Dear Hartford Residents,
By this time in any given year, we would be enjoying each other’s company at hatch shell concerts, block parties, competitions and many other gatherings so many of us enjoy. We would be having face to face interactions at our many restaurants, retail establishments and would be enjoying all the theatre and cultural activities that our town has to offer as well. In addition to being fun, these gatherings build community in Hartford in ways that may be easy to take for granted, but once gone, are sorely missed. This year, we realize we need to find as many ways to fill this void as we can.
With this in mind, we, as a Chair and Vice-Chair of the Selectboard have decided to send a weekly message to the Town to share about events, challenges and Town news and to celebrate the amazing work we are doing as a Town Citizenry and Staff to confront the challenges associated with the Coronavirus Outbreak.
Today, we are moved to share our deep regret that the recently-reported incident of racism, in which it was expressed that people of color are unwelcome in our Town, ever took place in Hartford. It goes without saying that this statement is unacceptable and completely antithetical to the values of inclusivity and respect for all people that we strive to uphold.
When statements are made which express an exclusionary and racist sentiment, they harm us all. They harm the fabric of our community. And we are reminded of the deep work that Hartford must do to become increasingly inclusive and welcoming to all people, particularly those of traditionally marginalized identities. We are reminded of our commitment to this work and at the same time, sadly, that we have a long way yet to go.
This work is particularly relevant at this tender moment in our town’s history. We know that the stresses of the threats to our economy and health (particularly when compounded by needed practices of mask wearing and physical distancing) can increase negativity and expressions of bias within our Town. And we know that by confronting this crisis together, we can also strengthen our sense of community connection with one another. That these unifying forces prevail is now more essential than ever.
In this spirit, it is important to recognize the remarkable work being done by Hartford’s team of civil servants now working on the front lines of our community’s response to the Coronavirus outbreak. Those who have been sequestered in their homes might easily forget that Hartford’s men and women in uniform have been shouldering much of the added burden of the stress the outbreak has placed on the community as they respond to the health, safety and other needs of the town. These individuals who make up the Town’s Departments of Police, Fire, EMS, Parks and Rec. and Public Works are daily putting themselves at risk of catching COVID-19 as they make it possible for the rest of the Town to follow Governor Scott’s orders and keep safe and stay home. This work represents an extraordinary effort and daily acts of local heroism which we can all strive to emulate. In that this work serves us all, it also helps to support the kind of inclusive community we can all be proud to call home.
At a time when expressions of racism are discouraging and painful for us all, we can take heart in the examples of selfless service which supports us all.
With this in mind, we thank you for all you do to support values of solidarity, mutual support and inclusivity that make Hartford a great place to live.