Photo by Nichole Guerra / Art by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh
Passersby near the Charter Oak Cultural Center may have noticed some new literature posted around the neighborhood on their commutes within Hartford this week. Without context, the pieces appear to be nothing more than isolated and vague quotes, commanding the reader to show respect to an unknown author for an unknown reason, but they are really part of a larger, nationwide movement to bring awareness to what is more commonly becoming known as street harassment.
Street harassment – the unwelcome honking, cat-calls, or other unwanted advances that women, and even men, experience when walking from point A to point B – is one form of harassment that society has begun to accept as an unavoidable fact of life. If we haven’t been on the receiving or giving end, we have at least witnessed it first-hand or know someone who has experienced its unsettling effect. Speaking out against it is viewed as futile, and those outspoken few who do respond could be inviting more unwelcome advances, often times more aggressive and dangerous. Continue reading '“Stop Telling Women to Smile” Stops in Hartford'»
Gown worn in “Adam’s Rib”
Whether or not women should “lean in” or close the “confidence gap” are debates of the moment, but this fretting should have been settled decades ago.
Do you or someone you know need help figuring out how to be a tough dame? Turn to Katharine Hepburn. She was:
- Sent home from school for wearing pants. Went back the next day wearing pants. How did she get the confidence for this? Mom (Katharine Houghton Hepburn) telling the school, basically, you leave the parenting to me, could not have hurt.
- Later, when the RKO studio tried to get her to stop wearing slacks, she made a point by walking out in her underwear.
- Did her own stunts, including when she was in her later years. Grew up in a house (133 Hawthorn Street) where the family had a zip line installed. Coincidence?
- Got busted in college for smoking in her dorm. Drove around Hartford without a license.
- Had a reputation for being prickly and defiant. . .
- Earned twelve Oscar nominations and won four of those times. Continue reading 'How to Become a Tough Broad in Six Steps and Three Pairs of Custom Made Shoes'»
Every Sunday for the past eight years, Hartford Food Not Bombs has received donations of produce from the Whole Foods in West Hartford Center. This is food that is suitable for human consumption, but often not aesthetically appealing enough to get top dollar from consumers. Instead of dumping it, the company has been generously gifting it to this grassroots organization, which has been serving it as part of the free, vegetarian meals distributed near the carousel in Bushnell Park on Sunday afternoons.
This month, that arrangement came to a halt.
On March 2, when volunteers arrived for the weekly pickup, they were told that Whole Foods would be changing how it donates food that would otherwise land in the dumpster. The organization tried to set up a meeting with the manager, but to date, the only discussion between these parties has been through email.
The grocery store is now working with Food Donation Connection to coordinate how and where it gives. Before, groups like Food Not Bombs were able to work directly with the corporation known for its high quality food. That relationship appears to have dissolved overnight, with the community organization having to work with a third party that says Food Not Bombs in its current state does not qualify as a charitable organization and is now unable to receive the food donations as it had been for almost a decade. Continue reading 'Hartford Food Distribution Group Loses Fresh Produce Source'»
The Hartford Board of Education was not suggesting a leadership change or closure, said outgoing Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto at a BOE meeting in January. At the time, she reassured everyone that the schools accepted into the Commissioner’s Network would not experience the rushed overhaul that was witnessed at the Milner School a few years back. Parents and the community were told that they would be able to examine a number of school models that could be replicated; those schools could include ones within the district. Kishimoto herself cited Betances as an example of a school with a model that could be followed elsewhere.
Now, the Clark School community says that the Connecticut State Board of Education has served them up with an ultimatum.
At the end of February, the turnaround committee for the Clark School, which includes parents, teachers, and administrators, flew to Washington D.C. to look at the Friendship School model. Hartford Rising!, a group that evolved out of Clark Rising, claims that State Department of Education representative Andrew Ferguson and Hartford Board of Education representative Oliver Barton have told parents that the turnaround committee would not be investigating any other models. Shonta Browdy of Hartford Rising! says parents had been told “either they would approve the Friendship model or all educational funding would be denied.” Continue reading 'Clark School Community Resists Ultimatum'»
Between lists written by those who can’t see beyond the major institutions and shoddily researched, outdated articles authored by someone who spent little time in Hartford and has since moved elsewhere, it seemed appropriate to revisit just a few of the things we have going on here. As we have said before, we have to ♥ Mark Twain because when you move into Hartford you take an oath swearing as much, but we know that Twain and his legacy are not the only game in town:
One bike decorated for the Real Ride
- The Real Ride: during times of year when snow is not on the ground, cyclists of varying ability decorate their bikes with lights, streamers, giant puppets, beads, and more, and take a ten-mile slow ride around the city, at night. The group — in the hundreds — leaves from the Real Art Ways parking lot, taking a different route each time. On one ride, a cyclist towed a trailer on which an entire drum kit was set up and played during the ride. Other rides have featured a shopping cart bike with a giant dragon head mounted on it. This is free and all ages, beginning around nightfall and ending several hours later, as the group makes stops to view fireworks, participate in a drumming circle, or watch improv. What makes this significant? The ride gets people on the streets of Hartford after dark, doing more than just running off to their cars.
