commentary/editorial

Best Most Awesome Superlatives 2015

Best Low-Expense Improvements Award

Best New Dining: Little River Restoratives, 405 Capitol Avenue

PARK(ing) Day: Forget, for a moment, that these improvements were temporary. Pavement, usually reserved for parked cars, was covered with sod for a few hours. These tiny parks were populated with musicians, improv performers, and artists. In some cases, these were simply places to sit. The appearance of these spots changed the mood of passersby on their lunch breaks. No need to construct stadiums or monuments. A few square feet of green can be enough to make a difference, if not financial, at least emotional.

Reducing the thing people seem to believe there is not enough of actually boosted the quality of street life in downtown Hartford for part of one work day.

Sweetest Under-the-Radar Event Award

This is a tie between Cranksgiving and Sharing the Warmth.

The former is the local edition of a widespread event that is basically a scavenger hunt and food drive combined. It engages children and cyclists of all levels, and the benefits go right back to a food pantry in our community. Given its start at Trinity College, it also acts as a way of encouraging positive interaction between students and the community.

Sharing the Warmth was a one-day clothing drive and giveaway, but done in a way that allowed those in need to gather up what they need while maintaining dignity. Coats, gloves, hats, and scarves were brought to where those who’d benefit from having them could be found. (more…)

2015 Holiday Anti-Shopping Guide

GIVING

Venom Vintage, Whitney Street

I hate Giving Tuesday. It goes: Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday. What? So, only after you have shelled out money everywhere else should you consider charitable giving? False. For this reason, we list giving first.

 

  • ImmaCare — emergency shelter, permanent supportive housing, outreach, education and employment.

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Art Everywhere Weekend

“My Precious Stones” by Laurie Lemek could be viewed at Connecticut Historical Society on Elizabeth Street

Every November, venues around Hartford host artists for one weekend. Experience varies by location.

For the first time, 1429 Park Street offered up one floor for a mix of live music and dancing after hours, effectively extending the viewing time for artwork at this site. This is where dancers were painted as part of the performance, where a loud droning filled the mostly unfinished second floor. People wrote and drew in chalk on the floors. It was intended as an immersive experience; some got into it, others let this be their social hour, and kids dove into paint and what looked like fake snow, taking “immersive” literally.

Venom Vintage on Whitney Street promised to be just as edgy, but if you were hoping to see live graffiti art at the time advertised, you would have been out of luck. There was some pre-existing work on the walls in the store and in back. On one side of the space, visitors were encouraged to add doodles to a “zentangle art wall.” You could look at the secondhand clothing store as being art hanging on the racks, but hold off on getting excited about that. The store owner, Dina Brass, says the future of Venom Vintage in this location is uncertain; according to her, the building owner has a problem with the graffiti at the space. It has been approximately one year since Venom Vintage relocated to the West End from Park Street, almost on the West Hartford line. (more…)

In Your Neighborhood: Parkville

The tendency is to want every depiction to be beautiful, for our dirty laundry to never be noticed on the line. But how does one put something out there and expect invisibility?

Parkville might be faring better than some surrounding neighborhoods when it comes to warding off or dealing with things like graffiti and blight, but it is not immune either. (more…)

Another Disorganized Convention Results in Endorsements Over Two Days

The parking lot at Bulkeley High has seen better days. Grass grows up in a handicapped spot. An empty bottle of booze sits where someone left it. The building is imposing, with few windows and no signs of joy. It looks and feels like a place one attends by force, not because it’s a center for intellectual growth that one may opt into.

With the Democratic Town Committee‘s convention slated to begin at 6 p.m., politicians, committee members, and families began to gather hours in advance on Bulkeley’s steps, some to rally for their candidates, others to avoid sitting down.

It’s not hard to stand and chat, delaying entrance to what will no doubt feel like a cage for the rest of the evening. Knowing how these go, we knew it would be inexpedient and frustrating. Snacks would need to be eaten surreptitiously, lest we get asked to leave and end up missing something. They want to preserve the auditorium’s new carpet, and who can begrudge them of that? It appears to be the only update to the room that is otherwise stuck in the mid-1970s. There’s no Wi-Fi. Outlets are hard to find. If they have any technology developed in the past 40 years, they weren’t using it, with the vote tally later being kept on a large white board that could barely be read. (more…)

Election Season: Debate in the South

left-to-right: Luke Bronin, Joel Cruz, Jr., John Gale, Giselle Jacobs, Robert Killian, Mayor Segarra, Lew Brown

Cognitive dissonance: when a candidate goes to a debate for south neighborhoods — set in one of them — and proceeds to claim that this part of the city gets advantages that the north end does not. (more…)

Conversations with the Candidates: Impressions

“Why isn’t the mayor here?”

That was the first question asked by an audience member, before the official time for questions began — before anything really began — at the Business for Downtown Hartford’s “Candid Conversations” event. (more…)

CTFastrak: A Seat-of-the-Pants Review

Part One: Frog Hollow to Firefly Hollow

Photo by Christopher Brown

A friend had suggested a Sunday morning meet-up at the downtown New Britain CTFastrak terminal for a leisurely bike ride to Bristol’s Firefly Hollow Brewing Company. I rode my bike to the Sigourney Street Fastrak station in Asylum Hill to catch a free ride to Hard Hittin’ New Britain. A woman in a bright vest offered a decal and advice about the best entrance to use when loading a bike on the bus. (Tip: there’s a bike pictogram by the rearmost door—go in that way) (more…)

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