Peace is in the Air: 1,000 origami cranes empower Hope Artiste Village visitors

In December, The Empowerment Factory (TEF) debuted their latest art installation in Hope Artiste Village, located in Pawtucket, and it features 1,000 paper cranes – all in a flight pattern – flying as though they’re in a flock.

The inspiration for the 1,000 Cranes was brought into the limelight when a two-year-old child survived the bombing of Hiroshima but fell terminally ill. Her name was Sadako Sasaki and she passed away, at the age of twelve, from the long-term effects of the bombing. While she was in the hospital someone told her a legend – that if a person folds 1,000 paper cranes, they will be granted a wish from the gods. The number of cranes that she was able to complete before her passing is debated, with some saying she achieved her goal, and others saying she fell short.

Still, what was born out of the legend, and what Sadako Sasaki brings to the limelight, is a story of hope. This need for hope brought the idea to TEF, who felt that it was exactly what we all needed during the pandemic. Executive Director and Founder of TEF Gail Ahlers said, “In times like these, it’s important to know that there’s hope, and when you’re thinking positive thoughts — and being hopeful — there’s the possibility for joy and happiness.”

In 2020, after a partnership with the United Way, TEF had children in one of their Zoom art classes make cranes. It was such a popular endeavor that they decided to explore what else could come of the cranes – and the plan was hatched to make an art installation.

The cranes came from many of the children that TEF serves, but the goal of the cranes really took flight. Ahlers can’t express how many people either made or spread the word about cranes,  “It was beautiful, boxes would show up in our mailbox… and we had a lot of volunteers who helped string them, we had volunteers from the Center for Nonviolence, with a crew of teenagers that helped string them.” 

She estimates thousands of person hours went into the exhibit, from folding the cranes, to stringing them, to hanging them. Volunteers and crane makers were also encouraged to write a wish on their crane, to hopefully come true once the 1,000 were put together. All-in-all, TEF ended up with 1,300 cranes, from all over the United States. Ahlers said, “It’s beautiful to bring people together for the positive.”

The cranes will hang at 999 Main Street (in the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame) for the foreseeable future.

In addition, TEF also offers four main programs to help promote positivity, healthy living, and creativity in RI youth. They also offer a quarterly art contest, where artists can showcase their work. The focus is, as the name says, on empowering those who need it most. Or, as Ahlers said: “I believe in the sisterhood of prosperity; we all don’t have to have everything or know everything, we just have to help each other. TEF is a community of people helping other people. And I feel that if ever there was a time where children needed guidance on how to be supported and joyful, it’s now.”

Ex-cell-ent Art: Sarina Mitchel turns human cells into artwork

Cell Summit

Ever since she was a small child, Sarina Mitchel wanted to be a painter. She recalls being asked to do other things as a kid, like join the safety patrol, or try out a sport, but Mitchel found herself always saying, “No, I just wanna be in the art program.” 

A New Jersey transplant (don’t hold that against her), Sarina came to Rhode Island to study at RISD, where she decided to major in illustration, though she did have a stint where she thought about going into painting. “I flipped a coin to choose,” she laughs. 

After her time at RISD, Sarina was trying to decide on her next chapter when she found herself gravitating toward the art community in Providence. Sarina joined AmeriCorps after being placed with CityArts. It hit her suddenly when the thought crossed her mind, “Oh! I guess I’ve found home after all.” 

Sarina then dove into the art community in Providence, largely due to AS220, where she is a current artist-in-residence. Artists-in-residence are given access to AS220’s maker studios, which include key tools that Sarina uses in her art. “It’s amazing and important to me; it was my first introduction to Providence, being out of college and not knowing where the artists were,” Sarina says. Finding AS220 led to the realization that, “There’s an art scene in this city,” though she admits her first exposure to the nonprofit was its open mic nights. 

