June is Gay Pride Month

Source: History.com

The movement for LGBTQ rights in the United States dates at least as far back as the 1920s, when the first documented gay rights organization was founded. Since then, various groups have advocated for LGBTQ rights and the movement accelerated in the wake of the Stonewall Riots of 1969. Below is a list of surprising facts about Stonewall and the struggles and milestones of the gay rights movement.

1. The first documented U.S. gay rights organization was founded in Chicago in 1924.
Henry Gerber, a German immigrant, founded the Society for Human Rights, the first documented gay rights organization in the United States. During his U.S. Army service in World War I, Gerber was inspired to create his organization by the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee, a “homosexual emancipation” group in Germany. Gerber’s small group published a few issues of its newsletter “Friendship and Freedom,” the country’s first gay-interest newsletter. Police raids forced the group to disband in 1925. But 90 years later, the U.S. government designated Gerber’s Chicago house a National Historic Landmark.

2. The pink triangle was co-opted from the Nazis and reclaimed as a badge of pride.
Before the pink triangle became a worldwide symbol of gay power, it was intended as a badge of shame. In Nazi Germany, a downward-pointing pink triangle was sewn onto the shirts of gay men in concentration camps—to identify and further dehumanize them.

In 1972, The Men with the Pink Triangle, the first autobiography of a gay concentration camp survivor, was published. The next year, post-war Germany’s first gay rights organization, Homosexuelle Aktion Westberlin (HAW), reclaimed the pink triangle as a symbol of liberation.

3. Three years before Stonewall, a protest for gay rights started in another New York City bar.
Julius’ Sip-In — After pouring their drinks, a bartender in Julius’s Bar refuses to serve John Timmins, Dick Leitsch, Craig Rodwell, and Randy Wicker, members of the Mattachine Society who were protesting New York liquor laws that prevented serving gay customers, 1966.

In 1966, three members of the Mattachine Society, an early organization dedicated to fighting for gay rights, staged a “sip-in”—a twist on the “sit-in” protests of the 1960s. The trio visited taverns, declared themselves gay, and waited to be turned away so they could sue.

Although the State Liquor Authority initially denied the men’s discrimination claim, the Commission on Human Rights argued that gay individuals had the right to be served in bars. For the next few years in New York, the gay community felt empowered. police raids became less commonplace and gay bar patrons, while still oppressed in society, had recovered their safe havens.

4. The Mafia ran gay bars in NYC in the 1960s.
It was an unlikely partnership. But between New York’s LGBTQ community in the 1960s being forced to live on the outskirts of society and the Mafia’s disregard for the law, the two became a profitable, if uneasy, match.

The State Liquor Authority and the New York Police Department regularly raided bars that catered to gay patrons. Where the law saw deviance, the Mafia saw a golden business opportunity. A member of the Genovese family, Tony Lauria, a.k.a. “Fat Tony,” purchased the Stonewall Inn in 1966 and transformed it into a gay bar and nightclub.

To operate the Stonewall and its other gay bars, the Mafia bribed the NYPD to turn a blind eye to the “indecent conduct” occurring behind closed doors. They also blackmailed wealthy gay patrons by threatening to “out” them.

5. Police used a 19th-century masquerade law to arrest people dressed in drag.
Many men dressed as women were locked up on charges of masquerading and indecent exposure at the National Variety Artists’ Exotic Carnival and Ball held at the Manhattan Center in 1962. Police and detectives herded the costumed guests into police wagons in front of the ball.

In the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s, LGBTQ people were regularly arrested for violating what became known as the three-article rule—or the three-piece law. The rule stipulated that a person was required to wear at least three gender-appropriate articles of clothing to avoid arrest for cross-dressing. It was referenced everywhere—including in reports about arrests in Greenwich Village in the weeks and months leading up to the 1969 Stonewall Riots.

The problem is, the law technically never existed!!! Instead, accounts suggest that police generally used old, often unrelated laws to target LGBT people. In New York, a law commonly used against the LGBTQ community dates to 1845 and was originally intended to punish rural farmers, who had taken to dressing like Native Americans to fight off tax collectors.

6. On the night of the Stonewall Riots, police barricaded themselves inside
After midnight on an unseasonably hot Friday night in 1969, the Stonewall Inn in New York City’s Greenwich Village was packed when police officers entered the bar. As they began making arrests, patrons started to resist and push back.

