Friday, December 11, 2020

Creative Generosity Builds Communities

Originally published December 8, 2015

Help-Portrait, an annual photography event, commemorated its eighth year on December 15, 2015. Though not an official Help-Portrait event, New Haven's Mothers For Justice group members were invited to participate in a holiday portrait event the same day, organized by photojournalist volunteer Margaret Waage with the idea of giving back.

Help-Portrait was founded by celebrity photographer Jeremy Cowart and Kyle Chowning in 2008. Their mission is to empower photographers, hairstylists, and makeup artists to use their skills, tools, and expertise to give back to their local community.

The Mothers For Justice (MFJ) is a grass-roots women’s advocacy group that seeks to support one another and empower themselves and their families to improve their lives and their communities. MFJ was founded in 1933 and is dedicated to using its collective voice to change the systems that perpetuate poverty and injustice. Our issues and concerns are Welfare Reform, Prison Re-entry, Housing, Healthcare & Domestic Violence among many other things. A similarity MFJ shares with the Help-Portrait community is they both recognize giving back to the local community is one way to effect positive change.

There are great folks working with organizations year-round to make things better for those in need. Ginger Grant, a.k.a. Ginger Lee Originals, is a Connecticut art photographer and sees art as a way to enrich those living in Bristol, CT. Grant recently opened The Studio, an art studio space where she hosts painting, stitching, stamping, and numerous craft project classes. What’s the connection between creativity and hunger, you might ask. For Grant, the connection lies in building up an underserved community where residents might not have even considered taking a pencil or brush to paper to express feelings or life perspective. Grant advocates any growth must first come from a willingness to try. It’s only then that a person can see a possibility and from that, change can occur.

In October The Studio hosted a ‘Photo Feel Good’ event, inviting the public at large to have a photograph made, free of charge, and like Help-Portrait, a print was made and given to each participant. Nearby business neighbor Marisela Severino of Joamar Hair Salon volunteered her salon and services for the all-day event.

A photo session included make-up by Dori Green and contributed to making everyone feel good for the occasion. Grant collected business attire clothing donations and in turn, participants selected whatever they needed for a job interview. Sweaters, blouses, dresses, slacks, jackets, and winter coats were made available free to take home. That generosity of spirit is what creativity is about.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Photography exhibit ‘Powerful yet Fragile: Connecticut Waterways’ On View

Originally published February 23, 2017 

A new exhibit titled ‘Powerful yet Fragile: Connecticut Waterways’ features works by the group, Women Photographers of Connecticut, and is on view at Stamford Museum & Nature Center, (SM&NC), in Stamford, CT from Feb. 18 – May 29, 2017.

The call for works only specified water, and the resulting exhibit shows the subject in various conditions from drought to beauty. Kirsten J. Reinhardt, Curator of Collections & Exhibitions asks “Since Colonial times, humans have been altering the waterways of Connecticut.  Dams were built to power mills and generate energy. Roads were built beside and across the major rivers and streams. How has human activity impacted the riparian, wetland, and coastal habitats?”

It’s a question worth asking, particularly if you contextualize that perspective alongside current events of floods in California, to places where access to potable water remains a challenge.

The Facebook group Women Photographers of Connecticut was created by Geneva Renegar with the purpose of creating a supportive photographic community. There are no hard and fast rules for the group. While themes are provided, members don’t necessarily have to post to the running theme. The page is an open forum for photography ideas, questions, and discoveries.

The SM&NC is a great resource in Connecticut that offers education, arts, and science programming for children and adults. The grounds are beautiful for nature walks and the facilities offer a perfect setting for family and business events.

The Stamford Observatory is a research facility used by members of the Fairfield County Astronomical Society and is situated on the museum grounds. For hours and more info on the observatory visit: and for general information on SM&NC programming and venue rentals visit:

Saturday, May 5, 2012

See The Idea

In 'See The Idea' blog I post on miscellaneous topics of interest.