- Cedar Hill Cemetery: this is a place of peace and quiet, a place to see deer grazing around dusk, and a place to quietly recreate. That’s encouraged. They have hosted films, bird walks, and tours of the cemetery’s notable residents. Around Halloween, actors portray some of those residents in a lantern tour. Art, history, and nature collide here.
One contestant in the Art Sled Derby, 2014
- Art Sled Derby: For two years in a row, people have gathered at the hill in Elizabeth Park with sleds, some simple, and some seeming to challenge the idea of “sled.” There are no waivers, no fees. And there shouldn’t be. This is one of the regular sledding hills…but there is not usually the possibility of winning a bizarre trophy made of doll parts or competing against someone riding a bed down the slope. Unlike art galleries where work is curated, all entries are viewable. Even the creations that fall apart within seconds earn cheers from onlookers.
Continue reading 'Top Ten Non-Twain Things to Do in Hartford'»
Butch Lewis: co-founder of Black Panther Party, Hartford chapter
The conversation was supposed to continue until 3pm, but well before that time, the library announced the panel would be wrapping up, despite panelists and audience members showing continued interest in having an actual conversation about the Black Panthers and continued racial tensions. This was not received well and people demanded to know why. There was mention of jazz starting at 3pm in the atrium. After some verbal resistance, the event was allowed to resume and panelists ended it on their own, just a few minutes before the official stop time.
Butch Lewis, co-founder of the Hartford chapter of the Black Panthers Party, observed that “we are more segregated now” in the city than when the party was active. He named the number of anti-poverty organizations in the city; without spelling it out, Lewis implied that the poverty agencies have been benefitting from this social injustice, rather than addressing it.
When looking at how race relations have changed, he was not the only person in the room to notice that the education system suffers. Councilwoman Cynthia Jennings, during Q&A, noted that while the Black Panther Party “gave us some alternatives,” Hartford still has “educational disparities” and that there are no black department heads. Continue reading 'Thoughts on Black Power'»
Although Tuesday night’s Hartford Board of Education special meeting had only two agenda items for public comment, you would have never known it from the hundreds of people, especially Weaver students, who packed into the Fred D. Wish Elementary School gymnasium. It was a sea of forest green hoodies. Proudly emblazed on the hoodies was the rallying cry of the night: “Weaver Strong.” In addition, Weaver students greeted every attendee with a handout celebrating the school’s achievements. Thundering drum beats in the school’s lobby foretold of a battle. Handheld placards proclaiming “Weaver Forever” were placed on every seat. Ironically, the presumed fight over the future of Weaver High School was the least contentious event of the night.
The massive turnout of Weaver students, parents, alumni, and staff was the dissatisfaction with the Board’s communication with the school’s community. The show of force was to ensure the survival of Weaver, including its traditions, history, and legacy. The issue at hand was the future move of Weaver Culinary Academy to a temporary location at the Lincoln Culinary Institute on Sigourney St. Weaver High School is slated for a $100 million rehabilitation and the entire school must be relocated to Lincoln while construction occurs.
Rumors had been swirling over the future of Weaver, but the real issue, as the school’s principal Tim Goodwin explained, was the glacial pace of the project and the numerous unanswered questions over the school’s future. The leadership of the Blue Hills Civic Association also peppered the board with questions over the developer of the Weaver site and lack of communication with the neighborhood. Continue reading 'Known Knowns and Unknown Unknowns: Hartford BOE Edition'»
Not everyone in Hartford spent every minute of this past weekend waist-deep in buffalo wings and watching those $4 million commercial spots.
Two radical cultural events got people out of their houses. Continue reading 'Shoeleather vs. Pigskin'»
Mille Soto and Rob Harrison speak at the Hartford Rising Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Rally at the Clark School in Hartford
A school is determined to be in need of help; instead of consulting with the community about how improvements should be made, there is an attempt to turn it over to a quasi-public management company. When parents and community members speak out, this is dropped– for the time being — only for another school in a different neighborhood to be told it should be given away. Again, parents and community members speak out. The matter is not settled entirely, but it appears that the people will retain some control over their own schools.
In the neighborhoods where these schools are located, it is sometimes easier to get a beer than affordable, nutritional foods. Continue reading 'Hartford Rising to Create a Community Bill of Rights'»