Category Archives: Westport Country Playhouse

Newcomers: We Need You!

I’ve been writing a lot of “Remembering…” posts lately.

In just 3 months, Westport has lost many memorable residents. Doris Jacoby, Lee Greenberg, Shirley Mellor, Jack Shiller, Joan McCarthy, Gloria Cole Sugarman, Matt Johnson … they and several other notable men and women died.

Lee Greenberg was an important part of Westport from the 1940s through her death last month at 103.

They left lasting imprints on our town. The arts, recreation, religion, medicine, human rights, youth activities — no part of Westport life was untouched by their efforts and energy.

Some of their contributions were professional. Much of it was volunteer work. All of it made our town a better place.

Many of those men and women were longtime Westporters. They were active into their 80s, 90s, even (Lee Greenberg) their 100s.

But they began when they were in their 30s and 40s,

Now it’s time for a new generation to take their place.

Specifically, all you newcomers.

The past year has seen an influx of arrivals unrivaled since the 1950s. The impetus then was the post-war baby boom. Today, it’s a global pandemic.

But the opportunity is the same: a chance to make a mark on your community.

You chose this place over others for reasons — the schools perhaps, or the beaches, Longshore, the Library, the arts, the restaurants, the sense you got that people here really care about the environment, social justice and neighbors in need.

An iconic Longshore scene. (Photo/Robert Augustyn)

Whatever those reasons, they are part of something bigger: community. You got the sense that Westport is more than just a collection of nice homes in a beautiful setting.

You understood, perhaps without realizing it, that Westport is a place where people get involved.

None of the many parts that make up Westport happened because they were destined to. They exist because people made them happen.

And they will continue to exist because — and only if — other people take up the cause.

We have Longshore because a group of officials — elected and volunteer — had the foresight to buy a failing country club moments before a developer snatched the land to build 180 homes.

We have an outstanding school system because we support it. With our tax dollars, sure — but also with countless volunteers, who give untold hours to every aspect of it.

We have music and arts and civic organizations and sustainable agriculture and sports teams and a remarkable Remarkable Theater and a ride-on-demand program for the same reason.

People had a vision. People cared. People acted.

The Remarkable Theater was a pop-up hit last summer.

Now it’s the newcomers’ turn. Every group in town needs help.

We need you because you are smart. You are energetic. You are motivated. You are young.

First, we need you to step up. Then we need you to take over.

Whatever your interest, there is a spot for you.

The Westport Young Woman’s League. The Westport Woman’s Club. AWARE.

Earthplace. Wakeman Town Farm. Friends of Sherwood Island. Aspetuck Land Trust.

Boy Scouts. Girl Scouts.

The Westport Arts Advisory Committee. Westport Permanent Art Collections. MoCA Westport. The Westport Country Playhouse.

The Westport Country Playhouse is 90 years old. New blood will keep it going for another 90.

Westport PAL. Westport Soccer Association. Westport Baseball and Softball. Any other sport you can think of.

The Westport Weston Family YMCA. The Senior Center.

PTAs. The Westport Library. The Maker Faire.

Al’s Angels.

TEAM Westport.

The Democratic Party. The Republican Party. The League of Women Voters. The Representative Town Meeting. Every board and commission in town.

You can’t do it all. You can’t do it alone.

But if you pick one or two areas of interest — and every other newcomer does the same — then we’ll have enough volunteer man and womanpower to propel this place to unfathomable heights.

And 40 years from now, whoever is writing the 2061 version of “06880” will remember your legacy too.

Roundup: IRS, MLK, WCP, More

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Congressman Jim Himes reminds residents of free tax filing resource,

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program offers federal and state tax help to people earning under $56,000 a year. VITA is largely virtual this year, but there are also some drop-off locations. Click here to learn more.

The Connecticut Department of Revenue Services provides free tax help over by phone. Call 860-297-5770 to schedule an online appointment.

The University of Connecticut School of Law offers federal and state tax assistance for low-income Connecticut residence by phone. Call 860-570-5165 to learn more or book an appointment.

Click here for links to more tax assistance.

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“King in the Wilderness” is an Emmy-winning HBO documentary about the last 3 days of Martin Luther King’s life. At the end of the 1960s, the Black Power movement saw the civil rights leader’s focus on nonviolence as a weakness, while President Lyndon Johnson believe his antiwar activism was dangerous. King himself was tormented by doubts about his philosophy and future.

