Stamford-Greenwich New Play Forum Needs Founders

Come be a founder!

The New Play Forum (NPF) is a new-works theater company looking to launch a 2018 founding season in the upstairs lobby theater at the Palace Theater at the Stamford Center for the Arts.

The program is seeking founding donors and subscribers via a crowdfunding campaign: . The NPF announced a new $5,000 funding match for the campaign on Sunday, so donations now will go twice as far.

Laura Stuart, the artistic director of the New Play Forum, says:

Stamford, Greenwich, and their founding towns are in a “new theater-works desert” despite the number of theater-loving and theater-savvy people in the region. At a kickoff event on Monday, Mike Moran, the executive director of the Stamford Center for the Arts, emphasized how much he believes in the program which should be a great addition to the Stamford community. And a community bridging Stamford and its surrounding towns is what the NPF is looking to create–with a wine reception featuring food from local Stamford restaurants at each performance.

We are thrilled about this effort to develop great new plays and musicals. The campaign is seeking just the minimum required to assure a 2018 season of two readings and three “lab”, or bare-bones, developmental productions. But the company has a larger, three-year plan to establish it as a small, ongoing institution.

Laura Stuart is happy to meet for coffee with anyone interested in more detailed plans, and can be reached at Securing matching funds to the $5,000 challenge by the year’s end will assure an inaugural season.

Ideas floated among the attendees at the Monday event included giving subscriptions as holiday gifts and using double subscriptions for a series of “date nights”. Then there is just plain-old year-end giving to enhance the arts options in your local community.

Learn more here.


Stamford Lags Behind When it Comes to Data-Driven Decisionmaking

I started my professional career in business consulting as a data analyst. I was responsible for analyzing consumer product data from Fortune 500 companies and grocery stores and recommending improvements to increase sales for dozens of Time Warner magazines and Mars candy brands. Now, practically every industry is obsessed with “Big Data” and its potential to help solve business and social problems. Technology enables us to handle larger and larger data sets, so we can combine information that has never been combined before with less cost. In my real estate business, my clients seek to hedge their risks when buying homes and investment property. Adequate data collection allows them to do so.

A few years ago, I was helping an investor understand the real estate landscape of cities in lower Fairfield County. We started with the Greenwich Town Hall. It took less than 5 minutes for the clerk to provide a CD (compact disk) with a line-item list of all the property in the city of Greenwich with columns that indicated the type of property (residential, commercial or industrial) ownership, square feet, zone, etc. This list even included property developments that were proposed but not yet built.

This was fascinating only by comparison to my experience in Stamford. When I tried to get the same type of list from the Stamford Government Center, it was impossible. After weeks of trying, I received an email with the total square feet of property that was industrial, commercial or residential, with no line-item information. A line-item report with property characteristics was unavailable.

Stamford has made some progress with technology since then, but we still have a very long way to go when it comes to leveraging data. Most of the data exists in silos within each department, precluding any meaningful analysis of the state of our city and how the different areas of the city impact each other.

According to the City of Stamford website, the clerk’s office has lots of data:

“The City and Town Clerk serves as Stamford’s Keeper of the Records for all documents that pertain to the City and its residents.  This includes, but is not limited to Land Records (records relating to any kind of land transaction such as deeds) and City Maps, Birth Certificates, Marriage Licenses, Death certificates, Dog licenses, Trade Name Registrations. More About the Office of the Town & City Clerk in the City Charter.”

It is time for that data to be connected across departments and utilized for better decision-making. This will provide powerful information for the residents, investors, non-profits and business owners that work hard to improve and remain sustainable. Now, that local and state funds are becoming more and more limited information, intelligent data-driven decisions are more important than ever.

In a few weeks, Lyda Ruijter is running for Town Clerk. Whether you are an Independent, Democrat or Republican (and I have been registered as all of the above since I vote on the issues), please take a moment to read about her and what she can do to move our city forward in regard to modern data collection. For the sake of a thriving sustainable city, we should understand the importance of what she seeks to accomplish. Click here:

If you have not registered to vote on November 7th 2017, or if you need more information about voting, click here. The offices that are up for election are as follows:

  • Mayor
  • Town Clerk
  • Board of Finance
  • Board of Education
  • Constables
  • Board of Representatives



Fairfield County’s Community Foundation Announces Kristy Jelenik, Development Director

Fairfield County’s Community Foundation Announces Kristy Jelenik, Development Director November 14, 2016, NORWALK, CT – With a passion for promoting philanthropy creatively with the greatest impact for positive change for the Fairfield County community, Fairfield County’s Community Foundation has announced the appointment of Kristy Jelenik as the Development Director. Kristy Jelenik joined Fairfield County’s Community…

via Fairfield County’s Community Foundation Announces Development Director — Fairfield County’s Community Foundation

TechXel Stamford, Enterprise Accelerator, Launches on January 18th

TechXel Stamford Venture Experts Series: Doug Campbell on Team Building –Wednesday January 18th, 6:00 PM-9:00 PM – Workpoint Stamford 290 Harbor Drive

TechXel Stamford, the first enterprise accelerator in Fairfield County, is launching on January 18th to better prepare tech ventures to compete in a shrinking pre-revenue funds pool. Their timing is perfect since start-up creation nationally is currently at a 40 year low.

