March 14, 2018

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Arts Council of Princeton, I am writing to express my sincerest thanks to our friends at Nomad Pizza. On Wednesday, February 28, they generously hosted a fundraiser in their Princeton location to benefit our organization. Hundreds of friends and supporters in the Princeton community, and beyond, came out to enjoy their favorite hometown pizza and salads from Nomad. A special thank you to Lauren Sabogal, Stalin Bedon, Tom Grim and all of the staff at Nomad Pizza for coordinating and supporting this special event for the Arts Council of Princeton.

Taneshia Nash Laird

Executive Director

PIED PIPER OF THE ART ROOM: Tanya Vail collaborates with her students in a working studio environment in the Chapin School art room. About 20 years ago she decided to give up her job as a graphic designer to become a full-time teacher, and has never looked back. “I figured that the universe had pointed me in this direction for some reason,” she said. (Photo Courtesy of Tanya Vail)

By Donald Gilpin

The start of Tanya Vail’s teaching career was less than auspicious.

She was working as a graphic designer at a publishing house in Nashville, Tennessee, when she saw an ad for someone to teach freshman graphic design classes at a local design college.

“I started out teaching one class,” she recalled. “My first class was terrible — a complete crash and burn. I had never done it from that point of view before. I had been in the student’s seat but not the one lecturing from the front. It was so bad. If I could have, I would have walked out.” more

March 7, 2018

To the Editor:

Here we go again! PPS holds a hard sell meeting for “Innovative Educational” change in our schools and no parent challenges the validity or requires concrete evidence for the success of such changes!

My family fell victim to such “innovative change.” We lived in New York and by the time our children were in middle school, the halls were filled with screaming, running children. Ancient history was deemed “irrelevant.” Math became a joke. Students never read a decent book and they could barely spell their names. When parents asked for a comparison of SAT scores with past scores, the information suddenly wasn’t available. John Dewey’s theories have been around a long time and have proved rather unsuccessful.

As a senior citizen who is a graduate of Princeton Public Schools and who received a remarkable education and opportunities as a result, I hope the community will wake up to its responsibilities and demand concrete evidence for its futuristic innovative plans. A democracy cannot survive without an educated citizenry. Do not “dumb down” our children, their education, and their country.

Barbara Dollard

Elm Ridge Road

To the Editor:

Reading the coverage of the PPS’s proposal to transform our education system reminds me of a failed experiment in open classrooms which occurred in an adjacent school district when I was attending high school. The other school district built a new, open school building, which was touted as the latest and greatest in education. Ultimately, the building had to be re-designed and remodeled into a more sensible (and conventional) structure. The costs, both financial and educational, of this debacle were enormous.

The mantra of the proponents of the current proposal in Princeton seems to be that our current system is a relic from the beginning of the industrial era. Both of my sons graduated from Princeton High School and I spent considerable time at the school while they were students. I did not find any vestiges of the early industrial age. Instead, I saw caring, well-educated teachers, attractive and well maintained physical facilities, and a lively environment conducive to inquiry and learning.

Of course, educational systems need to change to meet the demands of a changing society. However, our school system had changed and adapted as necessary and can continue to do so without risking our children’s future on a repeat of a prior failed experiment.

Finally, I wonder if the funds being expended on presentations and consultants could be better used if they were spent on items relating directly to our students’ education — for example, teachers’ salaries.

Mary Ann Witalec Keyes

Franklin Avenue

To the Editor:

Recently, in pursuit of a belt for an ailing vacuum cleaner and some vacuum bags, we discovered that American Sew-Vac, a longtime Princeton icon, had disappeared from the Princeton Shopping Center without a trace. Standing there in puzzlement, we were approached by a total stranger, who informed us that the store had moved to somewhere in Pennington. We understand that the rent was raised beyond what the proprietors could afford. That’s right — like Jordan’s.

According to the shopping center’s website, the store is still there. In real life, it’s not. It now resides at 129 Route 31. Fortunately, they kept their old phone number, and we were able to track them down.

The store’s own website, as of this writing, does not reflect the move either — like the store, the website is somewhat old-fashioned and unsophisticated. But it’s a great store, invaluable if you own a sewing machine (or if you ever have occasion to thread a needle), and pretty darned handy if you own a vacuum cleaner.

At the time of the move, a sign was posted to tell customers of American Sew-Vac’s new location. The management of the shopping center would not permit the sign to remain in place. We can’t imagine why, since no one else is using the space yet. Leaving the sign up — or possibly, if it was deemed unsightly, replacing it with a better-looking one — would have been the neighborly thing to do.

