Black History Month

An Afternoon with Ezell Blair Jr. a.k.a. Dr. Jabeel Khazan

Member of the Greensboro Four Sit-Ins
Sunday, February 26th from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Sponsored By The Calvin Fletcher African American Museum
Wells Fargo Bank
Sterling House Community Center

This event is completely free and open to the public

The Greensboro Sit-Ins were non-violent protests in Greensboro, North Carolina, which lasted from February 1, 1960 to July 25, 1960. The protests led to the Woolworth Department Store chain ending its policy of racial segregation in its stores in the southern United States. The Greensboro Sit-Ins were the first prominent sit-ins of the civil rights movement.

The “Greensboro Four,” were Ezell Blair Jr. (now known as Jibreel Khazan), David Richmond, Franklin McCain, and Joseph McNeil—students at North Carolina and Agricultural and Technical College. They were influenced by the non-violent protest teachings and strategies of Mohandas Gandhi, as well as the early freedom rides organized by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in 1947.

Blair, Richmond, McCain, and McNeil planned the protest carefully, enlisting the help of a local white businessman, Ralph Johns, to put their plan into action. That plan was simple. They would first stop at Ralph Johns’s store so he could contact a news reporter. They would then go to Woolworth’s Five and Dime store in downtown Greensboro and sit at the lunch counters where they would ask to be served. When they were denied service, they would refuse to leave. They would repeat the process daily as long as it took to desegregate the lunch counter. They also hoped their protest would attract widespread attention to the issue and pressure Woolworth to desegregate.

On February 1, 1960, the four sat down at the lunch counter inside the Woolworth store. Woolworth’s lunch counter policy was to serve whites only and the staff, which included black employees, refused the four men service. The store manager, Clarence Harris, asked them to leave, but the four men stayed until the store closed that night.

The next day, more than twenty black students joined the sit-in including coeds from Bennett College also in Greensboro. White customers harassed the black students and the lunch counter staff continued to refuse them service.  News reporters and a TV cameraman covered the protests the second day as the Greensboro community and eventually the nation and the world learned of them. On the third day, more than sixty people came to the Woolworth store. On the fourth day, more the three hundred people took part in the protests which now included the lunch counter at Greensboro’s Kress store (now K-Mart).

As the sit-ins occurred in Greensboro, students from other North Carolina sites, including Winston-Salem, Durham, Raleigh, and Charlotte, staged similar protests. The sit-in movement spread to Nashville, Tennessee; Atlanta, Georgia; and Richmond, Virginia, by early March.

The Greensboro Woolworth’s finally served blacks at its lunch counter on July 25, 1960, when manager Clarence Harris asked four black Woolworth’s employees—Geneva Tisdale, Susie Morrison, Anetha Jones, and Charles Best—to change out of their uniforms and into street clothes. The employees then ordered a meal at the lunch counter, becoming the first African Americans to be served at Woolworth’s. Most lunch counters around Greensboro would be desegregated over the next few weeks.

The Greensboro Sit-Ins were the catalyst for the formation of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) which would become one of most important organizations of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. The International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina, has collections related to the Greensboro Sit-Ins.

We hope you join us in this amazing opportunity to hear from such a historic and courageous figure.  Refreshments will be served.


Dulce De Leche Bakery

1769 Broadbridge Avenue
Argentinian Classic’s

Dine In or Take Out
Monday – Saturday: 8am – 6pm
Sunday: 9am – 2pm

By Barbara Heimlich

It caught my eye – the Argentine flags flying and draped over a car.  It was the semifinals of the World Cup, and, as a Lionel Messi fan, who was playing for the Argentine National Team, I had to stop in – after all, who doesn’t love cafes and the opportunity to talk all about The Beautiful Game?

Dulce De Leche is an Argentine cafe run by a Mendocino family. They offer various American and Argentine foods, such as facturas, vilgilante, media luna, miguelitos, sandwhiche de miga, empanadas and many more.

Everything I have bought there is delicious.  I have become addicted to their spinach and tuna empanada (though apparently the beef empanadas are the top seller).  If you aren’t familiar with Argentine food (and I’m not) they also have cannoli’s, bite sized cupcakes, brownies, and beautiful cakes.

Dulce De Leche Bakery is charming.  You can bring a laptop and spend time eating breakfast or lunch while sipping on one of their specialty coffees.  It’s immaculate, they sell Argentine coffee so you can brew your own at home.

So just how did an Argentine bakery spring up in a neighborhood that does not have an Argentine population?