The executive producer was Westporter Trey Ellis. He’s an award-winning novelist, Emmy and Peabody-winning filmmaker, playwright, professor of screenwriting in the Graduate School of Film at Columbia University, and contributor to The New Yorker, New York TimesWashington Post and NPR.

On Thursday, February 25 (7 p.m.), the Westport Library hosts a conversation between Ellis and TEAM Westport chair Harold Bailey. Registrants can view the film for one week prior to the event. There is no charge; click here to register.

The program is part of Westport READS. This year’s them is “Towards a More Perfect Union: Confronting Racism.”

Trey Ellis

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The popular Westport Country Playhouse “Script in Hand” play-reading series returns Monday, February 22 (7 p.m.).

This time, audiences can hear the scripts in their own homes. The virtual performance is also available on demand any time, from noon February 23 through February 28.

This reading — “A Sherlock Carol” — should be particularly fun. It’s about a grown-up Tiny Tim, who asks Sherlock Holmes to investigate the death of Ebenezer Scrooge. Six actors take on the famed characters of Arthur Conan Doyle and Charles Dickens. Click here for more information, and tickets.

In addition, the Playhouse presents a free virtual conversation about Thornton Wilder’s timeless “Our Town” — particularly as it applies to the 21st century.

It’s this Sunday (February 14, 3 p.m.), on the Playhouse website and YouTube channel (Westport Playhouse).

Participants include Howard Sherman, author of a new book about “Our Town”; Anne Keefe, associate artistic director with Joanne Woodward for the Playhouse’s 2002 production of “Our Town,” and Jake Robards, who appeared in that show. The host is Playhouse artistic director Mark Lamos.

In other WCP news, the Playhouse has announced the 13 members of its inaugural Youth Council. They include Staples High School students Henry Carson, Kate Davitt and Sophia Vellotti, plus Cessa Lewis, a Westporter who attends St. Luke’s School.

“A Sherlock Carol”

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Suzuki Music Schools’ Connecticut Guitar Festival returns for a 4th year on March 5 to 7 — virtually, of course. It’s all part of the Westport-based organization’s mission to make international artists accessible to everyone — for free.

For a list of events, click here. For an overview of the entire festival and artists, click here.

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And finally … pioneering jazz pianist Chick Corea died Tuesday in Florida, of cancer. He was 79.

 

 

Roundup: Vaccines, Christopher Plummer, More

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United Way of Connecticut is expanding availability and access to vaccine scheduling.

Beginning Monday (February 8), 125 contact specialists will take phone calls to schedule appointments from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., 7 days a week. They can book up to 10,000 appointments at 12 locations across Connecticut. Call 877-918-2224.

For more vaccine information, click here. The state is focused on vaccinating residents 75 and older, but priority groups will expand this month as more vaccine becomes availabl.e

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In the wake of Christopher Plummer’s death yesterday in Weston, Hedi Lieberman sends along this video of a “CBS Sunday Morning” profile from 2011. It includes scenes of the legendary actor at the venue where he made his American stage debut in 1953: the Westport Country Playhouse.

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Yesterday’s Friday Flashback offered some long-forgotten views of Westport during the 1950s construction of I-95 (Connecticut Turnpike).

They showed Saugatuck and the South Compo areas. But Beachside Avenue was also impacted and altered, as a new bridge rose then between Greens Farms Road and Burying Hill Beach.

Nearly 7 decades later, it’s being replaced. The result is a novel look at the area — whether you’re driving past on Greens Farms, or underneath on the highway.

(Photo/Scott Smith)

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Longtime Westporter John Caggiano died peacefully at home last month, of complications from Alzheimer’s.  He was 82 years old.

Growing up in Brooklyn, his family instilled in him a great love of his Italian heritage. It stayed with him all his life.

John studied art after high school, then went into advertising. He spent most of his career at Doyle Dane Bernbach, rising to creative director and driving award-winning campaigns for Volkswagen, IBM, Sony, Hershey and Colombian Coffee. He brought originality and flair to every project.

