Imagine Providence

Hear the voices of people boldly and creatively tackling social issues in Providence and explore how you can be part of the story.

  • December 23, 2014
    Imagine:

    Social Enterprise Greenhouse (SEG) works with social enterpises of all shapes and sizes to ensure sustainable success. Having worked with 150 ventures so far, SEG is building a rich community of diverse social entrepreneurs who can collaborate and support each other. In addition to working with established social entrepreneuers, SEG encourages potential entrepeneurs of all ages to join their community and innovate ideas.

    Kelly Ramirez, executive director of SEG, describes how the innovative work of SEG is transforming Providence into a social enterprise capital.

    Social Enterprise Greenhouse
  • December 23, 2014
    Imagine:

    The Woonasquatucket River's health suffered as a result of pollution from the industrial revolution. The Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council (WRWC) integrates art, science, and education to improve the health and safety of the Woonasquatucket River while introducing Providence residents to this urban natural resource. WRWC introduces members from all parts of the Providence community to the river through the Woonasquatucket River Greenway, a biking and running path, with kayaking opportunties on the water. By improving water quality and ecosystem health in conjunction with public art projects and community support, WRWC is revitalizing an idyllic getaway in the middle of a bustling city.

    Executive Director Alicia Lehrer describes how the river health has improved since she first saw it and future improvements she envisions.

    Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council
  • December 23, 2014
    Imagine:

    A new, innovative city government office, the Office of Sustainability has proactively addressed pressing needs in the Providence community through fast-paced, hard work. The Office of Sustainability focuses on environmental issues that impact all aspects of Providence residents' lives, from transportation to stormwater runoff. Their sustainability action plan, Sustainable Providence, released in fall of 2014, was created through a collaborative process with community members, reflecting the strong role the Providece community has had in shaping a vision for local sustainability.

    Sheila Dormody, the director of the Office of Sustainability, shares how local government is catalyzing change in Providence.

    Office of Sustainability, City of Providence
  • October 23, 2014
    Imagine:

    After the schoolday ends a whole new world of learning begins through the Providence After School Alliance (PASA)'s multitude of free opportunities. By offering cooking, sports, conservation, model UN, and everything in between, PASA provides hands-on experiences for middle school and high school students through the AfterZone and the Hub. Continually challenged to explore and experiment, the students participating in PASA's program receive once-in-a-lifetime chances to access activities that allow them to grow and learn outside of the classroom.

    Brittany Sandbergen, the coordinator of professional development and training at PASA, shares the magic experienced by students in the after school programs.

    Providence After School Alliance
  • October 23, 2014
    Imagine:

    Embracing Martin Luther King's Beloved Community, the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence (ISPN) cultivates peaceful conflict resolution, particulrarly around group/gang-related violence. ISPN's streetworkers have a positive presence in Providence neighborhoods, and regularly visit hospitals to offer support for victims of violence. In addition, ISPN facilitates nonviolence workshops for everyone in the Providence community, including police officers, students, and inmates.

    As a Senior Streetworker in his own neighborhood, Jose Rodriguez shares how he spreads the values of the Institute within the Providence community.

    Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence
  • October 23, 2014
    Imagine:

    Started by youth for youth, Youth in Action (YIA) gives a powerful voice to youth in Providence. By combining leadership training and skill building with social change, Youth in Action has built a strong community of young leaders equipped with the tools to create the community they envision. As evident in the Students Constructing Classrooms program, where students work with future teachers at Roger William University, youth are empowered to make the educational systems intended for them more responsive to their needs.

    Maiyah Gamble Rivers, YIA alumna, and Wila Matos, a MET high school student currently on YIA's board, describe the power of belonging to the YIA community.

    Youth in Action
  • October 23, 2014
    Imagine:

    Clinica Esperanza/Hope Clinic is a place for all members of the Providence communtiy to be and become healthy. By providing linguistically- and culturally-sensitive medical care, Clincia Esperanza's volunteers create a welcoming and friendly environment for uninsured adults to walk in and receive treatment. In addition to providing traditional care, Clinica Esperanza also focuses on chronic disease prevention by transforming its space into a Zumba studio and implementing nutrition education programs.

    Volunteer Medical Director and Founder Dr. Annie De Groot shares how Clinica Esperanza's committed crew of volunteers are making health more accessible to Rhode Islanders.

    Clinica Esperanza/Hope Clinic
  • October 23, 2014
    Imagine:

    Based on the teachings of Paulo Freire, English for Action (EFA) facilitates English language learning as a tool for community organizing. By empowering the Spanish-speaking community to have a strong voice in Providence, EFA enables its students to push for the change they envision. People of all ages and literacy levels are welcome to join the movement being built in EFA's classrooms.

    Executive Director Cristina Cabrera describes what it feels like to belong to the EFA family.

