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Hi, My Name is… and I’m Running for Mayor of Providence

As things begin to heat up in the rather short time frame before the September Democratic primary, the declared candidates are making themselves available for in-home meet and greets. (Later the neighborhood associations will be hosting debates as well.) Given that none of the candidates is exactly a household name on the East Side, this is clearly an important first step in their respective candidacies. We urge our readers to check out as many of the opportunities to meet them as possible so you can ask your own questions and form your own opinions. The City has made some important strides but is a long way from being out of the woods. So, go forth. Meet and greet. Even eat (since there are often some munchies at these events). Then, let’s compare notes as the season goes on.



Give Us the Hole Truth

Along with her ever increasing listserv of followers to her local crime reports website (see our cover story), East Side resident Cheryl Simmons also shares their feedback on other important local issues… in this case, potholes. It’s been fascinating to follow the back and forths among residents, some raising hole-y hell about the epidemic while others urge restraint and that we should just “suck it up” since this is New England after all. Some of the respondents add the perspective of having lived in other parts of the country; others seem to know a thing or two about why the current fill-in methods are flawed. Rather than take sides, we’ll just add that the City does have some money available to offset some of the costs of repairing tires. Here’s what you need to do. Complete the form available at and submit it within seven days of the incident. Briefly describe the incident including the where, the when and the result. They also ask for two estimates. Then email the completed form back to the City Clerk’s office, 25 Dorrance Street, Suite 311, Providence, RI 02903. Not a pot of gold perhaps (or even a pothole of one), but it’s better than nothing. Good luck.



Pulling Rabbits Out of His Hat (Or is it Cowl?)

Regardless of what happens during the rest of their season, PC basketball coach Ed Cooley deserves our kudos for the remarkable season he and his team of overachievers have put together. The heart-stopping double overtime, one-point victory over Marquette ranks as one of the best games in years at the Dunk. Despite a team that rarely played more than seven players and survived the loss of three of its key players, one because of an injury, two because of off-court issues, the team ended up in fourth place in the new Big East despite being a pre-season pick for the bottom. In addition to the team’s competitiveness, the outstanding play of NBA superstar-to-be Bryce Cotton and Cooley’s own personal marketing skills and charisma, PC has been attracting sell-out crowds as the season draws to a close. Wonder what this talented man knows about economic development?



Saying Goodbye and Thanks to Susie

The local PBS affiliate in RI (WSBE) is holding its major fundraiser called “An Evening Uncorked” on Saturday, April 12 from 7-10pm at the Pawtucket Armory on Exchange Street. They promise a lively evening of “small bites” prepared by 17 of the area’s finest award-winning restaurants paired with special selected domestic and international wines. But of particular note, the evening will also feature a special presentation in honor of the late Susan Farmer, a long time East Sider who was an ardent supporter of public TV and herself once the former CEO of WSBE. It should be a wonderful celebration of an important part of our local media scene as well as remembering one of the pioneers who made it happen. Email for more information.



This Month at Rochambeau Library

So you ask, are libraries still relevant in this digital age? Yes! Of course many of us still delight in paging through a book, sliding our fingers across its surfaces and even sniffing the print. But, equally important in these times, Providence Community Library (PCL) is a digital lender and educator.

PCL has a large collection of E-books that you can download on your own Kindle or iPad without even leaving your home. Just go to “Using the library” on the PCL website ( and open “Download Free EBooks.” If you have trouble doing it at home, bring your Kindle or iPad to your neighborhood library and the librarian will teach you how to do it. You don’t have an e-reader? Well, you can even use your library card at the Rochambeau Library to borrow a Kindle already loaded with good books to read.

Of course, you can always use PCL’s free computers. On the East Side there are 12 computers for adults at Rochambeau and eight computers for adults at Fox Point. If you are still uncertain whether you can master the computer, classes are available especially tailored to your speed. On Thursdays at 2pm Cheryl Hunt, a librarian at Rochambeau, holds Digital Literacy Classes for Adults (you can’t be too old to start). And if you need more help understanding the digital world, Stephanie Shea, PCL’s Internet Specialist will help you solve your problems. You can contact her at 595-7468.

