Chatham Square Association

Fair Haven is a Diverse Community with a Rich History and a Beautiful Waterfront

Community Planning Retreat Minutes January 23, 2013

Chatham Square Neighborhood Association – Community Planning Retreat

January 26, 2013


The retreat began at 10:30am with coffee and conversation. Patti Scussel welcomed everyone with a reminder of the focus of the day: to set organizational goals, provide information, increase morale and team spirit, and motivate members for the new year. In addition, we would be focusing on evaluating the progress made so far and getting to know each other.


We began with an ice breaker that would help identify the strengths and skills sets everyone brings to the table. Everyone was asked to draw a picture of his/her hand, and for each finger, write something interesting:

  • Thumb: Something you do well (thumbs up)
  • First finger: Something that makes you stand out from the crowd
  • Middle finger: Pet peeve/something that frustrates you
  • Ring finger: Something you’re passionate about/committed to
  • Pinkie finger: A little known fact (strength or skill set)
  • Also, why did you get involved with Chatham Square.

Everyone was assured that their responses would be kept in confidence.


Sally: organized, New Haven native; pet peeve: litter and trash; passion: kids in the community and access to all; little known fact: knows about accessibility; has been with CSNA since the beginning.

Christel: She’s part of the Economic Development group; strengths: writing, public speaking, sense of aesthetic design/landscape; pet peeve: trash; passion: gardening; little known fact: speaks fluent German and some Spanish. Was part of the Quinnipiac River Community group and then heard about this one.

Clymenza: Has only bee n in Connecticut one year. Got involved after she met Lee. She works in publishing and floor and window designs (for Barnes & Noble). She is a visual artist and likes to work in photo collage. Pet peeve: Fair Haven events are overlooked. They are beautiful. We need a support team from the city.

Susan: Her parents are immigrants from Ireland and she has lived in Fair Haven most of her life. She is a former teacher and has a master’s in higher ed. She does after school programs at Farnham Neighborhood House. She designs photos fabric pieces, sews, does photography. She’s going to take classes at Gateway when she’s 62. She’s looking for full-time work. She heard about the CSNA group when she was walking around the neighborhood. She did an afterschool program with Maryann. She has a passion for photography, and a little known fact is she has a master’s in art education.

George: He doesn’t talk a lot. He’s non-judgmental and likes to bake. He’s a good mediator. He spent five years working with Caesar Chavez. Little known fact: He was a priest. He was concerned about the farm workers and got involved in community organizing. He moved to the neighborhood to live with his daughter’s family and found out about CSNA. Pet peeve: traffic. It’s more than ATVs, it’s speeding in general. He has a passion for social justice and would like a way for the community to organize with the police supervisor.

Terry: His wife grew up in New Haven, and he loves New Haven. He is cofounder of Green New Haven. He is part of the Atwater Resources Collaborative and is buying the house across the street. For him, community means more than neighborhood. He is good at communicating with people, a good teacher, a scientist, and good at analysis. Unique: He is knowledgeable about Tibetan haling medicine/herbal medicine. Pet peeve: crazy drivers (ATVS and dirt bikes to). Passion: Transition to a localized economy. Little known fact: he’s good at troubleshooting computers.

Melissa: Lee invited her to be a part of CSNA. She drove to Fair Haven to find a home for her mom and ended up staying herself. She works with Maryann in the garden and is an advocate for sustainable food. She was a producer for radio and television and has a background in politics (she worked for Dukakis). Strengths: Passionate about things, good communicator. She likes to talk, speak, communicate. She hopes she hast the time and space to continue the work she’s started. She may open up her garden to share. (She can have 4 – 10 shares.) Her dream is to have her garage become a workshop space for the community… have programs for kids and toddlers. She has a tree garden created by NASA. Pet peeve: apathy/inertia. People need to step forward. Little known fact:  she loves to sing and bluegrass music. She also has worked in an equine therapy program.

Lee: He and Sarah bought their house on Clinton Avenue and he was hired to work in the neighborhood. He fell in love with it. He is good at making connections. He is very active in social media (something unique for someone his age). Pet peeve: when people focus on things they have no control over. Passion: Building a sense of community. Little known fact: He’s a tinkerer/fixer.

Maryann: She found out about the CSNA through the Community Foundation. She is well-organized. Something unique: her relationship with the kids in the neighborhood. She can get them to take action. Pet peeve: noise, racing. She has a fear that little kids will get hurt. Passion: To preserve the dignity of the neighborhood. It was always an immigrant neighborhood. Little known fact: She’s a great gardener and loves to compost.

Nora: Works for NeighborWorks/New Horizons. She wants to form a good relationship with the group. She is a good grant writer. She’s interested in afterschool programs, issues affecting women and girls, and building homes. She’s is from Saudi Arabia and has been in CT for five years. She has been in Fair Haven for two years. Pet peeve: Trash. Passion: Helping others. She was an AmeriCorps/Vista volunteer. She is fluent in Arabic and Portuguese.

Justin: He got involved when he started representing the area as Alderman. Pet peeve: Public works issues such as trash; people who say no to community things without thinking of other options. He is a good listener (which he considers a strength and a weakness).He speaks Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese). Passion: To leave the world a better place. He likes to garden and care for his chickens. He wants to live off of his own land. Little known fact: He plays banjo.

