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Category Archives: religion
=======================================================The Westport Library Café is open again.
Well, sort of. Hours are limited (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.). There’s beverage service only — none of the great Mystic Market treats that were so popular before COVID.
But it’s a start. The gorgeous space by the river no longer seems so empty.
Meanwhile, the library store — filled with gifts, cards, and whatnot — has re-emerged from its hiatus in one of the reading rooms. It’s back on the main floor.
Now all we need are dozens of people hanging out on the Forum steps, speakers on stage every night, and water running once again from the bubblers.
The Netflix crew that’s spent several weeks filming “The Noel Diary” in Westport has inconvenienced some residents. They’ve also taken taken over the Westport Country Playhouse parking lot, for use as a staging area. Several large trucks are camped there. Closure of the lot has upset some dog-walking regulars, who prefer that spot to the North Compo lot.
But some were particularly upset yesterday, at the mess left in the northeast corner of the lot. A temporary tent used by the production crew was gone.
And this is what remained:
Lisa Doran’s Greens Farms Elementary School distance learning 1st graders welcomed a very special visitor yesterday.
1st Selectman Jim Marpe took time out of his day to pop into her classroom — via Zoom — to chat.
The students were enthralled — and inquisitive. When one asked what Marpe likes best about his job, he got up from his desk, and grabbed the giant pair of scissors — a present from his wife after his first election. He uses them at ribbon cutting ceremonies, which he says is his favorite task.
Another student asked if he knows everyone in Westport. He said that he knows quite a lot of people — especially since COVID, when he met so many Westporters online.
The next student asked if he was like the president of Westport. That’s a great analogy. And Doran’s class thanked the “president” for spending some quality time with them.
Speaking of Marpe: In not exactly stop-the-presses news, he has endorsed Jen Tooker and Andrea Lawrence Moore in November’s selectmen’s race..
The pair must still be officially nominated by the Republican Party, at their meeting next month.
The Westport Museum of History & Culture’s walking tour of downtown — uncovering the hidden stories of Black life here, over the centuries — has sold out.
So they’ve added 2 more tours: Friday, June 18 (2 p.m.) and Saturday, June 19th (9:30 a.m.).
Tickets are $10. Reservations are required. Click here to register, and for more information.
For 2 years, Rosemary Cass has enriched the lives of people 55 and older.
Her “Seeing it Clearly Now” blog inspires everyone — retired or not — to learn new things, find purpose, and explore the arts.
Rosemary has just added a 2nd blog. It’s aimed at a special niche: grandmothers.
She says that “This Granny Rocks” — clever name, no? — provides a place where “grannies can brag about their perfect grandchildren, without everyone rolling their eyes. No judgment here.”
Readers can submit stories, their grandkids’ photos and clever sayings, and warm, nostalgic stories about their own grandmothers. The site will also offer helpful granny information, and advice on the art of grandmothering.
It launched with stories from Joan Isaacson (Westport author of “The Red Velvet Diary”), and Sharon Citrin Goldstein of Fairfield. To learn more, click here.
The arts are crucial to Westport. But — like anything beautiful — they must be nurtured.
To help, MoCA Westport is hosting an open meeting. Representatives from local arts organizations and 2nd Selectwoman Jen Tooker will talk — and listen — about the best ways to support our arts institutions and community.
The event is next Monday (June 21, 5 to 6 p.m., outdoors at MoCA, 19 Newtown Turnpike. It’s free; no registration required. Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 203-222-7070.
Speaking of art: When Harvest Commons renovated their community room, it looked great. But the walls were bare.
So the condominium complex on Post Road East put out a call: Any artistically inclined owners could contribute art.
The result exceeded their expectations. The walls are brimming with Harvest Commons-created works.
Among the donors: familiar names like Rhonda Bloom, Linda and Al Cassuto, Jo Ann Davidson, Judith Orseck Katz and Toby Michaels
“We are finding more talent by the day,” says organizer Peter Swift. “At the rate we’re going, wall space will be the problem.”
