The 40-Year Plan
Long-term Solutions To Hartford's Long-standing Problems
April 12 - 19, 2006
By KEN KRAYESKE, The Hartford News Staff Writer
The 40-Year Plan will host its first-ever live community discussion Thursday, April 27 at 7 p.m. at La Paloma Sabanera Café at 410 Capital Avenue in Hartford.
Panelists Fernando Betancourt, Matt Fleury and Bernadine Silvers will converse, and I will moderate the conversation about “Hartford in 14,610 Days, or Brainstorming for the Future.”
Everyone is invited to attend, although Paloma seats only up to about 60 for such occasions. If we have to turn people away, the forum will be aired on Hartford Public Access Television.
I hope the discourse covers a wide range of time and space, and I’d love to answer the question: What does 40 years mean? How long is 40 years? I initiated this forum because I want to hear what other civic-minded individuals think is plausible in any given 40-year time frame, then apply it to the one staring us down the calendar.
I want to hear what others have experienced in 40 years. It hasn’t been 40 years since Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated - 38 spins around the sun since April 4, 1968. Yet it has been 58 years since the massacre of Palestinians by Jewish gangs at Deir Yassin, April 9 and 10, 1948.
More locally, it has been 40 years since Gino Mozzicato moved to Hartford from Sicily. Mozzicato opened his bakery in 1973. The Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz, that July party at Bushnell Park, began in 1966. The New England Whalers didn’t arrive until 1971. Hartford’s stormy 35-year love affair with pro hockey still has unwritten chapters.
Hartford Public Access TV began in 1976. Riverfront Recapture wasn’t founded until 1981 – 24 years ago - as a community response to the severing of the city from the river, a response to the mistakes of the Founder’s Bridge widening and the connecting of five major highways in October 1965. Things take time.
In 1966, the phone company introduced “dial tone first” service in Hartford, which was monumental because it made all emergency calls free on pay phones – and examining how telephony has morphed since then would take books.
The electrical industry 40 years ago witnessed the birth of Northeast Utilities out of a merger of the Western Massachusetts Electric Company (WMECO), the Connecticut Light and Power Company, and the Public Service Company of New Hampshire.
Hartford first sampled its air quality in 1966. Our trash-to-energy history began when the state established CRRA in 1973. Yet Hartford still ranks among national leaders for asthma, and we started testing the air before we fouled it.
The Capital Region Education Council was founded in 1966, according to its website, by “local school districts working together to solve common problems. Today, CREC administers more than 100 programs and services spanning the entire educational spectrum with the same goal in mind.”
Seemingly, our schools are more segregated today than they were then, if you talk to Jonathan Kozol. Perhaps 40 years isn’t long enough to think about time. Are we doing in Hartford anything today that we will talk about as being visionary or stupid in 40 years?
I am 34, so I haven’t even lived long enough to know what four decades feels like. In this age, instant gratification dominates thought patterns, and thus action, distracts us all from focusing on the future.
With the average American lifespan now well into the late 70s, 40 years represents less than one person’s entire productive output – if people enter the workforce at age 15 and retire at 65 – yet we rarely contemplate our work goals in terms of 50 years.
This forum represents a chance for us to spend an evening discussing time, and the best ways for our community to fly along with time’s winged chariot.