Librarians, I have discovered, are special people. At a library association meeting I learned the credo of reference librarians: “no question is too dumb.” Happily that applies to digital questions too. So now is the time for you to join the 21st century.


Community News

Planting the Seeds of a Social Ecosystem

Ecosystems aren’t just reserved for the environmentally-minded anymore. Now, the term is being used as a way to describe the need for interconnectedness within the social enterprise sector. Still a developing field, many of these entrepreneurs and the businesses that support them don’t have best management practices for the day-to-day operations or long-term goals. In response to this need, the 2014 SEEED (Social Enterprise Ecosystem for Economic Development) Summit will be held at Brown University, April 25-26. The conference will focus on what is needed to create an effective social enterprise ecosystem that can drive economic development. This is the first national conference of its kind, focusing on the economic impacts on social networking, gathering over 500 ecosystem stakeholders.

Keynote speakers at this year’s conference are leading social entrepreneurs including Dennis Whittle, Jim Gibbons, Jeffrey Hollender, Rob Kaplan and Gar Alperovitz. Last year’s conference culminated in the first piece of national legislation calling for an extension of the Small Business Act to support social enterprises, we expect similarly big things this year. For more information and to register visit, or on the day of starting at 8am Friday and 8:30am Saturday. Designated parking will also be available.



Spend Easter at Duck and Bunny

Cute golden chicks, adorable ducklings and big eyed baby bunnies are pretty much the poster children (well, poster animal children) for any sort of Easter celebration... so what better way to spend your egg-centric Easter Sunday than by munching on eggs at the Duck and Bunny?

The Wickenden Street snuggery is trading their regular brunch menu for a three-course prix-fixe offering from 10am-4pm. Expect to see a selection of crêpes and unique egg dishes. If weather allows, soak up some sun while sipping on a sparkling cocktail in the Duck and Bunny’s picturesque back garden.

Maybe, if you’re lucky, you’ll catch a glimpse of the elusive Easter Bunny. Then again, if you do see a fluffy bunny trying to give chocolate eggs to children, you may have indulged in a little too much Easter brunch booze. 312 Wickenden Street. 270-3300.



Biggie & Brunch at Farmstead

Biggie, Biggie, Biggie, can’t you see, sometimes your, uh, poutine and fried eggs just hypnotize me... especially when they are whipped up by two-time James Beard nominee Matt Jennings over at La Laiterie.

If you share an affinity for delectable breakfast and lunch selections and slick 1990s rhymes by The Notorious B.I.G. (and other equally talented beatmakers) then Farmstead has literally carved out a slice of heaven just for you.

On the first Sunday of each month, the restaurant features Biggie & Brunch, a creative, locally sourced brunch menu served to the spins of a live DJ. The menu varies, but expect your mouth to water over dishes like cornmeal-fried oysters, poutine with polenta frites, Blackbird Farm pork bubble and squeak, and Kate’s buttermilk biscuits.

And don’t forget about the drinks! In the infamous words of Mr B.I.G.: “Now we sip champagne when we’re thirsty,” so sip, sip away at any one of Farmstead’s cocktail offerings. While reservations are not required, you may want to save yourself the brunchtime stress and make one anyway. Biggie & Brunch takes place from 10am till 2pm on April 6 and every first Sunday of the month. 186 Wayland Avenue. 274-7177.



How to Bake Seven Stars Bakery's Raspberry Bars

Raspberry Bars (standard 1/2 sheet pan-12"x17")

All Purpose Flour: 278 grams

Sugar: 148 grams

Toasted Almonds: 67 grams

Butter (cold-cubed): 230 grams

Raspberry Jam: 278 grams

- Preheat oven to 350

- Weigh out all ingredients except raspberry jam and put into food processor

- Pulse ingredients until they are the consistency of peas. Don't overpulse or it will form a dough

- Spread out half of the above mixture on the greased sheetpan and press down into the pan. Put the other half into the fridge

- Bake this bottom crust until set and just starting to color

- Pull out of oven and immediately pour the jam onto the hot crust and spread evenly

- Crumble the remainder of the dry mixture onto the raspberry jam and bake again until just starting to color.

Cool completely and enjoy!


