Recently GrowSmart RI in Providence hosted a workshop entitled, “Alternative Tools for Encouraging Alternative Transportation”. Four presenters with four different perspectives gathered, including Alex Ellis, a Providence Town Planner, Vin Scorziello, a local businessman, Yarrow Thorne director of Avenue Concepts, and yours truly from Bike Newport and the RI Waves campaign. The topics ranged from a discussion of urban trails, creating outdoor seating, acknowledging one another on the streets, and the advantages to providing art on city streets.
After our short presentations we answered questions as panelists from audience members. The audience was engaged, with insightful questions and comments. Jen West, of Narragansett Bay Estuarine Research Reserve, later told the workshop organizer, C. J. Opperthauser, that of all the workshops she’s ever done, she can’t remember having so many immediate action items and solutions made from the audience members attending the event. Hats off to C.J. for getting all the right people together in one room!
It was not just the audience members who learned something that morning. I walked away from the workshop thinking for the first time that I now understand what it means to provide people reasons to slow down on city streets. Physical barriers, like a speed bump, or an artistic bench to sit on, or connecting to others with a friendly “I see you wave”, or observing a beautiful mural painted on an old brick wall all create the opportunity to connect to one another. It’s not just about getting from point A to point B as quickly as possible. We are all too busy too much of the time. Providence is providing many reasons to slow down and connect with each other on our streets. And ultimately it creates a safer environment for everyone.
Here’s to slowing down and connecting on our RI streets, for a more engaging and safer experience.