Tuesday, January 29, 2019

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SINCE 1891




BAI hosts first Wintersession course in L.A. Community mourns death

of undergraduate student William Povell ’20 remembered as “funny and friendly” computer science mentor, innovator By LYDIA DEFUSTO SENIOR REPORTER


Students attended “From Beginning to End: Process and Creation” in L.A. They heard from alums in the arts, participated in seminar discussions and gave presentations on potential future projects of their own.

Brown Arts Initiative Wintersession class brings together students, alum artists By JANGO MCCORMICK SENIOR STAFF WRITER

Twelve students studying the arts moved beyond the classroom and into the studios, galleries and highways of Los Angeles during the two-week Brown Arts Initiative Wintersession

course, “From Beginning to End: Process and Creation.” In addition to attending discussions facilitated by Professors Wendy Edwards, chair of visual art and Butch Rovan, faculty director of the Brown Arts Initiative, students visited the studios and creative spaces of practicing artists. The seminar-style course represents the first time the BAI has hosted a course in the three years Wintersession has been offered. Rovan said that the original idea for the class developed from

conversations with alums living in Los Angeles. “Alumni really wanted to be in contact with Brown students. They wanted to help out,” Rovan said, adding that while bringing the alums to Providence was not a possibility, the advent of Wintersession in the last few years provided the opportunity to bring students to Los Angeles. The class, housed in the studio of film and television director Davis Guggenheim ’86, gave way to expansive discussion that continued outside of » See BAI, page 3

William Povell ’20, a computer science concentrator from Baltimore, passed away, wrote Vice President for Campus Life Eric Estes and Dean of the College Rashid Zia in an email to the University community Monday. Povell was “deeply immersed in activities across the (computer science) department,” they wrote. He worked as a Systems Programmer/Operator/Consultant and a teaching assistant for multiple courses. Povell’s interests included machine learning, deep learning, computational linguistics and computer systems, wrote Ugur Cetintemel, professor and department chair of computer science, and Tom Doeppner, associate professor and vice chair of computer science, in an email to members of the computer science department. “Many people have described Will as a facilitator and teacher: pushing projects forward when they lulled, going to the whiteboard to explain

something from a new perspective, summarizing arguments and bringing sides together with attention to detail, wit and a big smile, making debates funny and friendly instead of confrontational,” wrote Cetintemel and Doeppner. Povell “relished new ideas and experiments,” they continued. He worked “on a project to predict Alzheimer’s disease outcomes from Medicare data (and helped) maintain the open-source SignMeUp app to schedule TA hours for Brown CS classes,” according to the computer science department email. Povell also mentored high school students through the University’s Google igniteCS chapter, “an initiative aimed at sparking interest in computer science and helping young students to develop skills,” according to the campus-wide email. The chaplains, faculty and Will’s family will be holding a gathering to remember him on Wednesday, Jan. 30, at 4 p.m. in Leung Family Gallery in the Stephen Robert ’62 Campus Center, with a reception to follow. The computer science department will create a memorial webpage for Povell, and students are invited to share their memories by emailing jcp@cs.brown.edu. » See PASSING, page 2

Collaborative exhibit reflects on biodiversity in Providence R.I. politicians John Hay Library displays botanical illustrations, discuss sports specimens from the nineteenth century betting By GRAYSON LEE SENIOR STAFF WRITER

Artistic and scientific history collide in “Entwined: Botany, Art and the Lost Cat Swamp Habitat,” an exhibit at the John Hay Library that examines biological diversity in Providence. The exhibit depicts the biodiversity of the Wayland and Blackstone neighborhoods in East Providence, previously known as “Cat Swamp,” by featuring botanical illustrations of wildflowers from the Rhode Island Historical Society and specimens collected by the Brown Herbarium. Until the early 20th century, the Cat Swamp remained undeveloped, even during the urban expansion of College Hill and downtown Providence, said Tim Whitfeld, director of the Brown University Herbarium and assistant professor in the ecology and evolutionary biology

department. Whitfeld, who helped curate the exhibit, explained that potential developers considered Cat Swamp too expensive and difficult to build on. The exhibit notes that a civil engineer named John Freeman began to develop Cat Swamp around 1915. Today, the former marshland includes areas like the commercial Wayland Square. Whitfeld hopes that the exhibit will give viewers a chance to learn more about the history of Providence, as well as provide an opportunity to discuss the loss of biodiversity. “Perhaps now cities are becoming more aware of the importance of maintaining some biodiversity within the urban area … but certainly when the Cat Swamp area was being developed I doubt there was much effort to think about preserving this area just for its intrinsic importance to biological diversity,” he added. The specimens displayed in the exhibit are only a fraction of the plants collected and preserved by the Brown Herbarium from Cat Swamp. According to Whitfeld, the » See EXHIBITION, page 4

