Category Archives: Environment

Jane Green Bakes Cakes For Apes. Now You Can Too.

In 2014, Sophie Pollmann — a Swedish-German woman who’d lived in rainy England for 16 years — finally took the advice of her friend, Westporter Jill Johnson Mann.

Sophie Pollmann

Jill convinced Sophie that this is a great place to live. The charity Sophie works for — International Animal Rescue — offered her a job as US director.

She and her husband sold their 11-acre home in Kent, and moved with their 3 kids to the cozy Compo Beach neighborhood.

The only problem: Sophie had to leave her beloved chickens behind.

Problem solved: Jill’s friend — best-selling author — Jane Green kept chickens. Plus, she’d moved here from England too.

The women hit it off. They share an office. Jane has MCed an IAR event for Sophie.

Jane Green

And now Jane is pulling out her well-worn oven mitts, and helping out with Cakes for Apes.

The idea is simple: You bake a cake (or cakes). You sell them to friends, family and colleagues. The money goes to IAR’s orangutan project in West Borneo.

The organization — which (of course) encourages the use of locally sourced, natural, sustainable and fair trade ingredients in all cakes — makes it especially simple. They offer thousands of recipes online.

When you sign up, you get a fundraising pack. It’s filled with ideas for successful bake sales. (Or — you can’t take the England out of  Sophie and Jane — a tea party.)

So where does Jane Green fit in? She’s one of many celebrities who have donated recipes. Hers is a lemon and almond tart.

Cakes for Apes will be held April 23-30. But you can start planning for this jolly good project now.

(For more information, call Sophie: 203-919-7386. To sign up for Cakes For Apes, click here.)

Orangutans, at the IAR rescue center.

Vani Court’s New Buddy

Alert “06880” reader Jonathan Greenfield loves Westport. These days, he loves it just a little bit more. He writes:

The residents of Vani Court exemplify the absolute best in neighborly values. They truly reflect all that’s wonderful in Westport.

That quiet street off South Compo — which still consists of many post-war Capes built for returning veterans in the 1940s — is where my rescue dog Buddy Holly ended up 2 days in a row after he pushed his way past my daughter, and through an open door.

My 9-year-old son gave chase. I grabbed a leash and ran to the car, as my 4-year-old daughter pointed the way.

I tried to obey the South Compo speed limit, but panic set in. My son and dog were nowhere to be found.

Buddy, at the beach.

We often include Vani Court on our daily walks. Maybe Buddy was there!

As I turned onto the road, I saw a commotion.

My son arrived out of nowhere — on a bike, which he’d gone home to retrieve. I got out of my car, and learned that 2 drivers had seen my son running along the road. They offered him a ride, to help. He declined, saying he could not get in a stranger’s car!

At the same time, residents on  Vani Court had come outside with their own dogs and treats, hoping to nab Buddy. He darted from one dog to the next, having a great time.

Tim Luciano came close to nabbing him. James McLaughlin tried to lure Buddy into his backyard.

The chase became exhausting. But when Jesse Daignault appeared with his dog Milo, Buddy took interest. With lightning fast hands, Jesse grabbed Buddy’s collar.

Victory! Jonathan Greenfield with Buddy, on Vani Court.

But Buddy was just getting started.

The next day — just as my youngest was leaving for preschool — Buddy pushed her aside. He was ready for another adventure.

This time I took a different approach. I followed him calmly, so I wouldn’t chase him away. He headed back to Vani Court.

Dan and Kelly Merton were out with their golden retrievers. Like a magnet, Buddy went to them. Another mini-circus developed.

Eventually Buddy headed back to our house. He wouldn’t come in though. My wife followed him back to Vani Court.

Soon, I got a text from my wife. Iris said, “Got him!” Melissa Wilson had come out with her dog. She and James McLaughlin lured Buddy into her backyard.

As soon as I got home, I called an invisible fence company. I’m also setting up dates to continue Buddy’s training, so he can run with us and be safely off leash.

We are extremely thankful for everyone who helped. Vani Court is such a special place.

It’s not just the charm of the postwar Capes. It’s the people. They so easily express what it’s like to be neighbors. Thank you!

Buddy, back home with Zach Greenfield.

