The In Your Neighborhood series involves walking or biking around Hartford to show the different areas as they happen to be on a given day.
Sometimes there are lots of people out. Sometimes there are few. Sometimes the people seen are doing nothing of interest.
Not having people in photographs does not mean that human presence is absent. We constantly see reminders of how people manipulate the landscape. We see the trends, the refuse, the likes, and the dislikes.
Want to find an issue that unifies Hartford’s neighborhoods?
We have noticed anti-dog and anti-dog waste signs in almost every neighborhood we have walked through. Some of the signs are standard. Others show more personality.
If you look carefully, you see signs of life behind the infrastructure. These roads, these sidewalks did not magically appear. People decide what goes where. They can choose to fix or to let this fall into disrepair.
But where are the people?
It’s a question for which answers are demanded in Hartford, but not of the surrounding towns, even though the answers are more or less the same.
Here is the church. Here is the steeple. Open it up and see all the people.
The dominant culture does not esteem loitering. If you are out, we are told it should be with purpose. We know this by the lack of benches, by the signs telling us to move on, by the looks given if we dawdle. Reasons are found for discouraging people from using our parks. People offer rides to those on foot– a thoughtful gesture that so often misses the point. Some of us want to be immersed in the world, not be shuttled quickly between two points.
The people are inside. Inside the chapels and dorms, inside the houses and office buildings, inside the buses and cars.
If you want the streets to be less empty, then you need to be the one to start walking. There is no such thing as waving a magic wand to solve problems or make our world look more like what we want it to.
If you don’t go out to see for yourself, you are stuck with everyone else’s interpretations and your own assumptions.
Is that any way to be alive?