    English for Action
  • October 23, 2014
    Imagine:

    With cultivating a community at the heart of its work, the African Alliance of Rhode Island (AARI) strives to improve the quality of life for Africans in Providence while sharing African culture with residents all over Providence. At farmers' markets you can find all kinds of African vegetables grown by immigrant and refugee farmers; and the urban agriculture initiatives of AARI provide jobs for members of the African community and creates access to African foods. In addition to sharing and celebrating African food and promoting health within the African community, the AARI collaborates with offices and organizations in Providence and across Rhode Island to expand the impact of its efforts.

    JR Songwe, a board member of AARI, shares how being a part of AARI has shaped his experience and the experience of other Africans in the Providence community.

    African Alliance of Rhode Island
  • October 23, 2014
    Imagine:

    When you walk through the door of Recycle-A-Bike (RAB), right off of Olneyville Square, you enter a microcosm of Providence where people from all walks of life build relationships by teaching and learning all about the used bicycles they are refurbishing. As a volunteer-based bike cooperative, RAB gives anyone the opportunity to earn a bike or fix a bike in exchange for their time. In addition to providing an Open Shop for people to learn how to fix their bikes, RAB sells refurbished bicycles, teaches Build-A-Bike courses, trains highschool students to be bike mechanics, provides tune-ups at farmers markets, and more!

    Patrick McEvoy, executive director of RAB, invites you to celebrate RAB's vision for a community connected by bicycles.

    Recycle-A-Bike
  • October 23, 2014
    Imagine:

    If you eat at a restaurant serving local food, chances are that Farm Fresh Rhode Island delivered the local ingredients earlier that day. Ten years ago, Farm Fresh Rhode Island started as a student project for a class and has since grown into one of the most progressive food-hubs in the country. Farm Fresh Rhode Island connects local farmers to local eaters by breaking down barriers to healthy food access and creating new markets for local food through a diversity of programs including Market Mobile (local produce delivery to restraunts), Harvest Kitchen (a job-training program for at-risk youth), and farmers' markets throughout Rhode Island.

    Co-Executive Director Sheri Griffin shares how Farm Fresh Rhode Island has transformed Rhode Island's food system one produce delivery at a time.

    Farm Fresh Rhode Island
  • October 23, 2014
    Imagine:

    WIth 93 parks in the City of Providence, the Partnership for Providence Parks cultivates strong relationships between these parks and their surrounding neighborhoods. Through partnerships with city offices, community organizations, and community members, the Partnership for Providence Parks makes these parks the epicenter of community activity through PlayCorps, concerts, and other festivities. Ensuring that both children and adults feel happy and safe in their neighborhood park gives the Providence community an abundance of places to get together and have a good time.

    Wendy Nilson, the executive director and founder of the Partnership for Providence Parks, shares how Providence residents are reclaiming their outdoor spaces.

    Partnership for Providence Parks
  • October 23, 2014
    Imagine:

    Captured in its name, OpenDoors strives for a community across Rhode Island welcoming and accepting of individuals regardless of their backgrounds. OpenDoors works with incarcerated indivudals prior to their release to develop a discharge plan and connects formerly incarcerated individuals with resources necessary for success to integrate these indivduals into the community. In addition to their efforts to reduce recidivism rates, OpenDoors catalyzes policy change to shape a state more accessible for those formerly incarcerated.

    Executive Director Sol Rodriguez describes how hard work has opened up opportunities and transformed the lives of formerly incarcerated individuals in Rhode Island.

    OpenDoors
  • October 23, 2014
    Imagine:

    With Narragansett Bay at the heart of its mission, Save the Bay integrates education, science, and policy, engaging community members of all ages to take ownership over the 256 miles of coastline in our backyard. Since 1970, Save the Bay's dedicated team have restored Narragansett Bay to health, creating numerous economic and recreational opportunities including an annual swim across Naragansett Bay and an interactive marine exploration center. Hosting regular coastal cleanups, providing educational programming in urban schools, monitoring the Bay, and advocating for Bay-friendly policies allow Save the Bay to continue protecting the Ocean State.

    Executive Director Jonathan Stone shares how Save the Bay's ecosystem-based approach to transforming Narragansett Bay has had tangible results since his daily rowing practices in the Bay as a member of Brown's crew team.

    Save the Bay
  • October 23, 2014
    Imagine:

    Known as the "Switzerland of Data", the Providence Plan analyzes data to leverage systemic change. In addition to the different interactive maps available to residents, community organizations, and policymakers alike, the Providence Plan runs three programs: YouthBuild, Ready to Learn, and Building Futures. With the data providing the roadmap for effective interventions, these initiatives are transforming the workforce development and education landscape in Providence.

    Pat McGuigan (Providence Plan Executive Director), Leslie Gell (Director of Ready to Learn), and Andrew Cortes (Director of Building Futures) share how operating as a "think and do tank" leads to authentic change.

    Providence Plan
  • October 23, 2014
    Imagine:

    When artist Holly Ewald facilitated a community redesign of signs at Mashapaug Pond to say it was sick, she had no idea it would turn into a fully-fledged movement. UPP Arts weaves art, science, and activism together to raise awarness about environmental health. In addition to hosting an annual celebratory parade drawing people from all parts of Providence outfitted in all kinds of crazy costumes, UPP Arts educates students and residents throughout the year about pollution urban ponds.