Gives new meaning to the term “resident artists,” right?
Connecticut is one of the healthiest states in the country. Yet there are huge disparities between white people, and those of color.
Wesport’s Unitarian Church — long devoted to social justice — hosts a webinar about health inequities, and what can be done about them (including what audience members can do).
“Racial Health Inequities” is set for June 28 at 7 (p.m.). Guest speaker is Rev. Robyn Anderson, director of the Ministerial Health Fellowship. The event is free to all, but advance registration is required.
The webinar is the Unitarian Church’s second in their series “Revealing History: How We Got Here, Why it Matters.”
“Westport … Naturally” turns today to Saugatuck Shores. This is just one of the scenes Beth Berkowitz walks by — and loves — every day.
And finally … on this day in 1967, the 3-day Monterey Pop Festival opened in California. Over 50,000 people were there for the first major American appearances by Jimi Hendrix, the Who and Ravi Shankar; the first large-scale public performance by Janis Joplin and the introduction of Otis Redding to a mass American audience.
If you never watch another “06880” music video, you can’t miss Otis:
Over the years, Jesup Green has hosted anti-war and pro-war demonstrations. It’s seen rallies against nuclear arms, antisemitism and AAPI violence, and in support of Black Lives Matter.
Yesterday, Westport’s first LGBTQ Pride celebration took over the historic town lawn. For several years in the early 2000s, smaller events were held at the Unitarian Church.
This one drew 500 people. Spanning all ages, many faiths, and ranging from gay, lesbian, bi, trans and questioning to plenty of straight allies, they enjoyed the most beautiful day of the year so far. (Weather-wise, and in spirit.)
The crowd saw a rainbow flag fly over the green. They heard great music and inspiring speeches from out, proud teenagers. Politicians and clergy praised the progress made, and promised to keep working for social justice and civil rights. Kids had their faces painted.
It was a powerful, memorable community event. For some in the crowd, it could have been life-changing.
It made all who were there immensely proud of their town. (Click here for the News12 report.)
Over the past year, Jesup Green has been the meeting place for social justice rallies.
Black Lives Matter and Asian American/Pacific Islander rallies have brought hundreds of people — in those groups, and allies — together to denounce hatred and violence.
Last night, over 300 people — of all faiths, and none — gathered to denounce antisemitism.
Rabbis spoke — and so did other religious leaders, politicians and Westporters. Speakers described incidents around the world, and much closer to home.
The message of solidarity with victims of antisemitism, and the desire for peace in Israel and the Middle East, was strong.
A sense of purpose mixed with feelings of sorrow. Once again, a large crowd united against hate realized: There is so much work to be done.
The recent national surge in anti-Semitic acts — including the New York area — has rattled many local Jews.
Then there was one right here in Westport.
A congregant of Beit Chaverim — born in Israel, but a longtime Westporter — arrived home to find eggs splattered on her front door.
In his sermon last weekend, Beit Chaverim’s Rabbi Greg Wall told his Post Road West congregation that the only way to fight what’s happening is to be more visible.
“Keep your yarmulke on,” he said. “If you’re intimidated, the anti-Semites win.”
Noting the importance of community involvement, he adds, “Anti-Semitism is a communal issue. As Jews, we have stood with any group that’s been denied their rights — other religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations. Now we need them to stand publicly with us.”
Working with the other rabbis, including Jeremy Weiderhorn of Westport’s Conservative Synagogue, and Evan Schultz of B’nai Israel in Bridgeport, plus the Federation for Jewish Philanthropy of Upper Fairfield County, they’ve created a very visible event.
Next Wednesday (June 2, 7 p.m.), a “Standing Together Against Anti-Semitism” rally is set for Jesup Green.
Approval came yesterday. Organizers meet this morning to plan the speakers.
