Tag Archives: Earthplace

E. Coli In Westport’s Waters: Here’s The Poop

First the bad news: Of 20 rivers in 17 Fairfield County towns, 77% exceed one or both of Connecticut’s criteria for acceptable levels of E. coli. The bacteria can indicate the presence of sewage pollution.

The slightly better news: The Saugatuck River had the lowest percentage of failing sites.

The worse news: Muddy Brook — which drains into Sherwood Mill Pond — was one of 8 rivers tied for the most bacteria. (The others: Bruce Brook, Deep Brook, Goodwives River, Greenwich Creek, Keelers Brook, Pootatuck River and Rooster River.)

The Saugatuck River gets high marks from Harbor Watch. (Drone photo copyright Ben Berkley/@youreyeabove

That’s this morning’s news from Harbor Watch. The group — Earthplace’s water quality research program — studied data from 169 stations, at those 20 rivers. They released their report this morning.

Harbor Watch director Dr. Sarah Crosby says: “The high incidence of failing bacteria concentrations shows us that there is still a great deal of work to be done to improve water quality in the Long Island Sound watershed.”

No s—.

(Click here to read the full report.)

Janet Beasley Memorial Service Set For Sunday

The life of Janet Beasley — Holocaust survivor and educator, wildlife advocate, and beloved wife of Dr. Albert Beasley — will be celebrated this Sunday (November 18).

A memorial service is set for Earthplace — an organization she served well for decades — beginning at 10:30 a.m.

Janet Beasley

Remembering Janet Beasley

Janet Beasley — the wife of Dr. Albert Beasley, and a longtime Westport resident and volunteer — died Saturday, after a long battle with cancer. She was 82 years old.

Janet was a staunch protector of wildlife, through Earthplace and other organizations. She was an avid member of the Westport Weston Family Y, where she loved swimming.

Janet and Dr. Albert Beasley

She was also a Holocaust survivor, who spoke out about the horrors she endured.  She participated in Stephen Spielberg’s project to collect testimony from survivors.

In 2013, the Connecticut Jewish Ledger profiled her. The story said:

Nearly 200 years ago, in 1826, the Jewish community of Berlin, Germany opened a school for boys, moving to a newly constructed building at 27 Grosse Hamburger Strasse in 1862. The school would thrive for 80 years, until the Nazis transformed the site into a deportation center for the city’s Jews from 1942 to 1945. After the war, under East German authority, the building was used as a vocational school.

By 1993, the city’s Jewish population had grown enough to re-establish a Jewish high school. After extensive renovation, the building opened again, this time as the Jewish High School. From 27 students in its inaugural year, the school now boasts nearly 300 students of all faiths, ranging from middle school (grades 5-7) and high school (grades 8-13). The curriculum comprises both Judaic and secular studies, with Jewish holiday observances and kosher lunch regular parts of student life.

This year, on the occasion of its 20th anniversary, the Jewish High School published a book tracing its history. Included among the articles is a story about a special visit to Westport in 2009.

In 2006, Westport resident and German-Jewish Holocaust survivor Janet Beasley donated wartime artifacts, documents, and photos to Jewish Museum Berlin. She was invited by the museum to lead workshops for two groups of German high school students on her experiences as a Jew surviving in Hitler’s Berlin. The first group comprised 13th-grade art students from the Jewish High School, led by teacher Sabine Thomasius.

Janet Beasley

In November of 2006, a workshop took place in the Archives of the Jewish Museum Berlin, where students in my art course met with Janet Beasley. Janet grew up in Berlin, the child of a Jewish mother and a non-Jewish father, and as an 8-year-old was deported to Theresienstadt with her mother. The personal memories which Janet Beasley shared with great candor and intimacy led to the creation of paintings and collages during the lessons in the classroom. These were exhibited in the Jewish Community Center Berlin during the summer of 2007.

Janet Beasley was so touched by the students’ pictures that she arranged for an exhibit in her hometown, Westport, Connecticut.

Through this exhibit and reports in the newspapers, many people in her area learned for the first time about the details of this chapter of her life story.

