Musical Mad Scientist: Andrew Hylnsky’s immersive art pieces stop people in their tracks

Hylnsky and his pet pigeon

“I thought I was gonna be a drummer in a rock band and go on tour and sell CDs,” Andrew Hylnsky tells me, laughing at how absurd he thinks his admission sounds. So he went to The New School in New York to hone his practice. “I got totally wrecked because New York is intense. And it was a very high level school that I wasn’t prepared for.” 

After one semester at The New School, he applied to and was accepted by Berklee College of Music in Boston. During the 8 months between his departure from The New School and his entry into Berklee, he went home for a while and started tinkering. 

“I started circuit bending — opening up toys that made sounds and rewiring them. I built circuits and synthesizers, and by the time I started at Berklee, I had amassed this collection of weird instruments that you could twiddle knobs on and they’d make these harsh and chaotic sounds.” And that’s how the self-proclaimed musical mad scientist was born. 

Rolling root art car

Hylnsky now spends his time developing interactive and immersive technology-based experiences. His most recent large-scale project was for the 2019 Illuminus Festival in Boston. Illuminus is an annual event that turns Boston’s public spaces into an urban museum. It features projects — some immersive and some performative — that combine art, design, technology and science. Hylnsky’s project, titled “Summer Street Luminism,” used the facade of 125 Summer Street in Boston. As pedestrians walked by the building, their footsteps would create different patterns on the building. Hylnsky explains, “I took an image of the facade and processed it in a bunch of ways to make a projection map of the building. Laser scanners were scanning the ground, so as people walked by, their feet would create bubble particles that would float on the surface of the building.” Also projected on the building were images of giant arms. “The arms would attract the bubble particles, but I also hooked up 3-foot-tall joysticks that the public could use to move these arms around.”   

photo credit: Aram Boghosian

Hylnsky is trying to wrap his own arms around a new technical feat — experimenting with programming LED arrays. “The way that you [program LED arrays] is with video. If you imagine that each pixel turns into an LED, you can have a bunch of LED pixels and play a video out of it. The LED controls the video. Lately I’ve been cutting the LED off and hooking up other things to it.” In his latest project, he’s been hooking motors to pixels, allowing the pixel to control the motor’s intensity.  

He describes his latest project as an “inert riot.” He took a bunch of piano hammers and suction cupped them to a window. Then he attached drone motors to the back of each one. He uses technology to control the motors, which, in turn, control the patterns the piano hammers play on the windows. “I can make them float or slowly knock against the window down the line or in another pattern,” he explains. 

Hylnsky spoke to me from his studio space at The Reliquarium, an artist live/work space in Lincoln that often tackles collective projects. Their current project is building TimeZone, a puzzle adventure through time that will be unveiled at R1 Indoor Karting in Lincoln. He’s been with its founders, Ivy and Logan, since the beginning. “In 2009, we moved into a warehouse together in Dorchester and started putting together events and building various accoutrement for these parties and events we were throwing, like backdrops for performers and decorations for this warehouse to make our events cool.” The evolution from cool party spot to business was an organic one. “I can’t pinpoint a moment where it began. We started working together, and Logan and Ivy took charge of the things we were making and finding places to build things. Then it sort of turned into a company very slowly.” 

Hylnsky says of working within the collective, “We’re all friends, but have a certain amount of respect for each other’s autonomy, so we can work together and still enjoy each other’s company outside of that.” 

In addition to working on his personal projects and on collective projects with The Reliquarium, Hylnsky owns a company called Nhode Island that builds immersive and interactive experiences for corporate clients. “When I started doing this, if you talked to someone about a projection map or an immersive experience, people didn’t know what you’re talking about,” Hylnsky says. “But now they’re buzz words, and I see this as a moment in time when I can work on much bigger projects.” 