What ensued was an uprising that would launch a new era of resistance and revolution.

Close to 4 a.m. on June 28, 1969 the mob of protestors outside the Stonewall had grown so large and unruly that the original NYPD raiding party retreated into the Stonewall itself and barricaded themselves inside. Some rioters used a parking meter as a battering ram to break through the door; others threw beer bottles, trash and other objects, or made impromptu firebombs.

No one died or was critically injured on the first night of the Stonewall Riots, though a few police officers reported injuries.

7. Organizers of the first gay pride parade opted for the “Pride” slogan over “Gay Power.”
The Stonewall Riots made clear that the LGBTQ movement needed to be loud and visible to demand change. Five months after the riots, activists proposed a resolution at the Eastern Regional Conference of Homophile Organizations in Philadelphia that a march be held in New York City to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the raid. Their proposal was for an annual march on the last Saturday in June with “no dress or age regulations.”

When organizers were looking for a slogan for the event, a member of the planning committee, L. Craig Schoonmaker, suggested “Pride.” The idea of “Gay Power” was thrown around as well, but Schoonmaker argued that while gay individuals lacked power, one thing they did have was pride.

The official chant for the march became: “Say it loud, gay is proud.”

WATCH: Fight the Power: The Movements that Changed America, premieres Saturday, June 19 at 8/7c on The HISTORY® Channel.

Freedom Finally Granted in Texas

Juneteenth 2021, Saturday, June 19

Source: National Juneteenth Observance Foundation

Juneteenth is Friday, June 19, a holiday that is arguably as important to our nation as the Fourth of July, since it commemorates the day in 1865 when enslaved people of Texas, then the most remote region of the Confederacy, finally learned slavery had been abolished and that they were free.

Juneteenth is an annual observance to celebrate the date Union soldiers enforced the Emancipation Proclamation freeing all remaining slaves in Galveston, Texas. Texas was the last state in rebellion, following the end of the Civil War, to allow enslavement. Although the rumors of freedom were widespread prior to this, actual emancipation was not announced in the last state practicing enslavement until General Gordon Granger came to Galveston, and issued General Order #3, on the “19th of June”, almost two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States and has actually been an African American tradition since the late 19th century. Economic and cultural forces caused a decline in Juneteenth celebrations beginning in the early 20th century. The Depression forced many blacks off of farms and into the cities to find work. In these urban environments, employers were less eager to grant leaves to celebrate this date.

July 4th was the already established Independence holiday, and a rise in patriotism among black Americans steered more toward this celebration. The Civil Rights movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s yielded both positive and negative results for the Juneteenth celebrations. While it pulled many of the African American youth away and into the struggle for racial equality, many linked these struggles to the historical struggles of their ancestors.

Again in 1968, Juneteenth received another strong resurgence through Poor Peoples March to Washington D.C. Rev. Ralph Abernathy’s call for people of all races, creeds, economic levels and professions to come to Washington to show support for the poor. Many of these attendees returned home and initiated Juneteenth celebrations in areas previously absent of such activity.

Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s Juneteenth has continued to enjoy a growing and healthy interest from communities and organizations throughout the country as African Americans have a growing interest to see that the events of 1865 in Texas are not forgotten. Many see roots tying back to Texas soil from which all remaining American slaves were finally granted their freedom.

Most recently in 1994, the era of the “Modern Juneteenth Movement” began when a group of Juneteenth leaders from across the country gathered in New Orleans, Louisiana, at Christian Unity Baptist Church, Rev. Dwight Webster, Pastor, to work for greater national recognition of Juneteenth. The historic meeting was convened by Rev. John Mosley, Director of the New Orleans Juneteenth Freedom Celebration.

Several national Juneteenth organizations were ignited from this historic gathering beginning with the National Association of Juneteenth Lineage (NAJL), followed by the National Juneteenth Celebration Association (NJCA), the National Juneteenth Christian Leadership Council (NJCLC) and the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation (NJOF). Shortly prior to this gathering, Juneteenth America, Inc., (JAI) was founded by John Thompson, who organized the first National Juneteenth Convention & Expo, and the National Juneteenth Celebraton Foundation (NJCF) founded by Ben Haith, the creator of the National Juneteenth Flag.

In 1997, through the leadership of Lula Briggs Galloway, President of the NAJL and Rev. Ronald V. Myers, Sr., M.D., Chairman of the NAJL, the U.S. congress officially passed historic legislation recognizing Juneteenth as “Juneteenth Independence Day” in America.

