Tag Archives: Earthplace

COVID-19 Roundup: Supper & Soul; Plants & Earthplace; Technology & Masks; More


“Supper & Soul” was a great, popular concept. The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce organized dinner, a concert, and dessert/drinks. It was a moveable feast, great downtown entertainment, and tons of fun.

It was also something you could do in a pre-COVID world. But — undaunted — the Chamber and Westport Library have partnered to offer a new, socially distant (but still very cool) “Stay Home & Soul” program.

The first one is next Friday (May 15). There’s curbside pickup dinner from any of 15 local restaurants, and a livestream concert by folk/roots rock band David Wax Museum. The husband and wife duo earned raves for their Supper & Soul concert last year. The opening act is Staples graduate and multi-talented musician Drew Angus.

$35 a person gets you a 2-course dinner, and access to the show. Want the concert only? That’s just $11.

$1 of every ticket will be donated to the Homes With Hope food pantry.

Participating restaurants include Dunville’s, Jesup Hall, Kawa Ni, Match Burger Lobster, Pane e Bene, Pearl at Longshore, Rive Bistro, Romanacci Xpress, Tarantino, The Boathouse, The Whelk, Viva Zapata, Walrus Alley (formerly Rothbard Ale + Larder) and Wafu.

For more information and tickets, click here.


Today would have been the Westport Garden Club‘s annual Plant Sale.

It didn’t happen. But the 96-year-old organization is not letting any grass grow under their feet.

Today they launch Friday Flowers. Each Friday, members will share pots and bouquets of colorful flowers at locations around town.

The first “flower bombing” is at Saugatuck Congregational Church. That’s appropriate — for years, the downtown landmark has hosted the Plant Sale.

The goal of Friday Flowers is to encourage a love of gardening, while respecting the current limits on public interaction. Providing fresh flowers reflects the club’s mission to participate in civic beautification, and its dedication to the community.

Photos of each week’s display will be posted on Facebook and Instagram. Anyone can post their own photos too; just use the hashtag #FridayFlowers.


Speaking of nature: Here’s an update from Earthplace.

“We cannot say enough how much we miss our visitors, families and students during these difficult times.

“Our building may be closed to the public, but we are very active behind the scenes. Our 50+ animals need daily care, our building and grounds maintenance is ongoing, and our critical river monitoring work continues. The Earthplace trails remain open. We hope you come visit and (safely) spend some time outdoors in nature!

“Meanwhile, our wonderful staff has been working hard to support the Earthplace community with online resources including stay-at-home activities and educational nature videos. Click below for a virtual visit of Animal Hall, and check out our new YouTube channel.”


Early in the pandemic, Dream Spa & Salon owner Lori Dodd got a surprising — but welcome — call.

A group of concerned, caring citizens were making anonymous donations to businesses in town. Dream was on the list.A

An attorney played Santa for a day. He delivered much-needed (and greatly appreciated) checks to places that met certain criteria:

  • Long-time Westport business
  • Owned and/or operated by Westport residents
  • Impacted by Covid-19
  • “Westport would not be the same without them.”

That last meant a lot to Lori. She cried — and was told other men and women did too when they got their donations. It helped a lot to keep her salon going.

And it’s still going. She’s got a Mother’s Day special: For gift certificates of $150, you can pick up a major spa swag bag (prepared of course by healthy, gloved and masked staff!). Just click here, then text 203-349-0680 to say you’ll be picking up the certificate and gift bag on Saturday, May 9 (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.), as opposed to the e-gift option.


Many Staples High School students have access to technology. Many students elsewhere do not.

Some of those Westporters — members of Staples’ Girls Who Code chapter –have joined a national fundraiser to provide underprivileged girls the technology they need, now more than ever. Without it — and with libraries and community centers closed — virtual learning is virtually impossible.

The effort runs through May 12. Girls Who Code’s partner Citrix will match every donation, up to $50,000. To help, click here.


Staples High School Class of 2000 graduate Shane Smith had plenty of success as an entrepreneur with Med Spa. But through a connection with one of the country’s largest laser cutters, he’s now helping provide masks to those who desperately need them.

CT (Connecticut) Masks began as a charity effort. He and partner Nuwan Foley first donated 170 masks to the Westport police department. They shared the news on social media; residents soon asked if they could buy the same type masks.

The masks are laser cut in the US, and machine packaged. That eliminates human contact, while the “no-sew” style makes them more comfortable than most. There is a lightweight “jersey” style, and a thicker “fleece” option.

Shane and Nuwan sold some, bought more, and donated even more. Up next: Norwalk Police Department, and a New York City precinct.

To order your own — and help them pay it forward — click here.

 


And finally … back in the day, Friday marked the end of a tough week. Work, school, whatever — it was all over. Time to cut loose, kick back and par-tay!

