Tag Archives: Jesup Green

Hundreds Rally Against Anti-Semitism

Over the past year, Jesup Green has been the meeting place for social justice rallies.

Black Lives Matter and Asian American/Pacific Islander rallies have brought hundreds of people — in those groups, and allies — together to denounce hatred and violence.

Last night, over 300 people — of all faiths, and none — gathered to denounce antisemitism.

Rabbis spoke — and so did other religious leaders, politicians and Westporters. Speakers described incidents around the world, and much closer to home.

The message of solidarity with victims of antisemitism, and the desire for peace in Israel and the Middle East, was strong.

A sense of purpose mixed with feelings of sorrow. Once again, a large crowd united against hate realized: There is so much work to be done.

(Photo/JerriGrahamPhotography.com)

Rabbi Shira Sklar of Temple Shalom — a Staples High School graduate — spoke. (Photo/Darcy Hicks)

Also speaking: Kanwar Singh, a member of the Norwalk Sikh temple. (Photo/Darcy Hicks)

(Photo/Darcy Hicks)

1st Selectman Jim Marpe speaks. (Photo/JerriGrahamPhotography.com)

(Photo/JerriGrahamPhotography.com)

(Photo/JerriGrahamPhotography.com)

(Photo/JerriGrahamPhotography.com)

(Photo/JerriGrahamPhotography.com)

(Photo/JerriGrahamPhotography.com)

 

Standing Up, Speaking Out Against Anti-Semitism

The recent national surge in anti-Semitic acts — including the New York area — has rattled many local Jews.

Then there was one right here in Westport.

A congregant of Beit Chaverim — born in Israel, but a longtime Westporter — arrived home to find eggs splattered on her front door.

In his sermon last weekend, Beit Chaverim’s Rabbi Greg Wall told his Post Road West congregation that the only way to fight what’s happening is to be more visible.

“Keep your yarmulke on,” he said. “If you’re intimidated, the anti-Semites win.”

Rabbi Greg Wall

Noting the importance of community involvement, he adds, “Anti-Semitism is a communal issue. As Jews, we have stood with any group that’s been denied their rights — other religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations. Now we need them to stand publicly with us.”

Working with the other rabbis, including Jeremy Weiderhorn of Westport’s Conservative Synagogue, and Evan Schultz of B’nai Israel in Bridgeport, plus the Federation for Jewish Philanthropy of Upper Fairfield County, they’ve created a very visible event.

Next Wednesday (June 2, 7 p.m.), a “Standing Together Against Anti-Semitism” rally is set for Jesup Green.

Approval came yesterday. Organizers meet this morning to plan the speakers.

Rabbi Wall knows he wants a wide range of voices.

“We hope other faiths will be involved,” he says. “Whenever anything has happened in our community, I’ve gotten support from the imam in Norwalk. I’m sure there will be many people standing with us.”

He thinks about previous rallies on Jesup Green — in the past year alone, for Black Lives Matter and against Asian-American violence — and shakes his head.

“Hate effects everyone. I look forward to a time when we won’t need rallies like this.”

(If you can’t attend, you can participate online. Click here to register.)

Roundup: Mahackeno Outdoor Center, Oystercatchers, Tulips …

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The Mahackeno Outdoor Center opens this Saturday (May 1).

And (except for the pool) it’s open to everyone — member or not — through May 31. From June 1 through September 30, the Outdoor Center is for members only.

Here’s the schedule for the first week of May:

Saturdays, May 1 and 8:

  • All day: Playgrounds, gaga pit, basketball courts, climbing wall, sports fields.
  • 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.: Yard games
  • 1 p.m to 6 p.m.: Archery, slides, pool
  • 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.: Canoes and paddleboats

Sundays, May 2 and May 9

  • All day: Playgrounds, gaga pit, basketball courts, climbing wall, sports fields.
  • 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.: Yard games
  • 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.: Slides, pool

·Monday, May 3 through Friday, May 7:

  • All day: Playgrounds, gaga pit, basketball courts, climbing wall, sports fields.
  • 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.: Slides

TBD: Archery, canoes, paddleboats

  • ·     3:00pm-6:00pm: slides
  • ·     Archery: hours TBD
  • ·     Water front activities – canoes and paddleboats: hours TBD

For more information, click here.

