Snow Scenes

Nearly everyone in Westport is gone. It’s a holiday weekend, and the start of the schools’ winter break.

For the few folks left in town, yesterday’s snowfall was perfect. A few inches of heavy white stuff fell at night. There was little traffic, no major events to disrupt.

When we woke up this morning, the storm had moved on. The sun was bright, the snow already melting.

It was beautiful — and, hopefully, fleeting. By midweek, temperatures are expected to hit 65.

So how are things in Cabo, Antigua, or wherever else you all are today?

One view of Nyala Farm …

,,, and another.

Burying Hill Beach

One view of Longshore …

… and another. (All photos/Larry Untermeyer)

 

Photo Challenge #164

I’m not a playground person.

But Anne Bernier and Peter Boyd are. Which is why they were the only “06880” reader to correctly identify last week’s photo challenge. It was a closeup of part of the playground at Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church. (Click here for Thomas Quealy’s shot.)

Located right downtown — directly across from Aux Delices — it looks very inviting. Little kids romp there during the day.

But no one knows whether it’s open to the public, or limited only to the pre-school.

Maybe that’s why no one — besides Anne and Peter — knew the photo challenge answer.

Here’s this week’s image. If you think you know where — or what — it is, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Gene Borio)

Women’s Day Program Explores #MeToo

The #MeToo movement has brought much-needed attention to the issues of sexual harassment and assault, especially in the workplace.

There’s a lot of fire and fury surrounding those issues. To explore them during International Women’s Day next month, there’s a special event at Town Hall.

On Thursday, March 8 (12:30 p.m.), the UN Association of Southwestern Connecticut is sponsoring  “Women in the Workplace: What’s New and What’s Next for the #MeToo Movement.” It’s free, and features a facilitated discussion with audience participation.

Speakers include Westporter Alisyn Camerota, CNN”s award-winning anchor and author of “Amanda Wakes Up,” about life in the TV news trenches, as well as Dr. Marsha Ershaghi Hames, who advises organizations on ethics and compliance matters.

“The silver lining of #MeToo is that it has created a national conversation around our low levels of trust in organizations, and how best to build and maintain a respectful workplace,” organizers of the event say.

“At the same time, an extraordinary outburst of transparency about inequities and abuse of power in the workplace has sparked a worldwide movement for change.”

For more information on the March 8th Women’s Day program, email aa@aya.yale.edu.

Pic Of The Day #306

Owenoke at dusk (Photo/Ward French)

2 Degrees Of Art Separation

As every Kevin Bacon fan knows, everyone in the world is connected by just 6 degrees of separation.

With a Westport connection, those degrees of separation are much closer.

Alert “06880” reader Evan Stein sends along a story that begins with Kate Burns-Howard and Scott Froschauer.

Before graduating from Staples High School, they had worked together at Fine Arts IV. Now Scott’s a Los Angeles-based artist, getting attention for works that use street signs to convey more useful instructions (like “Breathe” and “All We Have is Now”).

On Facebook, Kate reposted a story about a friend who was selling Scott’s art at a Palm Springs show. Kate mentioned Ann Sheffer in the post — probably because Ann is the mother of Kate’s good friend Emily Reich. And Ann (a longtime Westporter and proud Staples grad) now spends a lot of time in Palm Springs. And Ann is a noted art collector.

Turns out, Ann and her husband Bill Scheffler had already bought a piece in Scott’s show — but had no idea he’s from Westport, or that he knew their daughter and her friend.

Kevin Bacon would be proud.

Ann Sheffer and Bill Scheffler, with their new Scott Froschauer work..

 

“Abacus”: Academy Award Campaign Starts Here

Next month, the eyes of Westport will focus on Justin Paul. The 2003 Staples High School graduate/songwriting wunderkid could win his 2nd consecutive Academy Award — this time for best original song (“This Is Me,” from “The Greatest Showman”).

Most Westporters will not be as excited by the Best Documentary Feature category.

