Welcome to the conversation!

Welcome to the conversation!

Harriet Beecher Stowe's (1811-1896) best-selling anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852), made her the most famous American woman of the 19th century and galvanized the abolition movement before the Civil War.

The Stowe Center is a 21st-century museum and program center using Stowe's story to inspire social justice and positive change.

The Salons at Stowe programs are a forum to connect the challenging issues (race, gender and class) that impelled Stowe to write and act with the contemporary face of those same issues. The Salon format is based on a robust level of audience participation, with the explicit goal of promoting civic engagement. Recent topics included: Teaching Acceptance; Is Prison the New Slavery; Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North; Creativity and Change; Race, Gender and Politics Today; How to be an Advocate

This blog will expand the reach of these community conversations to the online audience. Add your posts and comments to keep the conversation going! Commit to action by clicking HERE to stay up to date on Salon and social justice news.

For updates on Stowe Center programs and events, sign up for our enews at http://harrietbeecherstowe.org/email.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Event Recap: Equal Opportunity for Small Businesses

How do we expand opportunities for small, minority-owned businesses? Why is it important? Does race play a role in business funding?

Featured Guest Opening Remarks:

Sam Hamilton:
  • Is race involved? Racism in one form or another impacts whether or not a small business can thrive and perform?
  • 2010 Census: The city of Hartford-38% are African American, 43% Hispanic, and 
  • Hartford businesses: African Americans own 19.4%  14.4% owned by Hispanics, and  24.3% owned by women.
  • When you look back at opportunities for early childhood development and understanding of wealth creation, and it is not there. Banks want to know what you have to put on the table in order to run a business. 
  • You will find that a new form of control prevents equal opportunity to wealth, land, entrepreneurial opportunities.
  • There has been progress, but when you look at communities and access, the educational experience, home experiences, and support for those who can do business has not improved. 
  • There are a number of programs in place, but you have to admit that race does play a part. 
  • You don't have the market to start a business if graduation rates are low and prison rates are high. 
  • There is a difference between Farmington Ave West and Farmington Ave East. There is a difference between downtown Hartford and Blue Back Square. 
  • Entrepreneurship needs to be valued.
  • Not having a background on how business works impacts the value of business and entrepreneurship
  • HEDCO becomes an alternative lender to minority small businesses who cannot get funding elsewhere. We look for the quality that these businesses will provide
  • We need to look at what is being taught at school. 
  • Not everyone is going to go to college. What happened to vocational training. Two family incomes built this city and they provide wealth. 
  • We need to teach children the need for their education and an understanding for their vocation and future will be. 
  • Race and gender have played a part in this process. 
  • HEDCO helps individuals understand how to make business happen. We provide an understanding of business that might not have been provided when individuals were in school.
  • The Jobs Bill that was passed yesterday will help fund small businesses.
  • Small businesses are where youth have their first jobs. You begin to understand the responsibilities that come with business. You are more aware of what you have to do. 
  • Women have a problem valuing their work. The story of the $100 dollar. A woman decides to sell her doll for $30. She told them how much it cost for materials and labor. It took $100 to make the doll and she was going to sell it for $30. She didn't want to charge for something she enjoyed doing. 
  • Very often people like to deal with people that look like them. Stereotypes exist. My grandfather would put on his suit to go see the banker. It goes back to a time when you needed to carry your papers around to show that you were free.
  • Why are there so many barbershops and beauty salons in African American communities? It is a part of culture. I don't know what I would do if my barber died. Businesses have success in certain niches. Cultural competence is critical. Sometimes an intermediary is necessary, like HEDCO. 
  • In the construction industry there are mandated programs that require certain things be done. We need to make sure that they are followed. 
  • We need to be there when things are being considered at City Council and Legislature
  • Are people meeting their affirmative action requirements?
  • How many city of Hartford residents are getting jobs in construction? 
  • Environmental racism: why did they put a water system in place that had water and sewage going through the same pipes and why was the retention of that sewage on Albany Avenue. The pipes would back up and sewage went on Albany Avenue. People need to act before this happens.
  • Food access is a major issue that impacts cities and certain communities. We need to act on this before the "train leaves the station" we need to know when it's coming and where it's going. You need to be involved early. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
  • Why don't we have a greater number of women, African Americans, and Hispanics owning businesses. 
  • We need to develop an action plan.
Chris Haylett:
  •  The are effects on businesses because of the economy today. The community helps to keep us going. 
  • HEDCO was helpful to help start Fire-N-Spice. 
  • Things have changed very much since I started my business. Even having a conversation about getting loans is difficult. 
  • We have equity in the building and we need to make ends meet. 
  • We are optimistic that things will turn around, but it is difficult to see how things with turn around for me. 
  • It is better to own a building rather than paying rent. We bought a restaurant and it took some time to get the building to the place we wanted it. 
  • I want to educate people to make healthier choices about their food and their livelihood. So we went completely vegan at Fire-N-Spice. I want to contribute my part and provide knowledge to others through eating and cooking classes. 
  • This restaurant resonates with people. 

