RI Candidates Speak Out on Nonviolence at Institute Forum
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
"I believe this forum is the first of its kind in the country focusing on addressing nonviolence," Institute Executive Director Teny Gross told GoLocal. "This is just the start of the dialogue moving forward during the campaign season."
Gubernatorial candidates included Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, General Treasurer Gina Raimondo, and Todd Giroux. They were followed by a Providence Mayoral contender panel that included Brett Smiley, Lorne Adrain, Michael Solomon, Jorge Elorza, and Chris Young.
"Until recently, we weren't able to challenge our society as to what we're going to invest to get peace," said Gross in his opening remarks. "We almost don't teach nonviolence in schools, and we've never asked elected officials and others the serious questions. Everyone who gets a government job should get trained in nonviolence."
Gubernatorial Candidates on the Record
"Violence is a cancer -- if we don't focus on it, we'll see it spread," said Mayor Taveras. "What can we do? Jobs. Summer jobs -- at the state level, we can do more through the DLT." Taveras called for a doubling of summer job training funds from $2.1 million to $4.2 million.
Raimondo spoke on looking to support "results oriented programs" -- and called for a ban on assault weapons.
"I will commit myself to supporting and funding results-oriented programs we need to fund nonviolence training in schools," said Raimondo. "I did the training here for public officials. People don't just know this -- they need to be taught this."
Raimondo added that part of her focus was to "redouble out efforts" against domestic violence. "Let's keep people safe in their homes first," said the General Treasurer.
Giroux touched upon a personal experience to illustrate that "we need a different response -- education begins a new generation."
"I was bullied in school and sent to karate," said Giroux. "I came back and beat up the bully, and the teacher shook my hand. Would that happen today? I don't think so."
Mayoral Hopefuls Weigh In
City Council President Michael Solomon touched upon a proposal he would unveil to address nonviolence training in the public schools. "We rely too much on suspension policies as opposed to mediating conflicts," said Solomon. "Too much emphasis on high stakes testing, when we need to teach nonviolence to teach students to deal with conflict. I have a plan to work with the Institute to work with a 3 year plan," noting that it would involve 12 schools a year for three years.
Elorza articulated his vision for addressing nonviolence in schools. "I want to focus on the school to prison pipeline we seem to be forming," and pointed to the current initiative of "restorative justice" in Central Falls as an example to "hold students more accountable."
"Out of school suspension doesn't work," said Elorza. "It takes students out of classroom, when they should be receiving instruction. This has shown to be a way to show students the harm they've caused the community -- and gives them a way to restore the community."
Adrain focused strongly on the notion of community. "I will say that we all as a community need to think about who we are. The culture has to be lead by City Hall, and seen in what's said and done. I started National Neighborhood Day, to take the time to meet the folks across the street, around the corner, so we come to know each other, and care about each other. How do we think about this place that we live in -- wouldn't it be great if people chose this place."
"We are all the Mayor of Providence," said Adrain.
Young, spoke to the issue of the Davey Lopes pool closing, said it was a "systemic way to deconstruct a community."
"Summer jobs should provide skills to kids that they can use in the future, practical vocational training is the priority," said Young. "Summer jobs were a start, but they needed to be tied to something."
Institute co-founder Sister Ann Keefe said was heartened by the discussion -- but wanted to see the talk put into action.
"I want to hear what the Governor-elect -- he or she -- will say in the State of the State address when they take office," said Keefe. "Only then we will see that their nonviolence priorities outlined in the campaign are given the support that they spoke to."
"Let's not go through another election...let's give ourselves as the peace community," said Gross in closing. "We're a strong community, but we need determination as tough as those who cause the violence."
14 To Watch in RI in 2014
One of the most exciting GoLocal up-and-comers to watch is only just starting to make her mark, as SlowFoodURI founder Neill is a URI senior in Kingston.
Named a Truman Scholar last spring—one of only 61 nationwide—Neill founded Slow Food URI "with a passion for food and great concern for the wellbeing of all things."
Co-owner of Midday Records and guitarist for Satellites Fall, Moore is making a major impact on the New England music scene. While he's been part of the Midday label since 2008, Moore has been taking it to another level, putting out a series compilation albums featuring some of the best bands in the area titled New England Indie Alt Rock, as well as a digital compilation with 80 bands titled Onefundboston.org: A Benefit For The Boston Marathon".
Brierley is a rising fashion designer who studied at the Rhode Island School of Design, as well as the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, and resisted the lure of the Big Apple to open her flagship store in Newport.
"I just wanted to do something fresh," Brierley told GoLocal in July. "I love how much the community in Newport appreciates what we do and our windows. It is a rewarding connection to a community."
