In “The Wizard of Westerly Life, Part I” –
– our readers were introduced to Shane Belanger, the creator of WesterlyLife.com, the platform on which this article is posted and being delivered to our readers.
In Part I, we delved into Shane’s personal history, and those life experiences that helped form him into the entrepreneur, and person, that he is today. The article ended with Shane vanishing from Alaska and traveling to some unrevealed location. Readers were left hanging until Part II was published. So, dear readers, the wait is over, and the answer to this mystery is being revealed, along with other interesting information about Shane.
From the fair and faraway land of Alaska, Shane popped back home to Westerly for a brief holiday visit with his family and then flew off to the beautiful terrain of Costa Rica. Upon walking out of the airport in Costa Rica, and experiencing the first sights and smells of that area, Shane was left with an impression that remains with him to this day. He remembers thinking,
“Here I am in this airport built in the 20th century, and I’m about to step out into a world that is very simple”.
Much poorer than the USA, Costa Rica was quite a different place for Shane, but he found its simplicity and relaxed quality of life a benefit for him during the time he was there.
Shane discovered that life in Costa Rica was much more low-key than any place he had been before. He reflected,
“When I was in Costa Rica, I was happy. I attributed it to the weather and getting out of the cold of Alaska after a few years, but looking back, it was really the relaxed lifestyle in Costa Rica that caused it”.
Life can change on a dime for anyone, future technology wizards included, and Shane found himself getting low on cash and, unable to magically make some appear, he decided to take what he had left and return to Alaska where there were more job possibilities – but much colder temperatures. It was during this second stint in Alaska where the beginnings of what we now know as WesterlyLife.com, started to form; although it wouldn’t come to fruition, until Shane returned home to this great part of the country.
After a total of about nine years in Alaska, Shane started to feel a restlessness, and perhaps we could say that he was starting to fall into a bit of a rut. Jobs in Alaska became more scarce, and Shane took that as a personal sign that it was time to make another change in his life.
As Shane describes it, he hit the “reset button” on his life and in October of 2012, just a week before Super Storm Sandy hit New England, he came home to Westerly. His mom owned a bakery in town and decided to close it, so he found himself helping helping her wrap things up with her business. Once that was accomplished, he moved a little further east and spent some time in Newport, RI, with a focus on creating a better and healthier lifestyle.
Shane recounts that during this transitional time, he was trying to find his niche in life. Sometime during 2014, he remembered that while he was in Alaska he started to form a blog of sorts about Westerly and this idea resurfaced once again. It took a bit of exploring and thinking, but in time Shane reworked it and created the beginnings of what has now become the popular – WesterlyLife.com.
WesterlyLife.com went live online on May 15, 2015, and this company has been his life’s focus, and niche, ever since. The initial goal was to technologically help move Westerly into the 21st century by offering a unique online magazine, or blog, that covered the unique culture, lifestyle, events, businesses, and people in the Westerly area – from Charlestown, RI to the east and Mystic, CT to the west. This goal is a process that really never has and end, but we keep moving forward seeing where it wants to go. As announced in Part I, there is now a free Westerly Life App, making it more accessible for everyone.
Shane brought in some staff and freelance writers to the business to help work towards his goals. Advertisers were acquired, and services publicized. The site has slowly, but steadily, been gaining momentum as the premier “go to” site for all things Westerly – and the surrounding towns. As Shane explains,
“Westerly Life is more social and community-minded. We want to build a model that can be duplicated in other communities. This is the ultimate goal.”
The difference between the wizard in the “Wizard of Oz” who pulled levers behind a curtain in an imaginary story, and our “Wizard of Westerly Life”, Shane, is that one is a fictional two-dimensional actor on historical film, and the other is a real person who may be often unseen by the public but is helping to improve and transform our area with the gift of a comprehensive technology business that focuses on the beauty and all the good and positive things about this area.
We will leave our readers here in the “Wizard of Westerly Life” story.
Shane still has a lot of ideas and creativity floating around between his ears – so stay tuned for how he, and his talented team, will continue to improve WesterlyLife.com and in the end, the fine community it reflects.