Home Profile

A Calming Urban Space

About the Homeowner

Rheta Mona is an outside sales rep for the interior design furnishings industry. She lives in Providence on Washington Street near the URI Shepard Building in the Lofts at the Strand. 

1. I love living downtown. I love that there is so much energy and I feel like it is building with all the different restaurants and shops opening up. It’s very convenient; you can walk to anything and try new places. I’m more of a city kitty. I work in Boston and Providence is so affordable… relatively.

2. My interior designer Joshua Shockley pretty much added the creative element to my home and brought it all together. I had pieces that could work anywhere, and that is why working with a designer is so important. They can see your current picture and see what the future will look like. I trusted him creatively to add risk-taking elements.

3. I wanted a really calming color palette. Because it is such an urban landscape I wanted a calming environment inside. Josh is so good at picking wall color, in particular, and that translates to the upholstered pieces. I rent, so if I went somewhere I could bring these pieces anywhere.

4. I love everything about my place. I like this ottoman because it is linen, so you have a little tradition, but it is a skyline/cityscape. With a very urban home it’s nice to have that piece of tradition. I believe it is a Dransfield & Ross. Josh had picked that out for me. Things like the sofa and two chairs he got my approval on, but other things I just let him take the reins on.



Motivation for Movement

Jillian Michaels has become a household name in fitness and wellness and she’s taking the stage in Providence on March 25 at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium. Jillian’s popular Maximize Your Life tour is a live experience that provides you with the tools and motivation to harness your potential, kick-start your goals and live the exceptional life you’ve always wanted. And maybe she’ll even make you do a push-up or two.   More

Local Races

Run Like an Irishman

It’s March, which means no matter what your heritage is, you’re all Irish for at least one day. Why not take that honorary celebration to the streets? The Tour de Patrick is a series of three 5Ks over the course of a week: The Irish 5K, St. Pat’s 5k and Celtic 5K. Get your green on and choose one race or complete them all, with luck on your side.



If You Can Make it Here...

No less an authority than Frank Sinatra once said of New York City, “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.” (And he was the Chairman of the Board, so he ought to know.) In a sense, he was right: New York City is a big, tough place, and if you can rise to the top in what is essentially the center of the universe, you’ve got to be formidable. However, observing it from another perspective, I believe the Big Apple might be the easiest place to make it.

I’ve always said that our job here at Providence Monthly is, in a way, more diffcult than that of the editorial team at Time Out New York. (Probably our closest analogue in the New York media.) Why? Because we have to fill our magazine every month while drawing upon roughly 1/47th of NYC’s population. For us, population is everything. More people living and working in the city means more stories for us to tell. For our advertisers, it’s more people who might eat at their restaurants or shop at their stores. For you, the reader, it means more people making cool stuff happen all around you. A big population makes certain things easier in a city. (For a good read on the benefits of population density, check out Brian Hull’s “Rebuilding Rhode Island’s Economy, Part 3: Densifying Downtown”)

I once walked by a small bakery in Manhattan that wasn’t much bigger than a large walk-in closet, and sold nothing but tiny cupcakes. With the price of real estate in Manhattan, even a place that small has to be selling quite a lot of tiny cupcakes to survive. In Providence, it would have been out of business in three weeks. Why the difference? Because New York City, bursting to the seams with millions of people, open all hours of the night, full of disposable income and aspirations, has an amazingly voracious appetite for the new, the novel and the oddly specific. With over 8,336,000 people within its five boroughs, the city can sustain almost any niche, cult or subculture. Want to start a radical …   More

Comedy Show

Comics and Comics Collide on Sunday

Providence might not share the same stand up comedy pedigree with cities like New York, Boston or Chicago, but that lack of brand recognition shouldn’t be confused with a lack of life.

“It’s not as busy as other scenes, but it’s supportive,” says Dan Martin, a local comic and one of the hosts of The Comic’s Corner on who’s been working the stand up scene for four years. Adding to that support is Two Comic Minimum, a new show Martin co-hosts with his Comic’s Corner partners Bruce Botelho Jr. and Kenny Nardozza every month at Multiverse Comics on Broadway.

