Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Witches Speak at Russell Library Tuesday October 24!

On Tuesday, October 24 beginning at 6:30pm, two poets, Ginny Lowe Connors and Sherri Bedingfield, will be doing a tandem reading from their books on witches in the Hubbard Room of the Russell Library.

Ginny Lowe is the author Toward the Hanging Tree: poems of Salem Village, a collection of poems written from the perspective of those who were hung as witches in Salem, Massachusetts.  

'This is a never-before attempted, delightful collection of poems relating to the entire story of the Massachusetts witchcraft outbreak of 1692. Through Ginny Lowe Connors’ poetic artistry merged with solid research of historic facts, we glimpse the human heart’s response to terrifying events.” --Richard Trask, historian, expert on the Salem Witch Trials.

Sherri Bedingfield’s book, The Clattering: voices from Old Forgarshire, Scotland, centers on a single, true story of a woman accused of witchcraft in 17th century Scotland.

'With vivid and beautiful imagery, The Clattering provokes the conscience of the present with voices from the deep past. Bedingfield creates an enchanting world of rich emotion and concrete sensory experience where the lines between what's real and imagined are as intriguingly blurred as they are in life.” —David K. Leff

This reading is part of Russell Library's Authors Talk series, funded by The Friends of the Russell Library. The next Author Talk will be Edward A. Hagan speaking and reading from his book, To Vietnam in Vain

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Waiting for Hillary

When tickets went on sale for a booksigning at Wesleyan/RJ Julia for her recently released "What Happened," they sold out in a matter of hours.

The enthusiasm was evident today as eager supporters lined Main Street in Middletown Saturday morning beginning just after 7:30 a.m.   By ten the line stretched from the bookstore, down Main Street and around the corner to the steps of First Church on Court Street.

At ten thirty, the Secret Service as called in to sweep the bookstore, and Clinton was scheduled to arrive just before 11 a.m. to begin the signing.

Photo by D. McMillan

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Spotted Around Town: Backyard Sailing?

Certain Freeman Road residents did not let the small size of their pond limit their ambitions, anchoring a sailboat in a pond that is barely more than twice the length of the boat itself. 

Maybe they are just getting ready for climate change and the rise in sea levels.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Invitation to Sing at First Church Christmas Concert

Come Sing with
First Church Choirs 
First Church has two voice choirs—Celebration Singers and Senior Choir. Celebration Singers rehearse on Mondays—Nov. 6, 13, 20, 27, and December 4—at 6:15pm. This group sings contemporary style anthems in four parts. Senior Choir meets on Wednesdays—Nov. 1, 8, 15, 29, and Dec. 6—at 7:30pm, and sings four-part traditional-style anthems.
For more information, contact Minister of Music Shari Lucas at or at the church office, 860-346-6657. See us also on FaceBook: First Church in Middletown.

at Christmas

Come practice with First Church choirs and sing for our Annual Candlelight Christmas Concert on Sunday, December 10, 2017!
The concert lasts about an hour and a half long, and is followed by a buffet-reception for friends and family.

First Church in Middletown
190 Court Street

Board of Education Candidates Appear At Teachers' Forum

City voters will elect 4 new members of the Board of Education on November 7th, and each party is fielding a full slate. The Middletown Federation of Teachers hosted a lively forum for the candidates on Tuesday evening. All 8 candidates attended, along with about 30 members of the public.

Members of the audience and the teachers' union asked candidates to discuss the skills and experiences relevant to the Board of Ed, to address the divisive and anti-education policies of Donald Trump, to address school financing, the Common Core standards, and how as a Board member they would interact with the Common Council in budget discussions. The forum lasted for over two and a half hours, what follows is a small sampling of the views of each candidate.

Ed Ford (R) is a proud graduate of Middletown High's class of 2015. He said his youth and recent experience in our public schools would allow him to bridge different constituents of the school system, "I would be able to offer the experience I went through myself. ... I will be able to provide a freshness [to the board]." In response to a question about how he would approach members of the Common Council to ask for more resources for the schools, he said he would prepare extensively before meeting with them "I will have data that support the school needs, I would present the research."

Jon Pulino (R) is an English Literature teacher at Maloney High School in Meriden, with a masters degree in educational technology. He emphasized his experience as a teacher, "I go [into school] every day. ... The point is I go to work. ... We need to work together." Asked what the most important leadership attribute is for a Board member, he said, "You have to do all your diligence."

Chris Sugar (R) is a lawyer who works in the area of labor relations; he has been a community member of the Middletown BoE policy committee since 2016. In response to a question about whether he supports Donal Trump and his policies, he simply said, "I did not vote for him." He said he was an advocate for social justice, and made it clear he would do what he could to oppose Trump's policies that hurt Middletown education and children.

Kevin Kelly (R) is a retired nurse, he worked at psychiatric institutions, including Connecticut Valley Hospital. He said, "I'm running because I have the skills to work with people." In response to a question about his racial attitudes, he boasted that he has grandchildren of multiple races, and friends from throughout the world, "Personally, it's never been an issue." He said he voted for Donald Trump.

Pat Alston
 (D) is retired from a career as an equal opportunity employment specialist, and she now works as a real estate agent and runs an after-school program for children of all ages. Of families thinking about where to make a home, she said, "I want to make Middletown a 'go-to' town, where [people say] they have the best schools."

Sean King (D) said that he moved to the city expecting to stay just a few years, "but we fell in love with the city and our schools." He repeatedly emphasized the importance of communication, for his own education in making decisions on the Board of Education, and for the community to understand those decisions.  He pointed to the data he would use to determine whether the schools have what they need, and promised to advocate forcefully to make sure the schools were appropriately supported. He also discussed the importance of communicating with children to help them overcome the destructive effects of the rhetoric and policies of Donald Trump.

