Embracing the Vision of the ‘Glass Half Full’
‘Jay and Karen share positivity and an optimistic view of our nation’s future, as we navigate the ‘choppy waters’ of 2020.’
The concept of American Exceptionalism is forged in the belief that our nation and its founding represent a unique moment in human history. A nation founded as an experiment in democracy and committed to the principles of liberty, equality and justice. But, it is also a belief in the ‘goodness’ of America; that our intentions as a nation are pure and that we are committed to continually progressing in advancing towards our ideals.
When we first started writing The Sunshine Report, my aspiration was for it to be a platform that could inspire positive energy for those who read it, ultimately leading to positive action, and eventually, positive change in both their lives and in their communities. It started small in my hometown of Newport, New Hampshire, but now almost two years later, we’re reaching people throughout the United States and beyond.
Even though much of what we read and watch in popular media would have you think otherwise, as I look back on this time and to the future of this country we call home, I am greatly encouraged by what I see. I see a place that continues to adapt and effectively respond to one of the most challenging public health crises we’ve ever faced. I see positive dialogue and action being taken by folks of many different economic circumstances, creeds and colors attempting to find common ground and who are committed to the American ideals of ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all’. In fact, what I see is what makes this country exceptional amongst all the others.
The reality is that when this country was founded, it began as an experiment in democracy, in liberty, and for justice. At no point in human history had mankind endeavored to create a nation whose basis for existence, its core pillars and principles, were that of individual freedom. What has always made this country exceptional is that while we may not be perfect, we have a hunger to strive for what makes us better. Even in the moments where we may fall short, we get back up on our feet and continue to pursue that which allows us to be a force for good in the world. We are at a critical moment in our history, in this uniquely American experiment. We must once again believe in our own ability to be exceptional, to rise to the occasion, to ensure we do not squander the immediacy of this moment.
There’s the story of an American diplomat who, on a visit to Singapore was asked by their former prime minister where he could access the “box”. “The box?”, the diplomat replied. The prime minister responded, “You know, the box with the secret for how Americans continually reinvent themselves.” Now is the time to access that box, to once again recommit ourselves, and reconfirm our own exceptionalism. God bless America!
Newport – A True Underdog Story
Newport is on the move and Newport’s economic resurgence is a true ‘underdog story.’ Better yet, it’s the best kind of ‘underdog story’ – the kind where the underdog is on the way to victory!
In movies, books, and in sports, we all love to cheer for the underdog. When I look at my hometown of Newport, NH, for some time, we’ve played a bit of the underdog, like many small towns across America. Yet, this underdog has great momentum – as evidenced by the incredible amount of progress the town has made in just a few short years.
In its heyday, Newport had a bustling downtown full of thriving retailers packed with shoppers on any given night. It was the beneficiary of the Industrial Revolution like so many towns in the northeast and midwest. As the economy shifted in recent decades, the loss of major manufacturers in the area and a fading textile industry left Newport at a crossroads. But this was not enough to break the community’s spirit.
New municipal leadership, a dynamic school district, a dedicated Chamber of Commerce, and a business community deeply invested in the success of the town helped bring Newport to where it is today. Our little town is starting to make a name for itself. Businesses have been moving in, people are moving to the area, and investors are looking to Newport. Our community is also getting ready for years of future growth by expanding infrastructure. A new water intake system is about to go under construction, the Town is developing a new well site, and a movement is underway to connect Newport to the Upper Valley Region, the home of Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center and Dartmouth College, by a public bus route.
However, this success has not been without its fair share of challenges. Specifically, 2020, with the global pandemic and the related major economic dislocations have presented Newporter’s with unprecedented hurdles. Nonetheless, even these forces couldn’t stop Newport’s momentum. Newport business have not only found new ways to reach customers but have also stepped up to fight the pandemic. We have brought manufacturing companies to town along with eateries and new retail businesses during the past 6 months. Now, Newport retailers and manufacturers are as busy as ever!
When we launched the Newport Sunshine Initiative in early 2018, we had one simple goal - let’s make Newport the best it can be. It is this combined community effort that has helped make Newport what it is today. While there is still much work to be done, we are on the right track. Seeing Newport make this incredible comeback not only makes me excited for what the coming years have in store for the Sunshine Town, but also makes me enthusiastic for how small towns across the country can similarly rewrite their futures – and achieve triumphant underdog stories of their own.