The cozy usefulness of Princeton Shopping Center has been reduced. Yet again.

Eva Foster

Ewing Street

Sue Tillett

Moore Street

Carolyn Barnshaw

Terhune Road

To the Editor:

The unseasonably warm weather last week coupled with your 2018 Kids and Camps guide had me longing for the warm weather, outside exploration, and joys that come with summer. As a Princeton University undergraduate, I had the good fortune to become familiar with the Princeton-Blairstown Center (PBC) and to spend a summer working there. The kids who came to PBC then were kids who were from areas with fewer resources than where I grew up and whose opportunities were not always the same. I went there to work with and teach them, but I learned a lot in the process and became acutely aware of the lack of quality summer opportunities for these young people.

Fast forward a few decades, and I now serve on the Board of PBC, and I know first-hand that PBC is still making sure that students from under-served communities have opportunities for an enriching and positive summer experience. At the Princeton-Blairstown Center, we are working with young people to combat summer learning loss, the phenomenon where young people lose academic skills over the summer months. Each summer, 500 students — primarily from Trenton and Newark — come to our 264-acre campus in Blairstown, New Jersey for our week-long Summer Bridge Program, free of charge. They spend three hours a day engaged in hands-on literacy; science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM); and project-based learning; an hour and a half in waterfront activities (swimming/canoeing/kayaking); and three hours a day working on their social-emotional skills through ropes and challenge course activities that focus on leadership, team-building, communication, and problem-solving skills.

Each student also gets to choose a book to take home with them, donated by many of PBC’s community partners including the Hun School, Princeton Friends School, Representative Andrew Zwicker’s office, and the Hamilton Township Library, to name a few. Research indicates that the best predictor of summer loss or gain is if a child reads during the summer.

All young people deserve opportunities for enriching and stimulating summer experiences so that they start the school year ready to learn and compete on an even playing field. For 110 years, the Princeton-Blairstown Center has been providing this opportunity to some of the most deserving young people in our community.

Chris Van Buren

Hun Road, Board Vice Chair 

Princeton-Blairstown Center

February 28, 2018

To the Editor:

Hurricane Maria is regarded as one of the worst natural disasters in history. Our musical friends in Puerto Rico suffered great loss, so we relied on the uplifting effects of music in order to help. Along with our community, we were able to sponsor six music students, two chaperones, and their director, David Rivera, from the Escuela Libre de Musica Ernesto Ramos Antonini (ELMERA). The ELMERA Jazz Ensemble students were able to spend a week in Princeton and then travel to Boston to compete in the 50th Annual Berklee Jazz Festival. We called this the Puerto Rico Project.

From February 2 thru February 13, the ELMERA Jazz Ensemble students got to experience student life in Princeton, performing with their PHS counterparts and eating their way through town. The highlight of their trip was the Berklee competition, where the ELMERA Jazz Ensemble won first place in the small ensemble category.

The PR Project concluded with the students packing nine duffel bags filled with donated supplies and equipment that they took take back home. The donations empowered the students to be ambassadors of change in their own communities.

We would like to thank the following people for supporting the PR Project: PHS music department, Pat Lenihan; PHS Principals, Angela Siso, Ben Stentz, Jane Sanchez, and Diego Negro with Princeton University; Mimi Ominski with Princeton Tour Company; Salina Paria with United Airlines; Quilts for Kids; Dr. Elaine Torres; the Board of Education, and Superintendent Cochrane. We also want to thank the following local companies for their hospitality: Despaña, Hoagie Haven, and Small World Coffee. Our heartfelt thanks to the Princeton Public Schools and the larger Princeton community for sharing in this inspiring musical experience.

A final thank you to Joe Bongiovi for leading us on this collaborative musical journey.

Debbie Bronfeld

Dodds Lane, parent member of PHS Band Program

 

To the Editor:

I read with great interest the recent letter in Town Topics on the Board of Ed Facilities Referendum authored by Sheila Siderman of Princeton. Her overall assessment that “it is actually a vote on major changes to our educational system “ is right on point. PLUS, the PPS Board plans to embed their envisioned educational system firmly into the facilities to be constructed incident to the referendum’s approval. Their initial justification for the facilities as critically needed to meet enrollment growth has become a Trojan Horse for seminal changes in the local education system now being advanced.