The Westport Y Mahackeno Outdoor Center playground.

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Single tickets for Westport Country Playhouse’s all-virtual 2021 season go on sale Tuesday (May 4, noon).

The Playhouse’s 2021 season — from June 15 through December 19 — has been reconceived as diverse entertainment, tailored for digital enjoyment. All content will be available on the Playhouse website, on-demand for patrons’ convenience. Single tickets, starting at $25 for staged productions and $20 for Script in Hand play readings, may be purchased by phone (203-227-4177) or online.

The first of 3 new virtual productions is “Tiny House,” a comedy (June 29- July 18). The second virtual production, “Doubt: A Parable” — a Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning drama runs November 2-21.

Two HD video productions from Playhouse archives will stream on-demand: “Man of La Mancha” (August 23-September 5), and another (to be announced, September 13-26).

Three Script in Hand play readings include “The Savannah Disputation” (June 15-20). The others are October 19 – 24, and December 14 – 19.

Special pre- and post-show events are planned, including virtual LGBT Night Out cocktail parties, and interactive talkbacks.

For the 2nd year in a row, there will be no audiences in the Westport Country Playhouse. But the show(s) will go on.(Photo/Robert Benson)

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Renato’s Jewelers is helping fight food insecurity — and offering a chance to win a princess cut diamond necklace, set in 14k white gold and valued at $1,700.

For every $50 donation made through Team Renato to Homes with Hope, you earn one chance to win the necklace. Click here to donate (and win?!).

Renato Jewelers’ necklace.

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Westport loves our ospreys. And our American oystercatchers.

Tina Green spotted the beautiful bird yesterday morning, at Compo Beach. She alerted Westport Parks & Recreation, to warn beachgoers to stay away.

Incubation is 25 to 27 days, Tina says.

(Photo/Tina Green)

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It’s tulip time.

Wendy Van Wie waves hello from her Cross Highway home. Say it with flowers, for sure!

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Last month, student artwork designed for the “Westport Youth Arts Collaborative: America’s Voices” project was featured at our 5 elementary schools.

If you missed it — no problem. The Westport Arts Advisory Committee has created 2 displays of lawn signs, featuring inspiring art and words from elementary and high school artists. They’re outside Town Hall and on Jesup Green, through May 5.

Student artwork on Jesup Green (Photo/Amy Schneider)

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Happy 32nd birthday to Andrew Colabella.

He’s a young Westport RTM member — but he cares about Westport (and knows its history) as if he has lived here for 100 years. Have a great day, Andrew!

Andrew Colabella, at the 2019 Memorial Day parade.

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And finally … the Levitt Pavilion has hosted some legendary fundraising benefits.

The most memorable may have been Willie Nelson. He owned the stage from his first lick, and got stronger with each song.

Near the end, I thought I saw Keith Richards hanging out near the stage. Sure enough, he ambled out, guitar in hand.

He said, “I’ve always wanted to sing with Willie.” And then he did.

Today is Willie Nelson’s birthday. Unbelievably, it’s his 88th. He — and Keith — will outlive us all.

 

 

Roundup: COVID Testing, VOTE!, Dentists, Kart Racing, More


As the number of COVID cases rises in Connecticut, so does testing demand.

This was the scene today before 7 a.m., at the St. Vincent’s Health Center site. The line of cars stretched far down Long Lots Road.

(Photo/Adam Stolpen)


Remember that “VOTE” sculpture that went up right before Election Day on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge?

It was created by Westporter Mark Yurkiw.

