Bridgeport's HamletHub Tue, 27 Jul 2021 04:30:32 -0400 Hearst & Pritchard Foundations Help Low-Income Mothers/Scholars

ridgeport, CT - The Hearst Foundations and the Pritchard Foundation recently awarded grants in the amounts of $100,000 and $50,000 respectively to support Housatonic Community College (HCC) students in need. The grants will aid students participating in HCC’s Family Economic Security Program (FESP) and will be distributed to students through the Housatonic Community College Foundation.

The FESP program, which was launched in partnership with Fairfield County’s Community Foundation’s Fund for Women & Girls, empowers students to better manage real-life challenges while pursuing a degree or certificate. Through one-on-one coaching, individualized career services, financial literacy learning, and peer, income and scholarship support, FESP students receive the necessary resources and tools they need to advance their education, career, and family economic security.

The grants from the Hearst Foundations and the Pritchard Foundation will support the program’s next iteration, FESP 2.0, which will begin in HCC’s Fall 2021 semester. FESP 2.0 will target low-income, female students who are mothers. The program’s financial literacy learning opportunities and wrap-around supports will help these women with dependents to juggle their multiple priorities, including holding one or more jobs, while pursuing their education at HCC.

“We believe this grant, along with others, will provide single women with dependents the opportunity to achieve a satisfying and economically secure future,” said George B. Irish, Eastern Director of the Hearst Foundations.

The FESP program was adapted from a national model developed by The Annie E. Casey Foundation. Since it began at HCC in 2015, the program has helped 413 students to dramatically improve their overall performance. Through FESP, students build stronger grade point averages, complete courses at a higher rate and graduate at a higher frequency. FESP 2.0 focuses on research findings that low-income mothers’ real-life challenges are significant barriers to achieving success in higher education. 

“The Pritchard Foundation supports innovative and transformative educational development opportunities. We are happy to support the next iteration of the Family Economic Security Program to help students at Housatonic Community College,” said Joanne Ziesing, Executive Director of the Pritchard Foundation.

In addition to financial literacy learning opportunities and wrap-around supports, students in FESP 2.0 will participate in workshops on nutrition, health and wellness, budgeting and more. Their children will have opportunities to participate in summer camperships and cultural activities on campus, normalizing college for them and helping to break the cycle of poverty and underachievement.

“The Family Economic Security Program at Housatonic has shown me a different side of what I’m capable of and what I can achieve. My goal is to become an OB-GYN,” said Deniese, a mother of four children who graduated from HCC last year.

“We are grateful to the Hearst Foundations and the Pritchard Foundation for their generous support. This funding will help to build our students’ growth and life-school balance, encouraging them and their families to become more financially secure, achieve their educational goals and improve their abilities to land rewarding and well-paying careers,” said Kristy Jelenik, Executive Director of the Housatonic Community College Foundation.

Through private donations, Housatonic Community College Foundation scholarships provide access to a quality education for students who do not have the financial resources to pay for college, and contributes to the region’s economy by developing a better-trained workforce. During the 2020-21 fiscal year, the foundation awarded over $600,000 in scholarships and students assistance to more than 1,000 students. To learn more about the foundation and how you can support financially struggling scholars, visit or call 203-332-5078.

]]> (Laura Roberts) Neighbors Mon, 26 Jul 2021 08:02:38 -0400
FCBuzz Weekend: Bridgeport Film Festival, Stamford Art Festival, Live Music, and MORE!


The Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County celebrates the vibrancy and diversity of the arts and culture across the 15 towns in our region of coastal Fairfield County and each Tuesday issues our free E-Buzz newsletter with a selection of the hundreds of events posted to our website by our members. 

This weekend we are fortunate to have two summer festivals: one indoors and one outdoors. In Bridgeport, at The Klein Auditorium, we have the First Annual Bridgeport Film Fest. There are workshops and panels 11am-4pm (Saturday) and 11am-2pm (Sunday) followed by short films throughout the evening. On Sunday at 2pm Liz Ortega’s feature-length documentary “AND….SEEN,” will be screened. The film challenges mainstream assumptions about disability through the perspective of Connecticut actress/wheelchair dancer Jamie Petrone.  You can attend in person, but your tickets will also allow you to stream the films to your own device. Now that’s cool!

