Friday, July 31, 2020

Middlesex Community College Virtual Q&A


If you are thinking about the fall semester and don’t want to spend the full price for an online four-year university experience, get ahead with a degree or certificate from Middlesex Community College. In these uncertain times, MxCC’s affordable and flexible programs not only prepare students for transfer to four-year degrees or transition into the workforce, but 97% of students graduate debt-free.

Join our online Q&A chat on Saturday, August 1 starting at 10 a.m. and find out more about enrolling at MxCC. Guests can log on to ask any questions about the college and how to take classes during the fall semester. This event is hosted by members of the Enrollment Services, Admissions, and Financial Aid offices. Classes begin August 26.

To RSVP for the chat or to get the direct meeting link for the event, click here.


Thursday, July 30, 2020

Children's Circus Final Week Schedule is LIVE!



Next week is the fifth and final week of the first-ever Virtual Children's Circus of Middletown!
Registration is done on a week-by-week basis, so it is not too late for any young person ages 5 - 15 (you do not need to live in Middletown) to join the final week, which will include a special Performance Block that will culminate in a big virtual show on Friday, August 7 at 2 pm.
This has been an amazing experience for the scores of kids who have been participating, and the final week continues the magic and artistry of the first four. Amazing Artists are teaching from around the country and even from Colombia, South America! Classes this week include opportunities to dance, draw, build and perform with puppets, juggle, clown, make music, do theater improv, learn some fancy hula hooping, and sooo much more. 
And if you don't have the equipment, we will loan it to you for the week. 
Thanks to support from the Middletown Commission on the Arts,  the Middlesex United Way, and Oddfellows Playhouse, all these programs are completely FREE (including equipment rental). Students can take a full day of classes, or just one. This Circus is designed to help meet your needs and make your summer amazing, fun, and full of skills, friends and inspiration.
If you have not experienced the Children's Circus this summer, this is your last chance to get on board, and you will not regret it. 
If you have been involved over the past four weeks, then you have probably already signed up because you don't want your favorite class to fill up. 
For more info, contact circus@oddfellows.org or call (860) 930-8695. 
To register for classes, go to www.oddfellows.org.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

How They Voted: Police Accountability Bill

The Connecticut General Assembly and Senate voted to enact legislation that makes towns and cities more accountable for police actions. Our city's delegation to the Capitol was unanimous in its support:

Senator Matt Lesser (D)  YES
Senator Mary Abrams (D)  YES

Representative Joe Serra (D)  YES
Representative Quentin Phipps (D)  YES

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Middletown Common Council To Consider Declaration Of Climate Emergency

As you may have noticed, our national government has utterly failed to provide leadership in the face of the global climate crisis. Once we get through the Covid-19 pandemic — another area of failed leadership — we will still face this even more threatening, though slower moving, crisis. Regardless of what you hear on the evening news lately, climate change has not been put on pause. What are concerned, climate-conscious citizens to do? In addition to reducing our own carbon footprint, we need to take action at the local level.

Middletown’s Sustainability Team and Clean Energy Task Force are proposing a resolution to Mayor Florsheim and to the Common Council, declaring a climate emergency and resolving to take local action to reduce carbon emissions and to pressure state and federal leaders to face this crisis. A copy of the draft resolution will be posted on the Jonah Center website once it is released and appears on a City agenda.

To illustrate the magnitude of the climate crisis, consider this. For the past 800,000 years, the concentration of atmospheric CO2 varied between 180 and 280 parts per million (ppm) as the earth’s climate fluctuated between ice ages and warm spells. In the last 170 years, since 1850, when the industrial revolution accelerated the burning of fossil fuels, atmospheric CO2 has increased from 280 to over 410 ppm. Is that serious? The last time the earth’s atmosphere had 410 ppm was in the Pliocene era, approximately 4 million years ago. In the Pliocene, sea level varied 10-25 meters higher than at present, and the coastline of Virginia was 90 miles inland from its present location. (See photo.) If we stay at 410 ppm, eventually the delayed warming will catch up to the CO2 level and the eastern seaboard of the United States will be completely underwater. (Green dots show location of shoreline in the Pliocene era.)



