I just finished another episode of Parks + Recs. Words cannot express how much I love that show and Amy Poehler’s character, Leslie Knope. I say insidiously that she reminds me of myself. A genuine person who truly loves her hometown Pawnee, Indiana. One may call it pride, but I think it’s more of a dignified joy that she possesses. Leslie’s Pawnee is my Rhode Island. The good ol’ “Ocean State.” While that’s our official nickname, I tend to refer to as the “Anchor State.” Our state motto, symbolized by an anchor is hope. Like many I have so much hope in our state and communities. Despite the disenchantment we’ve experienced in leadership, policies, and even in my own generation; I still believe there is hope in, and for Rhode Island.
Certainly Parks + Recs provides this sense of pride in Pawnee, at the same time, I know Pawnee is a fictional place. Yes Pawnee’s corky, talented, and dignified characters aren’t real, yet, you can still find people like that here in Little Rhody. My friend, Richard “Knight” Norris is an apprenticed photographer. He shares his work through his blog and convention, Knight Vision. The reason why I say apprenticed is because he still has an enthusiasm for learning. It’s actually quite magical because just as an apprentice watches closely to their master, thinking metaphorically, I feel as though he is doing a fantastic job using his community as his master craftsman. Rich is doing his best to enlighten the community on Rhode Island’s humanity affairs. I appreciate his ability to capture culture through various impressions. I’m sure many people just consider him to be a lucky guy who happens to own a nice camera; but to me, it’s more than that. He has a keen eye beyond the expensive lens attached to his camera. He has a skill in attending to liberal arts in a social effect to spread awareness. Some of my favorites amongst his collection of photos are those that depict Rhode Island and its glory, especially that of our capital, Providence.
Growing up and still to this day, I recall folks saying, “I can’t wait to get out of Rhode Island! There’s nothing to do here.” People always exclaiming, “it’s too small. There’s nothing for me here.” Sure, that’s possible — especially if you’re keeping your mind closed to the many opportunities here. Granted, I understand the socioeconomic challenges that haunt us all and challenge us in our journey to fully experience our beautiful state, but believe me, all those exclamations about Rhode Island are wrong. I’m not innocent to that ignorance. I shared the same attitude once, but it took moments of serendipitous explorations that taught me the truth about the wonders Rhode Island has to offer.
The amount of hope that extends from Blackstone Valley to South County is absolutely moving! Beautiful people, fine cuisines, innovative social activities, a bustling city; all along Providence’s rivers. Don’t believe me? Take a look at Knight Vision’s work. While I could go on, I know Rhode Island might not be for everyone right now, or maybe even ever; but we all have a hand in making our state what we want it to be.
I’ve been to many places along the east coast and have extended my travels across the United States to the west as far as Nevada. I’ve also had the opportunity to explore and immerse myself in the culture of an island laying in the Atlantic Ocean. I know there’s so much to see and learn outside of Rhode Island, and trust me, I want everyone to be apart of that! I’m also an advocate of understanding that we live in a global society; therefore we shouldn’t let our domestic affairs alone hold dominion. With that said, there’s also the importance of knowing who you are. In order to know humility, progress, and yourself, I think you must recognize and appreciate where you come from, and for me that is Rhode Island. There’s something special about looking beyond the square mileage of Little Rhody to experience a wealth in adventures and most importantly be an engine for the hope many people have in and for Rhode Island.