Two Comic Minimum came together after Multiverse’s owner, Brandon Amorin, asked Martin to put on a comedy show for the store’s grand opening. Since then the show has drawn consistent crowds and comics enjoy having the room. It’s small, equally intimate and awkward, and allows for a seemingly infinite number of puns based around the word “comic.” But despite being held in a comic book store, the show doesn’t cater exclusively to the fanboy crowd. In fact the line up tends to be pretty eclectic.

Last month’s show, for instance, saw local comic R.A. Bartlett give a demented critique on of the shop’s collection of vintage Growing Pains and Bo Derek trading cards but not before Gypsy Howling Wolf scathingly dissected race relations and gender roles. “It’s just a straightforward comedy show. There’s no theme or gimmick, we’re just doing comedy at a place,” Martin says.

Two Comic Minimum happens the last Sunday of every month and admission is free with the purchase of two comic books. This month’s show, March 30 at 7pm, will be hosted by Kenny Nardozza, and feature comedians Wes Hazard, Tony Capobianco, Srilatha Rajamani, Guitler Raphael and special guest Matt Kona. 265 Broadway, 223-2112.



A Classical High School Student Made It to the Big Game

Winter is nearing an end and now is the time to start looking towards brighter and sunnier days. However, the spirit of some people shine bright all year long. Take Isaac Lufkin. He is a Classical High School student who is the kicker for the freshman football team. In fact, he even helped to lead his team to an undefeated 2013 season and the freshman football state title. But what is most inspiring about Isaac is that he accomplished this without any arms. It was the way he was born, and it has not stopped him from living his life to the fullest – independently and without pity. Even the NFL took notice of this young man’s indomitable spirit. In response, they invited Isaac and his mom to a behind-the-scenes VIP experience at the Super Bowl. From walking onto the field, having a birds-eye-view of the stadium from a press box, which was adjacent to Kevin Costner, and a surprise visit from President Bill Clinton, Isaac had the experience of his life. He wants to play in the NFL, and based on what this young man has already accomplished and his extreme determination, it looks like the sky is the limit.


Business Spotlight

Site Specific

The historic beauty of the buildings on the East Side is reason enough to justify why residents love this neighborhood. However, there are limitations that range from small lot space to living areas that don’t match occupant needs. Some older homes’ rooms are so antiquated that they’ve lost their original functionality. Site Specific co-owner Peter Crump explains that his company is handling a lot of kitchen renovations lately. “People are asking us to remove structural walls, opening up and into formal dining rooms,” he explains. “Families aren’t sitting down to dinner at a formal dining room table anymore. They are looking for a more casual dinner atmosphere and a larger open kitchen.” These types of projects usher in modern layout needs to historic homes. Site Specific has also done a lot of work recently building out master bedroom and bathroom suites.

Site Specific has extensive experience working on the East Side and beyond. They are mindful of architectural details and won’t miss any required repairs that might arise. “There are great handymen out there for small projects, and there are professionals for the more complicated ones,” Peter mentions. “You often need a structural engineer to assist. We team up with Erik Nelson, from Structures Workshop, Inc. for our residential and commercial projects.”

For commercial work, Site Specific is working on the former Tazza space downtown and they are also working to expand Bodega Malasaña (the same owners of the popular Flan y Ajo). Site Specific is currently engaged in building the retail space for DownCity Outfitters, a new urban gear store that will be situated in the Biltmore garage property, opening sometime soon.

Site Specific is more than capable to budget and design your next project, be it a residential or boutique commercial project. When you are ready to re-imagine the living space in your home or your business location, contact the professionals at Site Specific and …   More

Business Spotlight

Allegra Print and Imaging

While the Internet is now a marketing mainstay, research shows that most small businesses use print materials to market themselves more than any other medium, explains Ted Stein, owner of Allegra on Providence’s East Side. Print communications are highly effective marketing tools because they reach most any audience and can be customized.

The following are key considerations when using print strategies: Carefully plan your marketing efforts. What has worked well historically? Create a brand identity via graphic design, color schemes, etc. This will create continuity to aid customer recognition and recall. Be specific with your print communication goals. A singular objective makes it easier to develop a strategy. Efforts to simply “get our name out there” will not be as effective as those with a specific objective.