Lisa Loomis (D) is a teacher in Hartford, she is also a candidate for a doctorate in Educational Leadership. She said she has a pair of passions in life: education and working for social justice; and she has a pair of goals for the Board of Education: narrow the gap that exists between the achievements of white students and the achievements of students of color, and improve the social and emotional growth of all students. Her answers focused on the students.

Vinnie Loffredo (D) is also a proud Middletown High graduate, he taught at his alma mater before having a long career working for the Connecticut Education Association, a public school lobbying organization. The only incumbent to seek re-election, he has served as Chair of the Board of Education for the past two years. He touted his extensive relationships with the Common Council, where he served for many years.
NOTE: the author is a Democratic candidate for Planning and Zoning, and thus part of a slate that includes all the above Democratic candidates. He does not pretend to be unbiased. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Buttonwood Tree Hosts George Washington Carver Project and The Kennedys!

This weekend at The Buttonwood Tree will prove special for those in attendance with jazz music to honor the historic inventor, George Washington Carver, and an anniversary celebration. Join us to create your own magical moment!

Avery Sharpe and Kris Allen honor one of America's Greatest scientists, African American great, George Washington Carver. The Duo project that Avery and Kris have put together to honor Mr.Carver, will consist of original music written by Kris and Avery, based on the life work of this great scientist

October 20th, 8-10pm | $20

A Spiritual & Holistic Healer from India, Annaita is experienced in applying varied healing modalities to a wide range of situations. In these inter-active workshops, Annaita seeks to empower, sharing her deep understanding of life, holism and spirituality, enabling you to rise above life’s challenges, live a healthy, fulfilled & confident life.
 This week's topic: Heart Chakra
 October 21st, 10:30am | $10 suggested donation

The Kennedys are celebrating 20 years of marriage and performing together, so love will be in the air, even more so than usual. With over 13 couples now married or such, who met at TBT, it's proven to be a great place to rekindle or make new relationships.

October 21st, 8-10pm | $20

Bonnie Bryne LeMay, an award winning impressionist painter will be holding an art reception at The Buttonwood Tree. LeMay's art has been described as "Passionate", "Thought-Provoking", and "Calming".

October 22nd, 3-5pm

Celebrate the Fall Harvest and More at Forest City Farms!

Come down to Forest City Farms on Sunday, October 22 at 1 pm to celebrate the CT River Coastal Conservation District's 70th Annual Meeting and Fall Harvest Day! The farm is located at 1100 River Road in Middletown.

Learn about the farm’s efforts to enhance their farmland for agriculture, the many conservation practices put in place, and plans to make the farm an educational community‐based resource to engage families and children. After a brief business meeting and conservation awards ceremony, we welcome you to stay for refreshments, conversation, and the Fall Harvest Day activities. There will be a variety of family‐friendly activities taking place, including walking tours led by Gabe Russo (see flyer below). For more information about our annual meeting, including our award winners, see our flyer. RSVP to Kathy King at 860.346.3282 or

Forest City Farms is a small organic farm on City-owned land along the Connecticut River in Middletown, focused on contributing to the local sustainable food community.  The farm is owned and managed by Gabe Russo with support from many of his family members. A wide variety of heirloom produce and culinary herbs is grown at the farm, and sold at farmers markets and to restaurants, distributed in local farm shares, and donated to the local soup kitchen and food pantry.

The Fall Harvest Day is part of a Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District project to enhance urban agriculture in Middletown, funded by a grant from the National Association of Conservation Districts.  Funding for a pilot program to plan and hold two on-farm educational events at Forest City Farms, the secondof which is the Fall Harvest Day, was provided in part by a generous grant from The Rockfall Foundation, Middletown, CT.

The Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District Inc., a nonprofit organization based in Middletown, CT, works to conserve the natural resources of towns in the lower Connecticut River watershed and coastal areas. For more information about District technical and educational programs and services, visit us at, or

Board of Education Candidate Forum: Tonight, Tuesday October 17. 6:30 PM, MHS

The Middletown Federation of Teachers (MFT) is once again hosting a forum for the candidates for the Board of Education on the November 7 ballot.

The forum takes place tonight, Tuesday October 17, at 6:30 PM in the auditorium of the Middletown High School on LaRosa Lane.

Candidates from both parties have been invited to give their views on education in Middletown.

An Eye Looks Into The Mirror

The new blog in town.
We at The Middletown Eye are thrilled to see another blog that covers local news and culture. The Middletown Mirror began to publish stories of our city on September 19th. 

So far it has published stories on Middletown High football, Xavier High Football, the new Sliders sports bar on South Main, and the playing field and parks improvements under way at Pat Kidney Fields and Woodrow Wilson Middle School.

We hope all of our readers will also take a look to see the Mirror's reflections on our city.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

There are four (4) more Tuesdays to catch MIFF films!

Middletown International Film Festival

Various locations in Middletown 

The Salesman

October 17: Wesleyan University, Center for Film Studies, 301 Washington Terrace
(Iran, 2016, directed by Asghar Farhadi)

While both participating in a production of "Death of a Salesman," a teacher's wife is assaulted in her new home, which leaves him determined to find the perpetrator over his wife's traumatized objections.


October 24: Middlesex Community College, Chapman Hall, Training Hill Road
(Iceland, 2015, directed by Grimur Hakonarson)

In a remote Icelandic farming valley, two brothers who haven't spoken in 40 years have to come together in order to save what's dearest to them - their sheep.