12 to Watch in 2012...Best Brunch in Providence in 2013...multiple nods for the James Beard Award...Farmstead's Matt Jennings is not one to rest on his laurels atop the always competitive Providence and RI culinary scenes.
With a loyal Twitter base nearing 10,000 followers, Jennings—known as "Providence's Pied Piper of Cheese" and "Prince of Pork"—continues to advance the culture and excellence that landed Providence atop Travel + Leisure's list for Food/Drink/Restaurants—the #1 city in the country—in 2012.
Providence-based biotech EpiVax, Inc., is an immunology company that has "developed comprehensive analytical capabilities in the field of computational immunology" and applies those tools to re-engineer therapeutic proteins and to design new vaccines. The company continues to forge ahead as a groundbreaking health science company in the state. Basically, as stated on their website, they "do it all."
Microfinance proponent and co-founder of the Capital Good Fund, Posner is working to be the "best best financial empowerment organization in America by providing high-quality, innovative and transformational financial services to underserved families."
In October, the National Consumer Law Center gave Rhode Island a "C" for debt protection laws for consumers in the state. Posner told GoLocal that "One of the biggest problems is that we are the only New England state that allows payday lenders to charge more than 36% APR. In fact, in RI they can charge up to 260% APR thanks to a special carve out in the general laws. These loans target the poor and trap them in a cycle of debt that leads to tremendous stress and a significant drain on their finances."
This Betaspring darling and Walker Williams brainchild is set to revolutionize the way that custom-designed tee-shirts are produced. The company allows customers to design a style, set a sales goal, and pre-order the product, cutting out the need for a middle man.
"No paying thousands of dollars upfront, no guessing how many shirts or what sizes you'll need, and no passing out t-shirts one by one and chasing people down for cash," writes Teespring on their website. And folks are taking note—Forbes contributor Alexander Taub wrote in January of Teepsring, "Is this Rhode Based startup the future of custom apparel?"
This consummate public relations professional struck out on her own in 2013 after years at RDW Group with Patti Doyle Communications, and shows no sign of slowing down.
Doyle's clients include Twin River Casino, which officially launched its table game offerings after a successful 2012 referendum. The gaming licensing process has been slow and deliberate in Massachusetts, which in 2011 approved legislation to allow up to 3 casinos and a slots parlor, promising stiff competition to Twin River once those are up and operational. Once the fight is on, watch for Doyle to be spearheading the communications strategy from Rhode Island's third-largest source of revenue.
A 2013 RI YWCA "Woman of Achievement," Cano-Morales is no stranger to accolades for her work in the community. The Central Falls native is the Director of the Latino Policy Institute at Roger Williams University and is Chair of the Central Falls School District Board of Trustees.
Cano-Morales was no stranger to GoLocal's Hot or Not lists this year, earning multiple "hot" nods for her work, including LPI reports focusing on the state's latino workforce. And Cano-Morales is forward thinking when it comes to educational opportunities, and talked with GoLocal about the biggest challenges she saw facing Rhode Island.
Which way will the wind blow in 2014 for the Deepwater Wind project?
2013 saw Deepwater Wind win key leases in the first round of federal auctions in August for offshore wind projects, taking the bids at just over $3.8 million. In December, the state properties committee approved agreements to allow for an underwater transmission cable to go through Scarborough State Beach, to allow Deepwater to build a "demonstration" wind farm off of Block Island.
In 2012, the legalization of same-sex marriage was the top social and legal issue addressed and approved by the General Assembly. Will the full-scale legalization of marijuana be on the table in 2014? Expect to see State Rep. Edith Ajello front and center in the debate if so.
While medical marijuana and the decriminalization of the possession of small amounts of it have moved through the General Assembly, the question is whether Rhode Island will follow Colorado and Washington's lead and pass full-scale legalization legislation.
Will he, or won't he?
One of the burning questions for 2014 is whether the former two-time Mayor of Providence will toss his hat in the ring for a third go at the office.
GoLocal posed the questions back in September, asking political experts and pundits their thoughts on the matter. Of the longest-serving Mayor of Providence, who was in office from 1975 to 1984 and again from 1991 to 2002, Darrell West of the Brookings Institute and formerly of Brown's Taubman Center for Public Policy said, "There would be tremendous media and public interest if Cianci ran. It would turn this into a high-profile campaign. It is not clear what will be the deciding factor. It would be very different if Cianci is in the race or not."
In October, GoLocal broke that Clay Pell, grandson of six-term Rhode Island Senator Claiborne Pell, was weighing a potential 2014 gubernatorial run in Rhode Island.
Pell, who's resume includes being a White House staffer and Coast Guard Reserve Officer, married Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan in a ceremony at First Unitarian Church in Providence in 2013, and was appointed by President Obama as Deputy Assistant Secretary for International and Foreign Language Education in April.
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