Hello! My name is Helena and I'm a writer, editor & journalist in practice, and a seeker & collector of stories at heart.
I'm currently freelancing for a number of publications in Rhode Island, including Edible Rhody, Newport Life Magazine, South County Life Magazine, Newport This Week and The Independent newspaper. I'm drawn to local journalism, especially reporting on arts and culture in the form of features and profiles. To find & read all of these stories, check out my Authory page, where you can also sign up for emails to never miss a story (more coming out almost every week, promise).
In addition to my journalistic work, I also write essays that delve into topics of a more personal interest and that veer from the usual AP style; the latest is “The Ascent,” an account of an afternoon spent in Lesbos, Greece, in late June.
A part of why I write, and what I especially love about community-oriented journalism, is being able to share stories of ordinary people, living their everyday lives. Often, individuals who think their lives are the least interesting have the most wisdom to impart; they embody the shades of grey in a world many reduce to black and white. I, in turn, share these stories with the intention of connecting people, ideas, and communities, always with the hope that this creates more understanding and awareness (and compassion and empathy) between individuals.
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Some of the stories I've written lately include:
• A feature on five people in Newport who are “Cultivating Culture,” for Newport Life Magazine. This story was widely shared and is a particular favorite of mine.
• This past winter and spring I attended a few Tender Table events around Providence, which offer a platform for storytelling at the intersection of food, community and identity. This story was published in the fall issue of Edible Rhody.
• I’m never able to go very long without writing about art happenings, mostly because I like to know more about them, and love any reason to visit an artist in their studio or learn more about how a particular show came to be. Recently, I learned more about the Nicolas Party art installations at the Marble House, and the Mabel Art Residency at the Norman Bird Sanctuary, writing about both for Newport This Week. I also wrote about a group of artist who call themselves the “Pulparazzi” and convened for a show at the Jamestown Arts Center.
• Then there was the motley group of people who comprise Newport Bike Polo, a sport that puts camaraderie above competition.
• A pair of solo shows at Hera Gallery that showcased a contrast in style, and which inspired me to write: “The works hang across from each other like images from two different worlds, one bright with hints of red, the other dark with shades of blue. The juxtaposition is both jarring and curious, especially as the viewer steps closer to examine each piece and finds separate worlds of whimsy, where reality is sculpted and reshaped, albeit it in very different ways.”
• A profile of Isle Nesbitt, who I interviewed ahead of a retrospective art show at her gallery, The Third & Elm Press, in Newport this winter. I very much enjoyed chatting with Ilse about her life, work and life’s work.
• Eleanor Davis, a lifelong Newporter who recently turned 100. She was a pleasure to meet and I loved learning some of her family recipes, which she knows by heart.
• In November 2018, I produced a Gratitude Series for The Newport Daily News that profiled Newport County community members and ran the week of Thanksgiving. In order of publication, these articles include The kindness of strangers, Everyday rituals help Middletown recognize blessings, She is thankful for the memories of her late mother, Customer appreciation gets him through the day, and Those who can, thank.
• Following the shootings at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh in October 2018, I turned a Facebook post about this attack into a published piece on Medium. Between the two platforms, my essay — Some thoughts on being Jewish in 2018 — has been read by hundreds of people, many of whom have shared with me personal responses and reflections.
• Over the winter, I published another essay, entitled “The only things I’ve enjoyed reading lately,” which seemed to pour out of me one morning (and followed an afternoon of similarly-compulsory vision boarding). Additional musings about that essay and the collage that preceded it can be read here.
In March 2019, I attended a Solutions Journalism 101 Workshop in New York City, where I learned more about applying a solutions lens to my reporting. This training was led by the Solutions Journalism Network, of which I am now a member. Then in June, I attended the ivoh summit in the Catskills, where I learned more about restorative narrative reporting. In September 2019, I participated in a HEFAT safety & security training organized by the International Women’s Media Foundation. I’m also a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.
In May of 2018, I left my home and newsroom of seven years in Newport, Rhode Island, to learn more about myself and the world through travel and exploration. I started in Dakar, Senegal, then spent six weeks in Israel/Palestine, including a jaunt to Jordan. From there, I traveled to Cyprus; Beirut, Lebanon; Istanbul, Turkey; drove around Romania, through the Transylvanian mountains to the Black Sea coast and back to Bucharest; stopped in Sofia, Bulgaria; and then arrived in Greece, traveling from Thessaloniki to Athens and Crete, and back north to Thessaloniki. From there I flew to Palermo, Sicily, where I spent a week on another ancient and storied island, and then moved on to Essaouira, Morocco, where I attended the Muslim Jewish Interfaith Coalition’s inaugural forum. I returned home to Newport in early September, and am continuing to plot my path forward. I’m still sorting through the stories I collected over the course of four-and-a-half months, and often share musings and moments on Instagram, where you’re welcome to follow along.
Some of the thoughts on my mind as I traveled: I found myself in several divided cities, thinking a lot about how no conflict has merely “two sides” but rather many sides; how word choice is political; how one person's terrorist can be another person’s human rights advocate; how it’s better to acknowledge bias and work with it and learn from it, rather than claim objectivity when such a thing is nearly impossible; how the most divided countries/territories seem to have the most in common, culturally speaking; how the stories I read about online are often lacking much of the nuance I experience in person; how so many people see the world as black and white, when it’s really made of infinite shades of grey (and how the grit of humanity — all of the character and charm — exists within these grey areas); how we’re all just human, with more similarities than differences, and how much can be gained and exchanged through simple conversation and/or the act of breaking bread together.
For three years (June 2015-April 2018), I was the Features Editor for the Arts & Living section of The Independent newspaper, a weekly in South County, Rhode Island. And for seven years (March 2011-April 2018) I was a copy editor, page designer and staff writer for The Newport Daily News, at the time a sister publication to The Independent.
I also covered the Newport Folk Festival for five summers (2013-2017) for The Newport Daily News, an opportunity that combined my love of capturing and sharing stories with my love of live music. Some articles I've written about the festival include: Folks get together; REVIEW: Newport Folk Festival goes out with a bang; Behind the scenes; A blast from the past; 'A music-lovers festival'; Artists share the stage; It's a family affair; and These folks love Newport.
In addition to my work as a journalist, I am a founding board member of Newport Art House, serving as secretary for three years (June 2015-April 2018) and helping to build up the nonprofit while supporting its goal of nurturing, showcasing and promoting the contemporary arts in Newport County. I helped plan and host the inaugural (Anti) Gala — a bacchanal-themed fundraiser held Aug. 23, 2019.
I’m a member of the REALITY alumni community, an initiative of the Schusterman Foundation. I was part of the 2017 REALITY Storytellers journey to Israel, a truly incredible trip that connected me with an amazing group of global change-makers and thought-leaders.
I’ve also taken a personal interest in the future of journalism, attending a few conferences to better understand what is happening in the industry. These include the 2016 and 2017 ONA conferences in Denver and D.C., respectively, and the 2018 Power of Narrative Conference in Boston.
Lately, I am doing a lot of freelance reporting and project musing. I enjoy any opportunity to sit, sip & savor, especially with my journal and a cappuccino. I also enjoy walking around Newport — my favorite form of movement and transportation, and one that allows for candid street photography :-)
I’m available for a variety of freelance assignments, writing/editing/media/communications consultations (I’ve recently worked with local nonprofit Bike Newport), and ghost-writing collaborations (I helped the founder of At The Well turn loose thoughts into this essay, published by Well + Good in July 2018: “How An Ancient Jewish Ritual Helped Me Conquer My Body Image Fears”).
If you’re interested in working together, please send me an email at email@example.com.