While Sarina has many different sources of inspiration, she has been largely working on her cell art series. This series is based on microscope images that her older sister, Dr. Jen Mitchel, took as a part of her research at the Harvard School of Public Health. Her sister’s team was studying cells and the shape of cells involved with asthma, and whether they could cause a feedback loop to make asthma worse. Sarina’s sister asked her to create pieces to show the cells without making them look like a clinical model. And thus, Sarina’s cell art was born. These art pieces combined the science influences she’d had growing up: Most of her family works in engineering or biology, and Sarina is the one who chose art. She feels that this was a large influence for her, and helped her develop her own unique style that blends the worlds of art and science. Sarina says, “I started making cell pieces that were more creative and more artistic.” 

Sarina recently wrapped gallery shows at Foolproof Brewery and T.F. Green airport. She currently takes commissions and is well-known around Providence for her elephant character, Ms. Proboscis.

She says, “I feel like art kind of chose me. Most people who are artists don’t really choose art, it has a lot of challenges a typical linear career path wouldn’t.” On that path, however, Sarina Mitchel chooses to pursue her work with passion. 

Find Sarina’s work at sarinamitchel.com; Instagram @rina_the_beans; Twitter @smitchelart.

Blended Holidays: Alternative Ways to Celebrate

Currently it’s estimated that more than 65% of all individuals in the United States are in some kind of step-family relationship, be that they are a step-parent, have a step-parent etc, and 40% of all families are currently blended relationships. The term that’s typically used for this is blended families, though some have started using the phrase alternative families. 

And with the holidays quickly approaching, this means a substantial amount of the population is going to head into the most wonderful time of the year more stressed out than ever, since it’s time to pretend to be happy and get things ready for your pajamas-on social-media picture.

We’ve compiled a few holiday survival tips and tricks  for people who are a part of a blended family at this most wonderful time of the year. 

Focus on the Kids

First and foremost, if you’re reading this, you probably have a kid in your life that is a part of your blended family, and that’s a huge part of why we try to make holidays so special. Gone are the days when we, the cynical and jaded adult population, give into Christmas magic. Well, for kids, that’s just not true. Magic is everywhere. 

When dealing with a blended family, one of the best things you can do is to focus on the kids. What would make their holiday season? What is special about the holidays for them? Sure, you probably have a lot of traditions you want to share, but focus on the little folks. What do they need? Is going to La Salette on Christmas Eve going to be too much and exhaust you all, making it a generally terrible time all around? Well, postpone it. It’s up through the New Year, anyway. 

Embrace Others’ Traditions

I know that one of the reasons grown-ass adults turn into Scrooge as quickly as you can say Bob Cratchit isn’t because of the kids. It’s because you’ve got a set number of traditions you have to do each year. Well, great, but as I said, focusing on the kids in your life is important – so allow those traditions to be modified to make everyone feel more comfortable. 

That being said, don’t abandon traditions, find ways to embrace them without being the person demanding they follow through. Blended families typically have a lot of voices in the room, you don’t have to scream to get yours heard. For example, my stepdaughter has one of those Elf on the Shelf things. Each year, we begrudgingly get the elf out, and by the end of the holidays, we love it and embrace its presence. That’s something special we do, (the elf has traveled with us, too, breaking all rules of Elf on the Shelf-dom) and if we had a holiday without it, there would be tears. On the flip side, my stepdaughter also watches White Christmas every year with her dad. I can’t stand the movie, but I don’t jump up and down and say we can’t watch it, I go along. I’m not going to fight someone over their tradition, or stop them from having fun.

The same goes for traditions across every blended family. Do the grandparents do something special each year? Try to make time for it. Did the alternative parent or step-parent do something since they were little? Try to make time for it. The holidays are not a one-tradition fits all, you have to diversify and make space for everyone. 

Embrace Change

That being said, understand that things change. Holiday schedules for blended families can be insane. For a kid, one of the best/worst parts of having a blended family is the potential to celebrate holidays multiple times with multiple sets of people – this can be exhausting for everyone involved. 

So, be amenable to change! If something isn’t working, that’s absolutely fine. Take a step back, work on making new traditions. Find ways to meet everyone’s wants and needs, and honestly, with a cup of hot cocoa, who can be mad?

Additionally, please note that blended families can contain more than one religion or celebration, too. Does your step-child attend Hanukkah celebrations with one side of their family and Christmas celebrations with another? Great! Ask them questions, be informed, and take interest. Again, your job isn’t to sail the ship, but to help everyone get through the murky waters.

