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Bishop: The Holidays Before The Holiday - A Musical Travelogue of Places Where They Have an Economy

Thursday, November 23, 2017

 

Little Sammy far left with the author and trumpeter Al Gomez and San Antonio Musical historians and patrons

As the quintessential if lesser known celebrant of Thanksgiving, Captain Thanksgiving, who brings Portuguese Sweet Bread to everyone who has been good each year on Thanksgiving (a legend too long to relate unless you join me at the Parlour tomorrow for our southern New England Travelogue with Vince Thompson and the Next Fun Thing), I am additionally blessed with a sheer plethora of earlier, if also lesser known November Holidays. The America First energy conference in Houston, the Specialty Tools and Fasteners Distributors Association (STAFDA) Convention in Austin, the Federalist Society Annual Lawyers Conference in DC, and, to top it all off the Big Band Bash at Johnny Nicholas’ Hilltop Café in Fredericksburg, TX.

Houston

The energy conference was a day of cheerleading for the effort to make fossil fuels great again. It was certainly a reminder that the resurgence of the fossil fuel industry has been the engine of American recovery. Despite his hostility to the phenomenon, it seems quite likely that the fracking revolution bought Obama his second term; and a commitment to domestic energy production surely bought Trump his first. To spend a day with folks who aren’t wringing their hands over our ‘addiction’ to fossil fuel was a refreshing retreat from Rhode Island where our policymakers seem deaf to the contributions of fossil fuels to our well being. But it was doubly refreshing to spend that day in Houston where, like other Texas cities, they know what “cranes in the sky” really look like.

Of course, you can’t go to Houston without stopping at the Mucky Duck. I was also able to catch an extracurricular meet with a young man who I taught in school some 40 years ago who has a career as an energy trader and can run rings around his former teacher with knowledge of these markets, as well as a sit down with the chief regulatory reformer at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. One bit of knowledge that emerged is that in Texas, where electricity costs hover around 11¢/kWH all in, i.e. including generation and transmission costs, a unique coalition of right-leaning free marketeers and left-leaning, greens have maintained the only major electricity market in the country without a forward capacity market. Free market economists there view capacity charges as a dislocating subsidy from ratepayers to generators. This doesn’t change my perspective that much fossil fuel generation is needed to replace that going offline in New England, but the mechanism in Texas for those seeking stability of supply is long-term private contracts (undeterred by any state siting authority, which doesn’t exist).

In some ways, this is akin to Houston itself, which runs just fine without zoning. The very idea leaves other jurisdictions that would fit into one of Houston’s neighborhoods aghast, yet Houston blows the doors off anything we’ve got here in Rhode Island in convenient organization and economy. It doesn’t hurt, of course, that Houston’s offshore production is oil and gas, while ours is wind. For those who imagine having the first offshore wind farm is a harbinger of something, I agree, bankruptcy.

San Antonio

Houston

And you kind of can’t go to Houston without stopping in San Antonio either. The town has its own little building boom and is a center for tex mex food and music. The treat of that trip was Little Sammy ‘Jay’ Jaramillo sitting in with the West Side Horns at Deco’s Pizza upon returning from Dallas after a 40-year hiatus to the birthplace of his musical legend. Growing up in San Antonio, at 14, Little Sammy Jay was singing with electric blues pioneer T-Bone Walker. To see Grammy-winning musicians gathers round Sammy in awe gives you a sense of the esteem in which this Latin answer to Frank Sinatra is held. (Surely a mistake I got in the picture, but no mistake that the great Al Gomez appears here there and everywhere playing himself: one of the best trumpet players in the country).

Austin 

Driving into Austin reveals enough concrete in a single traffic exchange where the Ben White crosses I-35 to build 3 or 4  6-10 connector projects, the rebuilding of which has caused such consternation and toll salivating for Rhode Island’s DOT. And that is but a small sampling of exchange upon exchange that rises above Austin’s geography. Also rising are cranes too numerous to count that make this ‘sleeply’ little capital and college town situated between Dallas and Houston the place Providence could have been – itself a small college town and state capitol similarly situated between larger neighbors Boston and New York. Yeah, Austin is weird alright, with a music scene to die for – as opposed to Providence’s retro scene that dies out after a high in the 70s that could have foreshadowed a real contest with Austin for the title of live music capital.

But our brilliant city father’s gave away the store to downtown developers who built lofts and promptly banished the music scene as too noisy and hurdy-gurdy. Thank god we don’t have the kind of noisy downtown Austin does on Sixth Street. But that isn’t even the half of what is going on in Austin.  If Houston produces gasoline, a place like Austin runs on it. You don’t live there without at car and the music is spread out over an area the size of southern New England where it isn’t unusual to do the equivalent of taking in a show in Boston and Providence the same night and a show in NYC the following night. Thus Austin is the appropriate adopted home of dieselbilly pioneer Bill Kirchen who graces stages around the city. I saw him at El Mercados and the Saxon Pub this trip. 

