“Getting to Zero” Community Forum on HIV/AIDS

“We’ve become complacent” about AIDS, a community member said during Tuesday’s World AIDS Day forum in the Hartford Public Library.

In the 1980’s and 1990’s, she said, society talked about AIDS. Now, not so much. She called for the need to have conversations in places like barbershops. grocery stores, and in Spanish; then, she passed her microphone to another audience member, who delivered comments in Spanish.

This sentiment was echoed by panelists. One of them, Yvette Highsmith-Francis, the Director of Community Health Center, Inc., said we should be having these dialogues at Thanksgiving dinner and when having pedicures.

Even in 2011, misinformation about the transmission of HIV exists. Highsmith-Francis told the audience about an encounter with a woman in her forties who believed she could “catch AIDS” from hugging someone. (more…)

Your Guide to December

Making Of Lamb on display at Real Art Ways through December 11th

Making 'Of Lamb' on display at Real Art Ways through December 11th

December tends to be a whirlwind of activity, between festive events, office parties, and the gatherings for family and friends. Here are just a few of December’s open-to-the-public highlights:

December 1, 2011

December 1st is World AIDS Day, which means it is also The Day With(out) Art. Real Art Ways will be participating by screening Untitled all day. This is free. While there, check out the “Making ‘Of Lamb'” exhibit.

In the evening, there is the opening reception for Andres Chaparro’s artwork at Theatreworks (233 Pearl Street) from 5-7:30pm. (more…)

Stampede-Free Holiday Shopping Guide

Wadsworth Atheneum gift shop has books. Lots of them.

Wadsworth Atheneum gift shop has books. Lots of them.

There are a few ways to alleviate the stress associated with holiday shopping.

The first is to disentangle oneself from feeling any duty to shop. Once the reputation for being eccentric has been created, you free yourself up to make more meaningful choices.

It’s not about setting the bar low so much as it is a exploding expectations altogether. Thoughtfulness, spontaneity, and authenticity have vanished from the equation when “generosity” and “good will” are mandated.

Another way to reduce pressure is to be more selective about where one’s money goes. Stepping foot in a major shopping center or strip mall does not need to happen during November, December, or any other time of year, and while Hartford does have a few national chains, those have the least interesting offerings.

The following are the Real Hartford picks for where to shop: (more…)

Hartford Unity Community Conversation: “Empower People Already in Hartford”

Not unusual: people coming into Hartford with big ideas about what residents need and what will “save” us.

The Public Allies — an AmeriCorps program — promise that is not their mission. They insist that they are “not here to re-market Hartford.”

Young adults in the program work with a non-profit four days every week; each Public Allies “community” — Connecticut has ones in Hartford, Bridgeport, and New Haven — undertakes a service project each year.

This year, the group’s goal is to “strengthen community through figuring out assets and problems,” Al Riccio, one of the Allies on the “Greater Hartford Team”, told participants at the Hartford Public Library Monday evening during the Hartford Unity Community Conversation. In chatting with residents, the Public Allies identified that many residents feel “proud to be from the city,” but believe that there are negative perceptions of it due to the news media. He added that a lack of jobs, housing, and access to resources were other issues identified.

During the first of what Public Allies say will be several community conversations, residents were told that the Allies — several of whom are long-time Hartford residents — would be facilitating discussion, but not participating. Heads nodded as residents commented that these conversations need to be in the neighborhoods, not just Downtown. The library was named a “hub,” a natural place for civic discourse to take place, and there are library branches throughout the city.

Broken into small groups, residents and stakeholders named activities that could “create attention toward positive aspects.” In the brainstorm, two groups named the Walk the Frog tour as an example of an event that has highlighted the positive aspects of a neighborhood (more…)

Upcycling Urban Trees

The decision to remove a second-generation scion of the Charter Oak was bittersweet for many parishioners at Center Church, but in September, the tree at the corner of Main and Gold was taken down. Now, a milled slab of it is on display at the Connecticut Historical Society as part of the New Life for Connecticut Trees exhibit.

It’s in good company.

Also on display: furniture made from a tree that stood in front of the Ivoryton Playhouse. That former tree’s story? In its shade, Marlon Brando and Katharine Hepburn used to run through their lines. (more…)