In the classic movie “The Wizard of Oz” there is a scene where Dorothy, her dog Toto, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion have their second encounter with the Wizard – the mysterious being of fire and smoke who was in charge of Emerald City, the capital of the Land of Oz. They hoped that the Wizard would grant them what they were wishing for: a heart for the Tin Man, a brain for the Scarecrow, courage for the Lion, and a trip back home to Kansas for Dorothy and Toto.
During this encounter, the Wizard’s true identity was revealed when Toto pulled the curtain back to reveal that the Wizard was not the large smoky-faced scary creature they saw on the wall before them, but a human being. Then, finally in a face-to-face encounter, the Wizard used his “powers” and granted each of them their wish. What really ended up happening however was that the Wizard helped them understand that what they had been wishing for was already within them, and perhaps helping them each see that, was the essence of the Wizard’s true powers. At the end of the scene, the Wizard told them that he too, like Dorothy, was originally from Kansas and he explained how he ended up in Oz.
So, do you know that Westerly Life has its own “Wizard” too? His name is Shane Belanger. Similar to the Wizard in the movie, Shane is the man behind the cyber-curtain of Westerly Life who pulls the levers and keeps things going. Because Westerly Life is an online entity, readers don’t see Shane, but he is always there in the background making good things happen for the “Westerly Life area” which spans from Charlestown, Rhode Island to Mystic, Connecticut. Shane created Westerly Life.com and pulled a team of leaders and writers together who assist him in introducing the local businesses, events, and people that make a positive difference in the Westerly Life area to tourists and our local community.
Today, in Part One of the “Wizard of Westerly Life” readers will learn a little about Shane. So, let’s begin, shall we? Born in Norfolk, Virginia Shane moved to the Westerly area when he was just a toddler. His father, who was in the navy, relocated to Groton, so Shane ended up being raised in Westerly and attended area schools.
As with most wizards and entrepreneurs, Shane moved to the beat of his own interior drummer, and always saw things from a slightly different angle than the rest of society. He recounts feeling “full of untapped potential” during his school years and had a difficult time feeling motivated. He didn’t understand why he had to learn about things he wasn’t interested in, but he put up with it because that’s what wizards and entrepreneurs in-the-making usually do – until they grow up, that is.
As Shane approached college age he thought he wanted to go to school for engineering, so he started at Worcester Poly Tech, but that didn’t work out. He was never one for structured learning and was more of a project-based type of learner. An unrealized entrepreneur at that point, Shane tried his hand at construction and enjoyed it, and it became his first entrepreneurial venture for a few years. Eventually he found New England Tech and embarked on a degree in Internet Communications. This was a better fit for him because it was more hands on and project-based learning and was at the time when learning how to build websites was the newest focus of technology.
During his twenties and thirties Shane did a good amount of traveling. His first trip was with some buddies to Amsterdam and during that trip he was bitten by the travel bug and wanted to keep exploring the world outside of Westerly, so he did just that, using Westerly as his home base. At twenty-six years of age, Shane decided to pack up and move to Alaska for some more adventure. During his years in Alaska, Shane created a website which would eventually become the mustard seed for what we now know as WesterlyLife.com.
After about nine years in the great state of Alaska, Shane felt that it was time to move on and so, as wizards sometimes do, he vanished and ended up someplace else. In Part Two, we will see where Shane went and how he ended up back here in Westerly to give our community the entrepreneurial gift of Westerly Life.
However, in an age that offers “spoilers” and “coming attractions”, we just can’t leave you totally in the dark. Instead we’ll leave you with a hint of what is to come in Part Two. Well, maybe it isn’t so much of a hint, but a cyber-gift from the Wizard of Westerly Life himself.
At this very moment, Westerly Life is rolling out a special App and it’s a FREE download for Apple and Android phones. It provides access to Westerly Life and its interesting articles, Westerly Food, a great business directory, event listings, weather and local real estate news, all in one convenient place. You can get it today without even clicking your heels three times and repeating “There’s no place like home”. How’s that for wizardry?
Click on your respective app store button below to get the app:
Westerly Life App
See you in Part Two…
Photography by Bellafoto Sudios, located in downtown Westerly, RI