Rev. Dr. Myers returned to Washington, DC in the year 2000, as Founder & Chairman of the NJOF, to establish the annual WASHINGTON JUNETEENTH National Holiday Observance and to began the campaign to establish Juneteenth Independence Day as a National Day of Observance and an official state holiday or state holiday observance in all 50 states and U.S. territories.

As of 2017, 45 states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation to officially recognize Juneteenth. The annual Congressional Juneteenth Reception, hosted by members of Congress at the U.S. Capitol, was also established as a part of the WASHINGTON JUNETEENTH National Holiday Observance.

The Rev. Dr. Myers, as Founder & Chairman of the NJCLC, also established the annual National Day of Reconciliation and Healing from the Legacy of Enslavement on the “18th of June” (www.NationalDayofReconciliation.com) and the National Juneteenth Black Holocaust “Maafa” Memorial Service, which later became the National Juneteenth Maafa Memorial Wreath Laying Ceremony, as a part of the WASHINGTON JUNETEENTH National Holiday Observance.

On the “19th of June,” Juneteenth, 2000, Rev. Dr. Myers stood with Congressman Tony Hall (D-OH) as historic Apology For Slavery legislation was announced at the U.S. Capitol during the 1st National Day of Reconciliation & Healing From the Legacy of Enslavement.

Rev. Dr. Myers also established the World Day of Reconciliation and Healing from the Legacy of Enslavement on the “20th of August” (www.WorldDayofReconciliation.com), in Hampton, VA, in 2010.

As the National Juneteenth Jazz Artist, Rev. Dr. Myers also established “June Is Black Music Month!” – CELEBRATING JUNETEENTH JAZZ – “Preserving Our African American Jazz Legacy!” and “June Is Juneteenth African American Jazz Legacy Month!”, with a series of Junetenth Jazz Heritage & Arts Festivals, concerts, jam sessions and lectures throughout the country.

The Rev. Dr. Myers is also the leader of the National Juneteenth Holiday Campaign, which is working to pass legislation in the U.S. Congress to make Juneteenth Independence Day a National Day of Observance.

Paradise Found — The Paradise Green Farmers’ Market

Opening on Monday June 14th!

Friends and families will once again be able to enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of CT farmers’ labor every Monday from 2pm – 6pm through October.

Situated in the heart of Stratford on Paradise Green, the market will pick up anew. Located at 121 Huntington Avenue, your best bet for parking will be at our friends The Stratford Baptist Church. The Town of Stratford and the Church have collaborated to provide nearly 50 parking spaces conveniently located at 40 Park Street, directly across from the Green near the Gazebo.

Gazy Brothers Farm will be back with their amazing vegetable display. Eaglewood Farms is back with pork and eggs. Dash ‘n Drizzle is back again with flavored oils, balsamic vinegars, spices and salts. Grab a coffee too! Yellow King Brews is looking forward to seeing you again.

Oronoque Farms is new to the Farmers Market but returns to Stratford in all their glory with pies, donuts and a host of CT made products!
Saint X Foods – FAMOUS for their pesto mozzarella sandwiches, baked goods and other treats is a newcomer to Stratford. They are participating in many of the best markets in the CT and Stratford finally reeled them in! Get there early – they frequently sell out.

These folks and more will be there on Monday so come on down and spend some time with us. A rotating list of crafters and confectioners will join the crew this year. Different and surprising vendors will be coming and going to keep each visit to the market fresh and new.

This year, it is not just about the Farmers’ Market either. It’s about returning to normal life and getting out again. Right across the street there are a wonderful array of retailers to visit. Many are new as well. We are teaming up to give you the best reason to GET OUT OF THE HOUSE and spend some casual time walking around town and seeing one another again. Who knows who you will bump into.

Yellow Kings Brews in town for 4 hours a week, Kasia and her Open Door Tea is there all week long. If you haven’t been to Kasia’s check it out, the perfect answer to your cookie cutter coffee and tea shop. Inside you’ll find great food and a variety of CT made items and products as well.

If pesto mozzarella is not your thing, visit Angela at Subway and she will make you whatever you like with a smile. Franchise owners are small business people as well. Not finding your favorite baked good? Check out Icing on the Cake – a Stratford institution open 7 days a week! They have got the full array! And if Eaglewood Farms’ duck eggs don’t strike your fancy, take a seat at The Sitting Duck and order as you please!

