By Nan Price, Content Manager, MetroHartford Alliance
Quyên Trương is a Corporate Attorney at Wiggin and Dana LLP who attended the University of Connecticut School of Law. Quyên is also a renowned fine artist who studied Visual Arts at Brown University. Her artwork has been commissioned by national and local organizations including the Hartford Steam Boiler, the Hartford Marathon Foundation, and The Hartford Courant. Quyên is one of 10 Artist Fellows participating in the Artists of Color Unite Accelerator, an initiative of The 224 EcoSpace funded by the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. Here, she shares what she enjoys most about living in Hartford.
QUYÊN TRƯƠNG: I came to Hartford as a refugee from Vietnam when I was seven years old. It’s a place where I’ve grown and learned a lot about myself and the importance of building community. It’s where my family has taken roots and become successful.
Although I went away to college and I lived in big cities, I wanted to come back to Hartford to give back because I’ve always felt that Hartford has a lot of potential.
In the past 10 years, I’m heartened to see the myriad initiatives and investments in the city, particularly in regard to public transportation and cycling. Local farmer’s markets that have cropped up and housing being invested in makes it a friendly community for community-minded people and social justice advocates like myself. Plus, it’s the capital city, so it’s very easy to walk up to the Legislative Office Building and talk to legislators and connect with other people from all over the state.
How have you become a part of Hartford and how has Hartford become a part of you?
QUYÊN: I’ve become a part of Hartford by investing deeply in its communities over many years. As a young adult, I created murals for Hartford and worked with The Hartford Courant as an illustrator and graphic designer. I left Hartford in my 20s to go to college and explore other cities, but now, I’m back as a practicing attorney. One of my goals is to use my legal skills to support minority- and women-owned businesses in the area to promote a bustling, entrepreneurial community.
Hartford has become a part of me in that the people in the city have taught me a lot about community-building. I’ve been invited to experience church services, I’ve tasted food from different cultures from friends and neighbors in Hartford, and I’ve learned that there is much more I can do to celebrate and advocate for my local community.
Prior to my current job, I spent seven years advocating with Amplify, a Hartford-based non-profit that amplifies community voices to promote behavioral health. In this role, I learned a lot about Hartford’s strengths in addressing behavioral health concerns in the region. Over the past few years, I’ve also served as a Board of Director for Advancing CT Together, another Hartford-based non-profit that offers human services and supports people with HIV/AIDS and brings community members together via various events and fundraisers. During the pandemic, I helped local Black churches connect their community members with access to health services and was inspired to see what a strong community exists via Black churches.
I also run the Hartford Marathon, which has helped me learn about Hartford’s diverse neighborhoods. Since I’ve moved back to Hartford eight years ago to attend law school and I work and live in Hartford, I feel empowered to advocate on behalf of Hartford residents. I also try to buy local and use Hartford-based businesses whenever possible. And, because I’m a homeowner in Hartford and pay taxes to the city, I think a lot about how the city should and could be run. Since I’m rooted here, I’m incentivized to get to know my neighbors and learn how the city is run, why it’s run the way that it is, and be part of making the improvements we all want to see in Hartford.
There’s a responsibility I feel living in Hartford to protect it, defend it, promote it, and make sure it continues to grow and thrive as a city and not only be a place where you go to work, but a place where people from all backgrounds can settle down and really grow.
What makes Hartford unique?
QUYÊN: Hartford’s access to nature via its beautiful parks and riverfront makes it unique. I love running and exploring the many trails in the local parks and along the river, and some of my artwork is inspired by the natural beauty that I encounter in Hartford on my daily runs around the city. The hidden gems in Hartford are why the people who live in Hartford really care about Hartford.
Also, I live in Hartford because I get a lot of access to amazing amenities in a way that I wouldn’t get in other cities. My cost of living is really low compared to when I lived in other cities and I have access to anything I want in the region.
I can hop on the CTfastrak and go to New Britain. I can walk from my house to Real Art Ways, the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, The Bushnell, the Legislative Office Building, and tons of great restaurants—which are much more affordable than those in Boston or New York City. Within a five to 10 minute drive, bus trip, or bike ride, I can get to the Hartford Riverfront or Playhouse on Park, or I can be at Keney Park, Pope Park, Elizabeth Park. There are so many parks in the area!
Another unique feature about this city is, it’s small enough where my voice can be heard. And I feel like I can make a tangible difference in Hartford in a way that I can’t necessarily make in a larger city like New York or Boston.
Here, we can speak up and we have a voice. In Hartford, we have the potential to make the change we wish to see.