October 31: Middlesex Community College, Chapman Hall, Training Hill Road
(Ethiopia, 2014, directed by Zeresenay Mehari)

A young lawyer travels to an Ethiopian village to represent Hirut, a 14-year-old girl who shot her would-be husband as he and others were practicing one of the nation's oldest traditions: abduction into marriage.

The Kind Words

November 7: Russell Library, Hubbard Room, 123 Broad Street
(Israel, 2015, directed by Shemi Zarhin)

This quirky and wry comedy follows three Jewish Israeli siblings who, in the wake of their mother's death, learn the man who raised them is not their biological father. The revelation sends them on a road trip from Israel across France to discover the truth about their real father.

Middletown's International Film Series

Common Ground 2017, this year's 9th Annual Middletown International Film Series, is sponsored jointly by Russell Library, Wesleyan University, and Middlesex Community College, and it's what people like me have longed for in a town like Middletown (let's make that in a state like Connecticut), where foreign film venues are relatively few.

Unlike Seattle, my former home town, Middletown has no small, atmospheric film venues--Seattle has many, some with only 20 seats. And some of the small theatres in Seattle are for foreign film only. Seattle has a community of knowledgeable and ardent fans of foreign film, and they are very active. Seattle's small theatres have been thriving for years--since the time of the early Beats. The film culture there is exciting. People anticipate new releases (as well as older classics), see them with their friends, stay around afterward for coffee and to discuss the film. A satisfying leisure activity.

Middletown now has this wonderful International Film Series. Remote Control, was shown last week (unformately, at the same time as Dar Williams's appearance at Wesleyan-R.J. Julia Bookstore), at Wesleyan's Center for Film Studies. Remote Control presented a slice of life in Mongolia--whether inner or outer Mongonia, isn't clear--but most of the action takes place in Ulan Bator, Mongolia's capital. The audience numbered maybe 20 people.

I found Remote Control thoroughly engaging. A young man from the countryside takes refuge in the city, creates a leanto-home for himself, a rooftop squat, and finds amusement watching with a telescope as neighbors go about their lives behind the windows of their adjacent mid-rise apartment building. One apartment's large-screen TV, which has its own remote control clicker, faces the young man's rooftop. And as he becomes emotionally involved in the life of a young woman there and  purchases his own remote, he finds a way to interact with her. It's a rather light-hearted vignette--nothing like Rear Window, Alfred Hitchcock's sinister take on a voyeur.

This story plays out against exotic trappings of Mongolian culture--Buddha images, art featuring characters from Mongolian myth, the delivery of milk door to door from a milk pail with a long-handled measure. In a setting where Western material culture that encroaches--cars, city-scapes, city lights, high-rise buildings, TVs, and clothing, the background of Ulan Bator and Mongolia makes for a visual feast--a smorgasbord that is at once familiar and foreign.

It's all there--the foreign film experience and a cafe within walking distance. It's all there for the looking, on these beautiful autumn evenings; and all for the taking--it's free: the Common Ground 2017, 9th Annual Middletown International Film Festival. Four more films will complete the series on the next four Tuesdays: The Salesman (Iran, 2016), Rams (Iceland, 2015), Difret (Ethiopia, 2014) and The Kind Words (Israel, 2015). 

Take a look at Russell Library's website Common Ground 2017 for the scheduled venue. All screenings are on Tuesday at 7p.m., with guest lecturers at each screening. Free admission, free parking, and accessible venues and seating. Dinner downtown and an international film, all near by. Cultural diversity--the otherness that enriches and refreshes.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Stories of a New America: October 26.

From the Middletown Rotary Club.
The Rotary Club of Middletown will be sponsoring an event designed to broaden understanding of
issues faced by refugees once they've arrived in the United States. The inspiring and enlightening play, called “Stories of a New America”, is about refugee resettlement and is based on over 100 interviews with refugees who have resettled in Connecticut after civil unrest in their homelands.

The Rotary Club of Middletown partnered with Middlesex Community College and IRIS (Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services) to retain the Collective Consciousness Theater to perform the play at Middlesex Community College’s Chapman Hall on Thursday, October 26 at 11:00 AM.

The play’s unique format, capturing refugees’ hopes and fears – both past and present – is brought to life by five multilingual artists who portray more than two dozen roles. The diverse stories from Iraq, Afghanistan, Cuba and Congo have attracted local and national media, which have praised the performance as powerful, original and relevant to the world today.

A “Talk Back” will be conducted at the play’s conclusion, during which the audience will be able to interact with the actors, a local refugee, and IRIS Director, Chris George. IRIS is a non-sectarian, independent, nonprofit refugee resettlement agency that has welcomed more than 5,000 refugees to Connecticut since 1982.

Although the Rotary Club of Middletown has focused on the greater Middletown community by sponsoring family and community literacy projects, the Thanksgiving food drive, scholarships and vocational training initiatives, youth leadership, student exchange, hunger and homelessness programs, it is also involved in a number of international projects. Says Co-President Cheryl Duey, “We truly have a broad reach. Issues facing asylum seekers and refugees in Connecticut fit the Rotary International area of focus called Peace and Conflict Resolution.”

Anyone interested in the performance, the Rotary Club of Middletown, or helping refugees in Connecticut is free to contact: Cheryl Duey
, Co-President, Rotary Club of Middletown ( or Ann O’Brien with IRIS (

Friday, October 13, 2017

Third by Wendy Wasserstein presented by Readers Theater Monday at Russell Library

Readers Theater opens their season at Russell Library with the play, Third by Wendy Wasserstein. Theater goers are asked to come to the Court Street entrance of the Hubbard Room. Doors will open at 6:30pm. Light refreshments will be served until curtain time at 7:00pm.