Stratford has the whole enchilada so you better come hungry and bring a BIG BAG to lug it all home with. We are all in this together, so get out there and come together! It’s just another day in Paradise every Monday afternoon.

House Passes State Budget

 State Representatives Phil Young (D-120th) and Joseph Gresko (D-121st) are thrilled that the budget has passed and anticipate that it will have a positive impact in Stratford.

The Connecticut House of Representatives has approved the state budget for the next two years.

“This comprehensive budget heavily invests in Stratford as well as other towns and cities around the state,” said Rep. Young. “The agreed upon budget was able to provide much needed funds to institutions without raising taxes or dipping into the rainy-day fund. It was an excellent achievement that focuses on the present while simultaneously prepping for the future.”

“This fiscally responsible budget pays down long-term debt and keeps our robust rainy-day fund while providing middle class tax relief in the form of an increased Earned Income Tax Credit,” said Rep. Gresko. “The investment in Stratford’s Education Cost Sharing formula and increase in town aid means our community will continue to receive the funds it needs to thrive.”

The $46.4 billion budget, an agreement worked out between Governor Lamont and the Democratic majority, will increase funding for municipalities, nonprofit organizations and working families. The budget also contains additional funding for institutions impacted by the pandemic, such as hospitals, local health departments, and tourist destinations.

Below is a breakdown of some of the provisions included in the budget:

Tax Relief for Individuals and Businesses
Certain businesses, such as hotels, restaurants, and bars are permitted to keep 13.6% of the 7.35% sales tax they collect on sales of meals and beverages for Fiscal Year 2022. This tax relief will be beneficial to local businesses that suffered during the pandemic.

Through the budget, financial relief will be provided to culture-based institutions, such as museums, art centers, and tourist hotspots. Similarly, the admissions tax has been eliminated for entertainment venues.

The budget also increases the state’s earned income tax credit to 30.5% of the federal credit. This will provide tax credit for qualifying low-income working families with children.

Finally, the budget expands state income tax exemptions for seniors on social security and pension.

No Tax Increases
The budget does not include any new taxes or tax increases on increases on gasoline, insurance policies, or large Connecticut households.

Support for Our Communities
Hospitals, local health departments and nonprofits were allocated additional funding to ensure that they have resources necessary to combat any public health emergency in the future.

Additionally, state agencies will be given the tools to reopen safely, allowing them to serve Connecticut’s residents to the best of their ability.

Finally, because of an expansion, 40,000 residents now have access to affordable healthcare.

Financial Stability in the State’s Future
Connecticut did not have to utilize any of the $3.5 billion in the Rainy-Day Fund. The state is able to maintain one of the largest Rainy-Day funds per capita in the country. The balance of the fund has allowed the state to keep interest rates low on debt service and allows for the growth continued growth to our state bond cap. These factors have led to Connecticut’s first credit upgrade in nearly two decades.

Jumpstarting the Economy
There is a great amount of investment that aims to resurrect the Connecticut economy– the budget includes funding for debt free college and workforce training programs. Funds will also be allocated to the Women’s Business Development Council (WBDC) and to minority-owned businesses around the state. These provisions were included to bolster the state’s economy while promoting equitable business practices.

The 2021 Legislative Session ended June 9.

Cool Jazz for Cool People

Stratford Library Offers “Larry Haddad Quintet”

Live Jazz Music Program Set for Zoom on June 19th

by Tom Holehan
Public Relations & Programming at the Stratford Public Library

The Stratford Library will present an online music program, “The Larry Haddad Quintet”, Saturday, June 19th from 2-3 pm.  Presented online via Zoom, the concert is free and open to the public.  This is the second Zoom concert featuring the popular Stratford quintet who delighted audiences last December with a special holiday jazz concert.

“The Larry Haddad Quintet” features drums, bass, guitar, piano and saxophone as they perform several select jazz standards for the concert.  The quintet includes Larry Haddad (alto saxophone), Joe McWilliams (piano), Jim Olbrys (guitar), Steve Clarke (bass) and Joe Corsello (drums).

To register for the Zoom presentation and receive an invitation link, visit: https://stratfordlibrary.libcal.com/event/7766362.

For further information, call the library at: 203.385-4162 or visit: www.stratfordlibrary.org.

Free and open to the public.  This is an online event. Event URL will be sent via registration email.

