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Providence Geeks (12/16)

Photo by Brian Jepson

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009, 5:30 – 8:30pm
AS220, 115 Empire Street, Providence, RI
FREE (buy your own food and drink – it’s cheap)

The last Providence Geek Dinner of the decade (yes, _ the decade_!) drops next week, and it’s going to be a doozy.

For starters, the excellent Providence-based DiJiPOP will be presenting.

We also are having our second annual “Geeks for Good” food drive, led by the awesome Michelle Riggen-Ransom of BatchBlue Software. More on this very soon. (For the moment, suffice it to say, “bring food donations!”)

More details at
RSVP on Facebook.

After Geeks, head down Westminster Street to join us for the Providence Blogosphere Holiday Spectacular!


1577 Westminster, for realz!

1577 Westminster Street, rendering Kite Architects

The WBNA has been working hard for some time now to build their green building at 1577 Westminster Street. Delays have been caused largely as a result of putting together financing for the project. I’m told that WBNA and their partner, SpurwinkRI, now have a building permit in hand and construction could begin as soon as December 23rd. If the winter construction season cooperates, the building could be done by next fall.

The building will have many green features including solar panels, insulation made from recycled newspaper, and flooring made with corn oil instead of petroleum. It has 7 apartments above that are supported living for folks with developmental disabilities, and the ground floor is still planned as Urban Greens’ new retail space with a full range of local and organic veggies, dairy, meat, and dry goods.

We’re looking forward to this excellent project finally coming of the drawing board and getting built.


Megan Andelloux: The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health before Pawtucket Zoning Board of Review

This post was submitted by friend of GC:PVD Megan Andelloux (A.A.S.E.C.T Certified Sexuality Educator, A.A.S.E.C.T Mentor, A.C.S Board Certified Sexologist). Monday night (11/30/09), she will be going before the Pawtucket Zoning Board of Review to defend her right to educate adults about the topics of sexual health and pleasure. Find out more info on upcoming workshops & sexuality questions at

csphYou may have heard about it in the news, The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health. It’s the name on many individuals lips. The CSPH has been called a sexual pleasure center, a sex clinic, a sexual health center, a brothel, an abortion clinic, a sex toy store and a havenhouse for sex trafficking. Let me clear rumors folks, The CSPH is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing accurate information to adults about sexuality that is seeking to open in The Grant Building on Main Street in Pawtucket. Nothing more, nothing less.

When put that way, it seems pretty fantastic right? A place where adults can go to access information about sexuality without having to buy anything? Like a library? Or a resource center? That’s the plan, but some city officials in Pawtucket (and other individuals) appear to oppose adults being able access sex information. They have taken some serious steps to prevent it from opening.

At first glance, the blatant censorship shines through loud and clear and gives people more than enough to be angry about. But look a little deeper. The issue that lies beneath most censorship issues surface is fear. In this case, it’s a fear of sexuality. People who are opposing The CSPH say it has to do with “the elderly“ not liking that type of talk, that the center doesn’t fit into the town’s image, that it’s not the kind of thing they like OR that they may be teaching immoral things. It’s interesting to me, as the founder of The CSPH, that those who are most vocal about preventing it from opening have never spoken to me, taken me up on offers of visiting The CSPH, or asked me my plans regarding it. They have just become talking heads, ready to attack without knowing the facts.

If we are really invested in growing Rhode Island cities by bringing in tourists, getting people to move into the area, revitalizing our downtown’s, it seems that setting up invisible hoops, only to be used if city officials want to flex their muscles, is not the way to welcome small businesses.

On Monday night (at 6:30pm), I will go before the town of Pawtucket’s zoning appeal board at Pawtucket City Hall, ready to stand firm on my belief that people have the right to access information if they so choose. I hope that you will stand with me.