Since the library closes on Mondays at 6:00pm, the only access to the Hubbard Room will be from the Court Street entrance.
Wendy Wasserstein

Third was Wasserstein's last play, and premiered off Broadway in 2005. The play takes place at a small, prestigious, New England liberal arts college during one academic year. A female college professor, Laurie Jameson, has her her life and fundamental assumptions challenged by an encounter with a student, Woodson Bull, III. The professor and student have strongly divergent personal and political characteristics.
The play grapples with the issues of stereotyping, identity politics and family issues.

Reader’s Theater is live drama enacted by local actors.
Directed by Anne Cassady and Richard Kamins

Funded by the Middletown Commission on the Arts and The Friends of the Russell Library.

An Off Note From The Barn Raising

Note added, October 14: After this post appeared on October 13, Mr. Clark threatened to take me to court if I did not remove specific passages of his own writing from the account of his actions. His rationale was that the fine print at the bottom of the emails with those passages included a paragraph that begins by referencing the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, 18 U.S.C. 119 Sections 2510-2521. What you see below is an edited version, in which I have removed any of Clark's words that appeared above his fine print disclaimer. 

This is a follow-up to a previous post: Note From a Barn Raising In Middletown.  In fact, it might be added as one more note. 
This is a personal account, not intended to be journalism. Click on each image to enlarge.

It started with a simple inquiry and has become a convoluted fantasy of imagined Devoto malfeasance.

Fellow Planning and Zoning Commissioner Molly Salafia sent the following email to the city's Planning Department:
Hi Bruce - can you check I got reports Devoto didnt have a staff pz review for barn he raised over the weekend on his property. Thank you.
It was a perfectly reasonable and proper request, although unusual--staff in the Planning Department could not recall any previous such inquiries from Commissioner Salafia.

The Planning Department staff determined that I had gotten both a demolition and a building permit from the Building Department, but because of a mistake in city hall, those were granted without a formal Planning Department permit.

In fact, we had initially gone to the Planning Department for a permit, but were told that our project, which was to replace an existing barn with a new one with the exact same footprint, did not need a Planning Department permit.

The Director of Planning, Joe Samolis, said, "It was a simple mistake."

Having been informed of the mistake as a consequence of Commissioner Salafia, we have now rectified it.

Brian Clark, Investigative Journalist

But the news that Commissioner Salafia's question had a very mundane answer did not apparently reach the ears of the investigative journalist for The Middletown Insider.  Brian Clark approached me on Facebook Messenger with the following:
... I have a lot of people, who've provided a lot of documents, on the barn you built on your property, and the lack of Planning and Zoning paperwork you have for said barn. ... And before you go about wondering who's playing pointing the finger, reevaluate that thought because these people are closer than you'd ever believe.
The next morning he continued in an email. He informed me that he was not motivated by politics, but was simply working for the good of society. He said my actions had made many people justifiably furious at me, and he had a duty to expose me.

Clark then offered me a reward. He promised that all I had to do was cooperate with his investigation; if I did he would present my side of the story.

I encouraged him to publish the results of his investigation, suggested he make sure he had all the current information, and essentially declined to write "my side of things".

This led to his final communiqué, in which Clark told me that he would be publishing his article with or without my cooperation. He informed me that he would not spare me his full wrath, he made it very clear that I would regret being such a donkey (he used a synonym for this animal).

Clark said that his extensive investigation had provided all the information he needed.

The Director and the Deputy Director of the Planning Department each confirmed to me that they had not received any inquiries from him.

I look forward to Clark's article, which on Facebook he has promised will appear Saturday.
The New Barn, before the siding went on

Footings Inspection

The Old Barn

Foundation Wall Inspection

The Basukes! & Old Lonesome Dave at The Pickle Stand Saturday


SATURDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2017, 9:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.

The World’s One-and-Only Bassoon/Ukelele Duo, THE BASUKES!, Pop Into The Pickle Stand For An Awesome Set Of Unique Covers, Basuking Everyone From Chuck Berry to The Beatles to Neil Diamond; from The Statler Brothers to ABBA to David Bowie; from Madness to The Black Eyed Peas to Bruno Mars.

Up Next It’s Old Lonesome Dave (Middletown’s Official Inaugural Musical Ambassador).  On Top Of His Original Middletonian Tunes, Dave Presents Unique Acoustic Renditions of 20th Century Pop Standards, Penned By The Likes Of Johnny Mercer, The Gershwins, Pee Wee King, Mabel Wayne, Fats Waller & Brian Wilson.  All This, And That Amazing Pickle Stand Menu!

What Else You Could You Possibly Have To Do?

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Sunday at 2pm and 6pm: Connecticut debut of family-friendly ice dancing show "Vertical Influences" by Montreal's Le Patin Libre

Le Patin Libre: Vertical Influences

Sunday, October 15, 2017 at 2pm and 6pm
Spurrier-Snyder Rink, Freeman Athletic Center, 161 Cross Street, Middletown
$22 general public; $20 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff/alumni, non-Wesleyan students; $6 Wesleyan students, youth under 18

A discounted “Family 4 Pack” is $50. Purchase tickets online here.

Following the 2pm matinee, there will be a meet and greet with the artists. Hot chocolate and goodies will be served.

