Tag Archives: Westport Moms

Roundup: Dog Festival, Banned Books, Social Anxiety,

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Anne Lutz Fernandez is a former English teacher at Staples High and Bedford Middle Schools.

She’s also an author, and a contributing writer for NBC News’ “Think” website.

The other day, she started a “Think” essay this way:

“A few years ago, I was asked to phone a parent who wanted her high school senior to switch English classes. Her daughter had selected the class ‘Women in Fiction,’ but the mother wanted her to take my class instead to avoid books that would go against the family’s Christian beliefs.

“Her daughter would be welcome, I said, but warned that my course, ‘Literature of Suspense,’ might also prove problematic. The books include a lot of crime, some violent, I explained. That’s okay, she replied. Supernatural evil? Not a problem. Substance abuse? Fine. Death, demons, and drugs: all were judged inoffensive. This parent just didn’t want her daughter reading books in which characters have sex.

“Death, demons, and drugs: all were judged inoffensive. This parent just didn’t want her daughter reading books in which characters have sex.

“I’ve been pondering this exchange during Banned Books Week and as numerous states have passed legislation purportedly meant to protect America’s K-12 students from ‘discomfort’ when learning about history or contemporary issues.”

It’s a provocative, insightful essay. To read the rest, click here.

Anne Lutz Fernandez

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Forget the dog days of autumn. This Sunday (October 10, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.,  Winslow Park) marks the return of the Westport Dog Festival.

The popular event was knocked out 2 springs in a row by COVID. But you can’t keep a good dog down.

The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce and TAILS bring attendees — human and canine — a day filled with fun competitions, kids’ activities, demonstrations, police K9 presentations, giveaways, vendors, food trucks and more.

Piglet — the blind and deaf chihuahua — will be there. So will Earth Animal, presenting prizes for best tail wagger, best dressed, best kisser, best trick, best lap dog over 50 pounds, and the dog that most looks like its owner.

Parking is available at the Westport Country Playhouse, and lots along Post Road East. Tickets are $10 per person; $25 for a family of 4. Proceeds benefit non-profit organizations.

To register for competitions, and more information, click here.

This guy loved the 2017 Dog Festival. (Photo/Dan Woog)

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With little fanfare, the Kings Highway North bridge by Canal Street has reopened to traffic.

In only slightly less time than it took to build the pyramids or create the NASA program that put a man on the moon, crews have completed work on a project that most Westporters never even realized was a bridge.

The new route to Wilton Road from Main Street should ease downtown traffic a bit. Fingers crossed …

A welcome sight, once again. (Photo courtesy of Google Street View)

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Eighteen months into the pandemic, Westport moms want to know as much about COVID as possible.

So tonight (Tuesday, October 5 (8 p.m.), Westport Moms is hosting an Instagram Live session with Dr. Scott Gottlieb.

The former FDA commissioner — and current local resident — will talk about vaccines, kids, and where we go from here.

Westport Moms is a multi-platform resource. Look for @WestportMoms for tonight’s IG Live event.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb

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Kids are talking about popularity and social anxiety.

And this week’s “Kids Are Talking” — the online, Westport-based, multi-platform show — tackles that fraught topic. 
This week’s show will be talking about popularity and Social Anxiety.

What does popularity mean to teenagers today? How does pressure to fit in affect self-esteem and confidence? Do the stresses of being popular come at a price, and how important is it?

Click here for the link.

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An update on the GoFundMe drive for Horace Lewis, the beloved Staples High and Coleytown Middle School custodian who suffered a devastating stroke on his anniversary in July.

The goal of $50,000 has been surpassed. Grateful Westporters have donated $54,990 so far. But more is needed, for costs not covered by insurance. He receives physical and occupational therapy, and has still not returned home. Substantial renovations will be needed to make the house accessible for him.

Click here to help Horace. (Hat tip: Andrea Cross)

Horace Lewis

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Three bits of art news:

The George Billis Gallery on Main Street hosts an opening reception this Friday (October 8, 4 to 7 p.m.) for its next exhibition. Artists include Nancy Bass, Paige Bradley, Steve Cosentino and Denise Petit.

On Saturday (October 9, 1 to 3:30 p.m.), One River School of Art + Design presents a solo exhibition of work by Chuck Webster. His mediums include painting, drawing, collage and printmaking. His works are on display through December 19.

And Westporter Steven Parton has been named a Signature Member by the  American Artists Professional League. That brings him one step closer to being recognized as a Living Master by the organization.

