Publisher’s Note: Lighting the World

RIM's publisher, John Palumbo, muses on this year's class of Rhode Islanders of the Year.

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived, and lived well.”
–Ralph Waldo Emerson

Meet this year’s class of Rhode Islanders of the Year:

The owners of a small flower farm who donate the harvest grown from reclaimed, formerly contaminated land.

An organizer of the nation’s only lunar landing commemorative parade, complete with astronaut.

A cat rescue for feral felines with no formal address.

A disabled champion who will not give up.

A small business owner who believes no child should be shamed in school.

A kid with a troubled past who becomes a man who gives back without reservation.

Teen activists who make their voices heard about climate change and the need to take action.

A loving mom who allows herself to be the butt of jokes to further her daughter’s burgeoning career.

College students who build incredible playhouses for sick kids.

A middle schooler who has dreams of culinary greatness on a national stage.

An immigrant from Ethiopia who met the challenges of a new country and works tirelessly to teach young women to dream.

When we, as a team, came up with the concept of Rhode Islanders of the Year five years ago, our editors did not want to make it easy on themselves, “not the usual suspects, the folks in the limelight.” They wanted to find those who toil in obscurity, fueled by passion and who make a difference in so many discreet ways.

This year, they have once again done exactly that. These are the folks, if I may paraphrase Emerson, “that have made a difference because they have lived, and lived well.”

It is our privilege to present their body of work and add it to the growing list of past honorees who work on the fringes to make a difference.

Enjoy the Rhode. –J.J.P.