Tag Archives: Sustainable Westport

Sustainable Westport: Town Needs “Holistic Transportation Plan”

Sustainable Westport inspires, supports and connects residents, organizations and the town on our goal to becoming a Net Zero community by 2050.

The non-profit advises the first selectman, Westport Public Schools, commissions and departments on determining and setting environmental policies and decisions, to transform Westport into a more sustainable community.

Co-directors Gately Ross & Johanna Martell say:

As commuters head back to work after summer vacations and school drop-offs and pick-ups resume, it’s hard not to notice the recent uptick in traffic throughout Westport.

The major roads in town are a mess of congestion most of the day. Traffic is not only frustrating and inconvenient, but also terribly unhealthy for us and our local environment.

Just another day downtown.

Did you know that the promotion of clean and convenient choices for transportation is one of the 5 pillars that Sustainable Westport identified as critical for the town of Westport to address to reach its goal of becoming a Net Zero community by 2050, or sooner?

Sustainable Westport works to educate the community about the harmful health and environmental effects of idling, promote the adoption of emission-free EV cars and buses, and advocate for the use of public transportation and rideshare options like Wheels2U.

Our transportation efforts pair nicely with Bike Westport, a new grassroots organization dedicated to making our town more bike and pedestrian-friendly.

The benefits of biking and walking extend far beyond the environment; our health, both physical and mental, age-appropriate independence, and increased community are also benefits that the residents of Westport wholeheartedly endorse.

Imke Lohs, Adam Ganser and Markus Marty of Bike Westport. 

As counsel to the municipal government, Sustainable Westport recently wrote a memo of support regarding an additional increase to railroad parking fees as an opportunity to begin the conversation about developing a holistic transportation plan that supports our collective goals.

The town administration, Representative Town Meeting and Board of Education need to develop a more comprehensive transportation plan that includes a highly connected, zero pollution, zero carbon transport system, including commuter shuttles and ridesharing, as well as biking, footpaths, and pedestrian walkways.

Although our town has set a formal resolution to reach Net Zero by 2050, we lack an actionable, comprehensive plan to get there. As we look around at the increasing traffic and inability to get from Point A to Point B in Westport in a timely manner, let’s demand that our leaders seek out collaborative and innovative solutions to move us forward. 

 We will continue to keep you posted on our collective progress.


Roundup: Patagonia, Police Scam, Heat Pumps …

One of Westport’s most iconic locations will soon have a new tenant.

A “For Lease” sign on Patagonia leads to this listing for 87 Post Road East — the 1909 Westport Bank & Trust building that’s now home to the clothing chain:

Located at the intersection of Westport’s busiest retail corridor of Main St, Post Rd and Church Lane, this landmark building is a standout location visible from all points that vehicle and pedestrian traffic enter the downtown. Located adjacent to Urban Outfitters and across from Anthropologie and Barnes & Noble. Space consists of 6,200 SF on grade on Post Rd, with and additional 1,650 SF of retail on lower level, accessed internally from selling floor. Historic charm abounds with high ceilings, and 10′ Palladian windows!

It’s a 5-year lease. Rental rate and type are negotiable.

(Photo and hat tip/Eric Grossberg)


Several residents got phone calls yesterday from 203-341-6000: the Westport Police Department non-emergency number.

Someone claiming to be from the WPD told whoever answered that they were being called on a recorded line, and had missed a court subpoena.  The citizens recognized the calls as scams, and contacted the department.

The Police say, “We believe the end goal of these calls was to have the recipient send money or gift card information as payment for a fine or to avoid arrest. The Westport Police Department does not accept payment for any services, fees, etc. over the phone.

“Residents should hang up and contact our non-emergency number if they ever have a question regarding the legitimacy of a call from someone identifying themselves as a member of the Westport Police Department.”


Sustainable Westport is launching a 3-part energy learning series. The programs will bring together experts with Westport residents who have upgraded their homes with heat pumps/solar/geothermal.

The sessions (reception at 6:30 p.m.; presentation and Q-and-A, 7 p.m.) include:

  • All About Heat Pumps: October 3 (Click here to register)
  • Everything Solar: November 7
  • Going Geothermal: December 5



A ground-breaking exhibit at United Nations headquarters, featuring Miggs Burroughs’ “Signs of Compassion” — 30 lenticular photos, showing local residents using sign language to recite Emily Dickinson’s poem of the same name, and Yurkiw’s accompanying Braille “prayer wheel” mantra, based on those he saw in Bhutan (including a wheelchair-accessible element) — opens next month.

The 2 works will be displayed on and next to a 102-foot curved wall.

Ever since the United Nations moved into its Manhattan headquarters in 1951, the lobby’s rotating art exhibit has been sponsored by member nations. For what is believed to be the first time, the featured works are offered by individual artists.

This is also the first time that Connecticut artists are featured at the UN.

The exhibit was made possible by individual donors. “06880” helped raise $18,000 fpr producing, printing and mounting the 30 large lenticular images; materials for the “prayer wheel” sculpture, and security for the reception (a UN requirement).

It is open to the public from October 10 to November 20, weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Miggs Burroughs’ lenticular images on the , and Mark Yurkiw’s Braille wheel (right).


The other day, the  Greens Farms Garden Club celebrated their third fruitful Growing for Good Project.

Thirteen harvests from Wakeman Town Farm and Prospect Gardens were delivered to Mercy Learning Center. The first was 17 pounds in June; by this month, the harvest was 75 pounds.

Members fought pests, protected their crops, fertilized vegetables, and plowed through the hot summer to produce the produce.

From left: Greens Farm Garden Club  member Chen Yang, president Maybette Waldron, Prospect Gardens landscape designer Cindy Shumate, 1st Selectwoman Jennifer Growing for Good chair Jacque O’Brien.


This is the 29th year for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer of Fairfield County.

At least one participant has been involved with every one.

