Connecticut is awesome.

Donald and Steve discuss — in broad terms — some of the realities and the appeals of living in Connecticut. This is not a digression-free episode, but everything eventually relates back to the Nutmeg State.

 A UConn advertisement prominently displayed near airport security at Bradley International Airport.  Donald Pendagast.
A UConn advertisement prominently displayed near airport security at Bradley International Airport.  Donald Pendagast.

This first episode, as we’ll be tackling some more local issues, we want to start broad. The state economy, from the general banter that we hear, is in tatters (e.g. GE moves headquarters, Aetna is leaving). Some talk about the sad state of manufacturing. But surely there has to be more than an economics story — good or bad — that makes a place worthwhile right? What makes a place worthy or not? When people are biased towards their home state or poo-poo another’s, what goes into that thinking? 

In the end, these might be the wrong questions to be asking. It may be more nuanced; surely it is. But it is interesting to listen to the nay-sayers and the supporters to get a glimpse of just what is going on and what may be next.

Questions

  • We live in Connecticut, so what’s up with the Constitution State?
  • What makes a state good? What do we look for?
  • What distinguishes Connecticut?
  • What characterizes Connecticut?
  • What’s to love?
  • What is next for Connecticut? (And for whom?)

Show Notes

I have to state, for the record, my own bias. When I was in the third grade, we were each assigned to a state and I got Connecticut. I could not have been happier. Look, I am from Maine, and from many accounts, Vacationland is a fabulous place, but my family was from Connecticut and we would visit frequently. Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport was one of my favorite places to go in the summer. After college, I found myself living in Hartford, and as an adult, moving to Connecticut — when friends and classmates were in Boston, New York, Silicon Valley — was a tough pill to swallow. Yet, I have made it home, and ten years later here we are.

In preparing for this conversation, I went right to searching the first thing that came to mind: “Connecticut is Awesome”. One of the first results, was a Buzzfeed article from 2015 titled, 29 Reasons Connecticut Is The Most Underrated State, which outlines 29 things in their typical listicle fashion. Low and behold, their number one reason (Since Connecticut is small in size, sometimes people fail to realize how awesome it actually is) isn’t even a reason, it’s a statement about some hypothetically unobservant people. That’s the number one reason? To the author of this abysmal piece of writing, Krystie Lee Yandoli, I ask: why? To be clear, this has always been the number one thing people have said to me, but I so hoped to find something else listed when conducting this search. Alas, the inter webs concurs with my network of friends.

Even UConn has a pathetic paragraph with the heading “Life in Hartford” (not Connecticut at-large, but it echos the same issue) that reads: “Restaurants, gyms, sporting events and other entertainment are just outside our front door in downtown Hartford, while Boston, New York, winter skiing in Vermont and summer trips to the ocean are all within a few hours.” That’s all of it. The first three items are commonplace and the second half is dedicated to things outside Connecticut. C’mon Nutmeggers, can’t we do better than this?

On the more economic point, one article from CERC — the Connecticut Economic Resource Center — highlights the population change in Connecticut, which is down 0.1% overall, one of only four states to experience a loss in population over the period from 2010-2016. 

Is there merit to this idea that Connecticut is worthy because it is easy to places like New York and Boston? It is certainly could be a selling point if you are someone on the go or who likes to travel. If, however, you actually care about Boston or New York, then the best option is Boston or New York. Why would Connecticut — or anyone vouching for it — directly reference these metropolitan areas? How can you define Connecticut’s awesomeness by pointing to extreme awesomeness to the left and the right? It blows my mind and Ms. Yandoli is far from the first person I have seen make this shoddy point. Worst yet, it is often the very first thing people have said to me, in various casual conversations, citing why we are a formidable state.

When we talk about Connecticut, what are we talking about? 

Friends of mine — some of whom have lived in CT for a time —are generally quick to put CT down.

After recording the podcast, Donald was flying back into Bradley International Airport (BDL) and noticed the very large UConn advertisement. It really emphasizes being able to go anywhere — echoing the concern that we define what’s great about our state by drawing attention to everything outside of it. To give them the benefit of the doubt, it is an airport after all. People do go all sorts of places from there. Is that what they were thinking? We’ll ask and report back.

Steve’s Notes

30 something’s are moving into Connecticut.

Evidence of a good Connecticut economy:

It looks as though Aetna will be sticking around.

Next Time

We’re looking to speak with a Connecticut State Representative about everything we’ve discussed here and capture his thoughts. Stay tuned.