Casinos aim to decrease lines, wait times in new R.I. sports betting facilities approved last June By ALEX REICE SENIOR STAFF WRITER



Following Rhode Island’s legalization of sports betting last June, state politicians joined casino representatives Monday to discuss updates and challenges posed by the implementation of sports betting and assess the financial state of the casinos. New sports betting facilities were added to the state’s two major casinos — the Twin River and Tiverton Casino Hotel — in November and December of last year, The Herald previously reported. Rhode Island is the only state in New England to offer sports betting. » See BETTING, page 4


NEWS Meetings about new off-shore wind turbines delayed following partial government shutdown

NEWS Photographers explore abstraction in displayed work at List Art Center exhibition

COMMENTARY Bosis ’19: Students should seek out both positive and negative interactions on College Hill

COMMENTARY Miller ’19: Consumers and corporations should be more conscious of recycling practices







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List photography exhibit explores concept of abstraction


Artwork by 12 photographers lines the walls of List Art Center Lobby, focusing on abstractions through various approaches. Work by Bill Jacobson ‘77 examines rectangles through photographs of the real world. Some of the exhibited photographs explored the boundaries between two- and three-dimensional artwork.

“Recent Acquisitions” curated by Jo-Ann Conklin showcases work of 12 photographers By KATE OK SENIOR STAFF WRITER

Bill Jacobson ’77, alongside eleven other photographers, is complicating the notion of “abstraction” on College Hill. The artists’ work is featured in the List Art Center lobby as part of “Recent Acquisitions: Photography and Abstraction” — a photo exhibit that runs from Jan. 19 to May 26. The second of List’s recent exhibits showcasing new

additions to its photography collection, “Recent Acquisitions” was curated by Jo-Ann Conklin, director of the Bell Gallery. The exhibit is meant to give a platform to artists like Jacobson, who meditate on the abstract and its power to manipulate subject and interpretation. “Recent Acquisitions” features photographs that express subjects and themes in a myriad of abstractions, whether it be through the use of color, space, frame or material. Some pieces seem to intentionally question the audience’s definitions and expectations of abstraction as a label for art. “There is always that question about photography of whether you can do

something that is truly abstract,” given that the form captures the life references in front of the lens, Conklin said. Jacobson’s series involves photographs of the real world and explores the common theme of rectangles in our physical space. “I wanted to synthesize that down and find the essence of that rectangle and then create my own image that used it as a primary subject,” Jacobson said. In “Place (Series) #512,” what seems like a simple red square against a white background, is actually a photograph of a red card lying against a wall. “The picture refers to abstraction because it eliminates a lot of

information, and photography sits between the middle,” Jacobson added. “It raises the question of what is abstract.” “The argument on abstraction really exists on levels of information of what we know in our conscious brain,” he said. “Once things start to elude (to) what we consciously know, it is very easy to lump it into this realm of abstraction instead of defining and saying what it is.” Some works in the gallery were not only images; they explored interrelated materials, which alter the audience’s perception. Iman Husain ‘22, who visited the exhibit, was particularly interested in Christiane Feser’s “Modell Konstrukt

97, 2015.” “The two-dimensional image and the sculpted three-dimensional qualities really challenge the expectations of a certain material,” Husain said Miranda Luiz ‘22, another visitor, was intrigued by Marilyn Bridges’ “Geometrics, Lone Wolf, Oklahoma, 1987” because of its study on the reflexive relationship between humans and the environment. “It’s not obvious that the photo is of farmland. The scene seems alien and distant, especially because it is cropped,” she said. Bill Jacobson will be returning to the University on March 12 for a lecture.