Denise Lucarelli says: “29 years ago, I was assisting at the front desk when the phone rang. The young lady began to explain that she was from the American Cancer Society, and they were sponsoring a new walk in Westport.

“I stopped her and said we would be glad to participate, since we are a radiology practice and early detection does save lives. She was amazed, and thought it would be much harder to convince me.

“We both laughed. Since that cold call, Advanced Radiology’s physicians, staff and family members have attended this vital and awesome walk every year.”

The walk draw approximately 5,000 walkers annually to Sherwood Island State Park in October (Breast Cancer Awareness Month). Participants include healthcare systems, youth organizations, local and national businesses, and community teams (often honoring or memorializing survivors).

This year’s event is on Sunday, October 15 (9 a.m.). Click here to register, and for more information.

The American Cancer Society also sponsors a Men Wear Pink campaign. Participants are asked to raise at least $2,500; wear pink every day in October, and raise awareness through social networks. Click here for more information.


The Smart Walk for Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities is a family event celebrating the strengths of children with learning and attention differences.

This year’s walk — the 4th annual — will include volunteers tossing colored powder as participants stroll by.

It’s set for October 1 (noon to 3 p.m., Sherwood Island State Park).

Children will also enjoy critters from Stamford Museum & Nature Center, bridge building with 3DuxDesign’s Team STEAM, Sasco River Center sensory stations, glitter tattoos, crafts, photo booth, lawn games, refreshments, ice cream and more.

Parents and caregivers will learn about resources, and experience community.

Children’s author Sivan Hong will read from her “Super Fun Day” books. Also planned: a youth chorus performance and youth speaker.

Participants walk the 2-mile route along Long Island Sound at their own pace. Registration fees are $15; $10 for children ages 6 -12; free for 5 and under. Strollers are welcome. For information and registration, click here


Westport Tilt Parenting is a support group for parents of neurodivergent children.

They’ve partnered with the Westport Library to host Debbie Reber. The educator, author and advocate for understanding and embracing neurodivergent youngsters will speak at the Library on November 28 (7 p.m.).

Her topic: “Understanding and Embracing Differently Wired Kids.”

Westport Tilt Parenting says that at least 1 in 5 youths are in some way neurodivergent (ADHD, learning disabilities, autism spectrum, gifted, sensory issues, anxiety and more).

However, they are often misunderstood. Current support strategies may be misguided; their strengths and gifts can be overlooked.

All parents of neurodiverse and neurotypical children are invited, as are teachers, administrators and interested others. Click here for more information. To learn more about Westport Tilt Parenting, email  alexandre.acupuncture@gmail.com.


Comic art, deconstructed case-bound book boards, and visual mixed media all grace the walls of The Westport Library gallery spaces this fall. Local featured artists include Marc Zaref, Niki Ketchman, Rowan MacColl and Connor McCann.

Coinciding with the Neil Gaiman StoryFest keynote conversation (Friday, October 20) is the visual companion in the Sheffer Gallery, “Panels & Gutters: The Comic Art of Rowan MacColl and Connor McCann.”

The exhibition celebrates the form storytelling in comic art featuring MacColl’s and McCann’s illustrations with added panels demonstrating their conceptual and technical process. The graduates of Staples High School and Rhode Island School of Design are navigating the art scene with great success.

The opening reception and artist talk (Thursday, October 19; reception 6 p.m.; artist talk, 7 p.m.) will reunite MacColl and McCann reuniting their former art teacher, Katherine Ross.

“Cascade 2023,” by multidisciplinary artist Zaref, features an installation of recycled, deconstructed case-bound book boards.

The South Gallery hosts Ketchman’s “Resinations,” with mixed media resin visual works.

Rounding out the Library’s art activity is the Westport Artists Collective Affordable Art Trunk Show and Sale. It’s Sunday, October 1 (11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Library lower parking lot).


Forty Collective members will display their work out of their car trunks. All art is for sale, at affordable prices. ‘

A new family planning book by Westporter Dr. Mark Leondires goes on sale November 14.

“Building Your Family: The Complete Guide to Donor Conception” covers the complex medical and emotional considerations of becoming a parent, from choices (egg, sperm or embryo donation), through selecting a donor, through dealing with the ethical and practical dilemmas of parenthood.

Leondires is the founder and medical director of Illume Fertility. For more information and to pre-order, click here.


Butterflies are free.

And at Burying Hill Beach, they don’t have to worry about fences.

Johanna Keyser Rossi spotted this monarch flitting about yesterday. It did not land, but she “captured” it for posterity — or at least, for our daily “Westport … Naturally” feature.

(Photo/Johanna Keyser Rossi)


And finally … his name was not well known, but he “entertained” millions of music fans.

Bobby Schiffman, who led Harlem’s Apollo Theater in the 1960s and early ’70s, when it became a storied venue — died last week in Florida. He was 94. Click here for a full (and fascinating) obituary.

And — though after Schiffman’s time — here is Weston’s own Keith Richards, playing at the Apollo too:

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Sustainable Westport: Save Gardens AND Build A Sustainable School

Sustainable Westport began as a municipal task force, appointed by First Selectman Gordon Joseloff in 2006.

Its mission is to “inspire, support and connect residents, organizations and the town of Westport, in furtherance of the town’s resolution to become a Net Zero community by the year 2050.

“Sustainable Westport advises the First Selectwoman, Westport Public Schools, town commissions and departments on determining and setting environmental policies and decisions for the purpose of transforming Westport into a more sustainable community.”

Now a non-profit organization, Sustainable Westport has watched the debate over the future of the Westport Community Gardens and Long Lots Preserve. The group says: 

We are inspired by our community’s response to the Long Lots Building Committee’s consideration of plans to relocate the Westport Community Gardens and Long Lots Preserve.

