What to Expect in Connecticut in 2015

Posted on January 2, 2015 by Marian Salzman

nhigh[Originally posted by The Stamford Advocate.]

When most of us have been busy decorating, cooking and shopping for the holidays, my colleagues at Havas PR and I are holding our ears even more closely to the ground than usual. We recently released a rundown of 10 global trends for 2015, but I’ve also been paying special attention to my home state of Connecticut. Here’s what I’m seeing:

Marijuana chatter will come
No, we won’t be Colorado. But with our first dispensaries having been open since September, we will get in on the national trend toward (and debate over) edibles. As non-recreational users aren’t always so interested in smoking, marijuana-infused baked goods, high-end teas and yogurt offer a more palatable alternative. The Specialty Food Association identified cannabis edibles as one of its top 10 national trends for 2015. The debate about fair pricing is also raging here, with a cancer patient saying she broke into tears as she told a reporter that she couldn’t afford the amount per ounce that the state’s dispensaries are charging.

Healing, forgiveness redefining family life
With the publication of “Finding Dad: From ‘Love Child’ to Daughter,” which told the story of WFSB anchor Kara Sundlun suing her absent biological father, whom she had grown up never knowing, to pay for her college costs, the news personality became a lightning rod. In an interview with the Hartford Courant, she discussed the story’s happy ending—they reconciled—and what she hopes other parents and children will learn from it. Her story was reported on as far away as the U.K. Meanwhile, leaders are legislating family values. State Rep. Rosa DeLauro co-introduced the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act in Congress last year, and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has advocated for a higher minimum wage.

The new face of families
The four border states might lead the immigration debate, but newcomers are increasingly a part of life in Connecticut. Now 30 percent of Stamford residents were not born in the United States (compared with 11 percent in the state). But instead of the stereotypical laborers struggling to get by and putting a drain on the system, some of our non-native citizens are working to help others to success. Maria Isabel and Oscar Sandoval moved to Stamford 20 years ago, have since prospered, and are now employing 60 people, running mentorship programs and supporting Neighbors Link, a center that helps immigrants adjust to American life.

Connecticut will remain at the forefront of economic discrepancy
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk just won the dubious honor of topping CNNMoney’s list of cities with the greatest income inequality. The average income of the bottom 20 percent of households in the area is $15,800, while the top 5 percent average $782,000. The richest 20 percent of households hold almost two-thirds of the city’s income. “No other American urban area has that amount of wealth concentrated in the hands of the elite,” says the article. It’s inevitable that an affordability gap exists, and it’s one reason our housing market is still so mixed. Although home sales in Connecticut are back to the highest they have been since 2007, the average price has been falling for eight straight months.

And we will live climate change firsthand
Hurricane Sandy is still a fresh memory, the first time in a long time Connecticut suffered such devastation at the hands of Mother Nature. But we aren’t just hoping it never happens again: An increasing number of us are waking up to the fact that the weird weather is not entirely unrelated to human activity. In an article titled “Sustaining the Coastline: Efforts Need to Start `Yesterday,'” the Milford Mirror reported on residents’ interest in a talk given by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection about protecting our vulnerable coastal communities. And although climate change is more about extreme weather than about high temperatures alone, some meteorologists are predicting a warmer-than-average winter. That might make more climate-change deniers wake up to the fact that the planet is changing. Hopefully we still have time to do something about it.

[photo: creativecommons.org/nhigh]

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