Outside on both days is the Stamford Art Festival at Harbor Point. This is a juried art show with hundreds of entries from across the nation, so the quality is high. See one-of-a-kind fine arts and crafts including painting, sculpture, wood, wearable and decorative fiber, metalwork, printmaking, glass, ceramics, and art jewelry. Exhibiting artists will also be sharing their creative process through demonstrations and plenty of complimentary art supplies available for inspired children and adults alike to enjoy.

On the music scene, on Saturday Max Creek plays their own Country/Folk/Rock brand of music at Norwalk’s Wall Street Theater, 5:30-9pm. Celebrating 50 years as a band, guitarist Scott Murawski, keyboardist Mark Mercier and bassist John Rider have stayed together since the 1970s, while the drums and percussion team of Bill Carbone and Jamemurrell Stanley weren’t even born when Max Creek was founded.

Over at The Ridgefield Playhouse on Sunday at 7pm, catch Brett Dennen. Flame-haired, six-foot-five, and with a singular gift for meditating on life’s most meaningful subjects with equal parts innocence and razor sharp wit, Dennen’s successful string of albums and Top Ten singles, like “Make You Crazy,” “Wild Child,” and “Already Gone,” have secured him a solid place in American folk music.

If you haven’t yet discovered the exciting new Norwalk Art Space, on West Avenue next to Mathews Park, you are in for a treat. The just-opened exhibit A Dialogue in Styles: Jahmane and Adger Cowans shows art by two multigenerational artists at different stages of their ever-evolving careers. Jahmane is a “graffiti” artist whose style has evolved through fashion, graphic design, cultural iconography and murals. Jahmane’s work is matched with that of photographer Adger Cowans, internationally renowned for his portraits, street and political scenes, who has developed a fascination with the abstract and spiritual power of light and experiments with paint in many abstract forms. Sunday 1pm-3pm, witness a live conversation between these two influential Black artists in person and join in the Q&A session afterwards.

See these and discover hundreds more events on our FC Buzz-Events page here.

]]> (David Green) Events Fri, 23 Jul 2021 14:00:39 -0400
CT's Beardsley Zoo Mourns Loss of Guinea Hog Hamton

The family at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo is saddened to announce the passing of Hamton J. Pig, a 14-year-old male Guinea hog. He was a beloved member of the Zoo family, and a longtime resident of the Farmyard. Hamton passed away from causes related to his advanced age, with his longtime animal caretakers beside him. 

Guinea Hogs are a threatened heritage livestock breed, a traditional breed raised before the days of industrial agriculture, representing decades of history in the United States. At one time almost completely extinct, today Guinea Hogs have made a resurgence, thanks to breeding efforts to save heritage livestock. Hamton carried essential traits for survival and self-sufficiency, including foraging ability, longevity, ability to mate naturally, and resistance to diseases and parasites. He fathered several offspring that now reside throughout the country, an important part of the work to repopulate the breed. 

Hamton was a registered member of the American Guinea Hog Association (AGHA) and his photo is on The Livestock Conservancy items (mugs, shirts, hats, etc).

“Hamton will be deeply missed by all of us here at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo,” said Zoo Director Gregg Dancho. “He represented a true American breed.”

The Zoo’s Farmyard recently welcomed three Guinea hog piglets, one of which is a descendant of Hamton. The Farmyard showcases heritage breed animals like the Guinea hogs, domestic species that are in danger of disappearing from the landscape. Heritage breeds were originally bred for small family farms but are no longer commonly found. Rare farm animals represent an irreplaceable piece of earth’s biodiversity, just like their wild cousins, and offer variety that may be needed in the future: robust health, mothering instincts, foraging, and the ability to thrive in a changing climate.   

About Guinea hogs

A heritage hog breed, the Guinea Hog is a small, black breed of swine that is unique to the United States. Also known as the Pineywoods Guinea, Guinea Forest Hog, Acorn Eater, and Yard Pig, the breed was once the most numerous pig breed found on homesteads in the Southeast. The Guinea Hog became rare as the habitat of the homestead hog disappeared. Since the 1980s, the breed has enjoyed a new resurgence on small farms and modern homesteads. They grow to a height of 21-24 inches and weigh 150-300 lbs. They have an advanced sense of taste and can quickly identify objects by tasting them. They are quick learners and have a substantial memory.

]]> (Lisa Clair) Life Thu, 22 Jul 2021 08:15:28 -0400
Why Small Businesses Matter in Bridgeport: Grill II CT

Why Small Businesses Matter

Shop small, do big things for your community

Why Small Businesses Matter puts a spotlight on the local merchants who donate their time, talent, goods, and services for the betterment of our community. The shop local movement spreads virally as local businesses who are “tagged” have the opportunity to share their story!