Steven Parton, with one of his works.

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Builders Beyond Borders — the international service organization for teenagers — hosts an open house tomorrow (Wednesday, October 6, 66 Fort Point Street, Norwalk, 5:30 to 7 p.m.). Students and their parents are invited to learn more about programs and possibilities.

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As of last Friday, dogs are allowed back at Compo Beach.

Yesterday — right on cue — these pooches enjoyed their freedom. Tracy Porosoff was there to capture this iconic “Westport … Naturally” scene.

(Photo/Tracy Porosoff)

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And finally … Bob Moore, who played upright bass on hundreds of country music’s biggest hits, died last month in Nashville. He was 88.

The New York Times said: “Over 40 years Mr. Moore elevated the bass in country music from a subordinate timekeeper to an instrument capable of considerable tonal and emotional reach. By turns restrained and robust, his imaginative phrasing revealed a gift for seizing the dramatic moment within a recording or arrangement.” Click here for the full obituary.

Among his most noteworthy recordings:

Roundup: Beach Dogs, Tyler Hicks, Clothing Swap …

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Friday is October 1. Which means that Fido — and all his 4-legged friends — will once again be allowed at Compo Beach.

For the next 6 months, they can enjoy the off-leash area (south of the pavilion, including South Beach), and the leashed area north of that. They’re prohibited from the pavilion, playground and walkways.

It goes without saying, but Parks & Rec says it anyway: Pick up all poop.

Violations will cost you $77.

Looking forward to Friday.

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Tyler Hicks is an internationally known New York Times photographer. Fittingly, he just won (another) international prize.

The Staples High School Class of 1988 graduate (and 2-time Pulitzer Prize winner) captured the 2021 Visa d’Or Award for Best Digital News Story. He won for his COVID coverage on the Amazon River.

Hicks spent over a month last summer traveling on a riverboat with health workers, entering villages where the dead were uncountable.

The Visa d’Or international news photography awards are presented in Perpignan, France, after a series of jury reviews.

This is Hicks’ second Visa d’Or News Award. He won in 2014 for his coverage of the Westgate Mall massacre in Nairobi, Kenya.

Click here to see his prize-winning Brazil photos.

COVID in the Amazon (Photo/Tyler Hicks for New York Times)

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The Westport Library’s Fall Book Sale returns — live and in person — Friday, October 8 through Monday, October 11.

Thousands of “gently used books” include dozens of categories. A few examples: children’s, literature and classics, fiction, mysteries, sci-fi, fantasy, art, photography, history, math, science, psychology, religion, biography, business, cooking, gardening, performing arts, travel, foreign language and antiquarian.  Tons of DVDs, CDs and vinyl records will be available too.

Everything Sunday (October 10) is half-price. On Monday (October 11), you can fill a bag for just $5.

Early bird admission on Friday (October 8, 8 a.m.) is through a pre-paid $15 ticket. It’s sold online only; click here. For more information about the Book Sale itself, click here. To help, email volunteers@westportbooksales.org.

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“The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner” was a 1962 film. The Joggers Club is anything but lonely.

It’s a great way to get outside, get exercise, meet people and have fun.

Need a push? This Saturday (October 2), the Joggers Club hosts a free “Welcome to Running” party.

Runners of all levels are invited to Compo Beach. The run begins at 8 a.m.; the party follows at 9 a.m.

Click here for more information, or follow on Instagram: @thejoggersclub.ct.

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After your jog, check out WestportMoms’ first-ever Fall Family Fun Festival (Saturday, October 2, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Greens Farms Academy).

The $20 per family ticket price includes music, sports, a ninja course, pumpkin decorating, crafts, tattoos, food trucks and more. Run on over!

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After that, you can cruise over to the Westport Police Benevolent Association’s 3rd annual Car Cruise (Saturday, October 2, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Westport train station Lot #1.

Cars of all years, makes and models are welcome. The fee to enter and display a car is $20. The first 100 cars to arrive will receive a gift bag.

The family-friendly event includes music, food, trophies and raffles.

Westport PBA car cruise.

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Carly Novick Ridloff’s 1st “Sip, Shop, Swap” clothing exchange was a hit.

So she’s doing it again. The socially conscious (and very social) way to get rid of (and find) gently used clothes takes place October 28 (12 to 4 p.m., 82 Roseville Road).