» PASSING, from page 1

community affected by Povell’s passing through Counseling and Psychological Services, University Chaplains and Student Support Services.

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» BAI, from page 1 the studio and around the city. Over the course of the program, about 20 alum artists invited students into their work spaces — including various personal studios, the Hockney Foundation, the LA Louver Gallery and Sony Pictures. The artists shared details about their artistic processes, along with pragmatic advice about embarking on a career in the arts. Students in the course, who are practicing visual, musical and literary artists, worked toward a final forty-five minute presentation on a potential project of their own, after which a panel of alum gave feedback. Edwards hopes the course allows for continuous dialogue between student and alum artists.“The alums are so generous when it comes to meeting Brown students,” she said, noting that their generosity was not limited to the students alone. “Everyone we talked to was engaged in social justice concerns and the community at large.” The artists and industry professionals who spoke with the class included film and television producer Nina Jacobson ’87, painter Loren Holland ’02 and composer Gabe Sokoloff ’06. Eve O’Shea ’20, a visual artist in the class whose practice focuses on painting and printmaking, said that seeing the studios of other artists was one of her favorite parts of the course. Although the fields represented by these professionals varied, O’Shea still found common ground, noting that “there was a lot of discussion (about) the art world in general.” Even when the discussion turned to a specific kind of art, O’Shea said that “to talk to those people and see what they’re doing firsthand is super interesting.” O’Shea added that alums could


BAI’s first Wintersession course allowed students to travel to Los Angeles, visit art studios and learn from Brown alum artists about their career paths. The course provided opportunities for students and alums to build connections and begin what participants hope will be a lasting relationship. offer very specific advice in this conversation because of their similar backgrounds. “It was like meeting people you already know in some strange way, because they went to Brown,” she said.

Some alums were able to trace their intellectual paths back to the work they did during their time at the University. “A lot of alums talked about . . . the impact of the work that they started doing at Brown,” Edwards said,

which often represented an artistic beginning “that remained a core part of the current work.” Rovan emphasized the immersive nature of the constant discussion among both students and alums.

Whether around a table, in a car or in a gallery, “the conversation kept going . . . about what it meant to be a creative artist today,” he said. “It was basically like a two-and-a-half-week seminar that never stopped.”

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Source: NBC News


» BETTING, from page 1 The attendees at the meeting were primarily concerned with shortening wait times for placing bets. These waits can be “up to an hour” at Tiverton during conference games, which minimizes the casino’s opportunity to increase their betting revenue, said Joe Moore, Tiverton Casino Hotel General Manager. Both casinos hope to decrease the wait times by hiring more staff and adding additional tills and kiosks, he added. The casinos also aim to launch a mobile on-site app by

» EXHIBITION, from page 1 Herbarium boasts over 500 botanical specimens from the Cat Swamp area, mostly collected in the late 1800s. William Whitman Bailey, the first professor of botany at Brown, was instrumental in collecting many of the these specimens. Richard Ring, the deputy executive director for collections and interpretation at the Historical Society, explained that they possessed over 200 botanical illustrations by the 19th-century artist Edward Lewis Peckham. When the curators cross examined Peckham’s illustrations with the Herbarium collection, they realized the overlap of species from the Cat Swamp area. Karen Asher, former president of the Rhode Island Wild Plant Society, described how she was immediately in awe of the beauty of Peckham’s drawings. “Nobody had even heard of this guy — Edward Peckham — and the quality of his work is like the quality of Audubon,” she said. The exhibit presents Peckham’s illustrations with specimens of the

end of June. In conjunction with more kiosks, the app will allow people to place bets faster without waiting in long lines. The casino representatives also see potential for these tactics to mitigate large crowds during upcoming popular events like the Super Bowl and March Madness. While the lines cause logistical problems, they demonstrate “pent-up demand” for sports betting, said Paul Grimaldi, public information officer for the Department of Revenue. “The easier we make it, the more likely it will generate more income,” he added.

same species, along with descriptions, poems, maps, quotes and even journals of Bailey and Peckham. Many of these species of wildflowers can no longer be found in Providence, although it is possible to see them in other parts of Rhode Island. “It’s a lesson in what happens to biological diversity as urban development gradually takes over an area,” Whitfeld said. The showcase is also in collaboration with the project Year of the City, “a yearlong initiative throughout the city of Providence to exhibit in all of the neighborhoods of Providence something about the history of Providence,” said Tiffini Bowers, exhibition curator at the John Hay Library. Bowers described how the intersection of science, art and history in “Entwined” makes it a natural fit. “Entwined” will be displayed at the John Hay exhibition gallery through April 30. The exhibit is the result of a collaboration between the Rhode Island Historical Society, the Rhode Island Wild Plant Society, the Brown Herbarium and the John Hay Library.

