My current hometown of Middletown, Connecticut, was once the fourth-largest port in the thirteen original American colonies — right after New York City, Boston, and Philadelphia. It was the grain-export capital of New England, sending the produce of the colonies to the West Indies and to England and Ireland. The needs of the shipbuilding industry and the surrounding agricultural businesses drove a culture of innovation, design thinking, and manufacturing that lasted until well after World War II. That’s what my reporter friend Erik told me this morning.
Today, Middletown has about the same population as medieval Rome, around 31,000 people, or 40,000 if you including a neighboring town or two. Yet as a city we’re nearly completely cut off from our relationship with the Connecticut River, and with the ocean 30 miles downstream.
The discovery elicits in me a kind of reflection and a marvel given my last post, on One School At A Time. Could Middletown’s history, and its fame as a manufacturing and innovation center, be used as the basis for a renaissance in our local schools?
I think so.
What does your town bring to the table, in terms of its local resources, its history, its traditions, that could bring about a renaissance in your local schools? How will you get people interested?