Thursday, September 19, 2019

Climate Events Friday

Perhaps you will be in Hartford Friday, September 20 at noontime - the nearest event in the global climate strike is a rally at the statehouse.  There is more information at

There are several activities Friday at Wesleyan University timed to coincide with the week of youth-led climate actions.  There is a rally at noontime at the Usdan patio (Wyllys Avenue) for those who can't make it to Hartford:

A talk at 4:30 in Exley 150 (the Science Center, corner of Pine and Church Streets, first floor) will be titled "Tipping Points: Physical, Environmental, Social, and Personal":

The talk will be followed at 6 p.m. by a march into Middletown.

Those wanting to do a little brushing up on the climate crisis can refer to my recent post on the Eye.

Woman-centric, world-class stand up comedy Saturday night

You can see world class stand-up comedy in Middletown this Saturday, thanks to Tasty Chicks Comedy. For the third straight month, Oddfellows Playhouse is presenting the Tasty Chicks (who are Oddfellows Alumnus Tricia D’Onofrio and Aviel Stern) and the classy female headliners that they have brought to town. The show starts at 7:30, it is very affordable, and it’s a unique opportunity to see big-name comics without having to go to a bar, a comedy club, or travel to New York or Boston. Come check it out!
This month’s headliner is Caitlin Reese, who looks to be really entertaining.

Caitlin Reese is a Brooklyn based stand up comedian, improviser, and sketch writer. Caitlin has been a comedy writer since 2005 with a self-published magazine distributed by Tower Records and sold out copies at the Portland Zine Fest. In 2014, she kicked off comedy as a career and regularly performs at theaters, clubs, and bars throughout the northeast. She has traveled throughout the US for festivals and shows. She features for headliners on tour and auditioned successfully for the Academy at Upright Citizens Brigade New York. Her comedic voice is honest, goofy, and offbeat.

Doors at 7 pm, Show at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $15, or $10 if you bring three canned goods for the local food pantry.

The evening will also feature Caitlin Arcand. Caitlin is a Boston comedian and the Creator and Executive Director of Ladyspike Media. This past November, her solo stand up musical "She Doesn't Even Live Here" premiered at New York's SOLOCOM, featuring original songs and tales of her weekly commutes to the city. She has well been featured on the North Carolina Comedy Festival.

Warming up for Caitlin and Caitlin are Ryan Shea and Eryca Nolan, and the whole evening will be hosted by the Tasty Chicks: Aviel Stern & Tricia D'Onofrio, who bring energy and joy to the stage with their humorous banter.

So you actually get to see six comedians working the crowd. Here in Middletown. Saturday night. At 128 Washington Street. Get your tickets in advance HERE, or buy them at the door.

Volunteers Needed for Run For the Fallen, Vet's Park, Saturday September 21

Race and event organizers are seeking volunteers  and participants to help at Run for the Fallen, a 65K run to commemorate the 65 fallen service members lost during Operation Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.

The race takes place in Middletown's Veteran's park Saturday, September 21 beginning at 6:00 am and ending at 3 pm.

A remembrance ceremony begins at 2:30 pm.

Volunteers are needed to hold flags during a portion of the race for an Eagle Scout project directed by Kyle Kapacziewski.  These volunteers would need to report to the park at 1:45 pm.

Volunteers are also needed for clean-up and breakdown of the event after 3 pm.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Repair Cafe - This Saturday

Keep Stuff Out of the Trash!

Repair Cafe
Saturday, September 21
Noon to 3pm
deKoven House Community Center, 27 Washington Street

Broken things cluttering your drawers, closets or garage? Skilled volunteers will help fix and teach you how to fix your things—saving you money and keeping items out of the garbage. Tool use and help is free. Participants cover spare part costs or bring their own.
Sewing & Mending
Smart Phones & Tablets
Knife Sharpening
Small Appliances

Bring in your gently-used reusable bags for donation. Need a bag? Take a bag!

Coffee and snacks will be served. Please bring your travel mug.
Brought to you by The Rockfall Foundation in cooperation with City of Middletown Recycling & Public Works and RiverCOG.
We could use one more general handyperson! To volunteer call 860-347-0340 or email

Results Of Lottery For November Ballot Placement

Courtesy of Ed Ford, Republican candidate for Council

Zaccai Curtis, Irish Music and More at The Buttonwood Tree This Weekend

"Middletown's Living Room", as many have dubbed The Buttonwood Tree's intimate listening room and bookstore on Main Street, will be the site for fantastic concerts, a Teen Open Mic and workshops coming up this week.

