quality of life

Suggestion Box: Ask More of the Chain Stores

There are six CVS stores in Hartford. Only one is in a building with any architectural flair, and that downtown location is set to move into another space in the near future. (The one on Washington Street built in place of an historical building that was torn down instead of reused does not count as having character.) Otherwise, the ubiquitous pharmacy with a penchant for dull, box construction — with an easy-to-reverse-your-car-through façade —  presents opportunity for visual improvement. This is equally true of other chain stores found in Hartford, from gas stations to doughnut shops.

A CVS on the corner of Thayer and Cushing Street in Providence shows that another reality is possible. CVS paid RISD students to create the mural. It has not been without some controversy, partly because everything just has to be controversial these days, but regardless: Artists were paid. (more…)

Gun Buyback in Hartford Saturday

Created using Google

Less than one week since the Orlando nightclub shootings — and within 48 hours of another death in Hartford resulting from gun violence — the Hartford Police Department is holding a gun buyback event at the Johnson Stewart Community Center, located half a mile from that most recent fatal shooting and about one block from a double homicide that occurred in March.

From 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. on June 18, working firearms can be turned in anonymously and in exchange for gift cards. (more…)

Free Naloxone Kits and Training for Public

The Greater Hartford Harm Reduction Coalition is offering to the public training in how to reverse an opioid (OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, Heroin, Fentanyl) overdose. Participants will receive free Naloxone (Narcan) kits, which have the potential to prevent overdose deaths.

The GHHRC says Naloxone “does NOT encourage people to increase use of opiates” and that “goals, such as decreasing drug use, can only be accomplished if the user is alive.”

For the foreseeable future, GHHRC is hosting free training sessions every Thursday beginning at 7 p.m. at its office, 1229 Albany Avenue in Hartford. GHHRC requests that those intending to attend get in touch with the date they want to attend on.

First Round of Updated Zoning Regulations Pass Unanimously

By the petitions circulating earlier this week it would seem that the only items covered in upwards of 250 pages of zoning regulations involve the West End, how the Village for Families and Children site should be used, and how many unrelated people may live together in one small area of the city. Claims by the dozen have been made about the public information and notice process and about what zoning changes might mean. Since the revision process began in 2013, we have been closely following along the way.


Leadership in Transition

Carlos Hernandez Chavez reads his prepared remarks at the Youth Engagement Town Hall on Saturday // Photo courtesy of Allison Holst-Grubbe

Mayor-Elect Luke Bronin recently announced that he would forgo the glitz and expense of an inaugural ball, favoring a reception only, following the swearing-in of all other elected officials in early January. In past administrations, there have been both the light refreshments and meet and greet in City Hall, and the evening wear on display in a much larger facility. The plan is for Bronin to be sworn into office following the midnight First Night fireworks.

This weekend Bronin held a Youth Engagement Town Hall at Wilson-Gray YMCA, where Hartford’s strengths, such as already existing youth services programs, were touted. Here, a resident urged others to get involved with the dozens of municipal boards and commissions, and to support the incoming mayor and provide him with ideas of what we need, saying that if we don’t advocate for ourselves, we can’t get mad at the leader for not knowing what needs attention. The takeaway from this meeting was that many residents felt that City and community resources are disconnected from each other.

A few weeks ago, Bronin created several committees and policy working groups. Essentially, these perform as ways to add oversight and transparency, along with provide more opportunity for comment from members of the public. (more…)

Hundreds Extend Welcome to Syrian Refugees


More than 200 people rallied in the rain outside of the Connecticut State Capitol Saturday morning in support of Syrian refugees. Their messages included the ability and willingness for the United States to care for both new refugees and our existing homeless population, dismissing the either/or rhetoric that has been presented as fact in recent weeks. Speakers also dismissed the idea the refugees would be given a free ride once here, or that the State has any control over who the United States does or does not accept. (more…)

Hip Hop for the Homeless Tour Returns

Joey Batts. Photo courtesy of 86hour photo

This December the Hip Hop for the Homeless Tour returns for its second year. Over 40 local musicians and DJs will participate in the six shows, with two of those venues being open to all ages.

Joey Batts, a public high school teacher in Hartford, wanted to raise awareness after working with youth who were experiencing homelessness. The teacher-by-day, musician-by-night plans to collect canned goods, personal hygiene products, and clothing at each of the venues on the tour, where the audience can hear live music by Ceschi Ramos, Joey Batts & Them, Chumzilla, Jose Oyola, and others. (more…)