But most Westporters are not Erin Owens.

Erin Owens

She’s a high-ranking executive with PBS Distribution. Part of her job involves promoting Oscar nominees to the people who matter most: the 7,000 voters.

Right now she’s working on “Abacus: Small Enough to Jail.”

And she’s doing it right here in Saugatuck.

“Abacus” tells the story of the tiny, family-owned Chinatown community bank that — because it was “small enough to jail, not too big to fail” — became the only financial institution to be prosecuted after the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis.

Competition is tough. PBS’ “Abacus” goes up against 4 other documentaries. Two are distributed by Netflix. They spend a lot more money.

But Owens is happy to battle the big boys. (Interestingly, “Abacus” director Steve James also directed “Hoop Dreams,” a film about overcoming great odds.)

So she’s sending James to New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco for promotional events. She’s also devising many other ways to make sure that the independent film’s compelling story gets in front of the folks who count.

Owens and her husband Mark Kirby moved to Westport 3 years ago. She worked with Long Shot Factory, a distribution and consulting company specializing in documentary ad and educational campaigns.

She particularly enjoyed her PBS projects. Last January, she began working full-time, in-house with them.

It’s a short walk from her home in Saugatuck to Westport Innovative Hub — the popular co-working space on Ketchum Street.

Owens’ 2 partners work remotely too — from Woodstock, New York and North Carolina. Together, they’re pushing “Abacus” as hard and far as they can.

This is not Owens’ first Academy Award race. She spearheaded “Waste Land” in 2010 and “Hell and Back Again” in 2011, and worked on 5 other campaigns.

Voting takes place February 20-27. The Oscars ceremony is March 4.

Justin Paul may grab the headlines the morning after.

But don’t count out “Abacus.”

(“Abacus: Small Enough to Jail” is available for free on Amazon Prime, and by clicking here.) 

Pic Of The Day #305

A stroll along the Riverwalk. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Julia Marino’s NBC Airings

Last month, “06880” described the heartwarming friendship between Julia Marino and Chaihyun Kim.

They met in Long Lots Elementary School kindergarten, and for the next 3 years were inseparable.

They went their separate ways later, as kids do. But — as Julia became a US Olympic team snowboarder, and Chai a pre-med student at Yale University — their friendship endured.

Chai and Julia, age 6.

As Julia got ready to head to PyeongChang for the Winter Games, Chai and her family used their South Korean contacts to help Julia’s family find lodging and tickets.

It’s exactly the type of story NBC loves. Many Olympic viewers are casual — or even non — sports fans. By showcasing athletes’ back stories, the network hopes those viewers will be drawn into the drama of sports.

Area residents can tune in at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow (Saturday, February 17, WNBC-TV Channel 4) for Julia and Chai’s story on “The Olympic Zone.” NBC stations around the country will also air the show; check local listings for time.

That segment should whet viewers’ appetites for Julia’s big air competition. It begins Monday (Sunday, US time).

(Hat tips: Sharon and John Miller)

Julia Marino

Friday Flashback #79

The Black Duck — Westport’s favorite dive/karaoke bar — has sat tilting in the Saugatuck River forever, right?

Well, sort of.

Seth van Beever posted this painting on Facebook:

He wrote that his grandfather — Gerry Haehl — owned the barge, and ran a bait and tackle shop there.

Seth says the barge was later replaced by a new one.

In the early ’70s, it looked like this:

Some things never change.

Others change very, very slowly.

Library Flexes Its Transformation

The Westport Library’s renovation project involves much more than a facelift.

It’s a Transformation — they capitalize the word — in which every interior space is reimagined and redesigned to respond to the ever-changing needs of 21st-century users.

One of the elements of the new facility is “flexibility.”

So — in the midst of the 18-month effort — officials are sponsoring “Flex.” The 5-day series of innovative programs offers a tantalizing taste of  just how flexible and creative the new library will be.