A portion of the proceeds goes to Sustainable Westport. For more information, email carlyridloff18@gmail.com or search on social media: @the.exchangeproject.

Come to the clothing exchange!

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There’s something for everyone at this Sunday’s “Smart Walk for Smart Kids with LD” (October 3, 12 p.m., Sherwood Island State Park).

In addition to crafts, games, ice cream, music and tai chi, Piglet — the blind, deaf, pink dog with the positive attitude — will make an appearance. And Stephanie Bass will sign copies of her book of pandemic signs, Driveway Showcase.

Click here for more information, and to register.

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Last week’s “Unsung Heroes” honored Rosie and Lou, 2 post office employees who always go above and beyond.

We should also note E.J Butner III. The long-time Westport USPS employee retires this week, after many years of loyal service

His family has a long postal history. His grandfather, Edward J. Butner, served as postmaster at the previous Post Road location (now Design Within Reach). (Hat tip: Pam Jones)

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Child’s Pose Yoga helps youngsters connect their bodies, minds and health. To help, they’re partnering with “mindful expert” Denise Zack on a workshop: “Setting Your Child up for Success with Mindful Skills.”

The goal is to help children develop emotional resilience. Parents will learn specific, useful strategies.

It’s October 8 (10 a.m., 8 Church Street South).

Tickets are $40 each. Registration is required; DM @childsposewestport.

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Meanwhile, look what crawled up Molly Alger’s window the other day. It posed long enough to be our “Westport … Naturally” feature.

(Photo/Molly Alger)

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And finally … on this day in 1836, Thomas Crapper was born. The English plumber held 9 patents, including the ballcock, leading to the invention of modern plumbing. [Insert your own juvenile joke here.]

 

 

Roundup: Library Reopening, Light Up Westport, More

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The Westport Library returns soon to its December COVID schedule.

Effective Monday, February 8, appointments will no longer to browse the adult collection, speak with a librarian or use an Express computer.

Patrons visiting the Children’s Library, MakerSpace, media studios and store must still make appointments. Click here for more information.

The Library will be open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturdays between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. It will remain closed on Sunday. Entrance is only through the upper parking lot doors.

Late fees will continue to be waived. Conference and meeting rooms will remain closed.

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For 4 years, WestportMoms has lit up Westport online. Now the multi-platform group wants to do so — literally.

Megan Rutstein and Melissa Post have launched “Light Up Westport.” The “appreciation project” charity fundraiser encourages people to send luminaries and personal notes of gratitude to friends, local businesses and first responders.

On February 4 (7 p.m.), participants should place their luminary in front of their homes or stores. They’ll light up the town.

They’ll then share photos on social media, and tag #lightupwestport.

Click here to order luminary kits. They include a WSPT luminary, note card and LED tea light. Volunteers will deliver them the day before the event.

All proceeds will go to Filling in the Blanks. The organization provides weekend meals to needy children throughout Fairfield County. WestportMoms have partnered with Ali Dorfman of Purpose 2 Purchase on this initiative.

WSPT luminary. (Photo/John Videler for Videler Photography)

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If you haven’t visited George Billis Gallery, you’re missing a great addition to Westport.

The newest addition to Main Street — in space formerly occupied by Jonathan Adler — announces its first big events.

An international exhibition, is set for February 5-28. There’s an opening reception from 3 to 7 p.m., including a Zoom walk-through with juror Lisa Cooper from 3 to 3:30.

The exhibit features over 30 national and international artists presenting painting, photography, sculpture and works on paper.

George Billis Gallery, 166 Main Street.

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“06880” is looking for stringers/interns to cover town meetings: Board of Education, Board of Finance, Board of Selectmen. Town knowledge, enthusiasm, writing chops, ability to watch for hours needed. Perfect for bored college students and anyone else interested in town affairs. Interested? Email dwoog@optonline.net

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Bernie Sanders is a very impatient guy.

He was spotted yesterday outside Gold’s, waiting for bagels and lox …

(Meme courtesy of Our Town Crier)

… and then at Loeffler Field, waiting for the 2021 soccer season to begin.

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And finally … on this day in 1996, “Rent” opened officially at the New York Theatre Workshop. It was a bittersweet moment: composer/playwright Jonathan Larson died hours before, from an aneurysm.

Twenty-five years later, his work is considered one of the most monumental and important musicals of all time.

Roundup: Sidewalk Stroll, Bank Robbery, Spencer Gabor, More

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With great weather forecast all week, Westport Moms quickly organized a Shopping Stroll.

