Letter: Little Compton signs send mixed inclusivity messages

Posted 11/18/20

To the editor:

A few months ago my family took an opportunity provided by a friend to leave our urban life and spend 9 months in Little Compton, Rhode Island. As the media has described in vivid …

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Letter: Little Compton signs send mixed inclusivity messages

Posted

To the editor:

A few months ago my family took an opportunity provided by a friend to leave our urban life and spend 9 months in Little Compton, Rhode Island. As the media has described in vivid detail, between COVID-19 and the racial tensions exacerbated by police violence in Philadelphia, things have felt a bit (in the words of my mother) rough lately. Like so many of us, our jobs suddenly went remote in the spring, and given we were confident we wouldn’t be expected back in person any time soon, we decided to ditch our small city condo for a large, spacious, beautiful house on Sakonnet Point.

We have loved each and every corner we have experienced. From the fresh seafood to the daily (getting frigid!) swims to the evening walks, we have been at peace in your beautiful town. Your gorgeous, craggy shorelines are sure to be some of our sweetest lasting memories. And we have found, as a community, you are among the friendliest and most welcoming, even at a social distance. We have been so grateful, while at the same time recognizing that we are among the few privileged enough to make this kind of experience happen.

As we have explored your beautiful peninsula, I’ve noted, similar to Philadelphia, the number of signs promoting inclusivity: Black Lives Matter, pride, fear has no home here, love not hate. At one point, hanging our own political signs for the election season, I felt motivated to make a sign that was less about politics and more about the moral and human love that was being expressed in all the postings I was seeing around town.

Which is why I feel particularly perplexed by the other signs I am regularly confronting: Keep Out, Private Way. In some instances, the signs are even more explicit: no walkers, no strollers, no bicycles, no tourists. These signs, often right next to a BLM banner (or the like), promote an exclusivity that seems at odds with the inclusivity this community practices. I understand concerns about cars accidentally coming down otherwise sleepy dead ends, or tourists parking on one-lane streets. But is the answer to ban all people from these private ways? Who are you trying to keep out and why?

There may be another way. Perhaps a sign that says “Dead end. No parking. Privately Maintained. If you would like to enter for the view/nature/fresh air, preferably not in your car, all are welcome.”

It seems that today the signal the signage in this beloved little town is suggesting is one of otherness. We support inclusivity as long as it does not disrupt our tranquility. I know, after only a few months here, that is simply not the ethos of this community. But it seems time the public postings are updated to reflect the current values of the town and the opportunity that nature creates for all.

Cornelia Colijn

Little Compton

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