Happy New Year!

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By , December 31, 2011 4:30 am

Even people who are allergic to and/or hate cats can’t resist photos of Cecilia, the emo cat of Frog Hollow. Let that be my holiday gift to readers for your continued support.

If you feel like returning the love, anonymous contributions in the form of opinions are welcome by filling out this survey and back in July, I provided a whole list of other ways to show support.

If you are looking for something to do tonight, check out the pages and pages of event options that Hartford.com has listed. For those who can take a longer trip, the Buttonwood Tree in Middletown is hosting an NPR All Star lineup.

Wishing everyone a peaceful and healthy new year!

Rumor and Common Sense Confirmed

By , December 30, 2011 11:21 am

The public finally receives confirmation of what we already knew: The Market at Hartford 21 is done.

Since September, the store’s doors have been locked from the outside, though passersby could still view cereal remaining inside of the bulk bins long after anyone could access it.

Though there has been demand for a grocery store in Downtown, this model seemed an odd fit from the start. The hours fluctuated during the summer, produce was often moldy or rotten, and the baristas were inconsistent. Additionally, some staple items were lacking and prices were designed for an elite clientele.

Hartford residents, in conversations during this last year, have most frequently expressed desire for either a Trader Joe’s or something similar to that: affordable with interesting and organic options.

Wired Art

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By ,

photo courtesy of Wadsworth Atheneum

photo courtesy of Wadsworth Atheneum

Baltimore-based actor Felicia Pearson — “Snoop” on The Wire — will be signing copies of her memoir Grace After Midnight at the Wadsworth Atheneum’s Art After Hours in January. The museum will be screening two episodes of the show at 8.

Art After Hours will also feature music by the Nat Reeves Quartet with vocalist Dana Lauren. There will be ice sculpting and fiery hula hoop dancing.

There are various admission prices for this event on January 5th, which begins at 5pm.

January Happenings

By , December 29, 2011 6:13 am

It always seems that people overbook events at certain times of year, like December, and then go for weeks without planning any events, but this January shows little slow down of things to do in Hartford. Here are a few of the offerings:

January 1st

It’s a spendy, but delicious way to begin the new year: Firebox will be having Sunday brunches. Can anyone really complain about adding more breakfast options?

January 5-8th

Brahms and Beatboxing” at the Bushnell. Just what it sounds like. Way old school meets new.

January 6th

Three Kings Day is celebrated locally with a parade that typically begins at 10 a.m. around 95 Park Street and makes its way down Park Street, ending in Pope Park by the recreation center. The parade is not sprawling, but it features three camels, which is the reason to come out for it.

January 6-8th

The annual Boar’s Head Festival at the Asylum Hill Congregational Church is theatrical, featuring tumblers, dancers, and lots of live animals (geese, camel, etc.). Reserving a seat in advance is advised.

January 7th

This will be the Soul Merchants‘ last gig. Ever. Sully’s. Continue reading 'January Happenings'»

Striving for Compliance in the Hartford Schools

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By , December 26, 2011 11:44 am

In late September, the Connecticut State Department of Education’s (CSDE) Bureau of Special Education published its Monitoring Visit Report in which it outlined how the Hartford Public Schools (HPS) were found to still be in noncompliance with federal and state special education requirements; in 2005 it was found that HPS did not implement students’ individualized education programs (IEPs), among other failings. The September report follows a monitoring visit that took place in December 2010.

That it took nine months to create said report was noticed by Superintendent Kishimoto, who had not received the report initially and requested a meeting with then-Acting Commissioner Coleman and Associate Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker. Kishimoto, not an outside hire, should have been aware of the report, which would have been in development when she served as Assistant Superintendent, a position which seems to require knowing about major issues with the school system, such as noncompliance.

During the visit last year, officials reviewed student files, interviewed principals and school employees, observed classrooms, and consulted with central office special education administrators. They visited Bulkeley (Upper and Lower), High School, Inc., Hartford Public High School Freshman Academy, HPHS Law and Government Academy, OPPortunity High School, Pathways to Technology, Weaver Journalism & Media Academy, Culinary Arts Academy, Joseph A. Bellizzi School, Breakthrough Magnet School, Ramon E. Betances School, Martin L. King, Jr. School, James H. Naylor School and Parkville Community School.

The report indicates that while some improvements were made since 2005, when CSDE began requiring that HPS “redirect a portion of its entitled funds under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) to improve special education services for students with disabilities (3), the Bureau of Special Education received formal complaints between 2008-2010, with over one-third of those complaints related to services provided for students with emotional disturbances. Continue reading 'Striving for Compliance in the Hartford Schools'»

Place this Place

Where was this photo taken (months ago)?

