By Richard Asinof


… it is important to take notice of another mayoral forum held this past week, on Wednesday evening, Aug. 10, coordinated by ONE Neighborhood Builders. The neighborhood-grounded forum appeared to follow the “approach” taken by the Aug. 4 forum, with the questions posed by members of the community. The dialogue was presented in both English and Spanish.

The focus of the ONE Neighborhood Builders’ forum was on health equity, and in particular, the work of the Central Providence Health Equity Zone. UpriseRI’s Steve Ahlquist reported on the forum in his excellent, comprehensive fashion. He also captured the refusal by the Providence Public School District and R.I. Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green to allow the use of the Harry Kirzirian Elementary School for the forum.

“After telling ONE Neighborhood Builders they could use the school, the Providence Public School District rescinded permission,” Ahlquist reported. Instead, it was held outside in a public park.

Hawkins, in turn, shared her disappointment with the decision made by the powers that be who are running the Providence schools, as reported by Ahlquist.

They said no,” said Jennifer Hawkins, explaining why the event was taking place outside in a public park rather than in the school building. “I was like, ‘No. It’s not electoral politics; it’s civic engagement.’

Hawkins continued: “There is no better place than opening up school doors for civic engagement, so that residents can learn, meet one another and the candidates. So let it be on the record that I am highly disappointed in their decision.”

Engaged communities, it seems, are disrupting the status quo around what is civic engagement, demanding that the questions to candidates be asked by members of the community – and not by members of the news media.