If you’ve ever driven down Farmington Avenue in Hartford and passed a huge building painted like a giant beehive, then you’ve only partially experienced the allure of The 224 EcoSpace.
In November 2021, the building’s façade was painted by local artist Tao LaBossiere to reflect the community’s opportunity to “Bee the Change” in their community. The exterior building isn’t the only thing about The 224 that has experienced a transformation. In April 2022, Founder Rev. Dr. Shelley Best stepped down from her role to take a CEO position at the Greater Hartford Arts Council.
And, The 224 recently became a member of the Hartford Chamber of Commerce. MetroHartford Alliance Content Manger Nan Price checked in with Interim CEO Rev. Lydell Brown to learn more about The 224 and its community impact.
NAN PRICE: How does The 224 make an impact in the community?
REV. LYDELL BROWN: We always tell people, “Your prosperity is our prosperity.” One of our goals is to let people see that you can come here and build your side hustle the way you want to build it.
Many of those who utilize the space come in after 4:00 p.m. because they work all day. Some realized that if they could get their side hustle done during the day, then maybe they’d eventually be able to leave their day job and start a business or transition to their business full time.
Right now, we have three businesses in the building that started from the ground up here. The longest standing one has been here for nine years.
NAN: What is the benefit of becoming a member of the Hartford Chamber of Commerce?
LYDELL: It gives us more access to community. For a long time, there have just been a few of us working here. So, we haven’t had an opportunity to go out and let folks know what’s happening inside this building. It’s mostly been done passively, through word of mouth.
Now, it’s time for us to take our rightful place in the community—let people see what’s going on here, have conversations with folks about what we’re doing, and learn about what others are doing as well.
Becoming a Chamber member is a breath of fresh air. I think it’s going to pay off greatly by helping us build more relationships outside of the building and create more opportunities for people to come in and build relationships with us.