It's been said repeatedly, "I wish my town had a Buttonwood Tree".  Have you been there?

See info on our 30th Anniversary Event here - A 30 Hour Marathon of Performances Oct 18-19.

Shaking the Tree – Gong and Sound Meditation

September 19 @ 7-9 pm   $10. suggested donation


Gongs, bells, ocarinas, drums, horns, Shakers, Singing bowls and many other meditation items to create a soundship for you to take off in and travel to and from meditation land.
This will indeed be a night to remember! So tell a friend, bring the family, bring a blanket and pillow to lay down on. Bring your zero gravity chair if you have one and as always please bring good intentions. This is YOUR time – to relax, refresh your soul and leave your worries behind. Come connect to your highest Self …    Read more here

New Leaf Irish Band CD Release Party

Friday, September 20 @ 8-10 pm     $15.


New Leaf is a traditional Irish trio playing tight, rollicking jigs and reels, new spins on traditional songs, and some of the more unusual and beautiful tunes of the Irish repertoire.  They’ve been compared to great trios such as Andy McGann, Joe Burke and Felix Dolan.
Listen here:

New Leaf is John Tabb on button accordion, Kira Jewett on fiddle and Adam Braunschweig on guitar, vocals and anything else he happens to bring on a typical evening – could be harmonica, tenor banjo or even an octave mandolin.  Together they play traditional tunes with tight, driving rhythm, interspersed with Adam’s unique take on Ireland’s song repertoire.
 See more and reserve your seats here

Aligned With Source: Empowering Workshop for Self Awareness

September 21 @ 10:30 am - 12:00 pm $10.

Hosted by Annaita Gandhy
This week's topic: Being A Warrior of LoveWhat does Love mean? How can we be Love and apply it to all aspects of our lives?

Life is never easy and change must come from within. In today’s environment of hardship, ill-health, corruption and inequality it is often difficult to see the Light. The purpose of this workshop is to empower you to see yours.

Teen Open Mic

September 21 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Third Saturdays are the opportunity for young people to gather together to share their skills and aspirations as performers.  For free student passes go to Middlesex Music Academy, CT Valley School of Music, Portland or the Portland and Middletown libraries.  Jack Zaino hosts.

Hola Pops! A Night of Originals and A Tribute to Louis Armstrong

September 21 @ 8-10 pm  $20.

Vincent Hsu & Soy La Ley Afro-Cuban Jazz Trio
featuring Victor Lewis & Zaccai Curtis

Vincent Tsung-Yu Hsu is an award-winning bassist and composer whose music is infused with Afro-Cuban influence and the spirits of the post-bop generation. Born and bred in Taiwan, he launched his musical career in New York City and was mentored by legendary musicians, including Cecil McBee, Victor Venegas, John A. Schaeffer, Andy González, John Patitucci, and Marc Johnson. Hsu has been touring worldwide, including Madrid International Jazz Festival, Busan Jazz Festival, Taichung Jazz Festival, National Theater & Concert Hall Summer Jazz Festival, and Macau Jazz Festival, among others. Vincent Hsu & his band aim to reflect their Taiwanese roots with the practices of jazz and Afro-Cuban music style, leading audiences to experience the unpredictability of jazz improvisation through their original work and stories.

 Hsu invites the master musician Victor Lewis and the outstanding pianist Zaccai Curtis to join him for this special project, bridging the collaboration between musicians from Taiwan and U.S., in hopes of expanding the understanding and aesthetics of both cultures and creating a new musical possibility. The drumming of Mr. Victor Lewis was not only recognized internationally but has widely influenced the generations to come. His album ‘Know It Today, Know It Tomorrow’ has become the must-have for jazz musicians and audiences alike. Mr. Zaccai Curtis has also established himself as one of the best pianists who can flawlessly express himself through both styles of jazz and Afro-Cuban music.

