Tag Archives: Church Lane

Photo Challenge #281

Every Photo Challenge has a back story. I wish I knew the one behind last week’s.

Downtown, a block of Post Road stores between Myrtle Avenue and Anthropologie (the old YMCA) seems to cut off access to Church Lane, and with it the Spotted Horse restaurant and the shops and galleries of Bedford Square.

Unless, that is, you know the “secret” short cut. A narrow alley slices alongside Urban Outfitters, connecting the 2 streets.

What’s more, the passageway is enlivened by some cool art. Most Westporters don’t know it’s there. But Tom Ryan, Andrew Colabella, Michael Calise, Stacie Curran and Seth Braunstein all identified it through Molly Alger’s reminiscent-of-an-island-somewhere photo. (Click here to see.)

How did the alley get there? Was it planned, or an accident? Who created the art — and was it sponsored or guerrilla? If you know the back story to this hidden downtown gem, let us know!

ProTip: There’s another shortcut between the Post Road and Church Lane too, just east of the alley: the parking garage. You can’t drive through anymore, but you can still walk it.

This week’s Photo Challenge is not exactly a shortcut. If you know where in Westport you’d see this, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/John Videler for Videler Photography)

Pic Of The Day #1032

Cut-through from Church Lane to the Post Road (Photo/John Videler — go to https://videlerphotography.pixieset.com/printsforsale/ to buy prints of Westport)

Bespoke Readiness Outfitter Pops Up Downtown

Reading today’s headlines is not for the faint of heart. Disasters — natural and man-made — are all around.

Westport can seem immune. But Jesse and Sefra Levin know we’re not.

Since graduating from Staples in 2003, they’ve been on a mission: prepare people around the globe to survive. They’ve brought “readiness skills” to the veteran, disaster response and entrepreneurial communities.

Now they’ve popped up in Westport.

Literally.

The twins opened a pop-up shop at 29 Church Lane. Their company — Tactivate — outfits customers with gear, and offers advice and training, for every conceivable emergency. They call themselves “bespoke readiness outfitters.”

The Tactivate pop-up shop, at 29 Church Lane.

According to their website:

From classes on how to pack and use a serious go- bag and medical kit to how to communicate when there is no cell service, we partner with you to devise custom tailored solutions and training experiences delivered by professional first responders and military veterans on and off site.

Tomorrow (Thursday, December 12, 6:30 p.m.), they offer their first event: “Tequilas and Tourniquets.” They call it “paint and sip for bad-assery.”

Suffice it to say, they’ve hacked out a path quite different from most of their classmates.

While still at Staples, Jesse ran a small guerrilla marketing operation, doing X and Gravity Games promotions for SoBe.

Jesse Levin, in Puerto Rico.

He took wilderness survival school courses, and after graduating from Babson College went straight to Panama where he launched a cultural mediation advisory firm (and got his first exposure to disaster response, during floods).

He formed Tactivate in 2010, after working with local populations, the military, government, NGOs and the private sector following the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Most recently, he helped carry out a food and water security project in the aftermath of the Puerto Rico hurricane.

Sefra attended Staples, graduated from Greens Farms Academy and Colorado College, then earned a master’s in agro-ecological education from Cornell University. She built seed banks all over the world, while specializing in designing spaces quickly.

Jesse says that the Westport pop-up store was conceived only last week. Within a couple of days — with help from the Downtown Merchants Association and Bedford Square developer David Waldman, plus his sister’s “wild outfitting skills” — they had a lease and a decorated space.

“We employ the same sort of expediency and operational efficiency required to save lives in disasters to our business ventures,” he explains.

Jesse and Sefra Levin.

He says that his survival school experience — and all that followed — has empowered him. He wants others to experience “the freedom that comes from knowing you can help yourself and others in a very serious situation.”

Disasters can bring out the best in people, he has seen. Now he’ll show Westporters how to be ready for whatever may come.

“We want to expose people to the pleasure and comfort that comes from taking proactive steps to be of better service to others when it counts,” Jesse says.

“We have big storms, the power goes out and things are going boom around us. You can live in fear, react in an uninformed way when something happens and be a liability. Or you can take simple measures to get a little training and acquire a few critical pieces of gear to make you, your family and your business ready to provide for themselves and others in a time of need.”

So there it is: tactical preparedness, pop-up style. You can find it in the heart of downtown, right between the home furnishings of Anthropolgie, and the honey at Savannah Bee.

(For more information on Thursday’s “Tequilas and Tourniquets” event, click here.)

Pic Of The Day #933

Church Lane, late afternoon (Photo/Dan Woog)

Pop (Up) Goes The Library Shop

The Westport Library’s Transformation Project roars along. It’s on schedule to be finished in June.

Of course, the library is still open. But to make sure that holiday shoppers don’t miss a chance to buy goodies from its store, the library has opened a pop-up shop.

It’s in Bedford Square — across from the Spotted Horse restaurant, and most recently the site of the CronArt gallery.