Fredericksburg

That willingness to put the hammer down fills Johnny Nicholas’ Hilltop Café despite it taking a ‘good’ hour and a half to get there from downtown Austin. Fredericksburg is ‘well’ outside Austin and this club is noticeably outside Fredericksburg. Yet you wouldn’t know you were in the middle of nowhere by the standing room only crowd when some kid named Jimmie Vaughan joined the Texas Horns there this month for the 20th annual Big Band Bash fundraiser for local youth theater programs. As if that weren’t enough they snuck in Texas troubador, Augie Meyers. But where do all these people come from, the players, the audience . . . it’s gas that makes this world go round.

STAFDA

Then again, we motorheads and contractors need our tools so the next day it was off to STAFDA who hosted some kid named Bob Schnieder at Austin City Limits for us. Those in the know knew that bassist Bruce Hughes should have been playing that night with the Resentments at the Saxon Pub, but I guess Schneider and our trade organization tossed him a little more than the tip jar would have yielded. 

For people who make tools, the idea of America being great again looks like good business, and this year's show was as upbeat as I’ve experienced. High point on the tradeshow floor was Milwaukee’s Cordless Mag Drill that was a glimmer of my own imagination when I started talking with them at the show 5 years ago. They told me it was coming, and it was worth the wait. But the high point of the show itself was John Ratzenberger, aka Cliff Clavin from Cheers, who was at pains to point out that made in America is what will make America great again. And this doesn’t require that everyone graduates from college but may indeed favor those who work with the tools being sold by STAFDA members. Kind of like Mike Rowe with one or two less zeros next to his honorarium and a congenial and down to earth style, Ratzenberger connected with the hardware crowd, and we’re not talking computer hardware.

And by the time the show was over I had managed to drag all forms of tool types east of the highway where the real action is for honky-tonk at the White Horse Tavern.  This used to be a kind of nogo zone that is now on fire with development. This is just what the folks in Providence have in mind when they say down and out neighborhoods can come back. The problem is that we don’t have the jobs and industry to support this as a self-sustaining process. In Austin they can’t build this stuff fast enough. I never even made it to Dallas but the building boom there is reported to be bigger than what I saw in Austin, San Antonio or Houston. Go figure.

DC

Which is what I did, ending my pilgrimage to the republic of Texas by legging through DC for the Federalist Society Convention where I get my annual dose (through a fire hose) of how we are getting taken to the cleaners by the administrative state. The New Deal has become the raw deal. The Great Society anything but. And having endured years in the desert with its ideas banished  from popular discouse, the Society assiduously places the most capable alternative voices on its panels. So rather than some Hannity vs. Colmes caricature of law and policy you get the level of argument you might see at the Supreme Court.

Speaking of the court, Justice Neil Gorsuch at dinner one night held to his history of questioning delegations to the administrative state and his determination to focus the court on this separation of powers problem suggests that Scalia’s replacement might indeed have made Scalia blush. And this administration has surely put to rest the negative litmus test : “are you now or have you ever been a member of the Federalist Society”.

Gorsuch chided assembled members for failing to hide their conspiracy very well by holding their penultimate meeting of several thousand in the middle of Union Station and announcing their secret agenda prominently on their website: “The Federalist Society is founded on the principles that the state exists to preserve freedom, that the separation of governmental powers is central to our Constitution, and that it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be.”

In terms of the view of current events, I hesitate to mention a well kept secret -- the mainstream media being so taken with the narrative that the Trump administration is a basket case that couldn’t work with Congress to run a one car funeral  -- that, in fact, the Trump administration has worked like a well oiled machine with Congress on a deregulatory tear that would make Reagan blush.  No happier tidings could I bring back from DC, but perhaps it is better to keep that a secret and let the public keep getting the word that its all about Russia.

And while it can hardly be said that all these youngsters playing music were there embracing that conception, DC nonetheless turned out to be full of its own musical surprises during the federalist invasion. While the film goes back to an earlier visit, Dustbowl Revival returned to DC last weekend with their not to be missed gypsy soul – a blending of American musical genres that no doubt is meant to make music great again.

Back in Rhode Island at last, we have little hope for our economy on a relative basis. If there is a source of hope it is that our music scene hasn’t left for parts unknown.  You could take a musical tour of southern New England that would reveal a similar energy and talent as you can find in Texas. So my musical tour continues and you’re invited, to hear musical miracles, even if the economic miracles of the Republic of Texas are left behind.

The Day after Thanksgiving at the Parlour

Tomorrow, Friday the 24th, from 6 to 9 PM at the Parlour on North Main Street we import Vince Thompson and the Next Fun Thing all the way from Waterford, CT. And to assemble an audience at this speakeasy we’ll be gathering folks from as far as South County to just South of Boston. We too are a scene that thrives on gasoline. Only wish we could drill for more of it in these environs, or at least contemplate what opportunities it provides. But folks would apparently prefer looking like a combat zone to looking like North Dakota.

