A version of this story originally appeared as an op-ed in the print edition of the Hartford News.
Young Guys Using Entrepreneurship and the Internet to Build Social Cohesion
If you find yourself reading this maybe you have heard of Breakfast Lunch & Dinner, but there is a decent chance you are new to us and we are new to you. Even if you have heard of us you could be very easily forgiven for being confused about what it is we actually do. In some ways we are just a bunch of young guys using Entrepreneurship and the internet to build a new kind of business and, we hope, collective culture in Hartford.
We promise it will make sense eventually.
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner (BL&D) creates collective culture by building unique, diverse ventures that bring people together. We leverage the assets of the region to bring the best of the community forward to offer our in-house ventures and projects of our partners and clients.
Hartford, like many cities, is receiving revived interest from Government and investors that will change our city (this article originally appears in an addition of the Hartford News that is entirely about economic development in Hartford). Breakfast Lunch & Dinner positions our work to make sure everyone is a part of that revival. We are trying to work consciously to avoid the mistakes Hartford and other cities have made in attempting to redevelop cities. We hope as we grow you, the Hartford Community will hold us to this goal, demand it of us and let us know what we are missing and when we are wrong.
The projects that BL&D gets involved with are geared towards the development of collective culture. Collective culture is the goal but we think of it and seek to measure it through concepts such as social cohesion and social capital. A simple way to think of these concepts is how connected any one individual is to any other person, there is a spectrum of connection from best friend, a friend of a friend, unknown and everywhere between. The degree to which a city is socially cohesive can help determine not only the wellbeing of its residents, but it also plays a significant role in how businesses function. Helping to engage all members of a city in an effort to join together to create a unified culture that is welcoming and mutually beneficial starts from the ground up. BL&D strives to help foster and to be a part such a movement, advocating to make sure that everyone gets in on the fun.
We seek to create social cohesion through our ventures. By keeping track of attendance, our reach on social media and other measures at our events like the KNOW GOOD Market, we are proud to say that thousands of people have attended, our vendors have made tens of thousands of dollars and we have made hundreds of thousands of social media impressions for the KNOW GOOD Market. While we hope this is a good start, what we really aim to measure is the effectiveness of our ability to connect community members of different age groups, ethnicities, and socioeconomic statuses. By interacting with attendees at events and observing social media data we may be able to gain a clearer perspective if our work is creating collective culture in Hartford.
In the course of doing our work and living in this community we hear constantly from friends, clients, community members, public figures and pretty much everyone in between that no one knows what’s happening in Hartford. We don’t know about each other’s successes, problems, solutions or events. We don't know our neighbors well enough.
But like most other problems in Hartford it’s not that we don’t have what we need it’s that we don’t have the glue to hold it together. So our solution is to try to glue some things together. With the Hartford News and some other exciting partners we are embarking on a new initiative that we hope will make it easier for us all to stay informed and connected. Check out the recently launched web-page, www.hartfordnews.org, and sign up with your email address there or below to stay up to date as we roll out this project with our partners.