In an encore of The Business Beat, Steve Jones-D’Agostino, strategic partner of Susan Wagner PR + Best Rate of Climb, interviews Charlene Perkins Cutler, executive director of the John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor. They talk about creating a sustainable environment, economy, and place. This episode aired originally on March 15, 2015.
Created by an act of Congress in 1986, the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor is the second in the country to be so designated. The Corridor includes 25 cities and towns in a watershed that stretches from the headwaters in Worcester to Narragansett Bay in Providence.
In the Corridor, the industrialization of America began with the first water-powered cotton mill in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. What followed, was the development of mill villages along the Blackstone River and its tributaries into Massachusetts, spreading across the Valley in a pattern that can still be seen and experienced today. This heritage also includes pre-colonial and Native American resources and history, as well as waves of immigration and diversity of culture that continue today.
Blackstone Valley Corridor partners see the Valley as many interconnected systems that make up the whole. From this broad-based systems understanding, the partners have committed to work together on three key areas of a Sustainable Blackstone Valley: sustainable environment; sustainable economy; and, sustainable place, referring to land use, transportation, built form, and preservation of culture and history.
In December 2014, Congress passed and President Obama signed legislation to expand the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor. The region of national significance will now include the town of Auburn and a larger portion of the city of Providence. The legislation also reauthorized the Blackstone Heritage Corridor for six additional years of federal funding - a boost to its continuing work to tell the story of the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution, and restore the environment of the Blackstone River.
Also in December, Congress approved and President Obama signed a bill to create the long-awaited National Park for the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor.
Since September 2014, Charlene Perkins Cutler, has been executive director of the Heritage Corridor, which is based in Woonsocket. The charitable, non-profit organization’s mission is “to work with community partners to preserve and promote the Valley’s historic, cultural, natural, and recreational resources for current and future generations.”