After retirement John pursued art with a passion, honing his sketching and painting skills at the Silvermine, Rowayton and Westport Arts Centers, and the Westport Senior Center. His work was often seen at local art shows.

He enjoyed the many activities activities Westport offers, including boating, tennis and golf at Longshore, and Old Mill and Compo Beaches.

John loved animals. He loved walking his rescue dog Bella around Compo Beach and Winslow Park. He was known and adored by both the humans and dogs who visited these spots.

John is survived by his wife of 57 years, Anita; his son Marco, daughter-in-law Elena, and beloved grandchildren Caroline and John; son Roman; sister Linda Brienza (Dr. Gene); sister-in-law Dolores Paliseno, and nieces and nephews.

John was filled with bluster and heart.  He was known for his humor and his legendary stories.

Donations in John’s memory can be made to the Westport Senior Center, 21 Imperial Avenue, Westport, CT, 06880, or Homes With Hope, PO Box 631, Westport, CT, 06881.  A memorial service will be held in late summer.

John Caggiano

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The other day, Rindy Higgins gave herself a 72nd birthday present: a penguin mold.

Here’s the result, on the corner of Madeline Avenue and Harbor Road. At least, it looked like that a couple of days ago. It’s all melted now.

(Photo/Rindy Higgins)

Just wait. There’s a winter storm warning for tomorrow. An accumulation of 5 to 7 inches is forecast.

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Next up in the Westport Astronomical Society’s free virtual lecture series: “Mapping the Haystack While Finding the Needles: How Crowdsourcing Science is Solving Big Data Problems in Research.”

Dr. Lucy Fortson of the University of Minnesota speaks February 16 (8 p.m.). Click here for the link.

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And finally … in one of his most famous roles (“The Sound of Music”), Christopher Plummer’s voice was dubbed by Bill Lee. Here is a clip from that film, with his singing “Edelweiss” himself:

Remembering Christopher Plummer

Christopher Plummer — Emmy, Tony and (oldest ever) Oscar winning actor who died today at 91, at his Weston home — was a familiar presence in restaurants like Da Pietro’s, and other local venues.

A Connecticut resident since the 1950s, he was a longtime member of the Westport Country Playhouse’s board of trustees. But his association with the renowned theater goes much further back.

He first appeared on the Westport stage in 1953, in “The Starcross Story.” It starred Eva Le Gallienne, a 55-year Weston resident, and soon became his Broadway debut. Later that summer, he was in “What About Maisie.”

The next year, Plummer returned with “Home is the Hero.”

Plummer was a member of the Playhouse’s board of trustees since 2002.  He championed the theater’s 2005 renovation with his words, “It is obvious that we must continue to cherish this gem of a theater, which has not only found its way into our hearts, but surely harbors more history within its walls than almost any other playhouse of its kind on our continent.”

Christopher Plummer (2nd from left) with (from left) his wife Elaine Taylor, Playhouse artistic director Anne Keefe, and Playhouse trustee and Broadway actor James Naughton.

In a Moffly Media interview recently, Plummer said that Playhouse productions during the Lawrence Langner era were tryouts for Broadway. “We always had a very elegant audience, black-tie for opening nights.”

He was a member of the initial Playhouse artistic advisory board. In 2001 he appeared in their 9/11 tribute, :For the Children.”

Plummer joined the Playhouse board of trustees in 2002.  He was a key supporter of the theater’s renovation, along with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, saying “It is obvious that we must continue to cherish this gem of a theater, which has not only found its way into our hearts, but surely harbors more history within its walls than almost any other playhouse of its kind on our continent.”

In 2005 he inaugurated the renovated Playhouse with a benefit event: his one-man show, “A Word or Two, Before You Go.”

In 2010 Plummer delivered the Westport Library’s Malloy Lecture in the Arts. Held that year at the Playhouse, his topic was “Remembering Archie (Archibald MacLeish–The Poet and the Man).” Plummer combined MacLeish’s poetry with his personal reminiscences of the poet, and was interviewed by Playhouse artistic advisor Anne Keefe about his own career and memoir “In Spite of Myself.”

Last fall, he appeared in a video tribute to the Playhouse, shown at the Remarkable Theater.

If you have a Christopher Plummer story or memory, click “Comments” below

Roundup: Farmers’ Market, 40 Under 40, Much Much More

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Westporters know our Farmers’ Market is the best.