Easter Bunny Brings Dog Ban

The signs — and the law — are clear: From April 1 to October 1, dogs are not allowed on Compo Beach. 

Or Old Mill, or Burying Hill.

As usual, some Westporters think the rules are merely “suggestions.” An alert “06880” reader writes:

I’m a lifelong Westporter.

My greatest pleasure throughout the years has been to go to the town beaches with family and friends. We visit with one another, swim, walk, and enjoy the sun and fresh air.

We do it every day from May to mid-October, when the water gets too cold to swim. There is nothing better.

Except that a number of dogs show up with their owners after April 1 — despite town laws that dogs are not allowed until October 1.

(Photo/Larry Untermeyer)

I know. You’re surprised that people would be so willing to ignore the signs telling them to “hold it” until the leaves start to turn.

You can’t blame the dogs. They go where they are led. It’s those pesky owners who chomp at the bit to let their “rovers” run free.

We have dogs too. We’ve had them for years.

But we respect the fact that rules are rules. There is a good reason for them — particularly in this instance.

So we don’t bring our dogs to the beach when it’s not allowed. That would be rude and selfish. It would be all about what I (and my loyal friend) would want, disregarding the rules and preference of those who use the beach for all those fun activities I mentioned above.

I’m a little “ruff”led by this lack of courtesy to those of us who want to enjoy a clean beach.

And I’m tired of nicely asking those with dogs to refrain from visiting the town beaches until the calendar turns.

These dogs were legal. The photo was taken on October 11.

If you agree, how do we get the Westport police or dog warden to enforce this quality of life issue. It seems so small, particularly these days, but is really so emblematic of the “me first” mentality that seems to have pattered its way into Westport life?

It’s the small things that often make a difference in the day.

Now how about those speeding cars?

What do you all think?

Pic Of The Day #344

Geese galore on Round Pond (Photo/Betsy P. Kahn)

A Question Of Energy

An alert — and suspicious — “06880” reader writes:

I received a $100 gift card offer from Constellation Energy for a transfer from Eversource. Yet they say Eversource will still provide service and billing.

Sounds like a no-lose deal — but I know there’s no such thing. I wonder if I’m missing something.

Do any savvy Westporters have a take on this?

Pic Of The Day #339

Earlier this week — before the snow — a tree was reflected in a Post Road West office building. (Photo/Amy Schneider)

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Compo Acres Shopping Center (Photo/JP Vellotti)

Medical Marijuana User Offers The Real Dope On Dispensaries

Recent proposals to build 2 medical marijuana dispensaries in Westport — at the sites of the former Bertucci’s and Blockbuster — have caused plenty of controversy.

They’ve also raised many questions — and led to many misconceptions — about medical marijuana in general, dispensaries in particular, and the laws surrounding both.

An alert “06880” reader — who uses medical marijuana, and who for health privacy issues prefers not to be named — writes:

In trying to dispel myths about medical marijuana dispensaries, it’s important to understand how they work. Some people think it’s like going to get milk. Others think legions of people will pour into Westport to use the facility.

There was even a suggestion that we move the dispensary downtown, to boost our economy. The idea was that many patients would buy their pot, then shop.

None of these are true. And none are possible.

To get a medical marijuana license, you must be pre-qualified by your physician. You then must see a state registered and licensed medical practitioner, who submits your paperwork.

The practitioner must see identification with your birth date, address and more. It’s like going to the TSA office for a pre-check or Global Entry card.

But you actually need more than that. You have to bring medical records, and at least 2 different pieces of first class mail addressed to you at the location where your driver’s license or passport says you live.

After the practitioner scans all this information, you pay. It’s a yearly fee. The license is good for only one year. Then you do the process all over again.

Here is the important part. When you go through all this, you must designate which dispensary you will use.

It is not the Wild West. You must pick one dispensary. Your license is valid at only one Connecticut dispensary.

Westport will be able to know — in real time — how many patients will use the dispensary. We will know exactly how many people are coming here to get medical marijuana. And we will know who they are.

Once all of this gets sent to the state, it takes up to 3 months to get your license (though temporary licenses can be received within 30 days). That is, if everything was scanned and submitted properly.

Before you set foot in the facility, you need to bring your regular ID (most likely a driver’s license) and your state-issued medical marijuana ID.