You're IT Grill II CT!

Three questions with Paul Brown, founder of Grill II CT.

Why did you start your business?

After having a successful location in New York, we decided to bring the experience to the city of Bridgeport. The food, the atmosphere with music to match, our goal was to bring a new and long-lasting experience the city would always have when needed.

What is your best-selling product/service?

The Caribbean fusion we offer is hard to choose just one selection. One of our best-selling dishes would have to be our Rasta pasta. The chefs in the kitchen provide a flavor that can not be duplicated. We proudly stand behind this craft of a dish.

How many local businesses do you use to support your business (products and services) and can you name them?

We proudly connect with as many local businesses as possible. Just a few of our main connections would be:
- Linen Flatley
- Sandra bakery
- CDI Alcohol
- American garbage

These businesses provide us with essentials to keep running and in return, we promote their services among many other connecting businesses.

Paul would like to nominate Thelmas Soul Food in Bridgeport to be featured next!

Grill II CT is located at 1020 Broad Street in Bridgeport. Visit Grill II CT online here, and make sure to check out their Facebook and Instagram pages as well!

HamletHub thanks Fairfield County Bank for making our Why Small Businesses Matter series possible!

]]> (Dan) Places Thu, 22 Jul 2021 06:46:00 -0400
Discover and Support Bridgeport's SetSail Foundation

Bridgeport, CT - The SetSail Foundation is a wonderful local program providing 100% financial scholarships to 60 to 70 children each summer to attend a two-week sailing school. Sailing lessons are conducted from Captain's Cove, Bridgeport, through the Sail Away Sailing School.

SSF's mission is to introduce the life lessons of self-reliance, leadership and camaraderie that sailing uniquely offers. To give those children who, for whom it is not financially possible, the best summer ever. Most importantly, in a challenging environment, to make friends and have fun!


For the last seven years, the SSF Foundation has never turned a child away. No overhead, all volunteer run – every dollar goes towards the sailing scholarships. No endowment, no fancy fundraisers, no sponsorship – just kind people who want to help. SSF relies entirely on the generosity of individuals to sponsor children.


Donate today:

For more information, contact Alastair Crawford at


Photos show Brian Joyce, Eric Henry, Elizabeth Collins, Caroline Owens Crawford, Amanda Borst, Ed Santa

]]> (Mike Lauterborn ) Neighbors Wed, 21 Jul 2021 11:19:18 -0400
Walk To Help Veterans Experiencing Homelessness

Help Veterans experiencing homelessness by joining the Step OUT For The Brave 40,000 Step Challenge. The event, presented by the Homes for the Brave organization, takes place at a location of your choice between Saturday, August 7 and Sunday, August 15. Visit to sign up today, or to become a sponsor.

The challenge, which is the organization’s signature fundraiser, allows participants from across America, and even the world, to participate wherever they reside during the nine-day period. For just $40 you can help homeless Veterans one step at a time, and you’ll receive a drifit event shirt.

“Right now there are 40,000 homeless Veterans across our country. Whether you take one step or 40,000, we ask that you please join in this safe and impactful fundraiser that helps Veterans experiencing homelessness return to meaningful and productive lives,” said Vince Santilli, CEO/Executive Director of ABRI/Homes for the Brave.

A festive kickoff event will take place on Saturday, August 7th outside at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, CT, beginning at 9:00AM. The event is part of BPT200, a citywide celebration of Bridgeport's history and modern-day culture, cuisine, and colors. 

Since 2002, Homes for the Brave has helped over 1,400 homeless individuals, mostly Veterans, to secure income, find safe and affordable housing, and make meaningful contributions to our community.

To register visit: and for information on sponsorship opportunities please contact Vince Santilli at or call 203-338-0669.

“Businesses looking for safe teambuilding opportunities, or families wanting to gather together for a cause need look no further. This is our chance to respond to those who have served our country and need our help,” said Santilli.

Homes for the Brave would like to thank its current sponsors, including Haynes Construction, Webster Bank Arena, AT&T, Albertus Magnus College, Deadlocked Escape Rooms, Webster Bank, Newtown Savings Bank, Connecticare, Mutual Security Credit Union, People’s United Bank, Knights of Columbus Park City Council #16, Liberty Print, Microboard Processing, Tito's, The Original Vazzy's, BTX Global Logistics, T. Arduini Co. Inc., PSEG, Bridgeport Islanders and King Industries.

