Grants Coffee Talk: COVID-19 Concerns in Grantmaking

On March 18th, grantmakers from across the globe came together to discuss how they are reacting to the COVID-19 crisis.  This open conversation revolved around two prompted questions.

                What changes are you currently rolling out?
                What changes are you considering?

These questions resulted in the overarching topic of “What can we as grantmakers do to make the lives of our grantees easier?” There were many different ideas and some grantmakers shared steps they are taking to alleviate the strain their grantees are facing. 

Some foundations and organizations have had the capacity to create emergency funding, see a comprehensive list at https://covid19freelanceartistresource.wordpress.com/#FUNDING

Besides the creation of new funds grantmakers are looking at their current grant portfolios and reevaluating the processes in place.  Changes to requirements, deadlines and applications are being made to meet the needs of grantees and granting organizations.     

While all of these items address the short term needs of grantees, grantmakers are also thinking about the long-term and what their organizations grants are going to look like over the course of the next year. Will they increase funding, will they have to decrease funding, will there be more operating support, more program support?

These are all issues that the Arts Council is currently addressing. We have already extended the Summer Hartford Events Grant deadline to April 17th, and are having one on one discussions with our grantees on how we can support them during this time of uncertainty.


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Pots & Pickles: Ying Ye at the Intersection of Food, Identity, and Culture

There is no doubt that collaboration and creativity are intertwined.

For her most recent group show Relics | Remnants at the Farmington Valley Arts Center (FVAC) with fellow Artist-in-Residence Trae Brooks, multidisciplinary artist Ying Ye not only found inspiration in Brooks’ work (and vice versa), but she relied on the help of her family, friends, and professors.

Speak from the Ground, Video Installation, Clay on Canvas and Mixed
Mediums, Light filter, Media Player, Terracotta, and Electoral Cores.

Ye commented about how it’s rare to see a six-month program like their Artist-in-Residence program. The mere space/facility sharing the artists experience gives them the additional advantage of skill-sharing and mentorship across disciplines and career-levels. As an alumna of Hartford Art School with degrees in both Painting and Sculpture, she has found a considerable amount of peace in another discipline: Ceramics.

Spouts, Widow Installation, Brown Clay, Red Pepper, Curry, Black Pepper,
Rice flour, Isomalt, Wood power, and Porcelain.

The availability of facilities at FVAC allowed Ye to use her imagination and truly create multidisciplinary yet installations. She incorporated her art school foundation with new Ceramic work in her installations, Eating Pickles Together in the Reproduction of the Home and Speak from the Ground as part of Relics | Remnants. By mixing clay with modeling paste to create a canvas “lip,” Ye mimicked the crack in a clay pot. She also included micro-installations in the gallery windows using tiny pots she made in the FVAC ceramic studio. 

Ye’s statement about the Chinese government-mandated demolition relocation is illustrated in Speak from the Ground. The vessel, housing a small screen video of Ye forming bubbles under water (mimicking the fermentation process) is meant to preserve tradition, culture, and identity within the walls that are cracking and falling down around it.

Ying Ye, interior of Speak from the Ground

Apart from the political, Ye’s work is also very much about language, communication, and embodiment. Ye is inspired by her own experience as a Chinese immigrant, working in her family’s restaurant. For this reason, she is very attuned to taste and smell, which is why her other installation in this show centered around the act of sharing a meal.

While her father provided a few dishes, it was mostly Ye who prepared different fermented dishes for reception guests to enjoy as part of the installation. The relationship between food and identity is prevalent throughout Ye’s life, and it was brought to the forefront in this show.

Ye has actively continued to pursue this relationship in her work, picking up catering shifts for inspiration and serving as a Sculpture technician at her alma mater. Ye has plans to apply for other residencies, internships, and eventually grad school.

(photography: Chris Herrera)

Eating Pickles Together in the Reproduction of the Home, Home Installation,
Fermentation Pot Collaboration with Erika Novak and Drew Darley, Table, Mats, Broad-
leaved Epiphyllum, Dry Flowers, Lamp, Curtain, Painting Based on the Ye Family
Photograph, Pickles, Bowls from Ye’s home, Chopsticks, Tea Sets, Serving Wares.
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The City That Built All Others: How the New Britain Industrial Museum is Putting the Hardware City on the Map

The New Britain Industrial Museum turns 25 this year. Our mission has not changed much since 1995; we collect, preserve, and share the stories of inventors, innovators, and objects — all made in New Britain.

