Hartford 2010: Resolutions for the New Year

It’s way easier to delegate than to take on every last responsibility, so rather than work on gaining muscle mass or weaning myself off chocolate, I’m creating a list of things I would like to see Hartford work on in the upcoming year. Here they are, in no particular order:

  1. Make the Riverfront Accessible
  2. After having my heart set on a lovely afternoon bicycle ride along the Connecticut River, my plans were thwarted. (more…)

First Night

Hartford’s family-friendly New Year’s Eve festivities have been listed on the First Night Hartford website. Some highlights from the schedule include:

  • collaborative mixed media art at the Hartford Public Library
  • carousel rides until midnight
  • tours of the arch in/near Bushnell Park
  • horse-drawn wagon rides
  • comedy improv

There will be fireworks, so remember to climb up onto your rooftops or visit the Elizabeth Park overlook.


If I got paid for publishing Real Hartford, then I’d feel like a big jerk for promoting myself. Luckily, there’s no such conflict. I want to share two pieces of news, and then you all can get back to reading your Top Ten of 2009/Why This Decade Was Teh Suck lists:

A Few Queers on the Prowl just posted some of their favorite sites and Real Hartford made the cut! Please check out the rest of this blog, written by a fellow Hartford resident.

Also, in the nearish future, some of my blog posts will be archived on HartfordInfo.org , a site that I have used often for research.

Alright, go back to reading your countdown lists.

Weekend Reading

Toni Gold writes about making Main Street work again:

Take back Main Street. Redesign it and reclaim it as a walkable, bikeable, green and transit-friendly promenade, with this key piece: Bring back a trolley, also called a streetcar or tram, on real tracks, running every 10 minutes back and forth through the heart of downtown, from the South Green to Keeney Clock Tower.

Susan Campbell follows up on the homelessness SNAFU with a column urging people to work on solutions, not bandages:

The capital city is bending under the weight of so many homeless people vying for too few services. Shelters are full, temperatures are plummeting, and a recent dust-up over where to put people who might otherwise be curled up under a bridge showed our ugly underbelly.

And the Remove Sunglasses at Tunnel blog deals with the very serious topic of gun control. Instead of staying inside and reading, you should really be outside enjoying the 55 degree weather. It won’t last.

Awesome Things

The kvetching will return briefly. For now, here’s a list of awesome things, inspired by 1000 Awesome Things:

  • knowing that even when the country karaoke is closed due to the holidays, there is still something to do because I have friends to hang out with.
  • spending hours in coffee shops because I am on vacation and I can spend my time however I like. (more…)

Happy Holidays

photo: kerri provostAs I wandered around this morning seeing what was open on December 24th, I came across this awesome “center of the universe” sign. Something that might need to be added to this is an arrow pointing folks toward a grocery store, which is slated to open at 410 Asylum Street in upcoming months.

Up on Main Street is a new fashion boutique, Vice Versa. Though it was closed today (along with pretty much everything else), I was able to see that the merchandise is hip and funky– a nice alternative to the upscale and classy Stackpole Tuesday’s.

Props to the CT Science Center for remaining open on Christmas Eve Day. I only stopped in to browse the gift shop, which I think has far more appeal than those large chain toy stores. Walking through there made me wish I had a niece or nephew to buy presents for this year.

The walk back home was particularly enjoyable, as there was much less traffic to contend with. For once, I did not experience getting nearly smacked by a car when trying to get across the Broad/Capitol intersection. I could hear my footsteps in the snow. I could hear myself think. Normally, during the week, Capitol Avenue is loud with vehicular traffic. Though a lot of the places I like were closed today, the silence of the street almost made it seem like a fair trade.