]]> (Laura Roberts) Charities Wed, 21 Jul 2021 03:54:18 -0400
Vineyard Wind Cuts Ribbon at Bridgeport Headquarters

Vineyard Wind, a joint venture between Avangrid Renewables, a subsidiary of AVANGRID, Inc. (NYSE: AGR), and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP), today held a ribbon cutting ceremony at its Bridgeport headquarters, which will serve as the base of operations for the project management, community outreach and workforce development teams.  

“The opening of this headquarters is an important milestone for Park City Wind, the City of Bridgeport, and the State of Connecticut,” said Governor Ned Lamont. “Our state is on the cusp of being a national leader in offshore wind, and this public-private partnership is the beginning of a long and prosperous relationship. This project brings the best to Bridgeport: good paying jobs, clean energy, and a groundbreaking industry, and I am proud to be a part of this grand opening.”

“Today marks another important milestone as we work to bring the largest procurement of clean and affordable energy in Connecticut’s history to the state,” said Lars T. Pedersen, CEO of Vineyard Wind.  “Between the teams that will work out of these offices and the many construction jobs at Barnum Landing, we are taking concrete steps toward making Bridgeport a hub for this new and growing industry.  I want to thank Governor Lamont, Mayor Ganim and all the other elected and city officials who joined us today for their support and look forward to many years of working together as we launch an industry that will not only reduce harmful carbon pollution but also create jobs and economic development in the city and the region.” 

“Park City Wind represents the future of clean energy, benefitting the city of Bridgeport, the state of Connecticut, and the customers of Connecticut’s electric distribution companies. I’m thrilled that our companies are part of this important transition for our home state,” said Dennis V. Arriola, CEO of AVANGRID. “Park City Wind is a major investment that will bring jobs and economic development to Bridgeport and clean wind power to Connecticut customers.”

The Park City Wind office is located at 350 Fairfield Avenue and will serve as the base of operations for more than a dozen employees. Vineyard Wind also recently announced that Barnum Landing, a 15-acre parcel located at 525 Seaview Avenue, will be used during the construction phase of the PCW project, which will include storage and assembly of the transition pieces, the portion of the turbine that anchors the body of the machines to the steel foundation.  Once construction is completed, Vineyard Wind intends to use 3 acres of the port site for an operations and maintenance hub that will support local jobs for the 20-plus year lifespan of the project. 

The PCW project was selected by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) in December of 2019 to provide 804 megawatts of clean, affordable and reliable energy to the state.  Park City Wind, which will provide roughly 14% of the state’s electricity supply, represents the largest purchase of renewable energy in state history and is expected to include an estimated $890 million in direct economic development in Connecticut and support 2,800 full-time equivalent (FTE) job years.  

AVANGRID, a 50% partner in Vineyard Wind, is headquartered in Orange, Connecticut and has been serving the Constitution State for over a century through its subsidiaries United Illuminating, Southern Connecticut Gas and Connecticut Natural Gas.  

]]> (Andrew Doba) Places Mon, 19 Jul 2021 09:43:02 -0400
United Way of Western Connecticut Awards Connecticut Housing Partners a $10,000 COVID Relief Resiliency Grant!

Connecticut Housing Partners, headquartered in Trumbull CT, and provides affordable housing throughout Fairfield County, has been awarded a $10,000 COVID Relief Resiliency Grant.

This grant will fund our Rent Bank, Rental Assistance Program. COVID-19 has created a dire emergency for many of our residents who have lost their jobs and cannot pay their rent. Many residents have been living paycheck to paycheck and have no cash reserve The Rent Bank has been a critical program, a lifeline for our struggling residents through these unprecedented times.

Renée Dobos, CEO of Connecticut Housing says, “We are thrilled to have been awarded this vital funding from the United Way of Western Connecticut. COVID-19 continues to create a dire financial crisis for many of our low-income residents who have lost their jobs and they are now unable to pay their rent. We want to do everything we can during this crisis not to evict these residents and prevent homelessness.”

The CHP Rent Bank was created to aid our residents through unexpected financial hardships. Through the Rent Bank, CHP offers temporary subsidized rent relief for low-income seniors and families in CHP properties who cannot pay their rent. Dobos continues, “Our Rent Bank Rental Assistance Program has become a “lifeline” for many of our struggling residents, with “no strings attached,” and it does not have to be paid back. We will also identify support services in the community that these residents can reach out to for job placement and educate residents about solutions to financial hardships."

