Portsmouth community-building dog park wins $10K grant from Rhode Island Foundation

The town of Portsmouth is among the organizations that will share $500,000 in "Centennial Community Grants" from the Rhode Island Foundation, according to a release sent to media this afternoon.

The town received $10,000 to help create a dog park for its 1,672 registered dogs and their owners as a place to gather and interact, thus building community in a 2-acre section of Melville Park, centrally located in the town, that will be dedicated to preserving the natural beauty that typifies Newport County.

"This dog park will be a welcoming place for residents of Newport County and beyond, including visitors to the Melville Ponds Campground, and also provide opportunities for community volunteers as well as education and training to dog owners," said Bunny Miller, of the Portsmouth Dog Park Planning Committee.

The project is among 43 that received funding from the Foundation. All the work that is being funded is expected to be completed before the end of the year. The maximum grant was $15,000.

The Centennial Community Grants program is just one in a series of activities to mark the Foundation’s 100th anniversary this year.

“We are celebrating our Centennial by funding projects that will bring life to every one of Rhode Island's remarkable cities and towns. Communities will blossom and grow stronger as this works rolls out,” said Jessica David, the Foundation’s senior vice president of strategy and community investments.

“Our work would not be possible but for the visionaries who came before us, the donors who generously invest in Rhode Island and the community leaders who convert the resources into action,” said Neil Steinberg, president and CEO of the Foundation.

The Centennial grants were funded in part through a generous gift from long-time Foundation donor Anne Sage.

“This is such a wonderful way to celebrate the Foundation’s 100th anniversary. What an amazing opportunity to cast a wide net and benefit people from every corner of Rhode Island,” Sage said.

Founded on June 13, 1916, with a $10,000 gift from industrialist Jesse Metcalf, the Foundation’s assets have grown to nearly $800 million. Over the past five years, the Foundation has awarded more than $165 million in grants.

The centerpiece of the centennial celebration is a $10 million campaign to restore Roger Williams Park. The work will include improvements to the park’s entrances, new signage, expanded walkways and bicycle paths and repairs to the Museum of Natural History, the Bandstand, the Casino and the Temple to Music.

The Foundation has already raised $5 million. The support includes $1.5 million from the Foundation itself as well as a $1.15 million gift from The Champlin Foundations to restore the historic Bandstand and Museum. In addition, more than four dozen other donors have contributed to the campaign.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. In 2015, the Foundation awarded $41.5 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities. Through leadership, fundraising and grant making activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential. For more information, visit rifoundation.org.

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

02871, Localblogging, RIFoundation

Portsmouth author's hypermedia novel featured at Rutgers symposium

Click to embiggen

On April 21, my 1993 hypertext novel "Uncle Buddy's Phantom Funhouse" will be the topic of a symposium at Rutgers University. The poster for the event just dropped, and it looks awesome.

02871, localbllogging, Fiction

Healthy local food summit on Saturday in Portsmouth


Portsmouth will host a free (registration required) half-day "Food Summit 3" on Saturday, April 2, focusing on local-grown food on Aquidneck Island. The event will "take the pulse of the emerging healthy local food movement in Rhode Island, where Aquidneck Island has become an incubator of a new and vital food system," organizers said in a release.

First Gentleman, Andy Moffat, and RI DEM Director Janet Coit will be among the community leaders attending to discuss of the movement toward economic health and sustainability. The event also serves to announce the uniting of Aquidneck Growers’ Market, Sustainable Aquidneck, and the Island Commons Food Initiative under one umbrella to more effectively serve the changing food system needs of the Aquidneck Island community under the new name of Aquidneck Community Table, or ACT.

Highly interACTive, this lively symposium will focus on ACTivism and will reveal

  • Rhode Island’s first community food map,
  • The results of Aquidneck Land Trust's Newport County farm survey, and
  • The new, energetic movement to create community and school gardens across the island.

The program will dedicate time to ways that everyone can learn and contribute to the healthy local food movement via the island’s first ACTion Fair, showcasing many ways to get involved:

  • Building Newport's first community garden,
  • Island Community Farm programs in Middletown, plus
  • Many other emerging ways to make healthy food accessible to all members of our community through action, conversation, and understanding.

April 2, 2016, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
St. Mary's Church Parish Hall
324 East Main, Portsmouth
Free and open to all
Registration required: bitly.com/FoodSummit3ACT

Further details? Please contact

Editorial note: Written from a news release.

