Still Revolutionary, Real Hartford-Style

By , May 24, 2012 10:04 am

Connecticut is not boring. It is revolutionary. Still.

But tourism websites and ad agencies never capture this for a multitude of reasons, giving the masses yet another branding campaign to mock.

One reason these don’t work: they are too slick. We know someone is trying to sell us on a trip here or there. The realness is removed through photography and videography that is just too polished. There’s no human voice there.

Contrast that with two homegrown sites that exist primarily for the authors’ own amusement. Connecticut Museum Quest, authored by Stephen Wood, comes with its own mission statement: “destroying the myth that there is nothing to do here.”  Wood, often with his family in tow, travels around the state exploring museums, trails, food, and specializing in the quirky. This is how I learned there is something called “peak-bagging,” which is not what it sounds like. If all you know about Connecticut is Mystic Seaport, Mark Twain, and Mohegan Sun, this is the site to visit. He’ll show you everything on and off the beaten path, make you laugh while doing it, and tell the truth about which places have employees with nasty attitudes or venues with inconsistent hours. Even if you have lived in Connecticut your entire life, this site will introduce you to at least one thing you did not know existed.

The Size of Connecticut is a blog about the author’s “attempt to discover (and live in and travel around and photograph) these 4,845 sq. miles.” Johnna Kaplan was raised in Westport, where she understandably developed a skewed sense of what the rest of Connecticut was like; now, in New London, she travels the state learning about life outside of Fairfield County. This is where to find out about synagogues randomly in the middle of nowhere, replica schoolhouses, and what might attract young(ish) people (back) to Connecticut. Yes, she writes about Nathan Hale, but her portrayal has flavor.

There is nothing touristy about these sites, yet they are compelling in ways that the well-funded official sites are not.

The Connecticut Office of Tourism’s website is not without merit. There is information. It does make Connecticut appear attractive. But there are gaps. Look at the “Creative in Connecticut” list, for example. Someone unfamiliar with our state may glance at it and believe that we lack in creativity; we simply lack in people willing to put together comprehensive lists about creative offerings. To be fair, the “This Weekend” lists are better than the “Getaways.”

The other major failing of the “Still Revolutionary” official propaganda is that it wholly ignores activism in Connecticut today. Governor Malloy should get credit for acknowledging Connecticut’s role in the sexual revolution, but he speaks of it in the wrong verb tense. Additionally, there are other battles still being fought over other types of inequality. Here are just a few reminders from recent memory; clicking on the photos will take you to the full stories:

In October 2011, anti-war demonstrators filled Hartfords City Hall before marching to the State Capitol

In October 2011, anti-war demonstrators filled Hartford's City Hall before marching to the State Capitol

Supporters of immigration rights marched from the Keney Memorial Clock Tower to Barnard Park

When a student, weeks from graduation, was threatened with deportation, the community came out on his behalf. As a result, he was permitted to remain in the country, where he received the diploma he earned.

When a student, weeks from graduation, was threatened with deportation, the community came out on his behalf. As a result, he was permitted to remain in the country, where he received the diploma he earned.

Number of activists were arrested for blocking an interstate entrance ramp after taking part in a peaceful march

A dozen activists were arrested for blocking an interstate entrance ramp after taking part in a peaceful march in 2011. This was an attempt to draw attention to economic issues. The mainstream media misreported this as being an Occupy action.

There was, however, several Occupy sites in Connecticut, including one in Hartford. The Occupy Hartford encampment was just steps from both the State Capitol and the Hartford Courant.

There was, however, several "Occupy" sites in Connecticut, including one in Hartford. The Occupy Hartford encampment was just steps from both the State Capitol and the Hartford Courant.

The Hartford Courant has had its own controversies, including one which has prompted pickets and marches because of the dismissal of cleaning staff.

The Hartford Courant has had its own controversies, including one which has prompted pickets and marches because of the dismissal of cleaning staff.

Despite attempts by some to turn the discussion into one about bathrooms, a bill prohibiting employment, housing, and public discrimination for  adding gender identity and expression to the list of

Despite attempts by some to turn the discussion into one about bathrooms, a bill prohibiting employment, housing, and public discrimination due to "gender identity and expression" passed through the Connecticut General Assembly and was signed by Governor Malloy last year.

Community activists fought against the mainstream belief that progress means knocking down every single blighted building. After thirty years of neglect -- many of which occured while the City of Hartford had ownership of the building -- the old Lyric Theater has been promised a new life as a cultural center

Community activists fought against the mainstream belief that progress means knocking down every single blighted building. After thirty years of neglect -- many of which occurred while the City of Hartford had ownership of the building -- the old Lyric Theater has been promised a new life as a cultural center

In all of the talk about why young people are not remaining in Connecticut, what is missed is that we have young people and they are demanding respect. Last year students at Trinity rallied against racism and homophobia on campus, demanding administration adopt a zero tolerance policy when hate crimes are committed.

In all of the talk about why young people are not remaining in Connecticut, what is missed is that we have young people and they are demanding respect. Last year students at Trinity rallied against racism and homophobia on campus, demanding administration adopt a zero tolerance policy when hate crimes are committed.

Connecticut still continues to speak out against double standards and what has been dubbed rape culture. In 2011 a group of (mostly) young women participated in a Slut Walk in which they asserted the right to dress however they choose without that being used to justify rape and assault.

Connecticut still continues to speak out against double standards and what has been dubbed "rape culture." In 2011 a group of (mostly) young women participated in a "Slut Walk" in which they asserted the right to dress however they choose without that being used to justify rape and assault.

Just last month there was a rally for gender equity in Bushnell Park...that lawn adjacent to the State Capitol.

Just last month there was a rally for gender equity in Bushnell Park...that lawn adjacent to the State Capitol.

Likewise, there were rallies on back-to-back days at the Capitol, bringing 1000 activists each day with a message for Governor Malloy to slow down and listen to teachers concerns about education reform.

Likewise, there were rallies on back-to-back days at the Capitol, bringing 1000 activists each day with a message for Governor Malloy to slow down and listen to teachers' concerns about "education reform."

One can only imagine why these types of images were not included in the Still Revolutionary campaign. Too revolutionary?

One can only imagine why these types of images were not included in the Still Revolutionary campaign. Still too revolutionary?

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