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Fertile Underground's "Soft-Boiled Opening"

The West Side's new community grocery, Fertile Underground, celebrates its "Soft-Boiled Opening Celebration" this Friday, January 6. The event marks the start of regular store hours and the unveiling of a new mural.

The store was established at 1577 Westminster Street as a worker cooperative that will run a traditional grocery store and cafe, both with a focus on local, healthy, sustainable foods. Fertile Underground was established by a group of artists concerned about access to healthy food in urban communities and connection to nature.

One of the founding artists, Dauna Jean Noble, painted the mural in the store's interior, which depicts the growth of agriculture in Providence and pays tribute to the Kickstarter supporters who helped Fertile Underground raise the money necessary to open the store.

The grocery and cafe, which had previously both been open limited hours, will now operate seven days a week: 8am-7pm, Monday through Friday and 8am-3pm on Sunday. A larger grand opening celebration is being planned for February.   More

The Safe Choice is the Right Choice

With their long-awaited decision on a replacement for former Police Chief Dean Esserman, Public Safety Commissioner Pare and Mayor Taveras have chosen to take the safe route. It’s a wise decision.

By allowing Acting Police Chief Hugh Clements to lop off the lead adjective, they have cast their lot with maintaining the force pretty much as it is. While many of us anticipated the new chief would come from outside the department, given last year’s

arrest of three local officers for drug dealing and a scary videotape of an overzealous officer on tape, the selection of the well-respected Clements will sit well with the rank and file.

The new chief has been with the force since 1985, beginning as a street cop, and he steadily rose through the ranks. As a longtime veteran, he won’t need a road map to navigate the city. And though his personality and demeanor are quite different from the more imperious predecessor, it appears he is as committed to community policing and top-down management as his former boss.

His selection comes at a troubling time for the city. There have been three gang-related killings in the past few weeks, against only 12 for all of last year. It’s a pattern that has even veteran cops concerned, we’re told. Promoting from within produces stability both within the force and the community. It’s exactly what’s called for during these challenging times.   More

City Style

Local Designer Accessorizes Hollywood

Local designer Margo Petitti began her now booming collection of scarves and pocket squares on a sewing table in Providence, where she pieced together fabric swatches into patchwork. Today, her pieces are worn by some of Hollywood’s finest, including actors from Breaking Bad and The Good Wife. Her scarves also made a big splash amongst celebrities visiting the VIP lounges at this year’s Emmy Awards. Petitti chooses classic styles – glen plaid, herringbone, houndstooth and birdseye weaves – and fashions them into high-quality unisex accessories sewn from luxurious fabrics produced in the finest Italian mills. Her apparel is produced in nearby Fall River, where talented local artists spin cashmere, silks and woolens into collection pieces that will last a lifetime – a very fashionable lifetime.   More

Art

Second Annual Fun-a-Day Providence Kicks Off

Every year on the first day of January, we begin resolutions that we likely will not stick to. This year can be different with the help of an organized event that will inspire you to do something creative every day during the entire first month. The second annual Fun-A-Day Providence is a program that encourages the community to get creative. The idea is this: in the month of January you will do something – anything – every day. whether it’s writing, painting or taking an inspiring walk. At the end of the month, there will be a gallery show to share what everyone has been up to.

Last year over 30 participants showcased their work to over 300 attendees including ideas like Samurai-A-Day, Song-A-Day and Thread-A-Day. There’s a launch party on January 4 at Sherri’s Café, where you can meet with other participants and work on ideas. Just remember, it’s all about fun and with a little inspiration and enthusiasm you might be amazed at what you can create.   More

On the Menu

Restaurant Week Returns

It’s that time of year again, as Providence Restaurant Weeks return for another winter installment after last year’s successful debut. From January 15-28, many of the hottest restaurants in and around the city will be offering three-course prix-fixe menus for $14.95 at lunch and $29.95 at dinner. It’s always a great opportunity to try a new restaurant with a low bar to entry, or finally cross off a pricier entry on your to-do list without breaking the bank. Go to the website for the full list of participating restaurants and menus.   More

The Malcontent

Panhandling on Wall Street

As this goes to press, I’ve just finished reading Michael Lewis’ The Big Short, a gripping inside account of the 2008 Wall Street collapse as it pertained to the subprime mortgage market. Lewis (author of Moneyball and The Blind Side) looks at the endemic corruption and corrosion of Wall Street through the stories of the few shrewd investors and money managers who saw the housing collapse coming from miles away. One in particular was Mike Burry, an odd, reclusive, Asperger’s-afflicted stock picker who set up his own hedge fund in California and won big betting against the subprime market. There is an especially salient passage in the last few pages of the book that nicely encapsulates what went wrong at the systemic level:

“The people in a position to resolve the financial crisis were, of course, the very same people who had failed to foresee it: Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, future Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein... They had proven far less capable of grasping basic truths in the heart of the U.S. financial system than a one-eyed money manager with Asperger’s syndrome.”

