On Tuesday, April 10, our GreaterTogether Listening Tour 2018 stopped at the picturesque Roaring Brook Nature Center in Canton. Nearly 30 residents joined Hartford Foundation President Jay Williams for a thoughtful community conversation. After a short introduction, the floor was opened to give those in attendance the opportunity to share what they love about living in Canton, as well as some of the challenges facing their community.
Here are a few things we learned throughout the course of the evening:
Canton has wonderful people and beautiful natural resources, creating a quality of life that is special to residents. For example, Collinsville, one of Canton’s four villages, was voted one of America’s Top Ten Coolest Small Towns in 2007. The Canton Conservation Land Trust owns more than 2,000 acres of protected land for citizens to enjoy. Today, Canton is challenged to balance growth with maintaining the natural beauty that makes it special makes it special. Is there a way the Hartford Foundation can help the municipality with planning in order to manage development to preserve the uniqueness of Canton?
Currently, there is a mountain, both literally and figuratively, between Canton and Hartford. Canton residents are not as attuned to the Capitol City’s positive attributes. Hartford is an amazing source of inspiration, education and young voices. How can the Hartford Foundation help Canton connect more with the resources available in Hartford?
Canton has many environmental education opportunities available to the Greater Hartford region. There are hiking and walking trails, the Roaring Brook Nature Center, and the Farmington River. However, many, particularly those living in urban centers without access to transportation, have no idea that only 30 minutes away there is an entire new world. How can the Foundation help make sure that Canton is not the best-kept secret in the region? How can we welcome educators and guidance counselors to Canton’s natural and human resources?
Canton is a wonderful place to raise a family. It is a welcoming community and supports Open Choice programs; some parents volunteer to act as host families so that students from other towns can enjoy after school programs. However, the recent fiscal crisis facing Connecticut has hit Canton as well. Budgets are tight and funding for the schools was cut by $90,000, causing the district to make painstaking choices. The Foundation cannot replace government funding; how might we work with the Canton community to talk about the important issues and promote collaboration?
Many wonderful nonprofits in Canton are doing amazing things. SpiritHorse Therapeutic Riding Center is an all-volunteer nonprofit that works with people of all disabilities from two years old into adulthood. Gifts of Love, although headquartered in Avon, has been serving Canton for 29 years. The Arc of Farmington Valley, also known as Favarh, helps adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities achieve their personal best. How can the Foundation help facilitate connections within and beyond the Valley?
Canton’s population (like many towns in our region) is aging and becoming increasingly separated from other generations. What kind of multigenerational connections are there to help promote healthy aging?
Thank you to everyone who attended our fourth Listening Tour event! If there are any additional ideas you would like share, please email them to email@example.com. We would love to hear from you! Our next stop is the Avon Free Public Library on April 24. Visit greatertogether2018.org for more information on how to register!