Saturday, December 15, 2012

Writing a column in the midst of tragedy an almost impossible task

By Ed Stannard, Community Engagement Editor

I was asked to write this column last night to give the people of Newtown some sense that we at the Register feel for their immense pain and grief. It's really hard to write a column when you can't identify with what the other person is going through. So I wrote about what I was going through. I hope you connect with it.

"Oh Newtown, we are so overcome with your grief."

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I'm seeking serenity in what seems like an especially difficult season

By Ed Stannard, Community Engagement Editor

I have found this holiday season that I really have needed to make some major changes in how I approach my life in order to keep some semblance of serenity.

(And I don’t say “holiday season” as some politically correct way to avoid “Christmas.” This started before Thanksgiving, but the “Christmas season” has definitely turned up the pressure.)

I don’t know exactly why, but this has been a very difficult fall, and the idea of shopping and the over-commercialization of Christmas has really been tough to take this year.

I don’t know exactly why, but I do know some of the reasons:

  • Sandy. I did not suffer from that horrible storm, other than to lose a small tree that would have been taken down when they resided our condo. In fact, we got to stay at my sister’s house and were fed well. My bond with Susan and Tony only grew stronger. But I know that many people went through hell and I feel for them.

  • The election. No matter which side you were on, maybe you agree with me that the lack of concern for Americans’ welfare was discouraging.

  • The economy. I know an awful lot of people without jobs. I’m trying to avoid adding the “fiscal cliff” to the list, but it has the ability to terrify me. I’ve been laid off. I empathize too easily.

  • Illness. I’m healthy, thank God. But I have too many friends and family members who have been dealing with some real tough stuff.
  • My son’s in college. I don’t understand it, but I miss him terribly and I don’t want to go to shopping malls to compensate.
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m feeling incredibly grateful about my life, my wonderful wife and son, my extended family, my friends, my job, my health. Those are the things I’ve turned to this year to make it a season to really celebrate.

This is why I’m writing this column at all.

Every year we say we’ll simplify our celebration, and usually we do. We don’t go crazy with expensive gifts, except maybe something special for our son. But it seems that a real change of heart is needed this year, at least for me.

Here’s what I’ve done so far to make this a season of, if not joy, at least serenity:

  • I’ve gone to a couple of Christmas concerts, ones in which I know people who are singing: there was Shoreline Soul in Madison, an annual gospel workshop; and the Cantabile Vocal Quartet, a fine group, which was joined by the Bel Canto Choir of West Haven High School, led by my friend Phyllis Silver, musical director at WHHS.

  • This isn’t something just anyone can do, but I also went to my 40th high school reunion. All that materialistic crap meant nothing as we gave each other hugs and caught up.

  • I’ve been going to church, something I haven’t done that much of in the last two years, for complicated reasons. It’s one of the ways I’ve been able to spend more time with my wife.

  • I’ve had lunch with friends and, believe it or not, made more phone calls. I’ve called friends and family just to check in. I’ve texted my son just to tell him I love him.

  • We’ve increased our giving to charity.

None of this is fancy. All of this could be considered obvious. But it still has taken effort to do it.

Please, in the remaining days before New Year’s Eve, do some of these things. There are so many events—concerts, art shows, the Fantasy of Lights … just do something for your soul. Strengthen that bond with a family member or friend.

I’m not saying not to shop. The economy needs it. Spend what you can without overextending yourself. But don’t let it stop there. Make a connection. Be good to yourself.

Share with me the ways you are making this Christmas, calm, wholesome and peaceful. Post them here and we’ll print them in the Register.

Have a peaceful holiday!

(This column will also appear in the New Haven Register on Dec. 13.)

As I receive comments on Facebook and other places, I'll include them here. You can also comment at the end of the column. These are from friends of mine:

  • Hank Silverberg Nice column. I think the whole country may be feeling a bit jumpy or maybe wheezy this year.

  • Martha Staeheli Lawless This is a great piece and I feel similarly- not only personal suffering, but a kind of Weltschmerz that's hanging around! It must be combatted with true connection, at least in my experience.