"Much of Vertical Influences plays with choreography and imagery that rinses viewers of all conventional expectations."
--NPR's All Things Considered

Le Patin Libre challenges expectations about ice shows, combining the attitude of street dance with the athleticism of competitive skating, all while exploring the choreographic possibilities of the human body gliding on ice. The Montreal-based company makes their Connecticut debut with Vertical Influences (2014), a double bill which examines themes of leadership, bullying, individualism, and rivalry with the audience seated on the ice during the second half of the performance, up close as the five skaters perform.

Vertical Influences is approximately 70 minutes with one intermission.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Guided Hike at Hubbard Conservation Area, Sunday!

Photo by Michelle Ford
From The Middletown Commission on Conservation and Agriculture
The Middletown Commission on Conservation & Agriculture, and the Mayoral Youth Cabinet, are co-sponsoring a hike this Sunday 10/15 at 1:30 at the Hubbard Conservation Area, Chamberlain Rd. Extension in Middletown.

Visit a hidden gem at one of the highest points in S. Middletown, with vistas of fall foliage and trap rock ridges. The hike will wind through mature woods, dotted with stone walls and “wolf” trees, patches of wetlands and dry uplands of oak, and moves onto the powerline right-of-way, where we will find late blooming wildflowers, and great views.
From the Middletown Trails Guide

We’ll stop a few places along the way to  smell, hear and see the sights and compare the conserved woods to the disturbance of giant powerlines, and the shrubs and butterflies beneath them.This two-mile hike includes some moderate uphill; sturdy shoes are needed for gravel roads and eroded paths; about 1.5 hours. Best to wear long pants and a hat or bandana, and bring a water bottle. No RSVP required. Contact Kate Miller at if you have questions. Please note: throughout the year there are shorter hikes with easier terrain held by the commission and others.

Directions: From Randolph Road (Route 155), go south on Millbrook Road for 1.0 miles, then turn left on Lyceum Road. Go to the stop sign and take a left on Chamberlain Hill Road; look for Hubbard Conservation Area sign on left. If Millbrook is closed, take Lee to Chamberlain. The trailhead is 0.5 miles on the left immediately past the utility right-of-way. No designated parking, pull to side of road.
Raindate: Sunday, 10/22, 1:30pm.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Long War in Afghanistan: A Perspective

From Friends of the Wesleyan Library.
Colonel Bob Cassidy, Ph.D., U.S. Army (retired)
Retired Military Officer Teaching Fellow, Wesleyan University

Wednesday, October 11
7:00 - 9:00 pm
Smith Reading Room
Olin Memorial Library

In August of this year, the U.S. announced another policy and strategy for Afghanistan.  October 7th marks 16 years of war in Afghanistan, the longest American war of this century.

Where are we in our aims to dismantle and defeat Al Qaeda and to help stabilize and secure Afghanistan well enough to prevent the return of the Taliban?  Why is there still a strategic stalemate after 16 years?

The talk covers the origins and evolution of the war in Afghanistan. The discussion will provide candid insights about the opportunities and risks associated with the current policy and the future prospects for breaking the strategic stalemate.

Colonel Bob Cassidy, Ph.D., U.S. Army (retired), has served four tours in Afghanistan, returning from his most recent tour in March 2017.  Cassidy has served as a special assistant to three senior generals, a special operations director of assessments, a special mission task force planner, a battalion commander, and a brigade operations officer.  He earned his Ph.D. from the Fletcher School at Tufts University.  His scholarly work has generally explored strategy, irregular war, and military culture.  Bob Cassidy is the inaugural Retired Military Officer Teaching Fellow at Wesleyan University for the academic year 2017-2018.

Sponsored by the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life with support from the Friends of the Wesleyan Library.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Free Cooking Series to Feature Pumpkins and Winter Squash

We hope you can join us for the third and last session of our free Put Local on Your Plate Cooking Series on Pumpkins and Winter Squash, Thursday, October 12 (more details below). Home chef and author of the Grow.Eat.Smile recipe blog, Allison Russo, is excited to share some of her favorite recipes for the fall using winter squash. Using local produce to cook budget-friendly and family-friendly healthy meals is one of her passions! Please contact our office at 860-346-3282 with any questions and to sign up. 
 The Middletown Urban Agriculture Project is a community-based project to enhance and promote agriculture in the City, funded by a grant from the National Association of Conservation Districts. Project partners include Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District, Forest City Farms, Long Lane Farm, the City of Middletown, Middletown High School Agricultural Science and Technology Program, North End Action Team, the Macdonough and Farm Hill School Family Resource Centers, and the FoodCorps program.

The Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District Inc., a nonprofit organization based in Middletown, CT, works to conserve the natural resources of towns in the lower Connecticut River watershed and coastal areas. For more information about District technical and educational programs and services, visit our website and Facebook page. 

Dar Williams Signing, Singing and Reading at Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore

Dar Williams, an acclaimed singer and songwriter, who has traveled the country performing her thoughtful, insightful songs, will appear Tuesday October 10 at 7PM at the Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore, 413 Main Street Middletown, to talk about her new book, "What I Found in a Thousand Towns."

The book is an exploration of towns that work, and Williams' insight into the factors that make a successful town.  A primary chapter in the book features Middletown, and Williams' exploration of the town/gown relationship here.

Williams will read from her book, and sign copies for attendees, but the reading is something closer to a cross between a community forum and a hootenanny.  Williams intends to bring her guitar, sing some of her songs ("When Sal's Burned Down," is about a long-lamented Middletown tavern), and encourage attendees to sing along.

