Sono's HamletHub Fri, 05 Mar 2021 02:54:56 -0500 AGW SoNo Partners & OnWashington Celebrate Entrepreneurial Spirit

South Norwalk, CT: Local real estate collective AGW SONO Partners announced its latest Washington Street project this week with a call for entrepreneurs to pitch their business concept and be entered to win a free commercial pop-up space on Washington Street in the Historic SoNo District. The concept is another initiative put forth by AGW SONO Partners, who manage 27 properties on Washington Street, and their marketing arm for the portfolio, OnWashington.

Entrepreneurs are encouraged to pitch AGW with their passion project, a restaurant concept, a retail product, a unique service, or an entertaining idea that can be introduce to the public. 

“This is a wonderful opportunity for a business to be able to conduct market research with consumers, test the waters in a commercial and public setting, or just go all out and sell product, “says Linda Kavanagh, the Director of OnWashington, “So many people this past year have had to pivot with their careers, and many are seizing the opportunity to reinvent themselves and pursue a career in something they are truly passionate about. This contest is truly a celebration of the entrepreneurial spirit.”


Business Ideas will be evaluated by AGW SONO Partners and OnWashington.

*Submissions are due by March 31, 2021

The winner will be contacted by April 7, 2021.

The location and terms of conducting business in the awarded space will be outlined by AGW SONO Partners.

Utilizing the portfolio’s available spaces is something AGW has become known for since this New York-based company swept into town in November 2019. OnWashington is AGW’s marketing arm for Washington Street Historic District, which includes a website, social media platforms @onwashingtonst, and an ongoing agenda that focuses on supporting its tenants, enhancing the block, and attracting new tenants to open their business on Washington Street. 

In September 2020, AGW built and launched Norwalk To-Go, a custom take-out and delivery platform designed to assist their restaurant tenants with their enhanced take-out and delivery portion of their businesses. The program is fully funded by AGW so its restaurant tenants no longer need to absorb the 30% fee that third party delivery companies gouge them with. Restaurants keep 100% of their sales! Norwalk To-Go has reached over $65,000 in sales since launching.

To date, AGW and OnWashington have produced several high-profile community events, including Art OnWashington, which filled Washington Street Historic District storefronts with an eclectic collection of thought-provoking art; the 2020 SoNo Arts Festival “Gallery Walk”, setting up eight gallery locations on Washington Street during September and October; and the SoNo Holiday Market, transforming eight locations into festive gift shops and filling the street with live holiday music. 

“Our goal is to establish Washington Street Historic District as a premier destination to live, work, and play," said Adam Greenbaum, Managing Partner, AGW SONO Partners. “To accomplish this, the success of our tenants is vital, as is the continued enrichment of the neighborhood. Support comes in many forms and we are committed to finding creative ways to enhance Washington Street Historic District.” , @onwashingtonst  ,

]]> (Max Ex PR) Places Thu, 04 Mar 2021 05:33:17 -0500
Maritime Aquarium Offers New Winter Birding Cruises

Enjoy close on-the-water access to some of the waterfowl that seasonally migrate to Long Island Sound during “Winter Birding Cruises” offered by The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk.

These new cruises, geared especially for birders, will seek out such species as long-tailed ducks, mergansers, loons, scaup, buffleheads and more – species that visit the Sound each winter yet can be hard to appreciate at a distance from shore.

The 90-minute outings are planned for Sat., Feb. 27; Sat., March 13; and Sat., March 27. Departure time for each is 1 p.m.

“We’ve added these cruises just for birders because we’ve noticed that many of the folks coming out on our ‘Seal-Spotting and Birding Cruises’ have come out more to see the birds than to see the seals,” said Aquarium spokesman Dave Sigworth. “Many of the seal cruises are selling out, and we can’t add more because they’re timed to be tide-dependent. Fortunately, low tide is irrelevant to birding on the Sound, so we’re excited to add the ‘Winter Birding Cruises’ to give more folks the opportunity to see these beautiful guests out on the water.”

Cruises occur aboard The Maritime Aquarium’s R/V Spirit of the Sound, the country’s first research vessel with quiet hybrid-electric propulsion. She has a climate-controlled cabin but, because the best viewing is outside on the deck, participants should dress for the weather.

Special COVID precautions include required mask-wearing, reduced capacity onboard, and no provided binoculars. (BYOB: bring your own binoculars.)

The Maritime Aquarium’s cruises offer memorable family fun but please note that all passengers must be at least 42 inches tall. Guests under age 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Cruises depart from the dock outside the Aquarium’s former IMAX theater.

Tickets for a “Winter Birding Cruise” are $26.50 ($21.50 for Aquarium members).

Advance reservations are required. Reserve your spot by calling (203) 852-0700, ext. 2206, on weekdays or by going online any time to

]]> (Dave Sigworth) Events Mon, 15 Feb 2021 10:06:11 -0500
Maritime Aquarium Marks Black History Month with Live-Streaming Programs Celebrating Contributions of Black Scientists and Authors

Log in to learn the achievements of Black scientists and authors during upcoming live-streaming educational programs offered by The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk during Black History Month.