  • Mary W. Cox Thank you, Ed--this is wisdom. Sending your only child off to college simply changes your world--how much sadder it would be for your relationship if you DIDN'T miss him! I am feeling happier and more centered this evening for having had the great luxury of spending the whole afternoon with probably my very closest friend, whom I've seen very rarely over the past ten years since she left Miami. There is just no substitute for actually spending time with someone you love.

  • Patricia Olson Mary W.Cox....yes it is wisdom that Ed has established I have had some issues lately but I am strong today and able to stand tall and face some difficult moments "A minute at a time" in some instances. I have youngsters in my life today they "Keep It Simple" We laugh at silly things.....just have fun being together.....I must say " lots of play dates and sleep-overs "LIFE IS TREMENDOUS" Thank you Ed Stannard
From our Litchfield County Times editor, Doug Clement:
Just read you column Ed and, with all sincerity, I think it's great. Feeling much the same way myself. My son was in a junior choir holiday concert yesterday at his Catholic school, my family lit the candles on the Advent wreath in church last Sunday, the kids are both in Brass City Ballet's "Nutcracker" this weekend and my daughter will carry Baby Jesus up to the altar during Xmas Eve Mass. All of that feels more impt. that shopping and commercialization, especially this year.

Also from Facebook:

·             Valerie Reynolds Carubia likes this.
Renie Zahariades Groumousas That is a great article and oh so true. Been there. I do think it has something to do with kids going off to college. It means another era has ended and we are starting down a new one.
I know I do not like change. And it means, let's face it, we'r...See More
20 hours ago via mobile · Like · 1
Larry Greenberg Great article in the paper this morning. Thanks
6 hours ago via mobile · Like

Jim Onofrio of New Haven called in:
"It really, really hit home. I just wanted to let y ou know that I too have found this Christmas season different in a few key ways. I definitely agree with you about the election and the economy part. I too feel that those in Washington really don't care about our welfare. I've been struggling, have two jobs and so forth."

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

New Haven history: We're pretty proud of our 200th anniversary project--and I'm thankful for the help


By Ed Stannard, Community Engagement Editor

Hi all,

Apologies to all for the lack of activity on this blog and on my Twitter account as well as the Your Open Newsroom account.

As I hope you've seen, we've just finished publishing a nine-part special section series about the Register's 200th anniversary, much of which we've posted on a Rebel Mouse site. Most of the labor has been for print, and when print deadlines loom, it's hard to focus on much else.

If you get the paper daily, you have the complete collection. We've traced the history of New Haven over the last 200 years, as well as the Register's, with photos of New Haven locations in the past and how they look today.

I also was a panelist on WNPR's "Where We Live" last week with the inestimable New Haven historians Jim Campbell of the New Haven Museum and city historian Judith Schiff of Yale. They are amazing people who know so much about this city. Unfortunately for us, Jim is retiring at the end of January, as Randy Beach wrote Sunday.

If you'd like to order a set, they cost $18.12 if you pick them up at the Register. Or you can have them shipped for a fee. Call 888-453-9995.

There were so many people who helped put this project together, including reporter Joe Amarante, who wrote several lead stories. Jim Campbell helped as well, especially with old photos, as did Allison Botelho of the New Haven Free Public Library. Both of those are celebrating anniversaries this year too: the museum is 150 and the library is 125!

Without two people, however, the project would never have gotten done with anywhere near the professionalism. For all I know, it wouldn't have gotten done at all! First, I have to thank our librarian, Angel Diggs (left), who spent hours in several libraries finding images of our front pages--no easy task for that early Columbian Register--as well as photos of our 200 prominent people. She is a total professional, but she went above and beyond on this project.

The other is Ann Dallas (below), one of our designers, who designed all 54 of the editorial pages. She's another totally wonderful person and it was great to work more closely with her on this.

Don't worry the project isn't over. We still have many of our 200 people to write about, and there's still a lot of New Haven history we haven't touched on. (If there's something you think we missed, let me know.) So keep in touch, watch this space, and let's get a start on another 200 years!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Good deeds, warm words helped us through the storm

By Ed Stannard, Community Engagement Editor

I asked you to tell me who’s doing positive things in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, and you came through. While I know there are many more people helping each other than we’ve heard about, here are some good examples. It doesn’t take a heroic act to make a difference. The little things mean a lot. They show us that others care, that we’re not alone facing a world that can be pretty cold at times.