As hundreds of residents have already stated, the Community Gardens are a valuable community asset. Not only do they support exceptional programs like Grow-A-Row [providing food to underserved communities], but they are also emblematic of the type of spaces Westport wants to promote and foster – a natural resource that provides flood storage, wildlife habitat, and tree canopy while also providing an educational and enriching environment for our community.

Sustainable Westport wholeheartedly supports preserving the Community Gardens and building a sustainable school to support our town’s commitment to use best efforts to become a Net Zero community by 2050.

As a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting individuals, businesses, and our town government in making changes to reduce our overall carbon footprint, Sustainable Westport recognizes the immense opportunity this project represents for our community; Westport has not built a new school from the ground up since 2001, and prior to that, not since 1965.

In a recent letter to the Selectwomen and the Representative Town Meeting, Save Westport Now shared several important observations about proposed plans to relocate or modify the Community Gardens and Preserve. Although Sustainable Westport was not invited to participate in the committee, our team has made every effort to attend all public committee meetings and has used our platform to encourage our community to make their voices heard.

Since last October, Sustainable Westport has shared informative content both with the committee and the public to educate residents about the advantages associated with constructing a sustainable school.

Sustainable schools deliver significant health, educational, financial, and environmental benefits to students, teachers, and communities. Not only are sustainable schools more energy efficient, leading to lower operating costs, but they also provide learning spaces that significantly improve the wellness and productivity of those in and around the building. Learn more here.

We also strongly advocated for sustainability to be included as a primary objective for the Long Lots Building Committee. In fact, the resolution appointing the committee includes the directive to incorporate “sustainable and energy efficient design practices to the extent possible into the scope of work as appropriate to achieve the best long term value for the town, in support of the 2017 resolution committing Westport to use best efforts to become a Net Zero community by 2050.”

Long Lots Elementary School was build in 1953, and renovated most recently 50 years ago. It is energy-inefficient today. (Drone photo/Brandon Malin)

We have been pleased by the committee’s willingness to explore sustainable options for each potential outcome: renovate, renovate and expand, or build new. Most considerations focus on energy, including solar, geothermal, ground-source heat pumps, and insulation.

However, we have also heard discussions about installing dishwashers (to reduce the single-use waste), induction stovetops, using mass timber and concrete to lower embodied carbon, implementing rain gardens and sustainable landscaping, and using grey water or a retention pond for irrigation. As these examples illustrate, the umbrella of “sustainability” is complex and far-reaching.

Our ask is simple.

Please extend your energy and enthusiasm beyond protecting the Community Gardens and Long Lots Preserve, a long-standing example of our community’s commitment to sustainability, by also advocating for establishing a school that aligns with the Town’s objective of achieving Net Zero status by 2050.

Let us work together to encourage the Long Lots Building Committee to both preserve our existing natural resources and create new infrastructure that reinforces our shared dedication to sustainability.

Gately Ross & Johanna Martell
Co-Directors, Sustainable Westport

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Roundup: Baron’s South, Harvest Restaurant, Cooling Centers …

Today’s meeting of the Planning & Zoning Commission’s Zoning Regulation Revision/Sustainability Subcommittee (Wednesday, July 26, noon) opens with an interesting agenda item.

“Presentation of Affordable Housing Concept for the Adaptive ReUse of Existing Residential Structures at Baron’s South” is part of the P&Z’s 5-year affordability plan.

The subcommittee will explore the possibility of using existing town-owned residential properties for affordable housing.

Though much of Baron’s South — the 22 acres of land between South Compo Road and Imperial Avenue — is hilly and wooded, it includes structures like “Golden Shadows,” the late Baron Walter Langer von Langendorff and his wife’s former home.

It was used most recently by the Westport Library to store books, but has largely been in a state of disrepair.

Click here for a Zoom link to today’s meeting.

“Golden Shadows”


The owners of 6 Connecticut restaurants will pay over 100 workers more than $858,000 in back wages and damages.

One is in Westport: Harvest.

A US Department of Labor investigation found that employers violated overtime and record-keeping regulations, including compensating managers from tip pools for regular employees; failing to pay employees for all hours worked, and not paying employees 1 1/2 times regular pay for working over 40 hours a week.

Kleber Siguenza was cited as having an ownership interest in all 6 restaurants. He was in the news earlier this week when a court ruled in his favor, as the rightful co-owner of Weston’s Cobbs Mill Inn(Hat tips: Allan Siegert, Karen Jennings)

Outdoor dining at Harvest restaurant, on Railroad Place.


With a heat advisory in effect for the area through Sunday morning, Westport’s Office of Emergency Management has opened 5 cooling centers:

Emergency Management director Nick Marsan offers these tips:

Stay cool: Keep your body temperature cool to avoid heat-related illness

  • Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible. If you must be outdoors, try to limit your outdoor activity to the morning and evening.
  • Find an air-conditioned shelter. Do not rely on a fan as your primary cooling device.
  • Avoid direct sunlight.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Take cool showers or baths.
  • Pets that cannot be brought indoors should be provided ready access to water and shade to keep them cool.

Stay Hydrated: Because your body loses fluids through sweat, you can become dehydrated during times of extreme heat

  • Drink more water than usual.
  • Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink more fluids.
  • Drink two to four cups of water every hour while working or exercising outside.
  • Avoid alcohol or liquids containing high amounts of sugar.

This will not be the weather over the next few days. (Photo/Dick Kalt)


The Westport Country Playhouse is almost there.

The historic theater announced yesterday that they are just $200,000 short of their $2 million “Save Your Playhouse” goal. The campaign ends Monday, July 31.

Over 300 donors have contributed or pledged $1.8 million. The aim is to transform the 92-year=old Playhouse into a center for a wide array of performances that appeal to a broader audience, while continuing to produce high-quality theater.

“While there’s a deep respect for the Playhouse history and what it is today, there’s also an eagerness for growth, change, and the next chapter,” says board chair Athena Adamson.

“We are listening; we care about what the audience wants to see on the Playhouse stage. In turn, the audience is stepping up to offer their support.”

