Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Holidays with Heart: The CT Forum's 17th Annual Hartford Children's Holiday Party

It's one of the best kept secrets in town.

Since 1993, The CT Forum's Annual Hartford Children's Holiday Party has connected people across geographic, economic, social and racial divides to bring joy to children who might not otherwise experience a festive holiday.

On Monday, December 14th, dozens of volunteers from national corporations, local businesses, schools and towns - including 100 Connecticut high school students from the CT YOUTH Forum - welcomed nearly 300 Hartford elementary school students to the Hartford Marriott Downtown for an afternoon filled with crafts, food, gifts and entertainment.

Guided by adults and escorted by CT YOUTH Forum members dressed as elves, small groups of wide-eyed children explored every corner of the Marriott's grand ballroom. They decorated picture frames and gingerbread cookies, and created hand-made ornaments and other treasures.

With goodie bags in hand and colorful balloon hats on their heads, they feasted on a lavish buffet of kid-friendly fare, and even went back for seconds before waiting their turn to greet Santa and receive gifts. And guess what? Santa's beard was as real and genuine as the smiles that stretched across their painted faces.

In a season fraught with hardship and need, this was a special day indeed - not only for the children chosen by their teachers and principals to attend this celebration, but for the volunteers and sponsors who were able to experience firsthand some true holiday magic.

The Connecticut Forum gratefully acknowledges Aetna, Inc., the Target Corporation, the Hartford Marriott Downtown and our other generous sponsors for making this event possible.
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If you would like to learn more about volunteer or sponsorship opportunities for The CT Forum's Annual Hartford Children's Holiday Party, please email us at info@ctforum.org.

Friday, December 18, 2009

What are you going to watch?

Winter, it seems, is here with a vengeance. The temperature when I woke up this morning was a bracing 12 degrees (Fahrenheit for all you international readers). This time of year inspires really only one thing in me, hibernation. For years, my plan for ursine-like-repose has been to set myself down, wrapped in a blanket, (No Snuggies for me, I'm a traditionalist.) and watch TV. Well, it seems I need to rethink my plan. Two recent articles have made some damning revelations about the "boob-tube."

From this summer:
Watching TV: Even Worse for Kids Than Youth Think.

It seems just the act, or inaction, of spending quality time with Sponge Bob actually dramatically raises a child's blood-pressure. At this rate we'll have to have chewable Beta-blockers.

Also, just yesterday:
How Less TV Changes Your Day

University of Vermont researchers figured if more TV was bad, less TV was good. They were right, beyond their wildest expectations. As the study shows, simply watching less TV led people to be more active and in being more active burned an average of 120 more calories a day. With a little simple math...

120 * 365 days = 43,800 calories a year / 3500 calories in a pound of fat =

12.5 pounds of fat a year...just for turning your TV off for a few hours a day.

Well, being a 30 something male with a few pounds to loose, I guess its becoming clear...my winter will be less TV and more naps.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Connecticut Forum Announces a New Video Website!

We are excited to announce the launch of The Forum Channel, a new website showcasing video from our Forum archives! This site is the only place to find full Forum conversations, and also includes hundreds of clips and dozens of past panelists.

Visitors to The Forum Channel will have free access to videos of past guests ranging from Phish’s Trey Anastasio to Spike Lee, touching on topics ranging from humor, politics, sports, music, race, American life, and more.

Visit the site at www.theforumchannel.tv, and subscribe to the site to receive updates as we add new video content over the coming months.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Geoffrey Canada and The Harlem Children's Zone

Last night's episode of 60 Minutes featured an interview with Geoffrey Canada about his charter school, The Promise Academy, a part of his Harlem Children's Zone plan. The school offers opportunities to children living in poverty and aims for every child enrolled to make it to college.

Canada was a panelist at the Education in America Forum back in 2006; during that conversation Canada inspired the audience to question an American educational system that would leave so many children behind. In this clip, Canada addresses the hurdles students face outside of the classroom.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The World Reacts to Obama's Afghanistan Plan

AP Photo

Last night the world tuned in to watch President Obama formally announce that an additional 30,000 troops will be sent to aid in the U.S. efforts in Afghanistan.

"I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan...I do not make this decision lightly. I make this decision because I am convinced that our security is at stake."

The President's decision has been highly anticipated following Bob Woodward's article in The Washington Post on September 21, 2009 that exposed the details of a confidential 66-page report in which top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan General Stanley McChrystal suggests that if more troops are not sent overseas, U.S. Military efforts "will likely result in failure."

Check out this collection of responses and opinions about President Obama's announcement from past Connecticut Forum panelists:

Matthew Dowd

"Bottom line: Good speech, lots of eloquence, little lasting political effect. Nine months ago nearly two-thirds of the country approved of President Obama's handling of Afghanistan. Today, a majority of the country disapproves. This speech will make little difference in that measure, in the president's overall approval rating or in the public's will to keep fighting this war. " more

Arianna Huffington

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Mo Rocca

(Via Twitter) "Obama to send 30,002 troops to Afghanistan (congrats, Tareq and Michaele Salahi! This time you're invited.)"

Thomas Friedman

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Richard Holbrooke

“I feel very strongly that Afghanistan is the ultimate test of Nato and the western alliance.”
Arguing that the consequences of failure would be far worse than those suffered by the US following its withdrawal from Vietnam. more

Andrew Sullivan

"I think this strategy is doomed. But then I think any strategy that does not pledge to colonize Afghanistan, pour trillions of dollars into it and stay for a century is doomed. So why do I end up this morning feeling rather similar to my colleague, Jim Fallows, who simply sighs
: 'Well, I hope he's right"?" more

Newt Gingrich

Michael Moore

"President Obama, it's time to come home. Ask your neighbors in Chicago and the parents of the young men and women doing the fighting and dying if they want more billions and more troops sent to Afghanistan. Do you think they will say, "No, we don't need health care, we don't need jobs, we don't need homes. You go on ahead, Mr. President, and send our wealth and our sons and daughters overseas, 'cause we don't need them, either." more