When Wall Street collapsed in 2008, the reckless and immoral speculation of big time bond traders generated massive losses for the major investment banks and financial firms. All of them were at risk. Then the government stepped in to bail them out, essentially transferring risk from the institutions that created it to the American taxpayer, who lacked even the most basic understanding of what was happening beyond the vague fear of another Great Depression. Both Bush and Obama signed off on financial policies that absolved Wall Street of all responsibility for its colossal mistakes – and no differences between their stances on the Iraq War or gay marriage affected their willingness to hand a blank check to the very same people who put us in this mess. Most recently, in late …   More

Drumroll Please....

Once again our January issue reveals our "10 to Watch," our annual list of the movers, shakers and innovators we think you need to know about for the coming year. Our "10 to Watch for 2012" hits newsstands this week, and these are the people we've selected. Pick up your free copy this week (or check back to this site) and read all about them. And now, without further adieu...

Development/Health Care

Wendy Lawton

Research Development Director, Lifespan

Communications/Business

Alec Beckett

Creative Partner, Nail

Finance

Andy Posner

Co-Founder and Director, Capital Good Fund

Community Development

Henrietta White Holder

Founder, Higher Ground International and Broken Pieces International

Art and Business

Joanna Levitt

Director of Commercial Leasing and Marketing, Cornish Associates and In Downcity

Community Service

Kobi Dennis

Founder, Project Night Vision

Global health/Social enterprise

Meg Wirth

Founder, Maternova

Government/Environment

Sheila Dormody

Director of Sustainability, City of Providence

Media/Politics

Ted Nesi

Digital Reporter, WPRI

Activism

Mike McCarthy

Student/freelance animator/member of Occupy Providence   More

Chapel Grille Opens in Cranston

The Garden City/Chapel View area of Cranston gained another attraction this month with the opening of Chapel Grille. The restaurant will feature a cathedral-like atmosphere reflective of the building’s history, with historic stonework and an ornate steeple, and will offer a panoramic view of the Providence skyline in the distance. The menu is built around Mediterranean-style hearth cooking with locally sourced ingredients, overseen by Chef Tim Kelly, formerly of Café Nuovo. The dramatic ambience is intended to convey grand ambitions and position the restaurant as credible competition to the Providence dining scene.   More

Hope Street Winter Stroll - December 15, 2011

Hope Street was feeling the holiday spirit on Thursday with their annual Winter Stroll. Children told Santa what they wanted for Christmas, shops competed in a Best Window Display contest (with Mayor Taveras announcing Frog and Toad as the winner) and food trucks provided gourmet street food to the many families who came out. High notes for J. Marcel broadcasting A Christmas Story in their window and for Kreatelier offering visitors a potent – and delicious – Swedish Glogg.   More

College Hill News - January Edition

Graffiti

In November, CHNA met with representatives from the Providence Police Department, the Brown University Police, RISD Public Safety, the Office of Neighborhood Services and the Graffiti Task Force to help re-establish the CHNA graffiti abatement initiative. If you are a resident or a business that has been tagged, your first step should be to take a photo of the tag and send it to chna@collegehillna.com. Photos will be sent to the Providence Police and entered into a tag ‘bank’ that aids in prosecution. Step two is immediate removal of the tag. Graffiti remover can be purchased at Adlers; they have three options ranging from natural orange-based remover to the more caustic. In the meantime, CHNA is developing the strategy for overall abatement in College Hill. We are investigating graffiti barrier products for specific surfaces and are working directly with the Graffiti Task Force to regularly schedule graffiti-removal dates for Thayer Street and additional consistently targeted spots throughout the neighborhood.

Crime Awareness

CHNA implores residents to take simple steps to ensure higher standards of safety in your home and your car. Lock your doors and do not leave valuables in plain sight including computers, GPSs and any electronic equipment. Get to know your neighbors and have them pick up your newspaper and packages and even park in your driveway if you are out of town. Also, to address crime issues, Sam Zurier is planning to hold a community forum with Lt. John Ryan on Monday, January 23rd. Please visit his website www.samzurier.com for further details or read the CHNA email group to receive notification.

Electronics Recycling Event in January

If you have electronics that need to go, CHNA is partnering with Metech Recycling to hold a recycling event in January. Additional details will be available through the CHNA enews and posted on the CHNA website home page at www. collegehillna.com.