Beginning in 2024, the Playhouse will be a performing arts center from January through August. Presentations will include single night events like cabaret, comedy, music, play readings and speakers. From September 2024 through March 2025 the WCP will mount 3 theatrical productions.

“The community is changing and we must adapt our programming,” Adamson says. “We won’t lose our theatergoers; we simply are looking to increase our audience by offering more entertainment options. Our board of trustees wants the Playhouse to be here for the entire community, with performances on stage to appeal to everyone.

For more information on the fundraising campaign, click here. For naming opportunities, email development@westportplayhouse.org.

The Westport Country Playhouse is just $200,000 shy of its $2 million fundraising goal.


Sustainable Westport is our town’s environmental eyes and ears.

The other day, they noticed — and gave a shout-out to — the Police Department’s use of electric vehicles.

They’ve added 2 new EVs to their fleet — an all-terrain utility vehicle and an electric motorcycle — and expect a third Tesla patrol car this summer.

Earlier, the WPD purchased 7 plug-in vehicles: 2 Tesla patrol cars (Models 3 and Y), a Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid, a Honda Clarity PHEV, a BMW i3 battery electric vehicle, and a Ford Interceptor conventional hybrid patrol car.

The new all-terrain utility vehicle is powered by 6 12-volt batteries, lasting 8-12 hours. Though it looks like a golf cart, the vehicle can drive across terrains (including sand) and includes a winch for heavy-duty applications. It is used often at Compo Beach and Winslow Park.

The Zero electric motorcycle will be used for parking and traffic enforcement. It contains a 17.3 kWh battery, and has a range of 183 miles in the city and 85 miles on the highway.

In 2019, Westport Police purchased their first electric patrol vehicle, a Tesla Model 3, for $52,000. Over a 4-years it is projected to save the town $50,000.

Tesla vehicles also are expected to provide a longer service life: 6 years is the projection compared to 4 of Ford Explorers. The WPD hopes to actually get 8 years.

“Kudos to the Westport Police for continuing to be a leader amongst police departments and municipalities nationwide,” Sustainable Westport says.

The Police Department’s Tesla Model Y, and all-terrain utility vehicle.


Westport’s sister city with Lyman, Ukraine began with a suggestion from our friends in Marigny, France — our much longer-established other sister city.

That relationship began right after World War II. Bonds tightened as we helped the Normandy town recover. Marigny has never forgotten Westport.

When we were planning LymanAID — the celebration/fundraiser earlier this month, at the Ukrainian American Club — our Marigny amis sent gifts for a raffle: 3 gorgeous books, sweatshirts and calvados.

One of those books has been donated to the Westport Library.  “601 Communes” includes a history and photos of Marigny. It’s accompanied by a letter — in French and English — from author René Gautier.

The library will display both soon.


Rachel Suggs is a rising junior at the University of Chicago. The 2021 Staples High School graduate is double majoring  in law, letters and society, and Middle Eastern languages and civilizations.

Last summer and this, she’s internet at the Jerusalem law firm Decker, Pex, Ofir & Co., which specializes in immigration law.

She’s seen the current political upheaval up front. She wrote this piece for The Times of Israel: “Israel Must Ratify a Constitution, Protests Prove” (click here to read).

This is not Rachel’s first Times of Israel article. She previously discussed Israel’s quota for non-Jewish Ukrainian refugees and the right to abortion.

Rachel Suggs


Robin Clark has been selected for another term as Westport Woman’s Club president.

Under Robin’s leadership this year, the WWC awarded over $100,000 in community service grants, scholarships, and food supplies to those in need.

She has personally raised tens of thousands of dollars for food drives, collected and shopped for food donations, and volunteered countless hours helping others.

Robin gives much of the credit for her community work to her employer, Westport National Bank, where she is vice president and branch manager.  The bank is a strong supporter of employee volunteer initiatives.

Robin Clark


The view in and around the Levitt Pavilion is almost as great as the show itself.

Johanna Keyser Rossi spotted these flowers — just in time for today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature.

(Photo/Johanna Keyser Rossi)


And finally … as the heat settles in, let’s listen to the very cool Sly & the Family Stone:

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Sustainable Westport Directors Chart Net Zero Path

Everyone talks about sustainability. We all want our planet — and town — to continue existing, without depleting our natural resources.

There’s even an organization — Sustainable Westport — with the word in its name.

But not many of us know exactly what that is, or what it does.

Johanna Martell and Gately Ross do.

Johanna Martell and Gately Ross.

They’re co-directors of the organization. After its formation in 2006, when 1st Selectman Gordon Joseloff appointed a Green Task Force, the volunteer group proposed and helped enact policies to help reduce Westport’s carbon footprint.

In 2017, the Representative Town Meeting passed its recommendation for the town to become Net Zero by 2050. 

To expands its reach, the Green Task Force separated from the town, and was rebranded as Sustainable Westport in 2020.

While remaining financially and operationally independent, the organization moved under the umbrella of Earthplace, a non-profit committed to building passion and respect for the natural world.

This year, Sustainable Westport separated from Earthplace to become a 501(c)3 itself, with its own board of directors and staff.

But the mission of Sustainable Westport has not changed. The goal is to inspire, support and connect residents, organizations, and the town of Westport to use best efforts to become a Net Zero community by 2050.

Martell joined Sustainable Westport after a career largely in commercial real estate. A local resident since 2013, she realized during COVID that she wanted work with more meaning. Her friend Nico Eisenberger suggested Sustainable Westport.

Martell had taken environmental law in college. And though she had never worked for a non-profit — “and for no money,” she says — the fit seemed perfect.

Ross — whose career was in veterinary medicine, but had a marine conservation background, and who moved to Westport in 2007 with the first of her 3 children — was also looking to get back in the work force, and knew she’d work well with Martell.

