Share your Rhody love

Share your Rhody love

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Write a note to a special place in R.I. with Doors Open project

From secret city corridors and historic cemeteries to state parks and currently closed cultural organizations, if there’s a place in Rhode Island that you’ve been missing or a new discovery that you want to share with others, write it a love note.

Anyone is welcome to participate in Rhody Love Notes, a collective mapping project created by Doors Open Rhode Island, which seeks to connect people to beloved places and spaces hidden throughout the state.

“If you feel a place is deserving of love, it will get noted on our map,” Caroline Stevens, program director of Doors Open Rhode Island, told The Valley Breeze.

The map, which includes locations across the state, and instructions for submitting a note can be found at www.doorsopenri.org/lovenotes .

Folks can write, share, and explore notes written about places they love in Rhode Island; organizers said they hope the notes “inspire new perspectives on our state and foster belonging, curiosity, and local pride.”

People can write a note to just about any place, from a new spot they’ve discovered in their neighborhood while they’re stuck at home to a place that’s further away and they haven’t been able to visit or a business that’s currently closed that they want to help support, Stevens said.

With the ongoing pandemic, “we’re all stuck at home and dreaming of where we’d rather be,” she said.

When writing, notes can include a specific memory or story or “just what captures your heart about the place.” Once you have a love note written, share it on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter by using the hashtag #rhodylovenotes or send it to rhodylovenotes@gmail.com .

When submitting a love note, also include your name, the name of the place, its address, and one to three photographs. Submit photographs that you took or that are available in the public domain. Notes can be any length and form, and they will be continuously added to a publicly accessible map. Multiple notes are welcomed.

The initiative, which was first launched on Valentine’s Day this year and inspired by a similar project done in Philadelphia years ago, was reignited by the COVID-19 crisis as a way to celebrate places and spaces in the state, some of which people can’t access right now.

“The idea is that distance only makes our hearts grow fonder for them,” Stevens said, adding that when we’re distanced from loved ones, we can write them a note. “Loved ones in these cases are places.”

Some notes tell a story of the individual writer’s life and connection to the place while others provide a history lesson. Others expose locations that many people may not know about, such as the New England Steam and Wireless Museum in East Greenwich, which opens its collection of steam engines and old radios once a year to the public, Stevens said.

“People are being really, really creative (with their notes),” she said, adding that people have written notes to a mix of locations but many are in nature, from the woods to the coast, Stevens said. “Nature’s been a big theme.”

Some local love notes are dedicated to the Blackstone River Theatre in Cumberland, Lincoln Woods, the Blackstone Valley Bike Path, and Pulaski State Park in Glocester.

In her love note, Jessica David writes, “My secret love is the Blackstone Valley Bike Path and in particular (a) stretch in Valley Falls. Sunshine, rushing water, wildlife, and hints of Rhode Island past and future. You can pass by dozens of people and still feel like you have the entire world to yourself.”

Judith Dupre wrote about recently rediscovering Lincoln Woods, where she hadn’t been since a field trip in 6th grade. “Beautiful place with a fascinating history,” she said.

The goal of Rhody Love Notes is to build an online community around people’s love for these particular places and to share these spots with the broader community, not just now but long into the future, Stevens said.

In terms of tourism, people typically think of beaches and the Newport mansions, but this project lets people dig deeper and find the hidden treasures that make Rhode Island truly special, she said. Once the state begins to reopen and it becomes safe to do so, she said folks can explore all of these hidden treasures across Rhode Island that they wouldn’t have otherwise known existed.

“I certainly have a lot of new places on my bucket list I didn’t have before,” Stevens said.

Contributing to the Rhody Love Notes project, Jessica David writes that her “secret love” is the Blackstone Valley Bike Path, specifically a stretch in Valley Falls, because “you can pass by dozens of people and still feel like you have the entire world to yourself.” Anyone can write a love note to a place in Rhode Island that’s special to them and contribute at www.doorsopenri.org/lovenotes. (Photo courtesy of Jessica David)
Writing a love note to the Blackstone River Theatre, 549 Broad St. in Cumberland, Tim Draper says, “It is a wonderful place, beautiful building and tremendous team.” (Photo courtesy of Tim Draper)