Report Cards

ConnCAN has released its school reportcards. The data shows overall student performance (Average percentage of students meeting state goals across all subjects), performance gains, improvement, low-income student performance, African-American student performance, and Hispanic student performance. Findings reflected the oft-discussed racial and class-based achievement gaps. The Milner School, located on Vine Street in Hartford, and listed as Core Knowledge at Milner on the Hartford Public Schools site, had 5.2% of students meeting state goals across all subjects. (more…)

Choosing Your School Choice (part one)

Three more schools are in the works for the next school year. The Achieve Hartford! site explains that “In May of 2007, the Board approved a five-year framework that would guide the opening of at least 22 new schools in Hartford.” Here’s what is planned:

Annie Fisher STEM Magnet School (k-8)
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. There was little to be impressed by until I reached the sample curriculum in the design specs, where, I saw that 4th graders might design water filters and alarm circuits. The school will have a number of partnerships, including with the Connecticut Science Center and the Children’s Science Museum.

Dwight-Bellizzi Asian Studies Academy (pre-k – 8th)

This school will feature:

A robust, engaging curriculum that seamlessly integrates district and state academic mandates with global content and competencies to foster high academic achievement and to create awareness and understanding of the world and its workings
Language instruction, on a daily basis, from kindergarten throughout the elementary experience, with widespread exposure to native speakers

The language featured? Mandarin Chinese. The language and culture was chosen based on its growing popularity worldwide. Opportunities for students will include:

Two representatives from each classroom will serve as student ambassadors. Student Ambassadors
create activities around global awareness and run the school’s Global Council. The Global Council
will make recommendations for monthly activities and school improvement to the leadership team.
Students will also have opportunities to participate on a mock United Nations Council using multiple
languages at grades 7 and 8.
Students in grades 7 and 8 will read the “Book of the Month” with students in grades 1 and 2.
Students will participate in a competitive Debate Club in grades 5-8.
Students in grades 1 and 2 will practice Mandarin with grades 7 and 8.

Beyond building language and rhetorical skills, this seems promising as it enables students to work with those in other age brackets. This helps the older students to reinforce their knowledge via teaching/tutoring, and provides younger students with another possible way to learn material. The possible lesson plans for 6-8th grade contain material that many are not exposed to until college, if ever:

1. East Asia: An Overview
A broad overview is given of Asia’s great cultural traditions as well as the development of this
region throughout the twentieth century. Due to colonialism, Japanese militarism, World War II
and the Cold War, particular attention is given to changes within the region.
2. Politics in East Asia
Students are introduced to the political developments of the post-colonial period, with an emphasis
on the rise of communism after World War II and the evolution of more Western-style
democracies. Also included are discussions about the differences between Western and Asian
views of democracy and society.
3. The East Asian Economic Miracle
The materials give an analysis of how post-colonial countries created economic policies to
promote growth. Special attention is directed at economic policies which encouraged foreign
investment and the development of export-based industries.
4. Social Issues, Human Rights, and the Environment
Topics such as poverty, crime, environmental degradation in the wake of economic growth, the
changing role of women, the legacy of Japanese militarism, and the conflict between Western and
Asian views of human rights are introduced.
5. U.S. Interests in East Asia
The role of the United States in East Asia is explored from a framework of economic and military
interests. Topics of interest include U.S.-Japan trade relations, the wars America fought on Asian
soil, and the future of U.S. security amidst the growing economic and military power of nations
such as China and North Korea.

Humanities Studies at Bulkeley Upper School (11-12th)
I don’t really get this one. There’s block scheduling, which I think is a positive framework for a course, and a few intriguing classes, but really, isn’t “humanities” the general studies taught in most high schools? Is it specialized because of the number of math/science and performing arts type of schools emerging in the city? I don’t know. I like that there will be a Logic & Rhetoric course, as well as a Hartford, Connecticut Studies course. There are some courses offered that will gain students college credits. Aren’t these the types of things we should expect from all schools?

Snow Rules Reminder

During my late afternoon adventures on Sunday, I noticed that sections of sidewalk were not cleared. The Department of Public Works has posted:

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.

Residential buildings and homes seemed to do a decent job of clearing snow from sidewalks in a reasonable period of time; I can not say the same for many of the snow removal job in front of numerous businesses. Along one section of Trumbull Street, I found only one crosswalk that had been cleared, and upon reaching the other side, saw that nobody bother clearing a path from the street onto the sidewalk. (more…)