Above: Raffini from Rhode Island Black Storytellers relays a tale about the value of listening to our children
Over 150 neighbors braved the snowy weather to enjoy our 2017 Annual Meeting on January 31 at Southside Cultural Center, a new cultural hub at Trinity Square on Broad Street where the Upper South Side, West End, and Downtown neighborhoods of Providence connect. It was a story-filled and inspiring evening thanks to all the presenters and neighbors who helped make it happen.
The Annual Meeting began with a pizza reception for elected officials and neighbors to meet and mingle, followed by our main program which was kicked off by a beautiful story told by Raffini of Rhode Island Black Storytellers, one of the resident arts organizations at Southside Cultural Center.
Matt Gabor, WBNA's Board Chair, introduced the evening's program as well as our 2017 theme of One West Side, which will focus on issues of inclusiveness and equity in the neighborhood with the explicit aim to reach, connect with, and represent all of our neighbors. This effort will be carried out by our new One West Side Committee that is forming this year (please let us know if you are interested in joining this committee).
We learned about the collaborations and partnerships involved in creating Southside Cultural Center, our host location, from its Executive Director Richardson Ogidan who also told about the history of the Trinity Church Annex and the neighborhood.
WBNA Executive Director Kari Lang gave the annual year-in-review slide show which highlighted the work that was accomplished by neighbors working together in 2016. Highlights included Fix the 6-10 Coalition, completion of Luongo Memorial Square, remediation of a gateway property at 1326 Westminster, the Bocce Courts Project at Dexter Training Ground, improvements at Major (aka Ellery) Park, and the great work of our WBNA Committees.
Neighbor and author Taylor Polites delivered a tantalizing preview of his West Side Walking Tour, which focuses on stories of activism and immigration on the west side. Taylor is researching and creating this program in part with the support of Providence Public Library and Rhode Island Council for the Humanities. When released in the near future, the multi-media tour will be downloadable to mobile and other electronic devices.
Mayor Jorge Elorza gave a presentation on the state of the City of Providence as well as his One Providence initiative, which was followed by our WBNA Awards ceremony that honored those who have gone above and beyond to support the WBNA's mission.
2017 Award Recipients
Certificate of Recognition – Southside Cultural Center
Municipal Award – Craig Hochman & James Caroselli (for Luongo Memorial Square project)
Neighborhood Action Award – Zulma Rondon, Andrayan, Cristina, Guido, Honey, Isiaih, Maleek, Natalina, Valentina
Fueling Community Award – Lauren & Chris Sanford
The evening concluded with a vote on and welcome to our new WBNA board members which comprise our most diverse Board of Directors to date. After the meeting, we celebrated our 2017 Award winners and Board members with coffee from White Electric and cake from Sin Bakery.