CHP offers mandatory Budget Counseling to these residents during this unpredictable economic period. We interface with residents to help them budget effectively during this crisis. To qualify for the Rent Bank Rental Assistance Program, the resident would, of course, have been in good standing, and demonstrate that they have lost their job due to COVID-19.  

CHP is continually reaching out to business partners and foundations to support the Rent Bank-funded so it is available to keep a roof over the heads of struggling residents.  Since the start of the pandemic, CHP has assisted 75 households to remain safely housed.

For more information, please visit 

]]> (Rboin Jerrild) Charities Fri, 16 Jul 2021 09:59:01 -0400
Drag Bingo Brunch at Black Rock Social House on July 24

Visit Black Rock Social House for the next Drag Bingo Brunch - hosted by Kiki Lucia with proceeds benefiting the New Haven Pride Center. Our first drag bingo branch was sold out. Don't miss out. Make your reservations early!

]]> (Black Rock Social House) Events Fri, 16 Jul 2021 09:46:39 -0400
Baby Giant Anteater Born at CT's Beardsley Zoo

For the third time in Zoo history, a Giant anteater has been born at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo.

Arriving on June 15 after a 175-day gestation period, the baby weighed 4.3 pounds at nine days old, and 6.1 pounds at 23 days old on July 8. Proud parents are third time dad, E.O., and fourth time mom, Pana. The pair was brought to Connecticut’s only Zoo with the hopes of successful breeding, which occurred for the first time in 2016. Currently mother and baby are in seclusion most of the day, with brief forays into the outdoor habitat for fresh air and sunshine. 

“We couldn’t be happier that our Giant anteaters Pana and E.O. are parents for the third time,” explained Zoo Director Gregg Dancho. “We encourage everyone to follow the baby’s growth and progress on our Facebook and Instagram pages until the baby is a bit larger.”

Mochilla, the pair’s first offspring, is now in residence at Alexandria Zoo in Louisiana. The second-born, Tupi, is now at the Nashville Zoo in Tennessee. 

Female anteaters give birth to one offspring and the baby rides on mom’s back for the first several months of life, occasionally venturing off not too far from mom to explore its surroundings. For the first week, mom spends most of her time sleeping while bonding occurs and the baby gains strength and weight. When Pana and her baby are outside, EO will not be allowed to be in the same habitat due to the mother’s protectiveness. Pana and the baby will be outside for guests to view later this summer, alternating with EO.

The Giant anteater parents came to the Zoo from Palm Beach Zoo in Palm Beach, Florida. Both Pana and EO are twelve years old. They arrived in late May 2015 and are a highlight of the Pampas Plains habitat, which opened in August 2015. Featuring animals from the Pampas region of Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil, the exhibit represents the Zoo’s South American Adventure. 

About Giant Anteaters

Giant anteaters can live up to 26 years in human care and are usually solitary animals. They weigh up to 100 pounds, and are five to seven feet long. Their home range is from southern Belize to northern Argentina and they live in grasslands, humid forests, and woodland areas. Anteaters have one of the lowest body temperatures in the animal kingdom at 91 to 97 degrees Fahrenheit and can eat up to 30,000 ants per meal in the wild. The Latin name for anteater is Vermillingua, meaning "worm tongue," which can be as long as two feet.

]]> (Lisa Clair) Neighbors Thu, 15 Jul 2021 09:48:56 -0400
Save the Date! Progressive Insurance Norwalk Boat Show is Back September 23-26, 2021

The Progressive® Insurance Norwalk Boat Show® is Back Thursday, September 23 – Sunday, September 26, 2021 at Norwalk Cove Marina

Free Boat Rides, Boating Lessons for All Ages, Offshore Fishing Demos and Mini Mariner Fun Await as the Northeast’s Favorite Boating Event Returns to Norwalk Cove Marina

 The 2021 Progressive® Insurance Norwalk Boat Show®, the Northeast’s premier in-water boating event, returns to the Norwalk Cove Marina September 23-26, 2021, offering nautical novices, seasoned sailors and water lovers alike an all-access pass to dive into the boating lifestyle. Attendees are invited to celebrate the homecoming of this annual boating tradition as they shop, learn new skills, connect with fellow boaters, and take advantage of four days of fun for all ages on the Long Island Sound.

Purchase online: $15 for adults; children 12 and under get in FREE when accompanied by a paid adult.