All-in-all, the way to survive the holidays is simple: Don’t be a dick. Not having the nuclear family that we’ve all been told is “normal” can already be difficult enough. Follow a few of the guidelines I’ve given and you, too, can make this holiday season one that’s fun, memorable, and full of light and laughter.

And even if you can’t, remember, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is a cult classic for a reason.

Caitlin Howle (she/they) is a writer, professor, and small business owner in Rhode Island. Her hobbies include researching obscure history, arguing the need for the Oxford Comma and bothering her pug, Winston. Find her on Instagram @caitlinmoments. 

Make it Count: Giving Tuesday

It’s almost the most wonderful time of year… which means that your inbox is about to get massacred by sales, deals you “can’t resist,” and one that, let’s face it, makes us all feel terrible: Giving Tuesday. 

The influx of emails from organizations saying that they need your support, or thanking you for support, or making you sick because they’ve used the word support so many times… well, it can be annoying at best, devastating at worst. Just how are you going to help each org that reaches out? So we’ve taken the dirty work out of your hands and hand-picked a few Rhode Island organizations you might not be aware of who could definitely use your hard-earned cash, no unsubscribe required. 

You could start by picking an arts organization that has brought you joy in the past. Many arts organizations are still deeply struggling because of the pandemic, and they would welcome your donation.

Next up is Vintage Pet Rescue, which is going to tug at all of you animal lovers heart strings. Vintage Pet Rescue specializes in finding homes for and caring for elderly and senior pets. They make sure that these dogs have blissful and happy final years of their lives. https://www.vintagepetrescue.org

An organization often accepts items over donations is Amenity Aid. Their goal is to bring personal hygiene items to Rhode Islanders, and their impact is vast. From January to June 2021, they had already served over 24,000 Rhode Islanders in need. They focus on small things, like a simple bar of soap, and how it can change a person’s life. They accept toiletries, hotel hygiene samples (those tiny shampoos you take that you swear you’re gonna use…), and monetary donations, as well as allow you to host collection boxes for items. https://www.amenityaid.org/

Focusing specifically on the LGBTQ+ youth is Youth Pride Inc, which creates inclusive spaces for teenagers at a pivotal and confusing point in their lives. Their goal is to help RI youth whose lives may be impacted by their sexual orientation find a community and support network with other youth. They also offer one-on-one counseling, a lending library, a basic needs pantry, and HIV testing. https://www.youthprideri.org/

GrowSmartRI is dedicated to helping Rhode Island grow and revitalize its neighborhoods, all while remaining sustainable. They encourage growth but call to make certain that helps the community and reflects it, and does not hurt it. http://www.growsmartri.org/

Focusing on the plight of refugees and immigrants, Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island provides these vulnerable populations with legal assistance with citizenship, education, clothing and necessities, and crisis intervention. https://diiri.org/

While many of these organizations need support financially or through items, it would be insensitive to not mention that being able to donate does come from a place of privilege. Another option is to give time, and there are plenty of orgs (those above included) that solicit volunteers constantly. Additionally, the best way to give your time may be as a mentor. Foster Forward (https://www.fosterforward.net/), while aids in the placement of foster children in Rhode Island, also has a mentorship program pairing young adults with an older adult. Mentorship RI also helps pair adults with youth who may need help — everything from students struggling in school to those who may need another role model outside the home. https://mentorri.org/

… and I have to include a fan favorite. While researching this piece, I “polled the audience,” meaning, I took to social media and many people wanted to support the Ocean State Curling Club. Yes. The sport with brooms. On ice. You might make fun of it at every winter Olympics, but, the club has dedicated itself to bringing the sport to the state, focusing on staying active, teaching the community about the sport and how to play it. https://oceanstatecurling.org/

Remember, Giving Tuesday is November 30th this year. Have a plan, avoid your inbox, and remember what we all really want is to just support each other, and unfortunately, that day gets overused for organizations doing pivotal work that should not be ignored. 

Caitlin Howle (she/they) is a writer, professor, and small business owner in Rhode Island. Her hobbies include researching obscure history, arguing the need for the Oxford Comma, and bothering her pug, Winston. Find her on Instagram @caitlinmoments. 