These concerns are compounded by questions regarding the enrollment growth projections themselves and the available measures to control or even reduce growth, including the related costs to accommodate. The best example is the Cranbury High School sending district’s underfunding of PPS tuition costs by over $1 million each year, plus not being required to contribute to bond issues for renovations or expansion.

I have been involved in job-related education, training, scholarships, and internships in New Jersey since the 80s and with both public and private education Boards and Commissions since first elected to the PPS Board in the early 90s. There were many intervening turbulent times both programmatically and funding-wise. In my view, the soaring, out-of-control costs and other issues related to PPS and other educational institutions in Princeton will be a top voter interest issue in 2018. It’s the most troubling period I’ve observed in 30 years.

John Clearwater,

Governors Lane

BEST BARBECUE: “Barbecue is so popular because it tastes good — it’s true American cooking. When it’s done the right way, slow-cooked with hard wood logs, it tenderizes, flavors, and adds a unique property you can’t get anywhere else.” “Smoke Chef Jeff” McKay (center), owner of Hambone Opera in the Trenton Farmers Market, is shown with staff members Amber Tomlinson (left) and Christine Brennan.

By Jean Stratton

“It tastes great, it smells great, and it’s fun to eat!”

This observation was recently made by a young visitor to Hambone Opera at 960 Spruce Street in the Trenton Farmers Market.

Opened in 2013, it has become a favorite of barbecue fans all over the area.

“People come in and tell me there’s no barbecue like mine,” reports owner “Smoke Chef Jeff” McKay. “It’s my ingredients. I use nothing but cherry wood logs in an offset fire box. Slow cooking is the key. more

February 21, 2018

To the Editor:

The Princeton Board of Education Facilities Referendum is actually a vote on open plan buildings that drastically changes how students will be taught. The changes will especially affect students with learning issues, psychiatric problems, and with attention deficit disorder.

I am a child and adolescent psychiatrist and have done evaluations of children in the West Windsor/Plainsboro school district where they had a school with open classrooms. It was a disaster!! Even I could not concentrate to evaluate the children for their issues. Their newer high school has closed classrooms.

In the past week, I spoke to staff and students. They said that open classrooms were extremely unpopular. It was very difficult for most students and teachers to hear and focus. There was enough clamoring that they put up walls wherever they could. One example: A math teacher had a great deal of difficulty holding her students’ attention, especially while the health teacher nearby was teaching sex education.

When our three children attended schools in Princeton, I attended school board meetings regularly. I was often upset by the process by which decisions were made without appropriate professional oversight. Too often, the taxpayers paid for projects poorly planned and administered.

I recommend that the Princeton Board of Education reconsider their plan to create a new classroom environment for our students, which is likely to have negative results.

I am also concerned that more people will move out of Princeton as our property taxes increase yet again.

Dr. Naomi Vilko

White Oak Drive

To the Editor:

Is it true that Princeton is going to experiment with open classrooms again? Good! More students will have the same opportunity that I was given, when open classrooms were first implemented in the early 70s. I was in fifth grade then at Witherspoon School, and my parents were alarmed at the prospect of my entering middle school where sixth, seventh, and eighth grades were going to be taught as a group, with no age divisions. With six kids at home, my parents relied on the public school system, and for the most part it served us well. However, I remember clearly the day my parents sat me down and told me they were going to take me out of public school and enroll me at Stuart. They explained that I would be there for three years, after which I would return to the public school system for high school. I distinctly remember them saying that they didn’t want me to lose three years of my education, and this was the only way they could ensure that my education would continue on track.

Those three years at Stuart were the best three years of my young life, and I am grateful that my parents had the wisdom and foresight to send me there. Of course they would never have done it if the Princeton School Board had not attempted this (failed) experiment with open classrooms, so ultimately I owe my Stuart experience to the School Board at that time.

Yes, I did complete three years at Stuart, and when I entered Princeton High I was academically advanced — so much so that they ran out of classes for me in my favorite subject and had to enroll me at Princeton University as a non-matriculated student. I was a good student before Stuart, and an excellent student afterwards. Not only did Stuart catapult me academically beyond my peers, but also it taught me that I could achieve anything I wanted in life, and that being a girl was irrelevant to my life choices. That was a pretty bold message in 1970, just one year after Princeton University first accepted female students. Stuart was way ahead of its time then, and continues to educate and inspire girls from pre-K through 12 to catapult past their peers. Registration for their Lead Like A Girl conference “sold out” within 24 hours, with 1,100 attendees and a waiting list of 400 more.