Rabbi Wall knows he wants a wide range of voices.
“We hope other faiths will be involved,” he says. “Whenever anything has happened in our community, I’ve gotten support from the imam in Norwalk. I’m sure there will be many people standing with us.”
He thinks about previous rallies on Jesup Green — in the past year alone, for Black Lives Matter and against Asian-American violence — and shakes his head.
“Hate effects everyone. I look forward to a time when we won’t need rallies like this.”
(If you can’t attend, you can participate online. Click here to register.)
Joey’s by the Shore opened its new location — the former Elvira’s, across from Old Mill Beach, last spring.
The pandemic was in full swing. So for the past year, customers ordered through the app only. They waited outside for orders.
In one more sign that COVID is easing, Joey’s’ doors are now open. Neighbor Don Bergmann (below) was thrilled to finally go inside.
1st Selectman Jim Marpe says:
“On behalf of the Town of Westport, I want to reiterate that acts of discrimination, racism and anti-Semitism will not be tolerated in our community. Over the past year, as a country, we witnessed the murder of George Floyd, terrifying attacks against the Asian and Pacific Islander communities, and countless other acts of hatred and discrimination. And in recent days, we have seen acts of anti-Semitism strikingly close to us in New York City.
Let there be no doubt, anti-Semitism has no place in our community. We respect our Jewish neighbors and visitors. Westport is an inclusive community that embraces diversity and has always celebrated all cultures and religious beliefs. We must continue to respect everyone regardless of their race, creed or ethnic origin. I encourage all in the community to reaffirm these values during this challenging period.
I stand with our friends and neighbors who feel threatened by these terrible activities. Make no mistake, Westport is focused on protecting all residents and visitors. We have stepped up security in and around our synagogues and temples and will do everything necessary to keep our community safe and free from discrimination and hate.
Just in time for Memorial Day, the Remarkable Theater has added a very appropriate new movie to its schedule.
“Saving Private Ryan” screens on Sunday (May 30, 8 p.m.). There’s a special holiday price of $25 per car. But of course the classic World War II film is priceless.
Click here for tickets, and the rest of this week’s slate.
Congratulations to the Staples High School girls track team. They won the FCIAC championship yesterday.
Individual winners for coach Jesse McCray’s team include Ava Harvey (long jump, 16′ 9.5″; triple jump, 34′ 3/4″) and Tatum Havemann (800 meters, 2:17.56, personal record), and Isabelle Blend (pole vault, 8′).
The 4×400 meter relay team of Francine Stevens, Olivia Bollo, Hannah Murphy and Samantha Dewitt blazed to a school record 4:01.52, winning gold.
The 4×100 meter relay squad (Molly Liles, Bollo, Murphy, Laura Spheeris) also set a school record, placing 2nd in 50.13.
The 4×800 meter team (Leigh Foran, Josie Dolan, Nicole Holmes, Lyah Muktavaram) took silver in 9:48.98. Also second: Francine Stevens (100, 12.41; 200, 25.05) and Dewitt (400, 59.68, personal record).
Beechwood Arts’ 2nd of 3 “Classical Smackdown Concerts is set for Thursday (May 27, 7 p.m.). Pianist Frederic Chiu will perform Bach vs. Glass — and an international audience will vote for their favorite.
Frederic’s first of 3 Classical Smackdown Concerts “Heart & Soul” was very exciting with interesting results from the first ever Global Smackdown Vote! The audience was truly global with people from Australia, China, Europe and all over the US!
Click here for details, and tickets.
Westport Business Networking International (BNI) will sponsor a “Discover Your Well Being Expo” on June 16 (6 to 9 p.m., Salon Paul Michael, Westport).
The free event includes informational booths from a chiropractor, personal trainer, functional medicine specialist, organizer, clean crafted wine distributor, counseling service, plus beverages, hors d’oeuvres and interactive demonstrations.