Edward Burke of West Haven was grateful to the city and to Living Word Ministries for how he fared in the storm. He’s 75 years old and requires a breathing apparatus. “They brought me up to Carrigan School” where he could use his machine, Burke said. “I got a cot, I got food” from Living Word, a church on Bull Hill Lane, “and they supplied food that quite frankly was better than most restaurants!”

Burke mentioned a woman named Kathy who worked 16 to 18 hours a day. “I think that people like her should be compensated somehow for it,” he said.

John Appel of Branford nominated his neighbor, Mike Labonia of Lanphier Road, who had a generator and two neighbors without power. “He solicited extension cords also and connected two women who otherwise whould have been without power and whose freezers would have been without power also,” Appel said.

On Facebook, Susan Lanzaro Schroeder told about “an elderly Derby neighbor handicapped with bedsores AND without power for five long days survived on an air mattress that was shot.” Schroeder said she learned about the situation Friday morning, posted it on the Valley Independent Sentinel and within 1½ hours “offers came pouring in to contact and assist this family. She is now safely ‘tucked in’ at a nursing home for the next week or so. People in need don't always reach out; but, there are people who feel urgent about helping!!!”

Sometimes there’s no single deed. Lubelia Bela DeBrum, also on Facebook, said that in her Milford condo complex, where one section was hit hard, “came together as a true community. We are not only nearest but we’re family.”

Even nonprofit agencies can be the recipients of kindness. The Connecticut Food Bank posted today, “There are so many people and organizations we want to thank.  One is a woman from Orange, CT, who just got her power back on Sunday.  She told us she spent her entire weekly food budget to help others.  Another is a young man who rented a truck when he learned we needed help getting the food from West Hartford to our East Haven warehouse.”

There are many more stories out there. Tell us more … or better yet, write your own in the way you help others.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Tell us your good news stories. We need some cheering up!

By Ed Stannard, Community Engagement Editor

Boy, can we all use some good news right about now. How about this story, recounted by staff reporter Jennifer Swift:

Branford resident Lloyd Conlin realized last year during Tropical Storm Irene that he was lucky to have a generator — so he decided to extend his resources to others, and did the same after Hurricane Sandy hit.

Conlin extended a power cord to a bar table in front of his home at 1 Soundview Heights, inviting anyone to stop by and charge up.

Lloyd Conlin, co-owner of Lenny's Indian Head Inn, ran a power cord in front of his home so people could charge up or play video games. (Peter Hvizdak/Register photo)

“I bought this generator six years ago, I never had to use it — ever. Then along came a girl named Irene,” he said. “I figured someone else could use the power too.”

Conlin, who owns Lenny’s Indian Head Inn, said people have taken him up on it. After Sandy, a boy stopped by, plugged in a hand-held gaming device, sat down on the sandbags and played games for a half hour.

“Just for one kid playing a game, being happy, that made it worth it,” he said.

If you look closely, you can always find breaks of sunlight in the storm clouds. Believe it or not, journalists like these positive stories just as much as anyone else. Here are just a few of the random acts of kindness we’ve heard so far.

Kenneth Richards wrote on Facebook, “In West Haven by Pagels School and Ora Mason Library there is a group of children coming to (your) door and giving (you) candy!!! What an act of kindness and bravo (to) the parents!!!”

Nicole Barnes, also in West Haven, described how her fiancé helped West Shore Fire Department volunteers cut down a tree that was leaning against an elderly resident’s front door. “The three of them rocked it to help out that sweet woman and her daughter,” Barnes wrote. “The West Shore FD has some wonderful firemen working for them and this was just one small thing I saw today that I had to share.”

And in Milford, Joe Della Monica offered: “If any of my friends need to shower, power up phones, lap tops, warm bed or hot meal, stop over!!!

Several businesses offered free food, including Rainbow Gardens in Milford and Miya Sushi in New Haven and many more offered to serve as charging stations. There’s a list of places offering free meals at our Elm City Express blog.

Now we want to hear from you. Have you heard of any “hometown heroes” or random acts of kindness? Email me at, post them on the New Haven Register’s Facebook page or call me at 203-789-5743. Let’s let some sunlight shine through these overcast days!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Artspace's Register weekend was wild, wonderful and way too short

By Ed Stannard, Community Engagement Editor

They came; they transformed our 40-year-old building. Then, suddenly, they were gone.

