For the price of an over-the-top cup of white hot chocolate at Hartford’s Tisane Café, you can buy the ear—and voice—of Chion Wolf, who is not only a technical producer, announcer, and photographer for WNPR and The Colin McEnroe Show, but also an integral part of the fabric in Hartford, CT.
In addition to working at WNPR, Wolf co-produces The MOuTH, which is a live storytelling event that takes place at the Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford. She is also an actor and on the Board of Directors for Night Fall, which Community Leader LB Muñoz describes as “a seasonal celebration of art, community and culture in the city of Hartford.”
Wolf is also founding member of the Hartford-based marching band, the Hartford Hot Several, where she plays the trash can bass drum.
Prior to joining WNPR, Wolf attended the University of Connecticut and worked at a cell phone company. While volunteering at WNPR by answering phones for a fund drive, a meeting with News Director John Dankosky led to an internship at the station in Hartford. Wolf freelanced there for two years and, in 2009, when Colin McEnroe started his radio show, she was hired on-staff as the show’s producer.
Innovation Destination Hartford Website Curator Nan Price recently chatted with Wolf about why she’s a huge cheerleader for Hartford.
PRICE: You grew up in Farmington. How and when did you end up in Hartford?
WOLF: I happily moved to Hartford’s Asylum Hill area as soon as I got hired at WNPR. After being a life-long car commuter, being able to walk to work was a big priority. Also, living in Asylum Hill puts me right between the West End and downtown, and just on the edge of a lot of cool things happening in the North End. I ride my bike all over the city to explore it on a more interactive level than sitting in my car. I love being in Harford, it’s a great place to dive in and collaborate.
PRICE: Can we pause on the word “collaborate” for a minute?
WOLF: Sure! Right now more than ever, Hartford wants you to create. To play. To grow. To collaborate. Since it’s such a small city, you have to play well with others—and you may have to do some grinding. But a little goes a long way here.
The ground for growing relationships and efforts in Hartford is really fertile. There are plenty of ideas making their way through the people and places in the city, from Night Fall, to storytelling events like mine, to small businesses like Hartford Prints!, to Hartford Fashion Week, which is one particularly shining example of someone grinding.
Katrina Orsini, who organized the event, had a big, grand idea of bringing Hartford-based fashion designers to the runway and was able to extend this one event to an entire week of activities. She gathered the right team to help make it happen, and it was an impressive show of art and creativity that I’m so grateful I got to experience. Her ambition and success was inspiring, just like Anne Cubberly and LB Muñoz who put together Night Fall.
PRICE: How did you become involved with Night Fall?
WOLF: I was watching Sea Tea Improv at City Steam Brewery Café in Hartford one night and spotted my friend, LB Muñoz, who introduced me to Anne Cubberly. Anne is an artist who makes the giant puppets for Night Fall and collaborates with LB on each year’s production. Their company, Kinetic Dreams, builds awesome structures for events of all kinds and trains young people to collaborate creatively.
Anne and I worked together for some other projects, which led to my recurring spot in Night Fall, a free yearly performance featuring a story told through acting, singing, dancing, and of course, giant puppets. Since it takes place in a different park in Hartford every year, each surrounding community collaborates with Anne and LB by building props out of recycled materials. The best part of being with Night Fall is meeting and working with some talented people who I may not have met otherwise.
on the red carpet outside Cinestudio
PRICE: Let’s talk about Hartford in general. You’re a huge fan—why is that?
WOLF: If you have something to give—or think you do—there are resources to make it happen. I don’t know where else you can find that. We’re living in a special time in this city. People really care about the intersection of business and arts, and if you’ve got a clear vision and the grit, people want you to succeed. People care about your success, whether you’ve been here all your life, or if you just got the keys to your new place. We’re a city full of gutsy people and, since like so often attracts like, the gutsy people keep coming—and staying.
PRICE: With regard to the future of Hartford, what’s your outlook?
WOLF: I feel lucky to be here at this time in particular. It’s that scrappy underdog status we’ve got going here that is part of the reason we’re all—individually and collectively—trying so damn hard to make Hartford a better place to live and play.
Hartford has been underestimated for so long by people living outside it that it’s exciting when I hear people say “There’s nothing to do in Hartford.” Where do I begin? I can’t wait to tell people precisely how wrong they are (it’s not often I get to feel righteous, so I take the opportunity whenever I can).
That said, I recently got bit hard by the bicycling bug after participating in the Hartford Slow Roll, one of many brilliant ideas by Hartford-based thinkers and planners, Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner. Twice a month, a group of 10 to 15 people would ride their bikes for an hour or so throughout Hartford and it transformed me from a person who was intimidated by city riding to someone who cannot get enough of it.
There are a lot of people like me here! I’d love to see Hartford become the next big bicycle city—similar to Amsterdam or Portland, OR. Considering that Hartford was once the bicycle manufacturing capital of the country, we have a historical obligation to continue that legacy by having beautiful, clean, common-sense, safe bikeways that celebrate the majestic machine that is a bicycle. I can easily imagine how the bicycle industry can flourish here again, bringing health, efficiency, and tourism dollars to Hartford and its surrounding towns.
In the spirit of Hartford in 2016, BiCi Co., a brand new bike co-op (supported by the Center for Latino Progress) has opened on Park Street to not only sell bicycles and bike parts, but also to teach people how to build and maintain bikes.
It doesn’t get any more Hartford than that.
Interested in learning more about activities and organizations in Hartford? Read these stories:
- BiCi Co. – Connecting Hartford's Community
- Hartford-Based Social Enterprise Startup Committed to Community
- Entrepreneurs Heart Greater Hartford: Hartford Prints!
- Hartford Stage Enhances Arts, Community, and Innovation In Hartford
- Hands On Hartford: Strengthening The Community In Hartford
- Real Art Ways Drives Hartford’s Alternative Arts Community