The Village Common Newsletter - July 2020
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Sat. June 20, Showing Up for Racial Justice Car Rally in Downtown Pawtucket. Photo by Phil West.
A Message from the Executive Director
Jo Ellen Mistarz

Welcome to Summer! Although it’s not the summer any of us ever expected, we can celebrate our friends, family, and wonderful Village connections together.

As we move into this new season, we remain deeply committed to building a better future for all of Rhode Island’s older adults. The Village Common’s fundamental values – generosity, diversity, engagement, collaboration, and sustainability – are more important now than ever. Just as we have actively engaged as change agents to create a better future for older Rhode Islanders, we now must engage to combat systemic inequities and racism. The Village Common will continue to collaborate with other organizations and develop programs to address these concerns. In the immediate future, there are some small steps we can all take:

As we move forward to confront racial disparities and inequality, we also need to commit to making daily life changes. Our personal actions, taken collectively, create the better future we all aspire to build in our Ocean State.

Oak Hill Circle Starts Anti-Racism Group
Wendy Oliver

Interested members of the Oak Hill circle have begun weekly meetings to discuss what we can do locally to help end systemic racism in Rhode Island. The group agreed on four goals so far: 1) working to reform the Pawtucket police, 2) reaching out to neighbors of color to converse about how white people can help in the fight for equality, 3) working to elect Meghan Kallman to State Senate, and 4) meeting with the candidates for Pawtucket City Council districts 4 & 5, Alexis Schuett and Janie Segui Rodriguez.

A small group met online with Megan Kallman on June 19 to discuss the Pawtucket budget and how to move some money designated for the police to other purposes. Some attended the Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) motorcade in downtown Pawtucket to “defund” the police on Sat., June 20, while another attended the Juneteenth celebration at the RI Statehouse. Phil West, Lisa Beade, Sue Bayley, Anne Grant, and Wendy Oliver all attended the virtual Pawtucket City Council session and spoke in favor of a delay in voting on the police contract in order to make budget modifications. Unfortunately, the City Council voted to approve the Police contract without a period for comment or suggested changes.

Once the group has clarified its purpose and projects, it will be inviting Village Common members to participate in various anti-racist events/activities. Meanwhile, the SURJ RI (Standing Up for Racial Justice) Chapter has many events which you can read about on their website:

Juneteenth March & Celebration at RI Statehouse, 6/19/20, photos by Wendy Oliver
Village Member Lisa Beade attends SURJ Car Rally 
Registrations Required for Virtual Programming

The Village Common continues to add virtual programming to our website’s calendar, and we have included links to outside organizations’ calendars. too. We welcome everyone’s participation and look forward to seeing folks online. However, please note that due to Zoom-bombing, we now require registration for online programs. Simply login as a member to register on the calendar or call a Service Coordinator at (401) 441-5240 for assistance. All non-members must call a Service Coordinator to register.

The Hummingbird Palace
By Sue Bayley
Photos by Sue Bayley
Photo right: Nori Duncan at the Hummingbird Palace

The Hummingbird Palace: you may have seen it in Lippitt Park, between Blackstone Boulevard and Hope Street, a bit south of where the summer Farmer’s Market can be found on Saturday mornings. You may have seen it but not realized it. It looks like something intentional, but what is the intention? It’s a tall circular form, a tangle of vines climbing up spires.

I first spotted it a couple of years ago, driving by on Hope Street, wondered what it was, drove on by, and promptly got distracted. This spring, The Providence Village received a call for volunteers who would like to help maintain the Hummingbird Palace during the growing season. I was curious, and I like hummingbirds, so I decided to at least check it out.

Here’s what I learned. Six years ago, artist Esther Solondz brought a vision to life, a place for hummingbirds to enjoy flowers and nectar, and for people to enjoy the hummingbirds. Esther created this graceful Victorian structure with red glass feeders to attract the hummingbirds, got permission to locate it in the park, planted brilliant red trumpet honeysuckle, and nourished her dream into the beautiful structure it is today. Nice work, Esther!