The New Britain Industrial Museum’s collection primarily comes from folks who used to work in one of the city’s factories. Their donations come with their stories: shelves of coffee percolators from a former supervisor at Landers, Frary & Clark (better known by their brand name, “Universal”). Overflowing containers with strapping tools made by Stanley Works, brought in by a former Stanley employee. Fafnir ball bearings of all sizes from Museum founder and former Fafnir VP of Engineering, Horace B. Van Dorn III. Their memories inform the stories we tell visitors from around the world, and make objects relatable.

Why New Britain? It was not fated to be a manufacturers’ mecca. No rivers? No water power. No water power in the early 19th century? No industry. Innovation: new ideas, methods, and devices. Frederick T. Stanley purchased the village’s first steam engine, and the boom began. More people could work on more machines to produce more hardware.

One intriguing thing I have learned since I started talking to machinists (who come to tour the Museum and see New Britain’s wares) almost daily: machinists are critical observers and streamline their process at every possible moment. Their creative problem-solving leads them to innovate. This is important to conceptualize: every worker holds the potential to make significant change. With a workforce as robust as New Britain’s, you can imagine the impact every person in the city could have.

This has been our goal for all of the New Britain Industrial Museum’s 25 years: you see the impact generations of innovators had in shaping New Britain’s legacy as you walk through the exhibits. That makes it easier to put yourself in the inventor’s seat. What do you want to change, and how would you do it?

If they could make waves in 19th century New Britain, I bet you can today.

Sophie Huget
Director, New Britain Industrial Museum

Visit the New Britain Industrial Museum!
59 West Main Street, New Britain, CT 06051
Admission: $5/adults, $3/students & seniors
Open Wednesday 12-4, Thursday & Friday 2-4, and Saturday 10-4.
Free hours every Saturday morning from 10-12.

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Spring Hartford Events Grant Awards Announced

We’re proud to award funding to 10 Greater Hartford organizations through the spring Hartford Events Grant program, which is made possible by support from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. Recognizing the value that the arts bring communities, this program funds events that honor culture and traditions, build community, energize neighborhoods and support local businesses.

“We are constantly impressed by the quality and quantity of what the Arts and Culture community contributes to our region,” said Greater Hartford Arts Council CEO, Cathy Malloy. “The Hartford Events Grants give us the opportunity to invest in organizations that truly make a difference by bringing people together through arts and culture, and making a significant impact on the quality of life in our city.”

A panel of community volunteers evaluated proposals based on the strength of the artistic focus of the event as well as its alignment with the Arts Council’s community impact goals. In total, 10 grants were given to local organizations, including:

Women Composers Festival of Hartford
Project: 2020 Women Composers Festival of Hartford, March 19-21, 2020
The Women Composers Festival of Hartford celebrates women composers through scholarly presentations, workshops, and performances. The 2020 festival will feature a world premiere composition by Melika Fitzhugh performed by Craft Ensemble.

Trinity College
Project: Trinity College International Hip Hop Festival, March 27-29, 2020
The annual festival, in its 15th year, is a student-run event that seeks to celebrate hip hop music and culture from around the world.

Hartford’s Proud Drill Drum and Dance Corp.
Project: 5th Annual East Coast Explosion, June 2020
The East Coast Explosion is the Drum and Dance Corp.’s annual Stomp the Violence drill, drum and dance competition. The event is designed to celebrate nonviolence, connect with civic leaders and the local police department.

To see a full list of recipients, please visit LetsGoArts.org/Recipients.

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Welcome to 2020!

Carribbean American Dance Co. for Hartford Live!

2019 was an incredible year.


free Summer Times newspapers passed out at Summer in the City events


free music lessons provided by local musicians on Make Music Day


organizations supported through funding and professional resources


grants given to support arts organizations, events and projects in our region


pop-up performances through Hartford Live! in August and September

As we look forward to a new year, here’s a look back at a few of the things we loved about last year and what we’re excited about in 2020. Be sure to follow us on social media for even more news and updates!