In 2012, Laura Castro started baking cakes for her kid’s birthday parties as a hobby. Word spread and people started following her Facebook page, and she began to sell cakes through her Facebook page. For the past 10 years she has created amazing, delicious, and detailed cakes. She fell in love with bringing ideas to life, to her making cakes is an art.

In April of 2020, during a worldwide pandemic, the Castro family decided to take a risk and invest in a small corner property on Broadbridge and Canaan Rd. that later became the start of a new journey, the creation of Dulce de Leche.

Laura and her family took a leap of faith and began working on this business. They faced many obstacles in the process but in the end they created a restaurant that represent their culture and the sense of family that they bring with them.

On opening day Estrada said she and her husband, Diego Castro, were shocked that the bakery, believed to be the first of its kind in Fairfield County, had been an immediate hit.  “All of my product ran out,” she said. “Everything ran out. I don’t know when I started to bake again to refill it,” Estrada said.

“That shows us that there’s been something that this community has been missing that I think we definitely put out there now that people love it,” said Mathew Castro, one of the couple’s sons. “All types of cultures come in. They enjoy food, enjoy the atmosphere, the pastries. People enjoy it.”

Estrada and Castro were born in Argentina. With the country in a severe economic depression in the late 1990s early 2000s, there were few economic opportunities to be had. The two emigrated to Yonkers, New York in 2000 and moved to Stratford in 2018. Castro worked various jobs from construction to newspaper delivery and at an auto shop. Estrada worked as a school bus monitor to make ends meet.

One day, Estrada said she bought a cake for one of her sons. She didn’t like it.  “It wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted something else, something special for my son,” she said. “So I started to make them. I liked it so much I started taking courses. I couldn’t go to school so I took online cooking courses with the money I had.”

They bought the property in 2020, during the pandemic, then spent more than a year renovating it, with the entire family working weekends to get the interior ready and to source commercial baking equipment.

Estrada said her oldest son, an industrial design student at the University of Bridgeport, designed the website and the logo for the bakery. Castro said he was able to use his construction experience to remodel the property. Everyone in the family he said, participated in the cleanup and renovation.

Put a stop to Dulce De Leche Bakery on your “to do” list.  Well worth it.

“Sunk:” Connecticut’s Growing Flood Risk

Guest Editorial

By Tricia Ennis

Connecticut Investigator

February 19, 2023

Ten years ago, Super Storm Sandy slammed into the East Coast, damaging homes, flooding neighborhoods, and knocking out critical infrastructure across New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Ten-foot storm surges pushed coastal waters onto the shores of Long Island Sound, even though the storm hit at low tide, and high winds toppled trees across the state. In the aftermath, the state of Connecticut allocated $5.4 billion of Community Development Block Grant funds to help rebuild.

The storm might have been less damaging if it weren’t for increased sea levels, which contributed to larger coastal flooding. According to a 2021 study from Climate Central, approximately $8.1 billion of the reported $60 billion in damages from the storm were attributable to sea level rise from climate change. They also found that the rise contributed to flooding further inland, affecting approximately 71,000 additional people.

The study analyzed the total impact of the record-breaking storm and compared it to two separate models that estimated how much of that damage was caused by the increase in sea levels over the last century. The researchers called the study the first to calculate the real costs of human-caused sea level rise, which they estimate to account for just over half of the total rise in sea level.

As towns and cities look to the future, there is a deep history and an increasing sense of urgency to act.

In Connecticut, around 61% of the state’s population lives in an area threatened by coastal flooding. Projections provided by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) show that the state is at risk of losing up to 24,000 acres of land to rising sea levels in the next 50 years.

But these are not new concerns. In 1968, the federal government passed the National Flood Insurance Act, making the policies available to homeowners for the first time. The move was a response to the damage left in Florida and Louisiana after Hurricane Betsy in 1965. The act established the National Flood Insurance Program, a federal insurance program that offers low-cost flood insurance to homeowners in flood zones.

The idea was simple. Flood and storm damage is costly and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) often had to foot the bill to help homeowners adversely affected by disasters. Affordable flood insurance could offset those costs for homeowners and the government.

In 1973, the Flood Insurance Protection Act made it mandatory for homeowners with federally backed mortgages to purchase flood insurance if their home sat within one of the flood risk zones.

Four years later, in 1977, flooding became a priority here in Connecticut. That year, Governor Ella Grasso signed Executive Order 18, which included several mandates for state agencies. It directed state agencies to lessen the risk of flood loss connected to state lands and installations, made it so agencies responsible for administering grant and loan programs did so without “uneconomic, hazardous, or unnecessary use of floodplains,” and stated that all agencies with programs affecting land use planned “shall encourage land use appropriate to the degree of hazard.”

