Category Archives: Environment

The 2nd Osprey Family

The ospreys at Terrain/Fresh Market are Westport’s favorite raptors. Their nest is visible to everyone shopping or driving on that busy Post Road stretch.

The pair at Longshore is less visible — but just as majestic.

Alert (and patient) “06880” reader Alan Beasley snapped this shot near Gray’s Creek.

He says the male is hovering over the nest, while the female observes.

Fore!

(Photo/Alan Beasley)

Westport Women Raise Epidemic Awareness

Astonishingly, 52% of all American children are diagnosed with chronic illnesses.

That’s a broad definition — it includes allergies, ADHD, Asperger’s, irritable bowel and celiac disease, Lyme, hay fever and obesity — but it caught the attention of Jennifer Boyd and Julie Blitzer.

The women share the same initials, the same Westport hometown, and a desire to do something for that large population of kids with chronic diseases — and their parents.

They’re dissatisfied with most conventional treatment methods.

Julie Blitzer

They joined forces through Epidemic Answers, an organization that believes the rise in children with chronic diseases stems from “insidious environmental factors (beyond just ‘pollution’) that have been introduced slowly into our lives over the course of the past few decades.”

Epidemic Answers says these environmental influences destroy kids’ immune systems, affect their growth and development, and prevent them from living full lives.

The founder of the organization “recovered” her child from chronic illness. She now helps other mothers do the same for their kids.

Three years ago Julie — a therapeutic dance teacher — founded Authentic Matters. The group organizes classes, workshops and events for women who “seek to live with heightened awareness/ consciousness.”

Julie met Jennifer — a wellness practitioner — who says she “recovered” her 2 children from Lyme disease. Jennifer is now chair of Epidemic Awareness’ national board.

Another board member is Westporter Maria Rickert Hong. Jennifer says Maria “recovered” her child from sensory processing disorder.

Jennifer Boyd

“The first step is taking people down the rabbit hole of diagnosis,” Jennifer says.

“The next step is focusing on environment. There’s a saying: ‘Genetics loads the gun. Environment pulls the trigger.'”

She means the total environment — internal too. “It’s important to think about things like diet and gut flora,” she notes.

Next month (May 4, 7 p.m., Mora Mora in South Norwalk), Epidemic Answers sponsors a dance party. The goal is to raise awareness (and funds) for the organization’s film project, “Documenting Hope.” Jennifer is on the video’s advisory board.

Designing a dance party is important to the 2 women. Both are trained in dance therapy. (The event features “consciously curated appetizers and spirits” — along with a DJ.)

“There’s a gluten-free bread crumb trail to follow,” Jennifer says, referring to her belief that chronic illnesses need not last a lifetime.

“There’s hope to recover your child.”

(For more information on the “Dance for Hope” event, click here.)

 

Meet M.EAT

When Saugatuck Center opened a few years ago, Saugatuck (now Fleishers) Craft Butchery helped deliver the buzz.

Now — as Bedford Square attempts to draw folks downtown — it’s adding its own field-to-table butcher shop.

M.EAT Organic Beef & Provisions opens this spring. The “old-school meat market with new school fundamentals” offers high-quality beef and lamb from Uruguay, Argentina, New Zealand and Australia.

In addition to hand butchering, M.EAT will feature a “burger bar,” where customers can choose their own grind of meat types and fat content, accompanying organic cheeses and produce, as well as seasoning products, and cooking and equipment aids.

M.EAT will also carry domestic organic meat and chicken, with ingredients from local farmers and artisans.

It’s expected to open in late May.

Westporter Moves One Step Closer To FDA Helm

As with so many things in Washington these days, today’s Senate committee hearing on the nomination of Westporter Scott Gottlieb as head of the Food and Drug Administration was either a spectacular success — or another stumble.

It all depends on whose news you believe.

NBC’s report — posted at 11:56 a.m. — was headlined “Opponents of FDA Nominee Scott Gottlieb Invoke Opioid Crisis.” High up in the story was this:

Gottlieb is a Washington fixture, with a medical degree, experience at the FDA and in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. He is a fellow at the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute and a respected health policy analyst.

But his critics cite his ties to the drug industry and his role at New Enterprise Associates, which bills itself as the world’s largest venture capital firm. It invests heavily in medical technology and healthcare companies.

They seized on the opioid crisis as Gottlieb’s potential weak spot.

