Category: not Hartford

How to Make Schools More Integrated

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By , April 15, 2014 7:30 am

The “Choice Watch: Diversity and Access in Connecticut’s School Choice Programs” report released last week suggests ways that “open choice” schools in Connecticut should work to reduce segregation across racial, linguistic, and ability lines. The report finds that most school choice programs are actually integrated as far as socioeconomic status is concerned, with integration defined quite broadly: enrollment between 25-75% minority students. Continue reading 'How to Make Schools More Integrated'»

Hartford Food Distribution Group Loses Fresh Produce Source

By , March 27, 2014 3:44 pm

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'»

When’s the Next Bus? The Future of Hartford’s Transit System

By , March 10, 2014 8:15 am

Connecticut’s public agencies tasked with managing public transportation services are currently planning the future of transportation for the state. The state Department of Transportation is in the midst of a widespread campaign called Transform CT to solicit public input on its 50 year transportation plan. The Capitol Region Council of Governments will soon begin a comprehensive evaluation of bus lines in the Hartford region.

Both of these efforts touch the city of Hartford’s bus network. So what we do want? What kinds of things should we be asking for? When it comes to improving the bus system, this can be a complex and confusing question even for those of us who ride the bus daily. Many of us feel frustrated with the bus service in Hartford and can cite a litany of complaints—too many connections, no crosstown routes, lack of bus shelters, slow travel speeds and lengthy trips, poor service in the evenings. It’s a big list.

And yet every day (more so on weekdays) all these buses are out driving around the city, often filled with passengers, every single one of them either heading toward or away from downtown.

To get past this vague but overwhelming sense that we could use a better bus system here, we can take some cues from Jarrett Walker’s book Human Transit: How Clearer Thinking about Public Transit Can Enrich Our Communities and Our Lives. Walker suggests that we can start with two factors that affect the performance of a transit system—frequency and span.

Walker is a transportation planner and consultant, but he comes to transportation planning with a background in studying human cultures and languages rather than engineering or management. His is a book that pays close attention to language—for instance, Walker points out the problems with transit planners’ use of the term “captive” to describe people who are forced to use public transportation because they do not own a car. In another instance he argues that referring to transit “connections” is better than calling them “transfers” when one has to switch to a second bus on a given journey because the former sounds more positive.

Walker is known for being a champion for frequency—for more buses to run more often on a given line as the way to serve and attract more riders. (Other transit planners believe that the comfort and aesthetics of transportation vehicles is equally, if not more, important.) Frequency has become Walker’s rallying cry. “Frequency is freedom,” he exclaims. Walker’s argument is that the more often a bus comes to your bus stop matters even more than the average speed that your bus travels once you get going. This seems counter-intuitive, even irrelevant, for trips made with a car. With a personal automobile frequency is never an issue. The car is always there and ready to depart when you are. For bus travel, it’s the waiting that can really kill your sense of mobility. Continue reading 'When’s the Next Bus? The Future of Hartford’s Transit System'»

Policy Delay a Sign of Responsiveness?

By , January 30, 2014 3:50 pm

Governor Malloy issued a letter to the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council on Tuesday urging more “flexibility” and a delay regarding the planned changes to teacher evaluations. There was no mention of delaying or canceling the standardized testing in March; those tests are central to this issue.

This relieves stress for many of those directly affected by the policy that was pushed through in 2012, but some in the media are playing this off as politicians merely being responsive to constituents. Although the current standardized testing does not encourage this, let’s apply some critical thinking and see what evidence leads us to believe. Continue reading 'Policy Delay a Sign of Responsiveness?'»

Gangway! New Political Party On Board

By , January 8, 2014 2:01 pm

Connecticut Pirate Party rally logo // enjoy the translation of that

The captain is elected. The crew, Michael Fryar tells me, covers a wide range of folks. There are female pirates. You know, because equality.

If The Pirate Party seems outlandish, remember that there are individuals who believe it is legitimate to run public schools like businesses. With that perspective, this rising party seems downright logical.

