Stamford Advocate (Sunday)

Much to celebrate, much to improve in state


Did you finish celebratin­g yet? Still a little worn out from the all-night revelry? A national day of recognitio­n for our great state, the third-smallest and fifth to join the United States, is a good opportunit­y to let loose. You can be forgiven for going a little crazy.

Or, maybe, you’re one of the (hopefully) few who didn’t realize we had a big day this past week. Aug. 10 was National Connecticu­t Day. There’s a lot to love here, even if we can’t help but notice that some people like to complain about a few things.

It’s OK. That’s part of our local charm. And, we can be honest here, there are some things that could use some fixing.

It’s very expensive to live here, for one thing. Cost of living is as high in Connecticu­t as anywhere in the nation, and we pay our share in taxes. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. And we’d all like to do something about the traffic.

But National Connecticu­t Day is a chance to celebrate everything we love about the state. Yes, it’s expensive, but all that money pays for some of the highest quality of life you could find anywhere. We have Long Island Sound, we have history that goes back centuries to the very start of our country, and we have it all in a compact setting you can venture across in a day.

And despite our reputation as The Land of Steady Habits, this state is also a place that’s going through some changes. Census data released last week showed the overall population went up only slightly in the past 10 years, but some of the strongest growth was focused in our often-maligned cities.

Bridgeport and New Haven showed growth. Stamford continued rocketing skyward, and will probably take the title of the state’s most populous city before too long. Waterbury, Norwalk and Danbury did well, too.

The news in rural areas was different. Following nationwide trends, population numbers fell in some of the smallest towns in the state, and there’s no indication a rebound is in sight. People are going where the jobs are, and that’s the cities and close-in suburbs.

We can celebrate Connecticu­t for what it’s been but also recognize how we need to change. Growth in the cities should be encouraged, since if we’re ever going to get real economic growth in Connecticu­t again it will need to be joined by a rising population. We need to give people more of what they want.

In many cases, that means density. If we had more of it at affordable prices, we could as a state appeal to an entirely new demographi­c that is mostly looking elsewhere. We have plenty of sprawled-out suburbs, and the appeal of that style of living may have peaked. We have to adapt with the times. So, if you haven’t already, take a few minutes to celebrate what we treasure about Connecticu­t. There’s a lot to love.

But don’t forget to think about how we can make it even better. Maybe by next year’s National Connecticu­t Day we can be on our way down a new path.

Despite our reputation as The Land of Steady Habits, this state is also a place that’s going through some changes.

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