Tag Archives: Westport10

Roundup: Kowalsky Farm, Westport 10, P&Z …

Most teardowns in Westport are quick wrecking ball affairs.

The demise of 117 Morningside Drive South — the famed Kowalsky property — seems to be going more slowly. It looks like some of the original construction — the beams, perhaps? — are being saved.

(Photo/David Squires)

It’s the end of an era. “Thousands of kids enjoyed our little local farm,” Greens Farms resident David Squires says.

“But alas, no more. If the walls could speak, I’m certain they’d have tails/tales to tell. Let’s hope the future of this plot retains some of its original beauty and charm.”

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Westport10 is a thriving social community for people of color. Adults attend cultural events, and dine out together; they organize beach parties and other events for their kids.

Once a month, some of the men get together for lunch.

They had a great time yesterday at La Plage. Check out the photo:

Clockwise from far left: Harold Bailey Jr., Rod Simmelkjaer, Craig Melvin, Roy Adams, Kevin Christie, Vincent Spencer, Jay Norris. Harold Bailey III arrived just after the picture was taken. (Photo/Dan Woog)

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Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club is one of Westport’s best-kept secrets.

The 63-year-old club near Saugatuck Shores, with slips for 160 sailboats and powerboats, usually hums with maritime activity.

It’s also a very social place. Members are all ages, and from all different walks of life (“yacht” club is really a misnomer). They gather often in the clubhouse (a former horse stable and carriage house, dating to the 1890s).

They build all their own docks; clean up their own grounds every fall and spring, and invite the marine police to store their boats there.

Last night was something different: an art show highlighting members’ talents. Watercolors, photographs, woodcarvings, sculptures, jewelry, pottery, knitwear and more — all were on display.

It was a great event. Plus, a raffle raised funds for Westport’s Volunteer Emergency Medical Services, and Save the Sound.

PS: The food and drinks were great too!

Glen Heller created these wood carvings. Eva Rosenblatt helped organize last night’s Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club event. (Photo/Dan Woog)

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Saugatuck Harbor Yacht Club wasn’t the only organization paying tribute to EMTs last night.

DNR — the ghoulishly named, (almost) all-physician rock band — played their annual Levitt Pavilion concert tribute to Westport EMS, and first responders.

A large crowd danced all night.

And if anyone got too excited, and had a medical emergency — well, that was the place to have it.

Dr. Bob Albtaum, without his stethoscope. (Photo copyright by Ted Horowitz)

DNR rocks the Levitt. (Photo copyright by Ted Horowitz)

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Meanwhile, a few yards away across the parking lot t the Westport Library, StoryFest 2022 got underway.

The largest literary festival in Connecticut attracts authors from across the U.S. The event kicked off with readings and a conversation between best-selling authors (and best friends) Isaac Fitzgerald and Saeed Jones.

The celebration of reading, writing, ideas and community began in 2018. It continues all day today. Click here for workshops, other sessions, and tonight’s final event. (Hat tip: Dave Matlow)

Isaac Fitzgerald (left) and Saeed Jones. (Photo/Dave Matlow)

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Last night’s full moon brought out many Westporters’ cameras (and cell phones).

I received tons of photos. Among the best: this one from Steven Rothenberg.

(Photo/Steven Rothenberg)

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Among the items on Monday’s Planning & Zoning Commission meeting: discussions of the proposed Hamlet at Saugatuck project, and the redevelopment of the Westport Inn.

The meeting will be held via Zoom, livestreamed on www.westportct.gov,  and shown on Optimum Channel 79 and Frontier Channel 6020. Public comments may be emailed to PandZ@westportct.gov by noon Monday. Click here for the full agenda.

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There’s a full (and healthful) schedule of events next Saturday (September 17), at Downtown Fitness & Health Day.

The Westport Downtown Association event supports local health and exercise businesses, and promotes a healthy lifestyle for all Westporters.

Fleet Feet kicks off the day with a 5k and kids runs at (9 a.m.). Registration is required; click here.

WDA has partnered with many fitness studios, including TAP Strength, Club Sweat, Pure Barre, Row House, Pause + Purpose, Kaia Yoga Centers and Body Shock. They’ll give participants fun, rigorous outdoor exercise classes between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., all along Main Street. To register for a free class, contact the individual providers.

The Alzheimer’s Association and Circle of Care for Families of Children with Cancer will be there too.

You don’t have to participate in a class to enjoy the day. Strolling all around downtown is healthy too!

The 2020 Downtown Fitness Fair.

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Whenever some dude — and you know it’s a guy — parks his car like this (behind CVS) …

(Photo/Matt Murray)

… he’s saying, “My car is special. Stay away!”

Hey: Everyone cares about their car.

And if everyone parked this way, there would be half the number of available spots anywhere.

You’re not special. And neither, really. is an Alfa Romeo.

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Never been to Cuba? Wondering what that island just 90 miles off Florida is like?

On Tuesday (September 13, Saugatuck Congregational Church Hoskins Hall; $10 admission). World traveler/adventurer/photographer/local resident Darryl Hawk presents a collection of spectacular photos, from his 6 (!) recent trips there.

He’s tell great stories about them too.

The event is sponsored by the Appalachian Mountain Club, and marks their first in-person gathering since COVID struck.

There are appetizers, drinks and dinner at 6:15 p.m.; the presentation begins at 7:30. RSVP: easasso7@icloud.com.

Street scene, Cuba (Photo/Darryl Hawk)

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Everyone is invited to a Japanese Fall Festival next Saturday (September 17, 1:30 to 4 p.m., Jesup Green).

