Friday, August 27, 2010

From the I {heart} Rhody Flickr Group

Dusk light
"Dusk light" by katie47n

Prepping for the 4th
"Prepping for the 4th" by SteelToad

The Towers
"The Towers" by siriusthinking

Prentice House - Broadway
"Prentice House - Broadway" by 1W57thNY

Castle Hill Lighthouse, Rhode Island
"Castle Hill Lighthouse, Rhode Island" by nelights

rose hip
"rose hip" by alamodestuff

Shell and Bridge
"Shell and Bridge" by DACphoto

Library
"Library" by mizzbritta

Castle Hill Light, Newport Rhode Island
"Castle Hill Light, Newport Rhode Island" by Brett Cohen

Barrington Beach 8-13-10
"Barrington Beach 8-13-10" by kittenantics

Providence R.I.
"Providence R.I." by BlueisCoool

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sights ~ Mt. Pleasant Branch Library, Providence

Mt. Pleasant Branch Library
315 Academy Ave.
Providence, Rhode Island

Can you tell that Bear and I love libraries? We've visited several throughout the state.

Mount Pleasant Branch
Mt. Pleasant Branch library exterior
From their site:
"PCL’s Mount Pleasant Library, originally known as the Sprague House Branch, was the first of the branch libraries to be opened in Providence in 1906. This library was started as a deposit of books sent to the Sprague House Association, a social agency located on Armington Avenue... When the Sprague House Association moved to another part of the city, the library became a full-fledged branch... The library, now known as the Mount Pleasant Library, moved to its current location, 315 Academy Ave, on June 25, 1949 with 1000 people celebrating in attendance."
Mt. Pleasant Branch library
The library definitely has that blocky mid-century design. It's interesting that you have to climb one of two sets of stairs to get from the entryway into the library proper, but there are lots of community notices there in the entry, which tells us this library is an active part of the community. The site says that there are no community or youth centers in the neighborhood, so the library functions as both in some regards.
DSCF0004

Inside there's a lot of space, and a good selection of books, as well as a bank of computers. At one time there was a coupon exchange box, and I hope they bring that back.

DSCF0006   DSCF0007
Reading area - Mt. Pleasant Branch

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sights ~ North Burial Ground, Providence

North Burial Ground
Providence, Rhode Island

North burial ground

Providence's North Burial Ground was established in 1700. Before that, most families buried their loved ones in plots on family farms. Because of Rhode Island's strict (and unique at the time) separation of church and state laws, it took a long time to establish a non-denominational community burial ground.

North Burial Ground is 110 acres, making it the largest community burial ground in the state. A number of local luminaries are buried here, including (from Wikipedia):
  • Edward Mitchell Bannister, African American painter
  • Chad Brown, early pastor of the First Baptist Church in America, progenitor of Brown family
  • John Brown, merchant, U.S. Representative, slave trader, co-founder of Brown University
  • Fred Corey, Major League Baseball player
  • Sam Walter Foss, librarian, poet.
  • Stephen Hopkins, politician, Rhode Island governor, Founding Father, signatory of the Declaration of Independence (grave picture)
  • Horace Mann, educator, founder of Antioch College, U.S. Representative
  • Henry J. Steere, philanthropist, manufacturer
  • Sarah Helen Whitman, poet, essayist, and a romantic interest of Edgar Allan Poe
  • Charles J. Martin, artist and arts instructor
Bear and I spent a pleasant hour there on a Sunday afternoon recently.

Old North Burial Ground
view of the stone rows

North burial ground
Elks(?) burial section

Firefighters memorial
Fire Department memorial section

DSCF0044
Brown memorial section

North burial ground
statuary

Bear and I are fascinated by the statuary and art used to mark gravesites, particularly those dating from the Victorian and Colonial eras.

Because of poor record-keeping prior to the 1800s and that many family farm plots were moved to the burial ground as roads were created over time, finding specific graves at Old North Burial Ground is notoriously difficult. Gaspee.org offers some tips if you're trying to do genealogical research.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sights ~ Providence Public Library

Providence Public Library
Central Library
150 Empire St.
Providence, Rhode Island


Providence Public Library exterior
Original Providence Library building
This is the downtown branch of the Providence Public Library (PPL). Until last year, it was the central branch and headquarters of a library district that included nine branches throughout the city's neighborhoods. However during the financial crisis of 2008-09, the library's endowment was significantly depleted, and the organization announced that it was going to close all or some of the branches. A group of concerned citizens stepped in and took over the branches, forming the Providence Community Library. The branches remain open, and the Central branch is the only one that still belongs to the PPL.