Already, the party has a candidate — to be announced later — it plans to endorse in the next campaign for Connecticut State Senate, 1st District seat. The Pirate Party will have a full slate in Hartford for 2016. This includes three City Councilpersons, a Justice of the Peace, and other candidates. Those candidates will be announced in a year, but none have run for political office previously. Fryar, who has announced his run for mayor, says this is also about having fun. The Republicans and Democrats are not fun, he says. Continue reading 'Gangway! New Political Party On Board'»

January 2014 Events

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By , December 30, 2013 10:32 am

Jan. 1

  • Start off the new year with a little Noam Chomsky. Is the Man Who is Tall Happy? will be playing at Real Art Ways tonight at 7:30. General admission: $10.

Jan. 2

  • First Thursday Gods & Goddesses at the Wadsworth Atheneum. The Hartford Artisans Weaving Center will be doing a weaving demonstration and you can then go make your own art. You’ve never made art at a cocktail party? Time to live a little. The First Thursday festivities go from 5-8pm ($5 admission gets you access to entire museum, so you can just treat this as reduced admission and ignore the throngs of people if that’s your thing) and will be followed by a screening of Before Midnight.
  • The Blue Hills NRZ meets at the Blue Hills Branch Library, 649 Blue Hills Avenue. 6pm.
  • Also at 6pm, the Southend Neighborhood Revitalization Association meets in the Metzner Center, 680 Franklin Avenue.

Jan. 3

Collecting Warmth

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By , December 23, 2013 9:30 am

Unlike the mullet, glittens really are the best of both worlds

It’s not uncommon to see kids trying to skate with their hands tucked into pants’ pockets. Others are not even wearing coats on blustery days.

To mitigate some of this, Winterfest is collecting hats, mittens, gloves, and scarves, in addition to ice skates in all sizes.

If you have outerwear or skates to donate, you can drop off at the skating rink in Bushnell Park, or at any of these locations:

December 2013 Events

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By , November 27, 2013 6:00 am

Chances are your December is already half-filled with obligatory office parties, family engagements, and such, but just in case you have downtime, here are ideas for things you can do in Hartford (mostly) on the cheap (mostly) every day.

December 1

  • The Global Lens Film Series continues this month on Sundays at 2pm. Today’s film: The Parade. In Serbo-Croatian with English subtitles. This will be shown at the Wadsworth Atheneum. It is free, co-sponsored by the Hartford Public Library and Out Film CT.
  • Take a free Intro to Water Color class at StudioN111. First come, first serve — so contact Nina to reserve your space for the 2-3pm class. The studio is located on Pratt Street. Continue reading 'December 2013 Events'»

Suggestion Box: What is Our Steel Yard?

By , November 26, 2013 6:40 pm

Whenever the conversation turns to co-working spaces, it’s the same things that come up again and again: shared copy machines, fax machines, conference rooms, etc. This may appeal to a certain class of individuals, but is not useful for those who are inclined toward skilled manual labor — blacksmithing, welding, ceramics, and jewelery — the type of things that could fall under “industrial arts.” We can all find a photocopier at Kinkos without much trouble, but access to a metal forge? Good luck with that.

Photos by Christopher Brown

The Steel Yard in Providence offers studio space and access to tools, classes, and more at its three acre location in a neighborhood filled with old mills, factories, and foundries. This neighborhood has had its share of tensions and violence, but neither seems to be a deterrent. Last month, The Steel Yard hosted its eighth annual “Halloween Iron Pour,” an event that attracted hundreds of visitors despite the cold, $10 entrance fee, and absence of on-site parking. This collaboration with The Iron Guild is a kind of performance art complete with music by the Empty House Cooperative; props in the form of tiki huts, gods, and a volcano; ceramics and shirts for sale; and food trucks parked far from the fire.

Continue reading 'Suggestion Box: What is Our Steel Yard?'»

Championing Human Rights

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By , October 31, 2013 1:09 pm

Morgan Wienberg was unfazed by the cheers coming from the bar on the other side of Wood-n-Tap each time the Red Sox moved one base closer to the championship; without so much as a pause, she continued telling the Torah on Tap group about the work she has done in Haiti to reunite children with their parents.

Wienberg, originally from Whitehorse, moved to Haiti almost immediately after graduating from high school; while spending five months living in a for-profit orphanage, she began to notice the children there were being exploited and abused. When people would donate shoes, she said, there would be a big show about it, but after the donors left, the children would again be in their bare feet and the shoes would be sold for the personal gain of the orphanage’s owner. Continue reading 'Championing Human Rights'»

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