Westport Library to Welcome Wind Phones, a Gift to the Community and a Lasting Tribute to the Remarkable Lynda Bluestein

Thu, Dec 7, 2023
EJ Crawford

Lynda Bluestein in the Children's Library in November 2023

For Lynda Shannon Bluestein, leaving a legacy has a different type of urgency. Bluestein has terminal fallopian tube cancer. She knows she may not have much longer. Determined to make the most of that time, she has become an advocate — suing Vermont over its aid-in-dying residency requirement — and a surrogate — fighting to create connection between loved ones and those they’ve lost.

And now she is giving back to the people of Westport.

Bluestein is donating two wind phones to the Library, one to be housed in the Children’s Library and one in the Library of Things.

To celebrate Bluestein's gift, there will be a special dedication ceremony for family, friends, supporters, and media held Wednesday, December 13, at 10 am in the Sheffer Gallery on the Library’s main level.

Wind phones, which originated in Japan, are unconnected phones — that is, they are not hooked up to a landline or connected to an active phone line — and are meant for those still living to pick up and “talk” to those who have passed away. As it says affixed to the wind phone that Bluestein donated in Ridgefield, the first such phone in Fairfield County, “This phone will never ring. It is connected by love to nowhere and everywhere. It is for those who have an empty place in their heart left by a loved one. Say hello, say goodbye. Talk of the past, the present, the future. The wind phone will carry your message.”

Wind phones have traditionally been located in nature — areas such as parks, fields, and gardens, open to anyone who needs them. The wind phones being donated by Bluestein and her family, however, will live in the Library, open to all for use and for checkout.

These are the first documented wind phones located in a library and are expected to be set up and available in early 2024.

“I chose The Westport Library because it feels like the heart of a community my husband and I have been part of for 30 years. When we moved to Connecticut from California, we gravitated here,” said Bluestein, 76, who currently lives in Bridgeport. “But mostly, I was interested in doing something that has never been tried before anywhere in the world: a wind phone to check out from The Library of Things.”

In addition to the groundbreaking nature of its placement, the solitude and accessibility of the library setting was one of the draws for Bluestein.

“So many wind phones in the U.S. are in parks or on hiking trails in remote and often inaccessible areas,” she said. “When people lose someone they love and have loved for decades, it feels strange to go out alone — except to a library, where that feels completely normal.”

The Library’s wind phones will be accompanied by recommended reading for both children and adults as well as a dedicated resource guide. The wind phones in both the Library of Things and the Children's Library will be available for checkout with a Westport Library card, much as one would check out a book or any other Library item.

“It’s important that these wind phones be available and accessible to the community,” said Agata Slattery, Westport Library development director, who worked with Bluestein on the donation. “We want these to be a source of comfort and solace, and of course a lasting testament to Lynda’s generosity and bravery.”

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