Now, Friday is just another in an endless line of similar days. You may not even know today is Friday. But it is. So cut loose, kick back, and get down with the Easybeats.

COVID-19 Roundup: Daffodils; Pink Moon; Earthplace; Easter Egg Tree; Augmented Reality; More

Thanks to the wonderful, multi-talented Miggs Burroughs for the new “06880” logo above. It will grace every Roundup from here until there’s no more COVID news to report. Fingers crossed …

Speaking of masks, here’s what the well-dressed blogger should wear. Apparently I can now look like this even at the bank.


Eileen Ward — director of the Children’s Community Development Center — writes:

“A long long time ago, as children would say (but really only last fall), we planted 1,000 daffodil bulbs in the beds along Hillspoint Road, and our entrance in back.

“Our volunteers — along with hundreds of other people Westporters — decided to ‘paint the town yellow’ in memory of people we love, and to brighten our passings all over town.

“Now, in the most bittersweet of ways, they are blooming en masse. As I come and go, to and from an empty CCDC, I remember the families and children who helped make this beautiful scene possible — and I hope and hope some more.”

The project was conceived by Debra Kandrak. Other daffodil gardens can be seen by the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge downtown, the Sherwood Island Connector, Beachside Avenue, and Project Return.

Daffodils around town.


Rindy Higgins writes: “Calling all Westporters to go outside tonight at 8 p.m. and howl at the pink moon! If the Italians can sing from their balconies to connect during social distancing, we can howl to the moon as a way to reconnect with the human pack.

“Even if it’s cloudy, there’s still the biggest and brightest supermoon of 2020 in the sky. So let’s connect to nature and each other by howling tonight at 8!”


Lisa Power provides this update on the Norwalk Hospital meal train:

The goal is to get daily meals to every unit at Norwalk Hospital (20 people each), delivered by a restaurant. It’s a win-win: feeding hard-working medical personnel, while supporting local businesses.

Many restaurants are even providing discounts for donors. Click here for a list of participating restaurants (scroll down to “General Instructions,” and to donate. Restaurants interested in being listed should email lapower2014@gmail.com.


A special shout out to Food for the Front Line who have been amazing and feeding all units at Norwalk Hosptial on Mondays. I’m hoping this Meal Train will help fill the gap on those other days.

Earthplace now has its own YouTube channel. Features include animal videos, activities to do at home, and story time. Click here to see.


The coronavirus is taking a toll even on Stew Leonard’s. Departments are shutting early — the butchers now leave at 5 p.m. weekdays — and the entire store will be closed this Easter. That’s a first in the store’s history.


Easter services may be canceled, but one tradition lives on: Jalna Jaeger’s Easter Egg tree!

For the 13th year, the 1971 Staples High School graduate has decorated a large tree on her 3 East Avenue property in Norwalk (just down the hill from Stew Leonard’s) with hundreds of eggs.

Kids (of all ages) enjoy it. “We all need something cheerful these days,” Jalna says. She provides it!


Here’s a novel way to amuse yourself (and others), during the pandemic.

Westporter Steven Kranz is a founder of Strax Networks. The new company just launched “StraxAR.” It’s “augmented reality” — and all you need is a smartphone.

Take a video. Then digitally “stick it” to any item: a logo, a painting, a stop sign…

Take a look at this video:

Strax is offering any “06880” reader the chance to submit a video (45 seconds or less). It could be a special recipe, a do-it-yourself project, even a singing dog. They’ll “stick it” to the target of your choice. Your content will be available worldwide, to anyone who “Straxes” that target.

Send your video to support@straxnetworks.com. Their crew will turn it into an augmented reality experience. And — completing the circle — “06880” will feature some submissions here. (The Strax app is available through the App Store and Google Play.)

PS: If you’d like, your augmented reality experience can lead to the home page of a charity of your choice.


And finally, this one might be a springtime cliché. But — as Jalna says above — “we all need something cheerful these days.” We can always count on the Beatles for that.

 

COVID-19 Roundup: What’s Open And Closed: New Police Procedures; Access To Health Insurance; Earthplace Ideas; Help Your Household Help; Jim Himes Telephone Town Hall, And More

Looking for an up-to-date list of what’s open, closed or semi-operating downtown? Click here for the Westport Downtown Merchants Association list.

Click here for the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce’s list of restaurants that offer takeout and/or delivery services. In addition to ordering delivery directly, Seamless, Grubhub and UberEats also deliver without personal contact. They can leave the food at the door. Payment is automatically processed through a credit card in their systems. Most Westport restaurants are participating in one or more of these services.

Another resource: FindingWestport.com. Their “What’s Open” page includes stores, restaurants, gyms, services, real estate firms and salons around town.