To avoid the worst climate catastrophe, we need to look beyond the pandemic and the November elections that are consuming the public’s attention. Since state and federal governments have proved themselves incapable of an adequate response, action needs to come from the grassroots and local governments. To register your support of local climate action, sign the petition which will be forwarded to city officials. You will be informed when further support for climate action is needed.

Petition Text: "In light of our national government's failure to address climate change adequately, I support the City of Middletown's Declaration of a Climate Emergency, directing our city government--both elected leaders and municipal departments--to lead our community in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and to advocate for urgent climate action at the state, federal, and international levels."

Sign The Petition on the Jonah Center website here.

Monday, July 27, 2020

The Buttonwood Tree Online Summer Programs

The Buttonwood Tree Online Summer Programs




It’s that time of the year again, when the days grow longer and the nights get shorter. The season of warm weather, sun tans, popsicles, and a ton of fun. It's SUMMERTIME.


Here at The Buttonwood Tree, we are dedicated to fostering self expression, creativity and unity through music and the arts. Despite current restrictions and limitations on in-person interactions, The Buttonwood Tree will continue to utilize its platform to connect members of the community.


The Buttonwood Tree, while its doors are closed, is offering an array of online programs and virtual shows. Start your week off right by attending Anything Goes Open Mic, happening every Monday from 7-10pm. You're welcome to simply listen in, or perform a poem, song or dance or whatever you like.


Sit back, relax, and crack open a smile on Tuesdays from 6-7pm  at Laughter Yoga with Mylène. Come with an open mind, and open heart and leave your ego behind!


Acoustic Open Mic with Bob Gotta will take place Thursdays from 6-9pm


Ease into the weekend with Annaita Gandhy during a session of Align with Source – A Spiritual Empowerment Workshop, on Saturdays from 10:30-12pm. This workshop gives the participants a broader view of our humanity's current situation and encourages a sense of peace and empowerment, not readily found elsewhere these days.


Immerse yourself with true stories of struggle, hope, and the search for expression during these difficult times. Colin Haskins interviews officer Matthew Bloom from Middletown CT, Police Department along with K-9 Koda. Catch an episode of The Listening Tree talk show on Facebook or Youtube.



For additional information head over to Buttonwood.org, or check us out on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube @ButtonwoodTree


Yoga at the Mansion's Rose Garden

Classes Begin This Saturday
Pre-Register Now!
A Benefit for The Rockfall Foundation


Every Saturday in August at 10:30 a.m.
Wadsworth Mansion


Saturdays in August, Starr Mill Yoga will be offering yoga classes at Wadsworth Mansion’s rose garden. Enjoy the healthy benefits of breath, movement and being outdoors. Classes begin at 10:30 a.m. and will be held Saturdays from August 1 to 29. All levels welcome. Capacity is limited to allow 6 feet spacing. Pre-registration is required at www.starrmillyoga.com. $20 donation. Profits benefit The Rockfall Foundation, a Middletown-based non-profit organization supporting environmental education and conservation in the Lower Connecticut River Valley. After class, enjoy the mansion’s expansive grounds, walking trails, notable trees and exotic plants.

To register, go to starrmillyoga.com/schedule and find the date(s) you’d like to book. Classes will be held August 1, 8, 15, 22, 29. A different instructor will be leading the class each week. If you’d like to book multiple dates or multiple attendees at once, contact info@starrmillyoga.com.

Bring your own yoga mat and/or blanket, face covering, hand sanitizer, sunscreen, and water. The garden has both shaded and sunny areas. Masks are not required during the yoga practice, as we will all be spaced 6 feet apart. Rain cancels. Contact 860.740.4939 for more information. Wadsworth Mansion is located at 421 Wadsworth Street, Middletown.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Children's Circus Week 4 is Free and Awesome.