We were invited to the opening of the exhibit in Westport and along with the exhibit opening, we had a tight schedule of meetings arranged and supported by Aubrey Pomerance [chief archivist, Jewish Museum Berlin], Janet Beasley, [Westport artist and German-Jewish Holocaust survivor] Steffi Friedman, and the host families. We had the opportunity to meet with and have lively conversations with students from totally different social spheres as well as with youth groups from a Jewish congregation [Kulanu Stamford]. In particular, the youths in Connecticut wanted to know how Jewish life in Germany is shaped now. The program included conversations with witnesses to history as well as visits to artists in their studios and a trip to New York.

The students’ paintings, depicting incidents from Beasley’s childhood in Berlin and in Theresienstadt, were combined with artists’ statements and copies of the archival materials Beasley donated to the museum, into “Memories of a Childhood Lost,” an exhibit shown at Earthplace in Westport in April 2008.

Janet Beasley gave interviews about her experiences during the Holocaust. This is a still image taken from one.

Janet Beasley’s story is a unique one. She was born Jutta Grybski in Berlin in 1935, the child of Käthe, a Jew, and Hans, a Catholic. Jutta’s parents divorced when she was three, when Hans wanted to serve in the German army. He remarried three years later and had a son.

As long as Hans stayed alive, Jutta, Käthe and Käthe’s parents were safe, though they were rounded up every month or so and taken to Nazi collection centers, only to be released a few hours later or the next day.

In 1941, Jutta’s maternal grandfather, a decorated World War I veteran, was taken to Sachsenhausen concentration camp and shot to death. Two years later, her grandmother died in Auschwitz or on the way there.

In 1944, Hans was killed in action and Jutta and Käthe were taken to Thereisenstadt, where they spent nine months before the camp was liberated. They returned to Berlin and lived with Hans’s father, then emigrated to the Lower East Side of Manhattan in 1946. Jutta changed her name to Janet, partly because Americans didn’t know how to pronounce Jutta, partly because children had taunted her with the nickname “Jutta-Jüde,” “Jutta-Jew.” She moved to Norwalk in 1964 and to Westport in 1973, the same year she returned to Berlin for the first time since emigrating. Her mother died at the Jewish Home for the Elderly in Fairfield in 1992. Janet is married to Dr. Albert Beasley, a longtime Westport pediatrician.

“What is really weird for me is that, when the Nazis closed the school, it became a collection center for Jews before their deportation and my mother and I were sent to the concentration camp from there,” Beasley says. “I had an idea that that was the place but wasn’t sure until I read in the book’s index that it was indeed used for that purpose. It stirred some very vivid memories.”

(Click here for the Connecticut Jewish Ledger story. Hat tip: Bob Knoebel)

Westport’s Watery, Wondrous Bohemia

Westporters are used to seeing our town pop up in stories about things to do and see in the tri-state area.

But WCVB-TV — a Boston station whose viewers usually head to places like Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket and Lake Winnipesaukee — featured us in its recent “A Tank Away” series on cool spots to see.

Like a teenager, we’re always concerned with what other people think of us. Here’s how we look on Boston TV.

Westport, it seems, is a place with “celebrity status, elegant neighborhoods and an expensive [or ‘expansive’] public beach, the arts, and an immaculately groomed town center lined with restaurants and shops.”

Our “immaculately groomed town center.”

Our history is “very bohemian,” says interviewee (and Westport Historical Society director) Ramin Ganeshram.

Compo Beach and marina are a 29-acre “park.” Historical properties are “a-plenty.” The Historical Society itself is “a gathering place for the public.”

The Westport Country Playhouse gets a shout-out. So does Earthplace (with a tangent about chinchillas) and DownUnder (especially its “Paddle With Your Dog” program).

“Nature has a starring role” in Westport, Bostonians learn.

And — oh yes — we have “watery wonders.”

You can catch the entire 5 minute-plus feature on WCVB’s website.

Where the subhead is: “Paul Newman was a fan – how much more motivation do we need. We’re off to Westport, Connecticut, a mix of beach town and bohemia that’s worth a trip.”

WCVB’s perky anchors tell Boston viewers to “head west on I-84 for the shores of Connecticut.” At some point they’ll have to head south, too.