Williams is familiar with Middletown. She is a 1989 grad of Wesleyan and has returned often as an instructor at the university.  She has recorded and released thirteen solo albums, and an additional album with the group Cry, Cry, Cry (Williams, Richard Shindell, Lucy Kaplansky).  In addition, she has appeared on several compilation and tribute albums.  Williams has toured internationally, and has appeared at concert halls, listening venues and festivals here, and in Canada and Europe.

This is a free event.  No ticket or reservation is necessary.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Limits to Growth -- an Odyssey, part II

In last week's post, I outlined the way the Club of Rome fit into the nascent environmental movement of the early 1970s.  The Club's first major project, the 1972 publication of Limits to Growth, generated much discussion at the time but had little lasting impact on actual policy.  I reported the Club's effort to rejuvenate itself and renew its efforts to make an impact on sustainability thinking with its first Summer Academy in Florence in September.  I applied, was accepted, and attended.

A cobbled-together, 24-hour, multi-leg trip deposited me at the modest airport in Florence, Italy without my bags.  After waiting in vain and then filing a report, I was told they would be delivered to the apartment where I was staying within the next 24 hours.  I shouldered my daypack and headed across the city to my lodging.  Florence is an extraordinary city, and fatigued as I was, I managed to stop now and then to take in the scenery in the late afternoon light.

At my Airbnb lodging outside the city center, Mario and his family were very welcoming, and the next morning my bag arrived.  Friendly suroundings and a change of clothes having improved my outlook, I headed to the city center, where the University of Florence is located and where the Club of Rome Summer Academy was scheduled to begin on the afternoon of September 7.

The very first person I met was Luca, the caterer.  A charming, engaging man, he would become a weclome face during the rest of the week, both for his cheering presence and for his excellent food.  The Club of Rome ensured that we ate well during the Summer Academy.

Sampling some of Luca's food at the welcome reception, I met my first fellow participant, a young man from Switzerland.  We somehow gravitated toward one another and hit it off immediately.  Soon he introduced me to one of his friends who was also in attendance.  The two of them are working, in their own ways, on a variety of projects to raise the consciousness and improve the lives of their fellow humans.  From his bio: "His life is based on the decision to use his lifetime for the further development of humankind and for the conscious revolution of life."  I would soon meet a third young man who had made a similar commitment.  Considering that this was a conference devoted to changing the world, it seemed to have recruited the right participants.  I relaxed a bit; I was going to enjoy this week.

The first day involved a protracted ice-breaker game, in which we voted our answers to questions about various sustainability issues by standing with the group with simililar views: voting with our feet.  Having gotten to know one another a little, the 88 participants took their seats; the organizers welcomed us and showed us two vintage five-minute films that I will share with you here - they are worth a look:

Carl Sagan: the Cosmic Calendar

Limits to Growth: Last Call (2012)

After being welcomed by the organizers, we settled in to hear our first talk, delivered from the U.S. via the internet.  The keynote speaker was David Korten, a member of theClub of Rome.

Let me pause here to talk briefly about the Club of Rome again.  The Club consists of 100 members and a variety of associate, honorary, and ex-officio members and fellows.  I can do no better in describing it than to quote from its own website:

The Club of Rome is an organisation of individuals who share a common concern for the future of humanity and strive to make a difference. Our members are notable scientists, economists, businessmen, high level civil servants and former heads of state from around the world. Their efforts are supported by the Secretariat in Winterthur, Switzerland, the European Research Centre registered in Constance, Germany and National Associations in more than 30 countries.
The Club of Rome conducts research and hosts debates, conferences, lectures, high-level meetings and events. The Club also publishes a limited number of peer-reviewed “Reports to the Club of Rome”, the most famous of which is “The Limits to Growth“.
The Club of Rome’s mission is to promote understanding of the global challenges facing humanity and to propose solutions through scientific analysis, communication and advocacy. Recognising the interconnectedness of today’s global challenges, our distinct perspective is holistic, systemic and long-term.

The Club has associate national associations in 34 nations; the United States and Puerto Rico have chapters.  I honestly was not aware of this fact until just now; yet it seems to be a full-fledged organization in its own right, complete with lists of priorities and publications. The national associations were not mentioned at the Summer Academy, and as far as I know none of them sent a representative.

The interconnected set of problems identified in Limits to Growth  -- the "problematique" -- constitutes the foundation upon which the global and national Club organizations build their expertise and frame their policy recommendations.  Are they effective?  Obviously not, though they are participants in global and national conversations and may have subtle impacts that are not easily apparent.  In fairness, they have adopted a monumental challenge -- the Summer Academy subtitle was Challenging an Unsustainable Economic System!

Do they deserve to be effective?  Bear with me for the next few weeks; I'm trying to sort that out for myself.  For now, let me say that an organization that focuses our attention on the complex interplay between resource depletion and pollution as they constrain a growing population with a rising footprint deserves at least conditional support for intervening in what is otherwise a rather one-sided public conversation.

Club of Rome Secretary General Graeme Maxton addresses the Summer Academy on day 1.

Back to David Korten, Club member, co-founder of Yes! Magazine, founder and President of the Living Economies forum, and author of numerous books "framing a new economy for the Ecological Civilization to which humanity must now transition." (here is his web page).  His talk was entitled "Embracing Imperative as Possibility". In some ways, Korten's talk was the most challenging of the week, and I hesitate somewhat to begin (finally!) my account of the Summer Academy with it.  But here goes.

Korten stated that humanity is on a suicidal path, with global consumption currently 1.7 times the maximum sustainable level (see for information on how such estimates are made).  The wealth of eight individuals equals that of the lowest half -- 3.7 million people, the most extreme in human history.