Every week keeps getting better at the 32nd Annual Children's Circus of Middletown: From the Big Top to the Lap Top!

Do as much or as little as you like. Open to ages 5 - 15 living anywhere.
There are some classes that are 11 and older only.
And some sessions just for the 5 - 7 year olds.
There is acting, drawing, dance, circus and so much more. Check out the schedule at https://www.oddfellows.org/childrens-circus-of-middletown-registration.html
and you will probably find something that you like.
Questions? Email circus@oddfellows.org.
The Children's Circus of Middletown is a program of Oddfellows Playhouse, made possible by the Middletown Commission on the Arts and the Middlesex United Way.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Regional Council of Governments Seeks Input on the Future

The Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments (RiverCog) will be at Wednesday's meeting of the Planning and Zoning Commission. RiverCog represents the towns and city along the River from Cromwell to the Sound. 

RiverCog is in the final stages of writing the regional Plan of Conservation and Development, and is seeking input from Middletown.

The meeting will be held online at 7PM, Wednesday, the Agenda is HERE. Members of the public may view/listen to the meeting as follows:
  1. Going to https://webex.com and joining the meeting using the appropriate meeting number and password
  2. Launching the WebEx application and joining the meeting using the appropriate meeting number and password
  3. Via telephone at 1-408-418-9388 and the appropriate access code
Meeting Number/Access Code: 1294694189
Event Password: Planning 

RiverCog has specifically asked P&Z Commissioners and members of the public to comment on the following:
  1. What is your vision for the Lower Connecticut River Valley?
  2. What do you see as your town’s role in the region?
  3. What are the challenges your town is facing that would be easier to address working regionally or with neighboring owns?
  4. What do we do well in our region? What don’t we do well?
  5. How could a Regional Plan of Conservation and Development support your town?​
​The RiverCOG region is comprised of the seventeen member municipalities of Chester, Clinton, Cromwell, Deep River, Durham, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Killingworth, Lyme, Middlefield, Middletown, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook.

A Turnabout on SIngle-Payer Health Care



From Christian Science Monitor
By Staff writer

He used to say Canada’s health care was risky. Now he says it’s the future.


 Wendell Potter, prime lobbyist, tweets about his change of heart. Given the diverging trajectories of the United States and Canada during the pandemic, their different health care models are getting renewed attention – especially from a man who says he once lied about the dangers one of them posed.




Friday, July 17, 2020

Children's Circus Week Three is amazing!



The first-ever Virtual Children's Circus of Middletown ("From the Big top to the Lap Top") is now registering for week three, which runs July 20 - 24. The program is free and available to all young people ages 5 - 15. 
Registration is on a week-by-week basis for this year's five-week program, and students can sign up for as much or as little as they want. Some classes are specifically for ages 11 to 15, and each morning there are two hours of programming aimed exclusively at kids ages 5 - 7.
Classes this week include Hip Hop Dance, Music, Juggling, Drawing, Capoiera, Mask-Making, Mime, Diabolo, Journalism, Ballet, Contortion, Puzzles and more. Go to www.oddfellows.org for details and to register. All classes are free, but registration is required and some classes have an enrollment limit.
There will be a special event on Friday, July 24 at 2 pm about the "Birth of the Children's Circus". The Journalism class will interview circus founders Dic Wheeler, Elsa Menendez, JJ Crashbang and Dirck Westervelt about the first Children's Circus in 1988 at Powder Ridge Ski Area in Middlefield. Any early circus staff or participants are welcome to join the conversation, which will be open to the public. Contact circus@oddfellows.org for more info.
The Children's Circus is run by Oddfellows Playhouse in Middletown, with support provided by the Middletown Commission on the Arts and the Middlesex United Way. For more information, contact info@oddfellows.org or go to www.oddfellows.org.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Middletown Farmers Market Starts Friday, July 17 at New Location

Come get your veggies!! The Middletown Farmers Market starts this Friday, July 17, 10am-2pm. This year the market will be at Union Green, sometimes called South Green, to make space for physical distancing. Face covering is required to shop at the market. SNAP, WIC and Senior coupons accepted and doubled.