The Virtual programs offered during Black History Month are part of a changing suite of online programs offered weekly by the Aquarium. There’s no set charge, just a suggested donation for each.

Tom Naiman, the Aquarium’s director of Education, said the contributions of Black scientists, especially in the marine sciences, are less-known and less-appreciated.

“For a field that is dedicated to preserving biodiversity in the natural world, we can do a much better job of reflecting and celebrating diversity among the scientists and authors we rely on for knowledge and inspiration,” Naiman said. “These programs are a step in that direction, and one that we plan to build on in a variety of ways.”

The programs, all one hour long, are:

• “Fish Tales” story time for preschoolers

Friday mornings at 11 a.m. (Feb. 5, 12, 19 & 26)

During these interactive story times, an Aquarium educator will lead young children and their parents/caregivers through songs, rhymes, dances, book readings and maybe even a visit with an animal ambassador. For the month of February, we will be using stories written by Black authors and celebrating work of Black scientists that has an impact on our lives every day. Sign up for one, some or all four.

• “The Changing Oceans”

Sat., Feb. 20 at 10 a.m.

Primarily for ages 10-14 but open to all. The ocean ecosystem has been changing as long as humans have been observing it. This program explores what is causing the change, how it is affecting us, and one of the scientists researching it. Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson is a marine biologist working to reverse climate change and the effects of overfishing.

• “Bioluminescence”

Wed., Feb. 24 at 4 p.m.

Primarily for ages 10-14 but open to all. The deeper we explore into the ocean, the stranger the animals become. Animals may look alien, and many of them glow. Join us to learn more about this glowing, or bioluminescence, and why it is important for animals in the deep ocean. We highlight Emmett Chappelle, a scientist who used the chemicals created by animals with bioluminescence to find ways of detecting life.

Capacity in each session is 50 participants.

The Maritime Aquarium has been offering a weekly lineup of live-streamed presentations about marine animals and the aquatic environment since its COVID-19 closure last March – and still now since reopening in June. The programs, which vary week to week but include options for different age groups, have been viewed by more than 20,000 participants in 43 states, Puerto Rico and six foreign countries.

Advance registration is required so that participants can be emailed a Zoom link for the specific program.

Sign up – and learn more about the family attraction’s animals, exhibits, programs, cruises onto Long Island Sound this winter and more – at

]]> (Dave Sigworth) Events Thu, 04 Feb 2021 09:38:28 -0500
Westport Farmers' Market Recognized as a Top Market in the Country by American Farmland Trust

Westport Farmers’ Market (WFM) is pleased to announce that it has been recognized by American Farmland Trust (AFT) as the 26th best farmers market in the country, 10th in the Northeast, and 1st in Connecticut during AFT’s 2020 Farmers’ Market Celebration. AFT runs a contest every year to “ensure that markets across the county get the recognition they deserve … nationally and at the regional level.” WFM ended one of its toughest years on a high note with the recognition.

“It is such an honor to be recognized by our shoppers, vendors, and AFT as one of the top markets in the nation, especially during 2020,” said Lori Cochran-Dougall, executive director of WFM. “For the first time in our history, we operated the market 12 months in a row to tackle to challenges presented by the pandemic. We set up a strict, COVID-safe, pre-ordering system that served as a model for others. It wasn’t easy, but we felt a duty to our farmers, knew that farmers’ markets would be more critical than ever, and we met the challenge.”

AFT’s campaign helped to promote markets, farmers, vendors, and the people and places that bring communities fresh, healthful food. According to AFT president, John Piotti, “The role that markets play is invaluable, not only because they provide us with such a vital source of food. Farmers markets have also been at the leading edge of educating consumers about where food comes from and reinforcing AFT’s message of No Farms No Food. Here at AFT, we know it starts on your fork.”

As one voter put it, “WFM is the best in the area for variety, quality, and sheer beauty of its offerings. Thanks to the many growers, vendors, and volunteers for their hard work. The market has been a bright spot in these dark times.”

]]> (Lori Cochran-Dougall) Places Tue, 02 Feb 2021 15:12:29 -0500
Honoring the Silent: Documenting African American & Native American History in Connecticut – Virtual Lecture, Feb. 18

In honor of Black History Month, the Norwalk Historical Society is pleased to host the virtual lecture, “Honoring the Silent: Documenting African American & Native American History in Connecticut”, on Thursday, February 18, 2021 at 5:30 p.m. via Zoom. The lecture will be given by Dennis Culliton, Founder and Executive Director of the Witness Stones Project and Dr. Katherine A. Hermes of “Uncovering Their History: Africans, African Americans and Native Americans in Hartford’s Ancient Burying Ground, 1640 – 1815”. Q & A will follow the lecture.

