One great thing about Westporters is their inherent activist nature. They never fail to rally round a cause. Since revolutionary times Westport has been a hotbed of rebellion. Westport people are passionate about making the world a better place.
One great cause was to stop the building of a nuclear reactor on Cockenoe Island in 1969. The town and the Westport News made sure that was not going to happen. Save Cockenoe Island Now was one of those organizations that Westporters could get behind. It was followed by Save Gorham Island Now and eventually Save Westport Now.
In the mid-70′s Save The Children moved their non-profit headquarters to a prominent location in Westport, on the banks of the Saugatuck River. We could see the red brick building and feel good about the work they were doing.
Another politically progressive act was to ban the use of plastic bags at retail stores in the mid-2000′s. At the time I’m not sure I understood because I thought more trees would have to be cut down to accommodate the exclusive use of paper bags. But I came around to understand how the dolphins get caught up in the discarded plastic. Other cities across the nation followed suit, in banning the use of plastic bags for retail purchases, and Westport had made a powerful statement.
Then, of course, we have the protestors against the war at the Post Road bridge downtown. Again, after the Twin Towers were destroyed, I wasn’t so sure that some sort of a military solution should be out of the question. But seeing the smiling faces of the protestors soliciting honks put a smile on my face also. I am very happy with the rights of people to be able to speak their mind and get their message out.
Growing up in Westport we are taught to question things. The status quo might have to be changed. Paul Newman is a great example of leadership. The money he raised for his Hole in the Wall Gang camp for needy kids is counted in the hundreds of millions.
And now we have the RTM taking up gun control. Though it is a national or state issue Westport’s voice will be heard.
It is so great, and I am proud, to be part of a community of people that have made it a tradition to be proactive in making the world a better place. One doesn’t have to agree with every cause but just to be part of a culture that is trying to make a difference can warm the heart on a cold January day.