Photography is an everyday tool I use to document moments and express creativity. I hope you enjoy these musings!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Charity Act Gets A New Look

Creativity knows no bounds when it comes to charity. The Marlin Company employees have a knack for the unexpected in getting responses and raising money that will go towards benefiting a good cause.

The cause is St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a volunteer-driven charity committed to funding the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancer. St. Baldrick’s Foundation formed after three reinsurance executives John Bender, Tim Kenny and Enda McDonnell turned their St. Patrick’s Day party into a head-shaving event to benefit kids with cancer.
Jack Voss gets head shaved by Terry Carrano as part of exceeding fundraising goal.

What started out as an innovative way to have 20 "shavee" recruits raise "$17,000 on the 17th" turned into a successful sum raised - over $104,000!

Jack shows his legs have been shaved smooth.
Jack Voss, a developer by occupation, put his challenge on when he participated along with his brother and Stamford EMS in an event sponsored by St. Baldrick’s Foundation. 

Voss committed to have his head buzzed cut if he made his goal of $200. Additionally Voss promised to shave his head bald and shave his beard off entirely if he exceeded his goal. 

Not only did Jack shave it all off for the cause but he did so wearing the traditional garb of a kilt and shaved his legs in honor of the occasion.

He was able to raise $1,500 personally for St. Baldrick's, which added to the overall total of $25,754 for the foundation.  

Off comes the beard.
Contributions came from the company and co-workers who baked up ideas for bringing in funds. Cake sales and sweet treats of cannoli filling and waffle wafers brought in cash and the hopes of seeing Jack in kilt wear.

Congratulations to everyone who made work fun and who are helping kids with cancer have something to hope for - a cure!

Jack Voss in kilt
Many of The Marlin Company employees are gearing up to walk in Relay For Life for the same reasons Jack had in helping St. Baldrick's Foundation. Cancer is one disease that needs to go away! 

To learn more about St. Baldrick's Foundation organization or to get involved with your own head shaving visit: 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Sighting Inspiration

Who knows when you'll get it. It happens momentarily and in its own time. First morning light enters a room like an unexpected guest. Oh - take notice of a fleeting presence!

Inspiration is like Grace - it's spiritual and not to be underestimated. It can sweep you up into a place where time stops ticking. I call it that, inspiration, but it's a combination of things. Willingness to surrender to light and the mood that light creates is when I most want to have camera in hand.

Today I looked for moments. The sun made yellow light in the shapes of angular slanting lines. The sky was very different from this past week where big, blue, black and gray clouds consumed wide expanses of sky, gobbling it up as though wide were not enough. From sharp shards of glass to soft tulip petals anything can be interesting when photographing it with light that accentuates its innate qualities. A handle looks like 'drama' and a flower appears like a painter's stroke on canvas.

Waiting for a tinge of color shift from bright noon to a dusk mood seemed most desirable for picture purposes. Patience yields a rush to capture a pink imbued flora that drinks in the sun before petals close for their nightly repose.

Sighting Friday moments are just the inspiration needed to welcome the weekend! Don't let the overcast light limit image making possibilities. If it's overcast colors are cooler, but are still worth capturing, nonetheless!

Friday, April 6, 2012

What's In A Name?

Do onions, chicken, tomato, hydroponic lettuce, cheddar cheese, and bacon nestled into a grilled tortilla sound like a 'Robert' to you? The Arc Eatery in Meriden would be happy to introduce you to its latest luncheon menu item.
Lunch made to order

Chef impresario Joe Berg prompted staff to put their noodle to the test and invent their own edible creations. Robert, a 3-year employee, rose to the challenge and delivered a hybrid between a panini and wrap sandwich that has been added to Arc's specials for lunch choices.