This virtual event is free but registration is required. Register at: 

Help the Norwalk Historical Society continue its community programming with a donation:

Explore the Witness Stones Project with Founder and Executive Director, Dennis Culliton. In less than four years, 11 schools, and over 2,000 students have engaged in the Witness Stones curriculum, learning about the history of slavery in the North. They use the Five Themes of Slavery as a lens to analyze and extract biographical information about the African and African Americans who were so much a part of colonial Connecticut. The mission of the Witness Stones Project is through research, education, and civic engagement they aim to restore the history and honor the humanity and contributions of enslaved individuals who helped build our communities.

Learn about “Uncovering Their History: Africans, African Americans and Native Americans in Hartford’s Ancient Burying Ground, 1640-1815”, a project commissioned by the Ancient Burying Ground Association to find the names and information about the people of African and Native descent buried in Hartford’s oldest cemetery.  Dr. Hermes will explain how a dedicated group of professors, a librarian, students and history alumni from CCSU built an interactive website with a downloadable database, profiles, several narratives, family trees, and RelationshipTreesTM detailing more than 500 lives and deaths.  She will discuss a few of the most interesting stories and demonstrate how to use the website.

About Dennis Culliton: He entered the adult world joining the Marines before attending college at UMass studying Anthropology and Economics. From there he became a contract negotiator in the federal government before attending Quinnipiac University graduating with a MAT in History. He spent a quarter century of teaching history in public schools. The Witness Stones Project started in 2017 when Doug Nygren, after hearing Dennis speak about the enslaved in Guilford, CT, shared with him the memorialization of Jews in Berlin and Central Europe through the Stolpersteine Project.  Dennis developed a way to use his own research, heavy with primary documents, to empower his students to tell the stories of those who were enslaved in Guilford and beyond. The project has now spread to over a dozen communities in three Northeastern states, reaching more than 2,000 students.

About Dr. Hermes: Dr. Katherine A. Hermes, J.D., Ph.D., teaches at Central Connecticut State University in the History Department Her courses include Anglo-American legal history and Native Americans of the Eastern Woodlands, as well as others on Early America and digital history. She is the co-author with Alexandra Maravel of several articles and book chapters on Native American history in New England and the author of book chapters on Native legal history. She is the director of the “Uncovering Their History” project which documented Native and African burials in Hartford’s ancient burying ground. Her work can be accessed at

For more information on the Norwalk Historical Society visit, e-mail, or call 203-846-0525. The Norwalk Historical Society is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
Image Credit: Cora Marshall & Witness Stones Project

]]> (Norwalk Historical Society) Events Mon, 01 Feb 2021 15:10:49 -0500
The Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum's 8th Annual Young Writers' Competition Kicks Off On Feb. 1

The Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum will launch its eighth annual Young Writers’ Competition onFebruary 1, 2021.The competitiontitled, A Scientist Visits the Mansion, will end on June 4, 2021 with an awards ceremony on Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021. The competition is open to all middle school students sixth through eighth grade in the Tristate area.

Participants will be tasked to write a story of a fictional event taking place at the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion between 1868 and 1938. The cast of characters must include a doctor or scientist who became famous or infamous during the mid-to-late 19th century and members of the Lockwood or Mathews families. Young writers will learn about the families’ history, read biographies of the doctors and scientists, and explore the rooms in the Mansion where the event described could have taken place, using the Museum’s website as a reference. Students will create a short story that will include at least one doctor or scientist weaved into this narrative, and can introduce fictional friends visiting the Mansion as well. Short stories submitted cannot be of a violent nature.

The deadline for submissions is Friday, June 4 and competition winners will be notified by mid-September.  Competition winners and their families will be Guests of Honor at the Awards Ceremony on Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021, 2-4 p.m. Requirements and guidelines for the competition will be posted on the Museum’s website and on flyers.

For more information on LMMM’s Young Writers’ Competition, school tours and sending submissions, please contact Education Program Director Iliana Begetis, 203-838-9799, ext. 6, or email:

The Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum is located at 295 West Avenue in Norwalk.  Student tours are offered February through December. For more information on tours and programs, please visit, e-mail, or call 203-838-9799.  

The Museum’s 2021 cultural and educational programs are made possible in part by generous funding from LMMM’s Founding Patrons: The Estate of Mrs. Cynthia Clark Brown;LMMM’s Leadership Patrons: The Sealark Foundation; LMMM’s 2021 Season Distinguished Benefactors: The City of Norwalk and The Maurice Goodman Foundation; LMMM’s 2021 Distinguished Benefactors for Education: The Daphne Seybolt Culpeper Memorial Foundation, Inc.