From attendees at the meeting, there was a sense of general optimism and support for sports betting and its impact on the state as a whole and the cities surrounding the casinos. “I don’t think traffic has increased, I haven’t heard of any problems from my constituents or anybody else in the area,” Sen. Thomas J. Paolino , D-Lincoln, North Providence, North Smithfield, said. “It seems to be a win-win right now for everybody.” But it is difficult to determine how much R. I. is currently profiting from sports betting, Grimaldi said. As of

last December, sports betting book revenue was $957,913, according to the Rhode Island lottery’s fiscal year 2019 report. Even so, the long-term impact of sports betting in the state is still unknown. “If (citizens)take a dollar that they were going to spend on the movies, or out to dinner somewhere, and they come here and bet on sports, is the state of Rhode Island necessarily better off?” Grimaldi added. It will likely be a year before “we see if all those phases work out.” Nationally, the legalization of

sports betting incites fears of increased cases of gambling addiction, according to US News. However, Rhode Island casinos are attempting to tackle this health concern. “Twin River has a long established partnership with a mental health consortium here in Rhode Island,” Grimaldi said. He added that the casino currently pays $125,000 a year for counselors and counseling sessions for people with gambling problems. “Like everything else we’ll keep an eye on things and if we think we need to devote more resources to it we will,” Grimaldi said.




university’s most polarizing figure


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Since 2016, Blueno has become the stuff of legends. Students have tried to glimpse the blue bear from every angle before he retires. It turns out that his best angle is an aerial view from Lyman Hall showcasing his right ear.


“Many people have described Will as a facilitator and teacher … bringing sides together with attention to crossword

detail, wit and a big smile, making debates funny and

friendly instead of confrontational.

— Ugur Cetintemel and Tom Doeppner, professors of computer science

See passing on page 1. CORRECTION Due to an editing error, a previous version of the Jan. 28 article, “Wrestling drops matches against Cornell, Binghamton,” stated that Reese Fry’s weight class is 133 lbs, when in fact the actual weight class is 135 lbs. In addition, a previous version of this article stated that Trey Keeley bested Steven Bulzomi by a score of 5-3, when in fact the actual score was 4-3. The Herald regrets the error. A previous version of the Jan. 28 article, “Fencing posts impressive weekend in second NFC meet,” stated that women’s foil bested Brandeis College 8-1, when in fact women’s foil lost to Brandeis 1-8. In addition, a previous version of this article stated that Elena Jin ‘21 posted a 13-2 mark in women’s foil, when in fact her mark was 10-2. The Herald regrets the error.





