Ocean State Horror Lot: Famous Rhode Island Legends and Lore

Looking to flirt with reintroducing something spooky into your life? I present to you creepy Rhode Island stories – reader beware! 

The Legend of Mercy Brown

We begin with the New England Vampire Panic, and possibly the most infamous story that came from it. Featured on such podcasts as Lore, and in the film, Almost Mercy,  Mercy Lena Brown was a young woman who died of consumption in 1892. Her mother and elder sister died of the same illness some years before. 

Mercy passed at age 19, and her brother, Edwin, was dying of the illness mere months later. Having seen half of the Brown family nearly die due to tuberculosis, the townspeople of Exeter convinced the family patriarch, George, that one of the women was possibly not dead, but undead, and bringing the suffering upon their family—making Edwin sick. 

The townspeople persuaded George to allow them to exhume the bodies of the women. When they opened the crypt, they found that Mercy (having only died a few months earlier) was still relatively preserved, and still had blood in her heart. 

The logical conclusion was to jump to vampirism (though this term was used by The Providence Journal, and not locals). They burned her heart and liver, and then fed the ashes to Edwin in an effort to cure him. Edwin died less than two months later, and though it’s said to be of tuberculosis, I can’t imagine drinking ashes helped. 

Fiendish Footprints

Next we come to Satan himself, who has two potential hangouts here in Rhody. 

Devil’s Foot Rock in North Kingstown, features in multiple stories about a young woman fleeing from a pursuer – the devil himself. 

It is said that Satan himself decided to wed a Rhode Islander. After she resisted, he grabbed her by the wrist, and—with his hounds from hell—ran to a rock, jumped upon, and leapt into the air turning into a serpent in mid leap.  The rock is still there, though it was lost for some time until construction uncovered it. Maybe it was Satan himself trying to hide his footprint… 

Another story is that a woman kills a man in Wickford, and, while fleeing, comes upon a man who is entirely too calm about the situation. He reveals himself to be the devil, grabs the woman, flies into the air, and then drowns her. You can find his hoof print, and that of a woman’s in Wickford. 

A Rogue’s Island Ghost Ship

A ship named The Countess Augusta suffered terrible luck as it made its way to Block Island, with many dying before it reached New Shoreham.  There are many accounts of what happened, with some suggesting foul play, but the ship ran aground in 1738 on the northern point of the island during a snowstorm. 

One legend says that the residents of Block Island confused the ship, attempting to crash it so they could murder the passengers. Then they set the ship on fire to hide their crimes. You know, like you do. 

Since then, it is said that in wintertime on Block Island  you can see a burning ship, or a light that looks like a burning ship. Some believe that legend arose when John Greenleaf Whittier took the story and turned it into a poem, “The Palatine”. But  there are accounts of individuals seeing this light in the early 1800s, and Whittier’s poem was published in 1867.

Paranormal in Providence

Another legend, which is only going to be spooky depending on how much you love the state, focuses on the Providence Athenaeum. It’s said that the water fountain, which is inscribed with “come hither every one that thirsteth in front of the building,” is cursed. If you drink from it, you are destined to return to it. Many are unsure where the legend came from, with some suggesting that the OG spooky bitch, Edgar Allan Poe, cursed the fountain after his failed romance with Sarah Helen Whitman. That’s one we can debunk; the fountain was built two decades after his death. Still, no one knows where this curse came from, since the fountain itself was a donation from Athenaeum supporters. Though, after this pandemic, the fountain might need to find a new way to curse people that doesn’t involve a shared drinking space.

When it comes to legend and lore, the Providence Biltmore, now known as The Graduate, takes the cake. It is rumored to be one of the most haunted hotels in America.The Biltmore was built in 1922 and was financially backed by Johan Leisse Weisskopf, who legend now says was a satanist. There were whispers that he kept chickens on the roof, for slaughter of course, and that rooms were held for rituals.

If you want to go on a deep dive, try checking YouTube for videos of the paranormal happenings while guests have stayed in the hotel. Or, you know, you could stay there yourself – if you’re not too scared. 