]]> (Susan Gilgore) Neighbors Thu, 28 Jan 2021 15:00:22 -0500
Phone Assistance Lines for Norwalk Seniors Seeking COVID-19 Vaccine Information

The City of Norwalk has partnered with the Norwalk Senior Center and Senior Services Coordinating Council to launch phone assistance lines for Norwalk seniors seeking information regarding COVID-19 vaccines.
Seniors may call the Norwalk Senior Center at (203) 847-3115 (English) or (203) 299-1500 (Español), or Senior Services Coordinating Council at (203) 434-3085 or (203) 434-1876 for assistance.
If a senior does not have access to a computer or email and/or prefers direct assistance, they will be offered an appointment at either the Main Library or SoNo Library. 
Visit City of Norwalk online here for updates and additional details (coming soon!)
]]> (City of Norwalk) Life Mon, 25 Jan 2021 12:32:40 -0500
Westport Farmers' Market Hosts Annual Seed Exchange, Jan. 28

On Thursday, January 28 the Westport Farmers’ Market will celebrate 2021 by hosting our annual seed exchange in honor of National Seed Exchange day.

“Collecting, sharing, and growing seeds saved by our very own shoppers, farmers, and vendors – especially heirloom varieties – involves the community personally in the promotion of local food and flora,” said Lori Cochran-Dougall, executive director of the WFM. “This year more than ever we want to seed the year with love and health.”

The public is invited to bring seeds they have saved from their own gardens or simply take home a few saved by others. WFM farmers will donate seeds from their favorite crops for the community to try at home. All seeds except those of invasive species* are welcome, however, the market is requesting  people to bring and take home heirloom or organic varieties.

“Heirloom seeds are critical to reclaiming of our food system,” continued Cochran-Dougall. “These are open-pollinated plants that have been passed down from generation to generation without human intervention or manipulation. They taste better, are more nutritious, and help protect plant diversity.”

The seed exchange will run from 10 to 2 (or until all seeds are shared) Thursday, January 28 at Gilbertie’s, 7 Sylvan Avenue, Westport. Experts will be on hand to informally discuss the importance of seed saving.

*For a list of plants considered invasive in Connecticut, please visit the Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group at UConn here:

For more information, visit, email, and follow @westportfarmersmarket on FB, Instagram, and


]]> (Lori Cochran-Dougall) Events Thu, 21 Jan 2021 15:00:22 -0500
Virtual Author Talk at Ridgefield Library with Amy Oestreicher, January 26

In her memoir, My Beautiful Detour: An Unthinkable Journey from Gutless to Grateful, Amy Oestreicher shares the insight and joy she’s found despite life’s curveballs. Her message — about reframing unfortunate circumstances to find the good — is both inspiring and timely. The author, TEDx speaker, award-winning actress, and mixed media artist will be featured in the virtual Author Talk, “Creativity, Hope and Resilience,” hosted by The Ridgefield Library on Tuesday, January 26 at 6:00 p.m. The event will include a presentation, excerpt reading, Q & A, and theater trivia for signed copies. The program is free, open to the public, and attendees should register for the Zoom link at In addition, My Beautiful Detour can be purchased via Amy’s website (, or online where books are sold. The newest edition contains an exciting update: a new Afterward by Broadway’s Tony Award-winning composer and lyricist, William Finn. The audio book will be available in Winter 2021.

At nearly 18, after the trauma of being sexually abused by a trusted mentor, Amy’s stomach ruptured. What followed was 28 surgeries, seven years without food or drink, and transforming adversity into adventure. At 32, Amy is much wiser than her years — having rallied from a life-threatening illness to find success in writing, art, theater, puppetry, public speaking, dance, and PTSD work with teens, among other endeavors. She’s used creativity to not only power through setbacks, but also to find personal growth along the way. Having experienced multiple “detours,’ the author encourages others to rebound and “show up, speak your truth, and don’t be attached to the outcome.”

On January 26, Amy will speak about resilience-building by employing four strategies: Creativity, Storytelling, Hope, and Gratitude — a winning-combination — and staples that have guided her through tough challenges, propelling her to gain perspective and thrive. She’ll also explain how to utilize these key principles to change attitudes, tap into talents, and find positivity no matter the obstacle. Amy believes Creativity is a mindset, Hope must be created, Storytelling makes sense of your path, and Gratitude can be harnessed and is healing.

“This 4-ingredient recipe for resilience is more than you’d find on greeting card or inspirational poster. By implementing these habits daily, people can absolutely enrich their lives. These concepts are calls to actions to make ‘heroic changes,’ and I’m thrilled to share my personal experience and know-how on the 26th,” said Amy.

Amy invites all to her Ridgefield Library appearance for conversation, community, and tips on “Creativity, Hope and Resilience” during a month when many start anew. In addition, she’s pleased to announce the February publication of Creativity and Gratitude: Exercises and Inspiration for a Year of Art, Hope and Healing (Apollo Books) — a hands-on workbook and companion to her memoir.

To purchase a personalized copy of her memoir, to learn more about Amy Oestreicher, or to book her for a program, visit her website,

]]> (Aline Weiller) Events Thu, 21 Jan 2021 08:07:46 -0500
CT Humanities Awards Generous Grant to Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum to Support Operations During the Pandemic

Connecticut Humanities has awarded a very generous COVID Relief Fund for Museums grant in the amount of $22,727.25 to the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum.