Now they’ll be plenty of antidote for my own outlook on display at the Parlour where Aaron Jaehnig, a partner in that enterprise, holds court over various progressive priorities. Rhode Island only has one way to go and I’ll work with anybody to get there. A society that recognizes the strength in its differences of opinion is as important as a society that struggles to bridge differences of race and creed, not to mention that I’ll have to apologize ahead of time for backing women into the corner of dancing with me. Perhaps more importantly, a society with great music is great. See https://www.facebook.com/events/301132417069890/you at the Parlour tomorrow. 

Brian Bishop is on the board of OSTPA and has spent 20 years of activism protecting property rights, fighting over regulation and perverse incentives in tax policy. 

 

Related Slideshow: What Rhode Islanders Are Thankful For in 2017

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Johnny Gates

Rhode Island Musician and Contestant on NBC's The Voice

I'm thankful for the crazy journey music has given me this year. It was a wild ride for sure, but I gained some experiences and friends that I'll have for a lifetime. And thank you guys for all the support this year.


 

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Nellie Gorbea

Rhode Island Secretary of State 

At a time when many of our neighbors are facing challenges, it is a privilege to serve the people of Rhode Island. As a working mom, I am thankful for the support that allows me to work for change in Rhode Island.

I am especially thankful to my husband, daughters, and family for their patience, love, and support. I'm thankful for my staff at the Department of State who work hard every day and are committed to making government more accessible to people of Rhode Island.

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John Ghiorse

GoLocalProv Meteorologist

I feel I have been truly blessed and am eternally grateful for and to my wonderful wife, my children, grandchildren, and in-laws. I am thankful for my parents who brought me and my eight siblings up with values of hard work, love of country and, most important, love of each other. 

I also am thankful that I have been able to work with a life-long passion, loving weather since I was 10 years old. I am thankful to have been a meteorologist for almost 50 years in Rhode Island where the weather is so varied and challenging and where Rhode Islanders understand those challenges and cut me a break when I goof up a forecast!

Thank you, Rhode Island and Happy Thanksgiving!
 

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Josh Fenton

CEO and Co-Founder of GoLocal

I am so thankful for a wonderful wife, family, and tremendously supportive friends.

And, I am so appreciative to live in this amazing time. Change is constant. Great ideas can do anything. I am still a sucker for the American Dream -- anyone can do anything. 

And, I am thankful to work and interact with the most interesting people.

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Patricia Morgan

Rhode Island House Minority Leader and Candidate for Rhode Island Governor

Thanksgiving is a time to be with one’s family, and as I sit around the table on Thursday, I will reflect on how grateful I am to be surrounded by my family; my three sons, my beautiful granddaughter Kaitlyn and my wonderful little mom, Dot, who is still with us and about to turn 93.  While my father is gone, I am grateful to both my mom and him, for setting high expectations, and pushing me to reach and exceed their expectations.  When one’s parents believe in them, they can do anything.

Since I began this journey of running for governor back in the fall, I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded each and every day by hardworking Rhode Islanders that believe in me and want to help me become the next governor, so that I, in turn, can help make their lives better.  To all of these amazing volunteers and supporters, I am grateful for their time and encouragement.  They get me through each and every day.

As I look both forward and backward on my life, I am grateful to be an American.  Only here can a little girl from a small farm town grow up and have access to the opportunities that I have had.

 


 

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Kobi Dennis

Community Activist and Candidate for Mayor of Providence

I am thankful for my family, as they have stood by me through the good times and the bad. I am truly blessed to be surrounded by people who love my soul as well as my mission.

I am thankful to be part of true progress within our communities, cities, and state while working alongside revolutionary “change agents” who continue to find their voice.

I am thankful for my friends who have refused to remain on the sideline, instead standing on the frontline with courage, dignity and “justice for all”.

I am thankful for my elders who experienced great loss to ensure the possibility of a better future for those whom they may never meet.

I am thankful for the youth who will someday transform our society through rallies, marches, social media rants and hashtags because black lives do matter.

I am thankful for my fellow Veterans who have valiantly stood for the rights of others through their “Perilous Fight”, allowing us to kneel without regret.

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Joe Paolino

Former Mayor of Providence 

This year, and every year, I am thankful for my family. I am thankful for my good health, and grateful that my family is healthy and able to come home to celebrate. Gathering everyone together for the holidays is so special, and I am thankful that we are able to be together this year.

I am thankful that many of the difficulties facing our community have not touched my family, but I believe it is the responsibility of those in a position to do so to help their neighbors. While I am thankful to have a home to gather in and food to put on the table this Thanksgiving, my hope is that we can have a city where everyone can have a bed to sleep in and a meal to eat. A city where we create jobs for those who panhandle or are unemployed and where we end the horrible opioid crisis that has taken so many young people once and for all. I pray we can gather together this holiday season to help those in need.

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Pam Hughes

President of Mt. Hope Cowboys Youth Football Organization

What am I Thankful for: I am thankful to God for allowing me to see another Thanksgiving, for a healthy heart & good healt, my two beautiful daughters, my Dad who's not in the best of health, but remains upbeat and full of good cheer. I am Thankful for my wonderful family and friends near and far who are a constant reminder that I am blessed beyond measure and last but not least, I am Thankful that 3 of my Mt. Hope Cowboys Teams made it to the Pop Warner Nationals in Disney!!



