After spending an especially long week in the North End of Hartford last week, I was admittedly ready for a break.
So, I wished the street that's been home to three of the city's 21 homicides the best and figured I'd check back in later.
Except I couldn't stop thinking about the place:
The people I'd met.
The conversations I'd had.
The street, with so much potential if only ...
When I spotted an Adopt a Highway sign on the way into work one day, I found myself thinking, "Hey, why not Adopt a Hartford Street?"
Think about it: Businesses in the city aren't exactly flush, so what if they invested in the community around them by adopting a street? No money, just time.
I'm just thinking out loud here, but what if they start some sort of mentoring program with the kids who live on their adopted city street? Maybe help organize a blight watch where they help residents press the city to clean up neglected properties and go after delinquent owners? How about a yearly or seasonal garbage pickup?
And why not, I thought, start with Garden?
I've reached out to some people about the idea to adopt a Hartford street, so I'll keep you posted there. But being the princess of patience that I am, I didn't want to wait.
So, how about we start with the Garden Street Garbage Walk so many of you suggested?
I'm still working out the details, but here's what I'm thinking. We pick some Saturday in September right now, I'm thinking Sept. 12 and spend a couple of hours on Garden picking up litter.
I'll spread the word, with the help of my colleague and fellow columnist Susan Campbell, who gamely agreed to trash duty and who came up with this pitch:
"If you work, play, drive through, have taken a paycheck, shopped, dined or gone to a play in Hartford, you can pick up some trash."
And my addendum: If you live on Garden, you really can pick up some trash.
Hopefully, we can drum up enough support and supplies to make this happen. You just have to show up.
Many of you had suggested that after we collect the garbage, we dump it on city hall steps.
I understand the frustration, but I'm going to suggest a different tack here: Let's give the city a chance to be part of this.
I've got a call in to someone over at the city's public works department, hoping they might supply trash cans. I'd love to get city garbage cans permanently placed on the street, but right now I'll settle for public works' dropping some off on the cleanup day. And more important picking them up after we're done.
On Wednesday, I went back to Garden Street to enlist some of the residents I'd met there.
Clayton Jackman, one of the four generations living in the same Garden Street apartment, signed up. He also said he'd recruit members of ACORN, the community group he volunteers with.
Taylor Lewis, who lives in one of the street's adorable Habitat for Humanity homes, said we could count her in and her children, too. Her daughter already volunteered to make and hand out fliers.
But Lewis also offered a reality check that I referred to a little earlier: A garbage walk is a fine idea, she said. But real change has to come from the people who live on the street.
Look, I know this isn't exactly a new idea. Volunteers have cleaned up littered streets all over Hartford. And picking up trash isn't going to come close to fixing all that's wrong on Garden.
But as I said in my Sunday column, I sense an opportunity here, a real desire for change.
So, maybe we start a little something that the residents of Garden can hopefully continue.
What do you say, people you in?
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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