(Hat tip: Bob Mitchell)

Pic Of The Day #448

Earthplace Summer Camp: 1st mud fight of the season (Photo/Jaime Bairaktaris)

SLOBS’ Service Sunday

It’s great to be a SLOB.

SLOBS — it stands for Service League of Boys — is one of Staples High School’s most popular clubs. Over 250 boys volunteer at more than 75 community events in Westport, Norwalk and Bridgeport, providing thousands of hours of service.

They collect and deliver food, toys, books, clothes, sports equipment, school supplies, coats, hats, gloves, scarves and toiletries. They donate to Puerto Rican relief, and Staples Tuition Grants.

But their big event occurs every spring: Service Sunday. Today — for the 9th year in a row — SLOBS and their parents worked on a variety of projects. They were everywhere in town. They also donated over $5,000 in supplies to the Read and Cesar Batalla Schools in Bridgeport, and a sexual assault crisis center in Stamford.

Among the SLOBS and their sites:

Weeding, mulching and planting at A Better Chance of Westport’s Glendarcy House.

Repairing deer enclosures, cleaning the butterfly garden and bird areas, and improving trails, plus moving lots of dirt and wood to get Earthplace ready for spring and summer.

Cleaning, weeding and planting at the Green Village Initiative community garden in Bridgeport.

Cleaning a playground and pumping up bicycle tires; managing a Wii tournament for kids, and organizing the resource center and clothing area at Open Door Shelter in Norwalk.

They also weeded, mulched, planted and cleaned outdoor toys at 3 Homes With Hope properties on Wassell Lane; planted shrubs and small trees at the Smith Richard Preserve; hauled and spread compost in planting beds, turned soil, and laid irrigation lines at Wakeman Town Farm, and helped ready shopping bags for a food drive organized by postal workers in Norwalk.

So how did you spend your Sunday?

Free Saplings Today And Saturday!

The weather may not scream “outdoors!” But today is Arbor Day — the annual celebration of tree planting.

The Westport Tree Board celebrates today — and Green Day this Saturday — with 2 events.

This afternoon (Wednesday, April 25, 2 to 5 p.m.), saplings will be distributed in front of Town Hall. (The location may shift to the rear, due to Myrtle Avenue construction). They’ll be handed out rain or shine (right now, it looks like rain).

More saplings this Saturday (April 28), in conjunction with festivities at Earthplace. The Tree Board will be at the Lillian Wadsworth Arboretum (2 Woodside Lane), from 10 am to 1 p.m. It’s a chance too to walk the trails, and learn about trees on the 12 acre open space property.

This is the 5th consecutive tree sapling giveaway by Westport tree warden Bruce Lindsay, and the Tree Board. It’s first-come, first-serve basis. Species include sweetgums, sugar maples, lilacs, and Norway and white spruce. All  contain planting, and are provided through a donation by Eversource

A tree grows at Town Hall. Saplings will be given away there today.

Pic Of The Day #236

Wild black vultures look through the window of Earthplace’s Animal Hall workroom. The vultures are beginning to migrate, and have been seen in groups of 30 or more on the grounds. Staff members have seen Earthplace’s rescued vultures try to share their food with the wild ones. (Photo/Jaime Bairaktaris)

Green Your Home; Save The Planet!

Westporters care about the environment.

But many of our homes are older — real energy wasters. Even newer homes are not as energy efficient as we might think. All of us can learn more about saving energy.

A golden opportunity comes this Thursday (November 30, 7 p.m., Earthplace). Westport architects Howard Lathrop and John Rountree, and Greentek Consulting founder David Mann, will talk about building a “net zero” home for little — or no — additional cost. They’ll also discuss how to renovate a home, or replace an appliance, without breaking the bank.

“Greening Your Home: Sustainable Energy Saving Solutions” is sponsored by Earthplace, Westport’s Green Task Force and the Westport Library. It’s one more step on the road to making our town “net zero” by 2050.

This energy efficient house could be less expensive than you think.

Double Rainbow — Triple Views

Seen around Westport late this afternoon:

Above downtown … (Photo/Alexandra Rappaport)

… at the Earthplace After School Enrichment Program … (Photo/Jaime Bairaktaris)

… and of course Compo Beach. (Photo/Seth Goltzer)