A Glimpse of Stratford History

The Stratford Historical Society

Connecticut Open House Day
Saturday, June 12th

The Judson House will be open for tours from noon until 3pm for Connecticut Open House Day. Admission is free.

Connecticut Open House Day, now in its 17th year, is an annual event held on the second Saturday of June to inspire Connecticut residents to learn about all the experiences in their own backyard, anticipating that this will convert them into ambassadors who will recommend these experiences to other visitors.

The Captain David Judson House is a historic house at 967 Academy Hill in Stratford. It was built by David Judson about 1750. The “new house” was built on the stone foundation and incorporates the chimney of the original house built on the site in 1638 by Judson’s great grandfather William. William left the house to his son Joseph Judson in November 1660 when he moved to New Haven. Nine generations of Judson’s lived in the house until 1888, when the house was sold to John Wheeler. In 1891, it was sold to Celia and Cornelia Curtis, who willed it to the Stratford Historical Society in 1925.

The first floor, now the cellar, is above ground level and contains a massive central stone chimney which was built with lug poles. It is believed that the cellar was used as slave quarters in the early18th century. The new house is designed in the style of Georgian architecture, or colonial Georgian, found throughout the American colonies during this time.

The furnishings are entirely period pieces of Stratford origin, dating from the 18th century and includes a piano which belonged to William Samuel Johnson, framer of the United States Constitution, and also the second president of Columbia University. The piano has been on display at George Washington’s plantation Mount Vernon. The house also has various other works of historical and artistic significance, displayed for the public. The Judson House broken scroll pediment entry is one of the finest in Connecticut. An architectural drawing was used on the cover of J. Frederick Kelly’s Early Domestic Architecture of Connecticut published in 1924.

Captain David Judson House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 20, 1973. It is also included in the Stratford Center Historic District, which was listed on the NRHP in 1978.

The house is open to the public and is operated as a historic house museum and research library by the Stratford Historical Society.

The wearing of masks is encouraged.

Feng Shui = Art and Intuition

By Joan Law
Feng Shui Joan’s Way
FengshuiJoansWay@gmail.com

For me Feng Shui is all about art and intuition. The practice of Feng Shui is not a science. Its origins are derived from an Ancient Chinese philosophy and the practice of this philosophy is considered an art.

The word “Feng” translates to wind and the word “Shui” translates to water. The movement of wind and water makes the world go round. And the ancient Chinese believed that the energy or “Chi” of these elements (as well as wood, earth, metal, and fire) could be manipulated enough to make a difference in people’s lives. Understanding how to balance the energy in our lives truly is an art.

In the modern world you will find many versions of how best to practice the art of Feng Shui, and, at the end of the day, Feng Shui Joan’s Way relies quite heavily on my connection to a client and their space. My sense – my intuition of my encounter with a person’s energy and the energy around them dictates my approach to the art of Feng Shui.

And the art of Feng Shui can lead to some pretty powerful stuff!

Let me illustrate with a personal experience that involves Feng Shui, Two Roads Brewery, two dogs, and a pair of slippers.

A Match Made in Heaven
We welcomed a new member to our family a few weeks ago. My son and daughter-in-law tied the knot at The Farms Country Club in Wallingford. What a beautiful and memorable day – rain and all!

My son’s new wife first came to me as a client. As she and I worked together to thoughtfully clear and prepare to sell the home that had belonged to her mother before her passing, the universe kept sending me messages about this special young lady.

There were many messages. But the three that lead me to also take on the role of a match-maker was her affinity to dogs, Two Roads Brewery, and a pair of slippers.

Now, as a Feng Shui practitioner, I do believe that the clearing of a home, room, or clutter can be the catalyst for opening your life to new people and experiences. And most times, the connections I make in this process for clients do not involve my own children.

Their story was best captured by a good friend of mine, Kathrine Vass of Ever After Memories She officiated their marriage and recounts their story so beautifully that I asked my children if I could share this with my readers.

Here is an excerpt:
“… As Lauren and Mason begin their own branch on this family tree, let’s take a moment to go back and remember how it all began.

It’s often said that the best things in life come to us when we least expect it and perhaps in the unlikeliest of ways. Almost 4 years ago, Lauren was simply looking for someone to help sort out and organize her home. What she got was the help from a professional Feng Shui decluttering expert who would turn out to be, not only a matchmaker, but her soon-to-be mother-in-law.