Scott Wands, Manager of Grants and Programs, CT Humanities said: “Connecticut’s museums like the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum play critical roles in our communities, helping us better understand our past, contextualize current events, and imagine our collective future. COVID-19 has greatly impacted cultural nonprofits across the state, and CT Humanities is honored to be able to provide much needed financial relief to enable these institutions to retain staff, maintain programming, and begin 2021 in stronger financial positions.”

With this generous grant, LMMM will be able to maintain engagement with the public, sustain adequate staffing, and pay for services that are essential to continue operations as an inspiring educational resource for its communities.

Patsy R. Brescia, LMMM Chairman of the Board of Trustees said, “We are truly grateful to Connecticut Humanities for this very generous grant, which will bring crucial relief to our institution as we navigate through these very difficult times. We thank all of our state and federal legislators for championing LMMM’s efforts to continue offering educational programs and tours to our communities during the pandemic.”

Connecticut Humanities (CTH) is an independent, nonprofit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. CTH connects people to the humanities through grants, partnerships, and collaborative programs. CTH projects, administration, and program development are supported by state and federal matching funds, community foundations and gifts from private sources. Learn more by visiting

The Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum is a National Historic Landmark. For more information on schedules and programs please visit, e-mail, or call 203-838-9799.


]]> (Susan Gilgore) Places Thu, 14 Jan 2021 15:19:36 -0500
Maritime Aquarium's New Exhibit A Slug's Life: Facing the Climate Endgame, Opens Jan. 16

Marvel at the fascinating forms and adaptations of animals from ocean reefs and freshwater streams – and discover the important warnings they can tell us – in “A Slug’s Life: Facing the Climate Endgame,” a special exhibit that showcases live creatures with their representations in art, opening Jan. 16 in The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk.

Stars of the new exhibit are an order of mollusks called nudibranchs known for their striking forms and brilliant colors. Nicknamed “sea slugs,” nudibranchs occur in some 3,000 species in oceans all around the world. (Some two dozen are found in Long Island Sound.)

In addition to live nudibranchs and other mollusks, “A Slug’s Life” will feature nudibranchs depicted in onyx and marble sculptures by Gar Waterman of New Haven, as well as nudibranch photographs by divers from all around the world.

“This exhibit represents a revolutionary new approach for The Maritime Aquarium, and one that is relatively unique among aquariums,” said Jason Patlis, the Aquarium’s president and CEO. “By bringing together live animals, sculptures and photographic images to showcase these really remarkable animals and their fight for survival against climate change, we are telling a powerful story to multiple audiences through multiple media.”

Nudibranchs are generally less than 3 inches long. Because these tiny creatures react very quickly to environmental change, they’re considered by scientists to be an “indicator species.”

“Divers like to seek out these pretty little animals to photograph, and so the notable presence – or sudden absence – of sensitive animals like nudibranchs might indicate the health of a marine environment, or possibly ‘red flag’ an issue before it becomes obvious,” said Barrett Christie, the Aquarium’s director of Animal Husbandry. “So even without special equipment, researchers may be able to get an idea of how well a reef is doing by looking for nudibranchs.”

Besides the live nudibranchs, “A Slug’s Life” will display an assortment of other live mollusks in diverse shapes and sizes – some with shells, some without – including a common octopus, sea hares, conchs, abalone, giant clams and Indo-Pacific snails.

Plus, the exhibit will include a display of live freshwater mussels, another “indicator species” that – as a group – are considered the most endangered animals in North America. By their filtering water in streams and rivers, freshwater mussels play a critical role in keeping ecosystems healthy, yet 35 species have gone extinct since 1900 and the remaining species’ populations have declined by about 70 percent.

Blending nature with art, "A Slug’s Life” will display more than a dozen dynamic sculptures of nudibranchs by Gar Waterman, son of pioneering underwater filmmaker Stan Waterman (“The Deep”). The younger Waterman spent a formative year at the ages of 9 to 10 in Tahiti, where his father was filming a National Geographic special. Waterman says that watershed year of almost daily contact with marine life on the South Pacific barrier reefs established a visual foundation of marine imagery that endures as a primary source of inspiration for his sculpture. After college at Dartmouth, he spent seven years in Italy learning to carve stone, eventually returning to establish West Rock Studio in New Haven, where he has lived and worked for the last 25 years.

Waterman considers himself to be “the world’s only stone sea slug sculptor.”

“Of all the strange creatures to be found underwater, nudibranchs are just bizarre and colorful enough to catch the public's eye and be tapped as heroes of biodiversity,” Waterman has said of his art. “Any means of presenting the incredible biodiversity that is at risk in the world’s oceans to a generally disengaged public carries a potential for sparking positive change.”

“A Slug’s Life” also showcases beautiful portraits of nudibranchs on ocean reefs taken by a diverse roster of renowned underwater photographers from around the world: Gordon Tillen (the Philippines), Keith Ellenbogen (New York City), Kevin Lee (California), Alicia Hermosilla (Mexico), Jim Anderson (Scotland) and Emanuel Gonçalves (Portugal).

