On Tuesday, March 20, we headed to Granby Memorial High School to hear from residents of Granby and East Granby. Nearly 30 residents gathered in the chorus room for another insightful community conversation, moderated by Jay Williams, president of the Hartford Foundation. After a short introduction, the floor was opened to give those in attendance the opportunity to share what they most enjoy about living in East Granby and Granby, as well as some of the challenges facing their community.
Here are a few things we learned throughout the course of the evening:
- Both East Granby and Granby have deep love and commitment for their community. However, these towns can feel siloed, and folks are noticing a rising tide of isolation. People are hungry for a place where they can come together. There is a need for a community center in town to serve a variety of different functions, from an arts space where young artists can feel free to drip paint to foster creativity in town, to a comfortable place for the community to gather and lift up and share their gifts in order to make a meaningful contribution. There are a few empty buildings in town, and some are wondering how they can be repurposed. For example, could a school that has closed down could be repurposed as a community and arts center? Or an empty car dealership be the location of a new skate park? What kind of partnerships might make that happen?
- Quite a few residents didn’t know much about the Hartford Foundation before attending the Listening Tour event, but they learned that the Foundation has touched their lives in several ways. One resident also stressed the need and importance of “showing up”, which speaks to the need of why we are doing this tour. When we understand the needs of the communities we serve, we can truly work towards being GreaterTogether.
- A resident raised a concern that the Foundation’s current Governance Diversity policy was a difficult criteria for nonprofits in Granby to reach, based on their demographic makeup. Another resident was concerned the Foundation's policy of not giving grants to organizations without an Executive Director excludes a lot local nonprofits, therefor having a negative effect on providing services to the community.
Editor’s Note: The Hartford Foundation does have a clear diversity policy, but there are often exceptions. In addition, there are ways to address a lack of paid Executive Director on a case by case basis. Click here to learn more about our key policies.
- Granby is a rural community, but young farmers lack access to affordable land due to commercial development in the area. They have lots of ideas and knowledge about organic farming and agroforestry, but no way to get started. Perhaps this problem can be solved by working with an established land trust whose mission is to acquire land for farming?
- Young people in East Granby and Granby have a lot of ideas – they want to farm and get involved in their communities. However, everything in the Greater Hartford region is very expensive, which makes finding the capital and resources needed to start up a new business very difficult. How can we create economic opportunities, especially around entrepreneurship? What about turning one of the vacant buildings into a business incubation center and provide resources for new startups in the area?
- A concern for residents is engagement of young people who are not college bound. Mentorships and makerspaces would encourage youth to work with their hands and return vocational skills to being equal to college. For those who are college bound, finding outlets for internships is a challenge. Can the Foundation and these communities work together to find pathways to success for East Granby and Granby's youth?
- The school lunch program in East Granby needs healthier options. Since East Granby Public Schools are not part of the national school lunch program, finding healthier options does not seem to be a priority. Could connections be made with local restaurants and food suppliers to help offset the financial cost of this? Perhaps connections with local farms?
- Seniors in town want to stay in Granby, but are finding it difficult due to limited access to affordable housing and high taxes. What can local officials do to help support seniors in the area? Could a future community center include services for Granby's aging population, such as an elder care center?
- A couple residents of East Granby and Granby expressed that they want to see how their towns can be part of the Hartford community again. In the past, there were regional cooperative efforts, such as a discussion around regionalizing school districts. However, those efforts have seemed to fade. There has been a shift backward in terms of ethnic and racial demographics in the area, as well as a general division within the towns with everyone doing their own thing. Could coming together as a region help solve the diversity and economic issues in East Granby and Granby?
Thank you to everyone who attended our third Listening Tour event! If there are any additional ideas you’d like share, please email them to email@example.com. We would love to hear from you! In April, our listening tour will stop in Canton and Avon. Canton’s event will take place at Roaring Brook Nature Center on Tuesday, April 10, and Avon’s will be at the Avon Free Public Library on April 24. Visit greatertogether2018.org for more information on how to register!
Live Doodle: East Granby and Granby
Constanza Segovia of Veo Veo Design created this drawing based on the conversation at our East Granby and Granby Listening Tour event.
Click here for a larger view