BNI is a networking group of business professionals. They seek one new members in each of these categories: interior designer, home inspector, developer, heating and air conditioning contractor, chef, and attorneys who practice estate and elder law.
Terrapin is an aptly named Grateful Dead cover band. They’ve built a devoted area following.
And next month they’ll play a special, private, 100-person outdoor show, at Wakeman Town Farm. Fine food and themed beverages by Marcia Selden Catering are available for pre-purchase.
The June 26 event is a benefit for CLASP Homes, the great non-profit that helps people with disabilities. Click here for tickets.
Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo comes from Grayson Braun. She writes:
“This little guy has been hanging around our yard — probably because we are one of the few houses in our immediate area without a dog. He has enjoyed our grass, and the occasional hosta leaf.”
And finally … I can’t believe I missed Bob Dylan’s 80th birthday yesterday. (I also can’t believe he is 80.)
I could link to dozens of his songs that have impacted my life. I could make an entire list of those with I’m-still-discovering-more-there lyrics (“Memphis Blues Again,” “Queen Jane Approximately,” “Desolation Row”), those with political power (“The Times They Are A-Changin’,” “Hurricane”), and those whose studio musicians are vastly underrated (“Like a Rolling Stone,” “Jokerman,” “Changing of the Guards”).
But I’ll narrow today’s selection down to 4 that, to me, define Bob Dylan. What are yours?
Do you know a person, business or organizations in Connecticut dedicated to environmental protection and sustainability?
Connecticut’s water utility wants to honor them, with an Aquarion Environmental Champion Award.
Winners will join previous honorees, including Sikorsky, Bigelow Tea, Pratt & Whitney, the Trust for Public Land and Pomperaug River Watershed Coalition.
Winners in the Adult, Non-Profit Organization, Large Business, Small Business, and Communications categories can select an environmental non-profit to receive a $2,500 grant. The winner of the Student category (grades 9-12) will receive a $1,000 award.
Click here for details.
COVID has done 3 things, all related:
- Postponed United Methodist Church’s annual giant tag sale for 2 years in a row.
- Spurred many Westporters to clean their closets, cupboards and bathrooms.
- Decreased donations to non-profits that provide items to clients.
On Saturday, May 15 and Monday, May 17 (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.), there’s a solution to all 3. That’s when you can drop off items at the church (49 Weston Road).
Here’s what’s needed:
Gently used items: baby clothes, children’s clothes (ages 4-10), youth clothing for teenagers (desperately sought!), men’s and women’s suits, pajamas, jackets, t-shirts, dress shirts, shoes of all sizes and designs (dress, sneakers, sandals, etc.), socks, dishware, cups, glasses of all sorts, suitcases, traveling bags.
New items: hair products (shampoo, conditioner), skincare products, deodorant, toothpaste, floss, sunscreen, nail clippers, razors, soaps, lip balm, moisturizer, lotion, hairbrushes, shower gel, shaving cream, mouthwash, wet wipes, diapers, canned foods, Jersey Mike’s gift cards worth $10 and $20 (for homeless youth).
Items should be sorted (gently used, new), packed into large plastic garbage bags, and labeled clearly (for example, “Children’s Clothing” in one bag, “Shoes” in another).
They’ll be distributed to Person to Person, Bridgeport Rescue Mission, Summerfield United Methodist Church, and agencies working with the Greater Bridgeport Council of Churches.
Questions: email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
People with disabilities face many challenges. So do their siblings.
Abilis — the non-profit that helps hundreds of special needs families — holds a “Sibshops” workshop on May 19 (5 to 6:30 p.m., Zoom). It’s open to area children ages 10 to 14 whose brother or sister has a disability.
Sibshops are “high-spirited, fun workshops that combine recreation, discussion and information.” They provide safe spaces for siblings to share thoughts and feelings, while meeting others in similar circumstances and learning about the services their brother or sister receives. Click here to register. Questions? Email email@example.com.