Here’s a first look at what attendees can see & do at the Progressive Insurance Norwalk Boat Show this year:

  •        See & shop the most comprehensive selection of boat brands and types in the tri-state area this fall, from offshore fishing boats to family cruisers. The Boat Show is the perfect opportunity to browse, compare and place orders for your first or next boat.
  •        Gear up on the newest boating accessories, marine electronics and on-the-water must-haves from the best brands in the business.
  •        NEW! Fish with the pros from Goose Hummock, the Northeast’s leading saltwater fishing experts and outfitters, with on-the-water saltwater fishing demos.
  •        More fun on the water! Take the helm with free boating lessons, on-water demos, and hands-on education for all skill levels.
  •        Family fun abounds, including Touch Tanks with live tidepool creatures; Keep on Truckin’ – the chance to climb aboard and take pictures with different kinds of trucks; paddle boating in a mini pool, toy boat-building workshops and more.
  •        Connect with the boating community over boating bites, waterside cocktails, free paddle sports demos, free boat rides and much more during the last days of summer on Long Island Sound.

Timing: 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m., Thursday-Saturday; 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Sunday

Norwalk Cove Marina is located at 48 Calf Pasture Beach Road, East Norwalk, CT

Purchase online: $15 for adults; children 12 and under get in FREE when accompanied by a paid adult.

NEW! FREE PARKING for all attendees at Calf Pasture Beach

For more information, visit Plus follow the latest and join in the excitement of the Show on Facebook and Instagram. #NorwalkBoatShow

]]> ( Amanda Brokaw) Events Thu, 15 Jul 2021 08:48:03 -0400
Unified Northeast Corridor’s Rail Plan: Connect NEC 2035

Governor Ned Lamont today is praising the multi-state, multi-agency rail infrastructure plan CONNECT NEC 2035 (C35) that was released by the Northeast Corridor (NEC) Commission. The governor said that C35 is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to replace aging bridges and tunnels, add rail capacity, improve performance, and enhance customer experience on the Northeast Corridor.

The 15-year rail service and infrastructure plan represents the collaboration between Connecticut and other state governments in the Northeast, the federal government, eight commuter rail agencies, and Amtrak through the NEC Commission. It outlines specific details for 150 infrastructure projects in the region, including major projects in Connecticut that will among other things create a one-seat ride from Waterbury to New York City and will establish express service from both Hartford and New London into New York City.

“Last month, Connecticut released Time for CT, a roadmap to bring faster and more frequent train service between Connecticut and New York. Today, C35 builds on Connecticut’s vision to better connect people and places in the state and beyond our borders along the Northeast Corridor,” Governor Lamont said. “The C35 proposal complements and builds on Connecticut’s vision, which is about jobs, combating climate change, and better connecting communities.”

“We know rail investments are the building blocks that will shape our country’s future and transform the Northeast and passenger service here in Connecticut,” Connecticut Transportation Commissioner Joseph Giulietti said. “C35 represents a unified approach to making tangible social, equitable and economic impacts  in countless communities and when paired with Time for CT, we have an opportunity to transform how people move – where and why – for this generation and the next.”

The Northeast Corridor Commission was established by Congress in 2008 to develop coordinated strategies to improve the Northeast’s core rail network. Connecticut is a voting member of the Northeast Corridor Commission, which includes the U.S. Department of Transportation, seven other states, the District of Columbia, and Amtrak.

To read the full C35 report, click here.


]]> (Gov. Ned Lamont) Politics Wed, 14 Jul 2021 15:17:18 -0400
Sacred Heart University Awards Brew Diversity Scholarships to Stamford and Hartford Residents

Sacred Heart University, in partnership with Athletic Brewing Company of Stratford and New England Brewing Company (NEBCO) of Woodbridge, recently awarded beer entrepreneurs scholarships to SHU’s brewing science certificate program

Craft breweries are growing in popularity, yet owners at NEBCO and Athletic Brewing saw a lack of diversity in the profession. To address that, NEBCO launched the NEBCO African American Brewers Scholarship with SHU in 2020. Athletic Brewing Company, which produces non-alcoholic craft beer, followed suit with the Athletic Brewing Company Scholarship. Each scholarship provides one Black person with full tuition for SHU’s one-year, 22-credit, brewing science program. 

The two scholarship recipients were chosen recently from a robust applicant pool. They started the program at the end of May alongside a new cohort of students. 