When Joe told me about the ingredients and how they would be prepared we speculated what name the sandwich would go by. I thought wrappini would be good, but 'Robert' won out, giving full credit where credit is due.
Robert spices up indgredients
I came to try out the delicacy with every intention of seeing how to make it, should I want to recreate it on my own. Robert used dill when spicing the onions.

All the vegetables are lightly sauteed and are placed inside the tortilla, along with strips of grilled chicken. The concoction is then assembled by folding it into a manageable roll, and lightly grilling it again, giving the outer side a toasted golden brown finish.

If dietary concerns are an issue you can custom order the contents. Although I omitted the best parts, cheddar cheese and bacon, it still tasted buttery wonderful. Robert said he enjoyed conjuring up something different.

The sandwich is getting a lot of orders. "We like to try different ingredient combinations," said Joe. "With food it's all been done before, and the challenge was to find something new." 

The Arc Eatery recently installed a greenhouse where fresh herbs and lettuce are grown and the chef uses everything harvested in their daily culinary offerings.

'Next on my list is baking. I'd like to create my own cookie," said Robert. I'm wondering what it will be and how the cookie will crumble. I'm hoping to see something with oatmeal and cranberries ... hmmm ...  just thinking about it may prompt the baker in me!

Do you have any sandwich creations you'd like to share? Or for sweet but healthy treats, I'd love to hear your suggestions! I'm interested in healthy but yummy!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Savvy Strategy Campaign For Businesses Takes Flight

Do you ever feel like you need a shot of enthusiasm to see a project through? What happens if that project is your business? Unless you've already 'arrived' at whatever benchmark defines your success, who couldn't use some networking tips, or actual business services that would assist in advancing their business, and by way of representation, themselves?

Zef Zen of Entrepreneurs that SOAR is someone you should know. A powerhouse of personality, your first impression of Zef will be positive. She exudes "possibility" with every breath she exhales, and in doing so, convinces you that you can do anything you put your mind to. Zef bases her business model on that belief, and can provide needed help by way of interns to assist in all kinds of support, from emotional to administrative to creative.
Zef Zan, left, gives raffle prize to Victoria Fennell during the 1st of several
destinations of 'Souring into Action' Tour. The  Tour campaign is organized
by Zef's company, Entrepreneurs that Soar. 
Zef will tell you the acronym in the business name, SOAR, stands for: Strategies + Opportunities + Alliances + Results = getting from point A, (an idea), to point B, (success). Isn't that the idea than anyone goes into business?

Zef says, "It's not enough to collect business cards, you have to take the next step in networking."

Knowing what to do after you meet a potential client is the difference between turning an oversized and underutilized rolodex into a lead that is actually an opportunity.

One recent campaign underway is the 'Soaring into Action' Tour. Beginning March 28th, Zef's SOAR team is making several stops throughout Connecticut to promote professional outreach. The live social networking is much more effective than a LinkedIn request, making connecting a more realistic experience once you meet a person.

Campaign Flyer
I love the flyer photo. It shows a jet plane literally taking flight and is a perfect analogy needed for getting aboard with momentum and putting yourself into a ready position.

I attended the first destination in West Hartford's Barcelona Wine Bar. I met several new people who are established in their own businesses. What impressed me is the attitude they all shared - you have to keep on growing and not sit back on what's happened.

This isn't to say that taking time to appreciate successes already earned isn't well deserved, but instead, emphasizes there's always room for possibilities of new business when you take action.The second 'layover' is scheduled for April 11th at Javapalooza Cafe in Middletown followed by a Branford location. A fourth and final destination has yet to be determined.

Attendee Dave Marsden, left, draws business card from box for a prize.
Intern Alex Sannicandro on right works with Entrepreneurs That SOAR
during her last year at Quinnipiac University, where she is finishing up degree in
Public Relations.

For more information about networking or to find business services offered through Entrepreneurs that SOAR visit:
Drew Berman, best selling author and business coach left, and Zef Zan, owner of Entrepreneurs That SOAR stand for photo after the event concluded.