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…)

Climate Summer 2012

Last July a small group of cyclists rode around New England in an effort to address what they call “society’s addiction to fossil fuels.” One of their stops was Hartford, where they met with residents to learn about local energy issues and organizations.

The RiConn (Rhode Island/Connecticut) Climate Summer team is due to return to Hartford during the week of July 9th and will remain for a few days before traveling on. (more…)

Climate Summer a Success

Just over a month ago, five young women from New England Climate Summer — Team RICONN — biked through Hartford, after starting their trip in Providence. Their goal was to make stops in Rhode Island and Connecticut, before heading straight from New Haven to their final destination: Boston.

They did it.

On Wednesday evening they rolled into Boston.

What does one learn after spending ten weeks away from home?

In a thank you letter sent by Team RICONN, Ellie said, “This summer has restored my faith and confidence in humanity. […] I found myself constantly in awe of the level of hospitality and warmth with which we were met and the short amount of time that it took me to feel at home wherever we went.” (more…)

The Great Food Swamp

This pig lives at Holcomb Farm, a farm that provides produce to Foodshare

It’s not accurate to describe Hartford as being a food desert. This term implies that food is unavailable. The obesity rate says otherwise.

Instead, we should be calling it what it is — a food swamp. Prof. Molly Anderson used this phrase during her presentation at a recent forum held at the Lyceum. Rather than a lack of food being the problem, it’s that there is, in these areas, “far too much of the wrong kind of food,” she argued.

Food security was the topic of discussion at the “IForum” in late June. Anderson, the keynote speaker, delivered her presentation, “A Home’s Not Just a House: Why Food Security Must Be Part of a Strong, Affordable Community”; a response panel comprised of Julia Pon, Margaret Williams, and Martha Page followed. (more…)

Top Stories of 2010

Here are the top twelve items of interest on Real Hartford, judging by which posts were read the most and over the longest period of time. Sometimes there are short spikes in blog traffic, but I am more interested in what is on people’s minds for more than a week at a time. These are not ranked exactly in order of popularity: (more…)

Rice and Trains

Elaine Gan’s Considering Rice is described by Real Art Ways as an exploration of “the entanglements of storytelling and food economy through a dynamic map of one of the world’s most significant agricultural sites.” According to the USA Rice Federation, rice is the “primary staple for more than half the world’s population.” Oddly, there is a National Rice Month, which happens to be September, the only full month that Gan’s work will be on display in Hartford.

Gan’s blog About Manila serves as a preview of the show as it contains numerous photographs of rice terraces in Manila. This exhibit will be on display at Real Art Ways (56 Arbor Street) from August 19th through October 17, 2010.

This is not the only map art project in the area. Brian Cook, a local designer, has created the Hartford Metro Map. It’s futuristic! In his imagination, Hartford not only has a metro system, but one that connects Hartford to Boston, Albany, and Manchester Community College. Cook describes his project:

The Hartford Metro map elides several of my deepest interests: maps, travel, Hartford, urban planning and graphic design. I still stumble across old notebooks with sketches of imaginary maps, Utopian cities with concentric bands zoned commercial, residential, industrial, recreational, infrastructural, etc. The urban models usually feature perfect circles with wide boulevards radiating from vibrant city centers.


To me, the biggest existing problem with Hartford’s public transit is the disconnect between the downtown area and the West End. I-84 effectively cleaves the city in half, both a physical barrier and a symbol representing the dominance of the car as the preferred method of transportation here.

If you’d like a copy of the Hartford Metro Map poster, you can pledge $25 to help fund the project on Kickstarter. After the printing costs are covered, any additional funds raised will be donated to ConnectiKids.

High Speed & Intercity Rail Meeting at Union Station

Thursday evening, Tom Maziarz and Mark Alexander of the CT Department of Transportation presented information and study updates pertaining to high speed and intercity rail. The meeting, held at Union Station, was standing room only. Among those in attendance: Mayor Segarra, Chief Operating Officer David Panagore, a representative for Senator Dodd, the Massachusetts DOT, State Representative David McCluskey (West Hartford) and State Representative Bob Godfrey (Danbury).

The meeting was basically divided into four parts: discussion of the New Haven-to-Springfield section of the project, discussion of the regional (CT, MA, VT) section of project, presentation of the environmental review, and time for public comment.

The New Haven-Hartford-Springfield proposal was announced by Governor Rell and would cost $480 million in total, with $220 million of the funding coming from federal sources. The catch here is that the federal money is going to support high-speed intercity passenger rail; this means that to ensure the funding, all of those criteria must be met in some way. During the public portion of the discussion, Toni Gold asked about how the high speed could possibly work with so many street crossings and stations. In such a congested area, it seems like the trains would either present a danger or never truly reach a “high-speed.” Responding to someone else’s question about what actual speeds the trains would travel at, Maziarz said that they would hit 110mph at some point, but more realistically travel at around 80 mph. As in a previous meeting, emphasis was put on the fact that trains would slow down when going through cities.

Another requirement of the federal grant is that the “states develop proposals that were part of comprehensive, integrated regional rail visions.” Work done to the regional part of this would include restoring “Montrealer Route,” dealing with the need for train storage and yard space in Springfield, creating”intermodal connections”, and restoring inland route and service capacity between New York City and Boston. Currently, there is only one round trip train per day on the Inland Route — by 2030 this would increase to six roundtrips per day. In 2010 there are six roundtrips from Hartford per day, which would increase to 15 in 2030. There will also be an improvement in the time that trips take. Currently, a trip from White River Junction to Penn Station takes seven hours and thirty-six minutes. They hope to reduce this to five hours and thirty-two minutes in 2030. The trip from Hartford to Penn Station would be improved by thirty-seven minutes. (more…)