Tuesday, October 20, 2009

a starting point

(image by Chion Wolf)

One of America’s oldest cities. The oldest continuously published newspaper. The oldest public art museum. The city of Hartford is wrapped in history. But what about its future?

Since its first settlement by Dutch colonists in the early 1600s, Hartford has been a place of commerce and invention…art and literature…a center for abolitionists and insurers…bisected by a highway and by battles over race and class…a city that suburban office workers see by day, but not often by night…the butt of jokes and jibes…New England’s “Rising Star” – or so went the ad campaign.

Hartford is neighborhoods, alive with language and cultures from around the world…but crushed by poverty. Hartford is Puerto Rican, African American, and West Indian. It is populated by people who care about the place they live – who wonder if it can be the place they want it to be.

In October, WNPR's Where We Live and Real Art Ways presented a live episode about Hartford: where it's been, where it is, and where it's going. We featured your stories, thoughts, questions and ideas.

Listen to the full episode

But, well, the show is only an hour. And this is a much longer conversation.


sachin said...


Carl said...

Since we heard this show(that's me in the middle of the photo) Hartford has been rated #5 in the country to start a small business, great press!


gomaxfield said...

Poor, old Hatford! It's the Greatest City in the World! I am a third generation Hartford Boy who wants everyone else to feel like I do. Just dream it & do it!

jd said...

Glad to see people here already! Love the "Best Places to Launch" link. It's a perfect starter to what we're talking about. If we can agree that thriving, creative people make a thriving, creative city, then small business startups need to have a place here. So, what are the barriers to people starting business here? How do we tear them down so that more "creatives" are investing here?

jd said...

For instance, this might be a barrier: http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-hartford-gangs1022.artoct22,0,2995399.story

park watershed said...

Funding for start-up projects and innovative people is a massive challenge. Local creative people may not have any clue about how to get funding. Often established stakeholders (who live outside of Hartford) know how to secure funding, yet hire designers/artists located outside of Hartford. This may limit the relevance of 'innovative' projects by trending towards transient ideas rather than rooted interests from creative types who actually live here.

Across the US, pro-activist green innovators have evolved with the inclusive interest and support of their local community. This has not happened in Hartford. Eventually, funders will most likely import "green experts" from other communities (or their friends in the suburbs) to do work in and for the betterment of Hartford.

reverb09 said...

i think the small business ranking is great, and is really the foundation we need for a thriving city. it will take many small endeavors at the grass-roots level to transform the city, much of which is already taking place. the more that policy and collective action can support and nurture the low-level, organic developments, the more noticeable the growth will be.

i think the downtown area is particularly in need of some different approaches. for example, there's so much empty retail space there, and yet from what i understand prices are very high. i'm not sure how much policy can change such things, but there are businesses and people who would consider setting up shop downtown, except that the cost is prohibitive. how can we make it easier for experimentation and innovation to take place in a small-scale, distributed fashion?

- C said...

Great comments. Missed the show, but stumbled on this thread. As a member of the Hartford Young Professionals & Entrepreneurs (hypehartford.com) I can attest that we have been discussing the very challenges of small biz in Harford for some time now and have a very committed group of folks who are seriously committed to the goal of raising awareness of Hartford as holding true potential as a startup mecca. Look around, all the foundational elements are here - proximity to the largest cities on the east coast, several major Universities, a high percentage of advanced degree graduates, etc. Small biz in CT IS possible and the resources ARE here, it just that so few people have a full understanding of how all the pieces fit together that we think the cause is lost before we begin. We need to connect the dots and unit our disparate voices for the common goals that we all, in our small areas of influence and impact, are attempting to advance.

Example: HYPE just held our annual entrepreneurial awards at the CT Science Center last week and gave away three $1k prizes to newer, local businesses. Estimates put us around 150 or so attendees, but why can we not be at 500?

I will make a shameless mention here that myself and other graduates of a recent 10 week seminar/collaboration between the Kaufman Foundation and HYPE have united to create a new group on the rapidly growing Meetup.com website focused on building a very real, ongoing discussion, called Startup Cafe. We have also discussed the idea of evolving this into an online network of biz people/resources. This is all just beginning. I would love to see any of the folks chatting here sign-up for our little tribe as well (meetup.com/startupcafe)

Truly, this is a story whose time has come to tell.

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