And he’s fully embraced this moment in time. He’s developed content for the LED facade on the guitar-shaped Hard Rock Hotel in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. His clients also include Reebok and Biogen. Business and art can sometimes collide in uncomfortable ways for an artist, but Hylnsky seems to understand where the line is. “I have this addiction to understanding how things work, and I feel that if I don’t keep up with that, the machine will control my life in a way I’m not comfortable with. When you’re an artist, you’re trying to solve self-imposed problems. And when you’re a designer, you’re solving someone else’s problems. For me, the art is in figuring out how things work.”   

For more information on Andrew Hylnsky and his projects, go to nhodeisland.com




School’s in Session: Administrators plan for a return to school as COVID rages on

It’s almost a Rhode Island tradition that schools are the news story of the summer, but this year it’s for a different reason. Governor Gina Raimondo announced in June that she expects all students in Rhode Island to receive in-person instruction at the start of the school year. COVID-19 is still endemic in American life, and at the end of this month more than 100,000 students will return for their education. In prior years, public schooling was facing a variety of crises: ranging from funding problems to bussing issues and aging building stock that in some cases were literally making students and staff sick. Compounding all these issues now is the omnipresent threat of the coronavirus. There is a distinct feeling of unease across the state this month, and it’s not hard to see why.

Districts were expected to hand in three plans each on July 17. For the first time in state history, all districts would be following a state-mandated calendar. The first plan required the districts to provide in-person learning for all students, with measures to protect students and staff from coronavirus. Schools had to come up with mask recommendations and cleanliness requirements, all while maintaining educational equity. In the second plan, districts had to make provisions for distance learning, where all students would learn online through some kind of video classroom system. The final plan was to be a hybrid of the first two, with some students learning from home and some students learning in school. Here’s a selected summary of them:

Planned If We Do, Planned If We Don’t

Unusually, Providence Public School District (PPSD) provided plans for four scenarios, breaking the hybrid plan into two. The district has guidelines for limited in-person learning and partial in-person learning. Upfront in the PPSD’s plans is increasing the bell times. Prior to COVID, the PPSD system ran on two different start times. In order to increase access to transportation, PPSD has opted for three start times in the upcoming year: 7:30am, 8:30am and for elementary schools, 9:30am. Kindergarteners will be placed in the closest school to their home, with students still allowed the option of walking or driving to school. Students will be screened daily for symptoms, and mask protocols will be in place. Students in grades K through 8 will remain in pods of up to 30 students. Middle and high school students will be in the buildings on different days to limit exposure and enable social distancing. 

Most notably, PPSD is offering a virtual academy. All students can use the virtual academy if desired, assessed on a semesterly basis. Students opting for this online option will maintain communication with their current schools, with teachers available at specific office hours. In their in-person learning and hybrid plans, the youngest and most at-need students will receive as much in-person instruction as possible. In a hybrid plan, older students will rotate in-school/at-home learning much like a traditional block schedule, with at worst, only the 11/12th graders receiving distance learning. For lunch time, any communal eating (in a cafeteria type setting) should be disinfected between each use. 

Barrington has similar plans to stagger start times, limit the number of students in schools and reduce “classroom transitions,” a euphemism for students’ in-between class times. Younger students will keep the same class size and develop new protocols for moving throughout the buildings. Students in 7th grade or higher will have class size capped at 15 students with three adults allowed in the stable group. Students will social distance in the classroom at 6 feet apart or the school will install dividers to keep germ transmission down.

Students and staff who are at-risk for COVID-19 at Barrington schools will be allowed online options. Schools will have policies in place to screen students for symptoms as they come in, and any student or staff member feeling sick will be expected to stay home. Staff will be discouraged from travel. A negative COVID test alone is not an acceptable reason to return to school if a student or staff member has COVID symptoms. Like Providence, meals will be pre-packaged instead of being served in order to curb chances of transmission. 