Over six years, the honeysuckle has enthusiastically covered the metal structure. Esther has guided it to assume the shape of the Palace, and provided sweet red nectar for the hummingbirds. She is assisted this summer season in filling the feeders by Patricia Becker and her daughter Jennifer Becker. Nori Duncan and Sue Bayley are official honeysuckle trimmers.

Countless numbers of birds and people appreciate and admire the Hummingbird Palace as it changes through the seasons.

If you can, please add to the HP story by volunteering to help with the project. Please email Esther at

Barrington Village Tech Help
By Frank J. Cummings

Most of us have experienced technological challenges, particularly when new devices become commercially available. Mastery of cell phones and computers seem inversely proportional to one’s age. In a Barrington survey, where half of the participants were over the age of 70, 75% responded that they needed help with a computer, TV remote, DVD, and streaming. And whoever thought that this spring, a new technology need would arise with the onset of a COVID-19 pandemic? Zooming became a household word and a necessary tool for people to interact, for students to learn remotely, and for entertainment. Tech Help has moved to front stage from an “also ran” position among Member Services.

Our first Tech Help meeting was via Zoom in the first week of June. Our goals are to be a resource for members to become more confident using a cell phone, computer, TV remote and related devices. These are outlined on the BV website section Tech Help. We hope to begin an intergenerational Tech Help collaboration with Barrington High School students, that resulted from discussions we had with Generation Tech’s Zachary Wang, whose efforts in Denver are dedicated to technology literacy connecting high school students with elders, hoping both will benefit from the experiences.

Why would one want to Volunteer for Tech Help? Most likely because they have overcome technology challenges themselves, and now feel confident they can help others do the same. There’s no better feeling than solving a problem that’s been bugging you. While some things still might be challenging for Villagers, it often can be easily fixed by today’s students, even including their grandchildren! What a connection that makes! There is an opportunity for meaningful interactions with other adults. Tech Help Volunteers are Ray Byrd, Cliff Karten, Tom Kraig, Bill Richardson, and me, Frank Cunningham. Library Collaborators are David Demick, Ben Hanley, and Patrick Elliot. Others are welcome to join BV Tech Help. Contact us at or call: 401-400-5599.

Barrington Weekly Sunset Appreciation  
Photo by Laura Young

On summer Mondays, the Barrington Village invites all interested in joining us for a peaceful evening outdoors (cancelled if it is raining), taking time to appreciate the joy of nature and some physically distanced opportunities to be with others. For details, please go to and click on the calendar. Hope to see you!

Updates from the Barrington Village

The Barrington Village Steering Committee will be taking the summer off from monthly meetings. Please thank this dedicated group of individuals for their amazing work and flexibility in these first six months. They are: Pat Keefe, Judie Knilans, Mira Meyer-Oertel, Susan McCalmont, Frank Cummings, Allan Klepper, Betsy Restituyo, Bob Cox, Laura Young and Elizabeth Pesce. And also, thank Jo Ellen and Eliza, and Providence Village mentors who have been supporting us every step of the way!

During this time, we will not be idle, but hope to proceed in a ‘summer-friendly’ relaxed pace. We hope to enjoy Summer Mondays together, and grow membership numbers. Our five member ambassadors are ready to sign up those interested in joining. We currently have 14 members, and 3 more in the process of joining. We have 23 vetted volunteers and with COVID 19 restrictions being lifted, happily, we are beginning to provide services.

Online Adventures
By Vivian Malloy

Although I’m not a particularly comfortable online searcher, I have discovered that there are wonderful free events and opportunities to be found, including free art tours, concerts, dance performances, classes, and games. Some are truly easy to access. Probably the most welcoming streaming site is the one for the Metropolitan Opera. You simply type in and up comes Watch Now to click. A different opera streams each day, starting at 6:30 pm and continuing through the next day—till the new one is put on. You can access the link at any time.

The most exciting streaming I found was the Miami City Ballet performance of George Balanchine’s and Jerome Robbins’ famous Firebird. The performance had all the elements of great ballet. These included visually arresting costumes and design similar to the original iconic Russian folktale illustrations, Stravinsky’s spellbinding score, and of course the extraordinary dancers and magical choreography. The Firebird ballerina Nathalia Arja, who worked under the direction of Lourdes Lopez, offered an exquisite interpretation.

