Welcome to a new series on Stratford Patch called: "Have you met...?"
Here is a chance to get to know some of your neighbors. These lovely folks are working in and around the community to make it a place they love.
Who We're Meeting: Robyn Greenspan
I'm from Brooklyn, N.Y. by birth, but live in Stratford by choice. I am the Editor-in-Chief of ExecuNet and a blogger for "The Huffington Post." I am constantly writing in my head, yet very little actually gets to the keyboard. You can find me on Facebook and or follow me on Twitter.
EH: You aren't from Stratford originally. How did you end up here?
RG: How did you know? Was it the accent? I am from Brooklyn and at some point in adulthood, I realized most of the people I knew were moving away from concrete and toward open space with lots of grass and trees.
When I fell in love with someone in Connecticut, it made sense to follow my heart and I came to Stratford.
EH: You recently announced you are running as a candidate in Stratford's 9th District. Most people would rather saw off their own arm than get involved in politics. What is your motivation?
RG: That would leave a lot of one-armed people who didn’t see the value in public service.
My motivation is not political; it’s to help residents feel better about living here and drive Stratford toward realizing its potential. I’ve been on the Board of Assessment Appeals for multiple terms and I personally see the pain of higher taxes – I feel it too. I’m also a two-term member of the Economic Development Commission and, at that level, we’re limited in what we can do to progress strategic vision and implementation.
Politicians are known for doing a lot of talking, and I think voters are tired of hearing the same voices and the same rhetoric. As a journalist, I am skilled at researching and asking the right questions. My education in counseling makes me a good listener. I manage people and teams at work so I can solve problems and lead results. Those are the qualities that I will bring to represent the 9th District on the Town Council.
EH: In your role as Editor-in-Chief at ExecuNet, you refer to yourself as a "social technologist." What does that mean?
RG: I like to harness the power of technology and social platforms to mobilize people, whether it’s around topics, ideas, causes, anything really. In my role, I build community around content where something that is read sparks an ongoing conversation.
There are so many online channels to give people a voice where they wouldn’t ordinarily be heard, and, more importantly, to engage in dialogue. The public forum at Town Council meetings is a perfect example. A handful of residents get a few minutes to say something but they are not actually engaged in a meaningful conversation with Council members. It’s a very one-dimensional and, I think, unfulfilling experience for citizens.
I have a Facebook page so that I can actually interact with townspeople and learn what’s important to them and hear their ideas. Otherwise, politicians mostly talk at voters and residents mostly talk at Council members.
EH: People always seem to say: "Back when I was a kid, blah blah blah." What specifically do you remember about your childhood that makes you nostalgic for the "way things used to be"?
RG: Other than cheap gas prices? My mother and I often talk about how unsupervised my brother and I were, and the freedom we had to play and explore in our neighborhood, in contrast to the tight monitoring of children today.
EH: If you are at home right now, and you had nothing planned, what would be the first thing you'd do? Then what?
RG: If I was looking for something social to do, I’d likely check Facebook to see what my friends were doing or whether there were some local events. Many of my Stratford friends will post if they are going to a neighborhood restaurant, movie or town event and then we can meet up.
If it’s a stay-at-home kind of day, I’d probably decompress with "Project Runway" or "Top Chef" on the DVR and then feel inspired to cook something that’s beyond my capabilities.
For every "Have You Met..." post, I will be asking the same three questions to our neighbor. Sort of like "Inside the Actor's Studio" but without the curse word! Here they are:
EH: If you could be or do anything else, what would it be?
RG: I would be who I am, because that’s all I know. But, if I could start over with a different career path, I might have become a school guidance counselor. I have a human services inclination, which is what drove me to get a dual graduate degree in counseling and human resources development.
EH: What three words would your friends use to describe you?
RG: I didn’t want to see this through my own biased lens so I crowdsourced it and used social media to get my friends’ responses. They said: thought-provoking genius; intelligent; funny; strategic; clever; knowledgeable; articulate; supportive; insightful; entertaining; supportive; kind; witty; focused; dynamo; paragon; champion. I’d feel lucky to actually be any three of these.
EH: If you could change one thing about Stratford, what would it be?
RG: There are a lot of projects where I would like to see forward-moving change: Army Engine Plant, Shakespeare Theatre, Long Beach, etc. I’m suffering from “expectation fatigue” from all the initiatives that don’t come to fruition.
A big change that is worthy of exploration is whether Stratford really benefits from the two-party system. I’m far from an expert on non-partisan democracy but it often feels like elections are merely won by whoever has a D or R next to their name in Stratford, which may not be the most qualified candidate. Imagine how much might be accomplished by a Town Council that couldn’t vote along party lines?
EH: Thanks Robyn!
Is there someone you think your Stratford neighbors should meet? We'd like to meet them too. We are open to suggestions! Drop me a comment here!