Recreating Beauty in Hartford
When you exit Hartford’s main thoroughfare you see a welcome to the West End sign. You see apartment buildings in various states of repair. You see a fire station. Behind that fire station, directly to your right, you see a playground with no children. You see a park with no people, and you see disrepair. In a city with little green space you wonder “why is this place not loved?”
It is. The park is a constant topic at neighborhood group meetings and a regular topic brought up with city officials, but it just… never gets done.
On September 11, 2011, Knox Parks, Hartford’s go-to organization for green volunteer activities, will recruit and coordinate a diverse set of community members to reclaim this park and plant a new landscape to offer relaxation, respite, and sanctuary to members of the Hartford community. The neighborhood is already a melting pot of ages and nationalities, we hope that by encouraging the very community that will use the park to invest their sweat equity into it, they will take more ownership of their community and become more connected to their neighbors.
Names of the Organizations to Be Involved:
Knox Parks, Inc.
City of Hartford
Hartford Fire Department
West End Civic Association
Farmington Avenue Business District
Hartford Community Center
Shepherd Park Elderly Housing
Noah Webster School
UCONN, West Hartford Campus
Clemens Place Apartments
These are organizations Knox already approached and is confident will join the cause if this project meets the competitive criteria of the challenge. As the date comes closer, the partners will reach out to other municipal agencies, local businesses, housing units, and organizations to volunteer, donate, and help promote the event.
How the Service Activity Will:
1) Address Community Challenges
There are no green spaces, parks, or playgrounds located in this section of Hartford. It is a neighborhood bustling with families, yet children are homebound for lack of dedicated play areas. What few community gathering places that exist are indoors, out of sight from the very community they seek to attract. This park will be more than place for play, it will be the type of place every neighborhood needs: a town green.
At the same time, the neighborhood encompasses a wide cross section of Hartford’s population. While close within their own socioeconomic groups, intergenerational and intercommunity blending rarely happens. Knox hopes to use this day, one that all Americans can support, to bring seniors together with families together with generation X and Y to accomplish something together.
2) Commemorate the Losses on September 11, 2001 and honor the service and sacrifices of those who have responded since that day
We will honor the sacrifice and service of America surrounding the September 11 attacks in three ways. First, directly before the work begins (at the time of the first tower’s collapse), we will stop and hold silence for all those who suffered due to the acts of terrorism on that day. There will be time for prayer, reflection, and simple speech made by a community leader. Second, we will plant 149 tulip bulbs along the path leading around the fire station into the park to commemorate the 149 lives Connecticut lost that day. Third, as with every Knox volunteer event, we will provide food and music when the volunteerism is done. While we begin the day with solemn remembrance, we will end with a celebration of the spirit of service that many Americans showed since that day.
Number of Volunteers Expected: 120
Volunteer Expectations and Accomplishments:
Volunteers will prepare the site for planting, clean the site of litter, and install a new low-maintenance landscape designed by Knox’s landscape designer. The key features of this design will be the 149 tulips planted along the entrance path, a new willow tree providing shade, and various shrubs that will block the highway from the children’s view. The day will include strenuous physical labor; however, we will provide less strenuous activities like trash pick up for those unable to complete more physical work.
Knox is well known within the local and regional media markets and keeps an open line of communication to many local editors, newscasters, radio hosts, and politicians. We will follow our normal promotions strategy for this event, distributing a press release 2-3 weeks in advance, following up with phone calls, and promoting the event through our own marketing channels (print and online newsletter and social media). We will rely and impress upon each partner to do the same, including the City of Hartford and our individual supporters in the community.