Now it’s official.

American Farmland Trust has recognized WFM as #1 in Connecticut. It’s also #10 in the Northeast — and #26 in the nation.

It’s been a tough year for an organization that prides itself of close interactions between farmers and shoppers. But, notes executive director Lori Cochran-Dougall, “For the first time in our history, we operated 12 months in a row to tackle to challenges presented by the pandemic. We set up a strict, COVID-safe, pre-ordering system that served as a model for others.

“It wasn’t easy, but we felt a duty to our farmers, knew that farmers’ markets would be more critical than ever, and we met the challenge.”

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Connecticut Magazine’s has just named their annual “40 Under 40” (40 people under 40 years old, doing great things). Three — a full 7.5% of the list — are Westporters.

Congratulations to State Senator Will Haskell (age 24; Staples High School Class of 2014), fashion designer Christian Siriano (35), and sports financier Jordan Kessler (30, Staples ’09).

Click here for writeups on our 3 (and of course the 37 others). (Hat tip: Michael Catarevas)

State Senator Will Haskell

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The other day, Westport comic/Star 99.9 host Courtney Davis joined 4 top New York City comedians, in a virtual fundraiser. The group raised nearly $2,500 for empowerHER, the non-profit that supports and connects girls and young women who have lost their mothers.

Courtney Davis

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The Westport Country Playhouse is still closed. Until it reopens, all we’ve had are memories of our favorite shows.

Starting tomorrow though, there’s more.

The theater launches “From Concept to Curtain,” a virtual documentary series of 30-minute films. They offer free, behind-the-scenes looks at the creative process of putting together a Playhouse production.

The first episode is “In the Heights: Beyond el Barrio” (Thursday, February 4, 12 noon, at the Playhouse’s website and YouTube channel.

Host Marcos Santana — director and choreographer of the Playhouse’s 2019 production of “In the Heights” — performed on Broadway in the Tony Award-winning show.

The set, costume and lighting designers, and the music director, discuss their inspirations, challenges, what they would have done differently, and favorite moments from the show.

More videos will be announced soon.

“In the Heights,” at the Westport Country Playhouse.

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High school students interested in learning more about the art portfolio submission process for college are invited to a workshop this Sunday (February 7, 12 to 3 p.m.) at MoCA Westport.

The session includes lectures, slide presentations, Q-and-A and individual portfolio reviews (up to 5 samples). The cost is $75. Click here to register. For more information, email liz@mocawestport.org.

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The Y’s Women and 597 Westport Avenue Apartments (just over the Norwalk line) have teamed up to contribute food to Mercy Learning Center.

Jane Ferreira — president and CEO of the Center, the wonderful literacy and life skills training center for women in Bridgeport — returns the favor, as Y’s Women’s virtual guest speaker this Monday (February 8, 11:30 a.m.). She’ll talk about MLC’s educational and support services — and how they change the lives of not only their clients and families, but also volunteers and supporters.

Anyone can log on to www.YsWomen.org to view past speakers. And any woman in Fairfield County can join for just $45 a year. Email president Barb Stephen (dynamicr@icloud.com) to learn more.

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The Unitarian Church has 2 important — and timely — programs this weekend.

On Saturday (February 6, 10 a.m.), they’re sponsoring a virtual program on how to recognize domestic violence in today’s pandemic world,  and what to do about it. The program is open to the public, via Zoom meeting ID 875 7140 7113 (passcode 739121). Questions? Contact events@uuwestport.org or click here.

Meanwhile, the women of the church are launching a series of programs about the history of Black lives in America, and its effects on our country today. “Revealing History: How We Got Here, Why It Matters” begins Sunday (February 7, 10:40 a.m.) with a multi-media event called “Racial Injustice: From Slavery to Mass Incarceration.”

The program includes a speaker from the Equal Justice Initiative, founded by Bryan Stevenson; a musical work with voiceover from Desmond Tutu, and other notable artists and artwork. Click here for the Zoom link (the program begins after the regular Sunday service).

Questions? Email events@uuwestport.org.

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And finally … today in 1959, “the music died.” That’s Don McLean’s “American Pie” reference to the Iowa plane crash that took the lives of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson.