02871, Localblogging, farm, FS3RI

Watch RI Rep suggest that proposing gun legislation be criminalized [update]

house_judiciary_roberts.pngThere was a lot of contentious talk at last night's RI House Judiciary hearing on gun safety bills, but one piece of testimony stuck out for me as being particularly chilling. One of the bills, H7199, proposed by Rep. Aaron Regunberg, would limit magazines to 10 rounds. Rep. Sherry Roberts (R-29 Coventry, West Greenwich) offered this response:

"This bill does nothing other than to seek to turn the law-abiding citizen who owns firearms into a criminal. First of all, when legislators take their oath of office, they take an oath to uphold the Constitution. If anything, what we really need is to criminalize those who seek to infringe on the Second Amendment rights guaranteed to individuals both by the US and Rhode Island Constitution, in my opinion. Perhaps it is time to demand that legislators who propose this type of legislation that would defy the Constitution, perhaps we should ask them to forfeit their seat instead."

Transcribed from Capitol TV: Visit the House Judiciary category, click on "House Committee on Judiciary 3-22-16 Part 2" (thumbnail is a guy with a yellow tie). Relevant clip is at 24:39. Or, in the clip below, scroll to 2:49.

Thanks to Steve Ahlquist for the video capture!

It's one thing to pack the state house to try to kill bills in committee. It's quite another thing, in my opinion, for a legislator to suggest that those who propose common-sense gun safety measures lose their seat and become subject to criminal penalties. Of course, this is just my opinion.

Full disclosure: I attended as much of last night's hearing as I could stay awake for as a supporter of the several gun safety bills on the agenda. I have also donated to Rep. Regunberg's campaign precisely because he proposes this kind of legislation. He is not, in my opinion, a criminal.

Update: Embedded video added.

02871, Localblogging, GA

LTE: Register to vote in the RI Primary by March 25

This letter to the editor is from Portsmouth resident Linda Ujifusa

To vote in the April 26 RI Presidential Primary, you must be registered to vote by March 25, 2016.

In this contentious election year, your vote in the primary counts more than ever. You will vote not only for your party's candidate, but also, for your party's national convention delegates.

To check your voter registration status, you can call your local Board of Canvassers’ office or go to: sos.ri.gov/vic

To get a registration form, update your name, address or party affiliation, as well as get a form to request a mail-in ballot, go to your local Board of Canvassers or go online to: sos.ri.gov/divisions/Elections/Voters/voter-registration

Note: You must print out the forms and snail mail or deliver them to your local Board of Canvassers.

This weekend, non-partisan voter registration tables will be set up:

Sat., March 19, 2016 - 9 am to 1 pm - at the Aquidneck Growers' Market, Newport Vineyards & Winery, 909 East Main Road, Middletown, RI; and

Sun., March 20, 2016 - 10 am to 2 pm - at Clements' Marketplace, 2575 E Main Rd, Portsmouth, RI.

So much is at stake in this year’s election. Please make sure you and your family and friends are registered to vote!

Linda Ujifusa

02871, Localblogging, Elections

"New York Collapse" brings artifactual richness to "The Division"


If you've been playing "The Division" since it dropped a week ago, you're probably familiar with the challenging environment of a New York City decimated by an engineered virus, quarantined from the outside world, and degenerated to lawlessness. The companion book, called "New York Collapse," offers a rich artifactual journey through the city's descent into chaos and provides tantalizing hints and lore that will enrich your gaming experience.

Written by science fiction author Alex Irvine and produced by Melcher Media, the conceit of the book is that it's an (in-universe) survival guide.

The text is ostensibly written by a quasi-spook named Warren Merchant who seems to know far too much about the particular challenges that an engineered virus — and its paper money vector — would bring to New York. On this level, the text functions as robust, 170-page guide to surviving an urban apocalypse through preparation (what to keep in your "Go Bag"), analyzing risks ("Avoid high-rises"), finding or improvising essentials (did you know you can make a solar water purifying still with a couple of plastic containers and some tubing), and urban tactics (how and where to cache materials you may need later.)

On this level, it's pretty compelling — nothing new if you're a pepper, but some good pointers, with a focus on Manhattan Island. (Near Spuyten Duyvil would be the best place to try a raft, but it's almost certain to be guarded, Merchant warns.)

