Category Archives: Organizations

Dorian Kail Does The White House

Yesterday’s “06880” post about the 25th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act — and the formation of a possible town commission on disabilities — resonated with Dorian Kail.

The Westport native manages the professional wheelchair division at New York Road Runners (including the marathon). She’s been awed by the accomplishments of the men and women who use wheels to run.

One of her top athletes — the fastest wheelchair marathoner of all time — is Tatyana McFadden. She won a lawsuit against her high school to allow wheelchair participants in sports.

Last week, McFadden invited Kail to the White House, to celebrate the ADA’s anniversary. McFadden and Kail met the president; Kail also had a quick conversation with Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Bob Dole (who as a senator helped pass the ADA).

Dorian Kail and Vice President Joe Biden.

Dorian Kail and Vice President Joe Biden, at the White House.

Thanks for all you’ve done, Dorian. Keep on pushing — and keep helping these remarkable athletes run.

Dorian Kail and Tatyana McFadden stroll through the White House.

Dorian Kail and Tatyana McFadden stroll through the White House.

Former senator Bob Dole -- now 92 years old -- asked for a selfie with Dorian Kail.

Former senator Bob Dole — now 92 years old — asked for a selfie with Dorian Kail.

Westport Mulls Commission On Disabilities

Yesterday (Sunday, July 26) marked the 25 anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

You may have missed it. If you’re non-disabled, you probably never think of it. If you have a disability, you may have been out on a glorious Westport day. Perhaps you were at the beach or Longshore, or enjoyed a night at the Levitt — all easily accessible for everyone.

As a town, Westport has enabled access, supported transportation and provided programs and services that promote inclusion for people with disabilities.

When the beach wheelchair was delivered 10 years ago, then-Parks & Rec director Stuart McCarthy gave Rotary president Irwin Lebish a ride.

When a new beach wheelchair was delivered 3 years ago, then-Parks & Rec director Stuart McCarthy gave Rotary president Irwin Lebish a ride.

Now, the town hopes to do more.

First Selectman Jim Marpe, and a steering committee headed by Barbara Butler (director of Westport Human Services) and Jim Ross (chair of the Westport Citizens Transit Committee) are considering a proposal to create a permanent Westport Commission on People with Disabilities.

The group would serve as a resource for people with disabilities and their families, as well as offer guidance to town officials on the development of programs and policies enabling residents to participate fully in community life.

The steering committee has created a short survey, seeking feedback on the initiative. They ask all “06880” readers to click here to participate.

Cathy Beaudoin’s Amazonian Fashion Adventure

Cathy Beaudoin’s first job out of college was at Macy’s.

She hated it. The recent Trinity College (history major) grad would cry in the stock room. “My feet hurt, and I didn’t like my job,” she recalls.

Beaudoin had grown up in Westport. At Staples High School (Class of 1981) Cathy Lewis was a cheerleader, gymnast, volleyball player, and Inklings photographer.

Fortunately, the Macy’s gig did not last long. She spent the next 10 years at Ogilvy & Mather, in direct response marketing.

She laughs at her next career move: Banana Republic, in California.

Beaudoin was back in retail — but with a marketing lens. She developed a customer database, from scratch.

“I had no fashion background,” she recalls. “I was the unsexy, quantitative one” in the company.

Cathy Beaudoin

Cathy Beaudoin

Five years later, Beaudoin moved on to a much bigger job at the Gap. She was given an idea — build a shoe brand — and the result was Piperlime. It was a rare opportunity, she says, “to start something from the ground up, but within the safe confines of an established company.”

Six years ago, Amazon came calling. They wanted Beaudoin to once again create something entirely new. But Amazon is not an apparel company. They’re only the largest internet-based retailer in the nation.

Beaudoin loved living in San Francisco. She and her husband Sean, a novelist, had a new baby. But the challenge — build “Amazon Fashion,” again from scratch.

“I’ve had a blast,” she says. “I’ve never worked with people so intelligent. Every time I walk in a room, I feel like I’m surrounded by the smartest people I ever went to school with.”

Her work, the pace, the “staggering way we give our lives to it — weirdly, I enjoy it all,” Beaudoin says.

Adding fashion to Amazon was not like adding another product line — books, say, or appliances. Clothes and shoes are completely season-dependent — with a crazy timeline.