Newport’s plan includes students rotating from in-person learning to distance learning throughout the week in an A/B block scheduling pattern. Grades 6 and below would receive in-person instruction daily. All students would see staggered start times, with Wednesday dedicated to distance learning for everyone. The hybrid plan for Newport schools has all students on a rotating A/B block schedule divided simply into two groups alphabetically by last name. Their distance learning plan has pretty much its entire student body moved to a virtual education; students with only the most special needs have any possibility of in-person instruction.

Rhode Island Revolt?

Last week, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten announced any AFT chapter wishing to go on a safety strike or perform any advocacy or direct action would receive the full support and backing of the national. “We are not currently planning to strike,” said Maribeth Calabro, president of the Providence Teachers union. Calabro says they are planning to communicate with parents and other stakeholders to bring any concerns to district administration. If those concerns are not addressed by next month, the union will go from there. According to Calabro, at least 40% of Providence’s teachers have been there 20 years or more. While no one has the specific breakdown of the teaching workforce, it means a huge chunk of them are older and possibly at risk.

Calabro is also concerned about the state of disrepair in schools; Providence has school buildings where the windows literally do not open. Ventilation, a key component in curbing transmission of COVID-19, is almost impossible for a lot of schools in the city. Other concerns she has include how schools are going to accomplish mandatory fire drills without overcrowding the halls, and having enough PPE to ensure equity among the student population. 

Safety is the number one concern among educators this summer. “As a high school teacher, I cannot think of any plan right now to make me feel safe enough to teach in-person,” said one teacher in an emailed interview with Motif. “Having plexiglass, shields, masks, PPE, etc. does not change the fact that I would be seeing 100-plus students and teachers each week.”

High school students will encounter directly or indirectly up to 80 people per day. Teachers are also on record questioning the suspension of social gathering limits for classrooms. Most notably, during a public Zoom meeting of the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education, a student from The Met pointed out the hypocrisy of sending students back to school for in-person learning, while the Council met virtually.

“I don’t want to teach online,” said another teacher. “I love teaching in Providence, I love forging a relationship with students in person, I love my classroom. But the only way to begin this year … is online because the risk is far, far too great.” Distance learning was not ideal this past spring, the teacher admits. In his classroom, maybe 40% of students were showing up by the end of distance learning, compared to closer to 100% if it was a normal school year.

Best Laid Plans…

While the governor was hoping COVID rates would continue to plummet, in the past few weeks our number of daily cases has slowly crept upward, making it look like 100% in-person learning for the school year will approach impracticality. Key among the governor’s expectations is the use of distance learning as a semi-permanent backup when outbreaks occur in schools; however, no data exists for the effectiveness of distance learning. Motif asked during one of the governor’s weekly COVID press conference about the status of a formal assessment for distance learning in Rhode Island; Commissioner Angelica Infante Green answered it was scheduled for this autumn.

When Motif asked Governor Raimondo the same question in the first week of June what the plan was for a state assessment on distance learning, however, she answered one was underway. Commissioner Green issued a statement through RIDE that said: “We anticipate being able to field the first set of assessments this fall, with a first set of data available to our local education agencies in November. This will depend on several factors, including the availability of funding, the proposals we receive and the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.” There was no response about the contradicting statements Motif pointed out, and the governor’s office did not answer or issue a statement.

All the school district plans are subject to change. RIDE announced last week that they will instruct each district which operational plan they should use to start the year — full in-person, hybrid or distance learning. The state will use metrics like the COVID-positive rate of the town, the readiness of the school district when it comes to testing and PPE in making their decision. The governor stated during a press conference last month that testing onsite at schools should have a turnaround of 48 to 72 hours, but as COVID surges across America, testing takes longer and longer.

As for what will happen in Rhode Island schools, only time will tell.




Ocean State Placed on Travel Restriction Lists: A summary of the governor’s August 5 press conference

All packed up with nowhere to go; RI placed on other states’ travel restrictions lists

Governor Gina Raimondo, RIDE Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green, and DOH director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott gave the COVID-19 press briefing today at 1pm.

