Connecticut Immigrant Rights Alliance (CIRA) and Connecticut Immigrant Voices Coalition (CIVIC) sponsored a rally and festival in Bushnell Park this weekend, with the afternoon’s events including musical performances, dance, and the telling of personal challenges with the immigration experience. Continue reading 'Multicultural Festival Promotes Immigration Reform'»
On the National Day of Action for immigration reform, Hartford joined cities across the United States as people took to the streets downtown during evening rush hour.
The Connecticut Immigrant Rights Alliance (CIRA) organized the event, with rallies at both the Old State House and State Capitol, and a march in between.
CIRA is comprised of many organizations including the ACLU of CT, African American Affairs Commission, AFT Connecticut, Apostle Immigrant Services, Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Brazilian Immigrant Center, Center for Latino Progress, Comunidad Inmigrante de East Haven, Connecticut AFL-CIO, Connecticut Center for New Economy, Connecticut Coalition to Stop Indefinite Detention, Connecticut Students for a Dream, Immigration Rights Task Force of the Unitarian Society of New Haven, Immigration Task Force of New York Annual Conference of United Methodist Church, International Institute of Connecticut, Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services (IRIS), Junta for Progressive Action, Latino Advocacy Foundation, MECha de Yale, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), New Haven Peoples Center, Oficina Católica de Justicia Social de La Arquidiócesis de Hartford, Seminarians for a Democratic Society, SEIU-32BJ, SEIU-State Council, Somos CT, Unidad Latina en Acción, UNITE HERE, and United Action Connecticut.
Today, the Karen celebrate the first day of their New Year — 2752.
The local Karen community prepared a buffet-style breakfast, which lasted for hours before the formal program began in the Center for Contemporary Culture at the Hartford Public Library.
The Asylum Hill neighborhood is where many of the Karen now live. This population, primarily originating from Burma¹ and Thailand, has come to the United States as refugees.
That is only one piece of this ethnic group’s history. During the celebration, there was a “culture show” to provide a glimpse of what life had been like in Burma. The dramatic reenactments showed life in a society of farmers, hunters, and gatherers. Courtship rituals and the typical marriage ceremony, along with a wrist-tying ceremony, were demonstrated. This show gave insight into a cooperative model of education in which children are expected to learn from their peers. Similarly, the values of kindness, helpfulness, and cooperation are seen in how household chores are shared between the sexes.
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. Continue reading 'Still Revolutionary, Real Hartford-Style'»
To this day there are individuals who believe President Obama is a Muslim, and of them, those who believe this is a deficit. Every few years the American Psychiatric Association revisits the question of whether racism and other forms of extreme bias should be considered forms of mental illness, to the dismay of those who predict hate crimes being committed by those who will then be able to claim insanity in defense of their actions.
The origins of negative images surrounding Islam will be a topic for discussion this Wednesday at the Hartford Public Library. The panel discussion will include: Dr. M. Reza Mansoor, MD Founding Member of Muslim Coalition of CT; Kareem W. Shora, Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security; Rabia Chaudhry Esq, President, Safe Nation Collaborative; and Mongi Dhaouadi, Executive Director, Council of American Islamic Relations.
This discussion will begin at 6p.m. in the “Center for Contemporary Culture.” A free screening of Amreeka, a comedy, will immediately follow the discussion at 7:15 on May 23, 2012.
Pushpins pierced over twenty countries on a world map, showing the diverse origins of those participating in or just stopping by to learn about the community dialogues on adult education. Among those represented: Nepal, Russia, Germany, Sudan, and Colombia. A range of experience was represented, from those who were born in the United States, to those making the move as children, to those uprooted as refugees. In Hartford, this kind of diversity is not out of the ordinary.
The grant funding these forums intends “to give immigrants a specific sense of belonging in America, and experience as active community participants and future civic-minded individuals.” This project — “Creating a Vibrant Hartford: Adult Learning as a Pathway to Change” — allowed participants, immigrants and native-born alike, to participate in a democratic process. Continue reading 'From Talk to Action on Adult Learning as a Pathway to Change'»
As over ninety people filed into the library atrium, they were greeted by the aroma of vegetable pakora, a welcome alternative to the standard satisfying-but-dull sandwiches; a pianist played tunes to create an inviting mood for the Community Dialogue Kick-off Event last week.
“Diversity also means inclusiveness,” Mayor Segarra told the crowd, as he spoke in support for greater access to learning opportunities, especially for immigrants. A part of inclusiveness, he suggested, was making sure that immigrant community is not “placed in a holding pattern for ten or fifteen years.”
Segarra – who described how at age fifteen, without a diploma, he attended college — was one of several speakers advocating for “Adult Learning as a Pathway to Change,” the theme of the Community Dialogues. Continue reading 'Community Dialogues on Adult Learning'»
A pilot community dialogue will be taking place at the Hartford Public Library on Saturday, February 18, 2012, from 9 until noon.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because a similar dialogue took place last summer.
This pilot dialogue is intended to give interested parties practice with the community dialogue before the Immigrant Civic Engagement Project moves into its recruitment phase. Continue reading 'Immigrant Civic Engagement Project Community Dialogue'»
Three police on horseback kept themselves at a respectful distance from activists near the Bank of America on Park Street. Saturday morning’s march had been billed as a family-friendly, law-abiding event, yet a speaker from Occupy New Haven threw around phrases that could be interpreted otherwise, at one point telling the throng to “seize the banks,” while the crowd stood opposite one. It is this uncareful rhetoric that escalates tense situations and alienates others who would have joined in. It makes one curious as to who this “99%” actually is if there is a lack of sensitivity toward those with children (this, in effect, primarily excludes mothers from the movement), those who can not risk arrest because they can not afford to be bailed out from jail, and those who can not risk injury because they lack health insurance.
Ignoring the weight words carry only further dilutes the message.
As the anti-Bank of America activists walked down Broad Street and Park Street, residents and shop owners, for the most part, looked puzzled. Sometimes the chants were about banks getting bailed out, but other times, the chanting called for an occupation of Hartford; little thought seems to have gone into what this might sound like in a neighborhood where many residents’ native countries have actually experienced occupation.
And this population along Park Street is not one Occupy Hartford activists should want to alienate. If anyone knows something about poverty, unemployment, rental housing, and medical bills, it’s Hartford locals. According to data from HartfordInfo.org, 42% of Frog Hollow residents live below the poverty line; the median household income for this neighborhood is just above $17,000. Almost all of the housing in this area is rental. The Park Street corridor might not have as much to say about student loans as some of the Occupy Hartford activists, but the residents could offer more insight about what it is like to live paycheck-to-paycheck and worry about whether or not the electricity will not be shut off that month.
Despite the lapse in judgement by a few, Saturday’s march remained peaceful. The police-to-activist ratio was something like 10-to-1, perhaps in part to the public announcement that civil disobedience was being discussed as a possible tactic. While activists stood across from Bank of America, one was inside closing her account, which was, after all, the purpose of Bank Transfer Day. Continue reading 'Occupy Hartford: Marching through el barrio'»
“Isn’t this the happiest day?”
Nancy Wyman, the Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut, enthusiastically posed that question to the crowd at Tuesday’s naturalization ceremony, held in the atrium of the Hartford Public Library.
The 28 new Americans came from 18 different countries: Afghanistan, Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Chile, China, Colombia, Ghana, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Poland, and Saint Lucia; the largest number of new Americans came from Poland. Continue reading '28 Immigrants Take Oath of Allegiance'»