To protect the public and police officers during the COVID-19 emergency, the Westport Police Department encourages telephone contact, rather than visits to headquarters.

Calls made to non-emergency and emergency lines will continue to be answered as always. The operator will ask questions about the nature and details of the call, to determine whether officers are required to respond.

Officers will continue to respond to crimes in progress, violent offenses and medical emergencies. If the call does not meet criteria for response but requires follow-up, the call taker will log the complaint. An officer or detective will remotely conduct a follow-up investigation.

Click here for information on online reporting.

The records division will no longer process requests at the window. All records related inquiries should be directed to 203- 341-6001. Requested records will be sent electronically

In addition, fingerprinting services are suspended indefinitely.  ‘


Effective today, the Saugatuck and Greens Farms railroad stations buildings are closed to the public. This has no impact on normal railroad operations.

The closures are meant to keep people from congregating in close contact. It is unknown how long they will last.

The building is closed. Trains are still operating.


Westporters without health insurance can pick up coverage starting tomorrow through April 2, through Access Health CT. Click here for information. (Hat tip: Mary Jennings)


Earthplace is continually updating its website with ideas and resources for crafts, home study,  and outdoor and online activities. Click here for details.

 


Concerned reader Lindsey Blaivas writes:

Many of us have people come to our homes on a weekly basis — cleaning crews (mine are like family), babysitters (also like family), piano teachers and more.

Each have their own families and rely on their income. Please consider supporting them — for example, through Skype lessons or outdoor alternatives for cleaning crews (grills, outdoor furniture, garage cleaning). Think creatively.

Or maybe just pay them as you normally would, because they (like us) need to survive and protect their families. My cleaning people have reported many clients are cancelling without pay.

Please consider the macro impact on micro thinking. It’s not just one person cancelling — it’s everyone.


Grateful reader Deborah Green called Verizon with a question about her iPhone.  She did not want to come in, because of her age.

Manager Dominic di Pasquale — whom she had never met — answered her question. Then, remarkably, he told Deborah to call if she needed him to shop for groceries or do any other errands!

She thanked him profusely. He replied simply, “We all have to be there for each other during these times.”

She made one more call: to Verizon’s HR department, to praise their magnificent employee.


The other day, Congressman Jim Himes held a fascinating, informative telephone town hall. He’s got another one set for tomorrow (Thursday, March 19, 3:30 p.m.)

The call-in number is 855-962-0953. The streaming link is Himes.House.Gov/Live.

For answers to his most frequently asked questions, click here(Hat tip: Nicole Klein)

Congressman Jim Himes


Le Rouge Aartisan Chocolates is — like many small businesses — struggling. But owner Aarti Khosla is still thinking of others.

Customers can buy her “Give a Little Love” chocolate hearts, to send to first responders, hospital workers and others on the front lines. She’ll match whatever you buy, to let them know how much we appreciate their work.

She started by campaign by donating 100 hearts to Norwalk Hospital and EMS. Click here to donate.


The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce has extended its Soup Contest through April. They encourage everyone to try soups via restaurant takeout or delivery services.

 

 

Pics Of The Day #1045

Ceramic artist Marion Grebow — who died last week at 66 — was best known locally for her River of Names mural at the Westport Library.

But she also created “Marion’s Wall” at Earthplace.

It’s one of the top attractions at the science/conservation/education center. Every day kids stop, touch it, and look for the animals.

The wall — part of Earthplace for more than 15 years — depicts plants and animals native to Connecticut. It also shows the sanctuary, including a bear statue.

If you haven’t seen it, enjoy these photos. Then get over to Earthplace, and enjoy the real thing!

(Photos/Sophie Pollmann)

Pic Of The Day #1003

Bridge between Earthplace and Lillian Wadsworth Arboretum (Photo/Michael Tomashefsky)

How Healthy Are Our Rivers?

Westport’s waterways look beautiful.

You just don’t see the bacteria.

Harbor Watch — the Earthplace-based research and education program — has just released a study of water quality in rivers throughout Fairfield County. All 4 of the Westport rivers studied are not as healthy as they look.

Muddy Brook — which discharges into Sherwood Mill Pond — and Pussy Willow Brook, a Mill Pond tributary, exceeded state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection criteria for E. coli.

Two rivers empty into Sherwood Mill Pond. (Drone photo/Patrick Sikes)

Sasco Brook failed DEEP criteria for bacteria. So did the Saugatuck River — which, with 2 sewage spills last summer, also showed elevated Enterococci concentrations.

The good news: our rivers are pretty good in terms of dissolved oxygen. That’s an important water quality indicator, because many aquatic species rely on it for survival.