The Westport Library’s Transformation Project includes a “forum” on the main floor. As construction proceeds, that same Great Hall will be the site of several “Flex” events.

“Flex” brings together art, cinema, music, dance, food, authors and more. Some events are free; others are fundraisers to support the library.

All are worth checking out.

“Flex” begins on Wednesday, March 21 (12-3 p.m.). Jane Green — Westport’s own multi-million-selling author — hosts a celebrity lunch. Sam Kass — former Obama White House chef, senior policy advisor for nutrition, and Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign executive director — will deliver a keynote address, and sign copies of his “Eat a Little Better” book. James Beard Award winner Elissa Altman emcees. (Tickets: $150)

That night (Wednesday, March 21, 7 p.m.), the Friedman Gallery in Bedford Square) is the site for Moth-style storytelling about rock ‘n’ roll. With Michael Friedman’s stunning photos as a backdrop, local residents Mark Naftalin, Crispin Cioe, Roger Kaufman, Wendy May, Bari Alyse Rudin, Cassie St. Onge, Rusty Ford and others will talk about their amazing experiences in the music world. Full disclosure: I’m emceeing, and will toss in a tale or two myself. (Tickets: $50)

Michael Friedman in his pop-up gallery. His photo shows Levon Helm, drummer for The Band.

Four events are planned for Thursday, March 22. At 9 and 10 a.m., the Great Hall is the site of 2 dance-a-thon classes led by Jose Ozuna, an actor, dancer and Ailey Extension instructor. Prizes will be supplied by Athleta, Soleil Toile and Faces Beautiful. (Free)

At 1 and 3 p.m., the Great Hall transforms into a theater. Matinee movies feature Westport’s own Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. (Tickets $25)

The Great Hall changes again, for a 7 p.m. food lovers’ Q-and-A with internationally known food writer Ruth Reichl, and a celebrity panel including local chef/restaurateur Bill Taibe, sustainability expert Annie Farrell and “entertainologist” Lulu Powers. (Tickets: $75)

The day ends at the Whelk, with a 9 p.m. dinner with Reichl and guests. (Tickets: $500)

Bill Taibe serves up octopus and squid at The Whelk. He’ll be joined by Ruth Reichl as part of the Westport Library’s “Flex” programming.

Friday, March 23 is “unplugged” — a day of relaxing with author readings and live music in the Great Hall. Area writers include Alisyn Camerota, Fiona Davis, Nina Sankovitch, Lynne Constantine, Catherine Onyemelukwe, Carole Schweid and Suzanne Krauss. Among the local musicians (3:15 to 8 p.m.): Brian Dolzani, Twice Around, the Mike Cusato Band, Ethan Walmark, and Suzy Bessett and Rob Morton. (Suggested donation: $25)

The Great Hall transforms yet again on Saturday, March 24. This time it’s a performance and party space. A gala evening of food, dancing and fun stars Chevy Chevis and her band, honoring local treasure Eartha Kitt. After dinner (7 to 9 p.m.) things heat up with a dance party (9 p.m. to 1 a.m.) featuring live music, a noted mixologist and a dessert extravaganza. (Tickets: $500 entire evening, $250 dance party only)

“Flex” ends on Sunday, March 25 with a family day (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.): arts and crafts, face painting, magic and more. Tech guru and Westport resident David Pogue kicks off the event, which includes story times with local authors Victoria Kann (“Pinkalicious”), Joshua Prince (“I Saw an Ant on the Railroad Tracks”), Tommy Greenwald and Lauren Tarshis, plus illustrator Tim Fite. Participants can also write a love letter to the library, with artist/storyteller Diego Romero and the Typing Machine. (Free)

David Pogue brings his creative mind to the Westport Library’s “Flex” family event.

“Flex: is curated by Westport Library creative director Moshe Aelyon. He’s a noted event planner and design expert.

Moshe is very talented.

And — like the event he has planned, at the library he serves — extremely flexible.

(For more information, and to purchase tickets, click here.)