“Trump’s nominee to be the next FDA commissioner, Dr. Gottlieb, is entangled in an unprecedented web of close financial and business ties to the pharmaceutical industry and was no doubt chosen because he is well-suited to carry out the president’s reckless, ill-informed vision for deregulating the FDA’s review and approval process for prescription medications, including opioids,” Dr. Michael Carome, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, told reporters on a conference call.

“Dr. Gottlieb has had a cozy relationship with big drug companies for decades,” added Sherrod Brown, a Democratic senator from Ohio. “He has supported allowing those same companies to rush their drugs — including potentially addictive opioid painkillers — onto the market before we’re sure that they’re safe,” Brown added.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb

At 2:55 p.m., MarketWatch announced: “Scott Gottlieb sailed through his FDA commissioner hearing.” Its reprint of a Wall Street Journal story said:

Scott Gottlieb, President Donald Trump’s nominee to run the Food and Drug Administration, emphasized in his confirmation hearing Wednesday his belief “in the gold standard of safety and efficacy” at the agency and said he hopes to expand approvals of generic drugs to lower U.S. prices.

Dr. Gottlieb, who was nominated in March, said he sees the need for new laws and FDA regulatory action to get complex-formulation drugs—like those used topically or with inhalers—more quickly approved as lower-cost generics. While he also said there are ways to speed up some clinical trials, “I think there are ways to modernize clinical studies without sacrificing the gold standard.”

His comments appeared aimed at reassuring Democrats, who have been critical of the nomination because of Dr. Gottlieb’s extensive financial ties to drug makers and his prolific, often conservative writings in which he has been critical FDA regulation, often saying the agency should move faster.

The tension between speed and a focus on safety has been at the center of political debates over the FDA’s future. That has especially been the case under the Trump Administration, since the president has said the FDA takes too long in approving drugs and medical devices.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb has over 36,000 Twitter followers. His profile page proudly displays a photo of Westport.

In addition to his work as a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, Gottlieb is a clinical assistant professor at New York University School of Medicine, and an internist at Tisch Hospital.

Republican Senators Orrin Hatch and Lamar Alexander lavishly praised Gottlieb. A Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor, he also has the support of groups like the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, which he serves as an adviser.

A vote on Gottlieb’s nomination is expected later this month. If confirmed, he will be the 2nd-highest-ranking Westporter in Washington — or 1st, now that FBI director James Comey’s house is on the market. is the highest-ranking Westport in Washington, now that James Comey has left town.

FDA headquarters — Dr. Scott Gottlieb’s probable next home.

(Hat tip: Luke Hammerman)

Saugatuck Bridge Replacement Begins

No, not that one. The Cribari Bridge (aka Bridge Street Bridge) project is still a long way from resolution, let alone beginning.

But over on Saugatuck Shores, the Saugatuck Island bridge is getting a much-needed replacement.

Neighborhood resident Gene Borio sends along a couple of photos.

The new bridge will look like the old one, he says. It will retain its arch — vital for boat owners.

(Photos/Gene Borio)

Power lines must come down while new pilings are put in. Meanwhile, Saugatuck Island residents will run off a giant generator.

The bridge is out until May (at least). Fortunately, there’s an alternate route onto the island: Canal Road.

Unless it’s flooded.

Daybreak’s Last Day

Easter and Passover are coming. Alert “06880” reader — and Staples High School Class of 1973 grad — Chip Stephens is thinking about those holidays, and the flowers associated with them:

Back in the 1960s there were many greenhouses — Fillow (on Clinton Avenue), Daybreak (on East Main Street), Parsell’s (now the new “Geiger” retail and residential complex), and the Flower Farm (South Turkey Hill, now Flower Farm Road).

Daybreak Nurseries, back in the day.

They all grew their own flowers. And they all had big annual flower displays.

The community event — combining art, nature, retail and people of all ages — was a much-anticipated treat for my family. I remember walking through those hot, humid greenhouses, viewing the previews of spring flowers and the summer that would follow.

After church — usually Palm Sunday — we drove to every florist. Each greenhouse was filled with geraniums (soon to be handed out at churches to kids), Easter lilies, hyacinths and many other fragrant flowers.

Families wandered through the greenhouse labyrinths, enjoying coffee, donuts and treats provided by the owners. It was a wonder walk, heightened by displays like Daybreak’s waterfalls.

Today the last of those great greenhouses — Daybreak — is being carted away to the dump.

The last of Daybreak Nursery gets carted away, earlier today.

