Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Thoughts on Hartford...

I've been thinking a lot about Hartford lately.

I work here, and at The Forum part of our struggle lies in convincing people who live outside the city to come downtown for their entertainment - to convince them that it is safe, there is parking and it will be fun - we promise. And, I've been looking at moving from the 'burbs into Hartford myself, so on a more personal level I'm considering what the city has to offer; there really is a lot going on here, so why do we work so hard to convince ourselves that Hartford is a dead city?

I feel like some of that is changing.

Maybe it's the opening of the new Connecticut Science Center, which had it's exciting pre-opening celebration this past weekend and will celebrate its grand opening on June 12. Maybe it's The Hartford Party Starters Union (HPSU) that is working to bolster Hartford's public image and make it a cool place to work, live and (most importantly for them) party. Maybe it's the always funny, always informative website Hartford.com, which should flat out embarrass those who whine: "there's nothing to do in Hartford." Or maybe it's just a tipping point caused by these and the host of other things that go on downtown. Whatever it is, it feels like there is a lot to be excited about, and I'm not the only one who's been considering a shake-up of Hartford's image...

Last week Where We Live's John Dankosky blogged about his feelings on Hartford after a compelling conversation with Iran Nazario, an ex-gang member who started the group Peacebuilders to mediate disputes between teens and stop them before they become violent. Dankowski began by reflecting on the attitude of the city: "There's a strange mix of inferiority complex, blind hope, resignation and energy [in Hartford] that I don't think I've encountered anywhere else." But, he concluded, "I guess I'm just rooting harder for Hartford today. I'd really like the conversation to change."

I found that so fitting for my thoughts this week - it's not just the city itself that needs to change as much as it is the way we talk and think about it. So I guess today I'm just adding my voice to those rooting for the city to succeed and thinking about how I can be a part of that success.