On Tuesday morning — as voters headed to the polls — this was all that remained:

Mark collected the pieces. He realized the damage did not come from the wind. If that was the culprit, they’d be scattered on the river. Instead, Mark says, all the letters were there on the ground.

He collected them, brought them home, and took this photo:

(Photos/Mark Yurkiw)

He calls this tryptic “Battered Not Broken.”


“Rock Paper Scissors” — the sculpture, not the game — was officially dedicated yesterday on Jesup Green. now that the official ribbon cutting has taken place.

Ann Sheffer — who with her husband Bill Scheffler dedicated the work — eloquently described how the influence of her Westport family encouraged her longtime support of the Westport Library, and how her desire to keep the arts thriving in Westport led to the establishment of the Arts Advisory Committee and the position of town curator (now filled by Kathie Motes Bennewitz.)

Dedicating “Rock Paper Scissors” yesterday (from left): Westport Library director Bill Harmer, town arts curator Kathie Motes Bennewitz, Westport Arts Advisory committee co-chair Nancy Diamond, donors Bill Scheffler and Ann Sheffer, 1st Selectman Jim Marpe. (Photo/Randa Trivisonno)

And one more election-related photo…

Anne Lowrie sent this along. The flag is in her back yard. It struck her as “appropriate for the current times: beat up but still flying.”

(Photo/Anne Lowrie)


The other day my dentist emailed me, requesting confirmation of an upcoming appointment. It prominently noted I’d be charged $50 if I canceled less than 24 hours in advance.

Then — less than 24 hours before my appointment — he emailed again. He had to cancel; his hygienist would not be in the next day.

I assume I’ll get $50 off my next visit. Right?


In early March, “06880” profiled Vivek Kanthan. The 10-year-old Westporter had just launched his (very successful) kart racing career.

A few days later, COVID-19 struck. Suddenly, his spring and summer plans were on hold.

When competition resumed, Vivek was ready. All told this year he competed in 16 races, and reached the podium 12 times.

Next year the young racer moves up a class, and faces even fiercer competition. it begins with 2 national events in Miami. Good luck, Vivek!

Vivek Kanthan, and his trophies.


Sharing a post-Halloween meal on Manitou Road:

(Photo/Francoise Jaffe)


And finally … speaking of dentists:

Jaime Bairaktaris: “I Saw Hatred Today”

Jaime Bairaktaris is a multi-talented, community-minded Westporter. On Monday the 2016 Staples High School graduate, current Sacred Heart University student and 2020 Connecticut Paraeducator of the Year witnessed something disturbing downtown. He writes: 

I’ve heard about hatred in our community. I’ve heard stories from friends, neighbors, social media and news sources. But I had not seen it myself.

This week, I think I saw it. It was ugly and deliberate, in the form of 3 middle school boys with their opinion to display, or partially formed frontal lobes to blame, or a sense of common respect to try to gain.

But there it was, plain as day.

I paused while tutoring another middle schooler. We watched the boys pull up a sign for a national political candidate from Jesup Green. They broke it into pieces, threw it in a trash bin, then took turns spitting on it before walking away, screaming to each other.

Spitting on it!

We were confused. So were the many other kids and adults sharing Jesup Green and Riverwalk tables. My student and I talked about respect, hatred, and why — regardless of opinion — we respect all things, and all people.

A nice day, marred.

We talked about better ways to share our own opinions, and how everyone’s opinion matters in one way or another.

Then we talked about how we never spit. Not during a pandemic, not on a sign, not at another person. Not ever.

As we talked, a group of middle school girls retrieved the sign from the trash. They placed it back on the lawn.

My student and I talked about how there are helpers everywhere. We talked about why we need to restore the good that is sometimes taken from a community, and how sometimes it is taken by people who may not realize they’re doing it — or may not care.

I wish I could have thanked those girls. Not just for putting back the sign, but for caring. For teaching us a positive lesson. And for reminding us that the majority of kids who hang out downtown do care.