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | LinkedIn

#letsgoarts | #makeartpossible

Make Music Hartford: Hartford knows how to make noise. We produced over 100 musical events in one day!
Summer in the City: In partnership with the City of Hartford, sponsored by United Technologies and Stanley Black & Decker, we welcomed thousands of residents and visitors to our city almost every weekend this summer.
Neighborhood Studios: We’re proud to offer paid apprenticeships to 100 high school youth each summer, giving young creatives a jumpstart on their artistic careers.
We produced dozens of pop-up performances throughout the summer, connecting residents and tourists alike to the arts.
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The Art Social: #MakeArtPossible

Was there ever a more fun celebration of the arts than The Art Social?

On Thursday, October 17th, 2019, supporters, arts leaders, artists, and community members alike gathered in the comfortably contemporary Atrium at The Goodwin in Downtown Hartford for a one-of-a-kind event. Formally known as Big Red for the Arts, the Arts Council aimed to put a new twist (with a new season) on our annual fundraiser. 

In addition to a live auction (hosted by WFSB’s Scot Haney) of unique arts experiences, we invited some of our program partners and grantees to exhibit and perform their work.

New Charter grantee Queen Ann Nzinga Center started off the evening’s programming with a medley of hits that had the crowd going wild.

Arts & Wellness grantee Southington Community Cultural Arts exhibited beautiful scarves, drawings, and paintings done by students in their All Access Art program, which connects adults with intellectual disabilities with their community by providing creative skills training in order to produce meaningful income and enhance their quality of life through the creative process.

Dan Liparini, who has performed for Arts Council programs on several occasions, brought two fellow Hartt School graduates to form a jazz trio to provide a soundtrack for the entire night, and audiences were wowed by a long-form collaboration with The Dance Collective.

Art on the Streets participant Bri Dill was painting the entire night! In addition to abstraction, Bri works with alcohol ink to create an interactive experience using color theory and emotion.

(L to R: Steven Greenspan, Jeff Verney)

We also celebrated two honorees of our inaugural Arts Inspiration Award: Jeff Verney, Chairman of the Board of Hartford Symphony Orchestra, and United Technologies for their dedication to transforming their community through art!

Another new Charter grantee, Spectrum in Motion Dance Theater Ensemble, closed out the night with a special performance.

In addition to supporting the arts in a wonderful space, guests were treated to delicious hors d’oeuvres, small plates, desserts, craft cocktails, and a donut bar by Chef Tyler Anderson and the team at Porron & Piña.

The Art Social was made possible by a group of generous donors, to whom we owe endless thanks: Voya Financial, Stanley Black & Decker, Cantor Colburn, LLP., Hartford Hospital, Hinckley Allen, Lincoln Financial Group, Robinson + Cole, Grunberg Management, The Goodwin Hotel, Porron & Piña, United Bank Foundation, and Connecticut Innovations


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3 Reasons Not to Miss Out on The Art Social

With The Art Social happening in under two months, we wanted to take a moment to highlight just a few of the reasons you should join us for the event (in addition to showing your support for arts and culture in greater Hartford, of course!)!

1. We’re in the center of it all in downtown Hartford at The Goodwin Atrium.

The Goodwin Hotel

One of Hartford’s architectural highlights now turned into a destination for locals and tourists alike, The Goodwin will be this year’s home to the big event. Guests can also look forward to a one of a kind culinary experience curated by award-winning Chef Tyler Anderson and his team.

2. Celebration of Innovation, Collaboration, and Inspiration.

What exactly are you supporting when you purchase a ticket for The Art Social? Here are just three examples of the arts programming your dollars support:

SoCCA artists at work
  • Arts + Innovation: You may have seen Bri Dill, founder of Art.Lab on Pratt St. work her magic with alcohol ink over the summer for Art on the Streets. On October 17th, you’ll have a chance to take it home!
  • Arts + Collaboration: Two of our city’s premiere performing arts entities will partner up for a special performance at The Art Social: jazz guitarist extraordinaire Dan Liparini (along with fellow Hartt School of Music and Brookyln-based alumni Alex Tremblay and Eric Hallenbeck); and The Dance Collective, a professional contemporary dance company that centers work by female choreographers.
  • Arts + Inspiration: Southington Community Cultural Arts (SoCCA) All Access Art program provides adults with intellectual disabilities connection to their community, creative skills training, and meaningful income. Works from SoCCA will be on display and the program teaching artist will be in attendance.