Group Discussion:  
Last year an editorial said that because Obama was elected there was no need for affirmative action. Racism is so engrained.  Some people are not going to hire you, but it is on a subconscious level. 

People have good credit, but they are still not getting business loans. Jesse Jackson Jr. said that this needs to be addressed. Anyone can have bad credit.  For a minority applying for a small business loan, how do you deal with credit issues? 
  • Credit is what it is
  • In traditional lending market, if it is not at a certain level, it is cut off. Nothing else is considered. The number is the number
  • A non-traditional lender tries to get past that. Why was your credit impacted? What is the person's character. How can we overcome some of these credit glitches? 
  • A business might still be able to operate well. 
  • Banking communities look at electronic scoring.
  • Non-traditional lenders do not want to hold everyone hostage because of a number. Many years back you used to sit down with the banker and talk about issues you had, we provide that now. 
  • There are ways to get past the glitch to get you in business and develop a track record.  
You need folks with a good idea and in these tough economic times even good ideas do not fare well. Are you seeing good ideas? Are you seeing ideas that are doing well but facing difficulties getting off the ground? 
  • In the reorganization of the city those who would check on small businesses have been eliminated. 
  • With the passage of the new jobs bill there will be more resources
  • People have been holding on a long time. We are in a new normal and we need to learn how to operate in the new normal. We need to learn how to manage money differently. 
  • If the business is too far gone, we need to make tough decisions since the resources are limited. 
  • If you are involved in the community organizations we need to find a way to have a coordinator who provides support and direction for small businesses. 
  • You see a lot of people who could qualify years ago, but do not qualify any longer in the traditional market. Now there is a larger pool that need assistance from non-traditional lenders.
  • We have the legislators who are coming together to make sure the Legislature recognizes the need for assistance for small businesses.
  • There is an election coming up, we need to hold people accountable and make smart decisions in elections. 
  • Business owners can only yell so loud, you can be labelled a "troublemaker" if you yell too loud. 
  • Community support and advocacy are needed. It is a tough time and it is a matter of the strong will survive.
There is a mystery in running a business. It seems like you run a business if you know someone who runs a business. How do we teach people how to run a business?  
  • We need to look at who is getting certain things, like who is getting the product. 
  • The world is running on access to corn. 85% of what you eat involves corn and this impacts how restaurants and food suppliers operate. After corn comes who is going to control the water?
  • There are some things that are beyond our control, but it needs to be supplemented. 
  • Thre are signs of what is to come. You need to read read read read read everything you can
  • We are global. It is not just the neighborhood. 
  • Children need to learn how to live in the world that they grow up in.
 How do we get people to make the right choices and go to businesses that offer smart choices?
  • Education is key. 
  • Fire-N-Spice offers cooking classes and advise for alternatives in food choices. 
  • Keeping up with what is going on in your community and the world is crucial.
  • Everyone suffers from sickness. It is not just the air we breathe or the water we drink, it is also the food we eat. Food can save your life, but it can also take it. 
  • Culture impacts us. 
  • Money effects how we eat. If you go into a supermarket, you get all of the conventional stuff. People who sell you these foods do not care they sell you the food for the money. These businesses are trying to make money. The government is not listening to people about the bad foods that these businesses are selling. The education to make better choices is not provided.  
  • You need to consider not just buying what is in front of you. You have choices to go elsewhere. There are smaller businesses that are providing options. 
  • Maybe we need to ask smaller businesses to provide us with more options. We need to build more community and tell the businesses what we want. 
  • Former warehouse spaces are being used to provide better food choices and green jobs. There are movements to buy local. Looking at farmers' markets and local businesses help you control the products that you buy. 
  • Human behavior is so complex. People's stress over their lack of money will make them turn to poor choices.
Inspiration to Action
  •  Understand the community you are operating in as a small business owner
  • Ensure supplier diversity programs are working the way they are supposed to. 
  • Learn to operate in the "new norm"
  • Bring back community coordinators that can provide support and direction
  • Need to work to support more businesses through grants
  • Eat at Fire-N-Spice
  • Education yourself and others
  • Tell small businesses what you are looking for
  • Take advantage of the services small businesses can provide for you.
  • You can use SNAP and food stamp programs at Farmers' Markets
  • Support affirmative action
  • Advocate!! Evil prospers when good people remain silent!


