No Homeless: The Special Just-in-time-for-Thanksgiving Edition

Two days ago Cityline published a letter that Rich Wareing sent to numerous individuals regarding the plan to house a “no freeze” shelter at the Center Church downtown. He wrote:

Indeed, that Mr. McGovern would seriously consider locating a facilty which the City estimates will be 50% utilized by registered sex offenders across the street from two apartment buildings, three blocks from a magnet high school, and right in the middle of the most signficant business and entertainment district in the city, speaks volumes about  the City’s disregard for the welfare of its voters, taxpayers, visitors, and children.

While keeping sex offenders away from youth sounds like an altruistic goal, I believe this argument is deceptive. Here’s why:

In the past, Hartford has had a no freeze shelter. This is not a brand new creation. The previous one was housed at 255 Washington Street, but a mile — if walking —  from the new one. I even created a map to show this:

View homeless shelters in a larger map

What do you notice about the location of the old shelter on Washington Street? For someone with no familiarity with Hartford, the only two things that really should grab his attention would be that it was located in a very residential area, as one can see a number of houses nearby, and that it was very close to the Connecticut Childrens Medical Center.

Rats on the Road

Erratic drivers sure put a sparkle in my morning.

On some days, I have been taking a route to work that utilizes one of the few proper bike lanes in the city. While it’s marked well, that does not mean that it is kept free of debris or respected as a lane. Motorists seem to believe they have the right to swerve into the bike lane in order to pass cars on the right. I have yet to see a police officer pull someone over for this nonsense.

As I got into a more congested area closer to downtown, where the bike lane oddly disappears (wouldn’t it make sense to have one here?), a craptastic loud car that I could have bought in cash weaves around me, pulls into my lane, and jams on the brakes. I expect drivers to do asinine things, so I had time to avoid the car. This meant, however, that I had to drive through — not over, but through — a dead rat. If you’re wondering, my superhero alter ego picked up the remnants of the rat and heaved it at the car. My actual self just cussed the guy out and kept going.

A few blocks later, I parked my bicycle and got a coffee and doughnut at a local shop. I graded a few papers and enjoyed the time to myself before heading off to work. When I was ready to go, a Real Hartford reader stopped to say hello. This would have normally been appreciated, but this morning, it was a distraction that ended with me absentmindedly putting my hand right on the front wheel, which still wore what looked like rat hairs. I’m writing about this because if I mysteriously come down with the rat flu, I want someone to know why.

Folk Artists’ Marketplace this Saturday

A press release from the Institute for Community Research:

Hmong embroiderers, Burmese Karen weavers, a Liberian tailor, a Lithuanian book illustrator, and a Somali basket weaver are just some of the artists who will demonstrate their crafts and sell their work at a folk artists’ marketplace on Saturday, November 14, 2009 from 11 am to 4 pm at The Institute for Community Research (ICR), 2 Hartford Square West, Suite 100 in Hartford, CT. The event, which is free and open to the public, will include rug weavers, crochet artists, and jewelry makers, representing immigrant and refugee groups from across Southern New England. Organized by ICR’s CT Cultural Heritage Arts Program (CHAP), the marketplace is part of Hartford Open Studios Weekend, a creative showcase for local artists held annually in Hartford.

“We are happy to present this opportunity during Hartford Open Studios Weekend for rarely seen artists to meet the public and to market their work, all of which is unusual, beautiful, and exquisitely made,” says CHAP Director Lynne Williamson.

CHAP has developed an initiative to encourage production and sales of traditional crafts among the many immigrant communities in the Greater Hartford area and across the state.  A number of the artists have had success selling their work at area venues including the Billings Forge Farmers Market and the University of Connecticut, and several of the pieces won first prizes at the Berlin Fair. “This effort is really important for ICR because part of our mission is to work with local communities whose voices are not often heard, and who are hoping to expand their access to cultural resources,” says ICR Executive Director Margaret Weeks, Ph.D.

At this time of year, the marketplace is also a great place to find special holiday gifts while supporting local artists in their new venture. For more information, contact Lynne Williamson at 860-278-2044 ext. 251.

The Stretch of Sketch Gets a Makeover

This morning I was greeted with one of the best surprises ever — the area of Capitol Avenue between Laurel and Forest (AKA The Stretch of Sketch AKA The Corridor of Hope) was cleaned up. There was still litter on the sidewalk, but I mean that the real annoying mess was cleaned up. The tires, toilet, boards, and random other large bits of illegally dumped trash were removed from behind the fence. A dangerous looking shack was even removed. And the area, with all the junk gone, is actually kind of pretty.