When I first moved to Newport in 1997,(yes, a different millennium) I arrived knowing not a soul, with absolutely no idea what I would do here. My move here was based on a 1 day visit that completely captivated me, starting with the view from the Newport Bridge (to this day, my favorite journey anywhere is coming home over that bridge). I thought, "My God, the people here are so lucky!" I wanted to be lucky too, so I moved here.
I spent my first year here asking every local I met whether they appreciated and understood what an extraordinary place this is. Most said they did, but without enough passion or conviction to really convince me (maybe they thought I was just some overeager transplant and that eventually I'd calm down - it hasn't happened yet).
In the course of learning about my new home-state and the character, history, and culture that make it unique, I noticed that people would very often describe things such as potholes or political corruption, while shaking their heads and saying "Only In Rhode Island............" Coming from Chicago myself, I found this hilarious! The potholes in Chicago could host some Caribbean islands (or perhaps Rhode Island), and as for political corruption, I have just two words....................Alfonse Capone.
It was the huge spirit of Rhode Islanders that I loved, that could make them believe their potholes were bigger than anyone else's and their politician's more corrupt. So when I decided to start a business celebrating all things Rhode Island, I called it.........what else???? Only In Rhode Island!!!
In the 10 years since then, I have come to learn that political corruption in our tiny state is no joke, and it breaks my heart. In comparison, I believe that in Chicago you can pay to get things done - In Rhode Island, you pay to keep things from being done. As a result, smart, talented, ambitious, capable, GOOD people are leaving the Ocean State in droves because the over-regulation, excessive taxation, and inhospitable business climate leave them no choice. (Those assertions are not my opinion - they are the reasons Forbes, Inc., and Money Magazines have all ranked this incredibly beautiful place the least-friendly to Business in the entire country, year after year.)
So, it is in the huge spirit of Rhode Island that I wait and hope for our elected officials (aka politicians) to do something BIG, something DRAMATIC, something DIFFERENT, to create a progressive and collaborative plan for change that can allow Rhode Island to be the enormous State that it deserves to be.
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