At that point, Sustainable Westport was best known for its Zero Food Waste Challenge. Ross’ involvement began with the first composting class, at Greens Farms Elementary School.

In 2019, Greens Farms Elementary School students avidly joined the compost effort.

But there is a whole new group of Westporters — parents with school-age children — who know little about Sustainable Westport. Ross and Martell were eager to tap into that network.

It’s been harder than they thought. Though the schools have been champions for sustainability since before the two got involved, efforts have been siloed.

In their first year as directors, Martell and Ross tried to go through PTAs. But they realized that’s only one approach.

“We needed both top-down and bottom-up,” Ross says.

They’ve begun meeting with personnel throughout the Westport Public Schools. They’ve expanded their reach to other stakeholders: Wakeman Town Farm, the Westport Farmers Market, RTM Environment Committee, town departments and more — including 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker and operations director Tom Kiely.

Westporters flock to the Farmers’ Market. They do their share to educate shoppers about sustainability.

The goal is to get “all the different groups talking with each other.”

“Planning and Zoning, Public Works — everyone needs to think about sustainability,” Martell notes.

“We know it’s hard to add more to people’s plates. But we can provide them with information and resources, to help in any way we can.”

“We want to engage more people — especially young families,” adds Ross. “They’ve got kids who are growing up. We want them to think about what their town and planet will look like in the future.

“We know people can be disinterested or, on the other hand, can feel overwhelmed. But the first step inspires the second, and the third. Then you can see, you’re making a difference.”

So are Sustainable Westport’s (unpaid) co-directors optimistic or pessimistic that their organization is making an impact?

“It depends on the day,” Ross admits. “Some things are frustrating. Naively, we thought the process would be easier and faster.”

“Things can be controversial,” says Martell. “This is a very engaged town. People have opinions about everything.”

Still, Westport — the first municipality east of the Mississippi River to enact a plastic bag ban, which followed up with a plastic straw ban — is seen as a sustainable leader, despite the difficulties of enforcement.

“Other towns look to us,” Ross says.

So Sustainable Westport keeps moving forward.

In January, they launched “Refill Not Landfill.”

The program encourages residents to use reusable mugs at coffee shops to reduce waste, combat climate change, and help support small businesses.

At checkout,  participants scan a QR code to enter their name and email. Five refills (at any location) qualifies for a monthly raffle.

“We all carry water bottles. Why not coffee cups too?” Martell asks.


“Coffee cups are not recyclable. That’s a huge generator of trash that we’re addressing.”

Participation is “fantastic” by 15 local coffee shops, cafés, markets and restaurants.

But not enough residents have joined in.

Gately Ross and Johanna Martell keep plugging forward — one coffee cup, compost pile and paper bag at a time.

They’re in it for the long haul. And they’ve got their sights set on that Net Zero town target: 2050.

(To learn more about Sustainable Westport, click here.)

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Participants in Sustainable Westport’s “Refill Not Landfill” program

Sustaining Recycling

Most Westporters care about the planet. We want to do the right thing.

But we’re busy. And we don’t always know how.

Sustainable Westport has our back.

The non-profit organization — which supports Westport’s goal of becoming net-zero by 2050 by educating and assisting the town, residents and businesses to adopt sustainable practices — knows that recycling is confusing.

knows that recycling is confusing.

There are so many ways to recycle. So many dos and don’ts. And so much stuff to recycle to begin with.

What goes in the single stream blue bins? What must be left out? What can’t be recycled at all?

(Photo/Bob Weingarten)

Sustainable Westport says:

Items that cannot be processed by our local facility often ends up there with good intentions. People are unaware or unsure if an item is accepted, so they throw it in the blue bin hoping it will be recycled. This wishful thinking — called “wishcycling” — significantly contributes to recycling contamination. The most common single-stream recycling contaminants are plastic bags, electric cords, garden hoses, shredded paper, household items and plastic toys.

Many people (particularly those who “wishcycle”) think that attendants at the facility sort through recycling, and remove items that can’t be recycled.

Nope. In Westport, if more than 10% of a recycling pile is deemed unacceptable material, the entire pile is diverted to the incinerator — including everything that can be recycled!

Our contamination rate is about 35%.


Rather than continuing to guess or “wishcycle,” you can:

When all else fails, remember: When in Doubt, Leave it Out.

PS: Unfortunately, the recycling symbol is unregulated. Manufacturers can widely and intentionally misrepresent their products (called “greenwashing”) as recyclable, when they are not.

Just because an item has the recycling symbol (with or without a little number inside), it does not mean the item can be recycled,, or that it was created from recycled materials.

All the more reason to educate yourself on how to recycle right.

PPS: Sustainable Westport gives a shout-out to Staples Players.

For their recent hit show “Twelfth Night,” the high school theater group made a conscious decision to transition their concession offerings away from single-use plastic.

They found a BPA-free aluminum water product. Aluminum cans and bottles are created from 68% recycled content and are infinitely recyclable, making them one of the most valuable commodities in the recycling system. .

PPPS: Our transfer station accepts paint, for recycling in Bristol. Westporters recycle 1.9 tons of paint — each month!

PPPPS: With electricity rates up around 40% since last year, an in-home energy audit makes sense. To learn how to make your house more energy efficient, click here. To learn how to switch to less expensive electricity suppliers, click here.

PPPPPSConsidering solar (but overwhelmed by the process)? Click here for 7 steps, from understanding federal and state incentives to permits and installation.

(“06880″is”sustained” by our readers. Please click here to support our work. Thank you!)

Roundup: ABC, Easter Eggs, Yankees …

Last night’s A Better Chance of Westport “Dream Event” was everything a fundraising gala should be.

The venue was exciting (Pinstripes at the SoNo Collection). There was plenty of food, but no sit-down dinner, so there everyone mingled. Silent auction items were fresh, and fun.

Best of all: The speeches were few, but deeply meaningful. Several alumni of the program — which brings students of color from underserved schools to Westport, where they attend Staples High School and give back to the community as much as they get — returned for the 20th annual event.

