Friday, November 21, 2008

Cool Events at the Russell LIbrary

Green Children
Join the Middletown Area Green Children at Russell Library, 123 Broad Street , Middletown . We focus on appreciating, protecting and learning from the outdoors and nature. On Wednesday, December 10 at 4:00 pm
the topic will be “Flowers in December.” A member of Middletown ’s Garden Club will show us how to create a touch of spring a few months early by forcing daffodil bulbs into bloom. Everyone will receive a container and a number of bulbs along with instructions on how to plant and care for them. With a little bit of luck, a few weeks later we will have daffodils on our window sills.

Help Launch Teen Advisory Council at Russell Library
If you are in grades 6 through 11 and interested in your public library, join us for our first meeting on Wednesday, December 17, 4pm in Meeting Room 3 at Russell Library, 123 Broad Street , Middletown . Please bring ideas of what you would like to do at the library. These suggestion may include activities such as poetry slams, creating a facebook page for our Totally Teen section, movie series, a writing club, book talks and more. Bring your friends. Refreshments will be served.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Morning in the North End

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Though they've been open for the past several weeks, the new It's Only Natural Market in the North End is holding their Grand Opening today.

My family and I were there for the ribbon cutting this morning -- what followed was a celebration of North End culture.

Dancers from the Green Street Arts Center got ooh's and aah's from the crowd, shoppers milled around the store tasting samples from local producers, and neighbors in coversation clogged up the aisles.

We even got to see the third floor, which has a great view of Main Street (unfortunately, the foggy weather this morning doesn't do it justice.)

Some of the performers were from the B-Boy class at Green Street. Wow!
(Posted by Jen Alexander)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Voters from Middletown's North End Exercise Their Right to Vote

Here is a pretty cool slide show featuring Middletown residents from the city's north end neighborhood who took part in yesterday's election. I received these images from Izzi Greenberg, executive director of the North End Action Team (NEAT), which was very instrumental in registering many Middletown voters in time for this year's election, and also operated an informational booth outside the polls at Macdonough School yesterday.

Please take a minute to view the slide show, the people featured seem so excited and proud to be participating in this year's election!

When I visted Macdonough yesterday to talk with voters, Izzi told me that the NEAT table, which provided information on how to use the voting machines, a list of the candidates that were runnning and explanations on Questions 1 and 2 regarding the Constitutional Convention and 17-year-old voters, was well visited throughout the day.

"We wanted to make sure the neighborhood has an educated vote," Izzi said yesterday. "So we set up this table and it has been amazing!"

Right up to election day, Middletown voters, many of them first-timer voters, were calling NEAT headquarters with all kinds of election-related questions, said Izzi.

I'm so glad there are organizations out there like NEAT, who are available to help people to become part of this important process. So many of us take voting for granted. I hope all these new voters will continue to use their new-found voting power at every election, so they can really have a say in who makes the decisions in Middletown.

Obama’s victory electrifies North End

Wednesday, November 5, 2008 10:07 PM EST
By SLOAN BREWSTER, Press staff

MIDDLETOWN — Word on the street in the North End of town Wednesday was all happiness and downright pride in the election of Barack Obama.

"He showed that he’s not just there for black people," Middletown resident Judy Rollins said. "He’s here for everyone."

While she believes the president elect will be there for people of all races, Rollins also thinks he will cut through racial divides and bring the country a step closer to ending racism. She was not comfortable discussing her personal battles, but said all African Americans deal with bigotry.

"As a black person, we all experience it," Rollins said.

George Guiont, 59, remembers when civil rights changed life in the country, specifically in the south. In 1965, he was one of the first black children transferred to an all-white school in North Carolina.

He remained there only three weeks.

"I just got tired of the cranks, the ignorance," Guiont said. "I was full of hatred then."

Guiont lost his parents at a young age; his mother died when he was 7 and his father passed when he was 13. Their deaths left him angry and made it even more difficult to deal with racial tensions at school. He ended up dropping out.

But the man does not pass blame or expect the government, Obama or otherwise, to solve his problems.

"My life’s not going to change," he said. "I have to make a change."

Still, Giuont believes Obama will bring change to the country as a whole. He is particularly interested in seeing an end come to the war in Iraq.

Dorothy Goss, 73, also remembers the civil rights movement, though she experienced it in a different manner. The Westbrook resident lived in Essex in 1958 and was a landlord who rented to a black family — a decision many of her neighbors did not appreciate. They did not look too fondly upon her for her political actions either, especially when she participated in a civil rights march on Washington in 1968.

"I’ve been called the n-word-lover I don’t know how many times," Goss said.

During a telephone call to The Press Wednesday, Goss expressed excitement about Obama’s election.

"In my lifetime, I’ve never expected this to happen," she said. "I believe Obama will be great not because he’s a man of color, but because of who he is. He stands up for all people no matter who they are. To me, you have to love people for who they are and not what they take from society, but what they give society. Thank God I lived long enough to see a person of color become our president."

Between moments of elation and exclamations of glee, folks walking in the North End took a few moments to share ideas on which of Obama’s policies they most anticipate.

Rollins looks forward to seeing life improve for the middle class. "He’s starting with the middle," she said. "I think everyone else started out with the upper class. I’m very proud."

Rohanna Powells, an 18-year-old who voted for the first time Tuesday, believes Obama’s economic policies will benefit the country and is pleased with his plans for early childhood education.