Disclaimer: As with most legends and lore, while based on history, very little of the mystical can be verified. While you may see a ghost, ghost ship, or get stuck living in Providence the rest of your life, we cannot guarantee it, and ask that you not come for us. 

Caitlin Howle (she/they) is a writer, professor, and small business owner in Rhode Island. Her hobbies include researching obscure history, arguing the need for the Oxford Comma, and bothering her pug, Winston. Find her on Instagram @caitlinmoments. 

Ghost, Spirits, and… Profit?: The Conjuring House Goes on Sale

8.5 acres, 3,109 square feet, 3 beds, 2 baths, and millions of ghost lovers trying to get in, what more could you want in a potential home?

1677 Round Top Road in Burrillville (technically Harrisville), famously known as “The Conjuring House,” is currently for sale. The sale was announced on September 23, which came as a surprise for many fans of the house. The house was purchased by Cory and Jen Heinzen in 2019 for $439,000,  with the intention of opening it up for stays and paranormal investigations. They did, successfully, with their website explaining that they were booked for the duration of 2022. On their facebook page, the current owners cited the pressure of running the business as their reason for selling.  According to the latest reports, the house is currently listed for sale at $1.2 million. While the Rhode Island housing market may be a seller’s market, it’s not that good. With the success of the business, the couple have turned the house into a ghost hunter’s dream. 

But why this house? With The Conjuring franchise remaining so incessantly successful, the first in its trilogy portrayed Ed and Lorraine Warren, known paranormal investigators, coming to visit the farm in the 1970s. The farm was purchased by the Perron family in 1970 and things got weird. The family complained of intense paranormal activity, and it’s rumored that many who owned the property prior to them had fallen ill, or died tragically, with rumors saying there have been three suicides on the property. The Warrens believed a demon to be haunting the property and Lorraine Warren identified the demon as Bathsheba Sherman, a witch who likely lived on the farm. The Perron family moved away from the home in 1980, but claimed the paranormal activity never stopped, with Andrea Perron writing a book on house, House of Darkness, House of Light. Though, it would be remiss to say that there are a substantial number of naysayers who say the house isn’t haunted, and that records have been misreported and incidents misremembered in order to help the legend along. 

The Conjuring House has always been a bucket-list (afterlife list?) item for ghost hunters and paranormal enthusiasts. Those who have investigated it claim it to be one of the most haunted properties they’ve visited, and the popularity of the house seems to not be slowing anytime soon. The future of the home is in question – though one can only guess it will continue to operate as a profitable business – considering the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast in Fall River sold for $1.8 million to US Ghost Adventures less than a year ago.

Which begs the question: are the ghosts making any profits? 

The house can currently be found on Facebook with the handle theoldfarmonroundtoproad, or at its website, theconjuringhouse.com. Interested buyers should contact Mott & Chace Sotheby’s International, and then promptly contact the team here at Motif for a sleepover, once the papers are finalized. 

Caitlin Howle (she/they) is a writer, professor, and small business owner in Rhode Island. Her hobbies include researching obscure history, arguing the need for the Oxford Comma, and bothering her pug, Winston. Find her on Instagram @caitlinmoments. 

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!: King Richard’s Faire brings a forested village to life

Grab your cloaks, wands and, of course, a flagon for ale! King Richard’s Faire is back for its 40th season. Beginning on September 4 and running through October 24, this long-loved renaissance faire gives some of us hope that COVID-times are healing, by transporting back to a time when the plague may have been an even more lethal concern. But let’s ignore that.

King Richard’s Faire is one of the best times you can have, with performances (please, please, please go see The Washing Well Wenches, it’s this writer’s favorite), wonderful food (the Faire offers gluten-free, vegetarian and lactose-free options beyond their traditional giant turkey legs) and shops filled with everything from hammocks to artisans, all set in a stand-alone village-that-time-forgot in the woods of Carver, Massachusetts. This year also features new acts, including the Captain’s Canines, the Unicycling Unicorn, and Boom Boom Shake. 