Read more here and reserve your seats


Reiki Level 1

September 22 @ 1:00 pm - 6:00 pm

This is a two part class. 2nd part is Sept 29, same time.
Cost: $150 Buttonwood Tree members
$160 non-members  (Cost includes manual)

Eileen practiced as a critical care nurse at Yale New Haven Hospital for over three decades.  Her life had always been devoted to helping the sick and the needy, even beyond 1999, when she became a Reiki Practitioner. Reiki is a Japanese practice which heals the body and soul, and promotes a more restful, relaxed state of being.

  The Buttonwood Tree is located in the former Arriwani Hotel at 605 Main Street. Free ample parking after 6 pm and on weekends next door, behind It's Only Natural market. Refreshments are available. TBT is a nonprofit, donations are tax deductible. Donate here.

Ceremony Will Honor Enslaved Africans Who Helped Build Our City

From Debbie Shapiro, Municipal Historian for the City
2019 marks the 400th anniversary of the first Africans arriving on America’s English-claimed shores as enslaved people with the first such Africans recorded as being in Middletown in the 1660s, only 10 years after the city’s founding. The Middletown Middle Passage Ceremony and Port Marker Project Committee will hold a ceremony and the unveiling of a plaque of remembrance on Saturday, September 28, 2019 at 10:00 am on the riverfront in Harbor Park.

Our city has been designated as a Site of Memory by UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, as part of the international project, “The Slave Route: Resistance, Liberty, Heritage.” Two ships, the Martha & Jane and the Speedwell are documented as having arrived from Africa to Middletown’s harbor with their human cargo that survived the treacherous transatlantic trade voyage that was the Middle Passage.

The event will feature an African Drumming and Libation ceremony by Ron Edens and Nia Arts, Native American permission by Wangunk tribal elder, Gary O’Neil; prayer by Rev. Dr. Kim Cotten, speakers Dr. Demetrius Eudell and Mardi Loman; and welcome by Mayor Daniel Drew. Nation-calling and ancestor-calling by youth groups from the Cross Street AME Zion Church, Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, and First Congregational Church will be incorporated into the ceremony, which will end with the unveiling of the port marker plaque and a floral tribute.

Enslaved people helped build Middletown and this ceremony is being held to honor their contributions and the thousands who perished on the Middle Passage. It will be a chance to promote local and personal community healing.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

To ALL Candidates: Please Write!

Dear Candidate for Municipal office:
Thank you for stepping forward this year! It takes not just time, but also courage and conviction to run for office.

You may be wondering how on earth you will reach 20,000 or more voters in our city.

Voters may be wondering how they can know anything about the candidates when there are 47 people running for office.

We want to help! No matter what party you belong to, no matter what you believe, please submit a profile of who you are to The Eye. In past elections we have published many such profiles, sent in by candidates; to see examples, enter "candidate profile" into the search function on The Eye (top left).

If you have press releases, please submit them to The Eye. If your supporters write letters of support, please send them to The Eye.

All submissions should be sent to

Sincerely yours,

The volunteers at The Middletown Eye.

Auditions for "The Seagull" this Thursday

Teenagers in Middletown have a unique opportunity to sink their teeth into theater experiences that are usually reserved for college students, or those attending Magnet Arts Schools. The Oddfellows Playhouse Teen Repertory Company treats teen actors with respect and assumes that they are interested in challenging themselves as performers and immersing themselves in complex human issues. Their work is supported by a committed team of professional directors, designers and technicians. The shows run over two weeks. It can be a powerful, life-changing experience for a young person.
This fall the Company is taking on Chekhov's tragicomic masterpiece The Seagull, with Deep River-based actress and director Jeanie Kanaley directing a contemporary adaptation of the play by Anya Reiss. The play reflects on what it is to be human and entrapped in a society that is infatuated with celebrity over authenticity. The Seagull also explores the conflicts of the New Generation vs. the Establishment, innocent love contrasted with unrequited love, and young people struggling with depression and insecurity. These powerful themes, along with a fascinating collection of characters, make The Seagull a relevant and exciting experience for committed young actors.
Auditions will be this Thursday, September 19, 6:30 - 8:30 pm at Oddfellows, which is located at 128 Washington Street in Middletown. Please arrive on time, dress to move, and plan to stay for the entire two hours. No need to prepare anything. Rehearsals will be Mondays and Thursdays, 6:30 - 9 pm. Production dates are November 14 - 16 & 22 -23. All who audition and commit to the rehearsal and production schedule will be cast.
Oddfellows, founded in 1975, is Connecticut’s oldest and largest theater program for youth. Tuition for the Teen Repertory Company is $250, but financial aid and work-study options are available for everyone who needs it.
To register, or for more information, go to, email, or call (860) 347-6143.
Photo below by Bill De Kine of last year's Teen Rep production of Sophocles' Antigone.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Global Climate Strike Friday!

