At Bridgeport Generation Now, we believe that Livability is about our city having access to everything it needs to thrive.

Livability is the sum of the factors that add up to a community’s quality of life, including:

Built Environment – complete streets, public space, walkability, infrastructure, transit
Natural Environment – waterways, parks, air quality, wildlife, climate, pollution
Economic Prosperity – intergenerational wealth, income equality, education, employment, homeownership.
Social Stability – health outcomes, cost of living, housing, community and civic engagement, support for children and families, support for vulnerable populations
Educational Opportunities – access, equity, overall quality and cultural competence, and preparedness/outcomes
Social Equity – who can and cannot access social stability and educational opportunities?
Cultural Possibilities – collective history, heritage, languages, art, foods, practices.
Entertainment – restaurants, public art, nightlife, museums, music, festivals
Recreation – youth/adult sports and programming, exercise and leisure activities, quality/accessibility of spaces for outdoor public use

For more data surrounding Bridgeport’s livability, please read the Fairfield County Community Foundation’s Community Wellbeing Index 2016.

There are three issues in Livability:

Public Art
Food Policy and Justice
Environment and Energy

Please continue reading below for the research and policy recommendations.

Public Art

A city rich in culture is a city that is thriving. Public art is the most democratic and visible form of cultural expression. It provides a unique joy and collective pride that is shared by everyone equally. Unlike museums, galleries, or theaters, public art requires no admission fee and is not tied to any institution, nor gatekeeper. For this reason, public art is also a great economic development tool, as tourists are excited to “experience,” and not just visit, the unique culture of a city. Therefore, a city and its people are uniquely positioned to be both creators and curators of public art; beautification that is by the people, of the people, and for the people.

In Bridgeport, we currently do not have an adequate system that supports cultural expression through public art projects. First, we do not have an active commission or City Department focused on fostering the arts. Therefore, the City does not have a clear process for assisting public artists. An artist with a project idea has no idea how to navigate our city’s administration, project approval, and event permitting. Secondly, the power dynamics need to be reversed. Right now, City officials issue RFPs when they see a need for public art as part of an economic development plan. But resident and outside artists have visions and ideas outside the scope of City plans and should be encouraged to submit ideas and projects on a continuous basis. The process for doing so should be clear, transparent, and easily accessible.

Core Members Marcella Kovac and Razul Branch looked into public art in Bridgeport. Their research shows that while local initiatives are making a collective impact, there is more work to be done!

RESEARCH AND POLICY

Public Art Research

POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS for Mayor’s Office, OPED, and City Officials:

  • Streamline public art/event permitting process: There should be one master application for all public art/events in Bridgeport. This application should be available on the City’s website and easily searchable and discoverable. The process for planning and executing public art projects in Bridgeport should be transparent and accessible.
  • Work collaboratively with the Bridgeport Arts & Cultural Council: Permanent public art projects could be vetted and approved in collaboration with the BACC, whose board members reflect the artistic community in Bridgeport.
  • Support and celebrate public art projects and events, such as:
    • Painted Stairway
    • Downtown Thursdays
    • The Bridgeport Art Trail
    • Bridgeport Arts Fest
    • Sliver by the River
    • Design Night Out
    • and many more!

City Council Comments (6/21/17)
All City Council members present said they would support more public art in Bridgeport.

Food Policy and Justice

Food plays a huge role in our livability. The act of growing, selling, cooking, and eating food is a fundamental part of human life and our collective humanity. In American public life, however, food is the source of great pleasure and great pain. For Bridgeport, food is a celebratory part of our cultural expression, diversity, recreation, ethnic heritage, and small business community. But food is also a fraught political space, directly tied to the oppression of people of color through unjust labor practices, unhealthy choices, inequitable access, and fragmented training and education.

The Connecticut Food Justice Network defines Food Justice as “identifying and activating community-based economic solutions to increase racial equity and self-determination in food systems.” Right now, there are many barriers to increasing racial equity and self-determination in our local food system. In Bridgeport, we have food deserts, food mirages, high costs of transportation, high costs of food, unhealthy choices in our communities and schools, and inadequate education and training. But we also have thriving immigrant and ethnic food cultures, small businesses, community gardens, urban farming, Farmers’ Markets, food entrepreneurship, and collaborative food policy initiatives.

Through their work on the Food Policy Council, Core Members Anna Greer, Landon Horan, and Chelsea Gazillo compiled data on Bridgeport’s food access. Their research shows that while we face many challenges, we can continue to capitalize on the emergent strengths of our local food system for a more just, equitable, and livable Bridgeport!

RESEARCH AND POLICY

Food Policy Research

POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS for Mayor’s Office, City Council, Health Department, BOE Food Service:

  • Work collaboratively with Bridgeport’s Food Policy Council to implement policy recommendations in the three target areas:
    • School Wellness
    • Healthy Food Retail
    • Urban Agriculture

City Council Comments (6/21/17)
All City Council members present said they would support Food Policy Council’s recommendations and initiatives.

Environment and Energy

Bridgeport’s livability is directly affected by our natural and built environments. We have a beautiful natural world in Bridgeport. Our city sits on Long Island Sound, with many waterways and waterfront, like Ash Creek and the Pequonnock River. We are also known as the “Park City” for our beautiful parks, including Seaside Park which is 325 acres of parkland, playgrounds, sport fields, and a sandy beaches.

Over the years, however, and going back many generations, Bridgeport has collected a wide range of heavy, polluting industry along our beautiful waterfront and embedded in our city. They dirty our air, our land, our water, and our food system. These industries include, but are not limited to, PSEG’s Coal Plant and proposed new natural gas plant, Wheelabrator’s Trash To Energy Plant, O&G’s Asphalt Plant and concrete crushing facilities, and more.

The environmental injustice and racism of our built environment is tied directly to our ability to thrive. According to Fairfield County Community Foundation’s 2016 Wellbeing Index, from 2012 – 2014 the East Side of Bridgeport saw 763 hospitalizations of children ages 0-4 for asthma per 10,000 residents. In neighboring Fairfield, that number was 95.

Core Members Sarah Lewis and Callie Heilmann researched this issue. Their work shows the immediate need for a stronger, more coordinated effort to address and improve our air, water, land, and environmental impact.

RESEARCH AND POLICY

Environment and Energy Research

POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS for Mayor’s Office, OPED, and City Officials:

  • Encourage and build a strong environmental voice for Bridgeport: We envision an end to environmental injustice and racism. In order to achieve this, our city needs a strong coalition of youth, families, community organizers, elected officials, and civic leaders whom are dedicated to improving our livability by improving our environment.
  • Organize effectively against PSEG’s new natural gas plant: In order to grow a livable Bridgeport in the 21st Century, we must pivot away from technology that contributes to the destruction of our climate. Let’s push for renewable energy like wind, solar, or thermal in place of this natural gas plant. Bridgeport can be a model city!
  • Create an Environmental Task Force or Commission, whose mission is to improve Bridgeport’s environment. This group would be responsible for advising the Mayor, City Council, the NRZs, and citizens regularly on projects, policy, and plans related to our city’s environment, energy, and infrastructure in Bridgeport.

City Council Comments (6/21/17)
All City Council members present said they would support stronger environmental initiatives.