Catalyzing Newport coordinators, Kathleen Shannon and SueEllen Kroll, take inspiration from historic disruptors to make change today. With visiting catalysts from the Knight Foundation, the Local Action Team will investigate the role of cultural and historical engagement for attracting and supporting new talent, diversifying revenue streams, bringing together Newport’s strengths, and encouraging an informed and engaged citizenry.


“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” –Gandhi

A quote we hear often in motivating speeches or as a signature on friend’s emails. But do we know how to be the change? For example, if, today, you could change anything about the place you live to make it better, what would you change? And how would you go about doing it?

These days, we often don’t think about how we engage in our community because we co-exist in so many. We commute for work to Boston. We grew up in a city across the bridge or in another state. Our ethnic heritage brings us across oceans. It’s hard to define what impact you could have when your identity is spread so thin. However, as I watch the news unfold about the horrifying acts of violence among citizens in Ferguson or the terrorism on a creative community in Paris, I feel a sense of urgency to connect with these people who live hundreds to thousands of miles away.

Why does it take tragedies in distant areas that transpire across television or the internet to get my attention? As citizens, can we engage and prevent tragedies before they occur? Rhode Island is faced with challenges, and I am a citizen with a voice who wants to help overcome the economic, social, or environmental challenges faced by our communities. This is a state where historical women, like Mary Dyer and Julia Ward Howard, voiced their beliefs and engaged in their community to defend diversity and freedom – a foundation of our nation.

What can I do in 2015 to be the change in the world I want to see? It is my turn in this century to have courage to step out of my comfort zone, share my talent and networks, and be a part of this place — our world.

The Pop-Up Activist of the Lower East Side by John Leland, New York Times, November 8, 2013