In the same time frame this fall, from September 4 – October 17, the 23-year-old Connecticut Renaissance Faire will whisk you back to the celebrated bygone era. Also featuring cosplayers in-character, fire dancing, LARPing, archery, axe-throwing, vendors and shows, this faire lies in Lebanon, another patch of woods and fields in the middle of nowhere, between Mansfield and Norwich, and not far from Mohegan Sun. The CT Renaissance Faire also explores several themed weekends, with one for pirates, for wizards, for D&D/gamers weekend, romance and time travel (Daleks!?).

Long-time lovers of ren faires know that a visit is one of the best ways to leave our modern world behind and have some fun, be it as a wench, a wizard, a jouster … you name it. Costumes are welcome, and if you don’t have one, one of the shops is sure to be able to help you. 

Vaccinations are not required for entry, but unvaccinated guests are encouraged to use a mask. 

Visit kingrichardsfaire.net for a site map, event schedules, evolving COVID restrictions and tickets. The Faire takes place at 235 Main St, Carver, Mass, Sep 4 – Oct 24 . Ctfaire.com for more on the Connecticut Faire at 122 Mack Rd, Lebanon, Conn, Sep 4 – Oct 17.

Keeping Creativity Alive: What Cheer Writers Club marks their reopening after a year of virtual programming

Much like the rest of the world, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, What Cheer Writers Club was struggling with how to take their coworking space – made for writers and illustrators as well as other creatives – and bring it to their patrons. 

Jillian Winters, What Cheer’s general manager, said, “Having an online community was something we always wanted to do. We service or serve across Rhode Island, and not everyone can always come to the coworking space.” And so they went online. 

“I think the driving force was making sure people had the opportunity,” Winters continues. They cite the pandemic as a reason to make sure that the club members were able to connect in the time of isolation. Winters even joked that handling the pandemic was a little easier for introverts and writers, since they’re used to working alone and sometimes thrive on it.

During the pandemic, the club featured weekly coffee chat check-ins and brought local authors in to talk motivation and how they were using their time. Then in summer 2020, they started finding ways to safely engage the writing community with one in-person event and weekly online events. Though they were cautious to mention the dangers of Zoom fatigue, and how we’ve all felt it. The members of What Cheer Writers Club and the writing community helped the club thrive online. “Everyone is always so supportive and kind and willing to go along with our ideas and ways to keep the community connected,” said Jodie Vinson, program manager at the club. 

Winters and Vinson found that it was a success being online – and that more members than ever before were able to engage. The club has now reopened for the first time since March 2020. Members can book time for individual coworking, and safety has been at the forefront of the club’s mind, with new fans for ventilation, air purifiers and reduced capacity. 

On Thursday, August 5, at 7pm, as part of PVDFest, the club will host an open-air showcase called “Emergence” with The Avenue Concept and with support from the Providence Art and Tourism Council. It will be held in front of the “Adventure Time” mural, which will be painted over soon.

“We were feeling the impetus, this cultural moment, recognizing it as a moment of transition and wanting to give artists and writers and creatives a chance to reflect on that moment,” said Vinson. There will be 14 readers across genres, and it is open to the public, though reservations can be made through the club’s Eventbrite. 

“We see these moments in our culture and our times and want to give people an opportunity to reflect, and create stories and art and poetry,” Vinson continued. “Stepping forward and out at our own pace, we’re recognizing that moment.” 

What Cheer Writer’s Club lives in downtown Providence, but will remain hybrid for with events for writers, including weekly networking events. Membership is $10 a month, with free memberships for BIPOC creators.  www.whatcheerclub.org 

Rhode Islanders You Should Know: Author and podcaster Kate Hanley wants to change your life

Kate Hanley is an author, a podcaster, and she wants you to be a better person. 

Nope, don’t run, come back, stick with me here. 

First and foremost, let’s throw down Hanley’s Rhode Island cred. She’s a native (her family spans generations here) and did the most native thing someone from Rhody can do – she moved away as a child and then heard the call of quahogs and returned to this great state. In her time away, she lived all over the country, with college landing her in Virginia at Washington and Lee, as a history major. 