Marsha Jean-Charles shares her co-workers thoughts on education — both young women work at the North End Action Team office.

"It’s about making sure schools are adequately funded and higher quality teachers," Jean-Charles said.

Jean-Charles, a student at Wesleyan University, said the campus grew loud with cheer when Obama was declared victorious.

"I personally was crying," she said.

NEAT Executive Director Izzi Greenberg said she was inspired by the number of people who came to Macdonough School Tuesday to learn about Obama and McCain. The organization set up a table and passed on information about both candidates. Greenberg was surprised and impressed by the number of people who came.

"The people who showed up, the wide variety of people who came, really blew me away," Greenberg said. "People were pumped."

While Greenberg said NEAT does not endorse any candidate, she said people in the North End seemed optimistic Obama would work on issues to benefit inner-city areas.

"A lot of people in the neighborhood are really excited," she said. "People of color are feeling really empowered."

Guiont shares the hopefulness.

"When you start talking about helping people, I’m down with that," he said. "When you start talking about lifting them up, everybody’s down with that."


© 2008, a Journal Register Property

Working the Polls at City Hall

My name is Rohanna Powell, and I work at the North End Action Team. This election was my first time voting, It had to be one of the most exciting things I have ever did.

I knew this election is going to bring a lot of change about, not just the fact that Barack Obama is the first African-American president. I did an absentee ballot and I was in a room by myself and I was still really excited.

I worked at City Hall yesterday to help with the absentee ballots, and I thought it would go by really slow, that I wouldn't have much to do. But we had our work cut out for us. There were so many people who came in the minute the doors opened at 6:00am and there were people there until 8:00pm.

It was really amazing and it made me feel really special that I help out at the polls and helped to get people's vote out.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

MacDonough students get technical through donor generosity

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He's not doing it in this photo, but when I sat down next to 8-year-old Elvis Lozada last night, during a session of the MacDonough School computer club, he was drumming his fingers and bopping around in his chair to the music he had created on an XO mini laptop computer.


"I also get to chat and you can do "Tan Tan Jam" and use instruments, where you press numbers and letters and they turn into songs," said Elvis, who also often takes the laptop home to use. "I show my sister how to use it too, so probably when she is a third grader, whe can sign up for the computer club."

So not only can Elvis make his own music, connect to the Internet (for free with supervision), chat with his fellow computer club members via email and play all kinds of educational games, he also serves as teacher to his family members and is trusted to take care of the computer when he takes it home.

That's in addition to his regular day at school. Unique way to learn no?

josh.JPGElvis and fellow computer club members' ability to use this compact, little green marvel of technology was made possible by the North End Action Team (NEAT), through a program called "Give One Get One."

Here's how it works. When you purchase one of these XO laptops, either through NEAT or at, one laptop is sent to a child in Nigeria and the other to you, the buyer. You can either keep the XO for your own use, or turn around and donate it to a child like Zionique Walker-Elson and Josh Zona pictured above, right here in in Middletown. So far, MacDonough students have 17 XO laptops to use, which they do a good job of sharing during their bi-weekly afterschool computer club.

Here's hansome little Marc Torres, who was learning French with the help of his XO. He told me he wants to go to France some day, so he needs to learn French to communicate. Great goal Marc!  "I learned ensemble means together and la banque means bank," he said.


"I like teaching the kids how to use the computer, things they will use in the older grades, this gets them set for it," said MacDonough third grade teather Teresa Morello, chatting via computer in this photo with Nichoals Deren and Jonathan Shaw. "This thing is about creativity, with writing programs, they are doing their own thing." 

                                                                                                    Thumbnail image for morello.JPGNEAT executive director Izzi Greenburg is very excited about this grassroots program. It is her goal to provide all of the children at MacDonough with an XO computer. She is also talking with Wesleyan University students to come work with the kids on the computers, either during classtime or the computer club, so the teachers will have more time to work with the students.

"We want this to be a whole new way of learning," she said. "I want to create programs that are exclusive to this neighborhood, that will be incentive for people to come here and decrease the transiency."

Engaging, fun, community-based programmin in a safe environment - what neighborhood doesn't need that?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

North End Voters

District 1 Raw Data

1228/1735 registered voters voted- way more than ANY of the poll workers could remember.
70.8% of registered voters (turn out in this district is sometimes as low as 20%)
1 Yes: 355 NO: 719
2. YES 768 NO: 292
3. YES 603 NO: 327
4. YES 773 NO 193
5. YES 760 NO 325
PresidentMcCain 207 Obama 986 Nader 30
3rd CongressionalDeLauro 944 Itshaky 119 Ferrucci 56
9th State SenateCapenera 279 Doyle 816
33rd State Leg.Serra 831 Johnson 280
RegistrarGionfriddo 217 Faracci 815

Great Day at the Polls

It was an amazing day at District 1's only polling place, Macdonough School. The entire North End votes here, and the turn out was awesome. Many groups, including NEAT's own youth leadership group, the Teen Dreams Society were registering North End voters and apparently voter registrations were up this year from 1200 to over 1700. At 5:00pm when I left, over 1000 people had voted, with three hours to go!

I was helping to man a table for NEAT that offered info about how to vote, and who the candidates are, among other things. It was so inspiring to see the number of people that were first time voters, coming out to make their voice heard.

People were leaving the school with tears in their eyes, moved by this election and the possibilites that lie ahead.
I'll keep you posted at 8:00 and we'll see what happens here....May the best man win!

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