On Wednesday, September 5, our Greater Together Listening Tour 2018 made its fourteenth stop at The Chrysalis Center in Hartford. Nearly 100 residents joined Hartford Foundation President Jay Williams for a frank community conversation that included both celebrations of all we have to offer and stark reminders of how much more we have yet to do. After a short introduction, the floor opened to give those in attendance the opportunity to share what they love about living in Hartford, as well as some of the challenges facing their community.
Here are a few things we learned throughout the course of the evening:
- Education in Hartford has changed a great deal over the past twenty years, yet our students still face a significant achievement gap. Charter schools, magnet schools, community schools and neighborhood schools each offer unique opportunities, but one key to success remains parent involvement. How can we help parents better understand our education system, gain confidence in advocating for their children, and overcome practical barriers such as transportation? In addition to current wrap-around services provided by larger nonprofit organizations, how could our community support smaller organizations that provide specialized services? How might we support the many volunteers who give of their time to help families succeed (such as through stipends)?
- Helping children succeed in life starts with education, but it doesn’t stop there. Having access to post-secondary education—through college scholarships, access to the trades through internships, and a host of career-readiness programs—is a good next step. How can we go to even further and prepare our children for life-long success providing education in other life skills?
- Trauma is a growing health crisis that takes many forms. Our children suffer trauma by living in poverty, by witnessing gun violence, by seeing the rise of opioid addiction. How do we understand more about trauma in the lives of children, address the lasting effects of trauma and prevent it going forward?
- There are more single fathers in our community today than ever before. How can we offer more parenting support to fathers? Where can we find men willing to work with men?
- Returning to your home community after serving time is a difficult process. Navigating the social service system is not easy; neither is finding a job and a place to live. How can we better support our returning citizens to help them become active, contributing members of our community?
- Hartford is a vibrant community. Major corporations remain here because our city is home to a wide variety of arts and culture opportunities—especially our parks. But in order to remain vibrant, these organizations need support, contributions of both time and dollars. In addition to residents, corporations need to be held accountable for supporting the neighborhoods. How can we generate support for our cultural resources from both residents and employers? Inclusive economic development supports a vital community. How can we encourage employers to hire from within their own neighborhoods? Economic opportunities know no boundaries; how can we encourage cooperation across town lines?
Thank you to everyone who attended our seventh 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 is the Conference Center in West Hartford on September 13. Visit greatertogether2018.org for more information on how to register.
Constanza Segovia of Veo Veo Design created this drawing based on the conversation at our Manchester Listening Tour event.
Click here for a larger view
Video: Full Event