Public Art: Telling the Hidden Stories of Mount Hope

Vicki Veh Neighborhood History Program

The historic East Side has been home to Black homeowners and residents since the early 19th century, when Moses Brown sold land on Olney to a formerly enslaved man, Noah Brown. The Mount Hope neighborhood was a diverse, integrated community until an urban renewal redevelopment project razed 57 acres and many generational homes. Despite continued displacement efforts of a multigenerational community, a stroll up Camp Street will demonstrate how gardens and murals act as sites of remembrance and preservation of the rich history of this community. Walking tour led by Dannie Ritchie, resident, neighborhood historian, and founder of Community Health Innovations of Rhode Island.

June 2 // 1:00 pm
Tour meets at the corner of Camp Street and Doyle Avenue
$12 PPS members, $15 general // Advance registration required

This program is part of the 2024 Festival of Historic Houses.

About the Presenter

Dannie Ritchie, MD, MPH, a University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Medicine graduate, completed residency in Family Medicine at Montefiore Medical Center, Albert Einstein School of Medicine, and master’s in public health at Brown University. Since completion of her MPH, Dannie Ritchie has focused her research on how public policy and social conditions promote health disparities. She works with Brown students, faculty and the diverse communities of Rhode Island to establish culturally appropriate community-driven health promotion. An academic appointment at Brown lets her teach undergraduates how the intersections of race, class, gender and policy (re)produce health disparities and inequity, and medical students on the social and community context of health. Dr Ritchie has been a part of Dr Lundy Braun’s Race in Medicine Workgroup since its inception in 2014.

As the lead of the Transcultural Community Health Initiative, 2003 – 2011, Ritchie led interdisciplinary, cross institutional and community groups to address health disparities and promote health equity. A major objective of this initiative has been to promote the recognition of the community health worker (CHW) workforce. The initiative has led to the development of an entry-level core skills CHW course.

Ritchie spearheaded the passing of RIGL- 23-64.1, forming the Commission on Health Advocacy and Equity of 2011. It requires health disparities reporting and diversification of the health workforce such as community health workers (CHW). In 2011, she established Community Health Innovation of Rhode Island (CHI-RI), an organization to act on the social determinants of health disparities and inequity. It works to increase the community embedded CHW workforce leading to community health governance and recognition as being part of our community health system. Here they implement programs to address community priorities as well as move policy and programs that address structural inequities to transform conditions for healthier people and communities.

Ritchie has also collaborated with the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training to produce a first-in-the-nation, statewide survey on the CHW workforce. Ritchie took the lead in performing a feasibility study that led to the formation of the CHW Association of Rhode Island. Her work with national leaders in the CHW section of the American Public Health Association led the Federal Department of Labor to classify the CHW as a professional occupation in July of 2010.

CHI-RI led by Ritchie focuses on housing, food sovereignty, and policing and is in collaboration with a number of local organizations that address housing and food policy. She established a Sharing Garden in the Mt Hope community, which offers programs for the community and a teen employment program with the intent to interrogate our current food system and foster food justice. In 2018, she established the Mount Hope Housing Coalition to get control of development and gentrification. She also leads a housing research seminar course that has produced such studies as an evaluation and documentation of wealth appropriation and displacement of Black families on the East side. This and mural projects in the community act in part to support and repair the community. It returns the history of the community to visibility, bringing it out of obscurity, out of the archive and placing it not only in its original contexts but understanding how the legacy of displacement is replicated.

Nationally, Ritchie is on the American Public Health Association CHW Section Policy Committee and Education Committee. She is a participant on the National CHW Common Indicators Project. She most recently has been invited to be a part of the Renewal Project. The Renewal Project is headed by Davarian Baldwin, the author of book “In the Shadow of the Ivy Tower” which critiques the role of universities in the political economies of U.S. cities, the Renewal Project documents the part universities have played in or benefited from Urban Renewal.

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