Park Water Arts: Celebrating Our Local Waterways

The Park River Watershed — which stretches from Bloomfield through Hartford, West Hartford, Farmington, New Britain, and Newington –“pours into the Connecticut River through tunnels buried beneath Bushnell Park,” according to Park Water Arts and the Park River Watershed Revitalization Initiative

Park Water Arts is coordinating “art actions and events” through August 2011; this Festival of Eco-Arts is intended to “draw attention to the history, present condition, and future design of the Park River Watershed.” Most of these events are open to the public, though the kickoff on August 30 — Our Campus, Our Planet — was exclusively for University of Hartford first-year students. (more…)

Developing Connective Tissue in Downtown

photo: kerri provost. photo may not be reproduced or republished without prior permission from kerri provost

Nobody argued when David Panagore announced that “We are the epitome of the Eisenhower Interstate system.” Those with an interest in downtowns would be hard-pressed to justify any continuation of advocacy for the poor designs that have dissected cities, sucking the life force out of them. Today, we are given the task of recreating a vibrant downtown, which means addressing issues like walkability.

Hartford’s Chief Operating Officer, David Panagore, participated on Monday evening in a HYPE (Hartford Young Professionals and Entrepreneurs) sponsored discussion regarding the direction of development in downtown. The MetroHartford Alliance Conference Room on Pratt Street was filled, allowing for a fairly intimate conversation between about two dozen individuals who had some interest — they live, work, or recreate — in downtown.

Panagore explained how the “Six Pillars” were a fine goal to have at one point, but now, to complete the economic development, these pieces (Connecticut Convention Center, Capital Community College moving into former G.Fox building, etc.) must be connected. (more…)

Casa Linda: September 28, 2010

There are several things that I find charming about this week’s featured home:

  • it’s yellow. If you have not noticed, there is something that I find really appealing about yellow houses. They seem cheerful.
  • shrubs are all different sizes and in various stages of grooming.
  • there are lots of trees in the back. This is great for the environment, for offering shade, and for making the home more attractive. The downside, of course, is that there are any number of branches and trees that could come crashing into the house during a storm. This is something I would not have thought about for a second until I got my house. Now, worrying about Destruction By Tree is a hobby of mine.
  • It is a modest-sized home. This looks like one that a small family would live in. I can picture grandparents living here.

A Reason to Be Proud

A certain local politician announced that he was chosen and photographed for Out Magazine‘s Out100, which is supposed to be the magazine’s  list of the most “outstanding and inspiring” gay men and women for the year.

Beware of the Book (and the Mark Twain impersonator)

Strangely, there are still people who would attempt to control what the public has access to, rather than simply monitor what his/her own children read. And, as we are finding in recent months, there is a renewed interest in lighting books on fire. Some seem to have trouble coping with the free exchange of ideas.

September 25th through October 2nd is Banned Books Week. Of this, the ALA writes:

Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment.  Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.

Intellectual freedom—the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular—provides the foundation for Banned Books Week.  BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them.

Locally, there will be readings from challenged books. Mayor Segarra and “Mark Twain” will be among those participating in this event on September 30th at the Hartford Public Library. “Beware of the Book” begins at 6pm.

Casa Linda: September 21, 2010

I never drove down this street until I heard that residents were complaining about people traveling at excessive rates of speed. So, of the half dozen times I have walked, biked, or driven on this road, I have never seen anyone speed. My impression is that it is a deafeningly silent street that makes the occasional reckless driver take up too much space in the minds of residents. In contrast, a street I live near provides the opportunity for one to pull up a lawn chair and sit, counting on one hand, the vehicles that manage to actual travel the speed limit. Anyway, this is not a contest for whose street invites the most obnoxious drivers.

I tend to be averse to mansions. I think this home qualifies as one, but it is still on the smaller side as far as those go on this street in the West End. It’s not the kind of place where I can imagine a family living. It does not seem remotely cozy to me. I like it because it seems like the place for fantastic dinner parties, croquet games, and wedding receptions in the backyard.

What I like about this house, besides the fantasy that I just invented, is that it counters something that Laurence D. Cohen wrote in the Hartford Business Journal (08/30/10): “The population [of Hartford] is sufficiently undereducated, unsophisticated, disinterested and besieged….” Critiques of capitalism aside, to own a home in this neighborhood, one has likely been sufficiently educated and can be assumed to have a degree of sophistication. Judging by the presence of political lawn signs on this street, there is indeed interest. And besieged? That seems to overstate the case. What I like about this house is that it symbolizes how heterogenous Hartford is. Not every single street has homes riddled with bullets, cars up on cinder blocks, or residents who are living paycheck-to-paycheck.

Free Admission to Connecticut Science Center

Last year’s opening of the Connecticut Science Center was met with skepticism, usually regarding whether or not people would bother to come visit. My own cynicism took the form of wondering who the shiny new structure was meant for. The  ticket prices — $14 youth and $17 adult general admission — seem ignorant of the percentage of Hartford residents living below the poverty line. Now, some residents will be able to visit the center free of charge.

The City of Hartford has announced that approximately 385 low-income Hartford students (with their parents) will be granted free admission on select days. A press release announces that the City Council, Hartford Public Library, and Connecticut Science Center will be working together to make this possible:

The library staff  will be at the Science Center 18 times throughout the school year facilitating workshops in the KidSpace Gallery (20 children with their parents  at a time). After the parent-child workshop participation, the family will get admission tickets.
The Hartford Public Library – Science Center dates are:

October 6, 13, 20, 27, November 3 and 10 (math skills)

January 12, 19, 26, February 2, 9, 16 (scientific inquiry skills)

April 6, 13, 20, 27, May 4 and 11 (observation skills).

Those seeking more information about participating in this program or others should contact the Library’s Youth Services Desk at 860 695 6330.

A $5,000 grant from the City Council is helping to fund this program which is intended to enrich the science and literary education of students.

Heaven Over Highway Hell

Chances are, if you have driven through Hartford, you’ve driven underneath skateboarders. Heaven, or as a few know it by its proper name — New Ross, County Wexford Park — is situated above I-84. Work has been done in this past year to destigmatize skateboarding in the city. Today, I received a press release from the City of Hartford announcing an upcoming public session to discuss a future formal park: (more…)

Movies for Three Bucks

Thanks to the City of Hartford Arts & Heritage Grant, Kino Kafe will be happening twice, instead of just once, each month at La Paloma Sabanera. On Tuesday, a screening of  Vanishing of the Bees was followed by discussion with a local beekeeper who brought some of his equipment with him. Audience members were able to closely inspect an empty hive, which still had the scent of honey in it.

The next film in this series is Hop, to be shown on September 28th at 7pm. Films coming in October and November include OT: Our Town, The Golem (a silent film which will be accompanied by a live cello performance), and  Say My Name. The Star Wars Holiday Special is scheduled for December 14th and Ten Animated Films  directed by Signe Baumane (not for children) will play in late December.

Admission is three dollars and refreshments are available.