What a busy first week! Over the past 7 days I’ve gone to a bill signing with the Governor, canvassed in Speaker Mattiello’s District, been helping the students of RI organize an action coming up soon, and so much more in-between. Transitioning from working as a part-time volunteer, to becoming a fellow has been an interesting adjustment and I think the most eye-opening fact is that there’s simply so much to do. Even obvious steps, like informing youth about their rights for school protests or making sure events happen so that young people get out to vote—while they may get worked on in the fringes—it’s critical that they be brought the fore and act as a center-point, rallying cry for youth across Rhode Island.
I’m so impressed and excited by the work that youth across Rhode Island are already doing, and the number of students who came out to canvas was so positive; letting the Speaker know that there are active and engaged youth determined to elect gun-sense candidates is key to changing the political geography of RI. Although I’ve done a bit informally, I want to make sure I sit down and talk to more students across this state to see what I, and the Coalition, can do to support their civic action.
In terms of the goals for this campaign, we’re doing good work building the foundations. Spending the time listening to students from across the state who are passionate for gun reform, and meeting with other advocacy groups, is helping to make sure this Youth Engagement Campaign is putting resources where they are needed most, and where they’ll have the biggest impact.
I’m also very lucky to be working in an office space at the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence. Although I have been to ISPN a number of times for meetings and rubbed shoulders with staff at various different times, Celeste (the Director of Employment Services) took me around the office formally and I got to see the wide-array of services that the Institute provides. The labyrinth of hallways and offices, and side-rooms were full of people busily making Providence a safer, more peaceful place to live. The other perk of being around ISPN is that there are informal opportunities to see first-hand the teaching, training, and challenges that staff deal with. This week there was a large lunch with officers from North Charleston, South Carolina, which is the police department that shot and killed the unarmed black man Walter Scott. The Chief and Captains were here to double down on their commitment to not let an incident like that to happen again and to learn from Providence’s community policing tactics. I was very overwhelmed by the sentiments from both sides, and the good will that all parties had. Although far too optimistic, if the wider world could be a little more filled with laughter like that room, it would be a brighter day for all.