Newport, Sports, and Changing Lives
‘Newport area, 16 year-old, Vera Rivard, successfully swims the English Channel’
Participation in sports can change lives in remarkably positive ways. We reach out with admiration and awe to celebrate the achievement of Vera Rivard, who successfully swam the English Channel this past week – at the age of only 16! From England to France – 21 miles in only 14 hours. Not only that, but recently she also successfully swam around the entire island of Manhattan!
Vera and her family live in Springfield, NH, located near Newport, and the remarkable story of Vera’s achievements has a unique tie to the Sunshine Town. She developed her passion for swimming at a very young age just up the road at the Upper Valley Aquatic Center in White River Junction, Vermont. And the ‘tie’ to the Sunshine Town is the ‘back story’ on the building of the Aquatic Center – that has given Vera and other young swimmers the opportunity to pursue their dreams and achieve personal excellence.
The story involves our wonderful Newport Town Manager Hunter Rieseberg. Earlier in his career, Hunter was the Town Manager in White River, and while there had the vision and belief that a first-class Aquatic Center could be a key element in the revitalization of the economically challenged community. Not only would it serve as a magnet to draw people to the town, but it could also give residents, young and old, the benefits of healthy competition, achievement and personal fitness in a way that only a facility of this quality could provide. Hunter followed through and was instrumental in the effort to build and finance the Center.
So, while we highlight and enthusiastically celebrate Vera and her absolutely amazing achievements, we also ‘tip our hat’ to Hunter for his role in this ‘back story’ and his unique, ‘behind the scenes’ contribution to this remarkable success.
Positive Profile of the Week: Ryan Lent
This week, I would like to share the story of a man who represents qualities that are so vitally important to the building of a positive community. I am proud to introduce you to Ryan Lent.
Residing in the seacoast community of Rye, Ryan is a small business owner, working hard day after day, growing his business operations. He is the founder of The Card Guys, a terrific sports memorabilia and collectibles business located in Portsmouth, as well as the owner of Lent Investments, LLC.
Importantly, Ryan is also deeply devoted to youth sports and has been for many years. A graduate of Portsmouth High School and Nichols College, he played football and lacrosse at the college level. Moreover, Ryan has continued to share his passion for sports even today. Not only is he the Head Football Coach at St. Thomas Aquinas in Dover, NH, in addition to all of his business and family responsibilities, but he is an enthusiastic mentor to the young athletes that he coaches. Ryan goes way beyond the ‘extra mile’ in helping them to steer their lives on the right path. He cares deeply about their futures, working with them to find opportunities beyond their high school years.
Earlier this year, Ryan also took another major step. ‘Tired of the vitriol,’ as Ryan describes it, he made the decision to run for State Representative from his hometown of Rye. Ryan wants to make a positive contribution, advancing the spirit of neighborly compassion in the otherwise often divisive world of politics.
A strong believer in the ‘Live Free or Die’ spirit, committed to fiscal responsibility and removing obstacles and needless regulations that impede the small business owner, Ryan represents values that are fundamentally ‘in sync’ with maintaining The New Hampshire Advantage.
We love Ryan’s positive, ‘can do’ spirit. In fact, the truth is that if there were more Ryan Lent’s, every community, as well as the world, would be a better place.
Quotes of the Week: American Exceptionalism
“If anyone, then, asks me the meaning of our flag, I say to him – it means just what Concord and Lexington meant; what Bunker Hill meant; which was, in short, the rising up of a valiant young people against an old tyranny to establish the most momentous doctrine that the world had ever known – the right of men to their own selves and to their liberties.”
“I was born an American; I will live an American; I shall die an American.”
“That America is an exceptional nation is unclear only to one who has not been taught its true history. It ceases to be exceptional only when its representative leaders cease to be exceptional. America, it has been said, is a nation of laws, not of men. The more it becomes a nation of men, the less it remains America.”
“For a long time it has been accepted that Americans have excelled and exceeded because of their form of government; that the Constitution was a brilliant document that created the greatest industrial, financial, military and commercial power ever to exist. But, the Constitution did not create Americans; Americans created it. No other people could have conceived of the form of government we call our own.”
“The flag of the United States has not been created by rhetorical sentences in declarations of independence and in bills of rights. It has been created by the experience of a great people, and nothing is written upon it that has not been written by their life. It is the embodiment, not of a sentiment, but of a history.”