Costumes were by Anya Klepikov, who grew up in the Crimea—a friend of her mother made kitchen cutting boards with images of the Firebird—and Anya still has a cutting board like that in her kitchen today.

This performance was part of the Miami Ballet Friday Night Spotlights that take place every other Friday. Access the Firebird performance below. It’s a great way to spend a half hour.

Miami City Ballet's "Firebird"
Walking Partners Wanted
By John Harkey

Get outside this spring and take a walk around Brown University with a Providence Village member as your walking partner. Contact one of these 3 volunteers, select a day and time, then take a stroll along tranquil campus pathways that suits your ability and interest.

Carol Delany, after retirement from Stanford, was a fellow at John Carter Brown Library researching her book on Columbus. She also taught part-time in the Religious Studies Department; earlier, she lived in Turkey while conducting research there. Contact Carol at or her cell phone (401) 787-5860.

Joe Fisler has had 3-generations at Brown: father graduated in 1925, Joe in 1963 (he captained the ’63 tennis team), and his daughter and her husband are professors of computer science there. He was a student interviewer, was on his class reunion committee and in fund campaigns. Contact Joe at or his cell phone (757) 903-7782.

Bill Twaddell graduated from Brown in 1963 to become a career diplomat in the Near East, South America and in 7 African Embassies. He has served on Brown’s Board of Trustees, and on committees for Campus planning and public art, and is now on the John Carter Brown Library Board of Governors. Contact Bill at

Need a ride to the Brown campus? Call a Village Service Coordinator at (401) 441-5240. When you walk, maintain social distance, carry water and a cell phone if you have one, wear a mask, a hat and comfortable shoes.

Ready to go? Study up with this brief campus guide: Or try out this Virtual tour:

If you’d like to be a walking partner for another Village member and to meet them in your favorite location, or for more information on this program, please contact John Harkey at

Now that we are all cooped up inside our homes, thanks to Covid-19, this is a perfect time to look around for ways you could make your home safer. The Village Common will help you with a do-it-yourself home safety check. Each month we will focus on a different room or area of your home. With the aid of AARP Home Fit Guide, we will offer a check list to help you identify ways to make your home as safe as possible. Our main focus is to prevent falls which is one of the main reasons folks end up having to leave their home. Later when restrictions are lightened, if you choose, you can have a trained volunteer (Physical Therapist) come into your home and help with safety suggestions.

Keep in mind:

  1. We still have Home Help volunteers who can do minor repairs and seasonal changes (like turning on/off outside water faucets, etc)
  2. We will offer a list of approved contractors who can make those safety changes you identify.

This is your last opportunity to honor the memory of our friend, Diane Goldman. If you would like to make a contribution in her honor to her favorite charity, Camp Angel Wings, a Camp for bereaved children, please do so now. I will be sending in our combined donations after the July 4th holiday.

Please make check out to:
Southcoast Health VNA

Or send 💰to:
Jody Josephson
57 Blaisdell Ave
Pawtucket RI 02860

SURJ Car Rally in Downtown Pawtucket to Support Racial Justice
The Village Common of RI
Board of Directors
Suzanne Francis, President
Jim Maxwell, Past President
Anne Connor, Secretary
Peter Viner-Brown, Treasurer

Lenore Bunting, Lorraine Keeney, Pat Mattingly, Susan McCalmont, Bonnie Ryvicker, Terry Percelay, Joe Santarlasci, Phil West

The Village Common of RI
Advisory Council

Barry Fain, Jay Glasson, Beverly Ledbetter, Lynette Lopes, Marcus Mitchell, Herbert Rakatansky, Corinne Calise Russo, Barbara Sokoloff, Bill Twaddell, Phil West

Newsletter Staff
 Wendy Oliver
Design: Josh Kemp   
Writers:  Jane Adler, Sue Bayley, John Harkey, Rosalind Ladd, Vivian Malloy, Jo Ellen Mistarz, Wendy Oliver, Diane Strommer, Eliza Sutton, Phil West 
Photography:  Jane Adler, John Harkey, Phil West,
Obituary Assistance: Anne Connor, Phil West
Copyright © 2020 Village Common of RI, All rights reserved.

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