Finding someone to love can be a lot like cleaning an old house; it feels daunting, and you don’t know where to start. If any of you know Joan, she always has a way to keep it simple. As she worked with Lauren and got to know her better, she offered one day: “I don’t usually do this, but I wonder if you’d be interested in meeting my son, Mason. You both have dogs, you both like going to Two Roads Brewery and you both have the same slippers.”

Just three little things — a good place to start.

Lauren thought, “why not?!” and with an open mind, a date was set to meet Mason…”

Beautiful, right!

Mason remembers that afternoon, at Two Roads, as the day he first saw this pretty girl with the beautiful smile and nice eyes. She was animated and talked a lot with her hands, but Mason liked her and right away there was a spark.

Lauren enjoyed being with Mason as well and they spent the time talking about dogs, family, traveling and everything in between.

After that day, they went on a few great dates but then, as it tends to do, life took them in different directions for a time.

It wasn’t until the following fall when they reconnected. Everywhere she went Lauren seemed to be constantly running into Mason. Each time, he would make it known that he was still interested.

Lauren, impressed by his persistence, decided to give him a chance. There was something different about him in the all the best ways and she knew she needed to get to know him better to find out.

Joining Mason for his Friends-giving dinner that November made it official. Lauren was “his lady” and he was proud to have her by his side. From that day forward, they spent as much time together as they could, moving slowly and kindly to build the strong foundation their relationship has now. In a big moment, the first meeting of their dogs, Cosmo and Gus, something new happened – they created their own pack!

As I listened to Mason and Lauren’s story, on a sunny afternoon, surrounded by the dogs, one word constantly came to mind: loyalty. In any relationship, of course love is important – but, the promise of loyalty, faithfulness, unwavering devotion – that is not always easy. From their spots on the couch, where Cosmo and Gus peacefully snored, loyalty is not a word for dogs, but a way of life.”

Beautiful, right! I can’t promise to make a love connection for you. I can promise that I will listen to your story. And I will do my very best to help you open the doors and windows of your life to the possibilities that await you.

Music on Tap in the Stack

“The Other Great American Songbook”

Sunday June 13th at 2 p.m. on Zoom

by Tom Holehan
Stratford Public Library

The Stratford Library will present an online music program, “The Other Great American Songbook”, which celebrates the greatest songs by some of America’s greatest songwriters like Hank Williams, Jimmie Rodgers, Johnny Cash, the Carter Family, Ernest Tubb, Hank Snow and many more.

Nashville’s Music Row and New York’s Tin Pan Alley are hundreds of miles apart, but between them they’ve produced the lion’s share of America’s greatest songs. From Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family through Hank Williams and Loretta Lynn to Kris Kristofferson and Taylor Swift, country music has shaped the way Americans see the world.

“The Other Great American Songbook” offers a fascinating lecture/concert on this often-overlooked slice of America’s musical heritage. Covering the origins of country music in the fusion of mountain ballads with the blues, the roots of rock & roll in country and R&B, the evolution of today’s country and dozens of compelling details.

Presenter Tennessee Walt’s “The Other Great American Songbook” is studded with 24 songs, performed live, by Roy Acuff, Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson and other greats from 90 years of America’s musical history. This informative, tuneful tour through the country’s musical heartland will have audiences laughing one minute, crying the next and tapping their toes throughout.

”The Other Great American Songbook” will be held from 2-3 pm on Sunday, June 13. To register for the Zoom presentation and receive an invitation link, visit:
https://stratfordlibrary.libcal.com/event/7612769.

For further information call the library at: 203.385-4162 or visit: www.stratfordlibrary.org

Councilmember Spotlight: Greg Cann

Fifth District Councilman Greg Cann

Stratford Crier’s mission is to inform and update Stratford residents on various categories of interest, community events, pertinent information, and/or input into specific tasks or project. We would like to highlight the work, dedication and projects of our elected officials, beginning with town council members. Stratford Crier is posing the following questions to each of these elected officials to find out more about what inspires them in this position and what they hope to accomplish in their term.

My family has resided in Stratford for 30 years and four generations. We’ve volunteered with Sterling House, Nichols Elementary and a multitude of other public schools, community groups and faith-based organizations. Civics is very core to our values. Stratford is our home.