The library is a private non-profit corporation with more than 1 million articles. These range from the latest bestsellers on "Playaway" - a one-book listening device - to baked clay cuneiform tablets more than 2,000 years old. It houses one of the most extensive whaling collections in the country (the Nicholson collection) as well as some very interesting artifacts including scrimshaw that would make my mom's eyes light up.

It's the largest library in the city, with more resources than any of the other branches. Bear and I go there occasionally, although parking is often a hassle. The original part of the building was built in 1894 (I think it's in the Empire style), and the new section added on in 1953. The severe square gray cement of the new section reminds me of a Soviet housing block, and is very mismatched to the original architecture. Even more strangely, the floors don't match up inside. This is probably due to the height of the ceiling in the original part of the library.

connection between Providence Public Library's old and new sections
where old meets new - the connection between the original library building and the addition
It appears that there was a proposal to make the addition architecturally similar to the original building. Other than cost, I can't imagine why they decided to go with the mismatched modern addition.
CENTRAL Library -Exterior DRAWING
from PPL's Flickr account

I've been having some trouble finding information on the history of the library itself. Based on some photos in its Flickr account, the library was founded in 1876, but they they celebrated their centennial in 1978. This despite the carving on the building reading 1894. Confusing.

The inside of the library has a lot of quirks as well. The main section is more or less consistent with its outside architecture, and was carefully restored in the 70s.

PPL old section with chandelier

However the new addition doesn't precisely line up with the original building, so there are half-stairs and places where you have to take an elevator, then go down a hallway to a different elevator to get where you're going. It can be a little confusing until you get the hang of it.

The third floor of the original building houses offices and meeting rooms, and the Special Collections. There's also a special printing room with an antique press. Special collections is housed in what was originally the children's section, and the mural is still visible along the top of the wall.

It's definitely worth a visit, especially if you catch them when these rooms are open.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Doing Good ~ Tweet 'n Greet Blood Drive at Johnson & Wales Culinary Museum, Providence

Well, I finally did it. My courage and my veins were finally in sync enough that I was able to donate blood at the Tweet 'n Greet Blood Drive at Johnson & Wales Cuilinary Museum. The trick, apparently, is to drink a lot more water than usual. Sadly, my camera was not in sync, so a big thank you to Astonish Results for the use of their photos.

It was a simple and pretty painless process:
  1. Fill out a form that helps determine your level of risk for blood-borne disease. 
  2. Get your blood pressure, temp and hemoglobin levels checked. 
  3. Supplies for many
  4. Lie down and get one needle-poke in the arm (seriously, it hurt way less than I thought it would). 
  5. Removing the blood
  6. Relax for 7-11 minutes (on average). 
  7. Eat cookies.
Boom. Done.
That's a mighty fine sac of B+

One pint, three potential recipients, and free cookies? I'm there.

Added bonus: at the Tweet 'n Greet blood drive, we got to meet some Twitter buddies face-to-face. It was great to see @RIBloodCenter, @NEMultimedia and @NewEnglandHD again, plus finally meeting @pa_diddle, @astonish_alicia and @InsuranceMHQ.

New England Multimedia was there not only to donate, but to record this video:


Props to the Rhode Island Blood Center and Johnson & Wales for a great venue, too. The catered event was held inside the Culinary Museum (a place I'd been meaning to go), so we were able to chat over hors d'oeuvres and lemonade.

Proof that giving blood isn't just doing good. It can also be fun!

I'll see you at a drive in eight weeks.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sights ~ Old Stone Mill, Newport

Old Stone Mill
Touro Park
Newport, Rhode Island

Old Stone Mill

This strange structure is known by many names. According to Wikipedia, people call it Newport Tower, Round Tower, Touro Tower, Newport Stone Tower, Old Stone Mill, OSM and Mystery Tower.

There are no specific records about when or why it was built, so legends have built up around it. People speculate that it was a mill, an observatory, and a watchtower, built by English settlers, or Norse, Chinese or Scots visitors to the area. The Scots would also have been Knights Templar.

Current archaeological research indicates that it was probably a windmill built by Benedict Arnold (not the one you think, his great-grandfather) sometime after 1667. Arnold owned the land on which the tower sits. It's been used as a hayloft and powder store, among other things.

Despite pretty conclusive evidence including carbon 14 dating and mentions in some historic documents, people persist on believing their favorite myth, whichever that may be.