Of primary concern for Connecticut is flooding along the coastline, which makes up the entire southern border of the state. The areas closest to the ocean, naturally, present the greatest risk of flooding due to storm surges and abnormally high tides. As a result, cities and towns in these areas face an increasing threat of flood damage due to multiple factors.

“Along the shoreline, there have been many towns where there were summer communities and they have become year-round communities; become very densely populated. That’s true from East to West along the shoreline,” explains Dr. James O’Donnell, Director of the Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaption (CIRCA) at UConn. “And those towns were built in areas where there were natural harbors or fishing areas and the roads circumvent marshes. And over the last 100 years, sea levels have risen maybe 10 inches, and that means that those roads, and houses adjacent to them, are more prone to flooding than they were 100 years ago.”

CIRCA was started 10 years ago as part of an effort to provide cities and towns in the state with research-based advice for dealing with the effects of climate change. In that time, their work has only continued to expand to meet the broader needs of residents, focusing more these days on increasing climate resiliency. The team is made up of people from a variety of specialties, including marine science, urban planning, and law.

The CIRCA team works with lawmakers, local government policy directors, and city planners to design solutions that help protect the community from increased flood risk. They also help find funding for those projects. Currently, CIRCA has around 70 projects in the early stages of development and seven in the design and funding stages.

O’Donnell says one thing they have learned is that every town faces unique challenges that can’t be solved with one-size-fits-all solutions.

In many coastal cities and towns, he explains, the railway tracks are built quite low so roads passing beneath the tracks are slightly submerged, which causes them to flood during poor weather.

“The problem is now that’s happening more frequently too, and it disrupts normal business traffic,” he says. “But what’s worse, in the event of a real hurricane, those routes are often emergency evacuation routes. So, we’ve got two projects underway where we’re trying to design ways to reduce the flooding risk to those sites, so the roads would remain serviceable during normal storms and then during these severe events as well.”

O’Donnell says that people living and working along the coast face two main problems when it comes to coastal flooding: big storms and rising sea levels.

“There’s a small threat every year of a severe hurricane anywhere in Connecticut,” he says. “If that were to happen, then the storm surge could be 20 feet high. And much of the shoreline where that hurricane passed by, the buildings and roads and houses, would be severely damaged.”

O’Donnell says there isn’t very much that can be done to shore up communities against these massive storms.

“Our strategy for addressing that has been and will remain: evacuate everybody from the zone that’s likely to be impacted and when the hurricane is over, fix it up and come back, and that’s probably not gonna change,” he says.

To add insult to injury, major storms are becoming much more common. Connecticut has seen a reported 38% increase in the amount of precipitation annually, according to records from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In a survey of NOAA data from 2015, Climate Central found that Connecticut saw some of the largest increases in precipitation over the last 50 years, coming in fifth in the nation and third in the heavily impacted Northeast. Increased rainfall can contribute to both storm surges from severe weather events and to inland flooding along the state’s rivers and streams.

Since Hurricane Irene hit in 2011, the state has taken damage from five additional hurricanes and tropical storms.

“To protect an area from something like that you’d have to build seawalls that are really high,” explains O’Donnell. “That makes sense around things like water treatment plants and power stations, and perhaps hospitals and police buildings, etc, some services and critical infrastructure. And so we’ve been making sure that those facilities are resilient.”

Hurricanes and tropical storms, however, are big, headline-grabbing events. They happen infrequently but they take up most of the public’s attention when it comes to damage from flood waters. Sea level rise, meanwhile, presents a more subtle, more consistent threat.

According to O’Donnell, sea levels have increased around 10 inches in the last century, but they are projected to increase an additional 10 – and as much as 20 – in just the next 27 years. As sea levels increase, tides come closer to homes, businesses, and critical infrastructure along the shoreline, and smaller amounts of precipitation can lead to damaging flash floods. Events that used to happen once a decade could now happen as often as every two years, says O’Donnell.

“Just because the mean water level was higher, a thing that used to cause a little flooding is now gonna cause a lot more flooding,” he says.

Those floods aren’t as damaging as those caused by hurricanes, which is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, they are easier to prepare for, but on the other, they feel less urgent.

“If you want to protect yourself from the consequences of increased sea level,” says O’Donnell. “Then raising everything two feet would get you back to what the risk was a hundred years ago.”

