Cracking Down on Motorcyclists

Check out Helen’s column in the Courant on this.

I’d like to add to that, cracking down on all other illegal forms of transportation. I’m quite sure that go-carts aren’t street legal, yet I’ve seen them go down my street. There’s also the issue of kids car surfing.

And while we’re at it, let’s make the speed bumps really cut down on speed. The “speed tables” are essentially ramps or mini-jumps that dirt bike riders can use to get air. Real, nasty speed bumps will wreck you if you are going too fast and hit one. But it’ll slow you down, and isn’t that the point?

She’s right, that these small issues contribute to the larger issues here.

Farmers’ Market Season

Today marks the opening of the West End Farmers’ Market for this season. It’s held on Tuesdays and Fridays from 4-7pm at the United Methodist Church on Farmington Avenue. There is usually live jazz to go with your shopping.

The Hartford Regional Market over by the airport  is open year round from 5-9am. The Downtown Farmers’ Market held at the Old State House has been running for a few weeks now, MWF, 9-2pm.

Still to open– Capitol Avenue Farmers’ Market (July 9) at the First Presbyterian Church on Mondays from 10am-1pm; Park Street Farmers’ Market (July 9) at the Walgreens on corner of Park and Washington on Mondays from 930am-1pm; and the Farmers’ Market at Billings Forge (July 5) 11am-3pm on Thursdays, located at 559 Broad Street.

For a complete listing of farmers’ markets in other towns in Connecticut, go to

Revising Art

The play, The Pueblo, is actually an in-progress piece– something I hadn’t realized until I went to see it last night. Like HartBeat’s previous in-progress play News to Me, the audience gets to give comments that may impact the way that the final version is delivered next year.

The questionnaire form was surprisingly like the forms I have students fill out when taking part in peer review. Was I able to follow the play? Was anything too confusing? What makes this approach interesting is that HartBeat Ensemble is, well, an ensemble. Their work is created through collaboration. This “new play institute” opens the plays up even more, giving the public a chance to collaborate with them.

As for the details of the play, I don’t want to give anything away, especially anything that may change, but I will say that I enjoyed their creative use of an overhead projector.

Creative Cocktail Hour

Did you know you can’t bring your own booze to CCH? Well, you know now. (I was only a witness to this)

When I go to this event, I’m always stuck between thinking it’s great, and rolling my eyes all night at the hundreds of cliches walking around. It’s a diverse crowd, but, it’s a struggle for someone who doesn’t necessarily want to carry on conversations with people who are all about (a) their work (b) trying to pick someone up.

But I go for the art. Last night was the opening of an exhibit that used blood leftover from slaughterhouses.  The work is real eye-catching. It’s not gross at all– if you weren’t told it had blood in it, you’d probably never know. The luchador exhibit is still up, and also worth checking out.

Enlightened Times

In Portland Oregon, two teenage girls were kicked off a city bus for kissing. And in Australia, the indigenous people are being discriminated against…still.

Locally, the three college kids from UConn get a slap on the wrist, with a defense attorney saying:

What it boils down to is a bunch of college students acting inappropriately.

Boys will be boys. Who cares if that means once in awhile a random person is assaulted?

Boxes, Not Box Cutters

Another follow-up on the ever-so-dangerous empty FNB box:

News item: Police called in the bomb squad Monday afternoon in Bushnell Park to inspect a package that originally was described as suspicious and turned out to be harmless.

We live in strange times.

The suspicious package on June 11 was actually an empty cardboard box, with the words “Hartford Food Not Bombs” written on it with a marker, along with a cartoon picture of a cupcake. The box was left from the day before, when volunteers who have distributed free vegan food in the park every week for 13 years left behind one box of meals for late-comers.

It’s what they’ve always done. Everyone in the park knows them, and the irony of the police getting involved – or of anyone thinking the nonviolent Hartford Food Not Bombs organization would distribute bombs and not food – is not lost on the volunteers, many of them veterans of multiple protests who have decided they need to do more than march.

“I used to go to protests, and I still do sometimes,” said volunteer Dave Rozza. “I see protests more as a morale booster now. You can march all you want, and that’s good, but the powers that be aren’t listening.” And so he cooks food for the hungry.