The family-friendly event includes taiko drum performances, a martial arts demonstration, Seiza meditation sessions, traditional Bon dancing, a Japanese water yoyo game, children’s origami, demonstrations of the traditional Japanese Go and Sushi GO card games, and a Japanese language table.

Other features: displays of Japanese tenugui (colorful hand-dyed traditional Japanese), ceramics and kimonos.

Japanese snacks and drinks will be available too.

Click here for more information.

Taiko drums, at the Japanese Fall Festival.

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The Y’s Men of Westport and Weston sponsor a very active tennis group. They play every Tuesday and Friday morning, throughout the summer at Longshore.

Former Y’s Men president Dewey Loselle does the organizing. Here’s a shot (pun intended) after the final session:

(Photo courtesy of Scott Broder)

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I’m batting about .100 identifying Sherwood Mill Pond wildlife lately. So I’ll just say that this handsome bird was spotted just off shore the other day, posing handsomely for Matt Murray and “Westport … Naturally.”

(Photo/Matt Murray)

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And finally … in honor of Darryl Hawk’s very cool Cuba presentation (story above):

=======================================================(“06880” is “where Westport meets the world” — including Cuba. To help support us, please click here.) 

 

 

Jay Norris: Community Builder Puts Talents To Work

Jay Norris was called”The Tastemaker.”

Working with unknown musicians signed by Clive Davis to Arista Records, he’d head to an unfamiliar city. He’d find a venue; put influential journalists, artists and political figures together, and ride the buzz that followed. Norris developed marketing strategies for Notorious BIG, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Pink, Toni Braxton, Alicia Keys and many others.

He created “cultural currency,” he says. “It’s all about getting the right people in the room.”

Now the Westport resident looks forward to doing the same thing here. As a new Westport Library trustee, he brings great creativity, tremendous energy — and a vast network of remarkable friends and colleagues.

In a town filled with interesting people, Norris stands at the top of the list.

The Detroit native turned down a swimming scholarship to Stanford in favor of Howard. He majored in sociology, and was fascinated by both human behavior and pattern recognition.

Jay Norris

That served him well, in the music industry. He studied artists and audiences. He promoted music — a subjective task — but always quantified the results.

In 1997, Norris Norris founded Tastemakers Media. It forged strategic partnerships between the music industry and lifestyle brands.

He branched into real estate investment, management consulting, and a curated retail platform for Detroit makers and innovators. In 2018 Norris co-founded Guesst, a software platform that helps property owners find complementary brands for their retail locations. He’s now CEO of the firm.

Six years ago, Norris and his wife Crystal were living in Brooklyn. With 3-year-Jacob soon to enter school; they started thinking about options. Crystal knew Connecticut through relatives. The couple explored a variety of cities and towns.

On a beautiful summer day, they drove to Compo Beach. “I felt something I’d never felt anywhere,” Norris recalls. “The vibe from people was different from anywhere else.”

He saw only 2 other Black people. That was enough to convince him he could live here.

As they searched for homes, there was just one must-have: walking distance to the train station. They found a perfect spot, 5 minutes away.

Three months ago, a Westport YMCA swim parent introduced Norris to Westport Library director Bill Harmer. Like matches Norris had made in music, there was instant chemistry.

He and Harmer talked about the Library’s cutting-edge production studios, and its innovative programming. As they discussed Westport residents’ interests and talents in art, film and fashion, Norris grew excited.

He’d been to the Library only once before. But he was hooked — by the building, and by Harmer’s “north star thinking.”

“The Library is such an added value to Westport,” Norris says. “It’s a cultural innovative hub.

“Schools in Westport nourish our kids. The Library does that for the public. It brings people together, helps us find our common denominator, and points us forward.”

It functions too as a community event space. By “community,” he hopes residents of neighboring towns will come too, to see all that Westport offers.

Norris points to the Library’s inaugural Verso Fest, a music-and-media festival held in the spring. Bridgeport educator/activist Walter Luckett brought a group of teenagers to the inspirational keynote by actor/writer/producer/martial artist Michael Jai Wright.

But Norris is not limiting his ideas to youths. As Westport’s own Shonda Rhimes proved at last month’s “Booked for the Evening,” the Library can inspire people “from 5 to 100.”

Jay and Crystal Norris flank Shonda Rhimes, at “Booked for the Evening.”

Norris hopes to tap into his broad network  — men and women in film, fashion, sports and the media — to “bring subject matter experts into the room with influencers.”

He knows some of them, around the nation. He knows many others are here in town, waiting to be asked.

“We can do this!” he says excitedly. “Our lens is really broad. The best part is that Bill is really open to this. There’s no ceiling. He and the board want to hear all ideas.”

If you’re concerned that Norris has not yet mentioned a library’s traditional raison d’être — books  —  he says: Don’t worry.

During a Zoom interview with the current board, a woman said: “I like you. But I love books.”

Norris replied: “I hear you. I don’t want to change anything you love. I want to enhance it. We’ll send you targeted emails. We’ll customize things, so you can learn about what you want to read, when you want to read it. We’ll create programs that add to your experience, not detract from it.”

Norris’ community-building efforts don’t stop with the Library. In the summer of 2020 — right after George Floyd was killed — he and Crystal, a broker with William Pitt Sotheby’s, sat at Bartaco with another Black couple. They noted the lack of Black faces here.

Norris did what he does best: He brought people together. He created Westpor10 — a social community for people of color. Adults attend cultural events, and dine out together; they organize beach parties and other events for their kids.

Jay and Crystal Norris, with their children.

Norris also mentors an A Better Chance of Westport scholar, helping bridge the gap between the teenager’s home town, and his new community of Westport.

Jay Norris has a lot on his plate. But — echoing the title of a gold record by Celine Dion, an artist he once promoted — he’s a master at “taking chances.”

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