Those fixes, though, are only temporary, since sea levels are projected to keep increasing. Increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has caused a warming of the Earth’s oceans, melting polar ice caps and causing the water already in the ocean to expand as it heats. Even if we stopped releasing greenhouse gases entirely tomorrow, it would be years before its effects stopped.

“When we stop pumping CO2 into the atmosphere, sea level is gonna continue to increase for a while,” says O’Donnell. “Because once it’s in the atmosphere, the heating continues, and the ice melting continues.”

The increasing risk of flooding isn’t just a concern for those living on the state’s coast.

“Connecticut industry in the 18th to 19th century evolved around rivers and streams, and so there’s lots of towns in Connecticut where there’s dense infrastructure around the mill or a dam and then there are housing areas adjacent to those,” says O’Donnell. “And all of those are vulnerable. Many areas are vulnerable to flooding in those rivers now, and that’s getting worse. We think because of the effects of climate change on the statistics of precipitation rates.”

Cities and towns along the state’s rivers and streams, especially places along something like the Connecticut River, face their own flooding challenges. Rivers and streams do naturally flood during times of increased precipitation but with an increase in the amount of heavy rainfall, that can happen more frequently.

Connecticut is also in a tough position geographically, as the southernmost state in New England. The state’s position at the bottom of major rivers, namely, the Connecticut River, means that Connecticut also sees an increased impact from snowmelt. As snow in places like Vermont and Massachusetts melts – perhaps during heavy rain – it is added to the river. The further down the river you are, the more of that water you see, meaning Connecticut isn’t just affected by weather events here, but in neighboring states as well.

Adding to this problem is the fact that urban development has historically made flooding problems worse due to the use of concrete and asphalt, which do not allow rainwater to naturally soak into the ground. Instead, these non-porous surfaces redirect that water into storm drains and directly into rivers and streams, contributing to both rising water levels and an increase in runoff of potentially hazardous substances.

“As we’re seeing these bigger, more frequent rain events, that’s really creating problems for how stormwater is being managed,” explains Nicole Davis, a watershed developer at Save the Sound. Davis and Save the Sound work to find ways for cities and towns in the state to counter these manmade flooding issues, methods that allow urban developers and property owners to create structures that return land to a more natural state while disrupting human spaces as little as possible.

“There’s a lot of stormwater that’s not — it’s going straight into our rivers rather than having a chance to go into the ground,” she continues. “And so, the way that we’re kind of thinking about addressing that is how do we get people to start thinking about that impact that what they’re doing has? ’cause everything on people’s lawns, especially in coastal areas where you’ve got flooding, anything on the road, they all get washed into our storm drain, they all end up in the rivers and streams that we’re swimming in.”

Hartford has a long history of flooding along the Connecticut River. Measurable flooding on the state’s largest inland waterway has been happening as long as we’ve kept records and back in 1936, the city experienced what is described as “The Perfect Flood.” Thirteen days of rain caused severe conditions across the state, and in Hartford, it culminated with the river nearly 40 feet higher than average. Thousands were forced out of their homes.  Hurricane Connie, in 1955, killed 87 people statewide, many of them in inland cities like Waterbury, where the death toll was 29.

To combat river flooding, Hartford has spent decades investing in the Hartford Local Protection Project which protects approximately 3,000 acres of the city, including the most densely populated city center. The project consists of thousands of feet of “dikes, floodwalls, stoplog structures, conduits, and pumping stations.”

The project began in 1938 and was completed in 1981 at a total pricetag of $71.5 million.

For Davis, the solution to the state’s growing flood problems is simple in concept and complex in execution. There are concrete ways to mitigate certain types of flooding, but they will not solve the whole problem at once and will take a lot of work – and money — to implement across the board.

For one thing, flooding is an issue that, if it doesn’t directly or regularly affect you, can be easy to overlook. For Bill Lucey, Soundkeeper at Save the Sound, and someone who works directly with state policymakers to provide information and find funding for projects, it’s all a matter of perspective.

“If you’re flooding every high tide, you’re noticing it,” he says. “If you’re almost flooding every high tide, maybe you’re noticing it, and if you’re 20 years out from being in that situation — even though the models are projecting that your area is gonna flood on a high tide in 20 years — it’s hard to get people focused on it.”  “Some people notice it, some people don’t, and some people don’t want to notice it,” he adds.

Are there marketing efforts underway to fix the awareness problem?

“It’s the people who, their basements flood or their properties are flooding, they see it all the time, and so they can’t not notice it,” Davis agrees. “But for other people, the rain goes away and the flood waters recede, so it’s not necessarily in the forefront of their thinking anymore.”