Define your target in terms of demographics and psychographics. What do you know about the audience’s needs and preferences? This information will help you and your printer decide what type of materials will be most effective. If you are targeting seniors, your marketing will differ from what you use to reach high school seniors.

For marketing to be effective, your product or service must be heard multiple times. Marketing efforts that are part of a strategic, conscious campaign are more effective than those that are piecemeal or tactical in nature. Understanding this will help you and your print professional determine how to best reach cus- tomers. In most cases, prospective buyers need time to consider your product or service. Typically, the buying process begins with awareness, stimulating interest, evaluation and then trial. Ultimately, the goal, of course, is to gain a committed, repeat customer.

Evaluate your marketing. Quantify the success, whether it is inquiries, responses in new geographic areas/market segments, awareness, trial, etc. Your conversation with your marketing services professional should go beyond paper …   More


Buzzfeed, Will You Be Our Valentine?

A couple of days ago we had the idea to combine everyone's excitement over Valentine's Day with our excitement over today's real occasion, season 2 of House of Cards.


Of course, we wanted to share the love with everyone via Facebook and Twitter.



Lo and behold, when February 14 finally comes around, what do we find on Buzzfeed?



Coincidence? Possibly. Mutual love of a critically adored show? Obviously. Flattered? Definitely. We're not implying anything here about who did what first and where what inspiration came from – all we're going to ask is, Buzzfeed, will you be our Valentine?   More


What the Locals Are Saying

“Downtown Providence is the center of the state. There are great restaurants, bars and entertainment just steps from my door. I can easily walk to catch a bus, train, rental car or taxi to take me anywhere I want to go.” -Gray Jones

“The noise at night doesn’t bother me – I knew what I was getting into. I like the convenience of things being in walking distance. The beggars, although sad, can be really annoying. This time of year isn’t so bad, but during spring/summer you get asked for money, smokes or ‘gas money’ at every block. More entertainment venues would be nice. (I don’t count bars/restaurants in this category.) Another grocery store option would be nice.”  -Kevin Bowden

“My favorite thing about living Downtown is its compactness, walkability and access to public transpor- tation. Within a few blocks are some of my favorite restaurants, unique and interesting shops and boutiques, my dentist, barber, dry cleaner and bank, and great events at AS220, PPAC, RISD and the Conven- tion Center. From Downtown I can jump on a RIPTA bus to get virtually anywhere in the state or take the commuter rail or Amtrak to Boston in about an hour, or New York in three. My biggest concern is the over-abundance of surface parking lots that make the city less vibrant and dynamic. If we could replace those underutilized lots with additional residential and mixed-use towers, downtown Providence could really flourish from increased urban residential density.”  -Brian Hull



East Side Librarians

Providence Community Libraries (PCL) are not just about books. On the East Side they are also the 15 people who work at the Rochambeau and Fox Point Libraries. Ed Graves, who as regional librarian supervises the Fox Point, Rochambeau and Smith Hill Libraries, joined us this past June. Although you can usually find him in his office behind the reference desk at Rochambeau, you may also spot him at one of the other two libraries as he manages the staffing, programming and facilities of the three libraries.

Ed came to PCL from Rutland, Vermont, where he managed a library serving five communities. What attracted him to PCL was its innovative approach to urban public library service. “I like the fact that we have the opportunity to reinvent the library and focus on services that are needed for the 21st century. And I am deeply impressed that PCL owes its existence to community action.”

Besides ensuring that every child has a library card (an activity which demands constant outreach) Ed wants to make sure that our libraries continue to serve adult populations. A new fun after-hours event planned for adults is “Dear Diorama” – a literary mini-diorama contest taking place March 4 at 7pm at Rochambeau.

Geared to stir up the creative in all of us, the challenge is to create a scene, no larger than a shoebox, from a book you have read (see for more details). Enlist help from your kids or friends, but make sure you come join your neighbors on March 4 to see all the boxes and enjoy the party.

The Fox Point Library boasts Sandy Oliviera, PCL’s longest serving East Side employee, whose smiling face has greeted patrons there since 1987. Sandy whose duty as clerk involves checking books in and out finds herself doing so much more. People come in to look for a book, but theyend up “checking out” Sandy – drawing on her wealth of community information to find answers to all kinds of questions. Sometimes they even pull a chair …   More

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