Do you know about the climate strike?  Starting this Friday, eight days of actions including school and job walkouts are scheduled.  Not only that; in October, more actions including civil disobedience are planned.

Why?  Why would people do that?  And isn't it irresponsible (not to mention risky) to walk away from one's responsibilities and maybe even engage in illegal activity?  It depends, and of course you have to decide for yourself.  But for those becoming increasingly aware that climate change is now a climate crisis, perhaps desperate times call for desperate measures.

For this reason, I am posting some resources for those willing to educate themselves about the science and the issues.  By collecting these links for you, I want to help lower the threshold for citizens to become more knowledgable and more involved.  Most of us have a lot of catching up to do before we reach the level of awareness of the author of this L.A. Times article.

There is a rally scheduled for noon Friday in Hartford in front of the capitol building.  Attending may or may not be possible for you.  And rallies may or may not be your cup of tea.  There will be events Friday at Wesleyan University, including a noontime rally and a public lecture at 4:30 followed by a march.  I will post details as they are firmed up.

I hope you will conclude, as I have, that climate change is an inescapable, imminent, existential threat.  The meaning of "inescapable" should be obvious.  The use of the term "imminent" can be disputed, but after accounting for physical, social, economic, and political inertia, the parameters of the dispute narrow significantly.  And "existential" is an overused term that actually is appropriate in this instance.  Strike or not, this is an opportunity to raise your voice in support of action on climate change.  The longer we neglect it, the harder it gets.


Here is a compendium of popular articles, many of them by climate scientists.  The "start here" tab leads to a large number of resources for self-education.   You will also find links to thoughtful discussion of misconceptions and common contrarian talking points. The wikipedia page on Global Warming is a useful summary with many links.  Its dense, four-paragraph introduction is one of the briefest introductions to the subject I am aware of.   The British Royal Society has recently published an update that is lengthy but which answers many questions with the best available data.

There are numerous popular compilations of the evidence that climate change is caused by humans.  Nine Ways We Know Humans Triggered Climate Change has a historical perspective and some nice links to evidence.

A recent Washington Post article points out that warming well above two degrees Celsius has already occurred in many places, especially the Arctic.  The headline animation is stunning.


The Union of Concerned Scientists has compiled a list of impacts that have already occurred.  And last October, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a report asserting that greenhouse gas emissions must decline significantly by 2030 if there is to be any chance of mitigating the worst of the anticipated impacts of climate change.

A few years ago, the New York Times published an article entitled "Greenland is Melting Away".  It has a video everyone should see.  Given that human migration has already reached politically disruptive levels, I wrote an article this summer entitled "The New Trail of Tears" that documents the ways in which climate change will force the migration of many species, including our own.

And, alas, the disruption of the climate is but one of the ways a large human population with an enormous energy and material consumption is wreaking havoc on the world, as this article on the decline of insect life documents.


The Paris Climate Accord was the culmination of decades of negotiation; it is a non-binding agreement that, by itself, can limit warming to perhaps three Celsius degrees (nearly six degrees Fahrenheit).  At the time of its adoption, the New York Times published a nice graphical demonstration of how the pledges add up.

Unfortunately, three degrees is probably enough to trigger nasty feedbacks that will lock in further warming, with catastrophic consequences.  It is difficult to emphasize strongly enough what a disaster elf-sustaining warming would be; the correct analogy is the lighting of a fire, which is also an apt metaphor for the result.

The non-binding pledges of the Paris Agreement mostly terminate by 2030 and so need to be revisited periodically.  But the U.S. has said it will withdraw from the agreement, joining Syria and Nicaragua as the only non-signatories.  That certainly doesn't help matters.  The U.S. has also rolled back many Obama-era regulations designed to address CO2 emissions.  Enacted by executive fiat in an environment of legislative inaction, they were vulnerable in ways legislation would not have been.  The Clean Power Plan was a conspicuous victim of this process, as were increased fuel efficiency standards.