Hanley then found herself in New York, where she went to graduate school at NYU, with the goal of writing for “Sesame Street” (she ended up freelancing to write for their app!). She met her husband, they had two kids and realized that a two-bedroom in Brooklyn was not going to cut it. After expanding their home search radius to a bigger and bigger circle, she landed herself in, of course, Providence, in 2011. (If you need any more cred, her father, another Rhode Islander, recently moved to Florida – which means Hanley got to take his four-digit license plate. She’s the real deal.)

As Hanley moved around the country, she worked primarily in editorial positions, including for iVillage, which quickly became a dream job for her. But the thing about dreams is that they have to end. When she found out that iVillage needed to make cuts, she volunteered for a lay-off and pursued her yoga teaching certification, which would be a year-long process. Then Hanley had an epiphany. After so much time meditating and spending time truly with herself, she says, “I heard very clearly that what I always wanted to do was write. I never knew writing was a possibility as a viable career.”

So Hanley pursued a writing career. She published her first of four books, Anywhere Anytime Chill Guide in 2008, and her work has appeared in numerous national publications, such as Martha Stewart’s Whole Living, Real Simple and Yoga Journal. 

The publication of her fourth book brings us to the next big chapter in Kate’s life. In December 2016, right after the election when the country felt divided and shocked with the, “What just happened?” vibe being prevalent, there was a poll that said the most popular New Year’s Resolution for 2017 was not to lose weight or quit drinking, but to “be a better person.” Hanley says, “I was so inspired by it in that moment. We were looking for hope, and to me, that was the hope.”

She immediately got to writing. In 2018, her latest book, How to Be a Better Person was published. 

The book features 401 (yes, she really did that) ways to make a difference not only in yourself, but in the world. Kate says, “I covered stress relief for so long that I figured out the real purpose of trying to relax and not stress out is to be your best.” Hanley focuses on the idea that any step is better than no step, and not only does being better help you, but it also helps the world around you. Hanley continues, “This was the purpose of trying to reduce stress: be a decent human. Don’t get hooked into judgment or be too overwhelmed to do what is right.” 

About a year and a half after the book was published, Hanley launched the How to Be a Better Person podcast, which servs as a companion to her book. The podcast is what I would call bite-sized, and it focuses on helping you stress less, and well, yeah, be a better person because of it. Kate says, “Not everyone has 45 minutes a day for self-improvement.” The episodes are between 5 and 10 minutes long and end with a small to-do item or action to use in your life for self-improvement. And she wants to make sure you know that you don’t have to think you’re a bad person to want to be better. Sometimes it can be as simple as, “I don’t want to yell at my kids when I’m frustrated,” or “Wow, I drank a lot during the pandemic, and feel ashamed about that.” The podcast itself is coming up on a big accomplishment. Its 500th episode will be released on July 22nd.

Hanley encourages her audiences and readers to wonder: How can I think about a problem differently? How can I bring my best self to any situation? She says her aim is to provide a framework to actively move toward being a better person. But and this is one of the best things about Hanley, she makes sure that “It’s not about being perfect, or even good, it’s just about being better.” 

In Rhode Island, Hanley cites her experience with What Cheer Writer’s Club being incredibly meaningful, from their podcast showcase night, to recording her podcast in their studio pre-pandemic. Right now, Kate is working on a quiz to help answer the question, “Am I a bad person?” Though, she laughs and says that it is lighthearted, and won’t hurt. She reassures everyone, “You have an untapped capacity for goodness.”  

Hanley has thrived as a writer, and a podcaster, and she says something so incredibly profound about all of us, collectively, as humans: “You don’t have to jump into the deep end for it to be meaningful or to change your reality.” 

Maybe the first start is reading a book, or listening to a short podcast. 

I know I can recommend one. 

How to Be a Better Person the book is available on Amazon, but please remember to support your local bookstores. Kate’s podcast How to Be a Better Person can be found on all major podcast platforms and at beabetterpersonpodcast.com. You can find out more about Kate and her work at katehanley.com.

Have a Rhode Islander in mind that you think everyone should know? Please reach out to our author on Instagram @caitlinmoments.