1. What do you see as the needs of your district at the present?
District 5 (D5) is a diverse community, located in the area west of Broadbridge and north of Boston Avenue. There are a few small businesses, but primarily D5 consists of low and moderately priced residences—perfect entry-level homes for young families.

The town’s recent re-evaluation of residential property resulted in an average 20% increase in homeowner property taxes with all multifamily and duplexes increasing by 40%—note the town-wide average was 4%. The tax burden has now shifted to entry-level workers, young families and seniors; this means an extra $800-$1600 per year in property taxes for these homeowners and renters. Furthermore, the town is increasing taxes on used automobiles by 15%. The primary need of residents is a safe and secure residence that is also affordable.

Residents have also expressed needs for:
a. Improved traffic controls, especially speeding. Success and Canaan Avenues experience high traffic as drivers move between Bridgeport and Stratford.
b. Town-owned trees, pruning and upkeep, as safety of sidewalks is compromised unless completed.
c. Maintenance of the district’s three neighborhood parks to assure public access to recreation.
d. Public safety, law and order, and enforcement of rules and regulations.

2. What is your vision for your district’s future?
I want to see improved maintenance of town-owned neighborhood parks, roads and sidewalks as well as better enforcement of traffic regulations (one factor in public safety). Increased interaction between residents will increase their mutual sense of community. I would like to see more awareness of and participation in how the town creates a budget and allocates its own resources. Improved employment and job security through economic development is also needed.

3. What is your vision for the town?
Stratford is a highly diverse community. Students in our public schools speak over 50 different languages with a similar range of cultural backgrounds. From Forest to Shore, we need a town that reflects and represents this diversity. Every organization is exposed to politics, but only the successful ones rise above politically motivated “excuses.” True leaders will build an organization that meets the needs of its customers; in our case, this would be the taxpayers and public school students. I see complete streets and greenways connecting our neighborhoods and business districts, facilitating the interaction of commerce and recreation.

I see Stratford becoming a regional destination with its many museums, and revitalized athletic and cultural arts programming attracting visitors to our retail and restaurants. This improved dynamic will entice employers. Stratford has been very slow to adapt to the challenges of the 21st century, and our municipal leaders must step up their game, else our town will not realize its competitive opportunities.

4. What is your vision of collaboration between administration and residents in making Stratford a great community?
Unfortunately, Stratford’s municipal administration retains its fondness for resolutions and reports but has not successfully implemented solutions. Our town is increasingly reliant on state and federal grants to balance its operating budget, while we should be growing organically.

• The town-managed Center School and Contract Plating projects are each three years behind schedule.
• Despite a 40% increase in per student expenditures, 50% of our public school students continue to perform “below grade level.”
• A $20 million theatre burned down a few months after the town expended $1.5 million to “secure” the building.

When something great happens, such as the new Stratford High School, the re-engineering of I-95 Exits 32 and 33, or the property tax credits for residents whose homes are in flood zones, it’s been due to the intervention of the state and federal governments.

Stratford residents are not powerless; encouraging them to adapt the civic responsibilities of public advocacy is probably the highest role of a town councilor. Once Stratford is able to demonstrate “local control” and the ability to deliver on its promise, then I believe residents will recognize that “you can talk to town hall” and will be further encouraged to participate in the administration of our town.

5. How do you see town residents’ role and participation in making Stratford a great community?
I’ve always been a firm believer in the ability of residents to organize and create improvements. From a District 5 perspective, neighbors cooperate with neighbors to help each other, and to coordinate solutions for their mutual benefit. People have so many ways to participate; when each of us finds our niche, that is the basis of a great community.

Working with the municipal government of Stratford has been a challenging and sometimes rewarding endeavor for me personally. There is inertia at the start of every project; I’ll forever encourage each of us to adapt this Kennedy-esque adage: “Ask not what your town can do for you, but rather, what can you do for your town.”

Strut Your Stuff on Saturday at the Main Street Festival

Eat, Shop, Meet New People!!!!