In February, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced legislation called the "Green New Deal".  Designed as a framework for a response that is proportionate to the threat while also attempting to address the needs of those who would lose if energy costs rise, as they almost certainly would in any scenario seriously attempting to tackle the climate crisis.  The Green New Deal has generated much discussion, and the attention has resulted in many supporters and detractors.  Separating climate issues from social issues is politically appealing and would make it easier to build coalitions.  But if we learned anything from the yellow vest protests in France last spring, climate action absent considerations of social justice cannot get very far.


Also not helping has been the near-moratorium on climate change coverage in the media.  Groups such as (a cosponsor of the strike), with its indefatigable Bill McKibben, have worked to keep the issue in the public eye for years, but they have been no match for the reticence of journalists and politicians.  Precious time has elapsed, and all the while climate damage has accumulated, until finally it is hard to ignore.

Into this vacuum, several popular movements have recently arisen.  Friday climate strikes by schoolchildren and college students have become increasingly common.  The young generation understands the severity of impacts likely to occur within their lifetimes and is appalled by the inaction of the grownups.  Their efforts have generated media attention in a way the science has not.

The most visible of these young people is sixteen-year-old Greta Thunberg, who has lectured the powerful at the World Economic Forum and at the U.N.  Her speeches such as the one at Davos are well worth watching.  She is now in the U.S. for the U.N. Youth Climate Summit in New York next Saturday, 21 September, last week she appeared on the Daily Show, and yesterday she joined a youth rally outside the White House.

You may have also heard of Extinction Rebellion, a flash mob of activists aiming to use civil disobedience and even disruption to direct attention to the climate issue.  They shut down parts of London for a number of days in April and are planning actions for this October.  A BBC interview with co-founder Roger Hallam is interesting and challenging to watch.

Of course, the demands of youthful and not-so-youthful protesters are not so simple to satisfy, as detractors are are quick to point out.  OK, so where are the more realistic counterproposals?  Where is the action?  In my own opinion, those who take the trouble to "debunk" and then ignore are clearly not serious about the problem.  It's time to get serious; I am, and I think you should get serious too.  Getting serious is the point of the strike.

Middletown Works Expands With New Community Partnerships

Submitted Rebecca Lemanski.
Did you know that nearly half of Middletown’s families are headed by single parents? And that one third of these families are living at or below the Federal Poverty Level, on an annual income of $24,600 for a family of four? Middletown Works (MW), an initiative spearheaded by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, wants to change this. We understand that for children to grow up healthy and resilient, parents need a family-sustaining career and support to reach their full potential. We also know that we cannot solve this problem alone or by working in silos.

MW seeks to mobilize the Middletown community on behalf of these vulnerable children and adults. As we move into Year 2, MW continues to intentionally engage individuals and organizations to move the needle on creating a more equitable community, where all families can be economically secure and thriving.

We are pleased to announce that MW’s Leadership Team, currently led by The Connection, Inc. and Middlesex United Way, is expanding to include Monica Perez of the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology (CCAT). Mrs. Perez, Workforce Program Specialist for CCAT, facilitates the Better Skills Better Jobs program; a job quality grant for the Hartford region. We are looking forward to having Mrs. Perez lend her knowledge of workforce development and the manufacturing sector to MW.

We are also excited to announce that Clifton Watson, PhD., Director of the Jewett Center for Community Engagement at Wesleyan University, will be serving as a Community Advisor to MW. Community Advisors are individuals from key institutions who play a critical role in shaping strategic priorities, lending critical thinking skills and long-term visioning for collective impact initiatives.

Lastly, we are happy to announce two additional partnerships, one with Southern Connecticut State University’s graduate social work program and the second with UCONN’s School of Social Work’s graduate program. These crucial partnerships will allow MW to not only expand its influence and capacity but will also serve as a fertile learning ground for aspiring social workers going into community organizing, social work administration and policy advocacy careers.

To learn about how you can get involved in making Middletown work for all of its citizens, contact Rebecca Lemanski, MSW, Director of Middletown Works at 860-975-5405 or email