Connecticut is not boring. It is revolutionary. Still.
But tourism websites and ad agencies never capture this for a multitude of reasons, giving the masses yet another branding campaign to mock.
One reason these don’t work: they are too slick. We know someone is trying to sell us on a trip here or there. The realness is removed through photography and videography that is just too polished. There’s no human voice there.
Contrast that with two homegrown sites that exist primarily for the authors’ own amusement. Connecticut Museum Quest, authored by Stephen Wood, comes with its own mission statement: “destroying the myth that there is nothing to do here.” Wood, often with his family in tow, travels around the state exploring museums, trails, food, and specializing in the quirky. This is how I learned there is something called “peak-bagging,” which is not what it sounds like. If all you know about Connecticut is Mystic Seaport, Mark Twain, and Mohegan Sun, this is the site to visit. He’ll show you everything on and off the beaten path, make you laugh while doing it, and tell the truth about which places have employees with nasty attitudes or venues with inconsistent hours. Even if you have lived in Connecticut your entire life, this site will introduce you to at least one thing you did not know existed.
The Size of Connecticut is a blog about the author’s “attempt to discover (and live in and travel around and photograph) these 4,845 sq. miles.” Johnna Kaplan was raised in Westport, where she understandably developed a skewed sense of what the rest of Connecticut was like; now, in New London, she travels the state learning about life outside of Fairfield County. This is where to find out about synagogues randomly in the middle of nowhere, replica schoolhouses, and what might attract young(ish) people (back) to Connecticut. Yes, she writes about Nathan Hale, but her portrayal has flavor.
There is nothing touristy about these sites, yet they are compelling in ways that the well-funded official sites are not.
The Connecticut Office of Tourism’s website is not without merit. There is information. It does make Connecticut appear attractive. But there are gaps. Look at the “Creative in Connecticut” list, for example. Someone unfamiliar with our state may glance at it and believe that we lack in creativity; we simply lack in people willing to put together comprehensive lists about creative offerings. To be fair, the “This Weekend” lists are better than the “Getaways.”
The other major failing of the “Still Revolutionary” official propaganda is that it wholly ignores activism in Connecticut today. Governor Malloy should get credit for acknowledging Connecticut’s role in the sexual revolution, but he speaks of it in the wrong verb tense. Additionally, there are other battles still being fought over other types of inequality. Here are just a few reminders from recent memory; clicking on the photos will take you to the full stories:
Photos are of October 2011 anti-war demonstration at Hartford City Hall, supporters ofI immigrant rights marching from Keney Memorial Clock Tower to Barnard Park, a protest over the threatened deportation of a student about to graduate from high school, a protest to draw attention for economic issues of working families, The Occupy Hartford encampment, a protest against the dismissal of unioinzed maintenance workers at the Hartford Courant, a discussion of transgender rights that led to a passage of a bille, a tour of the deteriorated Lyric Theater preventing it from being demolished, a "slut walk," a rally for gender equity, a rally in support of teachers' concerns over education reform, and a rally in solidarity with Wisconsin union workers.
Reprinted with permission of Kerri Provost, author of the blog RealHartford.
To view other stories on this topic, search RealHartford at http://www.realhartford.org/.