Tribune Finds Cash for Floundering Lifestyle Magazine

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By , December 23, 2011 10:55 am

Following news that the Hartford Courant did not renew a contract with a unionized cleaning company, resulting in several jobs lost just before the holidays, it was announced this week that its parent company, the Tribune, managed to scrape together money to purchase publishing rights to Hartford Magazine.

Since spare change is no longer an issue, will we hear that the Courant will be rehiring those janitors, whose lost jobs saved the Courant $100,000?

A Full House for Homeless Persons’ Memorial Service

By , December 22, 2011 10:39 am

During what he called a “grueling 3 1/2 years” without a permanent address, Harry Mitchell, who recently found a place to call home, learned firsthand about the “ridiculous stigma” surrounding homelessness.

During Wednesday’s memorial service for the homeless in Hartford, Mitchell spoke about what how society treats homelessness and those who experience it. Of this problem’s cause, Mitchell said “people say it’s the system,” but it’s actually caused by “our own neighbors” who do not want shelters “in their backyards.” Continue reading 'A Full House for Homeless Persons’ Memorial Service'»

How to Live in New England: Winter Edition

By , December 21, 2011 9:08 am

Following “Storm Alfred,” it became clear that these coping-with-living-on-Earth editions are necessary. In the aftermath, so many were quick to criticize CL&P, the governor, the mayor, and pretty much anyone who was thought to be remotely responsible for the power not being on right this very instant, and frankly, Connecticutians sounded like spoiled brats.

Some of this, no doubt, was to mask real anxieties — like funding a replacement roof after the existing one was tackled by an Oak — but some of this was because many Americans feel entitled. So, when people in one of the wealthiest states in one of the wealthiest countries on the planet are upset because they are temporarily living without the amenities that their poor brothers and sisters go without daily (there are schools around the world that operate without ever having electricity), it’s hard to feel very sympathetic; moreover, it points to something else: a need for people to check on their emotional health. Of course, if you tell someone who is clearly experiencing emotional unwellness that you think this might be the case, they freak out.

Let it be known, this is not something that those with power have invented to mock those without. The Red Cross has literature on keeping emotionally healthy during disasters. Read it, particularly if the way you coped with the power outage was to whine via social media because you did not get your electricity turned back on within twelve hours during a time when it was not even cold enough to require turning up the thermostat.

Some people are really skilled at making a stressful situation unbearable for themselves and for all in earshot. The Red Cross also has useful information about “sheltering-in-place” and how individuals should try to remain informed, but be careful not to allow themselves to be over-saturated with information. Obsessively watching the news or clicking “refresh” on an outage map are unhelpful things for a person to do during an emergency situation.

Losing power does not need to mean losing perspective on the reality of the situation. And, the reality is that we can plan, but nature is powerful. The reality is also that when over 800,000 people in the state lose power, someone has to be the last to get it back, and that might be you. Growing up in a town where we lost power during almost every storm, and where we were never a priority, going days without a reliable power source was something with which we learned how to cope. A lot of the needs that we think we have are not needs at all.

Here is some perspective: About 4300 people were homeless in Connecticut in 2010 at any given time. Although some were in shelters or crashing on the couches of family or friends, some were also without shelter. In any of those situations, the homeless person does not have the security of knowing where she will be sleeping from day-to-day, whether or not she will be in a facility with electricity, when she will get to shower next, or even where her next meal is coming from. Of those who are homeless, 18% will experience what Ending Homelessness calls “chronic long-term homelessness.” Nationwide, it is expected that 74,000 people who have not experienced homelessness before will in the next three years. If you were one of the people to lose power during Hurricane Irene, Storm Alfred, or any other incident in recent years when people have seemed more prone to quick complaint, acknowledge that it is likely you are coming from a place of privilege; you might be miserable for a few days, or even a few weeks, but almost every single person will be returning to the almost-indulgent degree of comfort that has become the norm in first world countries.

For this edition, I have placed emotional wellness up front because that is as much of a concern as physical wellness.

Now, for the other stuff: Continue reading 'How to Live in New England: Winter Edition'»

Hartford Pew Review: Riverfront Family Church

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By , December 19, 2011 6:18 pm

A few dozen people in a room with about fifty chairs offers a different vibe from the same number of people in, say, a cathedral designed to seat hundreds.

The (American Baptist) Riverfront Family Church began in 2009, gaining about 30 members (as of June 2011) and 300+ newsletter subscribers in the time since. What they lack in numbers, they make up for in devoted congregants. Whenever mentioning that this was going to be one of my Hartford Pew Review stops, those who had ever been there insisted that I go and that I would love it.

The new church meets inside 960 Main, the former G. Fox department store building. The architecture, though not particularly churchy, is an elegant backdrop. Currently, the building is decorated for Christmas. The chairs set out in the atrium are actually nice– not a metal folding chair in sight. Continue reading 'Hartford Pew Review: Riverfront Family Church'»

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