Last week I had the pleasure of tagging along with Public Humanities Community Fellow Holly Ewald to document and help facilitate her most recent project: the 2015 UPP Arts Teachers Workshop. The day and a half long program was held in the cheerfully decorated library of the Reservoir Avenue School and attended by some 15 teachers, artists, researchers and scientists with a wide variety of ages, talents and experience.
In the final months of his presidency, William Clinton ordered the United States military to unscramble the satellite signal it uses for global positioning, increasing the accuracy of civilian GPS from a 100-yard margin of error in the year 2000, to about 10 feet today. Immediate benefits included improved navigation for boaters and hikers, accuracy of systems utilized by emergency responders, and resolution of U.S. Geological Survey topographical quad maps. The Clinton administration also foresaw a boom in GPS-related industry and profits.
My summer practicum has been spent, in part, at WaterFire Providence. A much-beloved Providence institution for nearly 20 years, WaterFire is, "an independent, non-profit arts organization whose mission is to inspire Providence and its visitors by revitalizing the urban experience, fostering community engagement and creatively transforming the city by presenting WaterFire for all to enjoy."
Last June, I interviewed a former resident of the U.S. naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba (or GTMO). In the oddly formal setting of the downstairs sitting room at the public humanities center, she shared memories of high school, friends and the close-knit community at the base. For her, GTMO epitomized the post-WWII all-American small town. It represented what is best about this country.
In his feedback on my final project for Digital Storytelling (AMST 2699) my teacher Tyler Denmead, PhD, wrote, “Your discovery of PowerPoint’s potential has obviously been transformative for you this semester.” Wow, that made me stop and think. “Transformative” is a very powerful word. Falling in love is transformative. Having a baby is transformative. Was PowerPoint really transforming me? And wouldn’t it be a little sad if it was?
Since its creation in 1848 as City Hall Park, Kennedy Plaza in downtown Providence has undergone continuous, rapid, and significant change. It has served as a transportation hub for horses, carriages, trolleys, and buses. Buildings have been built up, torn down, abandoned and renovated. Audiences have watched Houdini perform feats of magic, John F. Kennedy speak, and the aerial performers of Bandaloop dance on the side of a building.