Everyone knows that our strong school system keeps property values high.
But who knew Trader Joe’s does the same?
According to the Huffington Post, a recent study found that 2 years after a Trader Joe’s opens, the median home within a mile of that store increased in value 10 percent more than others in the same town.
One economic engine…
Homes within a mile of a Whole Foods also gain value faster than others in the surrounding area.
That’s not only good news for Westport — where we enjoy both a Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.
It’s also a solution to the teardown battles. Instead of building big new homes everywhere in town, we just need to erect more Trader Joe’s and Whole Foodses!
From his 1st days at Staples High School, Jahari Dodd was a force of nature.
The very tall, very striking A Better Chance scholar took his new school by storm. He danced like a tornado — that was his role — in Players’ production of “The Wiz.” He befriended everyone, and smiled constantly. But he also spoke up and out, about social justice issues. Race and sexuality were particularly important to him.
He continued his activism at Tufts University. Jahari (now called Jay) majored in sociology, minored in English, and — starting sophomore year — blogged about college life.
Gradually, his writing became more political. This winter he wrote a cultural critique of feminism, in defense of Beyoncé.
Reposted on feminist and other blogs, it went viral. Almost immediately, a Huffington Post editor called. He asked Dodd to contribute to the site’s “College” pages.
Dodd wrote one story. But, he realized, Huffington contributors can write for any of the platforms. He branched out, covering race, gender, sexuality and politics.
Dodd’s most noteworthy piece so far was “Why I Will Never Want the ‘Same Love.'” Published under “Gay Voices” in January following the rapper’s Grammy Award, it examined how “whiteness” has come to represent “queerness.”
Jay Dodd’s photo on the Huffington Post.
The scathing critique earned Dodd hate mail, death threats, and both notoriety and fame. His own music professor — who taught the history of African American music and queer pop — sent it to Dodd to read, not realizing who had written it.
Dodd has written about President Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative for young black men (he thinks it is unhelpful), as well as gay black athletes Michael Sam and Jason Collins; the plight of liberal arts conservatives, and being a millennial.
He writes, he says, “whenever I see some ‘cultural moment’ that needs to be questioned, or pushed back.”
Though Dodd’s tone can be strident, he does not want to be perceived as angry.
Jay Dodd and his mother, at Tufts University graduation.
“I’ve been blessed to have many educational advantages,” the Los Angeles native says. “I don’t want anyone to read me, and think I’m ungrateful. Westport has gotten me here in many ways. It had a big effect on me.”
His 4 years at Staples — and in the Westport community — were important. However, he notes, “I was not as aware of cultural institutions then as I am now.”
He adds, “I’ve learned to make room in my life for questions, for new information, for conversations. I am open to growth. I hope others are too.”
Writing for the Huffington Post is not his full-time job. After graduating this spring, he works as a “community engagement fellow” at a healthcare and non-profit in Cambridge. He focuses his attention on lower-income schools.
In that job — as with his writing — Dodd’s eyes are wide open. His mind is clear. And his voice is very, very strong.
Huffington Post reports: “While jarring, Times executive editor Bill Keller told (us) that the decision to publish was ‘kind of a no-brainer.'” The photo was “pretty much the consensus” of the top editors at the paper’s 4 p.m. meeting.
… We realize, of course, that the story du jour is the debt vote — to which we devoted the lead story and upwards of four pages this morning — but there’s no reason that has to eclipse a human catastrophe in Africa. Readers can follow more than one important story at a time. Jeffrey (Gettleman, the reporter) and Tyler went to great trouble and some risk to get as close as they could to the calamity in Somalia. They sent us a harrowing story and vivid, arresting photographs. We put them before the attention of our readers. That’s our job.
Over 500 Huffington Post readers commented. Many praised the Times’ decision — and Tyler’s photo.
One wrote: “Guess it’s hard for some in their air conditioned rooms eating 3 good meals a day with a nice home to go to to see this reality huh? Shame on us.”
Another said: “How horrifically sad to be offended by the sight of a starving child. Perhaps it is the conscience of those offended that pricks them so hard they cannot stand it.”
The Times’ website includes 15 heart-rending photos by Tyler, including this one:
Last night, Tyler was interviewed on the CBS Evening News, by anchor Scott Pelley. Tyler described the dismal situation:
Everywhere in the city there are people streaming in. Particularly the thing that jumped out at me were the amount of children and how incredibly frail they were. There are women – every single one is carrying what looks like skin and bones and I honestly — there were moments that I didn’t notice that the child they were carrying was alive until they shifted and you could see that the child was moving.
The Westport resident — who in real life is a screenwriter with her own production company — is a regular contributor to the popular news site/blog that’s popularly called “the progressive counterpart to the Drudge Report.”
It’s not, of course. The news on HuffPo is actually true; the opinions far more intelligent, and the writing much better.
You can argue any of those points, of course, but 1 thing is certain: Mary Ann West nails some pretty good topics.
She began her Huffington Post career during the 2008 presidential campaign, contributing pieces to the “Off the Bus” civilian journalist project. Her big break came on August 7 of that year, when her report on TEAM Westport’s open forum — asking whether America was ready for a black president — was featured on the website’s front page.
That latter story referenced Bedroom Matters — the Westport intimacy boutique that recently closed. Mary Ann often includes Westport references — another one cited Homes for Hope as a great community response to homelessness — though her readers may be in Iowa, Israel or Istanbul. Bringing global issues to the local level — and vice versa — is a key to successful blogging.
Such writing does not come easily to Mary Ann. She is more comfortable writing long pieces. She spends a lot of time “fixing” — editing and chopping — but the results are worth it. Her words reach an international audience.
Still — and despite plenty of travel, like a recent North American tour in which she interviewed a cross-section of people about health care and the recession — Mary Ann remains committed to Westport. She is a Red Cross disaster volunteer, and is very active in the Saugatuck Congregational Church.
Among her church projects: the Farmers Market, which last year donated 10,000 pounds of goods to a Bridgeport food pantry; an upcoming fundraiser for outreach efforts and women-oriented workshops; and June’s intriguing Field of Flags (details coming soon).
Mary Ann was co-chair of Westport’s Community Gardens, back in the “raw dirt” days.
“Westport is a really good community,” she says. “It allows us all to be as creative and active as we want to be.”
Sounds like just another of Mary Ann West’s crazy progressive notions.
Last year, Nina Sankovitch read a book a day. For a full year.
You would think that after such a project she would take a much-earned rest, curling up with, say, a few good episodes of “Jersey Shore.”
You would think wrong.
The environmental lawyer spends her time maintaining Read All Day, the website that began with her reviews of those 365 books she read.
Nina Sankovitch will read anywhere.
The site now contains over 400 reviews in a wide range of categories: novels, memoirs, mysteries, short stories, teens, tennis (!), love and sex, and sorrow (interesting that those 2 categories are listed next to each other).
You can browse by authors or book title, and sign up for email alerts.
Nina has cut back from 1 review a day, to only 2-3 a week. She also links to articles on books that she puts on Huffington Post.
She is amazed that readers around the world have found her site — and contacted her with comments and book recommendations. She is having “global conversations about books” — and loving it.
In all her spare time, Nina is writing a book about her book-a-day year — why she did it, and how she leads a life of reading for comfort, pleasure, knowledge and thrills.
On Feb. 12, Nina is the star attraction at the Westport Library’s “Booklover’s Bash.” She’ll drink wine, eat cheese and talk about books with other bibliophiles.
“Read All Day”‘s tagline is: “Great Good Comes From Reading Great Books.”
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