Lucey says there is one time when everyone starts paying attention, and that’s after massive storms that impact a large number of people, whether through inconvenience, damage to property, or loss of life.

“I think strategically, it’s after these big disasters that we really end up making big policy moves,” says Lucey. “That we end up passing big bills, and we end up putting larger amounts of funding to support the work that Nicole and her team are doing to try and put solutions on the ground, but it’s definitely a matter of perspective.”

As evidenced by the dozens of projects on CIRCA’s radar these days, municipal leaders are thinking about what their towns can do to mitigate the damage done by floodwater, but actual plans must be adapted to the challenges of each city and town individually.

“We have a built environment and we’re not gonna change that, we’re not gonna tear down all these houses on a sand spit and create it back to a marsh habitat, just is not realistic,” explains Davis. “So how do we work within our urban environment to make sure that it’s functioning to the best of its ability and not just business as usual? Because that’s how we’ve always done things.”

In Bridgeport, city leaders, with help from CIRCA, have begun implementing projects aimed at increasing the number of pervious surfaces spread throughout some of the areas most often affected by flooding.

Bridgeport Sustainability Director Chadwick Schroeder says their engineering department is focusing on removing some of the more impervious surfaces, replacing them with sidewalks made of old tires, and adding rain gardens to manage stormwater. They’re also looking into increasing the number of green spaces in the city, turning them into parks that can hold water while also adding habitats for pollinators and urban canopy.

For Schroder, any improvements made for the purpose of sustainability must serve more than one purpose and must serve the needs of multiple communities.

“How can our projects build on needs? Environmental and economic,” he explains. “There are numerous places in the city where all those needs interact.”

In New Haven, the folks at Save the Sound have begun working with the local water pollution control authority to offset problems caused by the city’s combined sewer system. In a combined system, all the water flowing from home plumbing gets combined with water flowing into street-level storm drains, which flows through to the local water treatment plant. During dry weather, this works as intended, but with heavy rainfall, the system can overflow.

“What that means, when it overflows, is that sanitary waste — everything that’s coming from your sinks, your toilets, your bathtubs — are going into the rivers untreated along with the stormwater,” explains Davis. “So the water purification control authority — several across the nation — have started to embrace this idea that how do we put less stormwater to our combined systems to help kind of change that tipping point during a rain event.”

Among the solutions they’ve been working on is the installation of bioswales, channels near roadways that are designed to capture and absorb rainwater runoff before it hits the sewer system. According to Davis, New Haven has already installed hundreds of bioswales to help ease the burden on the combined sewer and to combat localized flooding.

Then, there is a question of whether some structures can be converted to less impervious options. Davis provides the example of a beach area in Long Island where they were able to convert impervious parking lots into more absorbent alternatives while converting another into open grassland that could be used as overflow parking when needed.

Back in New Haven, Davis says they’ve worked with the city to convert a small, abandoned, dead-end roadway next to an elementary in the Fair Haven district into a small green infrastructure park.

“It was just an abandoned dead-end roadway that had been used as a dumping ground. There was no value to it from a functional roadway standpoint or from the community standpoint, it was really used as a garbage dump by people outside of the neighborhood,” explains Davis. “We identified the site as something that had a lot of potential — both for ecological function and stormwater function — but then also kind of balancing this idea around human needs. We’ve got to make the space accessible and friendly. Nobody wants to be told what to do, but when you make something that’s functional for a community into something that can also function from a climate resilience perspective, it’s got a lot of wins.”

Multi-use parks seem to be the name of the game when it comes to resiliency planning. It might be difficult to convince a town that they need to convert already developed land into something more climate-friendly, but when you combine it with beautification projects, or an increase in local parks, it can be an easier sell.

While local cities and towns will have to come up with individualized solutions to their very specific local problems, leaders agree that doing nothing isn’t an option.

“If we’re not addressing localized flooding, we’re losing places to live,” says Davis. “And if we’re not protecting our shorelines, the same thing is happening.”

But a property owner’s ability to deal with the effects of increased flooding is, in many ways, dependent on their financial means. Wealthier individuals and families can afford to make costly improvements, like elevating their homes above sea level or moving further inland, more easily than those of lesser means.

“They’re not seeing the impacts quite as significantly as those who, this is where they live, this is where their family lives, and they don’t necessarily have the resources to change that up or to make large modifications to their home,” says Davis. “So, we have that humanitarian quality of life issue.”