      Wednesday, October 26, 2011

      Equal Opportunity for Small Businesses: Featured Guest Bios

      Salons at Stowe turns to a discussion of the issues small businesses face, seeking equal opportunity to business capital and funding. 

      How do we expand opportunities for small, minority-owned businesses? Why is it important? Does race play a role in business funding? 

      Join the conversation Thursday, October 27 from 5PM-7PM at the Stowe Center!

      Featured guests for the evening discussion are: Sam Hamilton (Hartford Economic Development Corporation) and Chris Haylett (Fire-N-Spice Vegan Restaurant) 

      Featured Guest Bios:
      Samuel C. Hamilton: Sam Hamilton is the Executive Director and CEO of HEDCO, Inc. The economic development firm provides technical assistance, loan packaging, dept and/or equity funding for businesses in Connecticut. He has also served in many other civic/volunteer capacities including but not limited to: Director, Village for Children and Families, Inc.; Founder, Transitional Living Center for Teens; Mayor's Task Force for Economic Development; and many more. 

      Chris Haylett: Chris Haylett is the owner of Fire-N-Spice Vegan Restaurant in Hartford, CT. Fire-N-Spice offers vegan cuisine made from organic products. He has 16 years of experience in the business and opened Fire-N-Spice over a year ago in Hartford to provide vegetarian food that does not force you to compromise your values. Fire-N-Spice offers dine-in, take out, catering, and cooking classes. 

      This is a FREE event
      Reception from 5PM-5:30PM. Conversation begins at 5:30PM and ends by 7:00PM

      RSVPs are encouraged: 860-522-9258 ext 317 or info@stowecenter.org
      Harriet Beecher Stowe Center. 77 Forest Street. Hartford, CT 06105

      Thursday, October 13, 2011

      Event Recap: Healthy Starts for Everyone

      The United States infant mortality rate ranks with developing nations. How can health care and social support improve this? What can be done to ensure healthy starts for everyone? 

      Featured Guest Opening Remarks:

      Pat Baker: 
      • There are many layers to this topic.
      • The CT Health Foundation's mission is to improve health outcomes 
      • Where can we make a difference? 
        • Oral health for children and pregnant women
        • Children's mental health
        • Culturally competent car
      • The issue for this state is disparities in health outcomes.  Why are there differences in health outcomes based on race? 
      • There are major gaps in studies for Asian populations and Native American populations.
      • If we can't ensure a healthy start, there is something fundamental in our culture that we need to look at.
      • The US spends more money per capita than other countries in the world, yet we have the worst outcomes.
      • So what are we going to do about it? 
      • What are the drivers of health? 
      • Where you live, play, learn, go to work (social determinants). 60% of your health has to do with this. You can even see differences in zip codes in Hartford. 
      • Access. You need access to care. 20%of your health has to do with this.
      • Quality. Are you getting the best practices? This is the final 20%
      • We all have to take good care of ourselves, but does everyone have to opportunity to take good care of themselves?
      • We rank 37th in infant mortality. CT can be seen as a very healthy state as opposed to other areas of the country. You need to break down the population to look at it differently. 
      • Infant mortality in CT: (per 1,000 live births)
        • 5.8: White
        • 6.5: Hispanic
        • 12.1: African American
      • When you control income, education, insurance: there are health quality disparities being experienced by people of color. It is an important consideration. It can affect the trust of the system.
      • What is the cause of infant mortality: 
        • Pre-term births
      • Right now there are significant increases in pre-term births. 
      • The US was making progress in health disparities in the 1960s up to the 1980s, but then there were program cuts in the 1980s and an increase in health disparities occurs.
      • African American disparities: 
      • Given these outcomes, we ask, what is the cause of this? 
      • The longer an African immigrant lives in the United States, the worse her health outcomes will be.
      • Even if African American women have achieved higher education, wealth, and live in a nice neighborhood, they still have worse birth outcomes. 
      • Stress due to racism is a major factor. When we live under stress all the time there will be an impact. How does the body recover? 
      • Racism is a significant health risk. 
      • We need to look at cultural humility and cultural competence. 
      • What we need to look at now to make change
        • How do we foster good behavior, how do we practice good nutrition.
        • How do we build healthy community
        • How do we create a health arena that practices cultural competency
        • What are the system changes needed to make change.
      • Health is in every policy. 
      • The more education the better the health outcomes.

