See you again on January 2

Stay warm, stay healthy, keep sharing and stay engaged

Photo by Richard Asinof

Our own stories are the most valuable possessions we have; sharing them is the glue that connects us in the human endeavor.

Posted 12/11/17

PROVIDENCE – ConvergenceRI is taking a planned two week break and will send out the next issue on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018.

As ConvergenceRI moves forward into its fifth year, steadily gaining traction in the marketplace, expanding conversations and convergence across networks, communities and industry clusters, I want to offer my sincere thanks and gratitude to everyone who has helped make it a success. Thank you!

We are entering a challenging time in our nation and in our state, one where it will become much harder to be heard above the cacophony in the onslaught of breaking news and media click-bait distraction.

Consolidation is occurring at an accelerated pace – in the health care industry, in the news business and in the information and service industries.

“This is a watershed event. The entire health care system is about to converge,” David Friend, managing director at BDO’s Center for Healthcare Excellence & Innovation, recently told Emily Stewart at Vox, talking about the $69 billion merger between CVS Health and Aetna, pending regulators approval.

The questions that needs to be asked: What will be the value to the consumer? Who will control the data and how it is mined?

GateHouse Media, the owners of The Providence Journal and most other daily newspapers in Southeastern Massachusetts, just purchased the bankrupt Boston Herald, making the region more and more a place where the printed news is homogenized through one corporate entity.

The question that needs to be asked: What new kinds of innovative, disruptive local digital news platforms will flourish as the dinosaurs of the newspaper age wither, much like the tragedy of the starving polar bears that have become victims of climate change, as their habitat [readership] disappears. That said, not all local digital news platforms are, shall we say, ah, trustworthy, brave, clean and reverent.

In recent weeks there have been an impressive number of business deals concluded by CommerceRI – including the decision by Infosys to locate a new innovation design hub in Providence, the opening of the Virgin Pulse global headquarters in Providence, and the construction now underway on the Wexford Innovation Center. A new RFP to create two new innovation campuses in Rhode Island may soon be released in the coming weeks.

The question that needs to be asked: How will the tax incentives that were part of the business deals become part of the political debate in the 2018 gubernatorial campaign?

The linchpin in much of the development now underway in the former Jewelry District is Brown University, with its willingness to invest in the research and innovation enterprise. The opening of South Street Landing and the Nursing Education Center offers testimony to the power of such investments [even if the shared space between the URI and RIC nursing programs remains a bearded marriage].

The question that needs to be asked: what will happen to Brown University’s ability to make investments if the planned changes proposed in the tax cut legislation by the Republican Congress are enacted?

Sharing stories
Our personal stories are still the most valuable possession we have. Sharing them is the glue that connects to the past to the present, helping to define what an engaged neighborhood and community are.

ConvergenceRI remains a place where stories are valued, where conversation is encouraged, where convergence is tracked. It is a disruptive force in the marketplace, seeking to break down well-defended silos of information and challenging the powers that be to answer questions and to be held accountable for their answers.

Sometimes it is the story about a neighborhood such as Olneyville, often disparaged as a crime magnet, reinventing itself with the help of a community development corporation buying up foreclosed and blighted properties to change the landscape and reduce crime.

Sometimes it is the story of a local group attempting to preserve a working farm as the home of a farming school.

Sometimes it is the story of a 70-year-old woman who becomes a paddle-board instructor, teaching 20-somethings and 30-somethings.

Sometimes it is the story of Neighborhood Health Station being built in Central Falls, re-imagining how health care delivery can respond to a community’s needs.

Sometimes it is the story about how the research legacy of a father has been passed on to his daughter.

Sometimes it is about the legacy of a community hero who led a community agency for 25 years seeking to protect children from lead poisoning.

As we celebrate the holiday season, please stay warm, stay healthy, keep sharing and stay engaged. See you again on Jan. 2, 2018.


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