ABC grads live all across the country now. They’re establishing (or in the middle of!) their own careers, starting their own families.

But nearly a dozen of them spent yesterday at Glendarcy House, speaking with and mentoring the current scholars (who also were guests at the gala).

Three — Savion Agard (Staples Class of 2007, Cornell University ’11), Luis Cruz (SHS ’15, Boston College ’19) and Adrian Belvitt (SHS ’16, Colgate University ’20) — spoke passionately about the generosity of Westporters, and the impact the program made on them.

Yet it was clear from the night that A Better Chance makes at least a strong impact on our community.

To learn more about ABC (and donate), click here.

A Better Chance of Westport alumni, at last night’s Dream Event fundraiser. (Photo/Dan Woog)


Yesterday’s United Methodist Church Easter Egg hunt was so much fun, they’re doing it again — today (Sunday, 2 p.m., 49 Weston Road).

Everyone is invited to “Rabbit Hill.” (Yes, that’s the legit name. The previous owner of the property was Robert Lawson — author/illustrator of the beloved children’s series.)

Yesterday’s United Methodist Church Easter Egg hunt.


The New York Yankees are winners, on and off the field.

They’ve arranged for a portion of ticket sales from their June games against the Texas Rangers to benefit Pink Aid.

For more than a decade, the organization has provided support, resources and emergency financial assistance to underserved breast cancer patients and their families. Pink Aid has helped more than 20,000 patients throughout Connecticut and 38 other states.

The games are June 23 (7:05 p.m.), 24 (4:05 p.m.) and 25 (1:35 p.m.). Tickets include 1 hot dog, a drink and baseball cap. Click here to reserve a seat.


Steve Lillywhite —  whose record producing credits include the Rolling Stones, U2, the Dave Matthew Band, Phish, Peter Gabriel, Talking Heads, the Psychedelic Furs, XTC, Morrissey, the Pogues, Guster, the Killers and more — regaled a large VersoFest crowd yesterday with tales from his long career.

The conversation — with Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club founder Chris Frantz — was one of the highlights of Day 3 of the music-and-media Westport Library event.

Among Lillywhite’s remarks: Our Weston neighbor Keith Richards is one of the “most bohemian people” he know. The Rolling Stone guitarist may wake up at 8 a.m. or 8 p.m. “It doesn’t matter. He’s good with that.”

Steve Lillywhite, Chris Frantz, and some of the record producer’s work, at the Westport Library’s Trefz Forum. (Photo and hat tip/Dinkin Fotografix)

In the evening Frantz interviewed Richard Butler, lead singer of the Psychedelic Furs (and now an accomplished artist).

That session also served as this year’s Malloy Lecture on the Arts.

Richard Butler and Chris Frantz (Photo/Dinkin Fotografix)

Also at VersoFest yesterday: A workshop on the Grateful Dead’s 1974 wall of sound, with a 1/20th-to-scale working version. The model was led by its creator, former Weston resident Anthony Coscia.

Attendees made their own speakers, after learning about the evolution of sound and the need for better amplification for larger and larger venues in the 1960s.

The Wall of Sound, and workshop participants. (Photo and hat tip/Matthew Mandell)

VersoFest concludes today (Sunday), with a record fair and panel, workshops on audio and hip hop, an Alice Cooper documentary and artifacts exhibit, the Wall of Sound scale model, and more. Click here for a full schedule.


Easter and Passover are almost here, so let’s think about … Mother’s Day!

It’s May 14. And Wakeman Town Farm offers handmade bouquets (not, they emphasize, “supermarket flowers.”

Each spring bouquet comes in a Mason jar tied with gray leather criss-cross cord, designed by Sarah Shaw Floral Design exclusively for WTF.

Orders will be taken through May 3. Pickup is Saturday, May 6, from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Farm

A portion of the proceeds supports Wakeman Town Farm programs. Click here to order.

Say it with flowers.


The Democratic Women of Westport’s Souper Luncheon is a decades-long tradition.

On Friday, they celebrated with a twist. Pippa Adler and Dawn Sullivan —  who coordinate Sustainable Westport’s Zero Food Waste Challenge — helped them create a planet-friendly event.

The pair told the DWW to avoid plastic water bottles and plastic wrap (use pitchers, real glasses and aluminum foil). No disposable plates — just old-fashioned glass or ceramic ones.

Paper napkins were okay if they were compostable — and the compost bag should be nearby, for any (minimal) food waste.

DWW ordered branded refillable mugs made partly out of wheat straw (a wheat byproduct that typically gets treated as waste). Guests were encouraged to use them as part of Sustainable Westport’s “Refill Not Landfill” program at local coffee shops.

There were even reusable magnetic name tags.

This year’s guest was Secretary of the State (and Norwalk resident) Stephanie Thomas. She discussed her first few months in office, encouraged advocacy for important issues — plugged green businesses.

Democratic Women of Westport members Sherry Gordon, Candice Savin and Lee Goldstein, with magnetic name tags.


Longtime Westporter Rita Leyden died last month, at 85.

private family ceremony on Compo Beach to honor Tom and Rita Leyden, their four granddaughters walked across Soundview Drive toward Fairfield Avenue in a familiar style.

On Thursday, family members gathered at Compo Beach to honor her and her late husband Tom.

Afterwards, their 4 granddaughters walked across Soundview Drive, toward the Leydens’ Fairfield Avenue home of nearly 55 years, in familiar fashion.

(From left): Abby Paul, Dahlia Leyden, Megan Paul, Livy Leyden.


André DeShields — a Tony Award winner for “Hadestown”– highlights a Westport Country Playhouse Sunday Symposium, following the April 16 matinee of “Ain’t Misbehavin’.” He’ll discuss the significance and history of the Tony Award-winning show.

DeShields was an original Broadway cast member of “Ain’t Misbehavin’.” He also performed on its 1982 television broadcast and won a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement.