A civilizational shift is required; this will involve overcoming the false ideas of conventional economics by:

  • moving away from growth, which largely benefits the few (though we are told all will benefit);
  • moving away from increased consumption, which increases competition for declining real wealth;
  • moving away from organizing the economy around corporations and back to firms and households;
  • moving away from the dominance of markets, which "run" the corporations, leading to wealth concentration and environmental collapse.

Korten offered three ideas to ponder:

  1. Earth itself is a living being that self-organizes to preserve life;
  2. Money is just a number.  Maximizing that number while destroying the environment and impoverishing people is an act of insanity;
  3. A corporation has a public charter; therefore, it must have a public purpose.

Challenging ideas - I warned you!  Korten is surely a dreamer, or a futurist if you will.  But I hope you can see from that last quote that he is quite clear-eyed about the challenges faced by a society trying to get itself under control.  He promotes something he called subsidiarity: the responsibility of a central organization to establish a framework of rules that supports local decision making.  This means organizing around local biosystems -- the opposite of corporate globalization.  And, in answer to a question, he pointed out that corporations once envisioned a responsibility to all their stakeholders, a responsibility that he said died out during the second half of the twentieth century.  Now a corporation that is "inefficient" in this way will be bought out by private equity and the "inefficiency" eliminated. (Are you familiar with Bain Capital?  or the concept of "unlocking shareholder value"?)

Korten asserted that leadership must come from an awakened citizenry and left us with this gem: "Sustainability is not politically feasible.  We must change the infeasible to the irresistable."  Here I experienced my first disappointment of the week: how?  How, precisely (or even approximately), does one get from point A to point B?

Discussion was lively, and it became clear already on this first day that there was too little time built into the program for the discussion that the group craved.  It was also clear that the Club's choice to invite mostly young people gave the room an energy that fed on itself.  My enthusiasm for the coming week was restored.

I could say much more about just this first talk, but I am out of time and out of space.  Please post your comments and questions and come back next weekend for the Club of Rome Summer Academy, day two.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Free Westfield Carnival: Music, Food Trucks, Music, and Magic

The first Westfield Community Carnival is starting tonight, at the Third Congregational Church on Miner Street, near the Westfield Volunteer Fire Department. It runs from 5PM to 10PM Friday, 10AM to 10PM Saturday, and Noon to 8PM on Sunday.
  • Iguanas Ranas, Vecchittos, and Melilli Caffe and Grill; Pulled pork by the Third Congregational Church, and Chili Dogs from the Westfield Fire Department.
  • Music by the Middletown Symphonic Band, Middletown High School Jazz Ensemble, CJ West and the Downtown Train, and Prelude.
  • Balloon Art, Card Tricks, and Magic.
Full menu and schedule:

Thursday, October 5, 2017

City Native Is Latest MPD Officer

From the Middletown Police Department
Kyle Van Almkerk, Middletown native was sworn in as the Middletown Police Department’s newest recruit. Van Almkerk graduated from Middletown High School in 2006 and enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2010. Van Almkerk retired in 2014 at the rank of sergeant. Van Almkerk then pursued a college degree, first at Middlesex Community College earning an associate’s degree, and then enrolled at the University of New Haven in the Criminal Justice Program.

Van Almkerk recently completed an internship with the Middletown Police Department where he was recognized for his commitment and professionalism.

This brings us to full staffing levels.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Invitation to Sing with First Church Choirs at Christmas Concert

Come Sing with
First Church
at Christmas

Come practice with First Church choirs and sing for our Annual Candlelight Christmas Concert on Sunday, December 10, 2017!

First Church has two voice choirs—Celebration Singers and Senior Choir. Celebration Singers rehearse on Mondays—Nov. 6, 13, 20, 27, and December 4—at 6:15pm. This group sings contemporary style anthems in four parts. Senior Choir meets on Wednesdays—Nov. 1, 8, 15, 29, and Dec. 6—at 7:30pm, and sings four-part traditional style anthems.

The concert is about an hour and a half long, and is followed by a buffet-reception for friends and family.

For more information, contact Minister of Music Shari Lucas at or at the church office, 860-346-6657. See us also on FaceBook--First Church in Middletown.

First Church in Middletown
190 Court Street
Middletown, CT

South Fire District Open House Saturday.

Fun for the whole family!
The South Fire District will hold its annual Open House on
Saturday, October 7th, 2017, from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM, rain or shine.
• Free Amber Alert Child ID, courtesy of Middletown Rotary Club
• Live Burn Demonstration
• Antique Fire Trucks/USAR Trucks
• Firefighting Equipment
• Smoke Trailer
• 911 Simulator
• Poison Control
• Emergency Management Mobile Hospital
• Hunters Ambulance/Choking Charlie
• Vision Screening/Flu Shots
• Car Seat Clinic/Bicycle Safety
• Moon Bounces/Games
• Home Depot Children’s Activity Tent
• Face Painting/Magician/Spin Art/Sand Art
• Food and Fun and MUCH MORE!
Meet SPARKY the Fire Dog!
The Open House is held in conjunction with Fire Prevention Week, which runs from October 8 - 14, 2017.
The theme of Fire Prevention week this year is:
Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

annual Fall Community Record Fair October 8th

WESU’s first event of the Fall Season is right around the corner. The annual Fall Community Record Fair returns to Wesleyan University’s Beckham Hall  (55 Wyllys Ave, Middletown, CT) on Sunday October 8th from 11am-4pm.
This event is fun for all ages and features dozens of vendors selling music and records new and old. Vendors will also be there selling concert T-shirts and memorabilia. Yes! There will even be exclusive and discounted WESU swag and discount $1 records. Live WESU DJs will be spinning records and tunes all day.
The event is free and open to the public. Early bird specials will be offered again this year. For just $5 get in at 10am to get that special record you’ve been searching for.

