“In public policy there is this notion of the policy window, and things that are in the policy window are things that are in the realm of possibility,” Ross Cheit said. “And I think that what’s happened in the last few months is the policy window has changed. I think it’s gotten a lot bigger. I think that there are now things that are possible and are happening that three months ago we might have said were impossible. So the window’s open.”
Yes, I thought. Yes! That explains the vague but persistent sense of opportunity that this terrible pandemic has brought upon us.
Ross Cheit is a professor of political science at Brown University. He wrestles with issues of ethics, criminal justice, and public policy. I know him from Twitter, where he offers sage and witty commentary. I was therefore totally unsurprised that, in a 10-minute conversation, Professor Cheit covered political science concepts I haven’t thought of since college, touched on the quirkiness of Rhode Island’s two degrees of separation, and clearly delighted in his students.
The uncertainty is challenging and at times overwhelming, but Professor Cheit left me with a new perspective. “Some good things are happening with this policy window open,” he said. “So things are possible.”
“We’re looking at $48.5 million in direct spending losses for the state of Rhode Island,” said Kristen Adamo on the impact of the coronavirus on tourism. “The hit that our industry has taken has just been massive. We were the first to be hit and I think we’re going to be one of the last to recover.”
Tourism is a major economic driver in Rhode Island; we hosted 25.4 million visitors in 2018, and the industry supported 86,000 jobs. (Not surprising, given our beautiful coastline, charming communities, amazing food, remarkable history, and vibrant cultural scene.)
So, yes, this hit is significant, deep, and widespread.
Kristen is president and CEO of the Providence Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau, which grows and supports the meetings, events, sports, hospitality, and tourism sectors of our economy. She was forced to lay off 15 of her own employees, and it’s the lost jobs that drive her. “It lights the fire in your belly,” she notes. “Everything you do, you think, am I saving a job?.”
So what can we do to support our neighbors who work in the tourism industry? “Advocate for us by getting out there,” Kristen responds. Patronize local restaurants (dining in or taking out!), plan a staycation at a local hotel, and recommend Rhode Island for conventions and events.
You heard her, Rhode Island.
Theresa Moore thinks about history. More, she thinks about how we think about history. So when I consider what this moment means for our collective history, I want to listen to Theresa.
Theresa founded T-Time Productions to bring untold inspiring stories to life. With projects like Third and Long, a documentary which examines civil rights in this country through the integration of pro football, she weaves education and entertainment via great storytelling.
Theresa seeks to bring more accurate and inclusive histories into the classroom, as textbooks and classroom materials traditionally tell a one-sided and exclusive version of what happened. “Some of this historical stuff lays the foundation for some of the challenges and systemic issues we have right now,” she pointed out.
Witnessing the uneven impacts of COVID-19, educational inequities made worse by distance learning, and the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd has not been easy, but it has reinforced Theresa’s work and purpose. “At certain points, I just had to shut down and process and regroup,” she acknowledged.
Theresa draws, not surprisingly, on history — in this case, her own family’s legacy. “I look at the history of my ancestors. As a people, we can look back and look at the strength and the dignity and the grace that we have come through some of these things,” she notes. “And it doesn’t mean that we’re not pushing for change, but it does give me hope that that’s the underlying lineage and foundation of how we’re going to deal with this.”