On Tuesday, July 10, our Greater Together Listening Tour 2018 stopped at the Webb Barn at the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum in Wethersfield. Forty-five 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 Rocky Hill and Wethersfield, as well as some of the challenges facing their communities.
Here are a few things we learned throughout the course of the evening:
- Individuals are at their best when they are connected to one another, whether in a seniors community center or in cross-generational education programs. Coming together allows us to break down silos, learn from one another, respect differences in cultures and improve overall well-being. How can we as a community provide valuable spaces and activities to foster these connections?
- Not all students will—or should—take the same career path. Many good jobs, those that provide family-sustaining wages, don’t require a college education. Our young people are starting their own businesses, creating new jobs in the process. How can each of our different organizations help capture students’ attention to alternative careers, encourage parents to support their children in exploring professional options, and look to other areas for training models that work? Where might organizations like education foundations lend support?
- The declining number of volunteers is a common concern across many of the towns we have visited. 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? How might a hyper local approach come into play?
- Rather than attempting to make incremental progress in many areas, how might we take on a few “ignition investments” and drive major change? What would those projects be? Who could be involved?
- Addiction is a major public health issue in Wethersfield and Rocky Hill, as in the rest of Connecticut and the country. Residents believe an addiction recovery center could help provide convenient treatment in a way that respects privacy and personal worth. How can the Hartford Foundation assist with this public health need or provide data to help formulate new thinking around the issue?
- Like many towns we've visited, Wethersfield and Rocky Hill residents are interested in multi-modal transportation including complete streets and safer biking and walking routes. How can the Hartford Foundation assist with convening or planning around these issues?
Thank you to everyone who attended our Rocky Hill / Wethersfield 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 Enfield and Somers is on July 19 at the Asnuntuck Community College Conference Center in Enfield. Visit greatertogether2018.org for more information on how to register!