Overall, 77% of the 123 field stations studied by Harbor Watch exceeded either 1 or both of the state criteria for acceptable levels of baceria. Click here for the full report.

Pic Of The Day #961

Far from the water, at Earthplace (Photo/Mark Mathias)

Earthplace: Environmental Center Sponsors Fall Bash

One day last winter, Diana Mashia walked into Earthplace to drop off her kids for a vacation nature program.

She and a staff naturalist began chatting about environmental issues. When executive director Tony McDowell heard that Mashia had an impressive command of the issues Earthplace cares about — science, conservation and education — he did what any good leader does: He asked her to help.

Last month, Mashia — who already was active managing Sustainable Westport‘s social media — joined the Earthplace board. She focuses on the organization’s zero waste initiative, and community engagement.

Diana Mashia (Photo/Tomira Wilcox Photography)

It might seem an unusual passion for a woman who started her career as an equity research analyst. But as Mashia moved into venture capital finance, she specialized in consumers and innovation. She then founded a consulting practice, working with VC firms and startups.

Mashia certainly walks the talk. In addition to her day job and volunteer activities, she’s working on a master’s degree in management and innovation at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. She’s studying the intersection of public/private partnerships and sustainability.

“I’m a big proponent of community-building, volunteerism and engagement,” Mashia — who finds time to also be a Daisy troop leader, and dance with a local company — says.

She knows that — for all its wonderful work — Earthplace has a relatively low profile in town.

Earthplace summer campers enjoyed a downpour. (Photo/Jaime Bairaktaris)

“This is my passion project,” she says of her board activity. “Tony and his team really explore relevance in program. I love their basic idea: that humans are part of the natural world.

“We all exist in nature. But modern life often leaves us disconnected from the physical world. Being stewards for the environment, and creating better awareness, allows us to connect. It has positive impacts on human health and well-being.”

She believes it is particularly important to educate children to be stewards and leaders. They need to be inspired to seek innovative solutions to environmental problems. Mashia is “proud to live in a community that actively thinks about and finds local solutions” to those issues.

However, she notes, many Westporters think of Earthplace as primarily a pre-school, Mashia — whose own children are 6 and 3 — says.

They may not know about its environmental education and after-school programs, 60-acre sanctuary with walking trails, birds of prey exhibit and scholarships, or that it us home to Harbor Watch, the water quality project.

An Earthplace owl.

So Mashia is excited to pass along word of Earthplace’s Woodside Bash and Festival.

The big fundraiser is a 2-day event. It kicks off this Saturday (October 5, 7 to 10 p.m.) with an adults-only party. There’s a harvest dinner, open bar, live band, DJ, a “haunted trail” and the very popular mechanical bull.

Sunday (October 6, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.) is for families. Traditional fall activities include an apple slingshot, donut-on-a-tree, pool of corn, climbing wall, food trucks, animal encounters and more.

Either day — or both — are excellent opportunities to support Earthplace (and, if you haven’t already been there, discover its wonders).

Like Diana Mashia, you might even end up as a passionate volunteer.

The earth would thank you.

(For more information and tickets, click here.)

Unsung Heroes #110

A couple of weeks ago, “06880” put out a call. Earthplace had lost its longtime supplier of food. They needed $14,000 to feed their raptors.

Readers responded immediately. But 2 young people went waaaaay beyond the call of duty.

Sienna DeSantis organized a lemonade stand on the hottest Sunday of the year. She raised $250.

Sienna DeSantis, and her lemonade stand.

Rising Staples High School senior Emma Borys works in the Earthplace Animal Hall. She donated her salary from 2 holidays — July 4th, and this coming Labor Day — to the campaign.

Emma Borys at work.

The ravens, owls, hawks and eagles thank you!

(Hat tip: Sophie Pollmann. To nominate an Unsung Hero, email dwoog@optonline.net)

Earthplace Plea: Feed Our Raptors!

On any list of Earthplace highlights, the birds of prey nest near the top.

Brought to the nature center off Stony Brook Road because of injury, they’re cared for and nursed back to health. Each year, thousands of visitors — including many youngsters — marvel at them up close, and appreciate how special each one is.

They can’t survive in the wild, but find sanctuary at the sanctuary.

Unfortunately, Earthplace’s longtime supplier of food is unable to continue donating. The non-profit must raise $14,000 to keep their rescued raptors fed.

Earthplace is personalizing its appeal:

  • $25 feeds Edgar, the raven, for 2 weeks
  • $50 feeds Ladybird, the horned owl, for 2 weeks
  • $100 feeds Talon, the red-tailed hawk, for 1 month
  • $250 feeds Chatty and Cerena, the bald eagles, for 1 month.

Of course, any amount helps. Click here for more information, and click here to contribute directly.

 

Earthplace owl.