I was once everyone’s most faithful snail-mail correspondent. In time, conversational letter writing naturalized into dialogue for the theater. My long playwriting and directing resume includes awards and productions given by or staged in places that probably no longer exist. Theater seemed thrillingly alive to me back then.
In the crannies of time stolen from raising a young family, I grew a successful copywriting business. A lame-duck mayor appointed me to the Providence School Board which put me at the center of the Escher-like functions of public services, bureaucracy, legislation, policy, regulations, labor/management contracts, and civic corruption. Shockingly little attention focused on the kids. I became a pro-kid zealot and wrote columns for a local parents newsletter that explained arcane bureaucratic specifics for a general public.
Rhode Island’s daily newspaper, The Providence Journal, took notice of the work in the newsletter and engaged me to write a weekly commentary, “EdWatch,” for 16 years. I continued writing for various online outlets afterward.
At one point, I dove into issues about juvenile justice which prompted a peace activist group to take me as a journalist to Belfast, Ireland, still a conflict hotspot. Locals of all stripes talked with urgency about restorative justice (RJ) which they hoped would be the solution to the still simmering Troubles. I’d never heard of it. And besides its many impressive virtues, RJ also satisfied my long search for non-medical, non-bureaucratic ways to support children’s mental health in specific, but everyone’s social well-being in general. Thrilled with my discovery, though blinded by naivete, I started a business, the Youth Restoration Project (YRP), to bring the mindset and techniques to RI. YRP landed a giant National Institute of Justice research grant to examine the effects of RJ conferencing. While absolutely fascinating and rife with stories worth telling, the work of that grant nearly crushed me.
Covid and a family tragedy put an end to my business. Thank God. I’m ba-ack as a freelance writer intent on playing in the garden of words, people, and plants (I’m a gardener). The theater no longer intrigues me, but dialogue of all kinds does. (Plants converse with me.) So, as my recorded away message used to say: Talk to me!