Beavertail State Park. [Photo by Natalja Kent]
It’s time for a pep talk, Rhode Island.
We all know we have the highest unemployment rate in the country, and that our House Speaker’s office was recently raided by a conga line of law enforcement agents, and that driving on Providence roads often feels more like off-roading, and that it can sometimes seem like we’re best known beyond state lines for (a) political corruption, and (b) betting $75 million taxpayer dollars on a retired Red Sox player’s video-game pipe dream — an event which, after all, was really just another example of (a).
But then, last month, things got worse — at least in the PR sense. On April 24, the famous opinion-poll firm Gallup released a batch of data tracking how Americans respond when asked, among other questions, whether they live in the “best or one of the best possible states live.” In Montana and Alaska, the “winners” of the poll, 77 percent of respondents answered “Yes.” In Rhode Island, only 18 percent answered in the affirmative, which placed us dead last. Furthermore, when folks were asked whether they lived in the worst possible state, Rhode Island tied with Connecticut for the second highest “Yes”-rate in the country behind Illinois (25 percent), with 17 percent of respondents agreeing that, yup, we’re the worst.
Do we really hate ourselves this much?
Not according to the editors, writers, freelancers, and interns who make this paper tick. After hearing about Gallup’s dismal Rhode Island report card, which included the stat that nearly half of Rhode Islanders polled (42 percent) would prefer to leave the state if they could, we put a call out to Team Phoenix for arguments why Rhode Island doesn’t suck.
We perform this exercise not as a way of plugging our ears, covering our eyes, and ignoring the myriad challenges that we face as a state, but, instead, as a reminder that those Gallup respondents sure as hell don’t speak for The Providence Phoenix. And perhaps they don’t speak for you, either.
As for Rhode Island’s problems? Well, sometimes the best way to start fixing something is to remind yourself why it’s worth fixing.
Let’s get started.