On Tuesday, August 21, our Greater Together Listening Tour 2018 stopped at the Glastonbury Boathouse. Forty-four residents, along with nonprofit and municipal leaders, joined Hartford Foundation President Jay Williams and Foundation staff for a wide-ranging conversation. After a short introduction, Jay invited guests to tell us what they love about living in Glastonbury, as well as some of the challenges facing their community.
Here are a few things we learned throughout the course of the evening:
- Like many areas of Greater Hartford, Glastonbury features beautiful natural resources. Residents want to ensure that we keep these environments pristine for generations to come. This is another common theme that we’ve heard at other stops on our Listening Tour. There are spectacular areas to explore in the Greater Hartford region, and protecting the environment is important. There are quite a few businesses in Glastonbury who currently do not recycle, and use single-use plastic, such as bags, straws, and lids. How can residents of Glastonbury be good stewards of the environment? How can businesses and residents be educated about the benefits of reusing, reducing and recycling in order to keep Glastonbury beautiful?
- Glastonbury has great generational diversity. There are young families, professionals in their 50’s and seniors in their 80’s. However, intergeneration problems then arise when silos are built. This is another common theme we’ve heard in other towns, with a few suggesting using or creating senior or community centers to help foster intergenerational connections. What role can the Foundation take in helping to break down silos among the generations?
- There was a robust discussion about workforce development, particularly around the vocations. While our vocational education is better in relation to the rest of the country, we still need to do more. There is a lack of talent in the vocations, particularly in rocket science and robotics, and there is a need to have a fully trained workforce in order to remain competitive in the global economy. We are making some strides to refill the pipeline. Three community colleges in the Greater Hartford region have two-year programs focused on manufacturing: Asnuntuck Community College in Enfield, Tunxis Community College in Farmington, and Manchester Community College. Glastonbury High School just opened a center for robotics and new technology. Connecticut is also home to world-class employers, such as East Hartford based Pratt and Whitney, who are willing to invest in individuals who have the basic knowledge, but lack a four-year degree. How can the Foundation support technical education and workforce development to help keep Greater Hartford region competitive in the global marketplace?
- As with other stops on the tour, there is a desire in Glastonbury for more collaboration and resource sharing. There are many nonprofits in Glastonbury and the Greater Hartford region that need support. Some of these organizations are doing similar work in the region. In addition, there is a decline in volunteerism. Fewer young people are joining organizations and volunteering. How can different organizations across many disciplines collaborate to make a greater impact? As the current volunteer pool ages, retires or otherwise becomes smaller, how can we help replenish the numbers of volunteers needed to keep our towns vibrant?
- People love living in Glastonbury, however, there is a self-image problem on the local and state level – residents often have a negative outlook about the future of our region for various reasons: taxes are too high, a lack of affordable housing, traffic congestion to name a few. People are leaving the state and therefore Glastonbury. Some feel siloed within their own communities, or unwelcome because they are of a different race than the majority of residents. How can we work together to instill a sense of pride in the region and state that is inclusive for future generations?
Thank you to everyone who attended our Glastonbury Listening Tour event! If there are any additional ideas you would like share, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear from you! Our next stop for residents of Hartford is on September 5 at the Chrysalis Center, located at 255 Homestead Ave, Hartford, CT 06112. Visit greatertogether2018.org for more information on how to register!