Town Green Takes on New Name
By: Natalie Gavalis
As of November 29th of this past year, a section of land located in the center of town has been renamed to better reflect the values of the community. The green, originally donated by slaveowner Timothy Goodman circa 1747 to the First Church Congregation, has been officially taken the name Unity Green. Adrienne Billings-Smith, president and founder of Concerned Parents of Color West Hartford and advocate for the creation of the new Unity Green, was inspired to help set the project into motion by the general sense of unintentional apathy which she recognizes as a major factor of how the issues of racism (both past and present) has been addressed. With the space newly dedicated to the ideas of faith, activism, history and leadership, Unity Green will be a space “where you can hear the voices and stories of those who have traditionally been ignored or silenced,” envisions Billings-Smith. “We want the community to come to this space and have meaningful conversation about what has happened right here in their own town.”
A view of Unity Green, formerly known as Goodman Green
The green will also serve as a location for town-wide events such as the Juneteenth celebration, the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.Day program, as well as additional community events. “I hope that it gives people the space and freedom to learn at their pace,” Billings-Smith adds, “and to recognize how much history sits right here in West Hartford.” She believes that when individuals are presented with the knowledge of an issue, and with opportunities to help move towards a better future for all of town, that residents will rise up to accept this responsibility. Having a dedicated area for residents to participate in open dialogue focused around the history of the town will help to facilitate a greater understanding of our collective struggles and triumphs.
Next time you’re in the Center, grab a cup of tea or coffee and visit Unity Green and take a moment to reflect upon our history and on how you can help to make a better future for our town as a whole.
Logo of the new Unity Green, designed by West Hartford parent Jill Gavalis