Tag Archives: August Laska

Roundup: Board Of Ed, Downtown, Scam Alert …

This week’s Board of Education community conversation was wide-ranging, robust and fruitful. If you missed

It was so successful, the board will schedule another conversation. They’ll begin with the topics they ended with: books in the high school library, and equity action planning.

The next event will be scheduled in the evening. When the date is finalized, “06880” will let you know.

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“Reconnecting the Riverfront” — the town’s plan addressing downtown parking and pedestrian access — moving into its second public engagement phase.

Initial design concepts and a second public survey are available here. The public is invited to complete the survey, and add comments.

Screenshot from the Downtown Plan Implementation Committee’s website. A public survey is on the site too.

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Sure, Buffalo got whacked with a super snowstorm yesterday.

But at Compo Beach, the temperature was a balmy 42

So these 8 intrepid folks went for a midday swim.

Happy November 18!

(Photo/Matt Murray)

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Meanwhile, around the corner, a wedding took place on the Old Mill Beach sand.

Because of the cold, it was quick — almost over before it began, reports Andrew Colabella.

No word on who the bride and groom are. Or where they headed next.

Hopefully, some place a bit warmer.

(Photo/Andrew Colabella)

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More proof it was cold yesterday: A crew was at work early, warming up Hillspoint Road to fill in the cracks.

It’s one of those little things most people never see. Or even think about.

Jonathan Rosenoer spotted it, and took a photo. Thanks to all the workers on this project.

Little things mean a lot.

(Photo/Jonathan Rosenoer)

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Meanwhile, last night, a couple of hundred people enjoyed dozens of wines (and excellent hors d’oeuvres), at Westport Sunrise Rotary’s annual (but first since COVID) “Uncorked” fundraiser.

The tastings were courtesy of The Fine Wine Company. The dining came courtesy of the host Inn at Longshore.

And the money raised? It all goes to the many worthy program — here and abroad — supported by our excellent Sunrise Rotary Club.

Last night’s “Westport Uncorked,” at the Inn at Longshore. (Photo/Dan Woog)

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Scam alert!

A reader writes: “The other day I dropped an envelope into a mailbox between the diner and dance studio. I felt something sticky, and realized the envelope was not falling into the box.”

“I called the check’s recipient a few days later. They had not gotten the check. I went to the box to see if I could retrieve it. I couldn’t, so I went to the post office. They gave me a number to call.

“I called, and found out I was scammed. The sticky page catches my envelope. Thieves erase and change all the information they need: signature, amount, routing and account numbers.

“I had to go to the bank, get new account numbers, order new checks, remember all my direct deposits and notify them.

“Why isn’t something posted about this scam? The post office and bank know about it. Why hasn’t he public been alerted?

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Since graduating from Staples High School in 2013, and Middlebury College 4 years later, August Laska has done many things.

He worked for Snapchat and Disney. He co-produced an Off-Broadway show. He was a marketer.

Now — after being furloughed in the pandemic — he’s got a new gig. He owns The Old Yew Plant Shop on Horatio Street in the West Village.

It offers plants for all tastes and plant-growing abilities, plus landscaping and installation services, expert advice, and anything else city dwellers need (for their plants, anyway).

August always loved plants. But not until his temporary COVID-induced move back to Westport did he have a chance to indulge in his passion.

Work on his yard led to requests by relatives and friends. When someone asked him to do his work indoors — bingo.

This week, Off the Grid — a Village blog — profiled August and The Old Yew Plant Shop. Click here for a story that’s even livelier than Audrey II.

But August is not sitting around twiddling his (green) thumbs. He’ll open a second Manhattan location soon.

August Laska at The Old Yew Plant Shop. (Photo courtesy of Off the Grid)

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Westport’s oldest church has its newest organ.

And its most up-to-date technology.

Tomorrow’s Green’s Farms Congregational organ rededication — with a concert by renowned improvisationist Justin Bischof, in honor of organist Rick Tripodi, who oversaw the reinstallation but died just before completion — is set for 4 p.m. tomorrow (Sunday, November 20).

Can’t make it? Click here for the livestream.

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Longtime Westporter Dick Rauh is 97 years old.

But you’re never too old to have a Westport Library exhibit.

His botanical paintings will be featured in the Sheffer Gallery, from December 5 through February 28. An artist talk and reception, with Rauh and Miggs Burroughs, is set for January 20.

“I am extremely fortunate to be granted the ability to continue to function as well as I do as the years pass,” says Rauh, who took up botanical painting in retirement, after a long career in motion pictures special effects.

“Spread along these walls are the results of what I have observed looking closely at flowers over the years. Whether in my quest for the accurate I have managed to bring a personal statement is for you to judge. It is enough for me that you will look at flowers in a way you never have before.”

Rauh won the gold medal and Best in Show awards at the 2006 Royal Horticultural Society Show in London, and his work is in several permanent collections. He has taught in the botanical illustration certificate program at the New York Botanical Gardens since 1994 and was named its Teacher of the Year in 2010. He also teaches widely in  senior centers.

Two other exhibits will be featured at the Library too: “Speak to Me” (woven art by Westporter Tina Puckett), and 8 works from the Westport Public Art Collections.