“Me And White Supremacy”: Westport’s 28-Day Challenge

Black History Month began Monday.

This year’s celebration comes at a fraught time. Economic, educational and justice inequality can no longer be ignored. They affect nearly every aspect of American life today.

Last summer, hundreds of Westporters marched downtown, declaring “Black Lives Matter.”

This month, our overwhelmingly white town is challenged to examine just what those words — easy to say, far more difficult to put into action — really mean.

Layla F. Saad

Last month, Layla Saad delivered the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day keynote address. She discussed her impactful book, “Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor.”

The powerful work helps readers understand how white privilege influences their lives. It is the first selection in this year’s community-wide WestportREADS program.

The book includes Saad’s “28-day challenge.” The idea is to write daily journal entries based on prompts — for example, “What negative experiences has white privilege protected you from throughout your life?”

Though journal entries are private, TEAM Westport and the Westport Country Playhouse will facilitate discussions based on them in March.

They’re also developing weekly videos based on the 28-day challenge, to be released each Monday.  If you have a question to be addressed in the video, email education@westportplayhouse.org.

Click here to register for the 28-day Challenge. You’ll  get a list of weekly “challenge questions” for journaling; a link to the weekly videos, and notification of post-challenge discussions.

It’s not too late to start journaling now. Meanwhile, click below for a panel discussion on how to prepare for the Challenge’s self-reflection process:

And click here for the Week 1 kickoff video:

 

Friday Flashback #226

This could be one of my favorite “old Westport” photos ever. And not just because it shows the spot where I live today.

Westport Country Playhouse public relations manager Pat Blaufuss found it in the archives. There is no photographer’s credit, but it’s dated 1969.

There’s the Playhouse, midway up the right side of the photo. (Click on or hover over to enlarge). It’s been modernized, but looks pretty much the same.

Saugatuck Congregational Church on the left has not changed much. Neither have the gas stations: the one that is now Quality just east of the church, and the (now) Mobil across the Post Road. The buildings with (among others) Winslow Park Animal Hospital were there then too (lower right).

But the rest of the area is unrecognizable.

The big Victorian at the top was the Pine Knoll Inn. It was demolished in the early 1980s, making way for Playhouse Square and the Playhouse Condominiums behind it.

The long rectangular building with a white facade directly opposite the gas pumps was a car wash. I’m not sure what the white building set back from the Post Road in the entrance to Pine Knoll was, though I dimly recall the original Viva Zapata’s restaurant being somewhere around there.

And the smaller white structure to the immediate right of the Quality (then Tydol, later Getty) gas station, on the Post Road?

Originally a Dairy Queen, in the 1960’s it became the Crest Drive-In. It was a classic hangout for Staples students, a place for guys to show off their cars and girls to get guys to pay for their burgers.

Eventually the Crest gave way to Sam Goody, Alphagraphics and Qdoba. Today it sits as empty as the lot behind it was, that day in 1969 when an unknown photographer took this time capsule shot.

Give The Gift Of Giving

‘Tis the season to be jolly.

And to give.

Separately, but with the same idea, alert — and generous — “06880” readers Karen Abramson and Polly Newman gave me the gift of a perfect story idea.

As we buy presents for loved ones, friends, and people whose good graces we need to keep, we also want to help others.

Give what you can.

It does not hurt that helping them can also ease our tax burden a few months from now.

But who to give to?

Far be it for “06880” to say. So here is a list — off the top of my head — of some worthy local organizations. Each one has a clickable link 🙂

I know I’ve missed some. Rather than bite my head off (very un-Christmas-y), please mention them in the “Comments” section. Then I’ll add them to this list.

And please: Keep it local (southern Fairfield County). There are way too many very worthy national and international groups to include. Thank you!