“None of the algorithms Amazon built are applicable to fashion,” Beaudoin notes. “For a company like this, which believes so strongly in its formula and playbook, this was counter-cultural.”

It was also necessary, she says.

“That’s the work I’m most proud of: being a voice in the wilderness, and making this thrive.”

Amazon Fashion logo

Beaudoin is also proud of growing her team, from 200 people to well over 1000 “amazing” people; carrying almost 3,000 different brands of shoes, clothing, watches, luggage and handbags, and achieving “astronomical” growth rates in both the men’s and women’s business.

Amazon is divided into Kindle, cloud computing and retail. Retail has 4 divisions; Beaudoin leads the Fashion portfolio from Seattle, and 2 sub-divisions based in New York: Shopbop.com and MyHabit.com.

Of course, not every idea works out. Many, in fact, flop.

“Amazon genuinely encourages you to fail,” Beaudoin explains. “If you achieve all your goals, the premise is that your goals are not tough enough. You’re not taking enough risks. That’s this culture.

“I’ve done tons of things that didn’t work. Customers didn’t care, or we didn’t execute well. There’s no shame in it.”

Clearly though, plenty of ideas work out — very, very well.

Cathy Beaudoin, in action.

Cathy Beaudoin, in action.

Yet for all she’s achieved — and her many years based on the West Coast — Beaudoin still considers Westport “home.”

Her parents are still here. But this is also the place, she says, where “I became me. I have memories of my friends, the Minnybus, pizza, the beach. It was an idyllic, wonderful place to grow up. It’s still home base.”

Many friends from Staples — Coleytown Junior High and Burr Farms Elementary School, even — have not left, or left and returned. She sees them everywhere, every time she is back. Her next visit is a few days away.

So what was Amazon Fashion’s president’s own fashion style, back in the day?

“No one in high school would have thought I had any style,” she says. “I was a fan of high-heel clogs.”

And now?

“Classic business lady-like. And spare.”

Town Hall Is Out To Lunch

At noon today, 1st Selectman Jim Marpe and town operations director Dewey Loselle decided to take their Town Hall office staff to lunch.

It’s Thursday, so what better spot than the Westport Farmers’ Market?

Rear: Town operations director Dewey Loselle, 1st Selectman Jim Marpe. Sitting: Administrative assistant Janet Suchsland, office manager Eileen Francis.

Rear: Town operations director Dewey Loselle, 1st Selectman Jim Marpe. Front: Administrative assistant Janet Suchsland, office manager Eileen Francis.

No word on whether they went for pizza, seafood, Spanish omelets, tapas, quiche, hot dogs or burritos — all available every week, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Westporters need not worry about the lunchtime excursion, Marpe says. “We’ve got people covering the phones.”

Down By The River

It’s a beloved tradition: In mid-July, the Westport Downtown Merchants Association  hosts a Fine Arts Festival on Parker Harding Plaza and Gorham Island.

Across the Post Road, the Westport Library fills a jinormous tent with over 80,000 items, for its annual books (and much more) sale.

Part of the tradition: It’s always held on the hottest day of the year.

Today marks a nice break from that tradition. Rain did not keep 300 folks from lining up before the book sale opened. Every artist, sculptor and photographer was good to go too.

By mid-afternoon the clouds lifted. Over 3,000 books-and-more lovers hauled boxes and bags to their cars. A similar number strolled along the river, admiring (and buying) artwork.

The 42nd annual Fine Arts Festival continues tomorrow (Sunday, July 19) 10 a.m.-5 p.m..

The “Bookstravaganza” continues tomorrow and Monday (July 19-20), 9 a.m.-6 p.m. It ends Tuesday (July 21), 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

Scores of artists invited art-lovers to admire their works.

Scores of artists invited art-lovers to admire their works…

...like this painting...

…like this painting…

...and this piece of glass.

…and this piece of glass.

Parker Harding Plaza is a great location for the art show. The river provides a welcoming backdrop -- and permanent art lines the walkway.

Parker Harding Plaza is a great location for the art show. The river provides a welcoming backdrop — and permanent art lines the walkway.

Living art was on display too this afternoon.

Living art was on display too this afternoon.