Set for this Friday (October 9, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Elm Street courtyard across from Serena & Lily), it’s drawn vendors from the tri-state area selling unique merchandise: waterproof blankets, winter wear, pajamas, athleisure, masks, fun home accessories, jewelry and more.

The Moms hope Church Street and Main Street stores will put merchandise outside, and restaurants will offer lunch and coffee discounts. Masks are (of course) required.


Yesterday afternoon, a man robbed the People’s United Bank branch inside Stop & Shop.

A suspect has been tied to 3 other bank robberies, in Fairfield, Norwalk and Shelton. Westport Police ask for the public’s help in identifying the suspect. A reward of up to $1,500 is offered.

The detective bureau can be reached at 203-341-6080. [NOTE: The video originally posted with this story is now inoperable.]

A screen shot of the suspect.


After graduating from Staples High School in 2015, Spencer Gabor headed to Fordham University to study business.

But he’d always liked drawing. As he pursued his degree he spent every moment outside class drawing, learning Adobe Suite, and taking on art projects. He reached out to startups and did pro bono work, just to amass a portfolio.

Today he’s illustrating and designing for major brands around the world, like NPR and (go figure) Marcus by Goldman Sachs.

Dribble — a website for design professionals — recently interviewed him about his “drastic but fulfilling” career change. Click here for the full story.

Spencer Gabor (Photo courtesy of Dribble)


And finally … in honor of Friday’s Sidewalk Stroll:

 

Only Good For Victoria Gouletas

The tree limb that fell on Victoria Gouletas last winter broke her back, paralyzed her from the chest down, and upended her and her family’s life.

The road back has been long and hard. But Victoria — a real estate attorney and Zoning Board of Appeals member — has been buoyed by the kindnesses of family members, friends, neighbors, and total strangers.

Two of those strangers are twins. Judy Vig and Joy Paoletti deliver home-cooked meals to people going through hard times. Victoria was high on their list.

She was nominated by Westport Moms, the resource-rich platform run by Megan Rutstein and Melissa Post.

Judy and Joy’s good work now inspires others on Only Good TV, which — as its name implies — is a much-needed addition to today’s media landscape.

It’s a pay site — but you can watch Victoria, Judy and Joy’s episode as part of a free trial.  Click here to be uplifted.

Victoria Gouletas (far right), her kids, and Judy Vig and Joy Paoletti on Only Good TV.

Gun Violence, Safety Sessions Set

Nationally, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre galvanized groups to act.

Locally, last week’s near-tragedy at Staples High School sparked quick action too.

WestportMoms — the great parents’ resources organization — is sponsoring “Make It Stop,” a gun violence protection forum. It’s this Tuesday (March 6, 10 a.m., Unitarian Church, 10 Lyons Plains Road).

Experts from CT Against Gun Violence, Moms Demand Action and Sandy Hook Promise join Westport chief of police Foti Koskinas. Melissa Kane will moderate.

The event will be livestreamed; just follow “WestportMoms” on Facebook or Instagram. A dial-in number for people who cannot attend will also be available, via those platforms.

The event is free, and open to the public. To get a sense of the numbers though, attendees are asked to email info@westportmoms.com.

In addition, superintendent of schools Colleen Palmer has announced that the Westport school district will host an informational session on school safety and security. It’s set for Wednesday, March 14 (7 p.m., Bedford Middle School auditorium).

An overview will be followed by a question-and-answer session. First responder representatives will be there too.

Candidates, Voters Meet And Mingle

If — as Tip O’Neill said — all politics is local, then Westport was the center of last night’s political universe.

A “meet and mingle” event — co-sponsored by the Westport Moms and Westport Front Porch social media groups — drew several dozen candidates, and many more interested voters, to the Westport Country Playhouse.

The 4 first selectperson candidates (and 2 running mates) spoke. Board of Finance, Board of Ed, Planning and Zoning and Zoning Board of Appeals hopefuls introduced themselves. RTM candidates were there too.

This is a decidedly local election. Aquarion’s water towers, the Cribari/Bridge Street Bridge, Compo Beach, taxes, historic preservation — those and many other issues are on voters’ minds.

We all had a chance to ask questions, get answers, and assess the men and women seeking our votes.

We looked them in the eye, and they looked in ours.

Locally at least, “politics” is not a dirty word.

Author Jane Green — founder of Westport Front Porch — addresses the large Westport Country Playhouse crowd.