Today’s COVID data is as follows: DOH is reporting 84 new cases since yesterday. “Certainly better than the triple digits we’ve been having,” said the governor. Seventy-nine people are hospitalized for reasons related to the coronavirus. Of those, 14 people are in the ICU, and five of those people are on ventilators. DOH also reports one additional death, a person in their 80s.

The press conference started a few minutes late today, as the governor explained she was surveying damage from yesterday’s intense winds and rain. “It’s a serious storm, it came and went quickly,” she said. According to National Grid, 150,000 customers had power outages across the state. At the time of the press conference that number had been reduced to 70,000. Important to note: Customers frequently means households, not individual persons without power.

The big news at today’s press conference was the Ocean State’s recent placement by other states in New England on travel restrictions lists. New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut and others have mandated Rhode Islanders traveling to their states must be quarantined for 14 days or provide a negative COVID test. The governor was not surprised, saying, “We’ve consistently had days when we have over 100 new cases a day.” More than 11% of positive COVID-19 cases in Rhode Island are from state residents traveling to other states and then returning.

Social gatherings are still proving difficult for the state to control. The governor today repeated that the social gathering limit was 15 — 15 of the same people. Anyone violating the social gathering limit mandate without proper distancing or masks can expect a $500 fine for each individual at the gathering.

Rhode Island’s bars are failing to keep social congregations down. As a result, the governor today announced all bars should close by 11pm. Restaurants with bars could remain open for longer, but the bar area must be closed. The state has heard numerous reports of customers clustering at bars. Only 20% of bars are complying with DBR regulations to maintain some distancing or barrier separating bartenders from the customers.

Governor Raimondo also announced today the state had signed two new contracts with two commercial testing labs. Both have pledged to process 1,000 COVID tests daily. One of them, a local lab in North Kingstown by the name of Dominion Diagnostics, has said they will increase their capacity next month to 7,000. A low turnaround time on testing has proven key to contact tracing and combating the virus, as well as reopening schools later this month.

Any asymptomatic Ocean State resident between the ages of 18 and 39 can get a COVID test, the governor announced today. She wants to test as many young people as possible, as this age group has the largest proportion of percent positive cases. Interested parties should go to portal.ri.gov to schedule their test.

The state today broke down one of the metrics used to determine how schools could open later this month. That metric was the number of weekly cases in each town. Raimondo said today each town must have a weekly case incidence of fewer than 100 new cases per 100,000 people. Based on the data from last week, only Providence, Pawtucket and Central Falls would be unable to fully reopen their schools because of this one metric. Raimondo reminded listeners that there are four other metrics school districts must satisfy, including having a ready supply of PPE and a sufficient operational plan in place in case of outbreaks. “It really elevates the concept that as a state, we want to keep our eyes on the prize,” said Dr. Alexander-Scott.

Final decisions for which level schools will use to reopen will be handed down on the week of August 16. Raimondo also announced today the state will not force any student who does not feel safe to go to school. Distance learning and virtual options will be available to all students in the state.




Mother, May I?: Kids’ worlds are shrinking and it’s no fun — here’s how parents can help

My kids are in mourning. They miss spontaneous playdates with friends. They miss their out-of-state grandparents’ summer visit. They miss their freedom. And because they don’t have the emotional maturity to articulate those feelings, they bubble over in uncharacteristic and inconsolable bouts of tears, random questions that give me glimpses into their psyches and many, many sleepless nights. I thought I was doing everything right for them during the pandemic and subsequent lockdown. And now, I’m worried.

I spoke with Micaela Materne, a child development specialist, who says, “Kids are really good barometers of our emotions even if they’re underlying or unspoken. Children pick up on parents’ fear, anger or stress. And that’s going to stress them out. So they’re digesting a lot of emotions, but they don’t know how to get rid of them or express them.” Luckily, parents and caregivers can help kids exorcise those bad feelings. Materne continues, “I think for a lot of families, keeping kids home feels safest. But kids need an outlet for their emotions. They need to be able to burn their energy off on a bike ride or a run or whatever is therapeutic for that particular child.”