I’m all in favor of open classrooms in the Princeton Public Schools. It was the reason why I had the great privilege of attending Stuart for those three years, and that experience transformed me as a person, as a girl, and as a woman. I have no doubt that implementing the open classroom experiment again will give many more young girls the opportunity to experience the finest education that this town has to offer — at Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart.

Barbara J. Clarke

Balcort Drive

To the Editor:

This is embarrassing.

The February 7 Police Blotter informed us that local police, while responding to a panhandling and shoplifting call, then arrested the 64-year-old for having outstanding warrants for several hundred dollars. Is there no compassion in this town?

1. There should be a fund to reimburse our town stores for food shoplifted by anyone who is obviously hungry and unable to make ends meet. We’ll make the first challenge grant contribution.

2. Our town’s police should not be directed to arrest people with non-local warrants for what obviously must be some who-knows-what minor offense(s). Law enforcement agents should focus on the well-being of our town and not spend time collecting trifling amounts of some other city’s budget from those who struggle to put food on the table.

Adding arrests onto warrants that were already overly burdensome just exacerbates what was not a pretty situation into something desperate. Families living in poverty can’t get out from under all the stuff that keeps piling on, and it seems like opportunistic profiteering to prey on those individuals who are already in such a tight spot.

That’s not what the Princeton community should be about.

Elizabeth Monroe, Alain Kornhauser

Cleveland Lane

To the Editor:

Most of us were raised to be good people, but we live in an era when it is impossible to be good. Sure, we do all the things that good people would do: drive loved ones to where they need to go, keep the house comfortable, cook dinner, navigate the workaday world, travel to fascinating places. But each one of those life-affirming gestures, try as some might to deny it, is haunted by the collateral damage it causes. It is combustion that enables every one of those actions, and the kind of combustion we do leaves behind a chemical curse, all the more potent for being invisible.

Cars going by, planes flying overhead, steam rising from a chimney — the positive associations of each in the present is polluted in our minds by the dreaded portent for the future, as each person’s seemingly insignificant legacy of combustion mixes with tens of billions of others past and present in the atmosphere and oceans, creating a vast chemical and thermal imbalance over time. This is the power of collective action.

It’s as if every gallon of gas we buy, and every cubic foot of natural gas delivered silently to our homes, comes with an automatic donation to the End-of-the-World-As-We-Know-It Fund, dedicated to flooding coastal cities, promoting ecological collapse, and destabilizing weather patterns worldwide. Any intentional plot to do such damage would be considered Public Enemy No.1. How, then, are we supposed to think ourselves good people without building a wall through our brains to prevent this unintentional harm from invading our awareness?

The inevitable guilt may cause some to trim their personal impact, but it seems paralyzing for most people. Better to feel outrage, at the powerful ideologues, pessimists, and political cowards who keep us trapped in a dependency on fuels that power the present by sacrificing the future. This is not freedom, when we are cheated of any positive collective response commensurate with the threat, when we remain little more than conscripts, prodded by car commercials, cultural norms, and enforced economic necessity to collectively sabotage a beloved planet and our children’s prospects.

People think of climate change as an external threat, largely distant in place and time, but I feel it just as much on the inside, aware of the devil’s bargain that pollutes any good I might do day to day.

There was a time when nations were free to collectively counter global threats. We should be even more willing now, proud of sacrifice, challenged to be resourceful rather than extractive, because this time around, no lives need be lost, no war fought — only a rapid disarmament in the insidious chemical war against nature, a shift in habit and technology that squeezes fossil fuels out of our lives.

Stephen K. Hiltner

North Harrison Street

February 14, 2018

To the Editor:

“Don’t take it personally.” Those words of wisdom were repeated again and again during my childhood. I’m regularly reminded of this wisdom when I feel offended by a president who has a habit of making inflammatory and insensitive remarks. Simply reacting and taking his comments as a personal affront isn’t helpful in solving anything.

But how do we respond or protest in some meaningful way? Last year, we saw NFL football players bring attention to racial and social injustices by going down on bended knee. In 1777, during the darkest hours of our country’s revolutionary struggles, the future first president of the United States was found on bended knee seeking guidance from divine providence. It might be well worth your time to do a quick internet search for “The Prayer at Valley Forge,” a painting by Arnold Friberg.

