Happenings: Mental health help; Mothers of Preschoolers meet, more

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NAMI logo

Contributed / NAMI

Mental health help

Free online courses aimed at people with friends or relatives who have mental illnesses are being offered by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

NAMI Southwest CT is offering two, free online educational courses: NAMI Family-to-Family, an eight-session program for family, significant others and friends of people with mental health conditions and NAMI Basics, a six-session program for parents and caregivers of youths (ages 22 and younger) who are experiencing mental health symptoms or have already been diagnosed.

NAMI Family-to-Family begins Monday, Sept. 14. NAMI Basics begins Thursday, Oct. 8. Both courses are developed by NAMI, are free, and open to the public. They will be facilitated by NAMI-trained volunteers experienced in caring for loved ones with serious mental illness.

Course participants will receive the most up-to-date information on mental health conditions, learn about proven treatments, develop problem-solving skills and communication techniques and explore local community services and supports.

To register or learn more, visit www.namisouthwestct.org/education.

Preschoolers’ mothers

The Ridgefield Mothers of Preschoolers, MOPS, will be holding their first meeting of the school year on Wednesday, Sept. 9, from 7-8:30 p.m. at Ridgefield Baptist Church, 325 Danbury Road. MOPS is a group for mothers of young children to find friendship, support, and encouragement. Moms of infants through kindergartners are welcome.

This fall, the group will gather for a mixture of virtual and in-person meetings on Wednesday evenings one or two times per month. State guidelines for social distancing and mask wearing will be followed. In addition to monthly meetings, MOPS also hosts playdates and events just for moms.

More information may be found at facebook.com/MOPSRidgefield or at Ridgefieldbaptist.org. For planning purposes, those planning to attend should contact Tina at MOPSRidgefield@gmail.com.

Music outside, free

Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center (KTM&HC) and Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra (RSO) are presenting free concerts outdoors on the grounds of the Keeler Tavern.

The concerts will be held primarily on Sunday afternoons on the patio of the museum’s Visitor Center on Main Street. Performers include musicians from the RSO, along with other local artists and bands.

The lineup of scheduled performers includes:

Sept. 6 — 3-4:30 p.m., Eric Parker Christensen.

Sept. 13 — 3-4 p.m., The Cara Quartet — RSO musician & friends.

Sept. 20 — 2-4 p.m. Angry O’Haras.

For more information, visit keelertavernmuseum.org/.

Plants, pollinators

What are truly “local” native plants, and what effect do they have on local pollinators? The Ridgefield Library will present a live webinar Tuesday, Sept. 8, at 6 p.m., with ethnobotanist Sefra Alexandra, known as The Seed Huntress, who is executive director of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Connecticut (CT NOFA), joined by Dina Brewster of The Hickories farm off Lounsbury Road. They’ll discuss their pollinator health initiative: The Ecotype Project.

This effort is a plant and place-based approach to land stewardship and agrarian resilience in the northeast. Their objective has been to amplify the availability of local organic pollinator plant seed by bringing together strategic partners from botanists and farmers to nurseryman and conservationists in order to fortify this new industry and the region’s ecological corridors. This program is co-sponsored by the library and the Pollinator Pathway.

To register to receive the Zoom link, visit ridgefieldllibrary.org or call 203-438-2282.

Art amid COVID-19

Three exhibiting artists at The Aldrich, Oasa DuVerney, Zoë Sheehan Saldaña, and Rudy Shepherd will lead a virtual conversation about the challenges confronting higher education this year by sharing their approaches to teaching and making art Wednesday, Sept. 9, from 6:30-8 p.m.

The cost is $10; but free for museum members.

Space is limited. To register visit shop.aldrichart.org.

Debating computer

How persuasive can a computer make its arguments?

Dr. Noam Slonim will talk about Project Debater and artificial intelligence in a live webinar presented by the Ridgefield Library on Thursday, Sept. 10, at 10 a.m. Project Debater is the first AI system that can meaningfully debate a human opponent. The system is designed to build coherent, convincing speeches on its own, as well as provide rebuttals to the opponent's main arguments.

Slonim is an engineer at IBM Research AI. He received his doctorate from the Interdisciplinary Center for neural computation at the Hebrew University and held a post-doctoral position at the Genomics Institute at Princeton University. He joined the IBM Haifa Research Lab in 2007, and in 2011 he proposed to develop Project Debater. He has been serving as the principal investigator of the project since then.

To register to receive the Zoom link, visit ridgefieldllibrary.org or call 203-438-2282.

Chamber music

Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra and The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum will present a two-part concert series featuring Lotus Chamber Music Collective Friday, Sept. 11 and 25, at 6:30 p.m., in The Aldrich Sculpture Garden, 258 Main Street. Rain dates are Sept. 12 and 26.