The Symposium is free, and open to the public (click here to register). It will begin around 5 p.m. Performance tickets are not needed to attend.


For years, TAP Strength has been many things to (and for) many people.

The downtown center offers personal training, soft tissue therapy, injury prevention, injury recovery, circuit training, performance coaching, mobility and stretching. They also just hosted CPR classes for Westport EMS.

Now they’ve added yoga and sound bath classes.

The schedule includes a Wednesday night yoga class beginning April 12 (6 to 7 p.m.), and regular sound bath meditations..

To sign up for classes, performance coaching and therapy, or for more information, click here.

Questions? Email Nancy@tapstrength.com, or call 203-292-9353.


Sorelle Gallery’s new exhibit, On View, opens Friday (April 7).

Three artists are featured: Linda Bigness, Tony Iadicicco and Nealy Hauschildt.

Their works ranges from Bigness’ floral encaustic paintings using beeswax, damar resin, and pigment, to Iadicicco’s work with thin layers of oil paint, and Hauschildt’s watercolor paper.

The show runs through April 29. Click here for more information.

Sorelle Gallery show.


Jazz comes to MoCA Westport on April 21 (7 p.m.).

Sax player Eddie Barbash brings his unique sound — and string quartet — for the evening.

Tickets are $40; $25 for students and seniors. MoCA members receive a 15% discount. Click here to reserve.

Eddie Barbash


Now that dogs are banned from the beach, dinosaurs may take over.

This one was spotted yesterday, at Compo. It’s the first one we’ve featured on “Westport … Naturally.”

Hey … once upon a time, they roamed the earth.

(Photo/Patricia McMahon)


And finally … Keith Reid — the lyricist of “A Whiter Shade of Pale,” and many other deep and dramatic songs by Procol Harum — last week in London. He was 76, and had battled cancer.


Refill Not Landfill: Drink (C)up!

In January, Sustainable Westport launched Refill Not Landfill.

The program encourages residents to use reusable mugs at coffee shops to reduce waste, combat climate change, and help support small businesses.

It’s simple: At checkout, just scan a QR code to enter your name and email. Five refills (at any location) qualifies you for a monthly raffle.

The program has now expanded, to 15 locations:

(If you don’t see your favorite spot listed: Tell ’em to contact admin@sustainablewestport.org. There’s no limit!)

Reusable cup at Winfield Street Coffee.

The past 2 winners were Moira Relac ($100 Don Memo gift card) and Scott (massage at Dharma Massage Therapy).

The next drawing is April 15. The prize: 2 tickets to a Westport Country Playhouse show of your choice.

Bring your reusable mugs. Save the planet. And win!

For more information about the Refill Not Landfill program, click here.

Roundup: Staples AD, Coffee Mugs, De TAPAS …

Staples High School will soon have a new athletic director.

Vincent J. “VJ” Sarullo succeeds Marty Lisevick on February 1. 

Sarullo has spent the past 17 years as athletic director at Jonathan Law High School in Milford. Before that he was AD at Sheehan High-Wallingford and Notre Dame of Fairfield.

Sarullo currently serves as president of the Connecticut Association of Athletic Directors.

Lisevick retires on January 31, after more than 2 decades in the post. The other finalist for the position, Colin Devine, spent 15 years as Staples’ boys basketball coach.

VJ Sarullo, iin 2014.


With 3 Starbuckses, 3 Dunkin’ Donuts, and many more places to buy coffee, Westporters use plenty of cups.

We don’t have to.

Sustainable Westport has just launched “Refill Not Landfill.”

The program encourages residents to use reusable cups and mugs at participating coffee shops to reduce waste, combat climate change, and help support small businesses.

Most paper cups used for hot coffee, tea or hot chocolate are coated with plastic to prevent leaks, so they can’t be recycled. Plastic cups used for iced coffee, tea and other drinks, often end up in the trash. It is estimated that only 5% of plastic is ever recycled.

By committing to bring their own reusable mug or cup to participating locations, residents can help reduce waste — and be entered to win monthly prizes.

Beginning this Sunday (January 15), bring a clean, reusable cup or mug to a participating location. (NOTE: They do not wash cups or mugs.)

Order a drink that’s eligible to be filled (some, like smoothies, are not).

At checkout, scan a QR code. Submit your name and email address for each drink you purchased using a reusable cup, to receive credit for your visit.

To be eligible for the monthly raffle, you must participate at least 5 times within a month.

Each month through July 15, Sustainable Westport will draw one winner, for a prize from a local business.

Participating locations include:

To add your business, email emilyabate@gmail.com.

Don’t have a mug?Purchase a Sustainable Westport “Refill Not Landfill” travel mug Thursdays at the Westport Farmers’ Market, or the Earthplace gift shop.

For more information, click here. Questions? Email admin@sustainablewestport.org.

A familiar sight in Westport. But it doesn’t have to be.


Speaking of restaurants:

DeTAPAS celebrates its 1-year anniversary this weekend with a complimentary glass of Cava.

Carlos Pia’s Spanish gastrobar has become one of Westport’s hottest spots. A native of Barcelona, he’s brought the flavors of his native country here — and the culture and the colors too.

Pia’s Flamenco Nights, Jamon Jamoon Iberico and wine tasting, and other events have added to DeTAPAS’ allure.

Carlos Pia in his vibrantly decorated De Tapas.


Club 203 — Westport’s social group for adults with disabilities — held its January event at the Westport Weston Family YMCA on Saturday.

A huge turnout of enjoyed basketball, line dancing, stretching and yoga, crafts (hosted by MoCA Westport), a photo booth and snacks. Among the volunteers: Staples High School’s Service League of Boys (SLOBs).

The next event will is at the Westport Playhouse (February 2). It’s a Valentine’s dance — details soon.

Fun at Club 203.


