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Meet Your City: Our Sharing Economy

Artwork by Miguel Jose Matos

 

Call it what you want — sharing, gifting, being neighborly — increasingly Hartford residents are showing interest in no-strings-attached giving, the kind you might not be able to write off on your taxes.

There are at least seven Little Free Libraries throughout the city that facilitate the giving and taking of books without time limits, late fees, or proof of identification. On Laurel Street (a few houses north of the intersection with Hawthorne Street) there’s a food pantry that operates similarly; anyone can donate food items and anyone can pick up, day or night, without any kind of hassle. It’s becoming less rare to find knit scarves and mittens tied to trees and fences downtown with messages encouraging people to go ahead and take them. Keep Hartford Warm collects and distributes winter clothing items to those in need.

Now, residents of some Hartford neighborhoods have another way to give and receive. The Buy Nothing Project, with its new group currently open to those living in Downtown, Frog Hollow, South Green, and the Sheldon/Charter Oak neighborhoods, provides the opportunity for people to ask with no obligation to give. Jane Macy-Painter, the admin of this hyper-local group, says she learned about the Buy Nothing Project’s larger network “and realized there wasn’t one local to the city.”

On the surface it may seem like the group has a million rules, but what it comes down to is be local, be an adult, and give without expectation of anything in return — whether that means money or barter. Continue reading “Meet Your City: Our Sharing Economy”

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Meet Your City: Create, Stand, Laugh (Jan 2018)

CREATE
MakeHartford, a makerspace at 30 Arbor Street, is offering an Intro to Screenprinting class. Learn the basics of setting up the screen, creating a design on it, and then painting that design on patches, t-shirts, and cards. If you’ve never done this, it’s fun and kind of messy — dress for the occasion. There is a $20 fee, which if you know anything about prices for workshops/classes, is on the low side. Bring something (a t-shirt) to print on. Register online to take this class on January 22. If snow/ice happens, the class may be rescheduled for February 5, 2018.

STAND
In 2018 renew your commitment to social justice by showing up to Bushnell Park and the Connecticut State Capitol grounds on January 20, 2018 for the second annual Women’s March. Event organizers say: “We march to support each other and remind ourselves that we are not alone. We march to send a clear message that the Trump administration has no mandate. We march to organize and pledge to continue to work for a better future. It will also be part of a national voter registration and mobilization tour targeting swing states to register new voters, engage impacted communities, harness our collective energy to advocate for policies and candidates that reflect our values and collaborate with our partners to elect more women and progressives candidates to office.” Start brainstorming ideas for your DIY signs (or capes), or dig out the poster board from last year. Gather at Corning Fountain at 12:30 pm if you feel like marching, or go right to the Capitol at 1 pm. In the market for a pussy hat? Check out the discussion section of the event page on Facebook.

LAUGH
Kate Huffman
will be coming to Sea Tea Comedy Theater on January 4-6, 2018 to perform her solo show I’m Too Fat for This Show, providing an “opportunity for all people with obsessions, neuroticism, or negative self-talk to laugh at themselves.” Julia Pistell, the Managing Director of Sea Tea Comedy Theater, calls this “an award-winning, absolutely excellent one-woman comedy show about mental health, body image, eating disorders, and feminism.”  Tickets are $20.

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Five More Urban Walks

Riverside Park

December began with a suggestion for Five Urban Walks one could take if bored, seeking more experiential learning opportunities, or wanting something like exercise. Here are another five suggested routes, with more to come in the future.

Riverside Park
Keney Park

Keney Park North: At nearly 700 acres, Keney Park is ginormous. If you have not been before, it can be easy to get lost, particularly if you don’t have a strong sense of direction or the ability to pay attention long enough to remember which entrance you used. The best option for beginners prone to getting lost might be taking the Windsor Avenue entrance and then following the park road until you see a sign for the Leadership Trail on the left. It’s a not terribly long wooded path that empties into a part of the park that looks abandoned. It seems to connect with the Beech Grove Trail. I don’t recall seeing much labeled, but the path was clear enough to follow, as in, you know that you are on a path and not simply making your own trail through the woods. From there, look to pick up a path and head toward Journalism & Media Academy Magnet School. (If you miss this, you’ll just end up a bit down on Tower Avenue) You can take Rosemont Street, then any of the north-south side streets to get to Tower Avenue, and follow that east. This means going through a residential neighborhood. As long as you’re not snooping around, there’s nothing wrong with that. In this neighborhood, the norm is for residents to maintain their homes and yards. At Main Street, go north until you return to Keney Park, walking along the park road. Be sure to shake your fist at the highway structure that cuts through the park. This loop is an estimated 2.5 miles and not super adventurous except for the part that requires hopping across Meadow Brook. If you want more fun and to extend the walk, go to the northwestern side of the golf course and from there walk west, then south through the woods. Some of this is Windsor, technically, but there are no “Welcome to Windsor” signs in the woods so we’ll ignore that detail for a moment. There are also no clear paths and lots of rusty things out here. Make sure you are current with your tetanus shots and don’t blame me if you get very lost. Look for dunes. Continue reading “Five More Urban Walks”

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Meet Your City: History 101

Hey nerds! Growing up in Connecticut does not guarantee that you ever learned Hartford history. How do you start to patch those knowledge holes if you’re beyond formal schooling?

Indoors

  • Hartford History Center: Use books, maps, city records, photographs, and more to learn about anything from who was living on your street before it was officially a street, to who signed petitions to get bridges replaced — bridges that predated the burial of the Park River. There is a fee for scanning or making photocopies, but otherwise, this is a free service. They offer free online research tools.

