Category: perception bias

Hartford Unity Community Conversation: “Empower People Already in Hartford”

By , November 22, 2011 10:27 am

Not unusual: people coming into Hartford with big ideas about what residents need and what will “save” us.

The Public Allies — an AmeriCorps program — promise that is not their mission. They insist that they are “not here to re-market Hartford.”

Young adults in the program work with a non-profit four days every week; each Public Allies “community” — Connecticut has ones in Hartford, Bridgeport, and New Haven — undertakes a service project each year.

This year, the group’s goal is to “strengthen community through figuring out assets and problems,” Al Riccio, one of the Allies on the “Greater Hartford Team”, told participants at the Hartford Public Library Monday evening during the Hartford Unity Community Conversation. In chatting with residents, the Public Allies identified that many residents feel “proud to be from the city,” but believe that there are negative perceptions of it due to the news media. He added that a lack of jobs, housing, and access to resources were other issues identified.

During the first of what Public Allies say will be several community conversations, residents were told that the Allies — several of whom are long-time Hartford residents — would be facilitating discussion, but not participating. Heads nodded as residents commented that these conversations need to be in the neighborhoods, not just Downtown. The library was named a “hub,” a natural place for civic discourse to take place, and there are library branches throughout the city.

Broken into small groups, residents and stakeholders named activities that could “create attention toward positive aspects.” In the brainstorm, two groups named the Walk the Frog tour as an example of an event that has highlighted the positive aspects of a neighborhood Continue reading 'Hartford Unity Community Conversation: “Empower People Already in Hartford”'»

A Glance at the West Indian Day Parade

By , August 13, 2011 10:21 pm

The 49th Annual Greater Hartford West Indian Day Parade tried out a different route Saturday afternoon. Continue reading 'A Glance at the West Indian Day Parade'»

Today: West Indian Day Parade

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The parade begins at Main and Battles Streets at noon. It heads South on Main Street, turns onto Trumbull, then continues on Jewell, Ford, and Asylum before ending in Bushnell Park around 2pm.

Dr. Neil Parsan — the Ambassador of Trinidad and Tobago — will be the parade’s Grand Marshall.

There will be a reggae festival beginning around 3pm in Bushnell Park, following parade.

Click here to see photos from the event.

Climate Summer

By , July 6, 2011 3:48 pm

Eighteen people, ranging from traditional college students to retirees, gathered in a musty basement bordering the Trinity College campus, yet not one was currently affiliated with this institution. Reaching them required navigating around the bicycles; bikes were tied to the chain link fence, to other bikes, to the porch, or just leaning against the narrow hallway walls inside.

Five young adults from New England Climate Summer were meeting with community members during their week-long stop in Hartford. They are one team of six taking part in this action and are cycling across New England specifically to speak with local activists in various towns and cities so that these individuals and organizations are acknowledged.

The Connecticut/Rhode Island team — an all female team — began in Providence (RI) before coming to Hartford. Next, they will make stops in Bridgeport, North Kingstown (RI), Westerly (RI), Stonington, Mystic,New Haven, and will end their trip in Roxbury/Boston (MA). The majority of all New England Climate Summer participants, actually, are women.

After Thursday evening’s potluck meeting, attended by folks affiliated with CCEJ and The Summer of Solutions, and others, I spoke with women from the Climate Summer Connecticut/Rhode Island team about their adventure so far. To set out on such a trip, one would expect the cyclists to have raced or at least trained for it. Instead, they said:

No one in the group has [done] anything like this before. In fact, most of us weren’t even avid cyclists before the trip. We’re learning as we go, and I think a lot of us will definitely be inspired to bike much more now that we’ve had this experience. Now that we’ve done a couple of 50+ mile days, biking one or two miles to the store won’t seem like a big deal.

This home in Shandaken, New York (near Woodstock) is one of many with anti-fracking signs in the yard.

This might not seem like a lifestyle change to some, but 40% of trips people in urban areas take are within two miles of home, yet 90% of those trips are made using an automobile. In an age when peak oil is no longer something that may possibly happen in a few generations’ time, it’s hopeful that there are young people taking energy issues seriously.

While they report a few minor snags, like potholes, debris in the road, and the lack of shoulders, they say that generally, their experience has been “very positive”:

Avoiding using automobiles for the summer is much more doable than people might initially think.

The Climate Summer group says they have “most enjoyed Continue reading 'Climate Summer'»

A Total Knockout of a Parade

By , June 5, 2011 3:45 pm

The 2011 Greater Hartford Puerto Rican Day Parade kicked off at eleven this morning and made its way down Main Street, before turning toward Bushnell Park.

Continue reading 'A Total Knockout of a Parade'»

Frog, Walked.

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By , May 16, 2011 5:45 pm

Last Saturday, about 25 people took part in a free walking tour through parts of the Frog Hollow neighborhood. The purpose of this was mainly to highlight the remainder of the Lyric Theater, but also to show some of the other interesting historical and cultural aspects of the area. For those who missed it, here’s how it went.

The group met up at La Paloma Sabanera and headed up Babcock Street to the Park Branch of the Hartford Public Library.

Continue reading 'Frog, Walked.'»

