Tag Archives: Rep. Jim Himes

From Blight House To Bright Spot: Green Honors For Hillspoint Home

For years, only one thing marred the view from Old Mill Road and Elvira Mae’s, down Hillspoint Road. There — sandwiched between handsome beach homes and the beach itself — sat a blight house.

Unkempt and untended, it looked out of place. And dangerous.

When Robin Tauck bought the property, and an adjacent lot, she wanted to maintain the traditional beach community vibe. But she’s also an ardent environmentalist.

Her vision for the blight house was to maintain the same footprint for minimal impact, while creating a model for future homes.

Working with architect Michael Greenberg and TecKnow, the Bedford Square-based company that combines automation technology with green energy products, she built an innovative “guest cottage.” (Her own, similarly designed home, is next door.)

The new Hillspoint Road home.

227 Hillspoint Road uses sustainable building practices and innovative technology. Solar and battery storage is optimized, so the house is run almost entirely off the grid.

It meets many of the standards for a Green Building Award: rehabilitation, energy efficiency, innovation, conservation, sustainability, and modeling for the future.

So the other day — around the same time the United Nations hosted its Climate Action Summit — Governor Ned Lamont and Congressman Jim Himes were in town. So was Albert Gore III, from Tesla (one of the companies TecKnow works with), environmental leaders from groups like Sustainable Westport and Save the Sound, and all 3 selectmen.

Robin Tauck and Governor Ned Lamont, on the steps of 227 Hillspoint Road.

They presented Tauck, Greenberg and TecKnow with a Green Building Award. It recognizes this project, for its contribution to sustainability.

The honor signifies one more step on Westport’s path to being a net zero community, by 2050.

And it also shows that a small, blighted house need not be replaced by a bigger, more energy-sapping one.

Especially at such a well-known, beloved and lovely spot by the shore.

Phil Levieff of TecKnow, Albert Gore III of Tesla, and Robin Tauck. (Photos/JC Martin)

I Am More Than …

For a few weeks now, the Westport Arts Center has been asking folks what they are “more than.”

Men, women and kids, old-timers and newcomers, well-known and unknown, politicians and business professionals, artists and athletes, religious figures and atheists — more than 500 people have responded.

They say: “I am more than … a housewife … my bank account … bi-polar … gay … Jewish … a twin … middle-aged … my pretty clothes … a mailman … a bald guy … an immigrant … a nun.”

They say it graphically: with words and photos.

i-am-more-than-1

The images — dramatic and strong — were taken by Xenia Gross.

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Last night, the WAC hosted an opening reception for those dozens of “As We Are” portraits, and hundreds more cards. They’re part of a larger “MORE Than Words” exhibit — dedicated to artistic expressions of gender, racial, religious, geopolitical and age inequality, along with the impact of bullying.

Guests at last night's Westport Arts Center opening reception viewed dozens of "I am more than ..." posters.

Guests at last night’s Westport Arts Center opening reception viewed dozens of “I am more than …” posters.

A picture is indeed worth more than 1,000 words.

Or 7.

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The Westport Arts Center is located at 51 Riverside Avenue. The exhibition continues through March 11. Click here for more information. NOTE: A supporting event — a SlamJam featuring dance, music, rap, poetry, spoken word and song, performed by teens with something to say about empathy — is set for tomorrow (Sunday, January 29, 5 pm) at the Westport Country Playhouse. Click here for more information on that event.

No More Nazi Flags

Jarret Liotta is a writer.  His essays and articles have appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Connecticut Magazine.  He recently completed his 1st novel.

He’s a blogger, with an incisive voice and view of the world.

He calls himself a strong advocate for free speech.

But — on the heels of an incident in Fairfield last December, when 3 masked men carrying Nazi flags and shouting obscenities tried to disrupt a public Menorah lighting — Liotta has also become a strong advocate for legislation banning the public display of the Nazi flag.

The Staples graduate has written an op-ed piece for the Minuteman.  He’s spoken with Jim Himes.

Now he’s trying to drum up broad-based support.

Liotta says:

As a writer and thinking American, I understand the value of free speech better than anyone.  At the same time, we as a society have determined that some things stretch beyond reasonable bounds of appropriateness.

We don’t allow the public display of pornography on American streets.   Why then should we tolerate the public display of a Nazi flag?  It’s a terribly potent international icon, in a class by itself for what it represents.  To me, it’s a gross aberration that an intelligent society such as our should allow it, especially in 2010.

Regarding free speech, Liotta does not understand how it deserves constitutional protection any more than a written death threat.

The events of 9/11 have prompted much less tolerance in the area of threats, regardless of the validity behind them.  Displaying a Nazi flag has an implicit threat, based on its intense history.  They don’t allow it to be displayed publicly in Germany, its country of origin.  Now, in the 21st century, in our civilized country, I see no good reason to still allow it here.

As a writer, Liotta says, he spends most of his time observing.

But when I learned about that grotesque event in Fairfield last December, I was frightened, shocked and sickened.  I think it takes some emotional passion to get one active for a cause, but I also really saw a weird illogic there — that these mutants were actually allowed to display a Nazi flag in a public park like that.  It just felt like some kind of strange mistake that somehow got overlooked — like somehow as we moved into the 21st century, someone forgot to repair this little bit of broken civil law.

Now I just feel compelled to try and help right that wrong.