Thursday, July 22, 2010

...and I didn't use "stamp your little feet" once!

As someone who has dealt with food pantries -- not out of need but because of munificent largess -- the tale of the Singing Out Against Hunger brouhaha in Tiverton (there are links to newspaper discussions of the topic at their site) distresses me beyond mere nostalgia for the good old days in the old neighborhood.
I do not adorn my memories of that peninsula in chimerica. The native locals hundreds of years ago named it "The Most Beautiful Spot" and that very same "Nanaquaket" remains quite enticing.
One is never far from the salt water smell of Nanaquaket Pond or the Sakonnet River and a serene rurality still embraces the manicured lawns and sculpted foliage. When I grew up on it, the Neck was a friendly place, full of well-sauced garden tenders, readily-available unminded small sailcraft, and private-school upperclassmen eager with lacrosse tips.
On some Summer nights, a breeze might waft a not unpleasant redolence of fried seafood across the pond... French fries... clam cakes... and fried clams. Have you been to Evelyn's Drive In recently?
Here's The Gluttony Network's Augustus T. Slobberchops:Recently, the owners of Evelyn's have provided their drive-in as one of the venues for "Singing Out Against Hunger," an annual shindig that has raised over $50,000 (some say $60,000) over the past seven years for Rhode Island's East Bay Community Action Program. That outfit provides help to, according to their website...

Head Start and Early Head Start services; family health and dental services; family development case management services including social service information and referral and basic human needs; youth programs; the East Bay Coalition for the Homeless; Heating and Energy Services; the Women, Infants and Children Supplemental Feeding and Nutrition Program (WIC) and senior services including case management, senior employment, the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), Foster Grandparents and the Ocean State Senior Dining Program (meals in a social setting).
I know a little about non-profit fundraising (he said with no small degree of ironical litotes). A fundraiser that nets NINE THOUSAND DOLLARS is an exceptional event. That is a remarkable return for even the most complex beg. Considering that sum is raised over a weekend of local and amateur musical performances is precious and laudable.
The Nanaquaket where I grew up would have seen an effort like Singing Out Against Hunger as both a welcome diversion and compelling evidence that compassion, philanthropic duty and creative solutions to common problems still led their neighbors. The bank president across the street would have walked over with a sizable donation (orchestrated of course, to coincide with a visit from a newspaper photographer). Cans and cash collected in a bin at the entrance to the mill would show up, coordinated by the factory owner next door. The lawyer would have likely donated the sound equipment. Simple gestures to them, and the extra noise on a Summer evening?
"What noise?"
But there are those today who cringe at terms like "health and human services," "moral obligation" and "501(c)(3)." A few Tiverton residents have insisted that the event be truncated and toned down, and the Town Council sides with the whiny minority and has curtailed the performance and fundraising hours to a degree, forbidding amplification.
As far as I can tell, the Town Council has not put in place a noise ordinance forbidding amplification every other night. Just the one particular event. September 10, 11, 12.
Because a few people bellyached.
Where else do we see such inordinate fawning to intemperate and vocal self-centeredness?
Besides in undisciplined pre-schools, I mean?

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