Back in May 2019, I started at CT Examiner as a self-described “zoning geek,” an amusing label but one that I take seriously — it usually gets a laugh at cocktail parties. As a reporter, I focus on local land use and zoning decisions, as well as statewide legislation and how it filters down to Connecticut’s towns and cities. Every year zoning issues are on the ballot locally and statewide, with “local control” versus statewide or “top-down” proposals addressing issues that will affect citizens’ lives, homes and businesses.
With the upcoming session, I’ll be covering proposed statewide legislation that could address familiar issues like affordable housing requirements, density around transit hubs, and the ability of the state to propose and enforce new zoning laws. In 2021, most of the proposed legislation that would have given the state more “top down” control was defeated, but I expect the issues to resurface.
One of the things I love about zoning is that inside every issue, problem and decision are stories of people’s lives. A friend said that behind every data point exists a person with history and a future — these are the “hidden voices” in our communities whom I want to find in 2023. I’m especially intrigued by small-business owners — coders, craftspeople, artisans, artists and entrepreneurs— who are keeping old traditions alive and inventing new ones.
I’m also a geek — a wannabe geek? — about contemporary art, and this year I’ll be looking around the region for engaging exhibitions. In 2022, I covered a few not-to-be-missed shows: Milton Avery at the Wadsworth Atheneum, Norman Ives at the Lyman Allyn, the 80th Whitney Biennial, a feminist artists’ show at the Aldrich, and spiritualists at the Hill-Stead Museum, among others. Right now I’m intrigued by two upcoming shows: Latin American artist, Getrud Goldschmidt, known as Gego, at the Guggenheim Museum, and sculptor Matt Paweski at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. I’ll keep you posted.
At CT Examiner, I’m thrilled that our enterprise continues to expand in size and geographical reach. This year Angela Carella, veteran reporter in Stamford, and Sophia Muce, newly-graduated journalism major, joined our staff and are doing great work expanding our coverage into Fairfield County. Emilia Otte won the NENPA Rookie of the Year award (and five other awards) and continues her exceptional coverage of educational and health issues. Brendan Crowley won five NENPA awards and continues to provide the strongest reporting on energy in the state. Steve Jensen, veteran reporter and former state communications director, wrote a series of hard-hitting, investigative pieces about policing and state politics.
Time flies. We began almost four years ago when Gregory Stroud, founder and editor-in-chief, started CT Examiner and invited me and reporter Julia Werth — who won two NENPA awards last year and continues to freelance with us — to join as the first two staff members. As we grow, I’ll be editing more pieces alongside my writing — an exciting direction and opportunity for me as a journalist. I want to thank everyone connected with CT Examiner and all of the people who told me their stories this year. Wishing everyone a happy and safe New Year!