Herb Virgo makes it a point to regularly say 'community ownership'. It's a small but important addition to his conversations with residents, organizations and politicians living in or working for the high-poverty community of his native North Hartford, Connecticut. It also serves as an example of his dedication to strengthening ties in an area that is in urgent need of turnaround in physical infrastructure, employment, and health outcomes.
Herb leads the Keney Park Sustainability Project and is an invaluable partner to Community Solutions' Northeast Hartford Partnership. As we work to highlight and support local assets in Hartford's Northeast neighborhood, we regularly collaborate with Herb and his team of local youth interns. Using landscaping and construction techniques, Herb guides his interns in the transformation of once neglected spaces. As these spaces become thriving green expanses, they can be used as gardens or gathering spots for performances and community organizing events.
This work backs up Herb's calls for community ownership. He aims to help his youth interns invest in their own futures by improving their neighborhood's surroundings. In the process, they learn trade skills, teamwork, and environmental stewardship.
Herb’s model is impressive for its collaborative potential. He and his team continue to form public and private partnerships across Hartford to widen the scope and impact of their work. These partnerships have helped Community Solutions and others in the area advance our shared goals for a safer, healthier and more prosperous Northeast Hartford.