Art has helped many people through the past (very difficult) year.
A new virtual exhibit — “The Healing Power of Art” — shows viewers exactly how that happens.
It features works from 18 artists, including Westporters Rebecca Fuchs, Dorothy Robertshaw and Lisa Stretton.
Lauren Weisberger’s novel The Devil Wears Prada, offered a devastating view of fashion publishing. Her 6 books have sold over 13 million copies.
Her newest — Where the Grass is Green and the Girls are Pretty — goes on sale May 18. The night before (May 17, 7 p.m., Zoom), she’ll chat virtually with Westporter Jennifer Blankfein about her latest book, and the women — a TV anchor with everything, and her stay-at-home supermom sister — in it.
The conversation is sponsored by the Westport Library. Click here to register.
Friends of Sherwood Island’s annual general meeting will “bee” very special.
A presentation titled “Pollinator Pathways & The Green Corridor:
Improving Biodiversity on Protected Land in Our Own Yards” is set for May 23 (4 p.m.).
Click here for more information. Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 203-451-5755.
And finally … happy 70th birthday to Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club drummer, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member, producer and right-across-the-Fairfield-line neighbor Chris Frantz.
Westport’s real estate market roars along.
Roe Colletti reports there were 115 house closings in the first quarter of 2021, a 47% increase from 2020 — and the highest number of houses sold in that quarter since at least 2000.
The average closing price rose 33% to $1.84 million, the quarter’s highest since 2000. Homes sold on average for 99.7% of the list price.
There were 87 houses pending (signed contracts) on March 31, up 81% from last year. The average list price of those homes was $2.2 million.
Housing inventory on March 31 was 135 — down 47.3% from the previous March 31, when there were 256 houses on the market. (Hat tip: Chuck Greenlee)
This year’s New York Board of Rabbis’ Humanitarian Awards will honor first responders and essential workers.
Dr. Anthony Fauci will be feted. So will the Greater New York Hospital Association.
And … Westport’s own Avi Kaner.
The co-owner of Morton Williams Supermarkets (and former Board of Finance chair and 2nd selectman) will be cited for the work his family-owned business did during the pandemic.
Morton Williams stores never closed. Employees kept working; senior executives ensured that the supply chain continued.
The company became a lifeline to New York. They worked with the CDC to adjust trucking regulations so that truckers would be comfortable making deliveries. They were among the first in the nation to set aside special hours for seniors and immunocompromised customers; they lobbied aggressively for mask use, and ensured that supermarket workers were included in phase 1B of the state’s vaccinations.
There’s one more Westport connection to the May 10 event: Rabbi Jeremy Wiederhorn of The Conservative Synagogue is president of the New York Board of Rabbis.
Business Networking International does exactly what its name says.
But there’s a twist: Only one person per profession is allowed to join a chapter. For example, there is one CPA, one architect, one insurance agent.
BNI’s Westport chapter is strong and active. They’ve got 48 members. Last year, they conducted nearly $2 million in business.
There are openings now in a few categories: interior designer, home inspector, developer, heating and air conditioning contractor, fitness club or personal trainer, chef, and attorneys who practice estate and elder law.
Weekly BNI meetings are now held over Zoom. They’ll transition to a hybrid or in-person format this summer or fall. Click here for information, or email email@example.com.
Today’s osprey update:
Carolyn Doan reports that the Fresh Market ospreys had a busy week rebuilding and freshening up their nest.
Sometimes when they’re not at home, Carolyn and her son head over to Gray’s Creek. Those birds are usually eating. “The male’s chest is more white, while the female has tan markings,” she says. She took this photo of one finishing a fish.
Meanwhile, a group of Y’s Men strolled past this osprey at Longshore:
Five Wreckers are Staples High School’s Students of the Month.
Senior Henrik Hovstadius, junior Bruno Guiduli, sophomores Leo Fielding and Ari Lerner, and freshman Domenic Petrosinelli were nominated by their teachers.