Julia Steiny, founder of the Youth Restoration Project says, “Kids are really lonely at this point. We know that the negative health effects of loneliness in adults is the equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes a day. But you can’t measure it in kids that way because is manifests differently.” Steiny suggests that parents gather kids into closed pods and then hang back to let them take the lead in exploring nature. They’ll discover social and emotional skills in the process and learn to cope with adversity and experiment with resilience. “Parents shouldn’t keep kids from experiencing that,” she says.

Materne also respects kids’ resilience, but cautions parents to be prepared to support them when they are not. “Kids need this bubble around them that allows them to fall almost flat on their faces, but there’s a hand to prop them back up before it gets really ugly.”

Karin Wetherill, co-director of the Rhode Island Healthy Schools coalition agrees with the importance of getting outside. “One blessing of this happening during the spring and summer is that we can get outdoors. Physical activity can boost your mood and lower stress.” Providence parks opened all of their playgrounds to the public in July and stations play ambassadors at the playgrounds from noon to 5pm, Monday through Friday, to greet visitors, ensure social distancing, provide masks and hand sanitizer, clean the playgrounds twice a day and educate visitors about safety guidelines. “They want to make sure families have access [to playgrounds] as safely as possible,” Wetherill says.

Licensed mental health counselor and registered play therapist Gabrielle Dworkin says that in her practice, she’s seeing a lot of kids with anxiety. “There’s also some depression,” she says. “Kids are sad about school and not seeing their friends. They’re sad about transitions as they enter new grade levels without saying goodbye to teachers. Many of them are grieving a loss.” Dworkin encourages as much safe interaction as possible. “I encourage Facetime. I encourage talking to friends on the phone.” She also mentions ways caregivers can bring forms of play therapy home. “Children express themselves through play,” she says. “They can use dolls, art, puppets or music. Whatever you can do to help the child express how they’re feeling because they don’t have the words to say, ‘I’m sad.'”

Materne echoes this sentiment. “Play needs to be a prioritized outlet. It’s how children can play out their fears and work through them, and also how they can find pleasure, comfort, relaxation and joy.” And she encourages caregivers to also find some time for play. “It shows our kids we practice what we preach.” 




Creative Connection

Concern over COVID-19 rightfully has people altering plans for visits with friends and family. To help safeguard everyone’s health, tough decisions may be in order. With families of divorce, those decisions can be especially challenging. On one hand, there’s the pandemic; on the other, there may be a court agreement mandating visitation between parent and child. 

Good legal advice is best obtained from an attorney. Good parenting advice comes from considering a child’s whole health — mental, physical and emotional — and putting that wellbeing ahead of past injuries or petty disputes with the child’s other parent.

Think about how inventive we’ve become in devising alternatives to in-person meetings: In addition to texting and good old-fashioned phone calls, we have ZOOM, FaceTime, “Netflix parties,” drive-by visits between students and teachers, and more. When we want to connect, we find a way that’s safe and responsible.

That inventiveness should extend to children of divorce, whose health is nourished by contact with a loving parent. Deprivation of that contact can have severe, long-lasting effects.

Where parents of divorce and separation go tragically wrong is when they use COVID-19 as an excuse to prohibit any contact between children and their other parent. Using the pandemic as a weapon to punish your ex or further his or her erasure from a child’s life has no positive outcome for anyone in the family. 

Children of divorce and separation need their parents to act like adults and not like bickering children themselves. They especially need this during a crisis.

And let’s not forget that even the best ZOOM call is no substitute for a hug from Dad or Mom, and while texting “I <3 U” is nice, it’s not the same as hearing Dad or Mom say those words in person, even from behind a mask.




Art Wall at the Axe Bar

The Axe Bar at R1 Indoor Karting is looking for local artists to participate in our Art Wall, sponsored by Motif Magazine.

