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The upside of hope in Rhode Island


I describe it in this week's Phoenix

Everywhere one turns these days, there's seemingly more bad news about Rhode Island: the unemployment rate, one of the highest in the nation, tops 10 percent — and the state's running out of unemployment assistance. Mired in persistent budget deficits, gripped by an entrenched political culture, and weakened by a perennial shortage of good jobs, the Ocean State not uncommonly seems incapable of getting out of its own way.

Yet this grim litany doesn't tell the whole story. Even in the current tough times, any number of Rhode Islanders, mindful of the state motto (Hope), its rich history, and its assets, can envision a better day — and some of them are trying to bring it about.

Pragmatic in their assessment, these individuals recognize that the state must utilize new approaches and overcome significant hurdles, not the least of which is shaking the change-averse status quo. The current moment is vital, since elected officials and other leaders must focus not just on the short-term, but on setting the state on a course for long-term success.

These caveats notwithstanding, here's a look at nine Rhode Islanders who maintain optimism and hope for the state's future.

Allan Tear

Annie Costner

Angus Davis

Clay Rockefeller

Kas DeCarvalho

Julie Davids

Brett Smiley

Matt Grigsby

Andy Cutler

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