Click here for more information.

Dick Rauh, and his art.

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Westport’s Thiel Architecture + Design is known for its office, restaurant, retail and residential projects.

Now they’re known by the Connecticut chapter of the American Institute of Architect too.

Thiel’s design of a Brooklyn office will receive an Excellence in Interior Architecture award. It and 5 other designs are in contention for Connecticut Project of the Year.

The design is for a company that downsized after the pandemic. The new Williamsburg space “functions less as a ‘workhouse’ and more as a ‘clubhouse,’a gathering place where employees come together to re-energize, zoom with remote clients and collaborators, and do intermittent touchdown work.”

Thiel is currently designing the future Weston Town Green, and last year worked with the Westport Farmers’ Market on a concept for a permanent home at the Imperial Avenue lot. 

Thiel Architecture’s award-winning Brooklyn office. (Photo/Sam Sachs Morgan)

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With winter near (despite the Compo swimmers, above), Westporters are stocking up on wood.

James Parisi is one of the few who chops his own.

And probably the only one who takes such a dramatic photo of his work.

Now it will warm him 3 times: Once when he chopped it. Then when he burns it. And now, when he sees it featured as today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo.

(Photo/James Parisi)

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And finally … Happy International Men’s Day!

Yes, it’s a thing.

 

 

 

 

August Laska: A True “Broadway Bounty Hunter”

When he was in Staples Players, audiences knew August Laska as an actor. His roles included “Guys and Dolls,” “Little. Shop of Horrors,” “West Side Story” and “A Chorus Line.”

But — like many members of the high school drama program — he learned about many other aspects of theater. He directed a studio production, “Museum.” He headed up the publicity team. He watched his friends take on projects like fundraising and outreach.

After graduating in 2013, August majored in film and media at Middlebury College. He learned how to communicate with mass audiences, and discovered the connection between movies and Broadway.

August Laska

While many of his classmates joined the “Middlebury to Goldman Sachs pipeline,” he headed to Los Angeles. He worked for Snapchat and loved the West Coast, but realized technology was not for him.

A bit over a year ago, August joined Disney Theatrical Productions in New York. He enjoys his marketing work there immensely.

Thanks to his college internships in Broadway offices, an outside job recently came his way. Though he’s still in his mid-20s, August is now a co-producer.

He’s working on “Broadway Bounty Hunter.” The Off-Broadway musical — written by Tony-nominated writer (“Be More Chill”) Joe Iconis — is set to open in July.

So after his full-time, daytime gig, August spends his nights raising money to make sure that happens.

Every show needs money. There are directors, designers and creatives to hire; space to rent; sets to build — all before one ticket is sold.

There is no handbook or Wiki article on how to be a producer. August is learning by doing — and watching those who have already done it.

Fortunately, co-producing fits his skill set. And he appreciates growing up in a community that values the arts.

He’s contacting some of those Westporters right now, while raising capital for “Broadway Bounty Hunter.” (He’s also involved a Broadway show opening this summer — but he can’t share those details just yet.)

“Investing in theater is risky,” August admits. “Not every show is ‘Hamilton.’ But when it is, you make back your investment big time.

“It’s a long journey though. Its not a one-time lottery ticket.”

Show people are special people. Not everyone can act on stage.

August Laska did, at Staples. Now his action takes place behind the scenes.

But co-producers get awards beyond tickets to opening night.

“You know all those people you see on stage at the Tonys?” he asks. “They’re producers. They get a statuette too.”

August Laska Learns His (EMT) Lessons

August Laska has acted in every Staples Players show since freshman year. “Into the Woods,” “Rent,” studio productions — he’s done them all.

August Laska

This summer, the rising senior did something completely different. He spent every weekday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Bridgeport Hospital. August — and 7 other Staples students — are taking the long, tough, but very rewarding Emergency Medical Technician training course.

His mother, Jennifer Balin, earned her certification 5 years ago in Westport. Last fall, August vowed to do the same.

It’s made for quite a summer. Every night from late June on, he reads a thick textbook. The next day there are lectures, and plenty of tests. The course ends later this month, with a 6-hour practical exam, and a 200-question written one.

August calls the course “the most interesting and rewarding thing I’ve ever done.” It’s solidified his desire for a career in medicine. It’s taught him plenty — and opened his eyes quite wide.

Part of the training involved a 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift in the Bridgeport Hospital emergency room. He had class 2 hours later — but his adrenaline was pumping all night.

He saw horrific trauma — and people at their most vulnerable. He saw patients who use the ER because they have no primary care physicians. He realized the importance of emergency rooms in medicine, and can see himself working there one day.

Yesterday was something new, and special: He was invited into the operating room, to watch surgery.

As the class progresses, August says, he realizes “how little EMTs can really do” — beyond initial assessment and treatment — but also “how much they have to know.” Friends may not understand why he stays home at night studying, or how much he looks forward to waking up at 8 a.m. to go to school, but some things just can’t be explained.

He’s learning skills he can use anywhere, any time. He’s learning about expectations versus reality (“medicine is nowhere near as clean as it seems from the outside,” he notes). And he’s learning how to help and serve others.

Of all the roles August Laska has played on stage, this one off it may turn out to be his biggest.