The space is filled with greeting cards, reading glasses, cards and notepads, socks and scarves, booties and onesies, toys, games, building sets, novelties, bags and pouches, jewelry, umbrellas, tech gadgets, decorative lighting, maker kits and more.

A few of the many items available at the Westport Library pop-up store …

Some items are handmade. Some are quirky. There’s something for everyone, of any age.

This being the library shop — even off-site — there are even books for sale. Fiction, mystery, coffee table, children’s books — you’ll find them all. The selection changes weekly.

The pop-up shop is open through the end of the year: weekdays, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sundays, 12-5 p.m. All proceeds benefit the Westport Library.

… and some of the books.

Pic Of The Day #520

Church Lane, after yesterday’s rain (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

Photo Challenge #188

There were many ways to describe last week’s photo challenge.

Lauren Schiller’s shot showed a few windows, and beige and tan structures.

Some “06880” readers described them as storefronts on the Post Road, across from Bank of America. Some mentioned current tenants, like Arogya. Others placed them “down the street from old Westport Bank & Trust” (now Patagonia), “between Urban Outfitters and Nefaire Spa,” and where B&G Army Navy and Chroma card store used to be.

All are somewhat correct. Congrats to Fred Cantor, Seth Goltzer, Suzanne Raboy and Bobbie Herman.

But the folks who really nailed it — that’s you Matt Murray, Elaine Marino, Jonathan McClure, Joelle Harris Malec and Michael Calise — knew that the image actually shows the backs of those stores (117-131 Post Road East, as Elaine accurately points out).

The view is from Church Lane — in front of Bedford Square.

The buildings are architecturally undistinguished. Sometimes they fade into the landscape.

But you can’t hide anything from alert “06880” readers. (Click here for the photo, and all guesses.)

Meanwhile, with Democratic and Republican primaries coming this month, now is a good time for an election-related photo challenge:

Photo challenge 2 - Grover Fitch

(Photos/Grover Fitch)

Sure, it’s been 28 years since Lowell Weicker ran for governor (and won) as a candidate of the independent A Connecticut Party.

He’s remembered best for implementing a state income tax — a much-criticized measure that nonetheless earned him the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation’s Profiles in Courage award for taking an unpopular stand, then holding firm.

The state tax is still with us. So is this sign. Where in Westport is it?

If you know, click “Comments” below. And if you have any memories of Governor Weicker, send those along too!

 

Pic Of The Day #451

A street musician, 2 art gallery receptions, a sidewalk jewelry sale, artisinal honey, comfy chairs and perfect weather — Church Lane was the place to be tonight. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Photo Challenge #178

Downtown Westport has tons of shortcuts.

You just have to know where to look.

Let’s say you bought a beautiful bedroom set at Design Within Reach (the old post office). But you also need a French press from the new Williams- Sonoma in Bedford Square.

You could cross the Post Road (carefully!), then circle all the way around Patagonia to Church Lane. You could do the same with Sconset Square.

It’s quicker to walk through the small underground parking area next to Westport Pizzeria, or cut straight through Urban Outfitters.

But the really fun way is to take the narrow alleyway between Urban Outfitters and Cotélac. It hides there in plain sight, a direct shot for those who know about it.

Yet maybe no one does. A mural painted — somehow — on the tight wall of Urban Outfitters was last week’s photo challenge. I took it earlier this month. (Click here for the photo. It’s pretty cool, if I do say so myself.)

But are the muralists and I the only people who know about the alley?

Perhaps. Only one person — one! — guessed last Sunday’s photo challenge.

And it took Staples High School senior Nicole Arellano 6 days — all the way until yesterday — to come up with the right answer.

Well done, Nicole. It was worth waiting for!

This week’s photo challenge should be easier.

I hope.

(Photo/Bob Weingarten)

If you know where in Westport you’d see this, click “Comments” below.

Friday Flashback #86

Two weeks ago, our Friday Flashback showed the unchanging nature of an important downtown crossroads.

A time traveler from decades ago would have no difficulty today recognizing the Westport Bank & Trust building (though some of the fashions at the present tenant, Patagonia, might surprise her).

Across Church Lane, the transformation of the Westport Weston YMCA into Bedford Square has altered — but not radically changed — the streetscape.

Of course, it did not always look that way.

Here’s a view of Main Street, at what was then called “The Square” (note the horse watering trough in the middle). The building on the right was replaced by the Westport Hotel — which itself was replaced in 1923 by E.T. Bedford’s gift to the town, the YMCA.

(Photo courtesy of Westport Historical Society)

Another view — looking west up the Post Road, toward the Saugatuck River — shows the building on the Main Street corner (on the right) from another angle.

(Photo courtesy of Westport Historical Society)

Check out the trolley. It provided great local transportation, with branches running from downtown to Saugatuck and Compo Beach.

And where was the trolley barn?

Somewhere on Church Lane. So — despite its current unchanging look — that area was indeed different, back in the day.

(Photo courtesy of Paul Ehrismann)