor, as Todd competes with a street barber (Robert Grady), worms his way into the graces of the judge’s beadle (J. Rick Casey), and discovers, with Mrs. Lovett, the powerful vertical integration possible between a barber shop and a meat pie bakery.

Yes, this is a show about cutting people’s throats and grinding them up into pasties. But it’s a delightful musical.

Shealy and Casteel are outstanding as Todd and Lovett. Shealy’s taciturn demeanor is the perfect foil for Casteel’s expressive, passionate turn as Mrs. Lovett. Their simmering relationship is played more openly than the Broadway production, full of clever bits of business. Their voices are uniformly excellent. This is a challenging score — most of the show’s two-plus hours is sung — and both Shealy and Casteel deliver with power, range, and expressive vocals. Their duets, particularly “A Little Priest,” are an absolute delight.

Musical director Jean Maxon-Carpenter has done an excellent job coaxing strong performances from the entire cast, and the five-member pit band does a solid job bringing the complex arrangements to life. This is a score where the accompaniment offers very little for the actors to cling to — or even clues for where to come in — but she has succeeded in making it all work.

Director Christopher Simpson has captured the essence of the show: Sweeney Todd is both a dark tragedy and a moral fable, and this staging, which brings the actors into — and through — the audience, implicates us all in a way no proscenium can. He’s also ensured that the energy of the show — which is as insistent and merciless as a Victorian clockwork steam whistle — never flags. The pacing is brisk but never hurried, and he has wrung every inch out of the Contemporary’s performance space.

One highlight, for fans of the show, is the staging Simpson created for Fogg’s Asylum. Originally done on Broadway with shadows on canvas, he brings the inmates out into full view, and ties in their oppression thematically in a very satisfying way. It’s a deft moment.

As someone who saw the original several times on Broadway — including once from the front row, close enough to see the tears in Len Cariou’s eyes in the final bakehouse scene — I have a high bar for productions of this show. Much as I admire Johnny Depp, the film version does not — and cannot — do this show justice because of the importance of the chorus and frame narrative. That said, I can recommend this production without reservation. If you remember the Broadway version, you will find much familiar and some fine new touches; if this is your first experience of one of the greatest works of American musical theater, well, you are in for one grisly, exhilarating, absorbing evening.

Tickets available at Contemporary Theater Company, 327 Main Street, Wakefield, RI, (401) 218-0282. Evening shows at 7pm on Oct 17, 24, 30, 31, Nov 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14 with Sunday matinees at 2pm on Nov 1 and 8.

Leadership Rhode Island to host state-wide convo on RI strengths

October 8, 2015 (Providence, RI) - Leadership Rhode Island (LRI) is hosting the first statewide strengths-based convening in the United States on October 24, 2015 from 1pm-5pm at Rhodes on The Pawtuxet in Cranston, RI. The event, titled "The Greatest Lil' State on Earth," is free and open to the public and features Jim Clifton of Gallup, Marc Dunkelman of The Vanishing Neighbor, Karl Wadensten of VIBCO, Steve Duvel of Gilbane Building Company, Vinny Gebhart of Preventure, and hundreds of Rhode Islanders.

"We're excited to have Mr. Clifton kick-off the first statewide strengths-based event ever, right here in Rhode Island," exclaimed Mike Ritz, Executive Director of Leadership Rhode Island. "Jim's drive to put his father's decades of positive psychology research to use around the globe is making impact. Rhode Island is the perfect size to implement his work at a statewide scale."

Over 500 attendees, residents of all 39 Rhode Island cities and towns, are already registered to attend with maximum capacity expected to be reached at 800. The afternoon is segmented into three attendee interactive sessions: individual strengths using StrengthsFinder and a strengths-based leadership activity, community strengths that rely on data collected by the current LRI class through 33 LRI-hosted community meetings across the state earlier in the year, and affinities clustered by attendee interests.

"To paraphrase the late Don Clifton, this event applies his foundational question initially applied to people to our state: "what if we studied what is right with Rhode Island, instead of what is wrong?'" asked Ritz.

Jim Clifton's father, Donald O. Clifton - American psychologist and World War II veteran and recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross - was named "the grandfather of positive psychology"* by the American Psychological Association before he passed away in 2003. Jim Clifton carries on his legacy having served as CEO of Gallup, a global leader in consulting and public opinion research and analytics, since 1988. Under his leadership, Gallup has expanded from a predominantly U.S.-based company to a worldwide organization with 30 offices in 20 countries and regions. Mr. Clifton is the creator of The Gallup Path, a metric-based economic model that establishes the linkages among human nature in the workplace, customer engagement and business outcomes. This model is used in performance management systems in more than 500 companies worldwide. His most recent innovation, the Gallup World Poll, is designed to give the world's 7 billion citizens a voice in virtually all key global issues.

Leadership Rhode Island launched its social enterprise initiative to deliver the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment test and training to accompany it in the spring of 2014. LRI has since assessed over 1300 Rhode Islanders, a balance of emerging and established leaders within the nonprofit, for-profit, and government sectors. It's now increasing its capacity to reach more Rhode Islanders over the next 3 years.

The Greatest Lil' State on Earth is free and open to the public, but advanced online registration is necessary at
http://cts.vresp.com/c/?LeadershipRhodeIslan/24690c8bd4/c307955251/c7f8c.... All registrants receive a complimentary code to take the online StrengthsFinder assessment, courtesy of Leadership Rhode Island.

About Leadership Rhode Island
Leadership Rhode Island is a 501© 3 non-profit, established in 1981, whose mission is "to provide leaders and emerging leaders with knowledge and access to resources which will enable them to positively affect their communities." For more information about Leadership Rhode Island's mission, programs and activities, please
call 401-273-1574 or visit www.leadershipri.org.

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

South Portsmouth water main flushing next week

The Portsmouth Water and Fire District (PWFD) will be flushing water mains from 8pm to 6am next week on the following schedule, according to a news release:

Oct 19 East Main Road and Middle Road from Crossings Court to Hedly Street. Hedly Street and all side streets, including Industrial Park. Corys Lane and all side streets. Kings Grant and all side streets. West Main Road from Hedly Street to Union Street, including Father Flanagan’s and John Street.

Oct 20 Middle Road and all side streets to the west, Mill Lane and all side streets, West Passage Drive to Locust Avenue, Stonegate Drive, Greylock Drive, and Greystone Terrace area.

Oct 21 East Main Road to Middle Road, from Town Hall to Union Street.

Oct 22 East Main Road from Sherwood Terrace Vanderbilt Lane, east to the Sakonnet River, Union Street, Jepson Lane, and all side streets.

Oct 27 East Main Road from Lawrence Farms to Sherwood Terrace. Vanderbilt Lane to Sandy Point Avenue and all side streets.

Oct 28 East Main Road from Union Street to Mitchell Lane and side streets, Oakland Farms, Bramans Lane east to Meadow Lark Lane. Sandy Point Avenue and Sandy Point Farms.

Oct 29 Wapping Road to Old Mill Lane. Bramans Lane and side streets. Old Mill Lane, Indian Avenue and side streets.

The PWFD added, "Discoloration of the water is expected during and after the flushing. Flushing in one area may create discolored water in other areas. Customers are advised to avoid washing clothes and those with hot water tanks are advised to avoid drawing hot water during the flushing hours and until any discoloration has cleared. It is expected that the water will clear by midday after the flushing. Customers may also experience low water pressure during the flushing. This schedule is subject to weather conditions or other unforeseen circumstances."

Editorial note: written from a press release.

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