This past Sunday, FNB volunteers gathered again at the Charter Oak Cultural Center – Hartford’s epicenter of cool – to prepare meals to hand out at the park and to assemble grocery bags to distribute at the center’s door.

Sometimes the people to whom they give the park meals don’t show up precisely for the 3 p.m. distribution time, and so the group has taken to leaving a box full of meals behind. It was a box like that – emptied by the people in the park – that caught the eye of whoever called the police.

Sunday, as Rozza talked about the group, volunteer Kelsey Larsen of West Hartford slipped papers (in Spanish) into the bags explaining that Food Not Bombs is a volunteer organization dedicated to nonviolence and sharing vegan (easier on the planet) food with the hungry and people abandoned by the rest of society.

Meanwhile, eight people – including longtime volunteer Ken Tong of West Hartford – gathered in the kitchen making salad and roasted potatoes. Tong said people in the park know the group and have come to expect them.

Food Not Bombs started in 1980 in Cambridge, Mass., and has spread around the world. It’s an all-volunteer organization dedicated to nonviolence that somehow has still attracted the interest of federal intelligence agencies. The organization often has been among the first to provide hot meals after disasters like the California earthquakes, Hurricane Katrina and the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York.

Locally, food comes from places like Garden of Light Natural Food Market and Whole Foods Market. Say what you want about that last pricey shop (who some refer to as Whole Paycheck, because that’s what it takes to shop there) – at least they consistently contribute.

Because there are so many hungry people in Hartford, about two years ago, Food Not Bombs started distributing food on Saturdays as well. Volunteers had to stop Saturday distributions for a while because of a lack of helpers – there are maybe 60 altogether – but word got around, and the group will start up again next month for twice-a-week meals.

Rabbi Donna Berman, Charter Oak’s executive director, said the group has been using her facility to prepare food for about three years. She said bar and bat mitzvah students and their families have volunteered with FNB, as well as participants in the center’s “Learning To Repair the World” program, which brings together Jewish, Muslim, and Christian students. It’s a great laboratory for teaching, Berman said.

This Sunday, a half-hour before bags of bread, leafy greens and cereal would be handed out at the door, five people already were lined up waiting.

This is an important service, said a woman dressed in a Mets T-shirt. Without it, her family would be struggling.

Later, in the park, there were no leftovers, and so no scary boxes were left behind.

Last year, one of my students volunteered for this group, and it made a positive impression on her. While other students chose community service that was more routine, she risked being associated with a non-church organization, whose volunteers don’t always appear clean-cut and wholesome. I don’t know if she still helps at all, but I hope she read this and got a laugh from it.

Anti-War Demo Tomorrow


Wednesday, June 20 — 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM
1 Constitution Plaza — Hartford 06103
(we will gather @ the corner of Market Street and Kinsley Street)

We will be demonstrating against Joe Lieberman and his warmongering ways in front of
his US Senate office.

There is parking in the garages downtown and limited on-street parking at this time. Conveniently located next to a major bus stop, across from State House Square.

CT Pride

There’s a little controversy around this year’s Connecticut Pride  celebration happening in Bushnell Park on June 30th. In the past, it’s been critiqued for being so commercial. This year, there is word of a pro-military theme. How do we reconcile something like the military, which creates violence, with a Pride celebration, which is (I thought) supposed to be protesting acts of violence?

mobster mentality

What teachers do off of school grounds should have no bearing on their careers, granted those things don’t involve harming children. But when you’re at work, you need to be on the top of your game. I’m no expert here, but I believe that letting kids get out of detention for a small fee is just possibly teaching them a very bad lesson.

Hartford Goes to Boston

It’s my birthday so I’m going to my first Red Sox game today. I always lie about my age, so don’t ask…but I’ll say that it’s shameful that I’m only just going to my first game now.

And since it’s my birthday, I’m going to play the Queen for the Day card and ask people to stop whining about parking in Hartford now…the parking rates are being reduced. There’s also that smelly, large hunk of metal called a city bus.