But where the book really shines is in the annotations, which recount the last month since the spread of the pandemic "Dollar Bug" from the point of view of one April Kelleher. Her late husband, Bill, was a biotech researcher killed early in the pandemic under mysterious circumstances. April is trapped on Manhattan Island by the quarantine, and is forced to learn to survive, using Merchant's book. She scribbles in the margins in different colors of ink, as she finds and loses writing implements, which gives the text a recursive, palimpsestic feel (and also serves to provide chronological pegs for her observations).

And it's a pretty grim story, from the death of her husband, her struggles to find safe places to stay, her efforts to avoid the roving gangs which begin to crop up as civilization decays (the Cleaners, Rikers, and LMB you'll be familiar with from the game), and her quest to piece together an emerging mystery: Who is Warren Merchant, really? How did he know about the Dollar Bug? And why does he seem to be planting clues in the text for April to find?

You pretty soon find yourself as hooked as April, scanning the pages for embedded puzzles and clues. Some of them are obvious (odd things in illustrations) and some are subtle (Nah, Merchant is not going to make a mistake in how much a gallon of water weighs). After a couple of hours, you'll find yourself looking for patterns in capital letters and wondering if that stray green dot on page 120 is just a printing artifact.

In addition to the faux-distressed paperback guide, the package contains an array of stuffed-in objects: a map (with creases expertly printed to simulate wear and an enigmatic clue scrawled in marker), a "missing" poster of April (with a suspect phone number), a hand-drawn "trading card" of her husband, a torn-out page of a book on WWI Dutch musicians (yes, you'll figure out why), and a plastic transit fare card with holes strategically punched in the surface. (You'll need find where to put the sticky note first to figure out how to use this decoder. And, yes, it does point to something in the game.)

I'm a sucker for artifactual fictions, and this one is extremely well done, both in the multiple textual layers, and also in the high production values of the whole package. It's a captivating read with fun puzzles and an overall experience that adds significant depth to the time you're undoubtedly spending in the game itself. Highly recommended.

Full disclosure: I attended the Clarion Workshop with Alex in 1993. I purchased this book and received nothing in exchange for this review.

02871, Localblogging, sf, books

Register to vote on Saturday (NPT Vineyards) and Sunday (Clement's)


There will be two voter registration drives on Aquidneck Island this weekend, so if you're not registered — and you want to vote in the RI Presidential Primary on April 26 — now's the time, since the deadline is March 27.

On Saturday, for early birds and those who head to the Aquidneck Growers's Market at Newport Vineyards, there'll be a registration table there from 9am to 1pm. The Newport Vineyards and Winery is at 909 East Main Road in Middletown.

On Sunday, there'll be a table at Clement's Market from 10am to 2pm. Clement's is at
2575 E Main Rd, Portsmouth.

Purely non-partisan — this is just about registering to vote, so if you're not on the voter rolls, be sure to stop by.

02871, Localblogging, Elections

Portsmouth celebrates founding with display of 1638 Compact

Portsmouth Compact (click to enlarge)

Portsmouth's Town Hall was standing room only this morning as citizens gathered to celebrate the town's 378th anniversary with a special viewing of the original Compact, signed by 23 of the town's founders.

The 378-year-old document, which normally resides in the state archives, was on display in the town council chamber. Council Vice President Jim Seveney was on hand to welcome residents and share the council's proclamation marking Founder's Day.

"This kicked off our inaugural Founder's Day event celebrating the history of the town," Seveney told harddeadlines. "It was great to see lots of people there and engaged."

Town historian Jim Garman offered remarks proving the historical context behind the Compact -- one of the oldest surviving.

"it's a very special document," said Garman. "Not too many towns have a founding document still in existence."

Garman outlined the history behind Portsmouth's founding -- how Anne Hutchinson's disagreements with religious leaders in Massachusetts Bay prompted a group to look for a place of their own. Providence's Roger Williams assisted them in buying Aquidneck Island from the Narragansetts for 40 fathoms of white beads and a couple dozen farm tools.

The ceremony was attended by State Rep. Dan Reilly (R-72), and Council members David Gleason and Liz Pedro, and featured live music by harpist Arilyn Mitchell, who also accompanied attendees in the National Anthem.

Garman promised to add more interesting historical info at his lecture on the early days of Portsmouth which will happen this Wednesday at the Portsmouth Public Library from 6:30 to 7:30pm. He advised that there are only 10 seats left, so you'll want to reserve your seat with the library.

Garman also invited attendees to become members of the newly expanded Portsmouth Historical Society, which works to preserve the Town's rich heritage.