“The diversity of artists who are joining forces in this story of ‘A Slug’s Life: Facing the Climate Endgame’ underscores the most important message of the exhibit: that the ocean inspires us in many different ways, and yet it is in trouble, and we need to act now to save it,” Patlis said.

“A Slug’s Life: Facing the Climate Endgame” will be open through June 13 and is free with Aquarium admission. In conjunction with the exhibit, The Maritime Aquarium will be offering new educational programming and additional events during the run.

Learn more about the Aquarium’s exhibits, educational programs and conservation efforts at

]]> (Dave Sigworth) Places Wed, 13 Jan 2021 15:16:42 -0500
Food Banks Add New Emergency Drive-Thru Distributions Across Connecticut

A month after announcing that Connecticut Food Bank and Foodshare are in discussions to merge as one statewide organization, the two food banks announced the launch of three new food distributions in New London, Norwich and Norwalk replicating Foodshare’s emergency drive-thru food distribution at Rentschler Field in East Hartford.

“Hunger doesn’t care where you live,” said Jason Jakubowski, President and CEO of Foodshare. “And hunger is not contained to any one region here in Connecticut. By launching these additional drive-thru, COVID-conscious sites we are continuing to bring hope to the many Connecticut families affected by this pandemic.”

Just this past Monday, Foodshare announced a new winter schedule for its East Hartford site starting on Tuesday, January 12. Connecticut Food Bank will set up drive-thru food distributions starting Friday, January 8, in New London at St. Mary Star of the Sea Church; Wednesday, January 13, in Norwalk at Calf Pasture Beach; and Monday, January 25, in the parking lot at 28 Stonington Road, across from Pistol Pete’s Bar And Grill, in Norwich. These sites will run weekly throughout the winter months with an end date to be determined.

“These weekly emergency food distributions in New London, Norwalk, and Norwich are a result of the combined resources and expertise made possible by this expected combination of the two food banks,” said Connecticut Food Bank Board member Wes Higgins. “These new sites will go a long way to increase access to food for people in Connecticut struggling with hunger due to the pandemic.”

“Since April, we have distributed more than 7 million pounds of food at Rentschler Field,” said Foodshare Board Chair Elizabeth Henry. “By expanding that model to other corners of the state, we are already demonstrating the expected benefits of a potential merger.”    

Statewide Drive-Thru Food Distribution Schedule:

Mondays, starting 1/25 – Norwich

Address: 28 Stonington Road, Norwich CT 06360 – in the parking lot across from Pistol Pete's Bar And Grill

Hours: 9:30 am – 12:00 pm


Tuesdays, starting 1/12 – East Hartford

Address: Rentschler Field, 615 Silver Lane, East Hartford, CT 06118 – Silver Lane Entrance

Hours: 9:30 am – 1:00 pm


Wednesdays, starting 1/13 – Norwalk

Address: Calf Pasture Beach, 99 Calf Pasture Beach Road, Norwalk, CT 06855

Hours: 9:00 am – 12:00 pm


Fridays, starting 1/8 – New London

Address: St Mary Star of the Sea Church, 10 Huntington Street, New London, CT 06320

Hours: 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm

Connecticut Food Bank and Foodshare are encouraging people to connect with additional food resources in their community. To access additional food resources call 2-1-1, go to, visit or

]]> (Paul Shipman) Charities Wed, 13 Jan 2021 15:14:00 -0500
Fairfield University Bookstore Hosts January 14th Virtual Launch for Mike Krysiuk’s Memoir

Mike Krysiuk is happy to be alive. In 1974, he was a Staples High School senior who’d hit his stride: a star pitcher with popular friends and great grades. Good things were coming his way, until one bad decision — “riding shotgun” on a beer run with a cocky classmate — changed his life forever. Mike’s new memoir, The Big One: Miracles Happen When You Shoot for the Sun (September 2020, Beyond Publishing), co-written with accomplished writer Julia Bobkoff, chronicles his miraculous comeback from the unimaginable, fueled by dogged determination and a dream. The Big One is the inspirational story of Mike’s perseverance, of family teamwork, of resolute optimism; its powerful message of hope is contagious. Fairfield University Bookstore will host the virtual book launch of The Big One on Thursday, January 14 at 7:00 p.m.; the community at large is invited to the free Facebook Live event. Mike will be interviewed by his co-author, Julia, followed by a Q & A, and 70s music trivia for signed books. Attendees should join Fairfield University Bookstore’s Facebook page a few minutes prior to the launch event at To purchase a book via the store’s website, visit

Mike Krysiuk grew up in idyllic Westport, Connecticut, where he hung out at Compo Beach, worked at Mario’s restaurant, and played baseball for the Wreckers. He was a regular guy. Until a life-altering car crash left him with a traumatic brain injury, broken bones, and a 7-week coma. Standing six-foot-four, with an over-sized personality to match, Mike was given a nickname both at home and around town—“The Big One.” The spring prior to graduation, Mike so yearned to be part of the “in” crowd that he skipped classes, engaged in uncharacteristic antics to impress his peers, and ultimately “walked in other people’s shadows,” (as he terms it), rather than staying true to himself. For that, he paid a hefty price.