Wellness at Brown!: There’s an Alien in My Refrigerator 1:00 P.M. Faculty Club

Lecture: Jonathan B. Fine, Brown University 4:00 P.M. 190 Hope Street

Introduction to Artstor & Luna Insight 4:00 P.M. Rockefeller Library

Sci-Fi/Fantasy Book Club 7:30 P.M. Smith-Buonanno Hall





















Uproot Plant-Based Milk Tasting 7:30 A.M. Sharpe Refectory

Bias Incident Reporting System Info Session 10:00 A.M. Petteruti Lounge

Brown/RISD Common Good Internship and Job Fair 12:00 P.M. Sayles Hall

Gathering to Honor the Life of Will Povell ‘20 4:00 P.M. Leung Gallery



Missionary impossible BENJAMIN BOSIS staff columnist If you’ve been a Brown student for any period of time, you’ve probably heard about sin awareness day. For most of us, this inevitable part of the semester boils down to a few days each year when everyone’s Snapchat stories are full of videos of a couple guys yelling indistinguishably atop a box outside Faunce arch. Sometimes they pass out papers to the more unsuspecting students, but for the most part they are relatively easy to ignore. These disorganized, but undeniably motivated individuals can represent anything from a minor nuisance to a meaningful (or at the very least, interesting) interaction. Thankfully, which one of those it becomes more or less falls on you — both when interacting with sin awareness day speakers and any member of the community on College Hill. Over the summer I worked at the CareerLAB, and as such got a chance to walk past Jose — the guy who sells various handmade goods by the bookstore — on a regular basis. During the semester, not only am I generally more in a hurry, but he is also usually more occupied. The summer presented a bit of a perfect storm of boredom for both him and me, and we wound up talking for nearly ten minutes each day. We told each other about our lives, discussed the importance of learning other languages and even began to teach each other different words in Russian and Spanish every day. Once the semester start-

ed again, our routine was disrupted, but we chat back and forth as we can. His presence has completely shifted for me — what was once just a table to walk around has become a friend whose hellos contribute meaningfully to my day. On the other hand, it is worth engaging not just with those whom you like and appreciate, but also with those who may seem to more negatively impact your day. As a second semester senior, there aren’t too many

a story to tell your friends. When it comes to the sin awareness day folks, the extent to which they attempt to use guilt about lifestyle to drive people to Christianity always manages to get under my skin. Ineffective as it might be, guilt has no place being used as a weapon against members of the Brown community. As such, I have some ideas about trying to beat them at their own game that I have never been bold enough to use, but that I suggest anyone with the time

Meeting people, conversing with them and engaging with their experiences (whether positively or negatively!) are what make up the stories we will take with us from Brown into the rest of our lives.

things I’ve always wanted to do at Brown that I’ve never really gotten around to, but for some reason a big one of those is interacting with the sin awareness day people — an opportunity which has unfortunately come and gone for me. Not to suggest that these people could become my friends like Jose, but they likewise present an opportunity for interaction outside my daily routine — the kind of interaction that can become

and interest give a try. As someone who was raised in the church, nothing would satisfy me more than to make these people feel bad about their actions on their own terms. I would be very curious, for example, to hear their response to 1 Corinthians, in which Paul asks the question “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.”

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“missionaries” to an unreached community, they fall far below the standard set out by the Great Commission. God does the work of saving, and merely asks that his followers plant the seeds; surely there is a more effective place to introduce the idea of Christianity than in the middle of a Western-educated, originally Protestant community? Jesus called his followers to demonstrate their transformation by stepping out of their

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Or what would they say to Matthew, who directs Christians to “not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged.” From a Christian perspective, the idea that God hates all sin is true. But what God expects of Christian communities is not to hold nonChristians to their arbitrary moral standard, but to guard against hypocrisy among themselves. Even on the grounds that these people might consider themselves

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comfort zone and taking the message of the gospel to the ends of the earth. Paul himself boasted about facing horrible abuse and danger in the name of reaching the unreached. In Matthew 7, Jesus explains that only those who really pursue this calling will reach heaven. If I were them, I would not be so confident that driving a few minutes to yell about sin into a microphone was what Jesus meant when He said “Faith without works is dead.” Since sin awareness day this year has passed, I wanted to share these thoughts in the hope that someone will be able to get the satisfaction out of an interaction that I never had. Sure — it takes a lot of time out of your day, and might seem like more effort than it’s worth, but these kinds of encounters are what make life interesting, and what breaks us out of the routine that so often gets us down. Meeting people, conversing with them and engaging with their experiences (whether positively or negatively!) are what make up the stories we will take with us from Brown into the rest of our lives. Brown is about learning even when you are outside the classroom; our community attracts some of the most interesting, and certainly unique, people you may ever get the chance to meet — don’t miss out on the chance to learn from them in whatever ways you can!

Benjamin Bosis ’19 can be reached at benjamin_bosis@ brown.edu. Please send responses to this opinion to letters@browndailyherald.com and op-eds to opinions@ browndailyherald.com.

