On the cover of the Providence Business News: a story on the unfulfilled promise of Struever Bros., one of the big-name developers that pushed out artists in search of a prosperity that never quite arrived.

I'm not an economist or politician, Peter says, but the lesson seems clear: "The community that already exists is the place to build the city around . . . even if you don't totally understand it."

But he doesn't want to dwell on the past. Peter is a forward-looking type. An optimist. From his Providence base, he's managed to join a national community of artists and doers that looks a lot like the Olneyville community he knew — indeed, it includes several refugees of that community — and he's thrilled.

He has some more projects in the works he tells me, as I walk out the door. Some exciting stuff. He'll be in touch, he says.

I make my way back to the car, feet crunching the broken glass below. Peter's story, I realize, is a lesson in what might have been for Providence. A lesson in what it might have retained.

But it is a lesson, too, in what the city can be.

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