Presented by the Rotary Club of Stratford

The festival will feature a variety of food trucks, vendor booths, stage and street performers, musicians, rides, games, crafts, art works and other fair activities.
Check us out:

Artisan Handmade Crafts
Floracreate
Sarah And Megan Enterprises
Designs On Homestead
Oh Fudge And More
Mill Pond Essentials
Nurse Lady Creations Llc
Neon Sol
Mr. O’S Homemade, Llc
Ceramic Stoneware Pottery
Year 2021
Baystreet_Design
Angry Gato Llc
Jnj Photo Booth
Cozy Cuddle Wraps And Coast Art
TJJ Sews
Thistle & Hyde
Henna By Jada Llc
Little Dude Gallery
Twice The Spice
Snug By Ak
Sandy Srihari Designs
Grateful Paws
Chile King Llc (Wanke’S Yankee Hot Pepper Products)
Handmade Creations
Pj’S Artful Ph Designs
Rebecca Miller
Etherealanitas
Light Of My Creations
Looming Madness
Highendcrafts
Dash ‘N Drizzle
Alu Essentials Llc

Food Booths
Down South Dawgs
The Melting Truck
Vinci Concessions
The Taste Garden Cafe
Christianos
Paradise Island Deli & Cafe
Valley Jim’S Soft Serve
Caribbean Grill
Little Kernel’S Kettle Corn
Canterbury Kettle Corn
Edible Couture
Nuovo Pasta
Papas Place
Christianos Confections
Uconn Kids (Kids In Development Science)
Girl Scouts Of CT Troop 37025
Boy Scouts Troop 76
First Church of Christ Stratford
Christ Episcopal Church

Commercial
Hwang’S Martial Arts
Paparazzi
Mary Kay
The Body Shop By Michele
A-Smile Llc
Powerhouse Gym Stratford
Stratford Democratic Town Committee
Ctbraces-Stratford Orthodontics
The Clean Earth Project
Cutco Cutlery
Yellowbrick Real Estate
Onehope Wine
Berks Wickless Wax And Crafts Connecticut Dance Conservatory
Andy’S Toys
Jurnfern Art, Llc
Renewal By Andersen
Mickey Adventures By Lang And Ma World Travel
Native Treasures
Phyllis Gurl Llc
Posigen Solar And Energy Efficiency Paving Construction Services
David Lerner Associates, Inc.
Casanova Remodeling Company Llc
Phenomenal Hair Salon
Bright Insight
Tri-State Realty
Code Ninjas Trumbull & Fairfield
Snug Llc
Innher Peace LLC
Total Mortgage
Kebella Products Llc
Sunset Shores
Trap Rock Academy
Native World
Roxy’s Blings/Pampered Chef
Northeast Novelty
Oasis Physical Therapy
Title Boxing Club
Power Home Remodeling
Health Cbd Organics
The Milford Bank
CT Events Unlimited
Englert Leafguard

Non-Profit
Stratford YMCA
Friends Of Jared’S Dog Park Inc Stratford Historical Society
Stratford Republicans
New York Life Insurance
Arts Alliance Of Stratford
Sterling House Community Center, Inc.
Stratford Baptist Church
Stratford Health Department
Stratford United Methodist Church Preschool
TFCGlobal
VFW Post 9460
Optimus Health Care, Inc.
Citizens Addressing Racial Equity (Care)
Stratfords Of The World Sister Cities Chorus
Iglesia El Faro De Stratford
Stratford Baptist Church
Gideons International
Pyramid Shriners
First Congregational Church
The Lord’S Kitchen
Square One Theatre Company
Stratford Forward
Stratford Veterans Museum
The Shakespeare Market
First Baptist Church
Rebecca Miller
Stratford Shotokan Karate-Do
St. James Roman Catholic Church
Civil Air Patrol-Stratford Eagles Squadron
Stratford Arts Commission
Alliance For Community Empowerment, Inc.
Stratford Recreation Department
Marine Cadets Of America
Stratford Hispanic Heritage Latin Music Festival
CT Army National Guard

Disability Parking: The front lot of the Baldwin Senior Center at 1000 W. Broad Street is reserved for Disability Parking. Vehicles must have a valid Disability Parking placard in plain view on the mirror.

Public Parking: Is available on local side streets, Stratford Train Station, or a short walk from parking at the Shakespeare property or Stratford High School.

The Stratford Main Street Festival, was started by the Rotary Club of Stratford in 2011 as a community service project to replace the defunct Stratford Day. Each year Stratford Rotarians volunteer to organize the Festival as a town-wide event to celebrate the many organizations, programs and services the Town of Stratford has to offer.

This year the Stratford Main Street Festival was organized and run by Rotarian Stephanie Phillips.

The proceeds from the Main Street Festival will support a variety of community efforts including high school scholarships, Thanksgiving food baskets, Lord’s Kitchen and Food Distribution for those in need.