- Megan Andelloux


Last CBC Wine Tasting of the Season

wine tasting
CBC Winetasting | Photo by M.Coolidge

This Thursday at the Providence Community Boating Center, they’re sailing a little less, and thinking more about the holidays. It’s time for the last CBC Wine Tasting Challenge of the year, and this time the they’re going with Prosecco! What better way to help select the perfect jug o’ bottle of wine for the holidays than to throw back sample several types of this sparkling white!

If you’ve never been to a CBC wine tasting before, it goes like this:

  • Your team (of up to 3 people) brings 3 bottles of the same Prosecco
  • … and you each bring a suggested $10 donation for CBC
  • We serve 2 of your bottles (blindly) and put the 3rd one in the prize pool.
  • You vote on your favorite (remember, you can’t see the labels)
  • If your wine gets voted as favorite, you win all the 3rd bottles.
  • The more people that come, the bigger the prize pool!

For the rest of the details, check out the CBC event page or find a team mate at this facebook event. Remember, you can now get to the boathouse via the Gano St exit off of I-195.

See you there (with your 3 bottles and donation) at 7pm!


Providence Geeks (11/18)


Wednesday, November 18th, 2009, 5:30 – 8:30pm
AS220, 115 Empire Street, Providence, RI
FREE (buy your own food and drink – it’s cheap)

Providence Geeks returns to AS220 for our November Dinner, just in time to enjoy its amazing new restaurant. And they are glad to have us back, creating for the occasion, a special selection of different sized Geek plates for the occasion: Byte, Megabyte, and Terabyte (Get it?!! :-)

And do we have a presentation in store for you:

Brown CS Professor Pascal Van Hentenryck – a world-renowned pioneer in optimization technology – founded Providence-based Dynadec in 2008 to help businesses optimize the decisions and processes critical to success. At the next Geek Dinner, Pascal will give an overview of his fascinating, fast-growing company, as well showing its cutting-edge optimization platform – Comet – in action. These are jaw-dropping demonstrations of how Dynadec provides invaluable insights into a broad range of applications – everything from vehicle routing to workforce management to resource scheduling.

To learn more, read this recent Xconomy interview with Pascal.

Please RSVP at Facebook (In the interest of making it more “viral”, we’re experimenting with doing our RSVPs on Facebook – and while you’re there please join our Facebook group. And if you want to join our very-low-volume email announcement send an email to Jack Templin, with your name and affiliation.)

As always, for first-timers here are the details on the Geek Dinners:

The event itself is FREE! Beverages and food are for sale at AS220′s bar and new restaurant.

It’s totally casual. Wear whatever, bring whoever, arrive and take off whenever! And don’t worry about eating or not – come famished or full – eating is optional, and frankly, the least of the festivities (that’s not say the food isn’t good – it’s actually great)

Topics of conversation will vary as they will at any gathering of geeks, but many of us will be talking about AJAX, mash-ups, start-ups, new devices, innovative business models, interaction design, social computing, digital art, web services, etc. etc. etc.

There is Wi-Fi so bring your connected device of choice.


“Dangerous by Design” Pedestrians in America

Photo (cc) Brian’sLens

Transportation For America released a report today on pedestrian fatalities in the U.S. ranking the top 52 metro areas over 1 million (Providence ranked 11th best). The results are not pretty:

In the last 15 years, more than 76,000 Americans have been killed while crossing or walking along a street in their community. More than 43,000 Americans – including 3,906 children under 16 – have been killed this decade alone. This is the equivalent of a jumbo jet going down roughly every month, yet it receives nothing like the kind of attention that would surely follow such a disaster.

While our automobile-centric post-war environment is highly dangerous to people on foot or bikes, doctors are telling us that we need to get out of our cars and ambulate more, or our sedentary lifestyle will kill us. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

The rankings are based on the Pedestrian Danger Index (PDI) which takes into account the number of pedestrians so that cities with a high number of people who walk, are not automatically weighed higher; more pedestrians equals more pedestrian deaths does not equate to a higher pedestrian risk ranking.

