Category: suburbia

Discover Hartford Bicycle Tour 2013

The Discover Hartford Bicycle Tour — they dropped the “and Walking” — visited Hartford’s parks and neighborhoods last weekend. Continue reading 'Discover Hartford Bicycle Tour 2013'»

Changing Standards, Assessments in Public Schools

Weeks before school resumes, nobody seems to know what assessment will be used in the upcoming year –the CMT/CAPT or new Smarter Balanced. Continue reading 'Changing Standards, Assessments in Public Schools'»

Hartford Pew Review: Congregation Beth Israel

Part of a coloring/activity book made available to Seder participants. Bad coloring technique, all mine.

One block over the line in West Hartford, Congregation Beth Israel’s presence announces itself much like the Unitarian Society of Hartford and the Cathedral of Saint Joseph do. There’s no quietly blending in with the neighborhood; no way to pass without noticing.

Before the synagogue was here, it was in Hartford. The structure did not move, just the congregation. The original Congregation Beth Israel congregation worshiped at the former North Baptist Church, located at 942 Main Street. After twenty years in that spot, the community moved into a building constructed as a synagogue — Connecticut’s oldest one, actually — and remained there on 21 Charter Oak Avenue until 1936.

As Hartford’s Jewish community moved to the suburbs, the synagogues, one-by-one, followed.

Now, Congregation Beth Israel is the second notable establishment on Farmington Avenue (first, Tangiers) to greet folks as they venture into West Hartford.

Our two most recent visits fall into the category of “special events” rather than that of “routine service,” but no matter. Over the years we have been to CBI for regular services, special events, and going farther back, Music Together.

Many places of worship in this area seem to have embraced the obnoxious trend of bolting front doors, having everyone enter through a door closest to the parking lot. Thankfully, CBI breaks from this by admitting visitors through both the parking lot door and that which faces of main avenue. If the door is locked, ring the bell. “Security measures” seem drastic, but antisemitism is a thing. I’ve personally never had any trouble getting buzzed in.

This is possibly the least flattering view of Congregation Beth Israel, but it’s what you see if entering from the parking lot. The better view is from Farmington Avenue.

Inside, there is a long hall with plenty of doors to choose from. Services have been held in the sanctuary, chapel, and a courtyard outside. For special events, it might not be immediately obvious where to go, since there’s likely lots of activity including children zooming around. Look for a sign or ask.

The restrooms are near the large coatroom.

Visiting a new place can create some anxieties for those who don’t want to stand out as the person doing everything wrong. So, here goes:

CBI asks people to dress respectfully, but I have seen every variation on an outfit show up, from suits to micro mini skirts with Uggs. The latter will get you talked about, but not thrown out. One step up from jeans is always a safe bet.

Nobody is forced to wear a yarmulke. For services, most men do wear them, but this is a Reform synagogue. In other words, there is a lot of tolerance about personal choices. A basket of kippot are near the entrance for anyone — male or female — who chooses to participate in this custom.

Men and women sit together, in case you were wondering.

So, back in February, on one of those cold days that came with a bonus side of drizzle, we headed to CBI for the annual Purim Schpiel. The serious message of Purim is to embrace one’s (Jewish) identity, but mostly, it’s a day for costumes, drinking, eating Hamantaschen, and in this case, watching a campy play.

Friends had been raving about the “new rabbi.” After some prodding I learned that for some this meant the Senior Rabbi, and for others, the Assistant Rabbi. Both are on the younger side. The Assistant Rabbi is a woman.

There have definitely been changes. Continue reading 'Hartford Pew Review: Congregation Beth Israel'»

March 2013 Events

March 1

  • Dr. Mary Washington will be giving a lecture on Intersectionality and the Reconstruction of Identity and Social Action at the University of Hartford. This will take place at 1:30pm in Regents Commons, located within the Shaw Center of Hillyer. This is free and open to the public. Continue reading 'March 2013 Events'»

“The New, Not-So-Quiet Majority”

March for Change at the State Capitol

Hartford is no stranger to actions opposing violence, whether that violence is found in Iraq, a suburban town along the New York border, our streets, or in our homes.