City-Wide Open Studios’ Alternative Weekend hit the New Haven Register building this past weekend. Our presses, silent since we moved our printing to Hartford, became easels for paintings and photographs. The rooms where we used to bundle the papers to send them to carriers and where we used to insert advertising were reborn as exhibit halls for immense sculptures, jewelers, videographers and other visual artists.

Left behind: An artist added labels to the press controls.
Old honor boxes, many of them retired because they were dented in the line of duty, were used as part of the exhibit.

Many of them, like the woman who made artificial flowers out of old Registers, or the one who remade the control panel from the press, based their artwork on the Register’s legacy of newspaper publishing.

“It was a fantastic weekend,” said Helen Kauder, executive director of Artspace New Haven, which sponsors the three-weekend CWOS event. “We were really thrilled and many, many people told me on the way out that they thought it was the best alternative space in our history.”

She said about 1,900 people attended the Alternative Space on Saturday and Sunday, which was more than the last couple of years, when the space was smaller, but probably larger than when the Winchester or Pirelli buildings served as the exhibit hall.

It kind of felt like an invading army at times.
Kauder said the Register’s history and the massive presses inspired many of the artists. “Using what was there as platforms, as a canvas … there was so much to inspire.” Industrial buildings like ours have “these peculiar, quirky places — kind of nooks within the factory,” which gave the artists a lot of choices to set up their work.

The fate of the building — originally built as the Gant shirt-making factory — also elicited questions. “A lot of people were curious to know what’s going to happen with the building. It certainly generated a lot of wonder and curiosity.”

For the record, the building is still for sale and the 13-acre property has been rezoned so it can be used for retail. Once it sells, the Register staff will move to an undetermined location downtown.

One of those who attended, Brian Robinson of New Haven, said the exhibit went “well beyond my expectations. … I had never been in the Register building. It was a perfect venue.” His three children, 9 and under, “were totally taken with it,” Robinson said.

Jerry Zigmont of Madison said, “I thought it was pretty wonderful. We didn’t know what to expect … and not being familiar with the space it was a total surprise to us.”

He said he appreciated “the fact that a lot of the artists incorporated some of the actual physical pieces … into their own art.”

And then, as quickly as they came, they were gone. The press is unadorned, the back rooms empty. It was a glorious transformation that adds to the rich history of 40 Sargent Drive.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Crowdsourcing workshop by New Haven arts council: Learn how to work the crowd

Learn to use online crowdsourcing platforms on Oct. 17 in a lunchtime panel sponsored by The Arts Council of Greater New Haven.

Shola Cole, the Arts Council’s coordinator of community programs, has organized this panel because (relatively) new platforms like Kickstarter are amazingly effective, are getting ever-more popular, and are a great way to fund projects with a creative and community-minded approach.

The event will take place on from noon to 1 p.m. at The New Haven Institute Library, 847 Chapel St., New Haven. The event costs $15 for the general public and $10 for students and Arts Council members. Attendees are welcome to bring a lunch. Refreshments and healthy snacks will be provided.

The panel will share insights and experiences with crowdsourcing through Kickstarter, Indiegogo and GoFundMe. Topics covered will include media format, message, identifying community need, and promoting the platform. The event will also allow for audience feedback and questions.

The event will be moderated by New Haven-based actor, producer, writer, and social media entrepreneur, Christian Shaboo, who is a dream director with The Future Project. Panelists include Ben Berkowitz (Inside Out & ClickSeeFund), Jen Vickery (108 Monkeys & Elm City Flow), Bert Bernardi (Pantochino Productions) and others.

For more information, and to reserve a spot, please contact the Arts Council at 203-772-2788 or email Cole at

(Because the Institute Library is not wheelchair accessible, a live feed will be broadcast in the Community Program Room on the lower level of the New Haven Free Public Library, 133 Elm St.

The Arts Council of Greater New Haven, publisher of The Arts Paper, is a regional nonprofit arts agency that provides leadership to and advocates for member artists and arts organizations and connects them to one another, to audiences, and to the Greater New Haven community. Visit the Arts Council online at

This is an edited press release by the Arts Council of Greater New Haven.