Leap Year Party February …   More

Blackstone Parks News - January Edition

History of Blackstone Boulevard and Park: Collection of photographs, documents and oral histories

The Conservancy is hoping the community can assist us with creating a memoir of the boulevard and park. We’re looking for old photographs of both areas, including those of the trolley when it ran along the boulevard, old documents, including letters referencing the areas (which we could copy and return to you) and personal remembrances. Our ultimate goal is to print the collection for our members and friends. Please call Gale Aronson at 383-0060 or email at aronson.gale530.com.

Volunteer Recruitment

Winter program to recruit volunteers. We are in great need of volunteers who could help us maintain the gardens on the Boulevard and work on a variety of projects in the conservation district along the river. Please contact the Conservancy through our website: www.blackstoneparksconservancy.org. Thank you.

Blackstone Boulevard

2011 was an exciting and productive year on the boulevard. We’ve completed a number of projects and have several on the drawing board. The northern end at the turn-around has been substantially improved to include a lovely surround for the tree and a new platform for the award plaque honoring Peggy Sharpe for her contributions to the tree canopy in the City of Providence. The pruning of the north section is about 90% complete; the finished project will include the removal of yews and the pruning of the traffic triangle, which has become a hazard for both drivers and pedestrians. More trees have been planted, with more to come in the spring. By the time you read this, we hope there will be a new roof on the small shelter at the intersection of Brookway St. This will complement the lovely new garden that was installed earlier this summer. We’ve begun work on the south garden to create a border and enhance the overall beauty that is getting lost in weeds and over-growth and the garden at the Witherby Statue has been …   More

Summit Neighborhood News - January Edition

How ‘Bout Them Apples?

What appeared to be an ordinary pie, but hid a kick of jalapeno pepper, was voted the best-tasting example of an apple-based culinary concoction at an SNA-sponsored competition held Oct. 27 at Seven Stars bakery.

About 40 neighbors gathered starting at 6:30pm, after regular business hours, in the popular Hope Street fixture to taste and compare 11 offerings brought by people who had been alerted to the event by the SNA blog and posters displayed by businesses.

The convivial group ranged from retirees to babies barely able to crawl. The available fare included traditional pies, cakes and muffins, but also offered a purple apple-cabbage mixture, an apple-celery gazpacho, a quinoa-apple dish and cider cookie bars. The bakery also contributed cookies, danish and other tidbits. Adding to the festivities, Swan Liquors, from just a few doors down on Hope, hosted a beer and wine tasting, staffed by several of its personnel.

Ballots were distributed and the count produced a four-way tie for most delectable. A second round of voting yielded the jalapeno-apple pie the winner, with the quinoa dish and cider bars in a dead-heat for second. All three winners received gift certificates to area businesses.

By 8:30 pm, with most of the candidate dishes consumed, voters headed out into the rainy – and snowy – night, but more information and winning recipes are still available on the SNA website.

Survey of Neighborhood Concerns

According to a recent informal poll taken by SNA, the top concern of people in the community is, in the words of one respondent, the “safety of the neighborhood and the people in it.” During the Hope Street Festival on Oct. 2, the SNA asked people to rank nine areas of concern set out on a questionnaire that also had room to add subjects not included.

Of the questionnaires completed, most ranked safety as the number-one issue. That was followed by quality-of-life projects, such as …   More

Wayland Square News - January Edition

Events this Month:

MONTHLY MEETINGS: Wednesday, December 28, 2011 and Wednesday, January 25, 2012 at 7pm, Books on the Square, 471 Angell Street. Free and open to all.

The Fox Point and West Broadway Neighborhood Associations will be holding big public general meetings, with many guest speakers on local issues, in January. Check their web sites and this month’s Fox Point column for details. The Summit Neighborhood Association plans to hold its annual membership meeting next month (February).

Transitions on The Square

Susan Gill permanently closed The Edge coffee shop on Wayland Avenue (opposite Rufful’s, between Comina’s old and new sites) on October 17 so she could attend to personal matters. The premises are now listed as available for rent.

In a farewell message in The Edge’s window, she wrote “It has been my pleasure serving you and sharing in a part of your day. I have met so many great people over the last five years. I will miss you and wish you all good health and success.” She also posted farewell recipes for pumpkin muffins and dog treats.

Plaid & Stripe has now moved two blocks from its old home on Wayland Avenue to more spacious quarters, where they can now offer both pet accessories and pet grooming, at 17 South Angell Street.   More

Brown Street Park News - January Edition

Events this Month:

If it’s cold outside, there is probably skating at Brown Street Park. Please check our website for updates as we can’t predict the condition of the ice. The new rink is open from dusk to dawn everyday. We still need volunteers to help clear and maintain the ice. Please email wendy@friendsofbrownstreetpark.org if you can help, or would like to donate shovels or even a snow blower to help the cause.

Special thanks to our friends at Pease Awning in East Providence for repairing our shade sail that was damaged by the early October snow.

Thanks to Kaboom for our grant to improve park grounds. We are so grateful.