At the door, you put both IDs onto a scanner. The person on the other side takes a few minutes to verify your information. She takes a picture of you, and finally buzzes you in.

Each time you enter, a record is kept for the state — with your picture. It’s more like using your safe deposit box than buying a quart of milk.

Of course, there’s more.

Before going to the one location you have picked, you must make an appointment with the pharmacist at that dispensary. He goes over your medical condition with you, and makes recommendations. He also tells you what your per-month usage is.

There is a purchase limit every month. The amount is enough to treat the symptoms of your disease. I assure you, it is not nearly enough for a patient to become a pot dealer.

Medical marijuana is expensive. In fact, it’s about 3 times more expensive than the equivalent street value. It seems very unfair to the sick and infirm to be price gouged, but that’s the reality.

There currently is no price regulation. Allow that to sink in. If prices are crazy in Bethel, imagine what dispensaries will charge in Westport.

There will not be a steady stream of “riff-raff” coming into our town. Economics point to a much wealthier Fairfield County clientele using the facility. People will not go out of their way to come to Westport. They’ll go to the facility closest to them.

As for the facility itself, location is important. There must be enough handicap parking.

Is it possible to get medical marijuana without being seriously ill? Yes. Some people will skirt the law.

However, most patients are visibly, seriously ill.  Many have prosthetic limbs or oxygen tanks. They use wheelchairs and walkers.

Most people who go into a dispensary don’t even buy pot (as in, the plant). Smoking does not go well with most diseases. Instead they get oils, pills, strips for the tongue, tea or edibles (which are gross — they taste like you’re eating grass. Real grass).

A variety of medical marijuana edibles.

So: no dispensary downtown. People getting medical marijuana are not shopping and strolling. They are sick.

If we really want to help people in need, the dispensary location must be well thought out. It should be in the back of the building. It isn’t right or fair to have seriously ill people hanging out on the Post Road waiting to get in, while everyone drives by and watches.

We need to stop thinking of a dispensary as dirty, and start thinking of it as a medical facility. Your kids are not strolling in to get pot. No one is. Dispensaries are so innocuous in appearance that unless we had this town-wide debate, you’d never know they are there.

Compassionate Care — a medical marijuana facility in Bethel,

So how come medical marijuana can’t be sold in a pharmacy?

A couple of reasons. One is that there is no price regulation.

Another is that it is not FDA-approved.

Also, according to federal law, all pot is illegal.

As for the concerns about what will happen If pot becomes legal. I have no idea. I assume Planning & Zoning will deal with it the same way they deal with wine shops, or people who want to open restaurants that serve alcohol.

But that isn’t really the issue. Medical marijuana dispensaries are not being set up in anticipation of legalization. Medical marijuana is completely different than recreational pot.

That’s not the discussion we should be having. Do we want to offer to help people now, in our town, or would we rather keep making people in need drive 40 minutes away to get relief?

That’s the only question you need to answer.

Thinking About Trees

Alert — and worried — “06880” reader Jane Nordli writes:

The story of Victoria Gouletas — the woman hit by the falling tree limb — is so sad.

And it raises an important question, though I don’t know if there is an answer.

Our trees have become dangerous, literally. Most of my neighbors’ yards were littered with branches and limbs from last week’s storm. Our next door neighbors are renters, so I don’t know when their mess will be cleaned up.

But the trees separating our property are ginormous, and terrify me. The yard is full of downed limbs — big ones. If just one of those trees came down, it would crush my house.

More than a week after the March 7 nor’easter, yards are still littered with tree limbs.

Should something be done to prevent another horrendous accident from happening?

A few years ago, someone was killed in their car here by a falling tree. Do other communities with gigantic mature trees do anything to protect their citizens? Is it a stupid question to ask?

I have some big trees as well, so I’m not casting aspersions. I hear the buzz saws going every day, so I know the tree guys (and gals) are cutting away and chipping the dozens of fallen branches, sections of trees, giant limbs and so on.

I don’t know that there is anything we can do but put up with the mess, and the possible heartbreaking harm to ourselves.

But if anyone has an idea, let’s hear it.

Many of Westport’s trees fall close to homes. Some fall on them. (Photos/Jane Nordli Jessep)

Pic Of The Day #332

Grace K. Salmon Park (Photo/Patricia McMahon)