Fortunately, with a winning combination of faith, medicine, and his family’s relentless positivity, Mike miraculously recovered. After much rehabilitation, he completed his coursework and graduated from Staples to eventually begin a new life to include college, a career, marriage, children, performing guitar, and acting for stage and film. Mike’s story is geared for not only a young audience, but also those of all ages to warn of the dangers of “shadow walking.”

“I want my personal tragedy to stop teenagers from recklessly drinking and driving and start choosing leadership and good judgement. I wrote The Big One to document my unlikely and phenomenal recovery, to encourage perseverance despite despair, and to instill hope where there seems to be none. I’m thrilled to both discuss and celebrate my book online through Fairfield University Bookstore’s platform,” said Mike.

Mike’s life story was also captured in the play, “I Don’t See My Shadow,” performed in 2016 at the Westport Historical Society (now the Westport Museum for History and Culture) to favorable reviews. In addition, the film script is complete, and the Mike-Julia writing team anticipate The Big One will grace the big screen to boot.

“Working with Mike was a seamless process from start to finish. His dedication to sharing his inspirational and motivational story energized both of us during over a year of hard work. My contribution was to capture Mike’s voice and help provide a narrative framework for 40 plus years of memories, as well as bring to life a time, a place, and the people who loved and supported him when he needed it most. Mike is a living miracle—proof of what happens when you always shoot for the sun,” said Julia.

Mike Krysiuk has worked at Westport’s Town Hall for nearly 25 years, where his friendly and positive presence makes paying taxes as close to a pleasure as it can be. He has done stand-up comedy, lectured on his life, and performed (voice and guitar) his original songs in local venues. He knows he came back from the edge of death for many purposes, including sharing his wisdom so the next generation won’t forget his hard-earned lessons — and to always “shoot for the sun.” For more information about Mike or to book him for an author appearance, visit

Julia Bobkoff is a multi-award-winning writer in film, TV, fiction, poetry, and non-fiction and is the grand prize recipient for Best Drama in the 2016 Launch Pad Manuscript Competition. She adapts best-selling books to screen and works as a script consultant and writing coach, collaborating with people both famous and unknown to bring their stories to life. She’s also a sought-after recording artist (violin and viola). She holds a B.A. in English with honors from the University of Rochester, studied violin at Eastman, and attended NYU’s graduate film directing program. She is currently writing a script based on her life, which she plans to direct, and is involved in producing a feature film. In addition, Julia is co-founder of Christmas Lake Creative, a full-service writers’ workshop located in Westport, Connecticut and con be contacted via the website,

]]> (Aline Weiller) Neighbors Mon, 04 Jan 2021 14:41:39 -0500
Norwalk Youth Symphony to offer virtual seminars for adults

Norwalk Youth Symphony to offer virtual seminars for adults on music history, the Met Opera’s use of media, and, for young musicians, correct practice techniques

Norwalk Youth Symphony (NYS) announces it will be hosting a series of virtual seminars beginning in January geared to adults and young musicians in greater Fairfield and Westchester counties. The seminars for adults will provide an in-depth look at the leading figures and developments that continue to influence music today.

For young musicians, the seminar lineups include a session on practice techniques for string musicians and a fast-paced overview of 1,000 years of music open to area high school students and musicians in the NYS Principal and Concert orchestras.

All sessions will be available via Zoom technology.

Led by NYS conductors and noted musical scholars, the one-hour adult seminars will examine a variety of historical influences on music today, such as women composers’ contributions to the American classical movement in the early 20th century; the lasting impact of the Harlem Renaissance led by musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Ma Rainey; and an exploration of the dynamic life of Alma Mahler, a fine composer in her own right whose relationships with many of the leading composers and artists of the day will serve as a guide to the artistic visionaries in Vienna.

In a special session on How the Met Uses Media, Mary Jo Heath, the host of the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts, will describe the history of the Met’s radio and television broadcasts and the initiatives the Met is using to keep opera audiences engaged during the pandemic. This seminar is scheduled for Feb. 1 at 7 p.m. Dr. Heath is only the fourth host of the broadcasts since they began in 1931. Prior to her becoming the host, she was its Senior Radio Producer. Heath holds a Ph. D. in music theory from the Eastman School of Music. Fees from this seminar will be donated to the Met Opera Musicians Fund.

The adult seminar series kicks off Jan. 6, at 7 p.m. with Women and the American Sound, led by Sigrid Karlstrom, DMA, who will speak about the struggles and triumphs of American women composers as the country was setting about to establish a classical music tradition in the United States. Dr. Karlstrom, an orchestral and chamber musician who now teaches in Fairfield and New Haven counties, played as a tenure member of the New Mexico Philharmonic and as principal violinist for Opera Southwest and was featured regularly in a contemporary chamber series in New Mexico.