Beth: She was encouraged to get involved. The CSNA was a draw for them to move onto the street. She is a classical pianist. She is good at building relationships. She knows all the prepositions in alphabetical order. Pet peeve: littering, people who don’t pick up after their pets. Passion: She wants to raise her family in a nice neighborhood. Little known fact: She has a master’s in environmental science. Also, she and her husband own a home on Pierpont that he remodeled.

Joy: She heard about CSNA from Lee, David Hunter, and folks at Mary Wade. She is a good communicator and loves organizing people to be able to use the talents and skills everyone has. Pet peeve: Races, and the perception of the community. She has a passion for helping kids. Little known fact: She knows immigration rules/laws and diversity issues.

Patti: Good writer, networker. Pet peeve: Traffic. Passion: Education. Little known fact: Softball coach and teacher (both CCD and Albertus).


Joys & Successes… Vision for the Future

The group then discussed the joys and success of 2012, and what we should focus on in 2013. We created subcategories and asked everyone to make comments/suggestions under each.

  • Retreats/monthly meetings
    • Time keeping could be better so we actually can get through the agenda. Rotating chairs for the monthly meetings. The committee meetings are run very well. Should always have a standard agenda and have timekeeper and facilitator.
    • Chatham Square meetings.
    • Good networking. (Underemployed and wants to work in community… use to build her network.)
    • Lynn’s cupcakes at her last meeting.
    • 5th Annual Retreat great… meeting and retreat could use more participation.
    • Potluck suppers
      • Making and keeping connections.
      • Meeting new people.
      • Spending time together with no agenda.
      • Number of people and consistency.
      • A lot of new people came to potluck suppers. Need to have more of these. (Also dining out night.)
      • It was good to give businesses in the community more business.
      • Retreat and pot luck suppers have been well attended and very enjoyable as fellow residents of our community.
      • Community events
        • Great energy. We need more people to help organize.
        • Mary Wade Family Fun Concert was fun. Steel drum band was great. It was open to neighborhood – but there was a cost. It was expensive to do.
        • Chatham Square Festival: Having neighborhood groups perform; people lining up and excited for the horse and carriage ride; makes money with sponsorships (good fundraiser); great that it’s supported by local businesses. Good to have community agencies involved.
        • Arte reception for scholarships: Need to build strategic relationship with them. They could list their events on our calendar. They should also consider being a part of the Strong Street project.
        • Mary Wade Parade: Everyone loves it. Neighborhood schools are involved. It’s a bridge builder. 700 people attended last year. They want to do more fun things for kids.
        • Easter Egg Roll: Good, but too few volunteers. Need to do it smarter because fewer volunteers.
        • Riverfest: Economic development committee is organizing. Last year, they brought in canoes from the Quinnipiac River Association. They’d like to network with other groups/organizations. Marina/café wants to be involved and offer affordable/basic food. Thinking of doing a beer tasting.
        • Halloween party: They did the minimal amount last year because they had fewer volunteers. They need more volunteers if they want to do more. They had pumpkins, apples, and a parade.
        • Art in the Park: Fundraiser. They want to get Creative Arts Workshop and Arte involved. A neighbor got all the supplies. They need at least three or four volunteers.
        • Cleanup committees: Definitely need this next year.
        • Fair Haven Family Stroll: Third year. Held in May. Same weekend as Riverfest.
        • Lee’s tour of the neighborhood: personal, highlighted many things I didn’t know about the neighborhood.
        • Economic development
          • Strong School development/performance art center.
          • Dining out nights! Dinner out supports businesses in the community. Great need for one or two, rest in the neighborhood..
          • I would like to see us draw more money into the neighborhoods. Gentrification is good! Find balance.
          • Space for repairing donated/trashed furniture, appliances, tools, etc.
          • Farmer’s Market is great by the river. Families and children benefit from having it in the neighborhood. Want to help get more people to go. The location is hard for the elderly. There is the option to order in bulk for 10 or more people at a business and the Farmer’s Market will deliver. Can we grow the Farmer’s Market?
          • Beautify the site near AMR and Middletown Avenue (Clinton Avenue and Middletown Avenue), and Middletown Avenue and Front Street.
          • Community involvement
            • Love that we have folks willing to work with kids. I want to work with Maryann to help diversify the volunteer base. (Lee)
            • Mom’s program (Kia Levey), working with homework program and new moms. (Yale program works with mom’s dealing with depression. Five moms now come to the homework program with kids. How can we work with the moms during this time?
            • Community Foundation grant written by Melanie for music and theatre presentation.
            • Water Park at Dover Beach a success with work done by children at Q Terrace. Justin Elicker pushed the City and Housing Authority and it was built by the kids.
            • Local garden. $5,000 grant from Merck. Common Ground kids help Q Terrace kids.
            • Q Terrace homework club. What a job to stop by and see the enthusiasm of the kids working with Maryann. Expanded this year with four-year olds and moms.
            • In the past, the meetings were more culturally diverse. Would like to see more diversity. Need to get more volunteers.
            • Q Terrace trip to Mystic with the Housing Authority paying for bus. $600 + tickets. (Part of a grant.)
            • Need to work on increasing the number of helpers.

The retreat wrapped up with everyone volunteering to spearhead particular events/tasks in 2013. 

Minutes prepared by Patricia Scussel.

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