3. Join us in honoring local heroes!

Jeff Verney
2019 Arts Inspiration Award Honoree, Jeff Verney

We’re excited to announce the inaugural Arts Inspiration Award, honoring an individual (Jeff Verney) and an organization (United Technologies Corp.) that share our commitment to using the power of the arts to create a stronger community. The recipients demonstrate extraordinary leadership and dedication to supporting the arts and seek to inspire others to join their efforts.

Our biggest fundraiser is back with a new twist, and we’d love for you to see what we’ve done with the place. RSVP by October 3 at LetsGoArts.org/Social


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Artist Laura Kinlock Finds Instruction and Peace at Arts Center East

If you walk into the art gallery at Apella Capital, a financial planning firm in Glastonbury, you can see an exhibit that features the works of five local artists. Amid the variety of paintings and pastels, Laura Kinlock’s landscapes and panoramas stand out. Ms. Kinlock, a retiree and resident of Stafford Springs, Conn., is a trained artist whose history with visual arts dates back to her college years. However, she did not have the experience or confidence to exhibit her works in shows or enter competitions until recently, when she began training at Arts Center East

For Ms. Kinlock, retirement was “life changing.” The Syracuse native had lived her whole life in upstate New York until her move three years ago to Stafford Springs. “It was the sort of event where I stopped working on a Friday and moved that Monday,” she said. The move to Connecticut went smoothly, but once she got to her new home she initially struggled without work to occupy her time. “I floundered,” she said. “I always judged my self worth based on work, and suddenly I didn’t have that anymore.”

Ms. Kinlock, 63, attended the State University of New York at Oswego, where she double majored in photography and art history, but after graduating she pursued a career in counseling, including some work for social services. After moving to Connecticut, she knew she needed a way to fill some of her newfound free time. She considered a number of volunteer positions, but did not find a good fit for her schedule or interests. While driving on Route 30 one day, an elephant sculpture on a lawn outside a white building caught her eye, and she saw a sign for Arts Center East, an organization located in Vernon, Conn. that provides a space for the enhancement of visual arts in the community. The center offers classes, sells works by local artists in their artisan shop, provides gallery and exhibition space, and hosts events and performances featuring music and theater. “I wasn’t familiar with the concept of a community arts center,” said Ms. Kinlock, “but I filed that idea away in the back of my mind.”

Canyon Musings, Grand Canyon National Park, 16×20

She did some research on the Internet before deciding to enroll in a pastel class with instructor Jane Penfield. It was not Ms. Kinlock’s first foray into pastels – she had tried learning the medium before and struggled without a teacher – but it proved her most successful. “Pastel is my first love,” she said, “and I really needed several years of solid instruction to get the hang of it.”

Ms. Kinlock has now been involved with Arts Center East for three years. After the first year of pastel classes she decided to try a second medium and enrolled in a watercolor class with instructor Elizabeth Parys. The following year she stopped taking pastel classes in order to be able to enter competitions. “At that point I felt good enough to go out on my own and enter juried shows,” she said, “which you really can’t do when you have a teacher critiquing your work.” She is still enrolled in the watercolor class, and also volunteers at the center. 

Over the past few years, art has become more than a hobby for Ms. Kinlock. It serves as an outlet, a form of reflection, a means of relaxation, and a fulfillment of a childhood dream. “I was greatly discouraged as a young person for pursuing a career in art. I really think I could’ve,” she said. “I have some sadness that I didn’t listen to myself and I listened to the naysayers – where would I be as an artist if I had forty years of experience behind me? But that’s why it’s so great to get another chance. It’s an affirming experience.”