A move further inland – something referred to on a larger scale as climate migration – brings with it its own problems, like potentially increased housing costs.“What may happen is places that are a little farther inland, not subject to flooding are gonna look more attractive,” says O’Donnell. “And so property values in areas which are close to the shore but don’t get flooded and don’t have to replace their heater every five years or pay high flood insurance rates, they’re gonna become more popular.”

2020 study published in Environmental Research Letters identified Connecticut as one of the top 10 states in the country where affordable housing is at risk of flood damage from sea level rise. That projected risk increases by 2050, when an estimated average of 695 affordable housing units will be at risk of flooding each year. That’s nearly double what the risk was in 2000 and still amounts to only a fraction of the total number of properties at risk of yearly flooding.

Connecticut already faces a housing shortage which has pushed home prices and rents higher than average residents can afford. An influx of residents moving away from the coastline to escape flooding would only add to the problem.

“It’s a race,” says Lucey. “It’s a race between how much infrastructure damage, how much ecosystem damage are you’re gonna absorb, versus how much are you gonna spend to prevent that damage from occurring in the first place?”

Attacks on Mass Transit

Talking Transportation

By Jim Cameron

“I’m going to cut your throat,” said the man wielding a knife and targeting a SEAT bus driver in New London who’d stepped off her vehicle for a quick break. The female driver jumped back on the bus, closed the doors and called the cops who minutes later arrested the would-be attacker.

This incident in late December is just one of many in Connecticut, New York City and nationwide in what is an increasing incidence of violence aimed at our mass transit workers. On Metro-North alone they were targets of 16 assaults and 14 harassments last year.

Since 2019, the overall rate of violent crimes — murder, rape, felony assault and robbery — has more than doubled in the NYC subways even as ridership has decreased. And increasingly it’s not just passengers but the people who run our trains, subways and buses who are the targets.

In NYC anyone convicted of assaulting a transit worker faces up to seven years in jail… assuming the perp is caught and the DA prosecutes. In Connecticut such attacks are a Class C Felony, the same as assaulting a police officer.

Not every attack or threat is potentially lethal. Sometimes transit workers have had coffee tossed at them or they’re spat at. Whatever anger commuters may have about delays should not be taken out on the front-line workers who are doing their best under difficult circumstances.

According to police many of these attacks in Connecticut seem to be perpetrated by homeless passengers riding the bus system all day taking advantage of the free fare program which expires at the end of March. Lacking sufficient shelters and day-facilities it seems they prefer our buses to camping out in other public places.

Many of them are suffering from mental health issues. They need our governments’ help, not a change of venue. Keeping them out of sight and off our streets by having them ride our buses is not the answer.

Their presence on our buses and subways frightens other passengers, further discouraging badly needed ridership. And transit workers who must cope with them are not social workers, so it’s not fair to ask them to intercede. The fear of confrontations with angry or unstable passengers is one of the reasons MTA did so little to enforce the federal face-mask rules during the pandemic.

The free fare program on Connecticut buses has been immensely helpful to poor people struggling to save money. They deserve those breaks… but not when the unintended consequences of such a pilot program leads to violence.
Mass transit is replete with security cameras and, in the case of vulnerable bus drivers, safety shields around their driving work area. So the people making these attacks are usually caught but only after the damage, physical and psychological, has been inflicted.

The answer is not to put armed guards on every bus and train. That’s impractical. But whether attackers are mentally unstable or just drunk, whether their targets are transit workers or random passengers, something must be done to keep such people off of mass transit.

Jim Cameron is founder of the Commuter Action Group and advocates for Connecticut rail riders. His weekly column “Talking Transportation” will be archived here. You can contact Jim at”

Spring Tune Up for Soccer and Lacrosse

Sterling House Community Center

2023 Spring Lacrosse with the Stratford Storm can be found at:  Registration is now open and ends March 1st.  Games begin April 1st.


Why choose Stratford Storm Lacrosse?

-Lacrosse is one of the fastest growing youth sports in America

-Stratford Storm Lacrosse offers programs for boys and girls in grades K through 8

-Stratford Storm Lacrosse does its best to give back to its families with added events such as free clinics throughout the year, and a season ending banquet

Visit the Stratford Storm Lacrosse You Tube page.  If you’ve never played or watched the game of lacrosse, here is your chance to see what it looks like:

Stratford Storm Lacrosse – YouTube

Facebook – Stratford Storm Lacrosse

Instagram – storm_lacrosse2002


Soccer:  Winter off-season soccer skills clinic.  Co-ed classes on Saturday’s in Erin’s Gym.  Led by advanced soccer training coaches, players will work on agility, foot skills, shooting tactics, game IQ and teamwork.