 

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Saul Kaplan

BIF Founder and Chief Catalyst 

I’m grateful for:

My family and the Business Innovation Factory (BIF) team who stick by me while I keep reinventing myself.

A growing network of smart and passionate people that remind me every day that social isn’t something you bolt on to the way your life currently works but an entirely new way of living.

Living in a time when so much innovation is possible. We are blessed with the tools to enable purposeful networks to work on the real social system challenges of education, healthcare, and government. Transformation seems within our reach.

Being surrounded by people with an incredible sense of humor who make me laugh every day.

The freedom to do work that matters. Passion really is the secret sauce.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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Mike Stenhouse

CEO of Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity 

I am grateful for the more than 200 people and the dozens of citizen advocacy groups who attended our Center's first-annual Ocean State Freedom Banquet earlier this month. I am also thankful for the hard-working taxpayers in our state and for the growing reform movement that our Center is proud to be part of.

 


 

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Gina Raimondo

Rhode Island Governor

This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for the contributions that Rhode Islanders everywhere are making to move our state forward, especially those who give back without any fanfare.

I’m thankful for the grandmother I met at the beach last summer who opens her house to adults with developmental disabilities, and the kids from Coventry High School who are learning how to weld so they can work at Electric Boat. I’m thankful for the small business owners who sacrifice their nights and weekends to grow their businesses, and for teachers who work tirelessly to give our children a shot at a bright future.

Always, I’m thankful for Rhode Islanders who wear our nation’s uniform and for their families who support them. From my family to all of yours, have a very happy Thanksgiving.

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J. Michael Downey

President of Rhode Island Council 94

I'm of course thankful for family and friends, and my seven grandchildren are the light of my life.

So thankful for having a job, have been employed by the state of Rhode Island, for the past 37 years.

But most importantly I'm thankful and proud that I'm President of Rhode Island Council 94.

I have had the honor of representing workers for the majority of my career with the state.

Has given me the opportunity to be the voice of workers, for the past 35 years.

While I'm thankful to the state of Rhode Island for having employed me all these years, I'm especially thankful to the members of Rhode Island Council 94, for giving me the opportunity to fight for dignity in the workplace.

After all, if we don't have dignity in our place of work how can we have dignity for all workers.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 


 

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Jack Reed

United State Senator

To me, Thanksgiving is about appreciating what you have and sharing with others.  I am thankful for family, friends, community, and the many blessings of our great state and nation.  I am thankful to live in a land of opportunity and grateful to the working men and women whose skill and determination built this country and continue to improve it.  And I am especially grateful to the men and women of our Armed Forces who sacrifice so much to keep our nation strong and secure. Many of them are not with their families today so that we may gather together in peace with ours.  They remain in our hearts on this day and always.

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Pilar McCloud

Chair NAACP Providence Branch Youth Work Committee

If I had to sum it up in a word or two I would not be able too. This year has been physically trying & emotionally draining. Yet I’m thankful for it. All of it. You see to me, everything has a lesson. Something we are supposed to learn whether it’s good or bad. So I’m thankful for my trials & those that stood with me & for me when I was unable too. It’s not what you go through that makes you......it’s how you come OUT of it that defines who you are & what you’ll do✊��! 2018 isn’t ready for me honey ☺️✌��.

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Tim Rondeau

Mr. Gay Rhode Island 2017

We’re living in scary times. Marginalized peoples in this country are living in fear and rightfully so. Hard-earned progress for LGBTQ people has hit a snag; it has rolled up to a stoplight that will blink red indefinitely. Today happens to be Transgender Day of Remembrance, as our community (and hopefully our allies) reflect on those trans lives lost but never forgotten.

While I’m hard-pressed to express unwarranted optimism, I do have hope. I give thanks for this amazing Rhode Island queer community of which I’m honored to be a member. We speak frankly and deeply about issues that affect us, without room for pretense or unearned silver linings. We support each other, and we are generally supported. We dump our money into important organizations and aren’t afraid to cry on each other’s shoulders.

I’m lucky to live in arguably the most progressive part of a first world country, where I can walk the streets and feel generally safe, and not a day goes by that I don’t reflect on that good fortune. Always give thanks for the good but never stop fighting for what is right, especially for our trans community members whose rights and safety are jeopardized daily.

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David Brussat

Author of "Architecture Here and There" 

I’m thankful for shopping amid beauty on Westminster Street, thankful that downtown and so much else of historical character was not torn down long ago in Providence, thankful too that today’s modernists are largely relegated to their sandbox in the Jewelry District (but what did the JD do to deserve that?), thankful as well for the instinct to preserve beauty that graces cities and towns around Rhode Island, giving the Ocean State a natural brand that its leaders don’t even begin to understand. If they ever do, we’ll all be thankful for that!

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Martha Sheridan

President and CEO, Providence-Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau

I am thankful to work in an industry that profoundly impacts Rhode Island in a multitude of ways. Of course, tourism is a major economic engine for the state generating millions in spending and tens-of-thousands of jobs, but its impact goes far beyond this obvious benefit. 