    Artistic Director Holly Ewald paints a vivid picture of UPP Arts, telling its story through snapshots of the procession.

    UPP Arts
  • October 22, 2014
    Imagine:

    The current campaign by the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless (RICH) to solve chronic homelessness in Rhode Island by 2016 embodies the hard work and determination present in all of RICH's endevours. RICH has helped facilitate innovative initiatives at the state level, including the nation's first Homeless Bill of Rights and hosting candlelit vigils every time a homeless individual dies. Through collaboration and creativity, RICH fuels the fight for housing to leverage tangible change at a fast pace.

    Deputy Director of RICH Karen Jeffries speaks with conviction about the ambitions RICH has for the future of housing in Rhode Island.

    Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless
  • September 2, 2014
    Imagine:

    Since its origin almost three decades ago with five people sitting around a kitchen table, DARE (Direct Action for Rights and Equality) has grown into a powerful direct action organization. DARE provides its members with a powerful voice to tackle issue directly impacting them, including education, incarceration, and health care. DARE creates a community of people within Providence in which individuals can join together to campaign on behalf of each other.

    Vice-Chairperson Sheila Wilhelm tells the story of how DARE has successfully advanced the agenda of Providence residents through effective, grassroots efforts.

    DARE (Direct Action for Rights and Equality)
  • September 2, 2014
    Imagine:

    Students in DownCity Design’s youth programs let their ideas run wild, as they learn to apply the design cycle to building projects all over Providence. In addition to DownCity Design’s youth programs, DownCity Design hosts Community Design Days to include all voices in the process. While the impact of DownCity Design is apparent in the physical improvements made by its students, the collaboration and community engagement emphasized in their design process builds a culture of sharing and collective problem solving in Providence.

    Founder and Executive Director Adrienne Gagnon tells the story of how youth and community members have the power to transform the landscape of their city.

    DownCity Design
  • September 2, 2014
    Imagine:

    For almost 40 years, Sojourner House has been a powerful resource and advocate for victims of abuse in Providence. With weekly support groups in both English and Spanish, available shelter, and comprehensive educational programming, Sojourner House empowers members from the community of any age, race, gender, and culture to recognize and recover from abuse.

    Executive Director Vanessa Volz discusses how it is a safe space for victims of abuse and strives to make Providence a space safe from abuse.

    Sojourner House
  • September 2, 2014
    Imagine:

    Creative freedom and self expression take center-stage in the Carriage House, the headquarters of Everett's operations. Both the performance school and professional company celebrate the diversity and talent of Providence, apparent in the dynamic nature of Everett’s approach to teaching and performing. With many of its initiatives inspired by topics directly from the Providence community, Everett harnesses the power of performance as a medium to explore and address significant social issues, from neuroscience and mental health to mass incarceration.

    Artistic and Executive Director Aaron Jungels provides a window into the sights, sounds, and communities that have thrived in the Carriage House over the past three decades.

    Everett | Company, Stage & School
  • September 2, 2014
    Imagine:

    At Community MusicWorks, musicians of all ages and backgrounds bring classical music to life. While youth receive free instruments, training, and leadership development; skilled and professional adult musicians have the opportunity to be musical mentors or fellows. CMW creates a unique space in Providence for youth to become musicians and for musicians to play together for their community.

    Founder and Executive Director Sebastian Ruth '97 describes how CMW blends classical music and public service to build a community around and through music.

    Community MusicWorks
  • September 2, 2014
    Imagine:

    At The Steel Yard, fire, iron, and kinship converge to create a community of industrial artists. In addition to art studios and available equipment, The Steel Yard is a public gathering place which hosts art classes and community events. The Steel Yard has transformed the façade of Providence with numerous public arts projects, which include hand-crafted trash cans and bike racks all over the city.

    Executive Director Howie Sneider describes how the culture of knowledge sharing and crafting at the Steel Yard has the potential reshape the relationship between Providence residents and their city.

    The Steel Yard
  • September 2, 2014
    Imagine:

    At any of its locations in downtown Providence, AS220 looks and feels like the alternative space contained in its name. Censorship and inhibition are left at its doorstep, cultivating the open and free community that exists within its walls. In addition to the organization’s gallery space, concert venue, and bar/restaurant, AS220 has programming every single day of the year in addition to offering a youth mentorship program, studio spaces, art classes, and a job-training program.

    Artistic Director and Founder Bert Crenca provides a window into how AS220 is unlocking Providence’s creative potential.

    AS220
  • August 18, 2014
    Imagine:

    Anyone who passes by New Urban Arts can see that something good is going on inside; but until they walk into NUA's open art studio, they have no idea how spectacular it is. High school students from all over Providence have the power to create whatever they want at NUA, equipped with every creative resource imaginable. In addition to open studio opportunities for independent exploration, students at NUA select artist mentors from the Providence community to facilitate weekly workshops.

    Artist Mentor Sydney Peak '15, NUA Student Joely Barrios, and Executive Director Elia Gurna describe the magic of belonging to NUA’s artist community.

    New Urban Arts