On Jan. 10 at 2 p.m., NYS conductor Rafael Videira, DMA, will lead a seminar on Practice Techniques for Strong Players designed for musicians in late middle school and high school, teaching the young players how to employ efficient techniques to practice with their instruments. The session also aims to demonstrate the importance of healthy practice habits to avoid playing-related injuries. The seminar will be split between a lecture/discussion and workshop formats and aims to enable the player to develop their artistry through performance.

Other sessions include: 1,000 Years of Music in 60 Minutes, led by Concert Orchestra Conductor Russel Ger, is slated for Jan. 13 at 7 p.m. In an hour, Ger’s session, designed for high school students and members of the NYS Principal and Concert orchestras, will explain what people mean when they discuss Romantic or Baroque music movements and answer questions, such as whether Mozart and Tchaikovsky ever sat down to brunch together. The whole millennium of music will flash by in moments under Ger’s direction.

In a session for adults, NYS Principal Conductor Jonathan Yates, joined by his sister, Carolyn Yates, an art historian with the U.S. State Department, will spotlight The Fascinating Life of Alma Mahler, wife of Gustav Mahler, who was known as a remarkable influence in art and music in her own right. Scheduled for Jan. 21 at 8 p.m., Alma Mahler’s life will serve as a figurative guide to the worlds of art and music in early 20th century Vienna, a time when she dealt with the challenges of being a female composer whose own musical talents were overshadowed by the well-known men, such as Gustav Klimt, Walter Gropius and Oskar Kokoschka with whom she had relationships.

In a seminar designed for parents of young musicians, NYS Philharmonia conductor Jessica McNamara will provide insights on Developing Intrinsic Motivation in Your Young Musicians during a session Jan. 26 at 8 p.m. As the old joke asks: “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” With the response being: “Practice, practice, practice.” The reality of music practice for young musicians is often more parent-driven than envisioned. McNamara draws on current research in the fields of motivation, grit, mindset and habits to give parents concrete strategies to help children develop their own motivation to practice.

Seminar participants will take a virtual A train, the quickest way to Harlem, to learn about The Roaring Harlem Renaissance, during the Feb. 4 seminar at 8 p.m. where the guides, again Jonathan Yates and his sister, Carolyn Yates, will describe the leading lights of the period that led to an explosion of Black artistry across literature, music and art. In the 1920s and beyond, it was a time of Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hustron and Claude McKay in literature; to the syncopation of Armstrong and Ellington and the blues of Ma Rainey; to the art of Aaron Douglas, Richmond Barthé and James Van Der Zee and the illumination of the Black experience of the time.

The adult fees are $20 per session, with a five-session fee priced at $75*. The Practice Technique for String Players is $10. To sign up for the seminar sessions, register at Seminar Registration 2021 (

*The session on How the Met Uses Media is not included in the five package series; instead, revenues from that seminar are earmarked for the Met Opera Musicians Fund. Fee for this class is $25. Parents interested in having their children in grades four through 12 join NYS may learn more and register on the NYS website (

They may also contact Sara Watkins at the organization’s office, 203-866-4100 or by email, for questions regarding the Seminars or any NYS program

]]> (Sara Watkins) Places Mon, 28 Dec 2020 10:36:08 -0500
Federal Stimulus Package Includes $325B for Small Business

The federal government just approved a $900 billion stimulus package to deliver economic relief to small businesses and Americans impacted by the pandemic. The package includes the following support for businesses and employees:
  • $325 billion for small businesses, including $284 billion in loans through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
  • Direct payment checks of up to $600 per adult and child
  • Enhanced unemployment insurance benefits of $300 per week
  • Extension of the eviction moratorium and $25 billion for rental assistance
  • Extension of the tax credit for employers offering paid sick leave
The new round of PPP funding provides a great opportunity for companies that did not receive a forgivable PPP loan earlier this year. It also allows businesses with 300 or few employees that experienced more than 30% revenue loss in any quarter in 2020 to secure a second forgivable PPP loan.
The PPP will continue to be managed by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and loans will once again be secured through an SBA-approved bank, credit union or fintech. Here is a list of participating lenders.
I recommend you begin working with an approved lender now as there could be high demand for this program. For those companies applying for a second PPP loan, working with the same financial institution could speed up the application process for your business.
More information should be available on the SBA website soon, but in the meantime, the Connecticut Small Business Development Center (SBDC) will host multiple webinars to help you understand what information you may need to apply for a PPP loan. Click here to register for one of the webinars.
The PPP has been a huge boost to Connecticut businesses that continue to struggle under the economic realities brought on by this pandemic. To date, Connecticut companies and nonprofits have secured almost 65,000 PPP loans worth approximately $6.7 billion.
I strongly encourage businesses and nonprofits to remain aggressive and take advantage of this worthwhile program without delay. 
]]> (David Lehman, Commissioner) Politics Mon, 28 Dec 2020 09:13:02 -0500