The visitor industry shines the light on all that is good about Rhode Island allowing us to share our special and unique assets-miles of scenic coastline, dozens of historic treasures, remarkable local cuisine, and crafts- with people from near and far. Perhaps the greatest of all of our assets are the local residents and front-line employees who help to make each experience unique and memorable. 

From knowledgeable tour guides who expertly tell our story, to extraordinary servers and meticulous room attendants who strive to go the extra mile for their guests, we are fortunate to have a cadre of ambassadors who work tirelessly to create a culture of hospitality that truly sets us apart. 

During this time when there seems to be much that divides us, I am grateful to be part of a sector that works collaboratively and unites us in our mutual quest to showcase our great state.

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David Tabella

Director of Defenders of Animals, Inc.

I am thankful that the cities of East Providence and Warwick and the town of Warren have banned pet stores from selling puppies and cats since the puppies come from out-of-state puppy mills. Those puppy mills are operating in an inhumane manner and produce many sick puppies. Puppy mills also destroy the mothers after they stop producing litters.

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Rich Norris

United Way of Rhode Island Emerging Leader

I am incredibly thankful to be able to work for the students of Providence and their families. These individuals remind me that I must remind hopeful and the genius in the students will revive the city, and will change the lives for so many generations to come. I thank God every day for this opportunity and I am extremely humbled by it.

 


 

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Sheldon Whitehouse

United States Senator

‎Family, loyalty, kindness and affection all feel important this Thanksgiving.

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James Diossa

Mayor of Central Falls 

It is important to take the time to give thanks and be appreciative of everything that we have, especially this Thanksgiving week. I am thankful for the opportunity to serve the community that I grew up in.

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Lisa Ranglin

Rhode Island Black Business Association President

As we celebrate Thanksgiving, we have so much to be thankful for during this holiday season. In our thankfulness, we must recognize and reflect on those things which unite us. We are all part of one race - the human race. As President of Rhode Island Black Business Association, I encourage all Rhode Islanders to think about those families who are struggling this holiday season to make ends meet.

As we celebrate with our own families we must not lose sight of the many families right here in our Rhode Island who may be going without. It is incumbent upon all of us to seek out those families and extend to them a hand to lift them up so that they too can celebrate. It is very important that we recognize that small business development is everyone’s business and small businesses are the backbone of urban communities. Small businesses play a critical role in reducing high unemployment and create a more just society for all families. 

I encourage greater investment in small businesses so more families can secure needed jobs so they can take part in Thanksgiving holiday. 

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Chris Maher

Providence Superintendent of Schools 

As superintendent, I am always thankful for the families of Providence. Learning does not start and stop when the bell rings. Parents are the most important partners we have in education.

They teach students to value lifelong learning, to build strong work habits and to dream big. Not all families have an easy time engaging their children in academics. Sometimes, outside influences - from financial difficulties to health concerns - interfere with those lessons. Other times, children have emotional issues that inhibit their ability to relate to, reflect upon and manage their school life.

That’s why I am also tremendously grateful to the teachers and staff at Providence Public Schools for prioritizing and enacting social-emotional learning supports, so our students can grow the tools of self-awareness, self-management and healthy relationships.

And, for those children who need extra services to become ready for learning, Providence Public Schools is partnering with Family Services of Rhode Island, Providence Center, the Providence Children & Youth Cabinet and Rhode Island Student Assistance Services to offer private counseling services at a place that families can access and that they trust: our schools.

This way, our students can celebrate a healthy and happy Thanksgiving.

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Rev. R. Gabriel Pivarnik

Vice President of Providence College

As we approach this Thanksgiving holiday, I am thankful for the many blessings that God continues to pour forth on the Providence College community—upon our faculty and staff, our students who come to us from all across the country, our engaging and spirited alumni, and all of our partners here in the greater Providence area.  I am also thankful for the simple fact that while we continue to strive to come together as a Friar family rooted in our pursuit of truth, we have never forgotten the desire to serve God and neighbor in all that we do.  May this Thanksgiving be a time of gratitude, love, and service in honor of all that God has given to us.

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Jim Vincent

NAACP Providence Branch President

The NAACP Providence Branch is thankful for several things which the Branch were involved in and which came to fruition this past year.

The Branch was pleased to see the passage and signing of 7 Justice Reinvestment bills which is a big step in modernizing the archaic and inefficient state probation and parole system. As a member of the Justice Reinvestment Working Group,  I was particularly pleased to see these important bills become law after two years of non-stop continued advocacy.

The NAACP Providence Branch was also pleased to see the appointment by Governor Raimondo of Melissa Long to the Superior Court. Judge Long is only the second woman of color to be appointed as a state judge in Rhode Island history!  Going forward, with only two other judges of color on the Rhode Island bench, the Branch demands that the issue of diversity in the courts, including staff, be taken seriously.

