For immediate release:
July 17, 2023
HARTFORD (CT) – The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center was delighted to receive a $24,390 Love Your Block grant from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving working in partnership with the City of Hartford. This initiative awards nonprofit organizations that seek to contribute to the beautification of Hartford neighborhoods with projects that are grounded in resident interest and engagement.
With this support, and in collaboration with another Hartford nonprofit, Knox, Inc. (whose goal it is to provide leadership to build greener, stronger, healthier, and more beautiful neighborhoods in Hartford), the Stowe Center will engage Knox’s apprentices to work with museum staff and volunteers to install and maintain new gardens, including two raised vegetable beds that will be harvested with produce offered free to neighbors. A sensory garden designed to stimulate the senses through touch, sight, scent, and sound and create a tranquil place that helps people feel calmer, happier, and more present. Benches will flank the sensory garden. We will also create a pollinator garden with perennials and wildflowers to attract birds and native bees, keeping with the historic 19th-century landscape. We will install a custom-designed wooden box on a stand along Forest Street to serve as a Little Free Library and a Little Free Pantry making books and non-perishable food available to the neighborhood as well. “The intention of Harriet’s Backyard is to create a unique greenspace for community that all people feel welcomed to enjoy; as well as a place of care for our neighbors.” Said Karen Fisk, Executive Director of the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center.
This new outdoor space will be environmentally sound, ecologically diverse, and accessible to people of all abilities. We have already held focus groups with neighbors with a wide range of functional limitations and their feedback guided the planning process and highlighted the need for a welcoming ambiance, inclusive design, and opportunities for neighbors to enjoy nature in quiet reflection and be inspired to creativity and to action. We will reconnect with them during and after implementation for their input on future enhancements. “This year’s [Love Your Block] projects are revitalizing neighborhoods one block at a time, connecting residents with one another and building a sense of pride and ownership of these neighborhoods. Neighborhood residents are the most knowledgeable about their needs and are best equipped to identify beautification activities.” Said Hartford Foundation President and CEO Jay Williams.
These site improvements are part of a larger, multi-year project designed to offer area residents, staff, and tourists a welcoming and tranquil place to gather and learn about historic Nook Farm and the natural world that surrounds it. Other site improvements include expanded bluestone walkways, additional seating, and improved lighting. 50-year-old, crumbling asphalt driveways and parking area will also be expanded and replaced. The expanded driveway will bring bus access to the Stowe Center for the first time. In preparation for these driveway enhancements, our Heritage Rose Garden will be moved away from the Day House driveway to new beds that will flank the flagpole. “The project is community driven with all facets of people being represented at the table. We are building a place of the community and by the community in a safe, comfortable, loving way,” said Cindy Cormier, Project Director for the ADA, Site and Structural Improvement Project.
The long-term outcomes of this landscape improvement project are many. Neighbors will have a beautiful and peaceful new park-like place to visit, complete with numerous gardens and areas to relax and unwind and gather with family and friends. “Currently, many area adults and children have limited opportunities to get outside and will benefit from increased access to the natural world. Access to nature has proven to be beneficial for a person’s physical and mental well-being,” remarked Executive Director, Karen Fisk.
In addition, when neighbors have a place to connect and learn about the rich history of Asylum Hill and Nook Farm there may be a greater sense of community and a greater pride of place. As the campus becomes better utilized by area residents, the opportunity for outdoor community programming also increases. As an active programming site, the Stowe Center already engages community partners and will continue to do so as it looks to new partners to expand its reach and diversify its offerings.
The Stowe Center routinely gathers input from visitors and program participants to determine what they enjoyed and ways their experience might be improved; we will ask these same questions about accessibility of the neighbors who visit to ensure that everyone feels welcome and included. “Ultimately, the Stowe Center is working to create a unified, inclusive, and interpreted urban greenspace in Hartford’s historic Nook Farm Neighborhood,” said Project Director, Cindy Cormier.
The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center is a museum, research library/archive, and program center in Hartford, Connecticut. The Stowe Center’s mission is to preserve and interpret Stowe’s Hartford home and the Center’s historic collections, promote vibrant discussion of her life and work, and inspire commitment to social justice and positive change. For general information and updates, please visit www.HarrietBeecherStoweCenter.org.
CONTACT: Christina Tom
Harriet Beecher Stowe Center
860.522.9258 x305 | email@example.com