Welcome to Parkville

snow plows lined up outside of Lena’s
Someone recently commented that when he reads my Tweets, he wonders where I live. Here are photos taken within a few blocks of my place, showing the vibrant Parkville neighborhood. I say “vibrant” because I think it’s actually in the city charter that whenever the word “Parkville” is used, “vibrant” must legally be in the same sentence. Parkville Community School
The Parkville Community School houses the Dwight Branch of the Hartford Public Library.
Brazil Grill & Pizza
Brazil Grill Churrascaria & Pizza is located at 1996 Park Street.

Hartford School Wins Award

The Hartford Magnet Middle School, located on Vernon Street, has won the New England League of Middle Schools‘ “Spotlight Schools Award.” The Executive Director of New England League of Middle Schools, Dr. Robert C. Spear, says:

The school was selected because of its continued record of powerful learning for young adolescents, its observance of effective middle level research and practice, and its implementation of young adolescent best learning practices. […] These middle level practices included Hartford Magnet Middle School’s involvement with teaming, flexible scheduling, standards-based instruction, appropriate student grouping practices, data driven decisions, democratic governance, interdisciplinary instruction, and active hands-on classrooms. […] These are but a few of the school’s outstanding qualities identified by NELMS.

This is the second time that the Hartford Magnet Middle School has won this award. Other winners from Connecticut include Scofield Magnet Middle School (Stamford), Albert Griswold Middle School (Rocky Hill), East Lyme Middle School (Niantic), Fairfield Woods Middle School (Fairfield), Mystic Middle School (Mystic), Nathan Hale Middle School (Norwalk), John Winthrop Middle School (Deep River), and Old Saybrook Middle School (Old Saybrook).


Fit New Year

I really do not make resolutions, but I’ll humor those of you who do. First, you are already fabulous and beautiful, so I am going to assume that any “I need to exercise” resolution is related to your health and not to meeting some ridiculous narrowly-conceived standard of beauty.

Phit Pilates: This studio located at 56 Arbor Street offers only one class per week, but does allow for private sessions to be arranged (at a high cost, of course). The website shows an equipped and well-lit studio.

Fuller Movement Center: For pole dancing, yoga, pilates, Zumba, and Capoeira, classes are available at 1477 Park Street (at Bartholomew Ave). Right now, their schedule only lists yoga, pilates, and pole dancing. They offer some free beginner’s classes.

Hartford Public Library: as previously noted, the main branch of the library will be hosting free Tai Chi classes.

Pole Control Studios: If you are looking for something different, there is a pole dance studio on Pratt Street. The idea of this does not creep me out, but their website does, from the email address right on down to the lack of posted schedule. They do state that they are involved in some kind of “philanthropic effort” with a few causes– breast cancer and domestic violence. Something about the website seems unprofessional, from the lack of spell checking to the design. The storefront on Pratt didn’t seem inviting either.
YMCA: The YMCA on Trumbull Street offers memberships on a sliding scale to make it more accessible to those with lower incomes. The downside is that the pool is located at the Learning Corridor on Vernon Street, two miles away– not terribly convenient. The website says that the Trumbull Street location has “a full Nautilus circuit, Techno Gym circuit, free weight area, and 51 pieces of cardiovascular equipment.” Not being into work outs, this doesn’t mean anything to me, so you will have to be the judge of whether or not this is worth the trouble. They also have a steam room, sauna, meditation center, library, and massage.

Uechi Karate Academy:The karate academy is at 92 Brown Street. They have classes for adults and children; the academy holds classes Monday-Thursday and Saturday.

W.F.C. Martial Arts & Fitness: Located at 750 Wethersfield Avenue, they will be having an open house on January 3rd. They have Zumba, kickboxing, and strangely, Haganah: “The Haganah self-defense system is a complete Israeli Combative methodology based on both Israeli martial arts and Israeli military tactics used by Israeli Special Forces operatives in extremely hostile situations.” Another class that they offer which I think is worth mentioning: ITF/Knife Fighting. There are classes for adults and children.
Saturday Hoopsters: This is a Saturday morning basketball clinic for 8-10 year olds. There is an opportunity to help coach if you feel the need to run around a bit. There’s an inexpensive registration fee of $5.
Free and No Paperwork or Reservations Required: Bike! Walk! Visit the city parks for basketball, tennis, or running aimlessly. Pope Park has an indoor pool. Goodwin Park has a fitness course. Riverside Park has a rock climbing wall as part of the adventure challenge course. Besides all the expected athletic fields, Keney Park has a cricket field.