The NAACP Providence Branch was particularly pleased that among newly appointed State Police Superintendent Ann Assumpico's first actions was to promote Lieutenants Darnell Weaver and Gerald McKinney to the rank of Captain which placed them on the Command Staff. Before their promotions, there was not one person of color on the Rhode Island State Police Command Staff. The Branch found this to be a glaring weakness. 
Other areas where the Branch was involved and pleased was the Providence Police Department's last Training Academy where 64% of recruits were of color, a city record in diversity.  Also, the passage of the  Automatic Voter Registration and the Domestic Violence Bills 

The Branch acknowledges that all of the above were noteworthy accomplishments but we still have a very long way to go on the road to racial justice in the State of Rhode Island. We look forward to working with anyone who also embraces this idea of racial justice.
 

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James Langevin

United States Representative

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my loving and supportive family, and I'm particularly grateful for the opportunity to spend time with my two beautiful nieces who recently started college. I’m also thankful for my good health, which affords me the privilege of serving the greatest district in this country.  And I am especially grateful to represent my constituents, who are some of the hardest working and most generous people I’ve ever met. I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving, filled with love, laughter, good food and great company.

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Vic Profughi

Rhode Island College Professor and Pollster

Many things to be thankful for.  Among them, in no particular order, good health for me, wife Carolyn, and all of our loved ones, for continuing to have clarity of thought that allows me to continue to teach, keep up to date with politics, and commune with my many friends and former students, and for this chance to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving.


 
 

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Deborah Perry

President and CEO of YWCA Rhode Island

The concept of giving thanks or “Thanksgiving” is a very important one to me.  It’s a way of being and not something I focus on just once a year.  I try to be mindful every day to give thanks for the obvious. I’m thankful to the creator for my partner, my family (birth and chosen), my friends, my home, my education, my health, and YWCA team members. I’m also just as thankful for simple things like:

-The sound of rain in the early morning
-The taste of morning coffee
-The smell of mountain air
-The beat of music
-The colors of a sunset
-Conversations with strangers
-Sitting by the ocean
-Hearing a cat purr
-Hiking with a dog
-Hot peppers
-Soft pillows
-The buzz of bees
-Reading a book
-
Song birds
-Comfortable shoes, a soft sweater, and a well-worn pair of jeans
-Colored pencils
-Annie Leibovitz photography
-Avenue N and Chez Pascal food

As I give thanks daily, I am also very aware of the fact that while many of us choose to rejoice on Thanksgiving Day, many of us choose to mourn.  And while Thanksgiving stories historically focus on the Pilgrims’ point of view, I am also mindful of what the day signifies for many indigenous people.

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Dan McKee

Lt. Governor of RI 

I am thankful for having a great mom and dad who showed me how important it is to put family first. I am thankful for my children, Matt and Kara, and my wife Susan who are daily reminders of why I’m thankful for family all year round.

I am thankful for having great friends, old and new. I am thankful to be able to work with so many talented and dedicated people to help make our state stronger.  

And I am thankful for the men and women who put their lives on the line to protect our freedoms, those who have served and those who continue to serve today. Happy Thanksgiving, Rhode Island.

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Gary Sasse

Founder and Director of the Hassenfeld Institute for Public Leadership and Former Director of the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council

What we are thankful for was best stated, I think, by Ralph Waldo Emerson. It is grace generations of my family has said on Thanksgiving. I think it reflects what Rhode Islanders are thankful for. 

"For each new morning with its light
For rest and shelter of the night
For health and food
For love and friends
For everything Thy goodness sends."


 

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Nicholas Mattiello

Rhode Island Speaker of the House

During this holiday season, I am extremely thankful for having such wonderful family and friends.  Along with my wife MaryAnn and sons Nick and Tony, we are especially excited about the new additions to our family, Duke and Scout. 

They are beautiful golden retriever puppies we welcomed into our home a few weeks ago and they are keeping us very busy.  I also take time at Thanksgiving to be thankful for having the opportunity to represent my neighbors in District 15 in Cranston for the past 11 years.

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Jorge Elorza

Mayor of Providence 

I am thankful for the great honor to serve the people of Providence as their mayor. I am also thankful for our beautifully diverse city and for the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of our future generations.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Dominick J. Ruggerio

Rhode Island Senate President 

The holiday season provides us all with the opportunity to pause and give thanks for our many blessings. I am grateful first and foremost for the health and love of my family. The time I get to spend with my children and grandchildren this week is the greatest joy of Thanksgiving. I am also incredibly fortunate to lead a chamber comprised of some of the most hard-working a dedicated individuals I know.

My colleagues in the Senate come from diverse backgrounds and they approach their public service with a range of viewpoints, but each of them is dedicated to building a better Rhode Island. I am privileged to serve alongside them. The Senate extends is very best wishes for a joyous Thanksgiving to every Rhode Islander.

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Giovanni Feroce

Entrepreneur

Of course, I am most thankful for the wonderful family and friends God has blessed me with. I am also thankful for the opportunity to call Rhode Island home. I have had a rather interesting life as an immigrant who grew up in our state and traveled the world for both business and serving overseas during wartime.  I know firsthand how lucky I am to call Rhode Island and the United States home. 

