Gail Braccidiferro

World of Extremes

In the state’s smallest, most isolated, and most seasonal of towns, summer and winter are worlds apart. That’s something Block Island residents love–or leave.

The unseasonably warm temperatures on a late fall day are accompanied by a shroud of fog that is hindering Jim Fiorato’s ability to point out the most calendar-perfect scenes from his taxi. I’m on an informal tour of Block Island with him. And I’m finding that the fog, the village shorn of summer tourists, and the narrow roads empty of…

Outside These Walls

Harsh treatment isn’t reserved solely for prisoners at the state’s Adult Correctional Institute.

On a bright day in May 2007, I stand in a line of more than twenty-five mothers, fathers, siblings, children, sweethearts and friends waiting for a few precious minutes with a loved one. We’re all waiting to see people doing time at Rhode Island’s lone state prison, and we’ve already run part of the gauntlet required for a visit to…

The Rescuers

They’re not lawyers or social workers, but these volunteers go to court to advocate for abused kids when no one else can.

The wide fifth-floor corridor in the J. Joseph Garrahy Judicial Complex is teeming just before 9 a.m. On this typical weekday in downtown Providence, it is as busy as a day-before-Thanksgiving airport terminal. The hallway outside the family courtrooms is humid and stuffy as lawyers in pinstripes and business chic mingle with toddlers, men in jeans and work boots, teens…

Type A+

They share a common superlative—“most likely to succeed”—but these high achievers come from very different backgrounds.

They are wise beyond their years, focused and determined, challenging and inquisitive. Some have overcome major obstacles and hardships. The state’s top seniors in 2007 are similar only in their high academic and community achievements. They are diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic background, philosophy, interests and pursuits.They are now freshmen at an impressive array of colleges: Harvard,…

Pride Street

Westerly’s North End was a working class neighborhood in a downward spiral of seedy bars and drug dealers, until the residents fought to take back their streets.

As Adrian Pelchat and Tom Daniewicz walk through Westerly’s North End neighborhood, they wave to neighbors and call out pleasantries to friends. They point to houses and reel off names of families and businesses that have come and gone from the various buildings. They watch passing cars and carefully note the make, model and license plate numbers of the unfamiliar…

Birth Control

On a weekday morning, Providence’s Women and Infants’ Hospital buzzes with activity. Sliding glass doors open and shut every few seconds as people rush in and out. Hospital employees sit behind thick glass windows, directing patients and visitors through the labyrinth of corridors. In the brightly lit main lobby, white-coated medical professionals stride beside women whose coats no longer button…

Alone in a Crowd

First, there was the handwriting. Angus and Petrina Ross watched their thirteen-year-old daughter’s handwriting shrink to a painful, nearly microscopic script. Next, there were the noises. The teenager clapped her hands over her ears to shut out everyday sounds: the smack of iron against ironing board, the clatter of dishes and glasses, even her father’s breathing. Then, there was the…