Our Road Race has been moved to the spring. Details are on the website.   More

Fox Point News - January Edition

Events this Month:

Fox Point Neighborhood Association (FPNA) Monthly Board Meeting, 7-8 pm, January 9 at the Vartan Gregorian Bath House Library.

FPNA will also hold one of its bi-annual membership meetings in January to address street grid and development issues associated with the Interstate 195 parcels in Fox Point. Other topics will be the proposed on-street overnight parking plan and the many ongoing developments along the Seekonk River shoreline that are listed below. Time and location of the meeting to be announced by FPNA at a later time.

Gano Park to Get Boat Launch

Now that the Coastal Resource Management Council (CRMC) has approved construction of the East Transit Street Boat Launch, Gano Park takes a step closer to becoming an important link to India Point Park and the East Coast Greenway, according to the Fox Point Neighborhood Association (FPNA).

Representatives for FPNA and Friends of India Point Park attended the CRMC meeting in November to support the approval request presented by Robert McMahon, director of the Providence Department of Parks. “We expect the project to begin the construction process in February of 2012,” McMahon said after the meeting.

The proposed boat launch will have a concrete ramp that extends into the Seekonk River accompanied by a floating dock from which boating enthusiasts will be able to board their boats, McMahon explained. The parking lot with an entrance at the bottom of Transit Street will contain 17 parking spaces for vehicles with trailers and five vehicular spaces.

Current design drawings for the facility indicate that an extension of the Blackstone Bikeway that is planned to follow the shoreline along Gano Park will cross the parking lot of the boat launch. Eventually, the area will connect a nexus of bike paths, including the Washington Bridge and East Bay Bike System and India Point Park’s bike path that leads into Providence.

Last year, FPNA received $2,500 from the …   More

Hope Street Winter Stroll - Tonight!

Tonight is the night for holiday cheer and Hope Street hosts its Winter Stroll. The merchants association, which boasts the talent, creativity and dedication of folks like Frog and Toad's Asher Schofield and J. Marcel's Dixie Carroll, has a night of family friendly fun planned, featuring music, a petting zoo, a window decorating contest (we understand Schofield and Carroll will be throwing down in this one), plenty of food and much more. It kicks off tonight at 5pm, so don't miss out. We'll be there judging the window contest. Here's the schedule of events:

5:00PM – Window Contest Judging

5:15PM – Santa Parade

5:00PM-7:00PM – Extraordinary Rendition Marching Band

Petting Zoo at Citizens Bank Parking Lot

5:30PM – Photos with Santa

6:30 – Winner of Window Contest Announced

FOOD TRUCKS

Hewtins All Dogs Mobile

Poco Loco

Sugar Rush

French Fry Guy

Fried Dough & Hot Cider Trucks   More

Local Company Makes National News

We hear so much bad economic news here in Providence, it's always great to come across some good news. Local startup Swipely, which runs credit card-based customer loyalty systems for small businesses, has been testing its services here in its hometown for a while now. Next up, it will expand into a Boston, starting with 150 businesses, a move that drew the attention for Forbes. Congrats to Swipely for making national headlines. Read the article here.   More

The Too-Big East

Big East basketball returns to Providence in full swing this month, as new PC head coach Ed Cooley leads his Friars into conference play. While fans are enjoying the on-court action, the real action will be happening behind the scenes in the conference’s Providence office, where major changes are afoot. Though the Big East still maintains a high profile presence in our fair city – both on and off the court – it’s evident that in practice, the conference has long since abandoned its birthplace.

What was once a collection of small, Northeastern, largely Catholic universities that played gritty, physical basketball has now become a sprawling behemoth that’s undergoing a bit of an identity crisis. The Big East has always been a basketball conference, but the real money in college athletics is in football. What is Commissioner John Marinatto to do?

The answer, beginning back in his predecessor Mike Tranghese’s time, has been aggressive expansion into football by reeling in big names like Miami, Rutgers, West Virginia and Virginia Tech. Marinatto carried on that tradition by luring Texas Christian University eastward from the football-heavy Mountain West Conference. No question, the Big East is serious about football.

The question remains, however, is football serious about the Big East? Of the five above-mentioned schools, only Rutgers will still be a member past 2014. Miami and Virginia Tech both departed for the more football-centric Atlantic Coast Conference in 2004. West Virginia will break for the football powerhouse Big 12 in 2014. TCU reversed its decision to join the Big East, also opting for the Big 12.

Indeed, Commissioner Marinatto’s dreams of becoming a major player in the multi-billion dollar industry that is college football may never materialize. Boston College, a founding member of the Big East, followed Virginia Tech and Miami to the ACC in 2005. Earlier this year, the ACC poached Syracuse and Pittsburgh, a founding member and …   More

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