Animals

Christine’s Critters: Rehabilitation of big birds
Connecticut Humane Society
: Westport branch
Save Our Strays: Animal rescue
PAWS: No-kill animal shelter
TAILS: Spaying and neutering
Westport Animal Shelter Advocates: Care, shelter and adoption of homeless dogs
Wildlife in Crisis: Preservation and emergency help

Arts and history

Artists Collective of Westport: Creativity, education, shows, forums and more
Beechwood Arts and Innovation: Exhibits, salons, talks, food — wow!
Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County: Supporting cultural organizations, artists and creative businesses
Levitt Pavilion: More than 50 nights of free entertainment
MoCA Westport
: Exhibitions, concerts, education and more
Remarkable Theater: Providing entertainment and employment for people with disabilities
Westport Country Playhouse: 90-year-old cultural institution
Westport Museum for History & Culture: Exhibits and education
Westport Public Art Collections: Bringing art to schools and public spaces

Community aid

Al’s Angels: Help for children and families battling diseases and hardships
Bridgeport Rescue Mission: Fighting poverty, offering help
Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants: Service and advocacy for immigrants, refugees and survivors of human trafficking and torture
Lifebridge Community Services: Bridgeport youth development behavioral health and family resources organization
Norwalk Hour
: Aid to families in need
United Way of Coastal Fairfield County:
Access to food, shelter, transportation and childcare
Westport Department of Human Services “We Care”
:
Many options!
Westport PAL: They do it all: college scholarships, youth sports programs, fireworks, ice rink, etc., etc., etc.
Westport Weston Family YMCA: Help in many ways

Disabilities

Catch a Lift: Westport strongly supports veterans through fitness programs
CLASP
: Group homes and opportunities
MyTEAM Triumph:  Road race support for children, adults and veterans
STAR Lighting the Way: Support for all ages

Education and youth

A Better Chance of Westport: Education and support for outstanding minority boys
Achievement First: Schools provide Bridgeport families of color with a high- quality education at no cost
Adam J. Lewis Academy: High-quality experience for Bridgeport youngsters
Carver Foundation: K-12 pre- and after-school programs in Norwalk
Child Advocates of SW Connecticut: Providing advocates for abused children
Child & Family Guidance Center: Counseling and support for youth and families
Kidz Give Back: Children helping children
Neighborhood Studios: Arts education for Bridgeport youngsters
Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities: Helping fulfill potential; support for parents too
Staples Tuition Grants: Need-based scholarships for Staples High School students and alumni
The Susan Fund: Scholarships for young people affected by cancer

Environment

Aspetuck Land Trust: Preserving open space; maintaining 45 preserves
Earthplace:
Education, wildlife exhibits, and a 62-acre sanctuary
Friends of Sherwood Island: Preserving, maintaining and enhancing our state park
Future Frogmen: Teaching students to protect the oceans
Norwalk River Valley Trail: Maintaining 30 miles of open space 
Save the Sound
: Protecting Long Island Sound
Sustainable Westport: Helping our town become Net Zero by 2050
Wakeman Town Farm: Sustainability center, with plenty of programs
Westport Farmers’ Market: Food, education, programs and more

Food and shelter

Filling in the Blanks: Providing weekend meals for children in need
Food Rescue:
Helping volunteers pick up and deliver excess food
Habitat for Humanity of Coastal Fairfield County: Building houses and creating affordable home ownership
Homes with Hope
: Supportive housing, food pantry, food distribution and more
Open Door  Shelter: Aiding Norwalkers in need
Person-to-Person: Food, rent help, clothing and more

Grant-giving and foundations

100 Women Who  Care of Fairfield County: Raising funds to give them away!
Fairfield County Foundation: Philanthropy to strengthen communities
Near and Far Aid:
Fighting poverty in Fairfield County
Newman’s Own
: Okay, they’re global — but they’re headquartered in Westport!
Westport Rotary: Noontime chapter meeting of Rotary International
Westport Sunrise Rotary: 7:30 a.m. chapter meeting of Rotary International
Westport Woman’s Club: Raising funds for charitable, educational, cultural and public health services
Westport Young Woman’s League: Building community through volunteerism and social activities

Health and Safety

Breast Cancer Emergency Aid Foundation: Funds for non-medical expenses
Domestic Violence Crisis Center:
Help for victims and families
Mission
: Helping survivors create lives after cancer
Pink Aid: Financial aid and services to woman and families facing breast cancer
Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Service
: Providing staffing, supplies and apparatus to keep the town safe

LGBTQ

Triangle Community Center: Providing programs and resources for the LGBTQ community


Literacy

Mercy Learning Center: Life skills training for low-income women
Read to Grow: Promoting children’s literacy from birth, supporting parents as babies’ first teachers
Westport Book Sales: Providing employment for people with disabilities — and offering books, while providing funds for the Westport Library
Westport Library: They do it all!