See you there, and please help spread the word!

Sunday, July 12, 2020

What Could Public Banking do for Connecticut?

Long story short:  there is currently a push to bring public banking to Connecticut, and you can become informed by joining a virtual town hall on the subject Wednesday, July 15 at 6:00 p.m.  From the press release:

Can Public Banks Rescue Connecticut?


CT State Public Officials and Community Leaders join an all-star cast of experts from the Public Banking Institute in a Virtual Town Hall to examine how public banks can restart the Main Street economy post COVID-19 while addressing the state’s racial and social equity issues at their deepest roots. 

July 15th, 6 PM EST via Facebook Live

Now, I think I hear you saying, "banking is boring, and anyhow, money and finance are not my thing."  But before you decide this is not for you and move on, grant me a few minutes of your time to explain why public banking is an idea whose time may have come and that could have a positive impact on you and me, along with our city and state.



We all understand that money confers power and that power can be employed in constructive or destructive ways.  And we are all too familiar with some of the spectacular damage wrought by the unprincipled deployment of financial power.  "The Great American Bubble Machine", Matt Taibbi's memorable Rolling Stone article about Goldman Sachs or Dark Towers, David Enrich's recent book about Deutsche Bank and its unprincipled enabling of bad actors should make your hair stand on end.  Settling litigation surrounding its string of mortgage and insurance abuses has recently cost Wells Fargo billions of dollars and resulted in a four-hour grilling of its CEO in congress last year -- for which the bank rewarded him with a two million-dollar bonus.

Of course these banks are of different types, with differing charters.  Goldman Sachs is an investment bank, while Wells Fargo is a commercial bank, for example.  But with the blurring of this distinction following the 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1932, the range of "financial services" offered by these differing types of institution overlaps significantly.

And while not all banks are as thoroughly antisocial as the banks mentioned above, banks are not required to make their investments with the public good in mind.  Even mutual savings banks like Middletown's Liberty Bank, whose profits are returned to their customers, sometimes fail the public interest shamefully.

One way to deploy the power of banks in the public interest would be to be for them to be publicly owned and operated, with charters reflecting the needs of the depositors.  The Public Bank of North Dakota is the single public bank operating in the United States; it has been in business for 101 years and coexists peacefully with private banks in its state. It works mostly with business and government; its only direct loans are to student loan borrowers, who as a result enjoy some of the lowest student loan interest rates in the country.

Last year, California passed enabling legislation to make public banking possible there, and this year AB-310 has been introduced there, aiming to make a California public bank a reality.  It is hoped there that state and local governments can use it to deposit their funds and secure their loans, with lower fees and at more favorable rates than are available from private banks.  The savings would be directly passed on to taxpayers.

Why not in Connecticut?  That is the question being asked by Public Bank Connecticut, a group promoting public banking in the state, and by the Public Banking Institute.  Its co-founder and tireless promoter Ellen Brown, whose 2013 book The Public Bank Solution makes the case for public banking, has spoken and written widely on the benefits to the public that would come from the creation of public banks.

Ellen Brown will be the featured speaker at Wednesday's virtual town hall; other participants and sponsors include

  • The Connecticut Council of Municipalities;
  • Representatives from many of CT's 169 towns and cities including Selectwoman Lauren Gister and Selectwoman Theresa Govert;
  • State representatives and other officials, including Representatives Susan Johnson, Christine Palm and Josh Elliot.

Why should you tune in?  As in all political matters, if public banking is to become a reality in Connecticut, it will require efforts from many sides, including awareness and lobbying by citizens.  I encourage you to join on Facebook using the link provided above and decide for yourself whether the case for public banking in Connecticut is strong enough to warrant the effort to bring it about.