Thugs and Gangbangers of Pope Park

By , May 14, 2011 7:18 pm

This past week a young child died after he was struck by a vehicle. The news reports have been inconsistent and inaccurate by misreporting the child’s age. Several reports have instantly villainized the motor vehicle driver and have framed him as a “coward” in the same way that the person who evaded responsibility in the famous Park Street hit-and-run had been, despite the fact that this young adult turned himself in to police hours after the incident. I am reminded of an article I wrote over a year ago about how evading responsibility in such instances is not something that Hartford residents have a monopoly on, and how most of these drivers seem to do the right thing once they get over the initial shock and fear. Poor reporting does not help justice, nor does it paint an accurate picture for news consumers, many of whom are willing to pass judgment without relying on factual information. In reports, the area where the accident occurred was described as a road. At one time a road did go through the park; however, several years ago, the thru-street was removed. It is far more accurate to describe this section of pavement as a driveway, as it leads to a parking lot. It’s true that “Pope Park Drive” is listed on Google Maps, but as is necessary to remind people, Google Maps is often incorrect. The inability to accurately describe a place shows a disconnect with that area. This disconnect is seen again in reader comments left on the articles.

Here are a few gems from the comment section on WTNH:

I couldnt see the person hanging around after that. We are talking pope park in Hartford. That place is full of thugs and gangbangers. Best bet was what he did,Go to the PD. otherwise they would of attacked him. These people are into street justice..

And another:

If there were no roads through these parks, how would the police and ambulances get to all the Thursday afternoon “family gatherings” where someone OD’s or someone gets stabbed, beaten, or shot?

And another:

Pope Park should be closed, Its full of thugs and Dealers. Continue reading 'Thugs and Gangbangers of Pope Park'»

Trinity Students Protest Hate on Campus

By , April 26, 2011 4:24 pm

“We’re Here/We’re Queer/We’re Fabulous/Don’t Fuck with Us” was a chant heard on the Trinity College quad Tuesday afternoon. A few hundred students, faculty, and staff wearing neon green ribbons gathered in front of Mather Hall at noon to demand a Zero Tolerance policy for those committing acts of bigotry on campus. This protest was called in response to a series of hate crimes on the Trinity College campus. Most recently, a Latino Trinity student, according to a report in the Hartford Courant, was told to get off the campus by a white student. The Latino student was reportedly called a “nigger” after having a beer launched at his car. This was noted as the third reported racist incident on campus in approximately one month.

At Tuesday’s protest, a number of students held signs and wore name tags announcing who they were, that they were students, and that they were not to be referred to by various hate slurs. Before marching to the Dean of Students’ office and other locations on campus, several students and a professor spoke to the crowd. The professor said “we demand to live in a culture that is civilized.” A student speaker called for the isolation of those who commit hate crimes, explaining, “they divide our community [...] they create an environment of fear.” Continue reading 'Trinity Students Protest Hate on Campus'»

Saluting Parkville Cuisine

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By , April 21, 2011 4:12 pm

The First Night banners — displayed for months after the New Year’s Eve event had passed — around Bushnell Park were exchanged for fresher ones that are not specific to any season.

One banner depicts Tastease donuts, which have gotten a load of press, are located in a visible spot on a main thoroughfare, and are now stocked at The Market at Hartford 21.

Other banners declare that Hartford has “fun” and “style.” Well, duh.

iQuilt Phase II: Part 3 of 3

By , March 31, 2011 3:01 pm

Image from

Part 1: Overview and “Users and Uses”

Part 2: Lighting and Nighttime Use of Park; Water and Landscaping

Bushnell Park’s Relationship to the City

A question that I am always asking about any development is who will be benefiting. It’s fine to want to draw wealthy professionals into the city, but not if it means ignoring the needs of current residents. Something heartening about these discussions was that nobody was proposing anything that sounded like an attempt to change an historical park Downtown into a Disneyland. There was a balance between providing for existing park users and potential park users. Even in the discussion about raising up Gully Brook, nobody asked for anything (like duck boats) that would not fit in a small city.

This last session dealt with not so much what happens within the park, but how the park happens in the city. There was discussion about its entryways and boundaries. One idea was to extend the park to Tower Square, which is that foreboding slab of concrete you see when walking out of the park and up Gold Street. It’s always cordoned off now and functions as a dead space. The concept of extending the park space in this way is one that was mentioned in the very early stages of the iQuilt project.

There was discussion of creating a “better city edge” that would support the park. Basically, this entails, as Suisman put it, “putting streets on a road diet” by paring some down. When streets are wide, motorists drive faster. This means that they are not slowing down to look at their environment, and they certainly are not slowing down for pedestrians. Anyone who has ever tried to bike down Capitol Avenue near the I-84 on/off ramp can attest to this. Basically, the infrastructure sends the message that we want people to move through as quickly as possible.

When narrowing travel lanes, there would be potential to add bike lanes or make other use of the space.

The need to make the area along Elm Street more walkable was discussed. In all of this, one hopes that there is attention given to the need for these areas to all be walkable during the winter months as well. Having a nice view is a plus, but if people can not go from point A to point B because some clown left a snowbank in the middle of the sidewalk, that view does not really matter. This past winter demonstrated this issue all too well, as there were no thru-paths in the entire park for several weeks. Just as the city does not shut down at 5pm, it should not be expected to shut down during January. Continue reading 'iQuilt Phase II: Part 3 of 3'»

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