Mental health and addiction 

Laurel House: Mental health and recovery resources
Positive Directions: Treatment and prevention for addictive behaviors

Seniors

Jewish Senior Services: Skilled nursing and other care
Westport Center for Senior Activities
: Senior Center provides programs, meals and more

Women

AWARE: “Assisting Women through Action, Resources and Education”
Dress for Success Mid-Fairfield County: Empowering women by providing professional clothes and other support
Malta House: Shelter and programs for young pregnant women and their babies

 

Roundup: Arts Funds, Big Buck, Turtle Update, More


Five Westport nonprofit arts groups have received a total of $536,100 in COVID relief funds. The money — part of a $9 million Connecticut COVID Relief for the Arts package — is administered by the state Department of Economic and Community Development.

Recipients include

  • Friends of the Levitt Pavilion: $55,200
  • JIB Productions (Play With Your Food): $11,900
  • MoCA Westport: $97,700
  • Westport Community Theatre: $5,500
  • Westport Country Playhouse: $365,80

(Hat tip: Dick Lowenstein)

The Westport Country Playhouse received a grant for COVID relief.


Speaking of art: Mysterious monoliths appeared recently in Utah, California and Romania.

Also: Burying Hill Beach.

Nothing concrete is known about any of them.

(Photo/Chris Grimm)


Remember the loggerhead turtle rescued by Mystic Aquarium on Monday?

David Loffredo sends this update:

Our turtle is a male, 5 to 10 years old. [Uh-oh. “06880” first called him a her — who knew?]

The aquarium warmed him up from 53 degrees to 70. He did suffer quite a blow to his head. They think he was hit by a propeller earlier in the fall, so they are watching him to make sure he recovers.

That’s most likely why he wound up in Long Island Sound this late in the season, and on our beach. His buddies are already way further south. He would not have survived for much longer.

So now we wait.  It’s like having a child.  We try not to call daily….

My wife asked if they’ve named him. The rescue people said they don’t name rescue animals until they’re sure they’ll survive, so right now our guy is #2. We are praying he gets a name!

If and when he does, we’ve been invited for a visit and a behind-the-scenes tour. You know it will be thoroughly documented.

(Photo/David Loffredo)


Speaking of animals: A nearby resident spotted this guy in the Greens Farms Church cemetery. He and his girlfriend then wandered over to her side door. They seem to have settled in for the winter.


As of yesterday, Westport had 699 cases of COVID-19 since March (642 confirmed, 57 probable). There have been 24 deaths (16 confirmed, 18 probable). Click here for full statistics.


And finally … happy 69th birthday to Gary Rossington. The guitarist is a founding member of Lynyrd Skynyrd — and the last surviving original member.

Roundup: Beachside Avenue, Playhouse Cocktails, More


The equipment is in place. Plans have been made.

And the date is set. Replacement work on the Beachside Avenue bridge over I-95 begins January 4. It’s expected to last through September/

The $1.5 million project includes realignment of Beachside Avenue.

During the project, traffic will be detoured past the Greens Farms station, and New Creek Road. Longer detours will be needed for trucks that cannot fit under the railroad bridge.

Beachside Avenue I-95 bridge, at Greens Farms Road.


All summer long, the Westport Country Playhouse was dark.

But bright conversation took place online, via virtual chats with artists. It was called “Coffee With …”

The series continues this Thursday (November 19, 7 p.m.), with artistic director Mark Lamos. He’ll talk about the upcoming season, casting, his career, and anything else you ask.

Questions can be emailed to info@westportplayhouse.org by noon Tuesday. Then click on Facebook Live or YouTube.

The winter series is called “Cocktails With …” Mix it up!


And finally … on this day in 1969, half a million anti-Vietnam War protestors poured into Washington, DC. They were following up on Moratorium to End the War protests a month earlier, held in cities and towns around the country.

It is considered to have been the largest demonstration ever in the capital. President Nixon said, “I understand that there has been, and continues to be, opposition to the war in Vietnam on the campuses and also in the nation. As far as this kind of activity is concerned, we expect it; however, under no circumstances will I be affected whatever by it.”