Principal Stafford Thomas called the honorees “the glue of the Staples community: the type of kind, cheerful, hard-working, trustworthy students who keep the high school together, making it the special place that is.
The 2021 Music at MoCA Concert Series features a diverse range of jazz, pop and classical outdoor concerts, from April through October. Highlights include performers from the Jazz at Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Spotlight series.
Multi-instrumentalist and soulful pop artist Matt Nakoa opens the series on Friday, April 30 (7 p.m). Click here for the full schedule, and tickets.
Season passes are available for all 13 concerts, along with jazz, pop or classical packages and individual concert tickets. MoCA members receive discounts. Food and drinks are available at each event.
And finally … so who is Matt Nakoa (the first MoCA concert performer this year — see above). Watch below:
And now — after more than 1,000 votes, for 21 competitors in 9 categories — the winners of the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce’s Great Sandwich Contest have been announced. The are:
- Best Chicken Sandwich: Stiles Market
- Best Steak Sandwich: JR’s Deli & Grille
- Best Vegetarian Sandwich: Manna Toast
- Best Combo Sandwich: Stiles Market
- Best Club Sandwich: Joe’s Pizza
- Best Wrap: Layla’s Falafel
- Best Breakfast Sandwich: JR’s Deli & Grille
- Best Pressed Sandwich: Mystic Market
- Best Fish/Seafood Sandwich: Rizzuto’s
Honorable mention (coming within 5 votes of the winners): A&S Fine Foods, Calise’s Market and Fortuna’s
Winners receive plaques. Each winner will also offer a free winning sandwich to 9 lucky voters, who won the lottery in the category they voted in. For photos of the winners, click here.
Saugatuck Church’s 1st-ever Easter drive-in worship service was — well, if not a miracle, then still pretty cool.
The back parking lot was filled with 45 cars (that’s around 13o people). The FM radio broadcast worked flawlessly, thanks to Mark Mathias. The service was punctuated with plenty of cheerful horn honks.
Dozens more watched the livestream on Facebook and YouTube. But that photo isn’t as interesting as the one below:
You’ve probably heard there are zoning bills working their way through the General Assembly. You’ve heard that they may affect Westport.
Tomorrow (Tuesday, April 6, 6:30 p.m. Zoom), Westport Planning & Zoning Commission chair Danielle Dobin hosts an in-depth discussion, The focus is on what they mean for our town.
She will be joined by Westport’s 4 legislators: State Senators Will Haskell and Tony Hwang, and Representatives Jonathan Steinberg and Stephanie Thomas.
I’ll be the moderator. Click here to register.
Westport Book Shop Artist of the Month is Katherine Ross. Her watercolors will be on display throughout April at the Drew Friedman Art Place, in Westport’s popular used book store on Jesup Road.
Ross is a well-known artist and art teacher. She conceived the children’s mosaic wall at the Longshore pool, with work from over 1,000 middle schoolers. She has served on the Arts Advisory Committee and Westport Cultural Arts Committee, and co-chaired the Westport public schools’ Art Smarts program.
The exhibit is open during the Book Shop’s business hours: Tuesdays through Fridays (11 a.m. to 6 p.m.), Saturdays (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and Sundays (noon to 5 p.m.
Tonight (Monday, April 5, 7:30 p.m., Zoom), the Democratic Women of Westport and Staples Young Democrats host a virtual session called “The Anti-Racist Policy Agenda: Connecticut Voter Protection.”
State Representative Stephanie Thomas — who represents part of Westport, and serves as vice chair of the General Assembly’s Government Administration and Elections Committee — will discuss the 2020 election in the state, possible expansion of access for voting, and building support for voter protection laws.
To get the link for the talk, or more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
And finally … speaking of “protection”: On this day in 1922, the American Birth Control League — predecessor of Planned Parenthood — was incorporated.