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Toward more informed and honest recycling EMILY MILLER opinions editor Corporations have been known to capitalize on environmental sustainability to increase customer favor without clearly outlining the impact of their efforts. This should be no surprise: these companies pay to promote their business, not cure the ills of the world. Thus, their clarion call to consumers — a tantara of half truths — makes consumers believe they have made a positive choice. Thus, the recycling bin has become an all-magic chimera to throw in anything made of plastic, foil or paper, absolving consumers and corporations of their environmental impacts. For example, the massively popular conglomerate Starbucks announced that by 2020 it would replace its plastic straws with “Nitro lids.” Straws can rarely be recycled due to their composition and small size; the new lid, though it has more plastic, is made of a commonly recycled material. Many consumers hailed Starbucks’ decision, and with this imprimatur came an immediately demonstrable financial impact — a significant jump in the price of Starbucks’ stock. Yet, we should not let Starbucks (or ourselves) off the hook. On our end, these lids must be recycled in order to reduce the amount of plastic in landfills, so please do so. For Starbucks, they still need to address a much larger problem for which a solution has not yet been found — the six-billion cardboard cups lined with plastic deposited in landfills each year. Even if a customer recycles a Starbucks cup, many recycling centers are ill-equipped to process the materials, and these cups actually contaminate the rest of the load. Starbucks should acknowledge the shortcomings of recycling, research the guides of the nearby recycling plants and post customized signs informing consumers of the materials that can be recycled in the area. This honest and transparent version of sustainability benefits the planet and its consumers much more than a blanket claim of alleviating environmental pollution. But while its name is easily recognizable to us, Starbucks is only a microcosm of a global problem. One


of the most significant environmental concerns is that some materials widely accepted as recyclable are in fact not. And misplacement of materials in recycling facilities has se-

rules about what it would no longer accept, including all post-consumer plastic and mixed paper. China also requires that recycled material only be 0.5 percent impure; batches that

out an adjoining recycling bin. Businesses that join the Thayer Street enclave have begun to accommodate their clientele’s sustainable bent. Yet, lackadaisical attitudes continue to

Thus, the recycling bin has become an all-magic chimera to throw in anything made of plastic, foil or paper, absolving consumers and corporations of their environmental impacts.

rious negative consequences. The successful and complete recycling of materials largely depends on the facility to which it is being sent — ­ items and requirements drastically vary. For instance, plastic bags cannot be recycled unless sent to specialized facilities. In addition, China, to which many states export their recycling, recently tightened its

do not meet this standard are sent to the landfill. This environmental issue and others manifest themselves far closer to home. Brown has prided itself on creating an environmentally-friendly campus. Brown students can no longer buy on-campus single-use plastic water bottles, sip from plastic straws or find a trash can with-

exist on Brown’s campus. Too often, Brown students engage in “aspirational recycling,” by recycling items in hope that they can and will be recycled, or easily filtered out if they cannot be. Moreover, companies obfuscate the extent to which recycling can occur, leading to further contamination. One example on Thayer Street

is by Chloe. by Chloe sells exclusively vegan food with a myriad of meat substitutes, which positively impacts the environment because meat consumption leaves a huge carbon footprint. by Chloe has been rewarded with $31 million in funding from investors to expand. However, by Chloe’s local recycling system could improve to the paradigm set by its sustainable food choices. Commendably, the restaurant has chosen recyclable service material. Now, if only it would specify what can be recycled. Materials containing food scraps cannot be recycled and, similar to coffee cups, can contaminate an entire load. by Chloe does not alert its customers of this fact and instead allows them to incorrectly recycle. Companies on and off of Thayer Street must do more to guide consumers in order to claim the profit from sustainability. I am certainly not disparaging companies who have committed themselves to becoming more environmentally friendly. I embrace any and all steps toward helping our environment. However, I wish to encourage best practices from companies who attempt to capitalize on sustainability and to exhort them to deliver real and lasting environmental improvement. Superficial benefits, which only complicate the disposal chain, too often go in the other direction. It is of limited or no value to lead consumers to believe they have “done their good deed” and thereafter become complacent or blind to instances of environmental degradation caused by their own choices. Ignoring basic rules of recycling in order to claim sustainability can be counterproductive. Companies must be more knowledgeable, and thereafter more open and honest about what can be recycled, if they really wish to promote sustainability. But it is everyone’s responsibility to be committed to protecting the environment. For consumers, I follow a piece of somewhat illogical advice — when in doubt, throw it out.