Session 2, runs from February 25th – April 1st.

To register go to:

Mark Your Calendar

CTRides: Free Bus Service thru March 31st.  See Connecticut free.  Plan your trip.

Sterling House Community Center Advanced Futbol Club:Tryouts: Last One Saturday, February 25th: All players interested in joining the Sterling Advanced Futbol Club MUST attend at least one of the upcoming tryouts.  Players will be assessed on foot skills, passing, on-field character, and Game IQ. Players will run through a series of drills and scrimmage play.  Registration is required for tryouts, no initial payment is needed.

Erin’s Gym: 2283 Main Street, Stratford

6p.m. – U7-10

7p.m. – U11 – U14

8 p.m. – U15+


Tuesday, February 28th, Birdseye Municipal Complex, from 11a.m. – 12 p.m. Join the Stratford Health Department and the Hispanic Health Council for a free 4-week session on Nutrition Health.  The Session will be on Food Safety.  To register or for more information contact:  Walter Owusu,, 203-385-4090

Save The Date Stratford Events:

March 25th: Boogie at the Brewery to benefit Sterling House Community Center.

May 20th the Goody Bassett Ball fundraiser for the Stratford Historical Society.

Celebrate Stratford 2023 Events

Make A Difference!

Be a Citizen Reporter for the Stratford Crier

We are a volunteer group, providing fact-based nonpartisan reporting,

and we want YOUR help in keeping our community informed.


We need Citizen Reporters to cover:

  • Town Government
  • Education
  • Environment and Climate Resilience

Please join us!  Reach out to

C A R E (Citizens Addressing Racial Equity) Meeting

Wednesday March 1st 7:00 p.m. Zoom Meeting

Topic To Be Discussed:  Stratford School Budget

Photo By Kenny Eliason

Dr. Uyi Osunde, Superintendent of Stratford Public Schools, will discuss the proposed Stratford School budget.  He will deliver an overview of the budget

The proposed school budget an attached 154 page PDF document is attached: Click Here

To join the Zoom meeting go to:

Time: Mar 1, 2023 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 841 5713 9815

Passcode: 838534


The Opinion Pieces

The Opinion Pieces which appear in this week’s Stratford Crier are from the Stratford High School journalism class.  The class, which is taught by Andreas Marangos, was invited to submit articles to the Stratford Crier that reflect their thoughts and beliefs on current events.  This week 5 of the students submitted their take on the use of Artificial Intelligence software in the producing of Art. This topic has been in the media forefront as more and more media platforms use robots (bots).

Kindness Makes the World a Better Place

Give Self-Love a Chance

By Irene Roth
Photo by Andrew Thornebrooke

Kindness makes the world a much better place because we extend attention and care to others. We may open a door for someone, or we may simply smile and lend a listening ear to someone in distress in a grocery line up.

However, how often are we kind to ourselves? That is a question that I have asked a few of my chronically ill friends lately. And the answer they gave me didn’t surprise me as much as it saddened me. I too was in the same boat and felt the same way.

Self-love is the practice of treating yourself with kindness, compassion, and love. Just as you would give a friend some of your time, understanding and respect, authentically engaging in self-love requires that we offer the same to ourselves.

Loving yourself is a powerful thing to do. However, it can be difficult to achieve. Why? Because are our own worse critics. We judge ourselves more harshly than we would anyone else. I guess there’s something about being privy to our feelings and emotions.

Part of self-love is recognizing that we are more partial to loving others than caring for ourselves. We may see aspects of ourselves that we don’t like. We may even judge these to be difficult to accept because some of us think we should be perfect. And when we’re not, we judge ourselves harshly.

Why is self-love important for a chronically ill person?
If we don’t love ourselves, our self-esteem will suffer. We will feel like we’re less than anyone else. But this simply isn’t true.

It can be easy to believe this since we’re chronically ill. We tend to think of ourselves as damaged individuals. However, we’re anything but. We are just as valuable as we were when we weren’t chronically ill. We must just learn to pace ourselves more and take better care of ourselves.

This requires that we do things that are in line with our health and well-being. For instance, if we’re tired, we should rest. If we didn’t sleep well last night, we should take a few things off our to-do list. But all of this requires that we develop a loving mindset towards ourselves.

Here are a few ways to do this.

1. Cultivate mindfulness. There are links between mindfulness and a range of positive outcomes, including healthy self-esteem, which is related to overall life satisfaction. Cultivating mindfulness is most often pursued through a regular meditation practice. Even ten or fifteen minutes a day of focusing on your breath in a quiet space and developing an awareness of your thoughts can put you on the right track towards caring for yourself and being kind when your energy levels dwindle.