Orlando tops the list because of its high pedestrian fatality rate of 2.9 pedestrian deaths per 100,000 residents, despite a very low proportion of residents walking to work, only 1.3 percent. In other words, the few people who do walk in Orlando face a relatively high risk of being killed by traffic.

Continue Reading →


Providence Children’s Museum workshops about placemaking and play

Photo (cc) Mikenan1

Children’s Museum Hosts Community Conversations About Play

PROVIDENCE, RI – Providence Children’s Museum is hosting two community conversations this fall to unite individuals and organizations from across the state to discuss the issues affecting children’s opportunities for unstructured, self-directed play. The conversations will be held at Providence Children’s Museum (100 South Street in Providence) and are free and open to the public.

Making Places for Play
Thursday, November 5 | 7:00-8:30pm
Join a discussion about how to build community, engage families and inspire child-directed play through placemaking. Hear from local people who have strengthened their communities by creating playgrounds, parks and gardens – including representatives from Brown Street Park in Providence, the Children’s Garden Network, Learning Community Charter School in Central Falls, and Ponaganset Middle School in North Scituate – and share your ideas.

Building Community
Wednesday, December 2 | 7:00-8:30pm
By fostering strong communities, together we can give children more freedom to play. Hear from individuals who have built and sustained community in their neighborhoods and beyond – by organizing a neighborhood block party in Barrington, community events and gardens through Southside Community Land Trust in Providence, and monthly hikes with Rhode Island Families in Nature – and share your thoughts and strategies.

The conversations were inspired by topics on the Museum’s new discussion listserv, “PlayWatch: Connecting the Community to Promote Children’s Play,” and will be moderated by Museum director Janice O’Donnell.

Contact Megan Fischer for more information and to RSVP. To read the PlayWatch listserv archives or to join the list, visit


Northern Rhode Island Transportation

Last week I posted a proposal for an intrastate rail line from Woonsocket to Quonset Point. This is not a new idea and talk about bringing trains back to Woonsocket has been going on for some time.

Earlier this week there was a Congressional Breakfast in Woonsocket attended by more than 100 people, with the topic being transportation in the northern part of the state. The Valley Breeze has a report on the breakfast. Above is a video prepared by the Pawtucket Foundation that was presented at the breakfast.

Thomas Mann, Executive Director of The Pawtucket Foundation presented a video that outlined four major points:

  1. Demonstrate the regional significance of the Pawtucket/Central Falls Commuter Rail Stop project. Pawtucket has secured $360,000 and the State of RI has appropriated $40,000 as the local match to access a $1.96M earmark for preliminary engineering and NEPA permitting.
  2. Implement a more in-depth regional feasibility analysis for an intra-state commuter rail proposal to create service from Woonsocket, through the Blackstone Valley to Providence and T.F. Green Airport
  3. Consider economic development as a criterion for transportation infrastructure investments. Focus transit funding to coincide with transit oriented development.
  4. Connect the Blackstone Valley Bike Path to the East Bay Bike Path. Expedite design and funding to complete the Blackstone Valley Bike Path.

Those in attendance were in agreement that a commuter rail line connecting northern RI to T.F. Green and points south is not only doable, but vital. The Breeze quotes Sen. Reed as saying that commuter rail, “has to be pursued vigorously.”

So what are the stumbling blocks. One is Amtrak, getting agreements to share the rails, but also agreements on liability. The Conant Street bridge in Pawtucket near the location of that city’s proposed commuter rail station remains closed due to not being able to come to agreement with Amtrak over liability issues in regards to repairing the bridge. The other issue, as always, money. While the rails are there, they will need slight upgrades, also stations will need to be built, rolling stock bought, conductors, engineers, and mechanics hired, all cost money of course. And if you haven’t heard, Rhode Island is lacking in the money department of late. Everyone seems to be in agreement though, that money invested in transit is a good investment for Rhode Island. Our limited land and dense population coupled with the existing infrastructure make transit a key tool to rebuild our economy.