Noted art patrons Bill Scheffler and Ann Sheffer enjoyed the show today, with Ann's daughter Betty Stolpen (she works at the Whitney Museum) and her friend Matt Glick.

Noted art patrons Bill Scheffler and Ann Sheffer enjoyed the show today, with Ann’s daughter Betty Stolpen (she works at the Whitney Museum) and her friend Matt Glick.

Meanwhile, at the Westport Library book sale, there was something for everyone...

Meanwhile, at the Westport Library book sale, there was something for everyone…

...no matter what your taste in books ... (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

…no matter what your taste in books … (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

... or magazines. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

… or magazines. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

New library director Bill Harmer does not officially begin until July 27. But he was at the book sale today, checking out the legendary event.

New library director Bill Harmer does not officially begin until July 27. But he was at the book sale today, checking out the legendary event.

One satisfied customer, among thousands.

One satisfied customer, among thousands.

 

 

Cedar Point: Come On In, The Water’s Fine!

It’s called the Cedar Point Yacht Club. But don’t let the name fool you.

For 128 years, Cedar Point has had a low-key presence in Westport. More sailboat racing than “yacht,” with a clubhouse that’s more “house” than “club,” it exists in happy anonymity on Saugatuck Island, at the western edge of town.

There are no amenities. No fancy lounge or restaurant. No pool or sauna. No tennis courts. Cedar Point is simply a place where serious sailors of all ages, backgrounds and types gather to sail.

Cedar Point Yacht Club, from the air.

Cedar Point Yacht Club, from the air.

It’s one of Westport’s best-kept secrets. And if you’d like to see what this non-yacht-club yacht club is all about, here’s your chance.

This Saturday (July 18, 12-5 p.m.), Cedar Point will treat anyone who shows up as if they’re a member.

Watch the fleets go out to race. Enjoy hot dogs and a bouncy house for the kids. Walk the docks. Tour members’ yachts boats. Relax at the private beach.

There are also free classroom sailing lessons, and a free on-water sailing lesson (weather permitting).

And — keep this quiet — if you mention you’re an “06880” reader, William Adler will arrange for you to go out on a sailboat with a Cedar Point governor.

The club is on Saugatuck Island’s Bluff Point Road. Getting there is half the fun — by car or boat.

(For more information, email BobKarpel.CPYC@gmail.com)

Cedar Point Yacht Club logo

Sidewalks Still On Sale

Every year around this time, I trot out the same lame joke. It’s Sidewalk Sale time downtown, so I say: “Why would anyone want to buy a sidewalk?”

Ba-dum!

This year though, I was all set to tee up a new version. With Main Street sidewalks torn up in the midst of a renovation project, I thought I’d say:
“Times are so tough, you can’t even buy a sidewalk now.”

Ba-DUM!

Sidewalk_SaleFortunately for the Westport Downtown Merchants Association — if not for my “humor” — this weekend’s Sidewalk Sale should go just ducky. Construction will not force racks of clothes and women’s shoes onto the road. They’ll stay right where they belong: on the sidewalk.

Both sides of Main Street are open for business. And if you don’t find what you want, just keep shopping the old-fashioned way.

Inside.

(The Sidewalk Sale is set for Friday through Sunday, July 10-12, on Main Street and surrounding areas.)

[UPDATE] Remembering Dora Stuttman

Dora Stuttman — a tireless volunteer in Democratic politics for over 50 years — died yesterday. She was 90 years old.

Dora Stuttman

Dora Stuttman

Former managing editor of a national fashion magazine, Dora joined the Westport Democratic Town Committee soon after moving here in 1962. Her organizational skills were a hallmark of her more than 50 years of service.

She served 1 term as DTC chair, organized Democratic headquarters and volunteers during numerous elections, and ran several individual state campaigns.

She also headed Diane Farrell’s successful campaign for first selectman, and Farrell’s 2 unsuccessful runs for Congress against incumbent Chris Shays.

Last fall, the Democratic Town Committee honored her by creating a Dora Stuttman Campaign Leadership Award.

Dora was also a PTA president, PTA Council member, and head of several local boards and commissions.