        Grace Damio:
        • Puerto Rican experiences in America are similar to that of African Americans. There is a commonality. 
        • You can even break apart the Hispanic population and see differences.  
        • In the 1980s there was recognition that infant mortality was high. Suggestions were that people were not getting prenatal care. Now in Hartford there is prenatal home care provided that came out of this issue. 
        • What else can be happening?
        • Fetal and infant mortality review: find out why each infant mortality was happening. 
        • What are the risk factors that need to be solved before conception? How can we impact families lives to help prematurity, which is a major factor in infant mortality.
        • What causes prematurity?
          • Genetics
          • Substance abuse
          • Smoking
          • Domestic violence
          • Under nutrition
          • Obesity
        • Women may get health care when they are pregnant, but they do not always have insurance pre-conception. 
        • Economics, access, quality, education, stresses are the big picture factors.
        • The Hispanic Health Council was founded because of an infant mortality. A mother could not understand the instructions given to her from hospitals and doctors when she had a sick infant. The child eventually died of dehydration. In the United States, with all of the resources we have, should not have a situation where this is the reason why a child dies. 
        • There are gaps in services because they are not there or they are not reaching the population accurately. 
        • There has been very little research on the stresses on Latinas. When the Hispanic Health Council asked women their concerns, the major issues were: not enough food, education of children, safety in their neighborhoods. Required community members to commit to working on these issues. They have really followed up on food security. 
        • HHC: Talked to community members to brainstorms that would help their communities. There are structural issues (like corn subsidies) that are bigger issues, but what can be done on a community level? Mobile farm stand was something to try in connection to the Regional Market (to bring prices down). 
        • If you are on SNAP or WIC you can buy produce. But they are not fully available. These can now be used at the mobile farm stand created by the HHC. 
        • Measured by sales, feedback, and sustainability. 
        • People talk about barriers in health care institutions. Cross-cultural curriculum has been created by the HHC. Care providers have learned how to fill gaps. 
        • Stereotypes are a major issue. 
        • Having the courage to stand up around stereotyping, look at the discrimination that exists, and look at universal health care as an option. We need community based solutions.
        • We need to raise the investment we make in health care. 
        • We need to be allies around equity.

