Re-WireNXT students envision the future potential for the Gilbert & Bennett site

Kaitlin Bradshaw Students in Joel Barlow High School, John Read Middle School and Redding Elementary School form the Re-WireNXT student atelier. Students learn about specific topics over a seven-week period and present projects to show what could be included in the future development of the old Gilbert & Bennett wiremill site in Georgetown. In front from left are, Leigha Nicoloro,  Juliette Nicoloro, Julian Ivaldi, Blythe Graziano, Caroline Wexler, Elizabeth Herman and Laura Stauffer. In back from left are high school interns, Olivia Ivaldi, Olivia Greenspan, Jamie Curtis, Matthew Hushion, Jonah Cerbin and Liana Viselli. — Kaitlin Bradshaw photo

Students in Joel Barlow High School, John Read Middle School and Redding Elementary School form the Re-WireNXT student atelier. Students learn about specific topics over a seven-week period and present projects to show what could be included in the future development of the old Gilbert & Bennett wiremill site in Georgetown. In front from left are, Leigha Nicoloro, Juliette Nicoloro, Julian Ivaldi, Blythe Graziano, Caroline Wexler, Elizabeth Herman and Laura Stauffer. In back from left are high school interns, Olivia Ivaldi, Olivia Greenspan, Jamie Curtis, Matthew Hushion, Jonah Cerbin and Liana Viselli. — Kaitlin Bradshaw photo

When residents talk about the future of the Gilbert & Bennett wire mill site, many envision housing of some kind and commercial business, but Redding students that make up the Re-WireNXT student atelier, or artists’ workshop, are taking that vision further.

In it’s second year, local artist Jane Philbrick and her colleagues, are guiding students through a seven-week summer program. Students from John Read Middle School, Redding Elementary School and interns from Joel Barlow High School are exploring one theme a week and how those themes can enhance the future of the G&B project.

Olivia Greenspan, a high school intern, said each week of the program has a theme that is based off verticals from the atelier’s master plan it created the previous year for the G&B site.

Last summer, the atelier learned about art and architecture and developed a master plan. High school interns then continued the work into the fall and started again in the spring.

The themes for this summer’s program are transportation, ecology, architecture, environmental remediation/green energies, food , hospitality and farming, fashion design and art.

Each week the atelier invites a professional in the field to discuss  what they do and the students ask question on how it could translate into G&B.

The first week of the program was focused on transportation, said Olivia.

Jeff Hanson, Redding’s highway superintendent, spoke about the road conditions in Redding, the costs of repairs and maintenance, and answered questions about what types of tasks  the highway department complete on a day-to-day basis.

Laura Stauffer and Caroline Wexler, both Redding students, work on a weekly project for Re-WireNXT.

Laura Stauffer and Caroline Wexler, both Redding students, work on a weekly project for Re-WireNXT.

In relation to the G&B site, the students wanted to identify and seek solutions to potential transportation challenges that could effect the Georgetown area when redevelopment begins.

Environmentalist Susan Robinson and landscape architect Nancy King also presented to the student atelier.

Ms. Robinson featured the concept of “usufruct,” defined as the right to enjoy the use of and advantages of another’s property short of the destruction or waste of its substance. Ms. King introduced the idea of landscape as a language that can be read.

Students studied topographical maps, discussed Connecticut watersheds, learned about hydrological cycles, treatment trains and low-impact development.

After the professionals present to the students, the students then create projects to adapt what they learned to the G&B site. At the end of each week, the students present their projects to the high school interns and their parents.

The project the week of ecology and environment, the students created pavilions that connect two buildings in the master plan.

Olivia said one pavilion could incorporate a chef incubator, farmers’ market and hotel setting. She said the idea would be the food would come from the farmers’ market, be cooked by the chefs in the kitchen and then given to diners in the hotel — the pavilion connects all three.

By working with students in the elementary and middle school, Olivia said the students use their imagination and come up with ideas that many don’t think about but they actually work.

“I love working with the younger students,” she said. “They surprise me.”

Olivia said the topic of conversation would be going down one path but the younger students will take it into a new direction of thought the high school interns haven’t discussed.

“They see beyond horizons that we don’t see,” said Olivia.

Each high school intern in a principal of a weekly theme. Olivia is head of food, hospitality and farming. This is also Olivia’s second year doing the atelier.

She said she joined last year because the program “seemed interesting.” She said she sees the value in the G&B project and learned a lot about working in groups.

“How to create the process is entirely unique to me,” she said.

Olivia will be starting her senior year at Joel Barlow High School in the fall and because of Re-wire, she said she has a bigger interest in pursuing urban planning.

“I didn’t know that was a profession,” she said.

Now inspired by Re-Wire and the G&B project, Olivia said she educates herself on public space and development.

“I’m learning so much,” she said.

Other high school interns include Olivia Ivaldi, Matthew Hushion, Jamie Curtis and Liana Viselli

Olivia Ivaldi, a soon to be junior at Barlow, is focusing on the fashion design vertical. She said she believes the future G&B site should have a fashion design incubator in it. During that week, students will create their own fashion designs based on themes in Connecticut.

Matthew will be a senior in the fall and is focusing on food and farming. He said he wants to bring the idea of G&B having its own green farms.

People want to know where their food is grown, he said, and having a farmers’ market provides that as well as brings the community together.

Jamie just finished her freshman year at Georgia Tech and is focusing on environmental and structural engineering. She said working with Re-Wire last year influenced her to be a civil engineer.

Liana, who will also be a senior in the fall, focused on transportation. She said her focus was how to incorporate commuting by train and other good ways of transportation like using cab services or buses. She also looked at ways to increase people’s ability to walk places.

Atelier students include Erik Areklett, Kevin McCleary, Rachel Fox, Grace MacDonald, Kate MacDonald, Laura Stauffer, Blythe Graziano, Caroline Wexler, Elizabeth Herman, Julian Ivaldi, Juliette Nicoloro, Leigha Nicoloro, Annalie Ciolino, Leah Sharon, Lilah Davis, Buster Whaley, Mia Gregoire, Abigail Francoletti, Rice Davis, and Calista Dudas.

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