Summer Outside the Box

If you’re like me and always thirsting for new experiences, sometimes it can feel like summer in Rhode Island consists of the same old things: arguments over the best frozen lemonade, a trip to the beach, sitting in traffic for the beach, etc. But have no fear, fellow lovers of all things Rhody, I’ve been working on expanding a list of things to do this summer that’s outside the box. 

First and foremost, let’s get wet. While we all have our own favorite beach, there are other ways to participate on or in the water without going to the ocean. First and foremost, rent a kayak from Providence River Kayaks and cruise down the Providence river and get up close and personal with the city. Bonus points if you can talk about how Buddy Cianci uncovered the rivers with anyone who will listen. But, remember, if kayaking isn’t your thing and you’d rather have someone else drive the boat, La Gondola is back and booking tours now. You can even bring your own food and drinks. Also, I have to give a shout-out to the Providence-Newport Ferry, which is returning for the 2021 season, and also, I know it’s a weird thing to brag about if you’d lived in Rhode Island for “forever” and never been to Block Island, but if you haven’t, go. The ferry is truly a delight, and the island itself is one of my favorite places I’ve ever been. Plus, you can sing the song and get it stuck in everyone’s head around you. Sail away on the Block Island Ferry~

For those of you who want to stay outdoors, Rhode Island has some wonderful hiking trails. My personal favorite is the Rome Point Trail at the John H. Chafee nature preserve, and of course, Cliff Walk, but you’re welcome to find your own. There are multiple online resources (Alltrails.com) and a wonderful book for beginners called Best Easy Day Hikes in Rhode Island by Steve Mirsky, and it’s sold at a number of local booksellers, Amazon, and REI in Cranston. Another alternative idea is the Tri-State Marker, which is located where Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island meet. It’s a small hike in Burrillville, but you can say you’ve been in three places at once. Bonus/Not bonus depending on who you are: The woods are apparently haunted. Enjoy! And speaking of haunting, if you want to walk with a purpose, Providence Ghost Tour is returning for the season and features spooky tales about buildings in Providence you probably pass daily. 

I’ve got two nominations for your summer outside the box and that involve weird transportation, and they both happen to take place in Newport. The first is the Newport Helicopter Tours. Ever been in Newport and see a red helicopter flying around? You can rent them! These excursions can show you the best of Newport, all from the sky. There’s also the Rail Explorers, which puts you on a pedal-powered “rail explorer,” which allows for you to tour Newport on a train track. But don’t worry, no trains are currently running.

For those of you like me who are indoor kids in the summer, I’ve got a few things for you, too. First – Axe Throwing. Seriously. It’s not as dangerous as it sounds and it’s so much fun. You’re given a bunch of smaller hand axes and you chuck them as hard as you can at a piece of wood. The catharsis is one of the best I’ve ever had. There are a number of places to do this, but I highly recommend our friends over at RI Indoor Karting (use our coupon code for a discount). There are also 25 breweries or brewpubs currently in Rhode Island, and the RI Brewers Guild has an app called the RI Brewery Passport, which allows for you to get stamps and collect prizes just for drinking beer. It’s so incredibly fun and you might just find a new local spot to hang out. Favorites of mine: Crooked Current, Tilted Barn, Buttonwoods and Whalers. 

Now, let’s talk about once-in-a-lifetime experiences. The things you probably never thought you could do, but absolutely can, and I’d name these pretty “luxury.” There’s Shark Fishing, which, yes, is legal, and can be done through a number of companies in Rhode Island. You charter a boat, grab your besties and head to the ocean. This is not a cheap one, but can you imagine reenacting Jaws, much to the dismay of your Captain? You’re gonna need a bigger boat.And I bet you didn’t know you can get all the way to Hobbiton in Rhode Island. Maker’s Mark (yes, the bourbon) has a private Hobbit hole that can be rented in Richmond, Rhode Island. Called, Maker’s Mark Hobbit Houses at the Preserve, this includes a four-course lunch or dinner, and basically looks just like Bilbo Baggins’ house. The food is prepared for you right there, and there are plenty of drinks to keep things cozy. This one doesn’t run cheap either, but is at the top of my Rhode Island bucket list. 

There’s just a few ideas for your non-stereotypical Rhode Island summer, but there are plenty more out there. Get to looking, you never know what you might find!