Town Council VP Jim Seveney welcomes attendees.
Jim Seveney and Portsmouth Historical Society board member Rich Talipsky (center) talk with Town Historian Jim Garman.
Attendees inspect the original Portsmouth Town Compact of 1638.

02871, Localblogging, Town of Portsmouth, Compact

Sanders delegate signature event in Portsmouth on Saturday

Local Bernie Sanders delegate candidates will be holding a signature gathering event tomorrow, Saturday, February 27 from 12-2PM at Foodworks Restaurant, 2461 E Main Rd.

FYI — The way the process works, folks who want to be delegates to the Democratic National Convention have filed papers with the RI Secretary of State. They need to get 150 signatures of registered voters by next Tuesday in order to be able to appear on the ballot on primary day. You don't have to be a registered Democrat (or even a Sanders supporter) to sign their papers.

02871, Localblogging, Elections

RI schools embrace open-source resources

Rhode Island has joined a new multi-state, open-education initiative to put more free educational resources in the hands of students and teachers, the RI Dept. of Education announced this afternoon.

Through the #GoOpen initiative, coordinated by the U.S. Department of Education, Rhode Island joins 12 other states that have pledged to work together in the first #GoOpen cohort to support teachers in using high-quality, openly licensed educational resources in their schools.

“By joining the #GoOpen initiative, Rhode Island has entered into a partnership with other states committed to innovation and the use of technology to support learning,” said R.I. Governor Gina M. Raimondo. “We recognize the importance of providing our students with the highest-quality learning resources, and we want to make excellent online instructional materials available to our teachers, free of charge. The #GoOpen initiative will accelerate our commitment to bringing our schools and classrooms into the digital age.”

Openly licensed educational resources are digital learning materials that can be used, modified, and shared without breaking copyright laws or paying licensing fees. As such, openly licensed educational resources have enormous potential to increase equitable access to high-quality education opportunities for all students.

Rhode Island was recognized by the U.S. Department of Education at the #GoOpen Exchange, taking place today (February 26) in San Francisco, for its commitment to work with other states to help teachers transition from traditional textbooks to openly licensed educational resources. “We are excited to work with Rhode Island to make openly licensed educational resources available to more teachers,” said Joseph South, Director of the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education. “The smart use of digital-learning resources can increase equity and empower teachers.”

“Rhode Island has become a leader in digital learning through our Innovation Powered by Technology grants and annual conferences. This new initiative, focused on openly licensed educational resources, brings tremendous opportunities for our students and teachers,” said Barbara S. Cottam, Chair of the Board of Education. “Not only can these online materials advance classroom instruction – these resources can also save taxpayer money, as they are available at no cost. I am glad Rhode Island has joined this partnership.”

“We have made many wise investments in technology for our schools, such as the Wireless Classroom Initiative, which has brought wireless Internet access to all Rhode Island classrooms,” said Daniel P. McConaghy, Chair of the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education. “The #GoOpen initiative is an important next step that will support our adoption of digital learning in the classroom.”

“Teaching and learning improve only when teachers have time to collaborate, analyze the learning standards, develop curriculum and lessons, review student work, observe one another, get feedback, and reflect on their practice,” said Education Commissioner Ken Wagner. “As members of the #GoOpen cohort, we encourage schools to use high-quality open educational resources – free curriculum and instructional materials that can be adapted for local purposes – and free up money to be used for ongoing professional development.”

Transitioning to openly licensed resources is essential to preparing our students to be successful. “We can’t prepare our students to thrive in the future using costly, outdated textbooks of the past,” said Richard Culatta, Chief Innovation Officer for the State of Rhode Island. “Openly licensed educational resources allow teachers to adapt and modify learning activities to fit the needs of their students and save money for their school.”

In joining the #GoOpen cohort, the R.I. Department of Education (RIDE), in partnership with the R.I. Office of Innovation, has agreed to the following commitments:

  • Implement a statewide technology strategy that includes the use of openly licensed resources as a central component.
  • Create a repository of openly licensed educational resources for teachers, students, and families.
  • Collaborate with other #GoOpen states to share openly licensed learning resources and professional development strategies.
  • Create a website to share our commitment to #GoOpen and to document our progress.

For more details on #GoOpen commitments made by states, school districts, and technology companies, visit: http://tech.ed.gov/open.

Editorial note: Written from a RIDE news release.

02871, Localblogging, RIDE