2014-08-07 / Opinion


Newport Shine

T he race is on for local and statewide elections, and every other advertisement on TV, the radio, and Internet seems to be for a political candidate. Unfortunately, most seem to be focused on what’s wrong: with policies, with other candidates, and with Rhode Island.

Meanwhile, in case you hadn’t noticed, Newport’s been on a roll of late, snagging spots in a range of local and national “Best of” lists.

First, GoLocalProv, a statewide news site, ranked the city as the best place to live in the whole of Rhode Island. Then, Conde Nast Traveler followed up, proclaiming our little island home as one of the country’s 10 best small towns, ranking Newport ahead of such destinations as Key West, Aspen, Santa Barbara, and Jackson Hole.

The website Pulptastic.com, which serves up an array of viral news stories, also named Newport as the sixth most beautiful place in the world to live.

In their respective rankings, GoLocal, Traveler, and Pulptastic all cited the city’s irreplaceable stock of historic homes, inspiring coastline, and lively social scene as reasons for recognition.

Whoever’s handling our press is doing yeoman’s work.

At times, especially it seems during election years, it can be easy to fixate on our shortcomings. This is after all Rhode Island – where gloom permeates and our collective psyche can’t help but be bruised by what appears to be an endless economic malaise. But Newport, perennially, is a bright spot.

Yes, there are problems; traffic, construction, and parking can all cause undue stress. Our City Council has not been functioning well, and our school system still faces some serious hurdles before it can rise to the standards the community expects. But as an endless stream of visitors will tell us, there’s plenty to be proud of as well.

The recent Folk and Jazz festivals are bookends to a week like no other. The Cliff Walk has finally re-opened in full after being battered by Superstorm Sandy. And between BridgeFest, the Newport Music Festival, and Island Moving Company’s recently wrapped Great Friend’s Dance Festival, cultural diversions have been in abundance this summer.

Which is why this might be the perfect time for those of us who may have lost sight of all that’s good about town, to reconnect with our community and rekindle the flame.

Indeed, there’s something to be said for experiencing the city as a visitor, for playing tourist for a day or two. Thankfully, there’s still ample opportunity to do just that. Whether it’s chartering a day sail, taking in an outdoor movie, concert, or gallery opening, the next few weeks are filled with memories waiting to be made, all of which you can find in these pages.

As for the politics, let them wait until September. At least locally, there will still be plenty of time to hear from candidates, to discuss what’s ailing us, and more importantly to debate the best route forward.

Focusing on what makes Newport great is not only a worthy exercise, it should be a requirement.

So this election season, when you encounter political candidate why not ask what they like about Rhode Island or what’s their favorite thing to do in Newport? Is it an early morning stroll at Easton’s Beach? A night out on Bowen’s Wharf? Or simply the people who make up our neighborhoods?

Maybe we should ask: “Everyone know there’s a lot wrong in Rhode Island, but I want to know what it is that you love most about living here?” Then they’d be reminded why the jobs they seek are so important, not just for their egos, but for the public they’re elected to serve.

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