Two dimensional art of all media is welcome. The artist is responsible for preparing the art work, including any desired matting, framing, etc. and a mounting line or bracket of some sort. The artist is responsible for getting the work to the Axe Bar at 100 Higginson Ave, Lincoln, RI and dropping it off during open hours (check r1indoorkarting.com for hours, which may vary seasonally).

While any size is welcome, work that’s larger than four feet in any direction, or smaller than 10 inches, may not be an appropriate fit.

R1 will mount the work alongside work from four other local artists. The work will hang on the wall for one month. If the work is not purchased, the artist may collect it at any time the facility is open, within a month of the date it’s taken down.

Each artist may submit up to three pieces. Depending on size, we may not be able to show all three, but we will communicate with you about specifics and will hang as many as we can.

The wall is curated, and we expect more submissions than we will be able to hang, so there is no guarantee that your submission will be chosen, and if it is we can’t always say far in advance for what month. The curators will be looking for work that fits well together as a whole, and decisions will not always reflect simply whether the curators like the work or not – it’s more complicated than that. If you are contacted about hanging your work, you may depend on us actually putting it up. But with digital submissions, please be patient.

It’s up to the artist to set prices for the work. If work is purchased, the full price of the purchase will be passed along to the artist at the end of the month.

Visitors to the axe bar will vote on their favorite pieces. R1 will purchase the winning piece of art for $500. If someone other than R1 purchased the winning artwork, R1 will award the artist the difference in price between the sale price and $500, up to a maximum $250. If the artist’s price for the work is above $500, R1 may not purchase the piece, but will award the winning artist $250.

Thank you very much for your interest! We hope you participate, and thanks for supporting local businesses and helping us support local artists!
To submit work, please send a digital copy of the work to amanda@motifri.com with the subject “Art Wall.” Please tell us the preferred name of the artist, the dimensions, medium and the price you’d like to set. If you have a website, let us know about that too, but that’s not required.




Parties Connected to Virus Spread: A summary of the governor’s July 29 press conference

Governor Gina Raimondo, DOH director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott and RIDE Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green gave the COVID-19 press briefing today at 1pm.

First today’s COVID data: The governor announced a total of 61 new cases since yesterday. “That’s holding steady,” she said. “That’s the kind of data we like to see.” Seventy-four people are hospitalized for reasons related to COVID-19. Overall hospitalizations have remained steady, but have been trending toward a slight increase. Twelve people are in the ICU and six of those people are on ventilators. 

The governor announced today Rhode Island would not be moving to the next phase of economic reopening. Instead she is lowering the social gathering limit to 15 people. “We’re partying too much,” she said. “Social gatherings are too large and folks aren’t wearing their masks.” Contact tracing has found outbreaks sourced from house parties of more than 50 people, a baby shower, a large birthday party in a backyard, one in a restaurant, pool parties and a sports banquet, among many others. Folks could also not remember all the people at a party, according to the governor, as opposed to when it was 15 and contact tracing could trace everyone.

“In each of these instances, the patterns are exactly the same,” said Raimondo. She went on to list the COVID guidance that wasn’t being followed: social distancing, mask wearing, etc. During questions today, the governor stated how surprised she was that the protests in Providence, often with hundreds of people, didn’t have any major outbreaks related to it, something the governor credits to almost universal mask-wearing. 

Rhode Island’s rate of spread value has risen to 1.3, according to DOH calculations. That value indicates the number of people one person with COVID-19 spreads the virus, and a value of 1.3 is on the governor’s metrics for considering moving back a phase. Phase 3 will now continue to August 28. The governor also reiterated if Rhode Islanders found themselves in a bar or restaurant that was crowded, for people to leave immediately. “Any crowding in a restaurant is where you get sick,” she said.