NEBCO recipient 

“It’s all coming together,” said Jamal Robinson, NEBCO’s director of sales. Robinson had rallied his colleagues at NEBCO to develop ways to diversify the craft brew scene. Through NEBCO’s equity committee, the idea to start a scholarship came about. “It really feels amazing that this idea has become a reality. We’re trying to make a change, and we are,” Robinson said. 

Karim Kallon, of Stamford, received the NEBCO scholarship. He has co-owned Best Friends Lunch for about three years with—you guessed it—his best friend, Tommy Mansilla. The two have been brewing beer for nearly a decade. 

Back then, on a lazy Saturday when Kallon and Mansilla were hanging out, Mansilla suggested they make beer with a brew kit. Instead of following the step-by-step instructions, they mixed up ingredients to create their own concoction. About three weeks later, when the beer was ready to drink, they found that what they brewed tasted pretty good. 

“We started doing that every week,” Kallon said. “It was really cool. I realized I really enjoyed creating the product. We started doing it for fun, and then it became popular among our friends.” 

The duo started bringing their beers to friends’ houses and parties. Then, Kallon left a few of his beers one day with the owner of Brick House in in Stamford, to taste-test, and the owner was impressed. He gave Kallon a few kegs to brew in and then, a few weeks later, people were drinking Kallon’s home-brewed beer at Brick House. He continued to do this monthly, and eventually someone approached Kallon and asked if he could invest in his beer. 

“That’s when I realized we might have something here,” Kallon said. 

Kallon’s previous career was in sales; he said he never really fit. But he felt differently about brewing. “This was ours. We get to be creative,” he said. 

Kallon said he heard about the scholarship to SHU’s program through multiple people, including his mom. “Once she told me about it, I knew I had to apply,” he said. He was pleased when he learned he was selected. “I didn’t know who I was up against, so it was really cool they thought I was the right fit.”

Robinson said Kallon is a perfect recipient. “He’s already on the scene, he’s a small, Black-owned business and we’re supporting him,” Robinson said. “We’re helping him advance his career. When we talk about people of color getting a piece of the $83 billion dollar economic impact that craft beer represents, this is exactly what we mean.”

Though Kallon didn’t know much about the science of brewing beer, he is learning about it now because of the NEBCO scholarship. He’s also enthusiastic about making connections and being around people who love beer and brewing as much as he does. “This is a great opportunity to learn and meet new people,” he said. 

Athletic Brewing recipient 

Alex Showerman, Athletic Brewing Company’s director of JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion) and nonprofit partnerships, believes that to build a more inclusive craft beer industry, there must be systemic change. People must think beyond the company, she said. 

“One of the biggest challenges is workforce development,” Showerman said. “If we keep recruiting from the same pool of candidates, then we will continue to speak only to the same audiences within the industry. Our goal is to widen the aperture of the craft brewing world. The scholarship is an incredible opportunity to bring not only new people, but fresh perspectives and creativity into our industry to create lasting and meaningful change.”

Bill Shufelt, co-founder of Athletic Brewing, said that, being a non-alcoholic brewery, “we feel that our product is inherently an inclusive one. More people can enjoy our product on more occasions. However, we’ve realized that when it comes to welcoming traditionally under-represented communities into craft beer, there is so much work to be done. We can’t just assume our industry is inclusive; we have to proactively reach out and invite new communities to be a part of it. Bringing in new communities and fresh perspectives will only make our industry a more creative, safe and welcoming place for all.”

Oren Ferris of Hartford, received the Athletic Brewing scholarship. Like Kallon, Ferris said he’s always enjoyed beer. As the craft beer industry began to flourish, he started attending beer festivals. “I really enjoyed the community and, of course, the finished product,” Ferris said. He started visiting more and more breweries and wanted to find a way to get involved. 

In the summer of 2019, he started working at the beer garden in Hartford’s Bushnell Park as a server and also handled customer service. He enjoyed the fast-paced environment, talking to customers and learning about new beers. 

That position led him to his current job at Hog River Brewing Co. in Hartford as a closing manager. In this role, he gets a glimpse of the process’s various aspects; from serving in the tap room, to viewing production and canning, to maintenance. 

“I enjoy it all,” Ferris said. 

Ferris learned about the scholarship opportunity at SHU through the CT Brewers Guild’s social media pages. The guild is a nonprofit organization that promotes the interests of the state’s beer scene. It also developed an endowed scholarship fund with SHU: the Connecticut Brewers Guild African American Brewing Scholarship, which, when fully funded, will cover tuition for a Black student in the brewing science program each year in perpetuity.

