Listening Tour Recap: East Windsor and South Windsor
On Tuesday, February 5, our Greater Together Listening Tour made its third stop of 2019 at the South Windsor Public Library. About 40 residents gathered for an insightful conversation lead by Jay Williams, president of the Hartford Foundation. After a short introduction, the floor was opened for those in attendance to share what they love about living in East Windsor and South Windsor, as well as some of the challenges facing their communities.
Here are a few things we learned throughout the course of the evening:
As in so many other towns, folks recognize how important it is to help our neighbors. In South Windsor, Human Services provides assistance for about 400 families; institutions, such as the Wood Memorial Library and the South Windsor Community Foundation, offer programs to aid struggling residents. How can the Hartford Foundation help suburban communities come together and collaborate to address the generational cycle of poverty? At the Hartford Foundation, we are about to embark on a new three-year strategic plan that will address some of these concerns. Using data and conversations, we have been able to zero in on the areas where the need is the greatest and recognize that these disparities are often driven by race, place, and income. The Hartford Foundation will use these findings to help guide our work over the next three years. There will be more on this to come, so stay tuned!
Filling the talent pipeline in fields such as manufacturing has become a necessity over the past few years. How can the region help those who are not actively employed or underemployed gain the skills they need to be successful?
Our new Greater Together Community Funds were on some residents minds; One East Windsor resident thought it might be too good to be true! She saw in the paper that the Hartford Foundation was going to give $100,000 to each of the towns in the Greater Hartford region, and said, “Are you really going to do that?!” Yes, we are really going to do this! We have established funds in each of our 29 towns in November. The Greater Together Community Funds will empower residents of East Windsor, South Windsor and the 27 other towns in our region by providing the funds for residents to tackle challenges within their own community. To learn more about the Greater Together Community fund and see how you might get involved, click here.
Priest Property is a community farm project in South Windsor. With beautiful open spaces and a passion for land conservation, there are some who would love to see Priest Farm become a place where kids can come and muck a stall and learn about farming.
There are programs in town for families and seniors, but younger adults find it harder to get involved and many head to New Haven or Springfield. Some organizations would love to build programs for this age group but are unsure of what to do. Could joining a Community Funds advisory group be the answer?
Many of our towns, including East Windsor and South Windsor, notice a need for mental health support, in addition to help with drug addiction. It would be nice to see activities that focus on mental wellbeing.
Transportation is an issue in South Windsor. Right now, the community is very car-dependent, and there is minimal bus service. There are businesses in town that would like to hire lower-income people without cars, but there is no easy access to mass transit for workers to get there. This lack of transportation is not only about community and economic development; it’s also an environmental issue. Using Enfield as a model, South Windsor would like to see an intracommunity bus that will connect to mass transit. However, funding is a concern. Transportation challenges have come up in other Listening Tours. Is this something the Community Funds can help with? Are there ways the Hartford Foundation can bring communities together to brainstorm solutions?
The arts are important to East Windsor and South Windsor. In South Windsor, there is a want to connect all the arts in town to the benefit of the entire community. There is currently no umbrella group. According to Judy Rozie-Battle, senior vice president at the Foundation, we offer planning grants to help with this type of work. If there are activities or programs the community is thinking about, or if there is a need to have someone from the Foundation come out and offer guidance and facilitation, we can help.
Like other towns, volunteerism is waning. This has come up at every Listening Tour stop. It would be great if there were a database that could link up local volunteers to local nonprofits. There is a resource that does something similar, called VolunteerMatch.org, which matches volunteers with nonprofits that register with the website. One resident suggested that organizations need to reach out and grab volunteers because volunteering is such a rewarding experience. Over the next year, the Foundation will investigate best practices, systems and other ways to connect people who want to give of their time in service of others. What that will look like is still an unknown, but it is something we are excited to work on!
East Windsor just celebrated a big anniversary – 250 years! South Windsor was also included in the celebration, as it used to be part of East Windsor. Through this activity, both towns learned the value of collaboration.
A resident asked if we plan on doing a video or synopsis of the Listening Tour. We currently have a video that captures some of the thoughts from other towns. We also have blog posts that summarize the main points from each Listening Tour stop. We saw a lot of the same topics, such as volunteerism and transportation, but each town also had thoughts that were unique. We will work on a longer, more comprehensive video after the Listening Tour is complete.
Thank you to everyone who attended. This is the third of our last four stops on the Greater Together Listening Tour! Our last stop will be at the Simsbury Public Library on March 14 (rescheduled from February 12), where we will hear from residents of Simsbury. If there are any additional ideas you would like to share, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear from you!
Live Doodle: East Windsor, South Windsor
Constanza Segovia of Veo Veo Design attended our Listening Tour forum in Vernon and created this live doodle during the event, capturing the highlights of the conversation.