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Our Annual New Year’s Gift to WestportNow Readers


Once again, WestportNow presents a review of the past year through the eyes of dozens of people who contributed photos in 2007. Click HERE.

In 2007, WestportNow continued to record remarkable growth as thousands of new readers discovered what many others already knew: WestportNow is the No. 1 source for news and photos about Westport often found nowhere else.

As we near our fifth anniversary serving Westport, we are pleased that an increasing number of advertisers have learned that as more and more people get their news online, WestportNow reaches more Westporters than any other local Web site.

We are honored to be cited frequently by national publications as a trendsetter in Internet citizen journalism. And we congratulate contributing photographer Dave Matlow on his recent profile in The New York Times for his work for WestportNow.

Finally, we continue to be grateful for the public trust shown in us and look forward to continuing to serve Westport in 2008. Best New Year wishes to all WestportNow readers.

Commentary: Silent Sons

(Editor’s note: The following commentary by award-winning Westport-based writer Jessica Bram was broadcast on Fairfield County Public Radio WSHU-FM.)

By Jessica Bram

Special to WestportNow

First there was this spring’s horrific rampage – a disaffected Virginia Tech student who was somehow able to legally purchase two handguns in gun shops, ammunition on eBay, and methodically murder 32 students and professors. And now this: another unhappy young man, this one just 19, opening fire in a shopping mall filled with holiday shoppers, killing eight and wounding five. 

Apparently depressed from being fired from his job at McDonald’s and a recent breakup, he was rumored to have written a suicide note saying he would “go out in style.” Presumably he intended to find some relief by emulating “Die-Hard”-like movie action heroes with a loaded rifle – and the satisfaction of having his name in the news for a day or so, along with a list of the dead.

As I did after Columbine, and then again this spring, I find myself thinking about those silent young boys – the Cho Seung-Huis and Eric Harris’s and Dylan Klebolds, and a now this new boy in Omaha. I keep wondering how these boys could for so long have harbored such rage, and what could only be severe mental illness, and kept it a secret? 

As a mother, I ask: what about their parents? Didn’t they have a clue, not even a hint, that the boys they had nurtured as toddlers, who had slept in their homes for most of their lives, taken showers down the hall, grabbed milk from the refrigerator – that these boys had the capacity, and most of all, the will, to commit these acts? Or are we seeing, again and again, some highly deranged hero worship of our culture’s new style of cowboy, shoot-‘em-up, action figures with automatic weapons and endless rounds of ammunition?

A New Year’s Gift to WestportNow Readers

WestportNow.com Image WestportNow published hundreds of pictures in 2006 from scores of photographers. We are proud to present a sampling of 360 of them for year-end review. CLICK HERE. They represent the work of more than 50 photographers.

It is through their efforts and those of other contributors that WestportNow again recorded remarkable growth in 2006. We are pleased to continue to be frequently cited nationally as a trend-setter in Internet citizen journalism.

For almost four years, WestportNow has been the No. 1 source for news and information for Westport, routinely breaking stories and publishing news and pictures found nowhere else. We’ve also enabled an ongoing community dialogue through comments.

We are grateful for the public trust shown in us and look forward to continuing to serve Westport in 2007. Best New Year wishes to all WestportNow readers.

Commentary: When Bad Things Are Said About Good People

(Editor’s note: The following commentary by award-winning Westport-based writer Jessica Bram was broadcast on Fairfield County Public Radio WSHU-FM.)

By Jessica Bram

Special to WestportNow

My mother always said that there was nothing worse than hearing my brothers and me fight. I used to think it was the noise that bothered her; but only when I became a mother myself did I realize that the truly awful thing about it is hearing terrible things said about the people I most love and cherish–-my own children.

That it’s other people I love just as much who are saying those things only makes it worse-–because the meanness of their words tarnishes them as well.

All this has frequently come to mind during this particularly ugly election season. Some months ago my commentary here applauded the civil tenor of Connecticut political discourse compared to the national mudslinging. “The Battle of the Huggers” is how I labeled Connecticut’s 4th District Congressional race between two highly popular public servants.

Well, boy, do I ever take that back. Goaded and financed, no doubt, by both Republican and Democratic national machines, the most irresponsible, God-awful things are being said in just about every Connecticut race both by and about some of the most important people in my life: my public servants. 

Staples Grad Dances the World to Web Fame

Matt Harding grew up in Westport, graduated from Staples High School in 1994, and didn’t do a whole lot of traveling except for the occasional family trip to Disney World.WestportNow.com Image
Matt Harding dances with friends in Luang Prabang, Laos. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Photo by wherethehellismatt.com

Maybe that has something to do with his now becoming an Internet sensation known for his world travels dancing a little jig one newspaper described as “something in between a tap dance and a seizure.”

Actually, Harding, now 29 and living in Seattle, has starred in two Web videos showing him doing his goofy dance around the world – every place from Prague to Palau, Red Square to Rwanda.

The first journey he paid for. The resulting video led to the second that covered six months and 39 countries with the Stride chewing gum company picking up the tab.

2005 Review in Pictures

2005 in Photos

Dozens of persons contributed photographs to WestportNow throughout 2005 and we are proud to present a sampling for year-end review.

We are grateful to all those who contributed and look forward to having them and many others contributing to WestportNow’s coverage in 2006. It is through their efforts and those of other WestportNow contributors that WestportNow has recorded remarkable growth in 2005 and now is often cited nationally as a trend-setter in Internet citizen journalism.

Best New Year wishes to them and to all WestportNow readers.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW 2005 IN PICTURES

From Westport to Mali and Back

By Russell Diamond
Special to WestportNow

WestportNow.com Image
Russell and Mica Diamond (center) traveled to Africa in November to help build new schools. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo
My wife Mica and I recently returned from a week building a school in Mali. Not Bali. Not Maui. Mali. It’s a country about twice the size of Texas in Western Africa, and is a world away from Fairfield County.

A year ago we became active with a Stamford-based organization called Building with Books (BwB). Its mission is to motivate and empower American youth through after-school programs that instill ideals of community service and philanthropy.WestportNow.com Image

BwB is active in 74 schools in mostly urban settings around the country. In addition to local service projects, participating students travel to developing countries to help build schools. Since 1993, BwB has built more than 150 schools in such far-flung locales as Nepal, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Malawi, and Mali.

The more we learned about the organization, the more impressed we became and the more eager we were to participate. We shared an interest in Third World poverty and knew we wanted to help be part of the solution.  So we committed to building a school in Mali this past November.  We raised the funds, got our shots, and flew to the capital, Bamako.

Report from Pascagoula: It Should Never Happen to Westport

Surveying the damage: Very little is left in Pascagoula. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Gene Jennings Jr. for WestportNow.comMy wife, Marcia, and I have been gratified by the scores of old friends and brand new ones in Westport who have sent us money and supplies for Pascagoula, and by the efforts of [Westport First Selectwoman] Diane Farrell […]