Ferris said that when he realized the Athletic Brewing scholarship was only for Black applicants, he was a little shocked, but pleased something was being done to make the industry more diverse and inclusive. “This is a step in the right direction,” he said. 

Ferris saw the scholarship as an opportunity to get himself into the industry. “I have this passion, and I thought it could grow if I got this scholarship.” He wasn’t impressed with his corporate career and was looking for a change. 

“What’s the worst that can happen?” he said at the time. When he received the call about being accepted, he was speechless. “It really solidified for me, this is the path I should be on,” he said. “This is my opportunity to learn and to grow and make the most of myself.”

“We are so thrilled to support Oren,” said John Walker, co-founder of Athletic Brewing Company. “We know that he not only shares our passion for delicious craft beer, but also for entrepreneurship and building inclusive communities. Our hope is that this program continues to help him work towards his dream of one day starting his own company in the craft beer space. We can't wait to see what he comes up with.”

SHU’s brewing science program teaches students about scientific brewing theory, ingredient and recipe design, sanitation and safety, brewing management and related law. Qualified professors with brewing experience teach students hands-on lessons in SHU’s lab at Two Roads Brewery Company in Stratford. Participating students also intern at top breweries throughout the state. Two Roads, in partnership with Sacred Heart, supports and funds two deserving students in the brewing science program.

For more information about the scholarships, visit the Athletic Brewing Company Scholarship webpage and the NEBCO African American Brewers Scholarship webpage

]]> ( Kim Swartz) Neighbors Tue, 13 Jul 2021 15:01:49 -0400
FCBuzz Weekend: NICE Festival, Spotlight on Arts and Culture, and More!

The Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County celebrates the vibrancy and diversity of the arts and culture across the 15 towns in our region of coastal Fairfield County and each Tuesday issues our free E-Buzz newsletter with a selection of the hundreds of events posted to our website by our members.

It looks like the storms have subsided and one of the biggest and best summer festivals will be safe. We’re talking about the Norwalk International Cultural Exchange Festival (or NICE). Taking place all day in Norwalk’s Oyster Shell Park, by the river, the Norwalk NICE Festival celebrates international cultures through music, dance, and food. Cuisines from around the world, live Rock/Reggae/Rhythm & Blues/Latin music and live Flamenco, Asian, and African dance. Games, exhibits, special children’s shows - there’s enough for the whole family from 11am to 10pm. One of the many performers is Junko Fisher, a Japanese Traditional Okinawan Dancer that many of us saw perform at the opening celebration of the Norwalk Art Space. We’re definitely going back to see her perform on Saturday.

Learn more here.

Moving over to Westport - there are two art openings you should see. One is a two-person show at the Sorelle Gallery in Bedford Square. Two artists share their work in “Quiet Moments” - one is the contemporary coastal realist painter, Daniel Pollera, with very atmospheric peaceful seaside scenes - the other is the enveloping abstract work by artist and Cultural ALliance member Kelly Rossetti. Both artists will be in attendance from 3 - 5pm Saturday to speak with visitors and share their work and creative process.

Learn more here

Also in Westport, a two-part show by the 150-member Artists Collective of Westport in two galleries of the Westport Library. The theme of the show, with 150 different perspectives, is “Community,” and the works variously express gratitude for the many individuals that helped keep us connected during the pandemic, from supermarket employees and delivery people to the healthcare heroes on the front lines.

Learn more here.

And speaking of emerging from the pandemic, tune in on Monday at noon to WPKN, 89.5FM, where you can hear the latest monthly broadcast in our SPOTLIGHT ON ARTS & CULTURE series. This month we invited the leaders of five very different theaters in our region from Greenwich to Bridgeport to talk about the day they realized their Spring 2020 seasons were dead, and how they managed to survive with the help of audiences, staff, board members and the state government to pull through. The interview is full of bright energy, determination and excitement about their new seasons. Definitely worth a listen.

Learn more here.

See these and discover hundreds more events on our FC Buzz-Events page here.

]]> (David Green) Events Sat, 10 Jul 2021 06:20:48 -0400
Live Music in Bridgeport Tomorrow: Bobby Morrill and Acoustic Mafia at at Boca Oyster Bar

Spend tomorrow Saturday, July 10 at Boca Oyster Bar in Bridgeport and enjoy great views, food, drinks, and live music from Bobby Morrill and Acoustic Mafia!

]]> (Boca Oyster Bar ) Events Fri, 09 Jul 2021 11:39:45 -0400