We have a lot to be thankful for living here.  I am quite fortunate to have such a vast network of great supporters who have kept me grounded and focused on being humble.  It is very important that we all help each other as best we can in good times and bad. 

I am extremely blessed and proud to be an American citizen.


 

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Seth Magaziner

Rhode Island General Treasurer

I am grateful for the generosity of Rhode Islanders. I am grateful for those who serve professionally in our armed forces, our classrooms, hospitals, police stations, and firehouses. I am gratefully for those who serve as volunteers in our community organizations.

And I am grateful those who serve as friends and neighbors, lifting one another up through the tough times. The fundamental goodness displayed by people across our state on a daily basis is what makes me optimistic about our future.

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Donald J. Farish

Roger Williams University President

This Thanksgiving, we at Roger Williams University have much to be thankful for.

We’re thankful for RWU’s year-long series, “Talking About Race, Gender and Power,” which seems perfectly timed for students grappling with a range of jarring events on the national stage. As part of the series, more than 1,000 students, faculty and staff just listened to Beverley Daniel Tatum update topics raised in her landmark book, “ ‘Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?’ And Other Conversations about Race.” The response showed such discussions are helping students make sense of a changing world.

We’re thankful for the connections students and faculty are making to meet community needs right now. For example, RWU just became the first university in the state to partner with the Gateway to College National Network, offering Providence and Pawtucket students a way to secure a high school diploma and an associate’s degree. And the 15th annual Turkey Basket Contest resulted in a record 2,648 pounds of food for the East Bay Food Pantry – up 36 percent from last year. In short, we’re thankful for the chance to pursue the type of engaged teaching and learning that can make a difference.

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Meghan Hughes

President of CCRI

I am thankful for our students, for the tremendous potential they hold for our state and our communities. Every day I see our students display grit, intelligence, and drive as they work to learn and succeed here so they can build rewarding futures for themselves and their families. Every day I see our faculty and staff work relentlessly in service of this college’s mission.

They are dedicating their careers to educating and supporting the students who I strongly believe are this state’s greatest asset – they represent our future and what Rhode Island can become.

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Andrew Stewart

Rhode Island Media Cooperative 

As we spend a long weekend with family and friends, I find myself thankful for two things. First, the increased discussion of intersectional feminist ideas in a way that promotes the story of American Indian bravery over the past several centuries in New England and the wider North and South American continents.

And second, as always, 'Thanksgiving Prayer' by William S. Burroughs, one of the most mordantly funny poems ever written about this tragic holiday.

It is so quintessentially American, so undeniably Burroughs, and totally honest about how ridiculous your Norman Rockwell painting looks.
 

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Scott Avedisian

Mayor of Warwick 

I am thankful for health and happiness. I am also thankful, that despite all of the problems we face, good people still believe in one another and in our collective future.

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Iftikhar Ahmad

Rhode Island Airport Corporation President and CEO

Many a times this last year since I have moved to Rhode Island and I am on my way to work from East Greenwich to the airport, passing through the groves of trees with occasional deer sightings, I cannot help but realize how grateful I am to be here. Rhode Island is my “city on a hill."

I am grateful for a job that gives purpose to my life. That I engage in a business that brings friends closer and families together. That our team was blessed with the opportunity to shorten the distances between the worlds far away and Rhode Island with airlines like Norwegian, Frontier, Allegiant, and One Jet. I am blessed that their operations fill our airport terminal with bustling activity that provides many of us with the dignity of work. I am blessed for an excellent team of volunteers on our board and my beloved airport team at RIAC.

am grateful for two wonderful sons and my beautiful wife who are the light of my eyes and they give meaning to my life.  I would not be anywhere else but here. My list of blessings keeps getting longer and I wish you the same.

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Ray Watson

Community Activist 

I’m grateful for the fact that the national and international communities are more properly informed and aware of the Pokanoket people, who are the reason for Thanksgiving in the first place. The recent happenings with Brown University have shed some much-needed light on Rhode Island’s strong history with this internationally celebrated holiday, and forced people to further consider what the interaction between the Pilgrims and the Indians was actually like.

The fact that while the holiday has been celebrated for so long, the people who were actually the reason for it in the first place have been marginalized and treated as if they don’t exist, is an issue that has bothered me.

This holiday season, after Potumtuck and Camp Po Metacom this past summer and fall, my spirit is encouraged to know that people have been forced to reassess the popular narrative that has been associated with the day, and hopefully will take more and better steps to learn about their Indigenous neighbors who, had it not been for their kindness, the US might not exist as nation today.

 


 

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Lauren Niedel

Bernie Sanders Delegate 

I am thankful for all of the unsung heroes who every day are fighting Trump and his administration. I am especially thankful to Colin Kaepernick for risking his career in bringing to light the inequality of our justice system and also being vegan.

I give Thanks to all of the Indigenous people fighting to protect Mother Earth. I am thankful for all of the environmentalists who have worked together in attempts to stop fossil fuel companies from ravaging the land and constantly challenging the status quo. I am thankful for all of the vegans who don’t eat turkey or other meat and who will be eating a compassionate dinner on Thursday.