Space is limited. To register or for more information, visit https://shop.aldrichart.org/ .

Yoga, fitness

Yoga and stretch classes start soon through Ridgefield Continuing Education. These Zoom classes are designed to help participants develop core strength and flexibility; build bone density and strength; improve posture and sense of balance, and meet fitness goals.

Yoga with Emma Tenley starts Thursday, Sept. 17 (7:15 to 8:15 p.m.; 8 sessions; $98) and Monday, Oct. 5 (7:15 to 8:15 p.m.; 7 sessions, no class Oct. 12; $86).

Morning Yoga Kickstart with Miriam Zernis starts Monday, Oct. 26 (9:30 to 10:30 a.m.) and Yoga for Body, Mind, and Spirit starts Wednesday, Oct. 28 (8:40 to 9:50 a.m.). Tuesdays from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. is also available.

Stretch with Mary Sireci starts Monday, Oct. 19 (5 to 5:55 p.m.).

Tai Chi, Fit and Tight, Barre-Lates, Strength and Cardio/Core Workouts, Dance Toning also start soon. Classes meet 5 to 8 sessions and cost $73. Discounts are available for Ridgefield seniors (age 62 and older) or disabled residents. Advance registration is required. Bring a mat, blanket, and water bottle. More information is available at https://ridgefieldschools.org or from Peggy Bruno at 203-431-2812.

Black suffragettes

Gloria J. Browne-Marshall will present an online lecture called African American Suffragettes and Black Women Voters Thursday, Sept. 17, at 7 p.m. During this lecture Professor Browne-Marshall reveals the stories of Black women who have battled against laws and a society prejudiced against their race and gender, overcoming long odds as they rose from Black suffragettes to present-day positions of political power.

Browne-Marshall is a professor of constitutional law at John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY). She teaches classes in constitutional law, race and the law, evidence, and gender, and justice. She taught in the Africana Studies Program at Vassar College prior to John Jay. She is a civil rights attorney who has litigated cases for Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama, Community Legal Services in Philadelphia, and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Inc. She addresses audiences nationally and internationally. Gloria J. Browne-Marshall has spoken on issues of law and justice in Ghana, Rwanda, England, Wales, Canada, South Africa, and before the United Nations in Geneva.

This program is supported by CT Humanities and is part of the Votes for Women: Ridgefield Celebrates the 19th Amendment series, which is co-sponsored by the Ridgefield Library, Ridgefield Historical Society, Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center, The League of Women Voters of Ridgefield, and the Drum Hill Chapter of the DAR.

To register, visit ridgefieldlibrary.org or call 203-43-2282 to receive the Zoom link.

Genealogy workshops

Ridgefield Continuing Education is offering a French and French Canadian Genealogy workshop, taught by Francoise Lampe Thursday, Sept. 24, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. via Zoom. Cost is $31.

German Genealogy will be held Thursday, Oct. 1, from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Cost is $31. Genealogy for Beginners will run Tuesdays, Oct. 20 and 27, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Cost is $49.

A discount for Ridgefield seniors is available. Advance registration is required. For information, visit https://ridgefieldschools.org or call Peggy Bruno at 203-431-2812.

Elder law seminar

Ridgefield Continuing Education is offering a Zoom seminar, Asset Protection Trusts and Revocable Living Trusts Wednesday, Sept. 30, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Cost is $29.

Elder Law Attorneys Thomas E. Murphy and Michele F. Murphy will explain using Asset Protection Trusts to protect family resources and qualify for Medicaid benefits (for home care or nursing home) in less than five years, and for VA Aid & Attendance pension (up to $2,266/month). Also learn how to use Revocable Living Trusts to avoid probate, minimize estate taxes, preserve IRA funds, provide for disabled family members, avoid conservatorship, and protect estate assets from children’s creditors.

Advance registration is required. Senior and caregiver/relative discounts are available. Visit https://ridgefieldschools.org or call Peggy Bruno at 203-431-2812.

History volunteers

The Ridgefield Historical Society is looking for volunteers with experience in programming and event planning/fundraising.

Although its Scott House headquarters has been closed since March, the Ridgefield Historical Society’s work has continued, planning events and programs for the future.

People who are interested in a volunteer leadership position and have experience in event planning/fundraising or programming are invited to contact the society at info@ridgefieldhistoricalsociety.org.

Language classes

French, Spanish, Italian, and German language classes start in September through Ridgefield Continuing Education. Beginning and intermediate to advanced classes are available both day and evening.

Instructors are native speakers or have lived in the country.

Tuition is $119 to $159 with an additional text fee. Ridgefield seniors age 62 and over receive a discount. Advance registration is required. Course and teacher descriptions and dates are at ridgefieldschools.org or call Peggy Bruno at 203-431-2812.