Emily Miller ’19 can be reached at emily_miller@brown.edu. Please send responses to this opinion to letters@browndailyherald.com and other op-eds to opinions@ browndailyherald.com.



Govt. shutdown delays meetings between fishermen, Vineyard Wind Public comment meetings about planned wind farm project pushed back indefinitely By ISABEL INADOMI SENIOR STAFF WRITER

Despite the partial federal government shutdown ending, public comment meetings led by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management regarding Vineyard Wind’s plan to construct an offshore wind-turbine farm have been indefinitely postponed, according to David Bernhardt, acting secretary of the interior. Meetings were scheduled Jan. 8, 9, 15, 16 and 17 but were continually pushed back as the government shutdown extended and BOEM workers were forced to stay home. Bernhardt tweeted Jan. 24 that BOEM would “reschedule public meetings for the Vineyard Wind offshore renewable project very soon,” but gave no timeline on the issue. Despite the delay in public comment meetings, “construction activities on the site will begin by the end of this year” if all permits are secured, Vineyard Wind spokesman Scott Farmelant said. “Every single permit is expected to be getting in by the end of the third quarter or early in the fourth quarter,” he added. Vineyard Wind has a tax credit from the federal government should they begin building in 2019, so the timeline for construction is crucial. “They’re eligible for 12 percent tax credit if they begin construction this year,” Farmelant said. “That program is expiring as of right now.” Vineyard Wind is confident the project will remain on schedule despite the effects of the shutdown, Farmelant said. BOEM requires that offshore wind companies hold public comment meetings in Rhode Island because it impacts economic activities such as fishing, according to The Providence Journal. But with the delay of these public meetings, many local fishermen

feel as though they have lost out on the opportunity to voice their opinions on the issue, according to Greg Mataronas, a R.I. fisherman. Though an online commenting portal was open on BOEM’s website until Jan. 22, where fishermen could write up formal comments expressing their concerns, Mataronas finds the in-person meetings to be much

all,” Mataronas said. “As a fisherman, it just feels rushed.” Fisherman are concerned that the construction of the wind farm would render the area unfishable, Mataronas said. They fear that there will not be enough space in between the turbines, and that the project is dependent on old data that could prove inaccurate, and therefore damaging toecosystems.

suggested their project may decrease access for fishermen to their usual fishing grounds. To compensate, Vineyard Wind offered $6.2 million to fishermen for this lost access Jan. 17, according to the Providence Journal . BOEM also reduced the original amount of sea they were considering for lease to wind farm companies by 60 percent due to fishing concerns,

“selected by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to build an 800 megawatt offshore wind farm,” R.I. has its own interest in seeing Vineyard Wind completed as a large-scale offshore wind project, said Nick Ucci, deputy commissioner of energy of the R.I. Office of Energy Resources. Rhode Island is looking into projects of its own that would help meet the energy


The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management requires that offshore wind companies hold public comment meetings in Rhode Island because of its impact on economic activities like fishing. With the delay of the public meetings, many fishermen are concerned they have lost their chance to voice concerns. more useful. “A lot of times you get guys into the room that don’t necessarily have the time or the capacity to be writing formal, written comments into BOEM,” Mataronas said. Many fishermen are unhappy with the pace of the project. Regarding BOEM’s role specifically, “they haven’t done a great job with this process at

“There’s not a lot of actual, physical, current research being applied in the areas that they’re looking at developing in,” Mataronas said. “A lot of it is not sufficient for knowing the effects of the wind farm once it’s put up.” These public comment meetings are also important for fishermen because Vineyard Wind has already

The Herald previously reported. Without the public comment meetings and BOEM as an intermediary, Mataronas has found communication with Vineyard Wind difficult. “As far as meaningful talks, there hasn’t been a whole lot of that past few months,” Mataronas said. While Vineyard Wind was

goals set by Gov. Gina Raimondo in 2017, aiming at achieving 1,000 megawatts of clean energy by 2020. While Vineyard Wind’s clean electricity won’t add to this goal, since it will be connected to Massachussett’s power grid, the permit process would help pave the way for ensuing projects in Rhode Island, Ucci said.


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