    “Party Dog”, on display in the “That’s Weird” exhibit at Connecticut Historical Society
  • Connecticut Historical Society: There are a few different things happening in this space. The museum has Connecticut-specific exhibits. “That’s Weird” is the current exhibit through April 2018. Secrets of the Veeder House tours are offered sporadically. Free admission to the museum is offered on the first Saturday of each month. The Waterman Research Center is housed at CHS and requires a fee, so if you’re going to go, it’s with a mission and not just because you’re killing time (unless you’re made of money, in which case, How you doin’?). There are online research tools available at no charge.
  • Connecticut State Library: It’s a library, so basic services are free for Connecticut residents. Online research tools are available. The Museum of Connecticut History is housed here; entry is free.
  • Connecticut State Capitol: Self-guided and free guided tours are available. Gum chewing is not permitted during tours.
  • Wadsworth Atheneum: One of the weirdest juxtapositions I’ve experienced has been looking at the Colt gun collection while listening to Christmas music permeating the museum during The Festival of Trees and Traditions. It’s a little like falling inside of a Tarantino movie. So, there are the guns and the many things (allegedly) made out of The Charter Oak. Then, there is the series of paintings depicting Hartford in four directions. Free admission for Hartford residents.
  • Connecticut Old State House: Most of my visits here are simply to visit the Oddities, but the HIstory is All Around Us exhibit on the bottom level is an interactive way to see how suburban sprawl negatively impacted Hartford during the later part of the 20th century. You can tour the actual old State House rooms, if that’s the kind of thing that floats your boat. Adult admission is $6.
  • Butler-McCook House & Garden: This is the yellow house at Capitol Avenue and Main Street. There are tours available for a fee.
  • Mark Twain House & Museum: It’s $6 to visit the museum; $20 for the museum and a tour of the Twain house.
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe Center: This includes the Stowe House and Katharine Seymour Day House, along with a research center focused mostly on Stowe, but extending to others who lived in the vicinity (“Nook Farm neighborhood”). Free admission for Hartford residents.

Continue reading “Meet Your City: History 101”

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Meet Your City: How to Winter

It’s colder. It’s snowier. Winter does not officially begin for a few more days, but it’s time for a little how-to for people who are either new to the area or have been here their whole lives but had not lived independently until now. Continue reading “Meet Your City: How to Winter”

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Meet Your City: Five Urban Walks

Elizabeth Park

 

If you are looking to wander without tight time limits or attachment to outcome, here are a few suggested paths.
Continue reading “Meet Your City: Five Urban Walks”

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Meet Your City: Worse Than Panhandling

As a native New Englander, I understand why anyone ever trying to talk to another person is alarming. Leave me alone, let me do my own thing, definitely do not make eye contact, and you might hear from me if I need help getting my tractor out of a ditch.

But seriously, it can be annoying to be approached by random strangers, whether they are trying to scrape together money for whatever or they are handing out booklets promising hellfire to those who don’t repent. The latter, for some reason, do not inspire so much anger from the peanut gallery. The calls to “do something about panhandlers,” almost never means addressing the root causes of poverty or addiction. These are attempts to get police involved in nuisance crimes when their talents could be better used elsewhere, such as enforcing traffic laws which when broken, are likely to cause personal injury. Continue reading “Meet Your City: Worse Than Panhandling”

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Meet Your City: Holiday Giving Guide

“My Precious Stones” at Connecticut Historical Society during Open Studio Hartford

You could hit the big box stores for all kinds of cheaply-made, totally forgettable gadgets, but why?

Shopping

  • Open Studio Hartford: November 11 & 12, 11 am – 5 pm — Shop arts and crafts at nineteen venues within Hartford, many of which are accessible by free shuttle. Goods include ceramics, wood sculpture, photography, drawings, paintings, hand-woven rugs, letterpress prints, jewelry, tattoos, henna art, quilts, and more. See the program for times and venue locations.
  • Crafted: November 19, 12-5 pm. — Basically, this is a craft fair at 30 and 56 Arbor Street. There are (at time of publication) around 20 local businesses committed to participating in this.
  • Art + Soul: December 10, 11 am – 5 pm. — This is a holiday craft fair intended to benefit Protectors of Animals, a non-profit, no-kill animal shelter in East Hartford. So far, there are almost 20 vendors signed up for this event at 555 Asylum Street. There is a suggested donation of $5 at the door.

Other Giving

  • MakeHartford: December 19, 6:30 – 8:30 pm. — Meet up for a fiber arts-focused crafting night at 30 Arbor Street. Bring in any project you are working on — crocheting, knitting, spinning, weaving, sewing, embroidery, kumihimo, knotting, braiding — to request help or just have company. Some supplies will be available in exchange for a donation. There will specifically be supplies available for those who want to make fleece scarves that will be donated to local shelters.
  • The Open Hearth: This shelter at 437 Sheldon Street accepts donations of men’s winter coats, hats, interview outfits, and more.
  • ImmaCare: The emergency shelter accepts men’s and women’s clothing, food, medication, and other donations. The offices are located at 168 Hungerford Street.
  • Hartford Catholic Worker: Located at 18 Clark Street, year-round they collect baby supplies (formula, bottles, diapers, wipes, clothes, and toys.) for distribution to families in the neighborhood, along with books for their Little Free Library, and items (tuna, canned soup, pasta sauce) for the food pantry.

What other opportunities for giving exist in Hartford this year?

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