But then the boys returned. They ripped the sign from the ground again, threw it onto Jesup Road, and took turns jumping on it. Then they flung it onto the middle of Jesup Green, before finally leaving.

Those boys did not care.

I wish I could have said something to my student, to everyone around us, to the girls who tried to help — something that could have made the situation better.

But I was at a loss. So I went back to our social studies. The hum of conversation and COVID-era working returned to the green.

I reported the incident to the police, so it’s on record. But I don’t know who those 3 boys are. I only know they don’t care. I don’t know their names, their families, their hobbies, their strengths, who they’ve helped in their lives, or who looks up to them.

I don’t know any good things about them. I only know that they destroyed a sign on Jesup Green.

Is this bigotry? Impulsivity? Stress? Lack of education? Too much media? Am I a snowflake? Or a Karen? Do I care too much? Did I not care enough to stop them? Is this a non-issue? Or is this a real probme.

This is not a case of “kids being kids.” The majority of those I see on their skateboards, scooters or bikes, in the deli or on the green, are energetic, loud, and — most importantly — respectful.

They’re doing what they should be doing: having fun, while learning how to make their own choices.

These boys made their choices. They chose hatred.

So I can’t help but wonder: How do we fix this?

Photo Challenge #295

After thousands of Westporters spent hundreds of hours squatting on Jesup Green and the Westport Library steps after Tropical Storm Isaias, conducting essential business or watching movies thanks to the library’s free WiFi, I thought more readers would recognize last week’s Photo Challenge.

Seth Schachter’s shot showed a sculpture resembling 3 bowling balls. It’s actually part of the Westport Library’s logo — and it sits, appropriately, at the top of Jesup Green, adjacent to the police station parking lot and a few yards from the library. (Click here for the image.)

Susan Iseman, Pat Saviano, Valerie Smith-Malin, Jo Ann Flaum and Amy Schneider were the 5 who nailed the challenge.

FUN FACT: The 3-dot logo is replicated on the clock that hangs outside the children’s section, visible from just about everywhere on the main floor.

Today’s Photo Challenge is our first ever two-fer. The images are both gorgeous — but they show different spots. If you know where in Westport you’d see both scenes, click “Comments” below. You must correctly identify the 2 sites, in order to “win” our non-existent prize.

(Photo/Lauri Weiser)

(Photo/Patricia McMahon)

Pics Of The Day #1209

Two views of Westport, 4 days after tropical storm Isaias rolled through town:

The National Guard rolls in on Greenlea Lane …  (Photo/Sandy Rothenberg)

… and Ellen Wentworth took this intriguing view of Jesup Green today, while enjoying a cool breeze (and the Westport Library’s WiFi)

Pics Of The Day #1206

Jesup Green was the place to be today, post-Isaias …

… or the library steps …

… for internet access, hanging out, or even a ukulele concert (Photos/Miggs Burroughs)

Pics Of The Day #1199

The other day, “06880” photographer Lauri Weiser took a stroll downtown. Here’s what she saw:

(Photos/Lauri Weiser)

2nd Group Protests Racism, George Floyd’s Death

Yesterday’s Jesup Green protest against the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd — and systemic racism in America — was planned in just 48 hours. It was well publicized.

This morning, another protest took Westport by surprise.

A group of 100 or so mostly young people — many wearing black, all wearing masks, and reportedly from several area towns — gathered at Jesup Green.

Westport Police closed traffic, and helped them cross the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge safely.

Westport Police Chief Foti Koskinas helps the group cross Jesup Road.

The protesters headed west on the Post Road toward Norwalk, then returned. With a police escort — chanting “Get off my neck! Black lives matter!” — they returned to Jesup Green.

Right now (1:30 p.m.), they are massed in front of the Westport police station. Norwalk police were on hand to assist.

(Hat tip: Chip Stephens)