While she did not pursue an art career out of college, Ms. Kinlock attributes her compositional ability to her studies at SUNY Oswego. “Photography taught me to compose,” she said. “And now I work from my own photos.” Although she is essentially recreating her own work through different mediums and forms, there have been some challenges that Ms. Kinlock has faced on her artistic journey at Arts Center East. During one instance, she struggled to paint a particularly complicated photograph that she had chosen to work from for its sentimental value. “I was less than a year into my studies at Arts Center East and I chose a photo, which was my husband and daughter at the Grand Canyon, with lots of different colors and depths to consider,” Ms. Kinlock said. “My teacher Jane said, ‘Well that’s very ambitious,’ which you can read into a lot of different ways,” she added with a laugh.

            With the help of her instructor, though, Ms. Kinlock was able to complete the piece and was pleased with the result. “For me, doing that painting was the first time I felt like I could master the medium and not just be a wannabe,” she said. Ms. Kinlock mainly focuses on landscapes, but likes to mix up the type of scene she paints and the type of paper she uses. She also paints portraits occasionally. She says she tends to “get bored” with artists that choose the same subject matter again and again.

            More than anything, though, Ms. Kinlock appreciates the way that making art forces her to focus on her own creativity and process, instead of worrying about the world around her. “I’ve had some very stressful things happen in my life with my family, and it’s really driving me crazy what’s happening in this country,” she said. “Art gives me solace – I can control it. Being able to disappear for a few hours and create is a lifesaver. It just feels good.” Over the past few years, Ms. Kinlock has sold some artwork through local shows and online, but profiting off of her work is not her priority. “I’m not interested in promoting myself as an artist or becoming commercial,” she said. “I prefer to think of it as my therapy.” She added jokingly, “Besides paying for materials, it would be way more expensive to actually go to therapy!”

There is Beauty in Decay, 12×16 Pastel, UArt 500 with inktense underpainting

Ms. Kinlock emphasized how Arts Center East has helped improve not only her technique but her mentality as an artist. “In college I had a tremendous amount of angst and I would tear up my artwork if I didn’t like it,” she said. She no longer destroys an attempt that doesn’t look the way she had hoped. “I think fretting over it prevents you from actually doing it. It’s just a piece of paper. If it’s terrible you can do it over,” she said, “or you can put it in a show anyway and someone else will find value in it because they like the way it looks more than you do.”

            With the help of her instructors at Arts Center East, Ms. Kinlock has shown her work in a few local exhibits. Last summer, she sold seven works from a show at Stafford Coffee Co. in Stafford Springs, and her current exhibit in Glastonbury is on exhibit until the end of the summer. She has sold three pieces so far. She has also sold a number of works online through her Facebook page. 

            Ms. Kinlock’s time at Arts Center East has made her appreciate the variety of arts opportunities that Connecticut offers. In her experience, the state has made more investments in community exposure and engagement with the arts than she has witnessed in other places she has lived. She urges residents to take advantage of their local art offerings, and takes care to do so herself. Most of all, however, she appreciates how Arts Center East has helped her grow as a person. “It’s really spectacular,” she said. “I feel like I can call myself an artist.”

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Charter Grants Enable Organizations to Pursue Vital Work

For many Hartford arts organizations, grants and contributions come with a caveat: the money must be used towards an event or specific program. This fiscal model allows nonprofits to produce topic-based programming and donors to see exactly where their dollars are being used. It does come with a downfall, however: organizations’ fundamental expenses largely go overlooked. This is where the Greater Hartford Arts Council’s Charter Grant program can be vital.

The Charter Grant program provides unrestricted operating support to arts-based organizations in Greater Hartford, which allows the nonprofits to focus on their programming and events without worrying about operating expenses like rent and utilities. According to the directors of these organizations, charter grants are some of the most important donations that they receive. Executive Director of the Charter Oak Cultural Center Rabbi Donna Berman emphasized this. “Our history with the Arts Council goes back over 20 years, and it is one of the only sources for operating money,” she said. “It’s the bloodstream of our organization. We wouldn’t be able to turn our lights on everyday.”

Grants and Communications Manager at Judy Dworin Performance Project, Jennifer Eifrig, agreed. “Unrestricted Charter Grant funding allows a degree of flexibility in choosing ‘challenging’ topics such as immigration and incarceration and exploring their impact through performance and residency programs, knowing that our operational expenses are covered at least in part,” she said. 

