Thursday, July 12, 2018

Project Updates From CB&O and More!

Women's Empowerment Mural 

Kwadwo Adae is adding a new edition to his design for the Farmington Canal Women's Empowerment Mural that is currently in progress! He is modeling one of the women on the wall after Diane Brown (left) the Stetson Library Branch Manager. In 2017, Diane received the Connecticut Library Association Special Achievement award, in recognition for her work to build programming that engages residents at the Stetson Library (link). She forged partnerships with other community organizations to offer the "Teach Them While They Are Young," series of youth programming.

The Women's Empowerment Mural features other accomplished women like Diane to call attention to the invaluable and often unacknowledged work of women in the greater New Haven are and in the world.

Contact our Americorps VISTA Haley Brown at this link to get more information or to volunteer for the project!

Community Gardens and Green Spaces

At the Learning Corridor, Doreen and Haley coordinated with Bradley from the New Haven Land Trust to bring soil to the Hazel St garden for a pumpkin patch. Doreen also coordinated with Katie, a nutritionist from the American FoodCorps, to teach a group of Newhallville Ambassadors how to make fresh mint lemonade and incorporate home-grown ingredients into meals. The Newhallville Ambassadors are employed through the Newhallville Safe Neighborhoods Initiative developed by Arthur Edwards. 
Ambassadors strengthen their commitment to Newhallville and build skills to be agents of change through local community service. On Monday (July 9th 2018) the ambassadors shared what they had learned with a group of children from Harris and Tucker School. The exchange will serve as a model for future Learning Corridor programming that will teach residents community stewardship and enable them to share their knowledge with their neighbors!

Doreen and her assistant Jonathan De Los Santos, a representative from the United Nations' Student's Association (pictured to the right) worked on the continuing  Learning Corridor Beautification Project both Tuesday and Thursday nights from 5 - 7pm. This week they were laying mulch in flower beds along with general landscaping.
Contact Doreen by following this link  to get involved and keep the corridor looking beautiful every week!
Will and Stephen visited Mr. Brown (pictured right) at the Dixwell Community Garden to help cut back overgrowth and  prepare the garden for cultivation this summer. 

Haley sent out her initial questionnaire to gauge community interest in gardening and identify key assets in the community gardening landscape. She is currently developing  a skill-share program between experienced gardeners and residents who have a budding interest in gardening. She wants to make gardening acceSsible to everyone and capitalize on the wisdom of New Haven's great gardeners. Follow this link to participate in her survey!

Rosa DeLauro Press Conference

Rosa DeLauro, the representative for Connecticut's third congressional district, visited a Neighborhood Housing Service's home that has recently been rehabilitated for a press conference on the impact of Trump's tax bill on Connecticut Homeowners. Bridgette Russell, the Director of our Home Ownership Center, started by describing our mission to build communities by cultivating home-ownership as well as the negative impact the Trump tax bill could have for the homeowners we seek to empower, before introducing ward 20 Alderwoman Delphine Clyburn. Delphine gave some heartfelt words on her experiences in her ward before turning the mic over to DeLauro for the rest of the event. 

DeLauro presented the results of a staff report linked here prepared at her request. According to the report, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act  (Trump's tax bill) will significantly increase the tax burden on Connecticut homeowners while handing a windfall to wealthy developers.  This bill prevents homeowners from deducting more than $10,000 of their property tax from their income tax. Additionally homeowners will not be able to deduct interest payments on home equity loans from their taxes unless the loan is being used for home improvement. The bill also ends a tax deduction for mortgage insurance premiums from those with incomes below $100,000. The wealthiest will not bare an equal burden. In just the next year, real estate developers will benefit from a $3.7 billion cheaper tax cut. This  new increase on top of New Haven's recent 11% tax hike (which you can read more about here) could easily spell disaster for many of our neighbors. DeLauro echoed this sentiment saying that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act undercuts the financial security a home provides, damaging a core component of the American Dream.

This report was written by Yale Public Service Fellow Will Taft

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Spotlight on the Learning Corridor

We are so excited to partner with Doreen Abubakar, the Newhallville community leader behind the Learning Corridor in Newhallville, to bring a summer full of affordable activities to the Learning Corridor. Doreen is working at NHS as an Americorps Vista this summer to build green spaces where residents can pursue healthier lifestyles together. The spaces will serve a broader goal of building community cohesion and changing the negative perceptions of poorer New Haven neighborhoods. The Learning Corridor, a hub for education and health and wellness programming on the Farmington Canal Trail, is one such space.

Five years ago, before Doreen started her work, residents of Newhallville called the space where the Learning Corridor sits the “Mud Hole;” an apt name for a plot of land that could not grow grass and served as a hub in the local drug trade.

The health and wellness disparities she witnessed in in Newhallville drove Doreen to turn the “Mud Hole” into the Learning Corridor. Doreen said she watched outsiders study Newhallville relentlessly as a locus for poverty and trauma. But, she said, those studies did not bring additional support or resources.

From the beginning, Doreen capitalized on the cycling infrastructure running through the corridor and the diverse group of people it brought to the heart of Newhallville. The Learning Corridor sits on the Farmington Canal Trail, a train line turned multi-use path, which runs from New Haven, CT to Northampton, MA. Five years ago, the space attracted volunteers on bicycles from outside of Newhallville. Riders on the trail would stop and pick up trash without engaging the surrounding community in the cleanup effort. Doreen wanted to bridge the gap between volunteering efforts and residents. She started beautification events and aggressively fundraised to turn the Learning Corridor into an engine for Newhallville revitalization that is responsive to the community.

While the portion of the Farmington Canal running through Newhallville is larger than any other neighborhood’s, many residents did not have a bike to enjoy it. Doreen made it possible for all residents to ride the trail safely. Purchased and donated bikes from Bradley St. Bike Co-op have a permanent home on the Learning Corridor in a shed. Devil’s Gear Bike Shop donated 25 helmets. In July, Doren plans to start holding regular bike safety lessons. Recently, Newhallville youth have been meeting at the Learning Corridor to use the bikes for their weekly Bike Club. Every Saturday, New Haven bicycling advocate Paul Hammer, leads the bike club down the trail and around Newhallville.

Doreen also uses the Learning Corridor to attract the outside involvement and partnerships that will be critical to Newhallville revitalization. On CT Trails day (June 5), a statewide day of activities to build public support for trails, attendees from around Connecticut visited for free bike rentals and guided tours of Newhallville and the Learning Corridor. New Haven Friends of the Farmington Canal Greenway sponsored the event and Doreen supervised activities. The event gave attendees who are unable to bring their bike to the trail an opportunity to finally cycle down it. Doreen also invites New Haven schools to the Learning Corridor to volunteer and to ride the trail.

The Learning Corridor (on the corner of Shelton Ave and Hazel St) hosts much more than cycling events. Pollinator gardens, bee hives, fitness groups, line dancing and free pancake breakfasts are just a few of the things coming to the Learning Corridor this summer! Here’s what’s coming:

GirlTrek: GirlTrek encourages women of color to lead healthier lives by hosting weekly walking clubs around the nation. Starting in July, one chapter will meet every week on Thursdays at the Learning Corridor from 5:30 to 7
Explore.Discover.Create: Every weekday starting July 9th and lasting until August, partners of the Learning Corridor will host Explore.Discover.Create activities at the Learning Corridor from 10 to 12. Expect hands-on educational activities and lots of fun!
Jazz at the Learning Corridor: Starting July 15th, stop by the Learning Corridor for free jazz performances from 5 to 7.
Eating Healthy Lessons: Stop by on Thursdays from 5:30 to 7 in July for lessons on healthy eating with a nutritionist.
Learning Corridor Maintenance: It takes a lot of work to maintain the Learning Corridor, which now encompasses an urban oasis, two small fields, and a community gardening. Visit on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30 to 7 to participate in beautification efforts and community gardening.
Biking Club: On Saturdays at 9:00 am, younger residents meet at the Learning Corridor to use a bike free of charge. Bicycle advocate Paul Hammer leads the group.

See our flyer below for more information about each event.

Reach out to Doreen Abubakar at to learn more about how to volunteer at the Learning Corridor and upcoming events.

This piece was written by Yale Public Service Fellow Will Taft
Learning Corridor Summer Schedule Flyer by Sarah Jonelis

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Project Updates From CB&O and More!

Women's Empowerment Mural  Kwadwo Adae is adding a new edition to his design for the Farmington Canal Women's Empowerment Mural t...