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Letter: 'Rhode Islanders, Stop Being So Hard On Yourselves'

This letter was submitted by Riverside native Ralph Fascitelli who now lives in Seattle.

Rhode Islanders stop being so hard on yourselves, it only makes a bad situation worse.

I am one of the proud natives, a 1970 graduate of who left the state for the West Coast and have lived in Seattle now for some 25 years now. I have been following the news about 38 Studios and as somebody  who has been in the tech industry for some 30 years, agree it was a very dumb investment for many reasons. But I have also been surprised by the level of negativity that it has generated from residents about the state in general.

I am not naïve about Rhode Island politics. But guess what - here in Seattle and Washington State we have extremely honest elected officials and we still complain about our politicians. Here we complain because unless there is 100 percent consensus on an issue, it seems, nothing gets done. Washington State suffers from a chronic lack of bold leadership. We would fall all over ourselves for a “tell-like-it-is” leader like Gina Raimondo.

Here’s the problem with all the negativity; it only creates more problems. It feeds on itself. If Rhode Islanders are not good evangelists of their own state, businesses are not going to want to locate there. The current crisis of confidence is an opportunity to make something good happen; a chance for all to agree that everyone has to pull together and give-in  a little bit so the Rhode Island your children inherit is a place they will also want to stay and raise a family.

Leaders create a viable vision and get others to buy into it. And vision begins with a concept that leverages existing strengths. Rhode Island has many, many, unique strengths; including two of the top universities in the nation. We here in Seattle would die for a world class Ivy League institution like Brown University or a place of universal renown in its field like RISD; not to mention great beaches where the water gets above 55 degrees in the summer. And did you know Rhode Island is one of the safest states in the union with one of the lowest rates of gun violence?

When I think of Rhode Island I think of family. A state where Little League baseball is of major league importance and where the summers and family picnics at the beach are second to none; where a wedding is really an excuse for an intimate gathering of two hundred family members and friends, and where nobody cares where it’s held. Any vision of what makes Rhode Island special should in my opinion begin with family. Rhode Island…Where Families Flourish.

I’ve been to all 50 states and no place is without its challenges. I lived in Southern California for ten years and the traffic was a nightmare and crime an ever present danger. I love Seattle but the natives are nowhere near as warm and engaging as Rhode Islanders and it can be gray for months in the winter and summer doesn’t begin until the second week of July.

No matter where I go, people ask me where I’m from. I say I live in Seattle but I’m from Rhode Island, though I haven’t lived there for some forty years. And I say it with great pride and I jump in the middle of any conversation where Rhode Island is mentioned. Last month I went to Safeco Field here to watch a Mariner baseball game and parked my car behind one with a Rhode Island license plate. I felt compelled to leave a nice note for the owner to reaffirm and validate our bond of being from such an endearing place. I can tell you first hand the rest of the country loves people from Rhode Islande. Perhaps its because we’re a bit of a novelty - though I’d like to believe it’s because Rhode Island remains a bastion of basic good values that are inculcated for eternity in all who hail from there.

Ralph Fascitelli
Lives in Seattle but from Riverside

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