City of Hartford Parks & Recreation Department: Now, if you want to find out about what organized recreational sports and activities are being offered by the City of Hartford, you have to jump through hoops. I guess you get some exercise from the start. In many towns, the Rec & Parks Department will send out a printed schedule that lists upcoming classes, activities, etc. Others will place this information clearly on their websites. For instance, my hometown–which is not what I would ever describe as being on the cutting edge of anything–does both. I understand that funding can be a concern, so in my mind, I would expect to see a downloadable form on a website, and then programs left only in strategic places like the library, city hall, and in rec centers, and then made available by request. The City of Hartford does not have a Rec & Parks Department. They have a Department of Health and Human Services, in which there is a division for Recreation. Upon looking at their website, I was instantly annoyed. There were no downloadable programs, or even a list of what types of programs are offered. The information was all old, and as I came to learn, also outdated. (While I’m kvetching about this, I think the City of Hartford needs to get their act together with making the websites useful. Information about lead paint does not belong on a recreation page. If you are not going to bother to be normal and have an actual Parks & Rec Department like most other towns and cities, at least keep information relevant and updated. I understand how recreation can fall into the health department, but not all health topics fit in the recreation category. )I attempted to contact the Division Manager, who did not respond to my email query. Next, I noticed that there is a “Recreation Hotline.” I was not looking forward to sitting through a long pre-recorded message, furiously taking down notes on all of the offerings. Turns out, I never had to. I dialed 543-8877, the number listed on the website. I was then redirected to 543-8876. Why this information was not posted on the site in the first place, I don’t know. The woman who answered the phone was polite and tried to be helpful, but she sounded bewildered, as if I was the first person to ever ask for a full listing of programs. She offered to put together information for me. When I asked if there was any place where I could just readily get this information, she said “no,” and suggested that I call another number– 543-8677. It seems that if you have something in mind, then it would be helpful to call them up with a question like “Do you have any tumbling classes that my four-year-old daughter could take?” But, if you just want to know what the options in general are, you are either at a loss, or going to force someone to throw together pages of information specifically for you. And we wonder why people run the streets and hang out on front stoops? Who wants to go on a wild goose chase to see what her other options are?

Maybe we can resolve in the New Year that our first new action be to demand that the City of Hartford drag itself into the 21st century with its methods of disseminating information. If they provide updated and easy to find information, maybe we can compromise and let them keep the ridiculous scrolling marquis on the city’s main website.


It’s with sadness that I announce the recent passing of Jampa Williams. I knew Jampa through volunteer work with the Hartford Independent Media Center. She was a survivor of domestic violence, an animal rights advocate, a writer, and a devoted mother to her son, Noah. Here are links to some of her writings which are posted online:
My Left Breast
Is an Animal a Thing? Or a Being?
Drop Your Car, Get on the Bus–Warm Your Heart

Boxing Day Special: Getting Rid of Useless Arguments

If there is anyone who, after driving to a mall or shopping center during regular business hours in the days leading up to Christmas, still believes that private transportation is the only sane option, she can stop reading this post now, as she is out of the realm of reason. Other readers, who understand that what is “most convenient” is not truly always most convenient, keep reading.

In discussions about a possible light-rail system, some haters have had to step up with excuses for why Connecticut should not provide sustainable transportation options.

from a messageboard on City-Data.com:

Cost, low ridership due to low population density. […] Plus the conservative people of Connecticut would fight it to the death on aesthics [sic] alone.


Free Tai Chi: Coming to a Library in 2009

Tai Chi? In the library? A friend has taught yoga there previously, and yoga and Tai Chi are not that far apart. In college, every time I tried to sign up for the Tai Chi class (in hopes of fulfilling that pesky phys. ed requirement) it was full. After taking the mandated number of phys. ed classes, I was finally able to get into the Tai Chi class during my final semester. It was fun, relaxing, and I loved the instructor. She was my height, possibly shorter, but when she gave a demo of the movements sped up, the guys in the class backed away. I remember that she did this kick in the air, and that from the back of the studio, I could hear the sound of her foot cutting the air.

Free Tai Chi classes will be held at the main branch of the library from January 8th through February 5th from 5:30-6:45pm. Participants should wear clothing conducive to movement. Tai Chi involves slow, gentle movements; essentially, it’s a moving meditation.

You can register online at the library website.

Snow Rules

After the first snowstorm, I noticed that many people still disregarded the regulations for what needs to happen during and after snowstorms.

Hartford has a Level 2 Parking Ban from 2pm on Friday until noon yesterday. This meant that all vehicles needed to be parked somewhere besides on the streets. Motorists are allowed to move their vehicles to school lots and those belonging to the Board of Education. While out, I noticed that as usual, many people decided to leave their cars on the street anyway. While the City has the right to ticket and tow, I don’t know how much they bother to do that. It’s a hassle to all, but it’s better than not having the vehicles moved. After large storms, people have to dig their cars out, and they leave chunks of hardened snow on the roadways. This often remains there because the plows already went through a few times. See, the idea is that with no cars there, the roads can effectively be cleared. Instead, what we get is dangerous hunks of ice to contend with while driving.

If there is a Level 1 Parking Ban, parking is prohibited only on “Signed Snow Routes.”

With the ability for news to be disseminated in so many ways today, there really is no excuse for not knowing this unless there’s a power outage. Parking bans are announced on tv, radio, and posted on news websites, as well as on the City of Hartford website.

The other matter for people to do with is sidewalks. The Department of Public Works has this information posted on their webpage:

It is the responsibility of the property owner to remove snow within 2 hours after it has fallen, or within 3 hours after sunrise if the snow fell in the night. It is illegal to put the snow into the street.

In the case of an ICE storm, the sidewalk must be sanded within 1 hour.

I have winter boots and can walk through un-shoveled snow, even if I’d rather not, but others who use the sidewalks, such as those in wheelchairs or with guidedogs, can not “go offroad” as easily. Leaving snow on the sidewalks becomes an accessibility issue.

With that said, props to Evergreen Street. While out walking, most streets had haphazard shoveling, or every few properties didn’t bother to clear. At least one side of Evergreen Street had its sidewalks completely cleared. Thumbs down to Lexington Street in West Hartford, where only a few properties cleared the sidewalks and I had to walk in the street.

First Snowstorm: Part II

Oxford Street
I’ve been hearing all day about people being snowed in. Not I! I walked over to Tisane where the place was busy, the special of the day was an awesome veggie sandwich, and non-drunk karaoke was happening. There were a number of places on Farmington Avenue open, despite the road conditions. These photos were taken tonight while wandering the streets admiring houses dressed up for the holidays.