Dora’s funeral will be held on Thursday, July 9 (11 a.m.), Abraham Green & Son in Fairfield. Following the service, internment will be at Willowbrook Cemetery in Westport. Refreshments will be served afterward at the Stuttmans’ home: 2 Cardinal Lane, Westport.

 

Click below to see Dora Stuttman and Martha Aasen talk about 50 years of local politics:

Affordable Housing Applications Available Now

For months, Westporters driving on the Post Road near Super Stop & Shop have watched apartments rise on the site of the old “trailer park.”

They’re not done. But applications are now available for the duplex townhouse apartments — all deemed “affordable rentals.”

Hidden Brook apartments.

Hidden Brook apartments.

Monthly rents are $900 (1 bedroom), $1,055 (2 bedrooms) and $1,200 (3 bedrooms).

Applicants must meet income requirements, based on family size, for 50% of the area median income. Click here for more details.

Applications are online (click here), or at the Westport Housing Authority office at 5 Canal Street. You can request an application be mailed to you by calling 203-227-4672.

Applications must be mailed or hand-delivered to the the Housing Authority office at 5 Canal Street, Westport. They will be reviewed in the order they are received. The deadline is July 31.

 

Howard Munce Turns 100!

Westport’s famous artists — and Famous Artists School — have come and gone.

The “Mad Men” era — the real 1950s and ’60s ad agency scene, and the TV show celebrating it — are both just memories.

But Howard Munce endures.

Howard Munce, in his 90s. (Photo/Kristen Rasich Fox)

Howard Munce, in his 90s. (Photo/Kristen Rasich Fox)

In a town long known for its great artists, illustrators and painters, he’s a towering figure. Advertising director, graphic designer, sculptor, cartoonist, book author, teacher — and, above all, longtime and beloved civic volunteer — Munce turns 100 on November 27.

The Westport Historical Society — one of the many organizations he’s served so well for so long — has the perfect gift: his own show.

“Howard Munce at 100: A Centennial Celebration” opened June 29. A gala reception is set for this Sunday (July 12, 4-6 p.m.).

Howard Munce at work.

Howard Munce at work.

It’s hard to capture a century of life — and 8 decades of professional work and life in Westport — in the walls of one building. But the WHS tries.

The exhibit is curated by Leonard Everett Fisher, Munce’s longtime friend. In his 90s himself, he’s the perfect choice to organize the show.

There are 2 parts. The Sheffer Gallery showcases Munce’s paintings, drawings, illustrations and sculptures.

The Mollie Donovan Gallery chronicles his Westport connections as a young artist (he first came here in 1935); his military service, when he sent illustrated letters to his Westport artist friend Stevan Dohanos; Munce’s Pulitzer Prize nomination for his essay on the folly of war; his role in a legendary ad campaign for Rheingold beer, and his community involvement.

The exhibit includes documentary films, interviews, photographs by Laurence Untermeyer, and a lenticular photo of Munce by Miggs Burroughs.

It’s dedicated to Munce’s wife Gerry. She died in November, but her memory is vivid to all who knew and loved her.

Howard Munce has worn many hats. (Photo by Brian Ferry for Harry's)

Howard Munce has worn many hats. (Photo by Brian Ferry for Harry’s)

Munce’s resume is beyond impressive. Trained at Pratt Institute, he was a Young & Rubicam art director beginning in the late 1940s — after World War II, when he saw action as a Marine platoon sergeant at Guadalcanal.

Munce is professor emeritus at Paier College of Art; honorary president of the Society of Illustrators in New York City, and an honorary board member of the Westport Arts Center. For over 25 years, he volunteered as graphics director for the Westport Library, and — with Fisher — co-curated the black-and-white drawings by Westport artists in its McManus Room.

But those are facts. Far more important is Munce’s humanity.

Whenever he is asked to help — donating dozens of paintings and illustrations to the Permanent Art Collection; curating exhibits for the WHS; mentoring young artists — he always says “of course.” With a sparkle in his eye, a smile on his face, and a handshake as firm as a 20-year-old’s.

Until a couple of years ago, he clambered up ladders to make sure every exhibit he oversaw was properly hung.

At 99, Howard Munce no longer climbs ladders. Then again, he doesn’t have to.

He long ago reached the top.

BONUS FACT: In 2008, Howard Munce was grand marshal of the Memorial Day parade. Here’s his speech: