I grew up in a small town south of Hartford. My most prevalent aspiration, or so I thought, was, “I gotta get out of this place.” Other towns and cities seemed as if they had so much more to do, so many more places to go. But I stayed. And I never thought I’d be writing these words: “I’m happy to be where I am.” Here’s why:
Many of my family members and our friends were small-business owners. My parents owned a seafood store. Grandma owned the grocery store. Uncle Freddie owned the furniture store. Uncle Carmen owned the ice cream factory. (I liked him the best.) The books were kept and the taxes were completed by friends. We comprised a network, a community, all helping and supporting each other.
This growing sense of community is reflected in two of the projects on which I’m working:
- Parkville Market. With roots as deep as his childhood in Mozambique, the developer of this project, Carlos Mouta, is determined to rekindle the spirit of provincial kinship in the historic Parkville section of Hartford. His daughter, Chelsea, is joining him in the effort to create a community marketplace and opportunities for entrepreneurs to start or expand small businesses. and grow in the community.
- Fresh Start Pallet Products. Rich Carman, Ed Johnson, and Pastor Rick Kremer believe the best way to ensure opportunity for people to escape lives of poverty, joblessness, and dependency — and to help them achieve senses of purpose and meaning — is to create it. Working with healthcare and social-services providers, Fresh Start is, indeed, creating that opportunity, along with beautiful furniture, fixtures, and a rewarding community for its dedicated craftsmen. It’s also creating furniture for Parkville Market.
Back to the Future
I admire the passion and purpose the people at Parkville Market and Fresh Start embody. Their efforts connect me to my humble roots and to the community in which they grew. My mother inspired me to be whatever I wanted to be. Her only admonition was, “Just make sure you leave things better than the way you found them.” In working with Parkville Market and Fresh Start, I’m doing what she taught me to do. We’re working together to leave the world, some of its people, and some of its buildings better than they were when we found them. We’re doing it by recreating the sense of community we seem to have lost for a while. And we’re doing exactly what caring, constructive communities are supposed to do.
Now, if we could only get Uncle Carmen and his ice cream factory back ….
Image created by vectorpouch, courtesy of freepik.com.