Old Stone Mill

Recently a Norwegian named Bernt Holmboe KIafstad wrote a letter to the City of Newport, claiming that the structure bears a strong resemblance to a tower built in the Holy Land, and that the area may have been visited in the 12th century by Henricus Gnupsson Upsi, a Greenlandic bishop. Indeed Verrezano, when visiting the area in the 1500s, noted that the native population made wine "in the European fashion," a skill KIafstad asserts they may have learned from Upsi's party. For those on the fence, this puts the Norse theory back in play.

When Bear and I saw the tower, neither of us had enough expertise to take a guess about its origin. We're content to wonder. The mystery only adds to its appeal.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Rhody in the news ~ Old ship unearthed by shifting sands in South Kingstown

Rhody non-profits ~ RISE

Rhode Islanders Sponsoring Education


RISE is a non-profit based in Providence, that focuses on providing mentoring and education opportunities for the children of prisoners in the State penal system. Through donations and volunteers, RISE gives the children of prisoners scholarships and mentoring to "break the intergenerational cycle of poverty, crime and addiction that too often threatens them."

RISE is looking for mentoring volunteers. If you have some time to help a child ages 7 to 14, building a positive, supportive relationship through two outings each month, please visit their site or call 401-421-2010. To donate to RISE, visit their donation page.

Event Announcement ~ Rhode Island Film Festival, August 10-15

Rhode Island Film Festival
Providence, Rhode Island
August 10-15, 2010

click here for more information.

Friday, August 13, some films have a free screening at the Providence Public Library.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Uniquely Rhode Island ~ Victory Day ~ August 9



Each year on August 9, Rhode Island celebrates "Victory Day." Some call it "V-J Day," which stands for Victory over Japan. The holiday was established in 1946 by President Harry S. Truman to commemorate the dropping of the Nagasaki bomb, effectively forcing the surrender of Japan, and the end of World War II in the Pacific. With Victory already declared in Europe (V-E Day, May 8, 1945), August 9 represents the close of the War.

Sixty-four years later, Japan is an ally, and no other state still recognizes the holiday. Yet in Rhode Island state offices and some businesses are closed.

It's a weird little state.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Art scene ~ Pawtucket Arts Festival, July 5 - Sept. 26

various locations
Pawtucket, Rhode Island


Activities include Shakespeare in the Park, Dragon boat races, Taste of Pawtucket, 125th Anniversary Boston Pops concert and much much more.

Click here for the schedule of events.

From the I {heart} Rhody Flickr group

watch hill, rhode island.
"watch hill, rhode island" by kylenolin

Start of a weird day
"Start of a weird day" by SteelToad

Constance Witherby statue
"Constance Witherby statue" by boliyou

Poplar Point Lighthouse, Rhode Island
Poplar Point Lighthouse, Rhode Island" by nelights

Peeling away
"Peeling away" by katie47n

Crescent Park
"Crescent Park" by siriusthinking

Warren, RI or Peyton Place?
"Warren, RI or Peyton Place?" by Time Passages

Sunset on the Bay
"Sunset on the Bay" by alamodestuff

You can join the I {heart} Rhody Flickr group here, and get your photos featured on the blog!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Book review ~ Kids Make it Better, Suzy Becker

Suzy Becker was kind enough to send me some of her books for review. Although she lives in Massachusetts, she has strong Rhode Island connections. Two of her previous books have made The New York Times' bestseller list.




Kids Make It Better: A Write-in, Draw-in Journal is Becker's most recent. It's a charming interactive book, where the author asks a large question, for example, "There's a hole in the ozone, the layer of gas that protects the earth. What can we do to repair it?" We receive an answer from a child age six through ten, and you know it's going to be cute, funny and wise.

What sets this book apart are two things: For each question, there is a place for the reader to write in his or her own solutions, and even draw a picture; and Becker offers snippets of real-life children who did something to help solve the problem: "Evan Arnold, age 9: When Evan found out that some kids do not have what they need to play his favorite sport - baseball - he began collecting bats, mitts, balls, shoes, and money. Now he sends baseball gear to towns all over the world." The end of the book invites the reader to identify problems and solutions, including a framework to create an action plan. There is even a certificate of achievement.

It's a great book for youngsters, that encourages problem solving, research, observation, and looking beyond themselves and their own lives. It also gives them the process to discovering a solution. It encourages contemplation and action. I'd get this book for my nine-year-old nephew.

*Kids Make it Better received the 2010 Bright Eyes Award for written and illustrated media that stimulates the mind and engages the intellect. Congratulations!