        Group Discussion

        Why does where you live impact 60% of your health? 
        • Is it safe? 
        • What is the air quality?
        • Is it a neighborhood where you have access to good food? 
        • Do you have the capacity
        • Can you exercise in your neighborhood? A group of women in New Haven applied for a grant to walk and improve their health, but they could not fulfill what they intended because it was not safe enough to walk in their neighborhood.
        Do you have statistics available on your websites?
        • We try not to duplicate. Kaiser has an incredible website that provides great information about health. 
        • There is a challenge in getting good data
        • There is a great publication that the Dept. of Public Health
        • Profile of Latino Health in CT (publication by the HHC)
        Are there disparities in health in other countries?
        • In Canada, a new report came out that shows no disparities. They have one of the most promising systems
        • The VA has taken on an aggressive effort and they have done tremendous work around addressing this issue. 
        • The outcomes are not some high based on race
          Does insurance have an impact?
          • Studies have showed that if African Americans and white patientes who ask for certain treatment there is not difference in outcomes, the issue comes when African Americans are not even being offered the option for this treatment.
          • There are still quality issues in intervention and outcome, even with insurance. 
          • We need to think about policy. Health reform conversation is really important. We could increase coverage to over half of the uninsured in our state. 
          • There are a number of conversations about structure, access, measurement and accountability.
          • There is opportunity for change.
          • Extreme change is needed. 
          What could we do? 
          • Have the courage to stand up to change health care.
          • What should a minimum or living wage be? A minimum wage is not a living wage. The people who are at the bottom cannot live on what they earn.
          • The election of 2012 is going to make a difference. More young adults are now insured today because of health reform. We need to continue to make changes. Who is elected in 2012 is going to determine where health care goes. The Supreme Court will also impact health.
          • People are being kicked off of health care in CT. 
          • We need to tie health and education in a much more profound way. Success in school and graduation will give kids a better shot. 
          • How do we identify health issues earlier in children? Children of color are not getting mental health services until they enter juvenile justice system. This is not when they need to receive the care, it is way earlier. We need to provide better access. We need to help eliminate risky behavior.
          Is there any data on whether or not African Americans are being sent home from emergency rooms earlier than they should be? 
          • There is data that shows disparities in care for African Americans and Latinos in emergency rooms. Withholding pain medication is one issue here. 
          • Re-hospitalization rates show that there must be an issue there. 
          This is very disturbing. Has anyone taken legal action?
          • A question that has come up is, how would you pursue action for discrimination in health care?
          • There is a means of filing a complaint, but what happens is that most people don't know how to. 
          • It's also hard to tell whether or not the doctor withheld. You often don't see the unequal treatment when it is happening. 
          • People are also used to it or even grateful just to receive any care. 
          • The statistics are not enough right now. 
          • There has not been class action
          • Is this a civil rights issue, what are the opportunities. 
          What changes need to occur to make WIC more of a solution for infant health issues?
          • There are certain issues that prevent certain places from accepting WIC.
          • WIC is trying to give a better package of food to women who breastfeed. 
          • WIC saves about $3 for every $1 spent. It does a lot of good.
          • Bodegas have a major challenge, because you cannot be certified unless you carry all of the WIC options. 
          • The monitoring becomes a major issue at the national level. 
          • We need better supermarkets and stores in inner cities. 
          • WIC is trying to broaden its package and it is making it more difficult
          • We need better nutrition education
          Are there any opportunities for working with public schools to impact this issue? 
          • Nutrition education, healthy lifestyles, parenting, multiple languages. 
          • HHC sends information home with parents, goes into schools to hold programs.
          • Give someone a fish, feed them for a day; teach someone to fish, feed them for a lifetime...but we need to ensure that the river is clean, we have the right equipment, etc. 
          • School lunches need to change. We could shift the barriers that exist. Many of the children are getting their major meals at school. 
          • We also need to bring the adult population to a point where they can advocate for themselves, so there is adult education still needed. 

            Wednesday, October 12, 2011

            Healthy Starts for Everyone: Featured Guest Bios

            The United States infant mortality rate ranks with developing nations. How can health care and social support improve this? What can be done to ensure a healthy start for all children? 

            Join the conversation, Thursday, October 13 from 5:00pm to 7:00pm at the Stowe Center!

            Featured guests for the evening's discussion include: Patricia Baker and Grace Damio

            Featured Guest Bios: 

            Patricia Baker: Patricia Baker is the founding President and CEO of the Connecticut Health Foundation (CT Health), the state's largest health philanthropy dedicated to improving lives by changing health systems. Before establishing the foundation in 1999, the Wayne State University and University of Wisconsin-Madison alumna served as national program director for the March of Dimes Foundation and director of state government programs at Oxford Health Plans. The long time women's health advocate also served as Executive Director of Planned Parenthood of Connecticut, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, and The Women's Center, a domestic violence service provider in southeastern Wisconsin. 

            Grace Damio: Grace Damio is the Hispanic Health Council's (HHC) Director of Research and Service Initiatives and a member of the Council's Executive Management Team. At the Council, her work has focused on the development, implementation and evaluation of numerous research, service, and advocacy initiatives intended to address health inequities experienced by diverse communities. Ms. Damio has worked in a variety of health areas related to health inequities, including: maternal and child health, women's health, nutrition, breastfeeding, food security, health care access, cancer, diabetes, cultural competence training of healthcare and human service providers. Her work has included mentorship and numerous community based student internships and thesis projects and development of many culturally tailored health education materials, curricula and social marketing campaigns. 

            This is a FREE event.
            Reception from 5pm until 5:30pm. The conversation begins at 5:30pm and ends by 7:00pm. 
            Bring your ideas and questions to help develop an action plan for change. 

            RSVP's are encouraged. 860-522-9258 ext. 317 or info@stowecenter.org

            Harriet Beecher Stowe Center.77 Forest Street.Hartford, CT 06105