WESU is always accepting record donations to sell or add to our record library at the station. Our library benefits our listeners by making more music available available to our diverse lineup of DJs who come from the student population as well as the greater Middletown community.
Vendor space is sold out. For more info contact WESU Ben Michael, WESU General Manager. 860-685-7707


Thursday Jazz At Lan Chi Vietnamese Restaurant

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Limits to Growth -- An Odyssey, part I

Things happen in cycles.  Most obviously, there is the rhythm of the day and the year; more subtle cycles govern many other aspects of our existence as well.  The relatively placid and livable climate we enjoy is but a phase in the relentless Milankovich cycles that result from the dance of the planets, bringing us periodic ice ages (though it looks likely that human activity will measurably alter the earthly aspect of this rhythm for a while).

Business cycles are familiar to us as well: periods of economic growth followed by contraction as recession takes the place of expansion.  But if we are honest with ourselves, we have to admit that we expect growth to dominate.  Recessions are temporary setbacks on the road to increasing prosperity and progress.

Whatever our expectations, there is a larger economic rhythm that has governed all societies since the dawn of civilization a few hundred generations ago.  Societies wax and wane with their fortunes as exploiters of the resources available to them.  The great early societies of Sumer and Babylon, the ancient Puebloans, the Classical Maya, and of course the Roman Empire are all examples of once thriving societies that are no more.

Alarmed that exponentially increasing population and resource exploitation, along with the resulting pollution, would precipitate the next crisis of civilization, a group of industrialists, civil servants, and intellectuals met in Italy in 1968, founding the Club of Rome.  They commissioned a report by scientists at M.I.T., published in 1972, with the title Limits to Growth.  The report caused a sensation and sold more than 12 million copies; even now it is the top-selling environmental book, and among the top-selling nonfiction books, of all time.

Limits to Growth was published into a time of environmental awakening.  The 1962 publication of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring was followed by the Clean Air Act of 1963; Paul Ehrlich's 1968 The Population Bomb; the creation of the EPA and the first Earth Day in 1970; and acts concerning water pollution in 1972 and 1977.  Those of you with no recollection of 1970 should be aware that this was a time of opaque, choking air in many of America's large cities and virtually unrestrained dumping of industrial, agricultural, and sewage waste on the nation's land and in its waterways.

The computer simulations generated by the authors of Limits to Growth attempted to model the interactions of, in their words, "population increase, agricultural production, nonrenewable resource depletion, industrial output, and pollution generation".   Employing the recently developed formalism of system dynamics, the group found that known resource availability, expected pollution generation, and plausible efficiency and technological increases combined to give a peak in human prosperity sometime in the middle of the 21st century.   Their "standard run" simulation, corresponding to "business as usual", is shown below.  It depicts the evolution of the key variables during the 20th and 21st centuries.  It is evident that, in this scenario, the going gets pretty rough by the middle of the 21st century:

In addition to the methodology, which took into account feedback mechanisms between different parts of the global economic system,  Limits to Growth incorporated a number of other innovations.  It emphasized that known resource reserves expected to last a certain number of years at current rates of consumption would be consumed over a dramatically shorter period due to consumption growth.  And it showed plainly -- in 1972! -- the exponential rise in CO2 production, discussing the eventual impacts that we are now living with.  A recent study found that human development has followed the "business as usual" trajectory surprisingly closely.

However, Limits to Growth was a direct political threat to the explosive postwar growth that had crescendoed in the 1960s, and it inevitably provoked a backlash, most concertedly from economists.  The authors had provided a hierarchy of scenarios corresponding to different actions that could be taken to forestall collapse.  Critics tended to focus on the standard run projection, taking it as a prediction and finding fault with it in their many detailed analyses, some cogent, some disingenuous.  When a twenty-year update appeared, its foes updated their arguments too.

As part of a movement that heightened awareness and led to important reforms, Limits to Growth was surely successful, though ironically, as these reforms have prevented some of the anticipated crises, they have given credence to critics' claims of excessive pessimism.

But as a manifesto provoking a sea change in the way humanity does business, it was an abject failure.  This is painfully clear on the eve of next year's fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Club of Rome: resistance to "austerity" and attempts to roll back regulations so as to promote growth are far more visible than efforts to restrain growth or to leave resources in the ground as a way of avoiding even worse climate change than is now guaranteed.

Nevertheless, the public is once again showing signs of an awareness of limits.  Mindful of this, and eager to make another attempt at intervening in the public conversation surrounding growth, the Club of Rome sponsored its first "Summer Academy" in September.  Admission required preparation of a short video explaining why the participant thought he or she would be a useful contributor.  I was admitted, paid my conference fee, booked my travel and airbnb lodging, and headed off the day after Labor Day for Florence, where the Academy was held.

Each weekend through October, I plan to publish in this space my observations of the weeklong Summer Academy, along with information I think important for you to know.  These issues are largely avoided by our political and cultural leaders.  Were the authors of Limits to Growth right -- are we on an unsustainable path that will lead to global ruin during the 21st century?  Or is the Club of Rome an evil "cabal" intent on world domination?  I want to provide a space here at the Middletown Eye for you to read about and discuss the issues surrounding growth.  Please post your questions and comments!

further reading:

The entire first edition of Limits to Growth may be downloaded here:

A recent article about a longer recent piece, Limits to Growth Revisited:

An article written on the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of LTG in 2012:

The website of the Club of Rome itself: