March,  2017 

Your copy of the Asylum Hill Neighborhood Association 'News & Views' has arrived!   You will find that you can easily go to any subject in the table of contents by just clicking on it or just browse through the articles as you wish. Please have a look. 


Next Meeting 03/06/2017



The next meeting is Monday March 6th, 6:15 P.M. at The 224 Eco-Space, 224 Farmington Ave .


New Meeting Location!

AHNA Meetings moving beginning February 6  
th 2017
After 20 years of monthly meetings at Asylum Hill Congregational Church, AHNA has reached out for a new venue. The first Monday evening time slot no longer worked for our hosts, and after considerable polling it seems that no other day works as well for our board and members. We are creatures of habit.
The new venue will be 'The 224 Eco-Space', 224 Farmington Ave.  Please use the far west entrance to the parking lot.

I'm sure everyone will join us in thanking Asylum Hill Congregational Church, Pastor Matt Laney and all of the staff as well as all of the members who have been so generous and supporting to AHNA for so long.  This is not to say that our relationship is any less. AHNA will continue to use AHCC as our mailing address and will turn to them for other meeting spaces as the need arises.
As someone who has been there for every monthly meeting from the start, it feels a little like a teenager tentatively moving toward independence. I suspect they feel much the same.   We couldn't be more grateful for all their assistance or more optimistic about the future.
Bernie Michel

'The 224 Eco-Space' facility is the white building shown in the background of the picture.  Use the driveway on the left as viewed from Imlay Street looking North.

From The Chair

Over 20 years ago, through volunteerism, the Asylum Hill Problem Solving Committee worked diligently to ensure that sustainable quality of life, public safety, education and economic development would be established throughout the neighborhood of Asylum Hill. Today, through volunteerism, we continue to advocate for the same standards, including transportation and ensuring that all newcomers to Asylum Hill are welcomed and safe. This continued advocacy has brought value and has made Asylum Hill a peaceful safe haven for those who reside, work and play in our neighborhood.
My thought this month is a question. How can we together become more involved in helping to bring peace to the neighborhood, better sustain and improve the quality of life and safety in Asylum Hill?  To sustain and to improve what we currently have we need your help. We need your passion for improvement and change in our community.  We need to hear your voice.  We need your presence. Our neighborhood is over filled with people like you who are peaceful, loving, giving, conscientious and caring. 
Please come to our next meeting to hear what's going on in our neighborhood. There is something that you can share and /or help with to make our neighborhood better.  We long to be in your presence and we long to hear your voice.  Where there is unity there is strength.
Our next neighborhood meeting will be held on March 6, 2017 at The 224 EcoSpace, 224 Asylum Ave at 6:15pm.
Have a Beautiful Month!
Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Happy Birthday to all who are born in the month of March!
Yvonne Matthews, Chair

HouseFrom the House

Greetings to my friends and neighbors in Asylum Hill!

Our Election Laws Need a 21
st Century Upgrade
"Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting. " -- Franklin D. Roosevelt
Building and maintaining a vibrant democracy means recognizing that the world has changed.
Connecticut's voting laws are based on assumptions that we live the same lives we did in the 1950's or 1960s. Voters have a very different lifestyle today than we did even a generation ago - or two or three generations ago. 
We need to provide voters with an election system that recognizes modern lifestyles, integrates new technologies and new ways to deliver services. By perusing options for early voting and expanded absentee balloting, we will enfranchise more people and make it easier to vote.
The fact is we are way behind other states when it comes to modernizing our election laws. In 37 states and the District of Columbia, any qualified voter may cast a ballot prior to Election Day. And 27 states permit any qualified voter to vote absentee without offering an excuse.
What about concerns of voter fraud? Well, those fears may be misplaced - The Judicial Branch reports that they only have one record of prosecution for "fraudulent voting" (CGS 9-360) - One!
Voter impersonation fraud is not an issue in Connecticut.  According to the Connecticut Office of the Secretary of the State, since 1974 - when the State Elections Enforcement Commission was established - there have been more than 24 million ballots cast in gubernatorial or Presidential years in Connecticut and there have been only a small handful of elections infractions alleging voter fraud.
So, let's modernize our elections and open the voting booth to everyone who is eligible to vote.

Read More

AHThen  Exploring Asylum Hill 

Exploring Asylum Hill - The 'First Mark Twain House'

Nestled back behind a row of brick apartment buildings near the corner of Forest Street and Hawthorn Street is one of the earliest and most historic homes still standing on Asylum Hill.  On the assessors map it is shown as 140 Hawthorn Street, but it is most visible from the driveway entrance on Forest Street.  Originally built by John & Isabella Beecher Hooker in 1853 it was most famously occupied by Samuel Clemens before he built his iconic home on Farmington Avenue.   


Asylum Hill Then And Now
  Photo from Hartford History Center Hartford Public Library

The Mark Twain Branch of the Hartford Public Library Then

The Mark Twain Branch Library had it's home on the first floor of the Mark Twain House beginning in 1930. Later it was moved to the Farmington Ave storefront where it remained until 2011, when it was moved to Hartford Public High School. As planning began for the West Middle School renovations, it was agreed that space would be included for the Library to be located there. That plan becomes a reality on March 1, 2017.





Remembering Roland S. Harris Jr.

Roland S Harris Jr, served as principal of West Middle School for 25 years. During his career he earned a reputation for building our school community to function as a large family. Faculty and students could count on Mr. Harris to walk the hallways each day and greet every student in his travels by name. Each morning before the final bell would ring and the doors would open, a group of students would be selected to eat lunch with him. This was an opportunity to get to know the students as individuals.

What was interesting is even if you were in the office for discipline, Mr. Harris never passed judgement. He would always hold you accountable for your choices without allowing you to use excuses for unacceptable behaviors.  Mr. Harris was always a fair decision maker.  He developed and built the character of myself and so many others as principal of West Middle School. My fondest memory of him was during my 6 th grade Commencement Address.  I learned that hard messages resonate when they come from someone who loves you. I knew Mr. Harris loved us all and was always honest no matter what. We were instructed to look at our peers and accept the fact that some of us would not make it at all. On this day I learned the importance of being self-reliant at all times. I learned that you are responsible for all that you do. This was the greatest gift I received from Mr. Harris and the reason I will never forget him and the impact that he made in my life.

Mr. Harris passed in January at the age of 90.

         Read More

Georges Needs A Kidney


For those of you who are regulars at AHNA meetings, or the Welcoming Committee or who see the blog at, it is no secret that Georges Annan-Kingsley the refugee and artist from Ivory Coast who has been on dialysis for more than five years needs a kidney transplant.
He began last month explaining the process to me, and so my commitment, at least at first was to understand the process, what is really involved.



28 Gillette Street

Hartford's New Blight Ordinance & Director

Hartford has a new Blight ordinance that is intended to supersede the Livable and Stainable Neighborhoods Initiative (LSNI), and a new Director in the person of Laura Settlemyer Director of Blight Remediation. As a recent memorandum from the Mayor said, it will... "Strengthens the City's existing process for enforcing anti-blight violations and liens:
 * To encourage more property owners to bring their properties into compliance;
 * To allow the City to collect more revenue from fines and liens to offset the cost of    blight on the Hartford community; and To enable the City to abate the nuisance or  force a transfer of ownership (through lien foreclosure or voluntary sale) when  property owners do not comply.
 * ... and will be known as the City's 'Anti-Blight and Property Maintenance Program.'

 The new program will follow the 'Fix It Up, Pay It Up, or Give It Up' model of strategic code enforcement used in other cities across the country to fight blight."


Signs For Sigourney Square Park

Thanks to The Friends of Sigourney Square Park, the Park will be getting new signs soon. A new design for all the City parks that started with George Day Park in Parkville will come next to Sigourney Square Park.
The signs include a large four-sided sign with the park name and then several two sided signs with the name on one side and rules or hours on the reverse side. A special sign with pertinent rules will be near the splash pad.
Planning for the new signs and the design began about a year ago, and funding has been secured to complete nearly all of the originally planned signs. Only the History Sign will be delayed until further funds can be located. 


Dugo Alaala a Celebration of Black History Month

Spectrum In Motion celebrated Black History Month at the Boys & Girls Club this year with a very emotionally powerful production,
Dugo Alaala. Based on the poems of writers such as Langston Hughes, Dudley Randall and Nikki Giovanni among others, they expressed the feelings and emotions through recitation, music and of course dance.



SpeakUp At The Learning Lab

The SpeakUp is a forum that asks the audience to raise their voice and express their thoughts and opinions on the issues of education inequality, fake news, and race. The producers are six seniors from The Journalism and Media Academy who have spent two and a half hours a day, five days a week working on the project.
The audience was mostly juniors from JAM along with staff of NPR and CPBN, and the topics were presented to them in one-minute videos. 



Trinity Academy Excellence Dinner

Our 3rd Annual Excellence Dinner is a wonderful night filled with great food and  entertainment.   You can learn about Trinity Academy.   Be entertained with a magic show from Four-Handed Illusions, Boston's #1 rated Theater Group.  Tickets include, cocktails, hors d'oeuvres sit down dinner and a fabulous silent auction all while supporting Trinity Academy. 



Hartford News AHNA Supplement

As part of our communications efforts we publish our newsletter 'AHNA News and Views' as a supplement in the Hartford News monthly.  To cover the printing costs we need to secure ads generating $500.00 dollars each month.  This provides us with four pages with color.  If you, an organization you work for or belong to would like to help support this effort please see the order form below.  Please contact the editor at  if you know of anyone or business you think we might reach out to for support.  Thank you.


Ad Order Form

Events Calendar


Please click on the following link to go to our online Events Calendar.

From The Editor
If you have any comments, suggestions or submissions please contact me via email at 
Paul O'Mara Communications Committee Chair
Contact Us
Send emails directly to AHNA at

To visit our website click on the following link.   AHNA Website

To visit our Facebook page go to 'Asylum Hill Living' group page.