School districts across the state were required to hand in COVID control plans for the upcoming school year on July 17. Finalized plans will receive RIDE feedback and be made available to the public starting this Friday. The governor today discussed the five metrics each school must have to reopen schools. Statewide COVID data must show decreasing trends in all related pandemic metrics. On a local level, municipalities must also be in good shape and have COVID plans. Statewide testing must also be able to test symptomatics within a 48 to 72 hour turnaround time. School districts must also have masks, cleaning supplies and any other COVID combatting supplies required by state regulations in place. The final metric is how ready each district is ready to execute their COVID plan. Based on these five metrics, RIDE will recommend what level of reopening each district is advised to follow on August 16, based on where towns are at that point in time.

RIDE has also launched a website today dedicated to school reopening. Back2schoolri.com will host new updates on Rhode Island schools, as well as events that will connect students and parents with experts to inform them of school reopening issues. The website also breaks down the requirements RIDE has outlined for the districts as well as links to each individual district. 

Governor Raimondo also indicated today there would be options for parents who did not feel their child would be safe in school. Parents and teachers in organized social media groups centered on schools, have indicated for weeks that many do not feel safe sending their child to school. It remains to be seen what the state envisions the distant learning alternative to be, as the state has not actually assessed the outcomes of distance learning from this past spring, instead opting to do it this fall.




Get Out!: PVDFest announces a Downcity scavenger hunt

PVDFest has joined the ranks of organizations stepping up to entertain and delight cooped-up locals despite the changes social distancing has forced. This certainly isn’t the summer for the throngs of people dancing in the streets PVDFest usually encourages, but an outdoor scavenger hunt with your bubble? That idea kind of has us dancing.

On August 3, PVDFest will announce via its social media platforms its 15 scavenger hunt locations, all located on the PVDFest footprint. Then you and your bubble, armed with cameras, are tasked to find those spots and snap a picture or video of yourself at each location. Post your finds on social media with #PVDFestHunt and you’ll be eligible to win some prizes!

The PVDFest scavenger hunt runs from Aug 3 – 17. For more information, go to pvdfest.com/pvdfesthunt




Supporting Portland: Protesters gathered in PVD Saturday night

Protesters gathered in front of the Providence Public Safety Complex on Saturday night, with law enforcement in riot gear standing a block away. One hundred and fifty mostly young people came out to protest police brutality and called to defund the police. 

The rally’s original intent was to show solidarity with the city of Portland, Oregon. Portland has been the epicenter of massive demonstrations in the past few weeks, with protesters clashing with police. In response, President Donald Trump sent unwanted federal border patrol agents into the city. Last night’s march in Providence was also spurred by the arrest of two counter-protesters, Najeli Rodriguez and Jonas Pierre, on Thursday night. The two were counter-protesters at a cancelled “Defend, not Defund” rally in Providence that was in support of law enforcement.

Around 8:45pm, protesters marched down Broad Street toward South Providence before circling back to Classical High School where the march ended. Protesters commonly wore black t-shirts and face masks or bandanas. Police were armed in riot gear, with plastic sticks and shields.

The march, while mostly peaceful, was punctuated by small acts of violence. Police driving their cruisers played chicken with a line of demonstrators, who sat down in front of the vehicles. The response of the police was to roll rapidly toward them, as if to hit them, before breaking sharply. No one was hit. In another incident, protesters surrounded a van, alleging law enforcement had pulled one of their own inside. Different protesters threw water bottles and glass bottles at police. Overall, police report they arrested five people in total at the march.

Protesters used bicyclists as spotters during the march. They rode in front and behind, communicating with marchers on police movement. Notably, some protesters also picked up litter as they went long. For the most part, law enforcement remained a decent distance away from demonstrators. They had vehicles positioned ahead and following the protesters. 

On a few occasions, marchers stopped to link arms and briefly block traffic.  “White people, please stand in front to help protect our Black people,” was one of the repeated instructions to the crowd. Along the way, protesters consistently chanted, “Whose Streets? Our Streets!”, “Black Lives Matter!”, “No Justice, No Peace!” among others.