Still, the different causes do not typically spill into one another as seamlessly as they did today, with the March for Change directly preceding One Billion Rising.

March for Change in Hartford, Connecticut

The March for Change marked two months since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

Among those calling for safer gun laws was actor Christine Baranski, who told the 5,500 activists, “even if you have a gun to defend your home or for sport, thanks for supporting commonsense changes.”

Christine Baranski

Continue reading '“The New, Not-So-Quiet Majority”'»

February 2013 Events

For those just tuning in, every month Real Hartford creates a calendar of events happening in the city. This is not intended to be all-inclusive– you’ll note the absence of “Ladies Nite” events. Continue reading 'February 2013 Events'»

Hartford Mourns with Newtown

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By , December 16, 2012 5:23 pm

Candles remaining from Friday evening's vigil in Bushnell Park.

Continue reading 'Hartford Mourns with Newtown'»

Can’t Get There From Here: Hartford Marathon street closures

One street is already closed, with many others to join it on Saturday. The Hartford Police Department’s Traffic Division has released a full listing of all planned closures in Hartford and surrounding towns, along with detour and access routes. Bus routes will also be impacted.

Stealing Simsbury’s Thunder?

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By , May 21, 2012 12:17 pm
Bike to Work 2012

Bike to Work 2012

Simsbury has had no trouble branding itself: village charm and bicycles. They have infrastructure to support cyclists. Most notable is the visibility of teenage girls on bikes; this is usually the time of life when many females stop participating in physical activities. All of this is great for Simsbury, but recent developments in Hartford may give the little town some competition for the title of the only Bicycle Friendly Community in Connecticut– maybe not this year or next, but soon.

Improvements to bike infrastructure were written into One City, One Plan — Hartford’s Plan of Conservation and Development. These improvements include providing of parking facilities; connection of neigbhorhoods to parks, shopping, and employment; and investment in “bike lanes, wide shoulders, wide outside lanes, and multi-use trails.” The POCD through 2020 also focuses on complete streets and reducing the dependency on single occupancy vehicles.

Next to the $5 million appropriated for the iQuilt plan in the fiscal year 2012-13 budget, $300,000 for citywide bike lanes is nothing. For FY 2011-2012, $50,000 had been appropriated for lanes. Continue reading 'Stealing Simsbury’s Thunder?'»

Student Transiency and Concentration of Poverty Tied to Academic Success

Miguel Cardona, Susan Marks, and Gary Highsmith (left to right)

Miguel Cardona, Susan Marks (Superintendent of Norwalk Public Schools), and Gary Highsmith (left to right)

“We have a bad way of looking at things, that what gets tested is what gets taught,” Gary Highsmith, said at an education forum on Thursday. Highsmith is the Principal of Hamden High School, where he said students are taught things that are not tested, such as arts and music.

At a forum about inclusive housing policy and its impact on education, it seemed both incongruous and inevitable that the conversation would include the buzzwords of reform and accountability.

The forum — “Connecticut’s Achievement Gap: How Housing Can Help Close It” — held at the Lyceum explored the philosophy of housing policy as school policy, focusing on “Montgomery County,” a single example.

An inclusionary zoning policy — mixing housing affordable to those at different income levels — was adopted in Maryland’s Montgomery County (suburb of Washington, D.C.) in 1974. Heather Schwartz, a policy researcher with the RAND Corporation, conducted a longitudinal study from 2001-2007 of students in public housing who attended schools with very low-to-moderate poverty rates and those who attended schools with a moderate-rate of students living in poverty. Additionally, the moderate-level poverty schools received more resources, enabling smaller classes and more academic supports. The study found that while students in public housing at both types of schools scored about evenly for the first few years, students attending the schools with a low-to-moderate poverty level outscored their peers eventually. Students were placed randomly in these schools, taking out the option for more involved parents to steer their children into the “better” schools.

This study — and the speakers at the forum — failed to address some variables. Continue reading 'Student Transiency and Concentration of Poverty Tied to Academic Success'»

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