Street Stories: Charles Feldman

Street Stories is an interview series with Providence residents about how they move around the our city by local photographer Brittanny Taylor. Would you like to share your story? Get in touch

Name, age, any personal identities you feel like sharing, neighborhood where you live.

Charles Feldman, 68 years old, and I live in downtown Providence. I live by myself. I’m affiliated with Oasis, a peer-run wellness & recovery center for people in recovery from mental illness, also located downtown. I’m currently laid off but hoping to be rehired as our activities are now on Zoom.

How do you typically travel around Providence? Is that working for you? How does it affect your life?

When COVID started, I took Lyft or Uber to avoid being on the bus, but that got to be too expensive, so I resumed taking the bus. People sit closer than 6 feet together on the bus, and sometimes they wear their masks below their noses, but so far, I have survived. When Oasis used to be further away, I would take the bus there or ride my bike in nice weather. I take the bus to my spiritual center, which is on the East Side, or on a nice day, I might walk there. I try to walk to go grocery shopping, but the bag of groceries is usually too heavy to walk home, so I take the bus home.

What are your views on how the elimination of Kennedy Plaza as the central bus hub will affect yourself and the people you know?

Because Oasis is located right downtown, when we start meeting in person again, that will be very disruptive if people cannot get a bus to Kennedy Plaza. There are times when I go from one end of town to the other, and Kennedy Plaza is very convenient for changing buses. Some Oasis members are elderly or physically disabled, so it would be difficult for them to change buses more than once. Even when Oasis was not downtown, it would have been difficult for people to go from one end of town to the other if Kennedy Plaza was not the central bus hub.

How would you ideally like to get around Providence, and what would need to happen to make that a reality?

A friend of mine in Hawaii told me that they are running extra buses due to COVID so that people don’t have to be packed in together. Aside from COVID, a central bus hub in Kennedy Plaza is the simplest way to go from one end of town to the other.

How could the City or RIPTA improve your experience getting around?

Running more buses not to be as crowded would be a good idea, both during COVID and, in general, on crowded routes. Before COVID, there was sometimes standing room only, and some buses would get very packed. After COVID, the restrooms at Kennedy Plaza could be kept open all day, and soap could be put in the soap dispensers, and the blow dryers could be kept in working order. I came across one of the following in Cambridge, and some of them could be installed in Providence: > These are outdoor toilets that can be used at any time.