It was still Saturday night in Providence and the streets were far from empty during the march. People came out to watch the protesters and cheered. Drivers in their cars honked their horns in support of the protesters, making it hard to hear anything else. The people who Motif interviewed were generally supportive of the protest. “I like it a lot. I think this is great and needed,” said Rugah, one of the onlookers last night. “We need better justice.”

Additional reporting by Amanda Grafe




Advice with Spyce: Texting relationships and condom free in corona

Dear Spyce,

I met this guy online and we immediately hit it off. We exchanged numbers and started texting, pretty quickly getting to the point where we were texting all day, every day. Because of quarantines and such, we weren’t able to meet up for a few weeks, but by that time, I felt like we knew each other pretty well. So finally the day arrived. I was ready with my hand sanitizer and mask, and we found a place to meet outdoors. And it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great. First off, he didn’t sound like I thought he would, and the conversation just didn’t flow the way it does in text. He was cute enough, but I didn’t feel the wow that I was expecting. I made my way through the date, but figured that would be the end of it. But as soon as we parted, he started texting again and it felt good again. So now I’m confused. Are we just better off as text friends, and never taking this to the next level? 

Just Not That Into Him

Dear Just,

Ah, you trespassed over one of my most important dating rules! DON’T START A TEXT RELATIONSHIP! Yes I know that everyone wants to just text like rabbits and “get to know” each other virtually, but there are some people who are great writers, and then are just not great talkers. When you connect so deeply via text without ever even hearing someone’s voice, the cadence, the tilt, the tone, you can build up all kinds of ideas of how they will sound when you do finally get to hear the silk of their words caressing your ears. But until you actually see them talking, you don’t even know if they look funny when they say certain words, or have a strange tic.
But to be fair, I’m sure there was a lot of pressure from both of you for this to be the perfect meeting, and if stars didn’t shoot out of your eyes and puppies and kittens didn’t drop out of the heavens as soon as you saw each other (from 6 feet away of course), it can be natural to feel like something was wrong. When in fact, real connection takes time, and it can be a good while before you feel comfortable with someone in live skin-covered human form when you only have a disembodied fantasy text version of them in your mind.

Here’s the thing: he’s still the same person, and the things that he said to you should still hold the same weight. Maybe try to be more relaxed with the situation, and he can relax as well. Try video chatting to get more comfortable with each other’s faces. Great connection is hard to come by, and it would be a shame to throw it away without fully giving it an opportunity to mature. 

Dear Spyce,

How do I respond to a partner who doesn’t believe we should bother practicing safe sex during COVID? We started dating right before the pandemic hit and we both got negative STI/STD tests then. We haven’t been seeing other people, so he says there’s no point of using condoms, as I can’t get pregnant. I can see his point, but it is so foreign to me to skip condoms until I’m very serious with a partner. I don’t want to hurt him, but it just feels too fast. Advice?

Condom Free Corona Love

Dear CRCL,

As much as I can see his point when it comes to the safety aspect as well, it really comes down to what you are comfortable with. You have a right to have your wishes respected, even if someone doesn’t like them. There’s no reason that he should take it personally, and if he does, that’s on him. 

I think the intriguing question could be for you to look at exactly why you don’t feel okay with it. It sounds like the condom free situation signifies to you an emotional connection that you don’t yet feel with this person. Could it also be that it makes you question the relationship, and if it’s what you truly want? Does it point out other inconsistencies or red flags in the relationship? 

Our uncomfortable feelings are always indicative of something when we look underneath the surface, so I would say to pop the lid off and take a deeper look as to where your feelings for not wanting to get more intimate with him come from. 

While they may be pointing toward something in the relationship, they may also be pointing to something deeper in yourself that can lead to introspection and deeper clarity. Either way, it sounds like this could be a great opportunity for you to discover what you really are desiring, and approach it without guilt or remorse from that place. 

Good luck!