Stressed-out parents, take note: S4 Study Skills is hosting a free webinar.

In “Why Course Selection is Important to the College Application Process” (January 17, 7 p.m.), college admissions counselor and Westport resident Amy Chatterjee explains what course selection reveals about motivation and focus, and how it impacts college admissions. Click here to register.


Jazz vespers comes to the United Methodist Church of Westport & Weston.

The service combines liturgical traditions with the soulful sounds of the John Collinge Quartet.

The worship — for all ages and denominations (and a great introduction to jazz for young audiences) is Sunday, January 22 (4 p.m., United Methodist Church sanctuary).

The United Methodist Church on Weston Road.


There weren’t many people the other day, at Compo Beach.

But the sun is there, regardless. Naturally.

Today’s “Westport … Naturally” image was captured by Bob Mitchell.

(Photo/Bob Mitchell)


And finally … Jeff Beck died yesterday of bacterial meningitis, in England. He was 78.

Though never as flashy or well-known as Eric Clapton or Jimmy Page, he was a member of the Yardbirds and other very important blues-based groups.

Westport has a couple of ties to the legendary guitarist. When the Yardbirds played at Staples High School in 1966, he was part of the band.

A young photographer in New York heard they would be in Westport. She came here, and photographed Beck and a very young Jimmy Page tuning up backstage, in the choral room.

The photographer’s name? Linda Eastman.

Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck, in the Staples High School choral room. (Photo/Linda Eastman)

And the offices of Connoisseur Media in Westport — owner of some of the most successful radio stations in the area — contain plenty of music memorabilia.

One of the most prized possessions hangs on the wall by CEO Jeff Warshaw’s desk. It’s a guitar, signed by Beck.

On the wall in Jeff Warshaw’s office: a guitar signed by Jeff Beck. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Click here for a full obituary.


Sustainable Holiday Tips: Gift Wrap, Bows And More

Americans throw away 25% more trash during the period between Thanksgiving and the New Year than any other time of year. That’s 25 million tons of garbage or about 1 million extra tons per week!

Sustainable Westport is the gift that keeps on giving. All year long, the environmental advisory board helps all of us — residents, businesses and the town itself — reduce our energy, water and waste impacts.

Now — as wrapping paper, gift bags, tissue, bows, ribbons and food waste pile up — they offer a few holiday tips.

Wrapping Paper

Every year, an estimated 4.6 million pounds of wrapping paper is used in the U.S. Most ends up in landfill or incinerators.

The vast majority of wrapping paper (particularly holiday paper with glossy coatings, glitter and foils) cannot be recycled. It wreaks havoc on recycling machinery, and the more components added to the original paper, the more challenging it becomes for recycling centers to access the fibers needed for recovery and recycling.

Try to minimize your wrapping paper use.

Gift Bags and Tissue Paper

Gift bags and tissue paper also cannot be recycled. Like wrapping paper, most paper gift bags are adorned with finishes that make recycling impossible. Even if the gift bag is plain, it can only be recycled if it is brown, and the handles are removed. Tissue paper creates issues for recycling centers, so it should be trashed (or avoided altogether).

Bows and Ribbons

Gift bows and ribbons are also trash. Consider replacing the traditional stick-on bows and synthetic ribbon with reusable cloth ribbons. At the very least, reuse ribbon and bows rather than throwing them in the trash. If every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet.

Holiday Gift Wrapping Alternatives

The good news: There are fantastic, sustainable options for holiday gift wrapping. From 100% compostable and recyclable wrapping paper, to reusable fabric wraps and creative thrift ideas, you’ll find many ways to wrap gifts while being conscious about excess waste. Click here and scroll down for recommendations.

Food Waste

It is estimated that 25% of municipal solid waste is food. During the holidays, this number rises significantly. Follow these tips to help reduce your overall food waste now and throughout the year:

Shop with purpose. Buy only what you need. Shop your fridge first. Then, plan your meals and make a list. Being organized and prepared will keep you focused on the essentials. And of course, never grocery shop on an empty stomach.

Get creative with your cooking. Reviving leftovers can be easy, fun and economical. You could add leftover chicken to a salad for a whole new meal. Or you could turn it into chicken soup. Well-cooked vegetables could make a wonderful pasta sauce and yesterday’s baked potato could be tomorrow’s mashed. The possibilities are endless.

Imperfect could be perfect. Many imperfect fruits and vegetables, or those that are wilting or browning, can be used for baking, sauces stock or smoothies.

Store your food better. Proper food storage can prolong its life and reduce waste. Store fruits in the low-humidity section of your fridge, along with vegetables such as peppers and squash that tend to rot quickly. Store vegetables in a high-humidity crisper drawer to keep them from wilting too fast.

Freeze food for later. If you have food that you can’t eat before it goes bad, think about other ways to use it and stick it in your freezer. For example, frozen, ripe fruit makes delicious smoothies.

Get organized. Spend time organizing your kitchen so you know what you have and where to find it. Place perishable items near the front so you don’t lose sight of them.

See clearly. Using clear containers makes it easy for you to see what you have on hand and how much you have left.

Consider canning. If your garden is overflowing with tomatoes, long-term storage techniques like canning can help you to make good use of your harvest.

Eat your leftovers. Only half of Americans take leftovers home from a restaurant. With growing portion sizes, one restaurant meal may make two. If you don’t have room in your fridge, use your freezer.

Holiday Lights Not Working?

Bring them to the Westport transfer station. Drop them in the “holiday lights” bin in the electronics area.

Do not put string lights in your curbside bin. They wreak havoc on the machinery at the recycling center.

Or participate in a holiday light recycling program. LED holiday light manufacturers Christmas Light Source and Holiday LEDs offer programs to ship broken lights to a special recycling center, in exchange for a coupon to purchase new LED lights.

Speaking of LEDs: You can replace traditional incandescent string lights with a LED version. They provide energy savings of up to 80%, and last up to 25 times longer.