2. Speak positively to yourself. How we talk to ourselves privately and internally are very important and powerful ways of gauging how we feel about ourselves. Negative self-talk is linked to depression and anxiety. Most of us wouldn’t criticize and tear down someone we love so harshly. So, why do we sometimes do it to ourselves? It can be easy to slip into negative thought patterns. This is especially the case for a chronically ill person who may have had more pain or didn’t sleep well the previous night. Physical disability can leave us feeling less than we really are. On days such as these, we must remember that we are still wonderful human beings, with intrinsic self-worth.

3. Take Time to Check in with Yourself. Loving yourself can be more difficult if you don’t truly know yourself. Checking in regularly is one way to get to know yourself. Take a few minutes to evaluate why you reacted the way you did to a situation or why you’re feeling bad about something. Writing in a journal can really help as well.

4. Discover what self-care means to you and what works best. Most of us have different definitions of self-care. For some of us, having a bubble bath is best. But for others, true self-care goes deeper than that. Here are a few of my deeper ways of caring for myself:

• Turning down a social invitation to spend some time alone when I need time and space to recharge.
• Make plans with a friend when I feel I need support or to have a little fun.
• Saying no to a work project that would put me at risk for burnout.
• Prioritizing sleep over chores when I’m exhausted or in pain.
• Taking time to read every day. I love to read romance, so for me that’s a real treat.
• Writing in my journal and lighting a candle for 15 or 20 minutes.
• Having a class of wine with the lights dimmed either outside in the summer or in my fireplace room in the winter.

So, what are your ways of creating self-care? Spend some time determining what you need. y taking these steps, you will be taking steps to be kind to yourself. This is so important for a person who struggles with a chronic illness.
Do some self-exploration. I know you can create a plan for yourself that incorporates everything that you want in a self-care plan.

To your Good Health!

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

By Gabriel Lattanzi
Stratford High School

For around 2-3 years, Artificial Intelligence (AI) art has been creating a fiery inferno of controversy. There are two heated sides to the argument: is AI art fair to the artists it learns from?

It’s no secret that the learning process for these image generating robots includes searching through immense databases of images, including artist’s work. It then recognizes patterns in the images, and spits out an artificial piece of “artwork.” There are pros and cons to both sides of the argument, however one seems to have a bit more credibility than the other.

The process of using pre-existing images, many of which are genuine pieces of artwork, to teach a robot how to create art is absolutely, without a doubt plagiarism. The fact that these bots can memorize specific artists styles and then copy them is crummy. If I were to take a piece of Van Gogh artwork, for example, and create a “new” image using his exact style, color palette, and emotion, would I be called a true artist? No! I would be called a Van Gogh copycat and be labeled as unoriginal. The same argument should be used for these bots. In fact, it should be even more detrimental to them, as it requires even less effort for a robot to create a Van Gogh style painting than a human.

What’s even worse about this is that the artists have no real choice about what happens with their art in this situation. Using AI art for monetary gain falls into a legal gray area, as technically it’s not plagiarism by law, since what the bots are making is perceived as “original,” however morally it is plain disgusting.

Huge corporations have begun using AI generated art for some of their advertisements/designs, meaning that they are making insane amounts of money off the backs of these artists who train the bots. To make it worse, the artists receive no compensation. Artists are having their work thrown into these AI training programs without choice, have no legal way to pursue them, and aren’t earning a lick of the profit being made off them.

Now arises the also valid yet weaker argument of this AI generated art being good for us. It allows us to put phrases that we couldn’t possibly perceive on our own into an image we can understand. It’s also simply great for entertainment, as one can sit at a computer and put in the most ridiculous prompts to make funny images for hours at a time. You also have to give credit to some of these AI developers, as they are including “opt-out” options for artists, which would allow them to have their artwork removed from the learning process.

The best course of action in this scenario would be to change a few things about the learning process of these robots. First of all, make the artwork it learns from strictly public domain content. There are millions, likely billions of pieces of artwork that are free for the public to use in any way they choose.

Another possibility is for every generator to be legally required to include an “opt-out” feature, so that artists can choose whether they want their images to be used to train these bots.

The final solution would be to make monetary compensation required, meaning that if someone who generates an image using the specific style or features of another piece of work, the artist used must be paid a percentage of the profits made under the image. All of these would allow AI generated art to continue providing its benefits to society whilst making artists more comfortable with the new technology.