I am thankful for Bernie Sanders who has woken up the masses and given so many millions a glimmer of hope in fighting the oligarchs who have taken over the country. I am thankful for all of the brave reporters and investigators who have shined a light on the horrors that are happening throughout the world.

And I am thankful to anyone who has spoken out against injustices that they have witnessed and proved to the world how just a # and a few simple words can make a difference.


 

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Dwayne Keys

South Providence Neighborhood Association President 

Upon reflecting on the events of 2017, I’m thankful for those local events in Rhode Island that occurred this year which relaunched & rejuvenated the advocacy for South Providence & the Greater Southside.

From St. Joseph’s Hospital to abandoned/vacant properties, many residents have remarked that they have not seen such efforts in decades with ensuring that their voices are heard, their needs directly considered, & their feedback requested on matters that impact South Providence.

In turning a negative into a positive, the residents of South Providence continue to demonstrate their power in demanding equity for benefits, services, & resources within the City that meet their needs. For these many outcomes, I am thankful!

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Joe Trillo

Former Rhode Island State Representative & Trump State Campaign Chair

First, I am thankful for my good health. Second, I am thankful for my family and friends. I am thankful for my blessed life and my many successes.

I am thankful to live in the beautiful state of Rhode Island with all its rich beauty and natural history. I am thankful for the freedoms and the quality of life we enjoy and for all those who fought for our rights to enjoy them. I am also thankful for the election of Donald Trump as President of our country and the newfound optimism and growth we are seeing in America.

As we give thanks for all these things, I look forward to the New Year and the opportunity to move our state away from the failed policies of the past. Next Thanksgiving, I hope that I can bring this optimism and opportunity to all Rhode Islanders as your next governor.

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Aaron Regunberg

Rhode Island State Representative and Candidate for Lt. Governor

This holiday week I am thankful for all the Americans standing up and fighting for our democracy and our rights. There's a lot to be fearful about in this political moment, but I am inspired by the resurgence in grassroots organizing and activism we are seeing across our country and across our state, and grateful for all the local leaders who are stepping up, particularly all the women who are leading the way and bringing people together in communities all around Rhode Island.

I'm thankful for my family, especially my wife Katie, who inspires me every day.

I’m also thankful for the people who do the work needed to keep Rhode Island going even on Thanksgiving: the healthcare and elderly care workers, people in social services, retail workers, and all those who go to work on holidays while others take time with their loved ones.


 

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Joe Wilson

Trinity Rep Actor and Community Activist 

I am thankful for this community. Over the past 13 years of living here, I have been welcomed in more ways than I can say. Not only am I thankful for being able to perform in a wonderful acting company, at one of America’s leading regional theaters, but I am thankful that this community has allowed me to serve.

The idea of an actor is pushed to the boundaries in communities like this one in a very wonderful way. We are not only given the chance to not only perform on stage, but to serve as teachers, mentors, and ambassadors of good will. Being an artist in this community has allowed me to play the role of a lifetime...that of a public servant. For that I maternally grateful.

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Don Grebien

Mayor of Pawtucket

This year, I am particularly thankful every day for my health and for my family. I would not be where I am today or be able to be Mayor without their constant love, support, understanding, and feedback.

I am also thankful for the people of Pawtucket. I never cease to be amazed by the passion, commitment, and talent in our city. Our residents are always working to make our community a better place and drive us forward.  

There have been ups and downs this year, but our community never gives up and never stops moving forward. We have a lot to look forward to and to be proud of- our graduation rates keep rising, the commuter rail station will be here in 2020, new businesses are choosing Pawtucket, our arts community continues to grow, and we have come back from the brink of bankruptcy. As a lifelong resident, I am thankful to see our community coming back again.

It has been a scary year. Our sense of public safety has been tested and put into question. I am incredibly thankful for our law enforcement officials, first responders, and military personnel serving our country both here and abroad.

For those that have experienced loss, are suffering, facing addition, have lost their job or are going through a rough patch, know that there is support for you. Let this be the year that you take that first step.

I wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving and a blessed holiday season.

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Allan Fung

Cranston Mayor and Candidate for Governor of Rhode Island

What is there not to be thankful for?  I'm the luckiest guy in the world.

I'm thankful for a wife that can debate policy angles before breakfast, finds the coolest anniversary gifts, and enjoys this crazy life we live.

I'm thankful for a mom that taught me that in America, no matter your humble beginnings, you can be anything if you work hard for it.

I'm thankful for the nurses and CNAs that help my dad, give him hugs on those tough days, and care so much as to make sure his sideburns are trimmed precisely the way he likes them.

I'm thankful for Sunday dinners with the world's best in-laws, and the homemade brownies my mother in law sneaks in our bag for the ride back.

I'm thankful for some of the best city employees a Mayor could ever wish to have.

I'm thankful for the veterans I meet every day, who put themselves on the line to make sure that millions of strangers back home stayed safe.

And I'm thankful for the tremendous opportunities life has put in front of me... and even more grateful for the people who gave me a little nudge.

 
 

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