A Valentine to You

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by Elizabeth Normen

Happy Valentine’s Day!

What better theme is there as we celebrate our 15th anniversary than one inspired by the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday and our passion for Connecticut history?

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In this issue you’ll read stories about love, hate, and rivalry in Connecticut’s past. We’re incredibly honored to feature best-selling historian Nathaniel Philbrick with an excerpt from his 2016 Valiant Ambition (Viking) about Benedict Arnold—with whom Connecticut had a mutual love/hate relationship. We feature the love/hero side of the story; read “Benedict Arnold Turns and Burns New London” (Fall 2006) for the hate/villain side of the story.

An anniversary is a good time to take stock and reflect on where we’ve been—but not for long. The fact is that we’re always thinking about the future. William Faulkner famously wrote, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” Recent events related to the removal of Confederate statues underscores what he’s talking about. But I also take his quote as a reminder that history is not behind us—it’s very much with us today. That motivates me to keep exploring our past to better understand our present.

But the world is a rapidly changing place, too. We need to be thinking about where Connecticut Explored is going. We’re always asking ourselves if we can use new technologies to tell Connecticut’s stories. That’s how Grating the Nutmeg, our podcast of Connecticut history produced with state historian Walt Woodward, was born two years ago. Nearly 40 episodes, and a growing audience of on average of 300 – 500 listeners per episode later, Grating the Nutmeg has enabled us to offer something different from what we offer in the magazine. We’ve visited craft brewers, hopyards, WWI reenactments, food shacks, a drive-in movie theater, a beach colony, an archaeological dig, a replica of Adriaen Block’s Onrust, and museums and historic sites across the state. Episodes come in a variety in formats, including lectures, conversations, on-the-spot interviews, and dramatic storytelling. Episodes range from about 25 to 45 minutes, and a new one comes out every couple of weeks. Find all of the episodes at ctexplored.org/listen or Gratingthenutmeg.libsyn.com. All you have to do is click on the player button. Or you can subscribe via iTunes or Google Play for free. Listen while you cook, exercise, garden, clean the house, or drive somewhere. If you haven’t done so already, check it out and recommend it to a friend!

We’re also thinking about the next generation and how to ensure they grow up to be informed citizen-voters. That moved us to create Where I Live: Connecticut, a social studies resource about Connecticut for third graders available as a free website and e-book and, for a modest charge, in print. Working with educators, students, the Connecticut Council for the Social Studies, and the history community on this new publication has been rewarding. Teachers are loving this new way to incorporate Connecticut’s history, geography, economy, and civics into the curriculum.

This is our Valentine to you. All of this—15 years worth—wouldn’t have been possible without the buy-in of our readers and listeners. Your memberships, your contributions to the Friends of Connecticut Explored (please give before December 31, 2017 in honor of our anniversary), your purchase of back issues, your purchase of gift subscriptions for family and friends, keep us going. Thank you for your passion for Connecticut history and for your support of Connecticut Explored, Grating the Nutmeg, Where I Live: Connecticut and all of the organizations that make what we do possible as we look ahead to the next 15 years of great stories about Connecticut history.

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