With the arrival of spring, I’m considering the loss of all those greenhouses, and their replacement by McMansions. How do we balance that, keeping the character of Westport that many enjoyed growing up, and many others move here for?

Let’s welcome both spring and the new, while incorporating and saving the treasures and memories of Westport that remain.

Heat Kills!

Last summer, a Ridgefield toddler died when he was left inside a parked car.

Brandon Malin — a Coleytown Middle School 8th grader — thought of that, when he saw “Heat Kills” signs in Fairfield parking lots. He knows that every year, children and pets are left in cars that quickly become sweltering — even on mild days.

But Brandon did more than think.

He acted.

With the support of Westport Animal Shelter Advocates, First Selectman Jim Marpe and other town officials, he’s creating signs. They’ll remind drivers not to leave kids — or pets — in closed vehicles, especially in warm weather.

The signs will be installed in town-owned parking lots, where police feel the risk is greatest. Possibilities include Parker Harding, the Baldwin lot, the beaches, Longshore and library.

After the initial rollout, Brandon will contact owners of private parking lots too.

Right now he’s working with the Staples High School art department on the design.

He’s also trying to raise the $2,500 needed to produce the signs. All donations are tax deductible, and the target deadline is April 8. Click here to help!

But whether you donate or not, remember one thing: Heat Kills!

Brandon Malin and his dog Cali.

 

Welcome Back!

Westport’s favorite winter snowbird has returned home.

Okay. This snowbird is actually an osprey bird.

Alert — and nature-loving – “06880” reader Wendy Crowther spotted the much-loved raptor this morning. He was perched at his usual spot: the nesting platform near Fresh Market.

(He started out here on a utility pole. But in 2014 Eversource — then called CL&P — relocated the nest a few yards away, to avoid short circuits. The original pole now has a black protector, making it unsuitable for nesting.)

So far we haven’t seen his mate. Perhaps this year they traveled separately.

Wendy Crowther was driving this morning, and could not get a photo of the osprey. But here’s what the osprey looked like just over a year ago — on March 26, 2016. (Photo/Wendy Crowther)

A View Of The Bridge

It’s been a while. It will be a while more. But Westporters are still talking about plans to “repeal and replace” the William Cribari (aka Bridge Street) Bridge.

The subject is as controversial as ever.

But here’s one thing we can all agree on:

This photo from John Videler’s drone is magnificent.

Click on or hover over to enlarge. (Photo/John Videler)

How The Earthplace Garden Grows

Like the perennial plants that bloom, then disappear there, the native garden in the Earthplace atrium has cycled through periods of growth and dormancy.

Designed in 1960 by Eloise Ray — a noted landscape architect — at what was then called the Mid-Fairfield County Youth Museum, the handsome garden was filled with indigenous species.

Eloise Ray, in the natural garden she conceived and designed.

Eloise Ray, in the native garden she conceived and designed.

Over the years — as the name changed to the Nature Center — the garden became a favorite spot. A bronze statue and bench added to its serenity.

In 1977, the Greens Farms Garden Club took over maintenance. They continued until 2011, when the board of trustees changed the courtyard focus. For a few years, the garden fell into disuse.

But in the fall of 2015, the garden club revived it. They weeded vigorously. Working from Ray’s original blueprints, they planted 17 new shrubs, and 42 native plants. Last year, they added 12 more perennials.

Greens Farms Garden Club members (from left) Ann Watkins, Barbara Harman, Wynn Herrmann, Rivers Teske and Donnie Nader take a rare break from their Earthplace work.

Greens Farms Garden Club members (from left) Ann Watkins, Barbara Harman, Wynn Herrmann, Rivers Teske and Donnie Nader take a rare break at Earthplace.

Today the garden is once again a delight. It supports local wildlife like grey tree frogs. Honeybees pollinate the flora. Birds and butterflies abound.

Staff and visitors love it. And, says Greens Farms Garden Club past president Wynn Hermann, members and Earthplace employees enjoy a “wonderful partnership.”

Earthplace's atrium garden blooms again.

Earthplace’s atrium garden blooms again.

On Saturday, March 11, guests will gather there for a Garden Party Gala. There’s great food and music, plus an auction. It’s a fundraiser for Earthplace’s education programs.

The theme of the evening is “Help Our Garden Grow.”

Which makes perfect sense. Whether it’s flowers or the environmental awareness of children, Earthplace plants seeds, nurtures and grows.

(The Garden Party Gala is set for 7-11 p.m. on Saturday, March 11. For information and tickets, click here.)