Tag Archives: Bridgeport

After The Protests: Here’s How To Help

Sunday’s “United Against Racism” protest on Jesup Green was powerful and important.

But many of the several hundred attendees left feeling helpless. What can we actually do, besides march and speak? they wondered.

Darcy Hicks heard them. the co-organizer of the event — and a longtime social justice advocate — says, “I’m a big believer in protests and rallies. But not if they just stop there.”

On Monday, she went to work. She compiled a list of ways to help.

Downtown Bridgeport — there’s a lot going on.(Photo/Gary Pivot)

She focused on Bridgeport because she and her husband — attorney Josh Koskoff — both work there.

“We love the people,” Darcy says. “It’s a vibrant city with amazing history – yet 40% of children live below poverty level.

“Having a foot in both Westport and Bridgeport makes me realize that if all of us had that experience, we would think about their needs more. It’s hard to remember people in need of you don’t know them, or even see them.”

So, Darcy says, in addition to rallies and protests — or instead of, if you are concerned about COVID-19 — here is what you can do:

1. Drive to Bridgeport. It’s not far. It’s part of our extended neighborhood — and it’s important to interact in any way we can.

If you’ve been braving Starbucks, go to Bean N Batter instead one day. Treat yourself to waffles — available for curbside pickup. BONUS: It’s owned by Staples grad Will Hamer.

Instead of going to Dunkin’, surprise your family with a box of the real thing from Daybreak Doughnuts. Tired of the usual takeout? Wait until you feast on Brazilian churrascaria from Pantanal

2. Online shoppers: Here’s a better way to support your habit! https://www.fastcompany.com/…/7-black-owned-businesses-to-s…

3. Give. I know, some people say it’s inappropriate to ask for money these days. But for those of us fortunate enough to fill our carts with 700 rolls of toilet paper, we can spare something. The ACLU is always a good place to donate. So are https://bailproject.org and www.campaignzero.org.

Here’s a list of state and local organizations I’ve compiled, with the help of BPT Generation Now! (an amazing group of people, who are making great changes in Bridgeport):

Black Lives Matter
Citywide Youth Coalition
Hearing Youth Voices
Students 4 Educational Justice
Connecticut Students 4 a Dream
Make the Road CT
Adam J. Lewis Academy
Neighborhood Studios

Some very happy Adam J. Lewis preschoolers.

4. Join these Facebook groups:

5. When the quarantine is lifted and you find yourself filling your day back up with exercise classes, pick a day to volunteer for the Bridgeport Public Schools. They need visiting readers! https://www.bridgeportedu.net/SVAB.

Or volunteer to teach English to women at Mercy Learning Center. Or help kids with their homework at The Caroline House.

There’s so much more that can be done. If you know of more ways to close the socioeconomic gap that exacerbates racism and inequality in this area, please click “Comments” below.

Dianne Wildman Burns Bids Goodbye

For decades, TV stations grudgingly followed FCC regulations about offering editorial opinions.  They were delivered at midnight by male general managers, uncomfortably discussing obscure subjects.

When President Reagan deregulated the industry, stations happily junked their editorials.

Cablevision is one of the few networks in the country that’s kept the tradition alive — in its own way.  For the past 13 years, its editorials were delivered by a very attractive woman.  Hired for that specific role, she spoke intelligently and strongly on a broad array of important topics.

Earlier this month, Dianne Wildman Burns retired.  In a television landscape filled with celebrity gossip, shouting political pundits and “reality” garbage, she will be sorely missed.

Dianne Wildman Burns

Dianne is a true pro.  After grad school in UCLA and a stint in the Peace Corps, she landed a job in radio.  KNBC-TV liked her news-writing style — and with 19 men and no women on staff, they were desperate to avoid a license challenge.  They hired her quickly.

Dianne served as an NBC News correspondent in the US and London.  She married writer/TV commentator Eric Burns, had 2 children, and worked in the Clinton White House press office.

After the Burnses moved to Westport, she joined Cablevision.  Every Wednesday and Friday, she delivered editorials.

She covered every topic.  Transportation, Long Island Sound, veterans, the homeless, the economy, crime, good news — you name it, Dianne did it.

Though she commented often on government bureaucracies and decisions, she did not swing blindly.  “People work very hard in government, and they don’t get credit for it,” she says.  “It’s easy to criticize one headline, but they labor every day.  It’s a slog.  They’re very devoted.”

Dianne adds, “I tried not to just zing.  I looked for ways to improve policy.  It’s not just about one snarky comment.”

Her favorite subjects are “anything with kids, and anything about Bridgeport.”  Youngsters are our future; as for the city, it’s “so complex,” she says.  “And I’m fascinated with its evolution from an industrial city to what it is today.”

She calls her job “wonderful,” because the focus was intensely local.  People — politicians, local citizens, folks she knows and complete strangers — reacted to nearly everything she said.

The most vociferous feedback came when she talked about highway tolls.  “The piece was just about thinking about them,” she laughs.  “But a whole lot of people told me how misinformed I was.”

Her viewers, she says, were a microcosm of Fairfield County. “They’re funny, smart, sharp and kind.  They always tried to help me understand their lives.”

Unlike a general reporter, she had time to talk with them.  And many took time to thank her for her editorials.

She wrote and delivered about 1,500, since 1998.  She came up with ideas, framed them — and made sure there were visuals and graphics to accompany them.  “Writing to pictures” was one of the hardest parts of her job.

Oh, yeah:  Each editorial had to clock in between 95 and 100 seconds in length.

In her final piece earlier this month,  Dianne said she’d been blessed with a great career.

Now she’s on to her next adventure.

“I’ve been a journalist all my life,” Dianne notes.  “I’ve loved doing this.  But journalists are by definition observers.  I might want to participate now a bit more — do something beyond just watching.”

And, she says, “I’d love to do it outside — away from a desk!”

(Click here for Dianne’s “goodbye” editorial — and an archive of others.)

Dianne Wildman Burns, in a familiar pose.