The January 18th session focuses on team building. Common wisdom is that investors care even more about the people who will execute an idea and the strategies to do so than the idea itself. There are so many great ideas that lack the right people to execute. Their message is that investors invest in people not technology.

Series Description: As the first in its 12 week Wednesday evening series of expert presentations on elements for successful venture development, TechXel Stamford LLC, presents distinguished author, speaker, executive coach and entrepreneur, Doug Campbell, The Success Coach (,  Register here::


Mason Dixon Smokehouse: Drawing a New Line for BBQ – Stamford, CT — OmNomCT

Once upon a time, Mason Dixon was a line that clearly divided the North and South, but now–in Stamford–Mason Dixon is a Smokehouse that clearly divides killer BBQ from, um, well, pretty much all the rest. Yup, as we shared back on October 1, Pitmaster Nestor Laracuente was on a mission to open up a new BBQ joint, a joint that […]

via Mason Dixon Smokehouse: Drawing a New Line for BBQ – Stamford, CT — OmNomCT

Do You Have an Empty Wall?


I recently attended an artist exhibit at Fez, 227 Summer Street in Stamford. The event was part of their Artist in Residence Program, and it featured Kathy Muir, a Scottish photographer and singer. The room was filled with people discussing initiatives to increase venues for art and cultural experience throughout the state. I am interested in these initiatives since they impact quality of life in CT, which impacts demand for real estate and property values. I had a few questions for Kathy, especially since her photography is truly “wall worthy” and would enhance any room in your home. Her photos are mesmerizing representations of nature, people, places and still life. You can see them at


Can you share the story of how you became an artist?

That is a great question. In all honesty, the first time I thought of myself as an artist was only three years ago when I moved to the States. I had been writing for oh, at least 20 years but had never gone out there and performed. The reason for this was quite simple: I wrote songs because I wanted to write, never really thinking about financial reward or otherwise. I often draw a parallel to a painter. I mean, a painter paints because he needs to; it’s in his creative genes, not because he expects to make money.

Anyway, when I moved to the States a friend of mine heard my music and thought I was really good. He called me an artist. I denied it at first, but over time I finally gave in!

With that newfound belief, I have been pretty relentless in expressing my art as extensively as possible.  I think I am in the studio working on my 35th song.

First and foremost, I am a singer-songwriter. However, I enjoy writing not only lyrics but short stories, stories inspired by images, or poetry inspired by images.

With regard to photography, like many folks I have always taken photographs. Again, I only started to pay more attention as to how I was taking my shots in the last four or five years. I think that with any art form, or any skill for that matter, it takes many hours of effort to actually hone. I found myself increasingly drawn to black and white imagery combined with a square format instead of the regular 4 x 6 type format. There is something about the square format that is challenging and more satisfying.


How do you think art improves communities?

I often say that art is not a creative delicacy it’s a creative need. Often people can think that “art” is fancy; that it is only for a select few.  In fact, art is for everyone and it is this alone that helps to create a bridge for communities.  There are so many ways in which art can be embedded in a community. I know of a church group back home in Edinburgh called Messy Church.  On Sunday afternoons moms and dads come to the local community center and watch their children paint, draw, play games, and even join in themselves! There is a group in Boston called ArtLifting that empowers homeless and disabled individuals through the sale of their artwork.  These are just two examples.  Closer to Stamford we can’t ignore the wonderful work done by the Loft Artists Association, a diverse group dedicated to sharing their appreciation of the power of art with the community in which they work.

As you can see, Art is everywhere in the community!


What advice would you give home owners in regard to choosing art for their homes?

I would say it is a personal choice. Also, I think that you should consider the space in which you are showing art. The setting of a painting, drawing our photograph can either dilute or enhance the energy of the art we see before us.

I would say consider the light in the room, any reflections that may hinder the appreciation of the art; and consider how much space should be given around the art. If you are still unsure, go to galleries in and around Fairfield County as they give some great examples of framing and the space between.


Here’s the info about the Artist in Residence Program at the Fez:

The Fez supports artists of many types, both musically and visually. The Artist in Residence Program allows artists to proudly showcase local artists in our restaurant through exhibition in our dining room. The restaurant, moderate in size, offers an intimate viewing. Most important, the space offers excellent exposure with a steady stream of new patrons.  The Fez seats at least 350 people per week.

Current Exhibit: Featuring the Photographic Genius of Kathy Muir
“PLACES IN OUR MINDS”  February 8th – May 14th

You can learn more about Kathy at