With the support of the Charter Grant program, both organizations have been able to provide arts programming and events for Greater Hartford residents for decades. The Arts Council has worked with Charter Oak for more than 20 years and with JDPP for 30 years, dating back to its founding. 

In recent years, each organization has provided important services and programming to the Greater Hartford community. At Charter Oak, the largest graduating class of Beat of the Street Center for Creative Learning, a school for those experiencing homelessness, received their diplomas this spring. Graduates of the school are eligible for a full scholarship to Goodwin Community College, and all nine members of the graduating class will be attending in the fall. In addition, over 1,000 students are currently enrolled in the Youth Arts Institute, a program that offers visual and performing arts classes to kids for free. 

photo: Joseph Abad

At JDPP, everyone is busy with projects that mark and celebrate the organization’s 30th anniversary, including a number of ventures aimed to assist community members who have incarcerated friends and family. One such program was Bridging Boundaries™, a series of in-school programs for children with incarcerated parents that culminated in the spring. In addition, the final touches are being added to a resource guide entitled “Helping Hands” for families with loved ones in prison. The guide includes art offerings as well as other services. 

An important goal of each of the two organizations is to emphasize social justice through art, according to the staff members. “We believe that the arts are not a luxury but a human right,” said Dr. Berman. “Our biggest impact is letting people witness and experience the arts.” This mantra is reiterated throughout the organization, and drives their practices. “Even in our performances we never turn anyone away for lack of ability to pay,” she said.

 Ms. Eifrig said that JDPP holds similar beliefs as central to the organization. “Quite simply, the arts are what make us human,” she said. “In all their forms – dancing, drawing, painting, making music – the arts are about communicating who we are, what our needs and hopes and fears are, and what we aspire to be. One of [our] goals is to raise visibility for the organization as a model for advocating for social justice through the arts.”

“If we are ever going to come together as one human family…it’s going to be through art.”

Through the Charter Grant program, the organizations are able to invest in the programs that further these goals, and that have proven most impactful to the community.

Charter Oak and JDPP each have exciting programming coming up to celebrate summer and to mark the beginning of the school year, and each is hoping for another landmark year. Most of all, though, they want to ensure that the Greater Hartford community has continued and constant exposure to the arts for years to come. “If we are ever going to come together as one human family,” said Ms. Eifrig, “it’s going to be through art.”

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Featured Artist Spotlight: Carol Ganick

“We are here to find that dimension within ourselves that is deeper than thought.” – Eckhart Tolle

Connecticut artist Carol Ganick views artmaking as meditation in action, so it’s no wonder she includes the above quote in her artist statement. Carol paints in various media including watercolor, acrylic, mixed media, and oil. Her work is generally characterized by strong use of gestural brush strokes.

Carol’s natural curiosity and love of discovery enables her to focus on the creative process rather than the final product. She gets restless without change. A common trend amongst artists is they will have not one or two, but many different projects going on at once. Carol believes that discovery is more important than capturing an image, which explains her love of abstraction and experimental processes. “If someone is following some sort of creative direction, whether it be painting, writing…they have to find their own voice,” she comments. “I think in painting, it’s your own approach – your own being in terms of what you respond to, that makes you feel motivated.”

Carol uses this approach not only for her own work, but with her students as well. She always encourages her students at West Hartford Art League to be brave, and to “be careless (or carefree) when putting paint to paper.” She says this mindset allows for more discovery. For Carol, teaching provides the incentive to find different ways to approach a material, subject, or medium. “You learn more from your mistakes than from doing things correctly every time.”

This former human resources professional has found a new love in teaching and creating art, having taught at the Art League after a recommendation from the late artist and educator Paul Zimmerman. In her second career, Carol circles back to the importance of art education. “If you have a good teacher who can inspire, it is priceless.”

Connecticut Marshes


Carol Ganick is one of the Arts Council’s 2019 Featured Artists. Each year, the Arts Council picks a work from two local visual artists to create prints that given to supporters of our United Arts Campaign. Click here to learn more, or find how you can receive a copy of Ganick’s Connecticut Marshes below.

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