Happy July 4

See you again on July 16

Photo by Richard Asinof

ConvergenceRI will be taking a two-week break and resume publication on July 16.

By Richard Asinof
Posted 6/25/18

PROVIDENCE – ConvergenceRI will be taking a break for the first two weeks in July, in concert with a long observed Rhode Island tradition. The newsletter will resume publication on Monday, July 16.

The first two weeks in July were once the time when industrial manufacturers shut down, repairing and retooling their boilers, as a Rhode Island labor historian explained it. That tradition still holds, even as the state’s economy has mostly shifted away from its manufacturing base. [Though, as one local manufacturer told ConvergenceRI recently, the demand from new orders will force his factory to shut down for only one week this year.]

ConvergenceRI will be sharpening the saw, tending to the garden of new ideas, trying out new recipes, tuning in to new conversations, walking, listening, and observing more.

Forces of light, forces of darkness
Last week, on June 21, we arrived at the moment when, as a result of the tilt and spin of the Earth, the northern hemisphere celebrated the longest, lightest day of the year, a chance to embrace a rebirth of wonder and the lushness of our lives together.

In terms of positive vibrations, as reported in the latest issue of ConvergenceRI, there was the opening of Jim Gillen Teen Center under the auspices of The Providence Center, honoring the legacy of one of the brightest stars in Rhode Island’s recovery community constellation. [In the shadows, unannounced and unheralded, was the news that the pilot Recovery Navigation Program would be closing down on July 16, which succumbed to the difficulty of transitioning from legislative to Medicaid funding. A replacement program is in the works, according to sources.]

There were also the optimistic, glass-is-half-full words spoken by Dr. Jim Padbury, in an interview with ConvergenceRI, talking about the great depth of collaboration being pursued as part of the translational research enterprise now underway in Rhode Island, as part of a thriving academic research engine in the state.

And, as noted in a recent issue of ConvergenceRI, on June 22 in Denver, Colo., Sharon Conard-Wells and Angela Ankoma of the Sankofa Initiative received the national 2018 Health Equity Award presented by the National Civic League in conjunction with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Bravo!

Our nation’s independence
There is also the long-observed tradition of celebrating our nation’s independence with fireworks and parades and family gatherings, a celebration rooted in the rebellion against the tyranny of a British king, in the self-evident truths that all men [and women] are equal and endowed with certain unalienable rights, including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Some ideas bear repeating. As ConvergenceRI wrote last year: In 1776, news of the Declaration of Independence, which redefined the social contract between the government and the consent of the governed, was first shared in printed broadsides and then read aloud in public gatherings, including to General George Washington’s troops in New York City. The document was then reprinted in newspapers in the 13 colonies. It was not printed in British newspapers until more than a month later.

Today, 242 years later, in the digital world we live in, the news is a constantly flowing, instantaneous source of filtered information, entertainment and advertising, far removed from conversations in the public square. Amidst all the noise, self-evident truths are much harder to identify or to recognize in the slipstream of competing narratives.

Yet, it seems, at this moment of expansive light, our democratic values are becoming uprooted, the bones of our democracy eaten away by radioactive greed, darkness, lying, greed, and more lying.

The forces of tyranny have become more pronounced, threatening to dissolve the American democratic experiment. The importance of conversations in the public square have become paramount in efforts to preserve our democracy – the courage and willingness to stand up, to speak out and to say no.

To be blunt and direct and perhaps impolitic: as citizens, we are being forced to confront an elected President who regulary lies and distorts the facts, news networks such as Fox and Sinclair that parrot those lies and deceptions, and Congressional leaders who dissemble the truth with impunity, refusing to stand up to a bullying President and say: the emperor has no clothes.

The underlying currents are racism and misogyny: the disliked fact by some that America is becoming brown and black, and will no longer have a white majority. Those who are angry, fearful and threatened by such changes are being stoked by the use of language describing migrant women and children as being animals and vermin infesting our nation, requiring them to be separated and detained indefinitely in, not the euphemism of tender age shelters, but federal concentration camps.

In response, we need to recognize and celebrate that America’s strength resides in its diversity and its connectedness to Canada, Mexico and Latin America – and the world.

ConvergenceRI will continue to promote conversation and convergence, to break down silos, to ask the questions that need to be asked, and to report on the success of engaged communities in Rhode Island that are creating their own conversations and building their own equity within the state’s emerging innovation ecosystem.

Translated, I do really care; don’t you? Let us continue our conversation on July 16.


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