In the late 19th century, Reverend Mary Baker Eddy was asked “What are your politics?” She responded, “I have none, in reality other than to help support a righteous government: to love God supremely, and my neighbor as myself.” Princeton is a community where we care for our neighbors. So far in 2018, there’s been an outpouring of love and care for those 35 individuals affected by the Griggs Farm fire. We also had a multi-faith service at First Baptist Church on Green Street that not only honored Martin Luther King Jr., but brought together many faith traditions to share prayers and brotherly love to address threats to peace and prosperity in these revolutionary times.

America means hope, the hope that good will conquer evil and that we will find ourselves on the side of good. Dr. Martin Luther King’s enduring legacy of not taking things personally is illustrated in an approach that can be useful today: “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” These are a few reasons why I’ll try a bended-knee approach to celebrating Presidents’ Day.

Steve Drake

Tenacre Foundation, The Great Road

To the Editor:

On behalf of everyone at the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Foundation (NJVVMF), as we begin a new year, I extend best wishes to our community and to all who serve our country.

As a private not-for-profit organization, the NJVVMF is fully self-sustaining. We rely on the support of our community, both financially and through participation, to meet and exceed our mission. An easy way to support our work is by checking line 61 on the NJ state tax form to make a self-designated donation. We are grateful for all levels of support as these donations cover a significant portion of our annual operating expenses.

For those unfamiliar with us, the Foundation operates the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial and its companion Vietnam Era Museum. This unique site in Holmdel, New Jersey pays tribute to the 1,563 New Jerseyans who did not return home from the Vietnam War while placing their sacrifice in the larger context of the tumultuous Vietnam Era, a period of history that still affects New Jersey families and communities today.

As executive director, I am honored to spend time with our community of veterans and visitors. Through our ceremonies, public programs, exhibitions, and class trips, we work with an incredibly diverse community that allows us to explore the complexities of the Vietnam Era in a way that is relevant to people today. This year marks the 20th anniversary of our museum and an exciting period of expansion for us through programs, resources, and a planned expansion of our public spaces. I see firsthand the impact that these offerings have on our community. This is especially apparent with the nearly 10,000 students and teachers we work with each year and the veterans who attend our ceremonies.

If you have not visited us, I encourage you to plan a trip and spend an afternoon with our Vietnam Veteran guides and staff. As the first and only site of its kind in the nation, you will not be disappointed. You can learn more about our work at www.njvvmf.org.

Help us preserve and share the legacies of New Jersey’s Veterans. Please remember us as we remember them. Thank you in advance for your support of our mission and our Veterans.

Sarah Taggart

Executive Director, New Jersey 

Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Foundation

To the Editor:

The October 2 Board of Education Facilities Referendum is actually a vote on major changes to our educational system. On February 8 Superintendent Steve Cochrane, architect Prakesh Nair, and educator Heidi Hayes Jacobs presented their plans for the future of our schools — new pedagogy and open plan buildings with few interior walls that are a rebranded version of the failed open space schools of the 60s and 70s. Approving the construction funding gives de facto approval to drastically changing how students will be taught.

The presentation was heavy on PR and theoretical educational philosophy but lacked hard data. As a former teacher, teacher trainer, and textbook creator, I question many of their assumptions. My online research yielded many negative reviews but not one positive review of schools that have enacted this new plan.

Princeton residents deserve more information before we vote on these changes. As a resident who will be asked to absorb another tax increase and more importantly, as someone who cares about education, I urge Mr. Cochrane, the School Board, local newspapers, and Princetonians to research open plan school buildings and open space schools. We need to know how this change will affect all students. We need information about successful and unsuccessful schools. If that means postponing the referendum, so be it. This radical change is consequential and deserves extensive community-wide discussion.

Parents, be aware that the proposed plan is an experiment that we cannot afford to have fail. The prime losers will be your children. Taxpayers, you’re being asked to pay for new construction and renovations that involve extensive structural changes, including removing walls and corridors. Failure will mean rebuilding the schools.

The quality of our schools is a major attraction of raising children in Princeton. What will happen if this new scheme does not succeed?

Sheila Siderman

Bouvant Drive

To the Editor:

On Saturday, February 3, the popular children’s performer Dan Zanes brought his new sensory friendly folk opera to McCarter to the delight and enjoyment of our audience. This new production, which premiered in December at the Kennedy Center, offered a “Relaxed Performance” concert to an audience of more than 400 people from our community. This marks the sixth season that McCarter has offered a Relaxed Performance for people on the autism spectrum or who have sensory sensitivities and their family members. These productions feature slight adjustments to the lighting, special effects, and music which allows everyone to enjoy the magic of a live performance in a thoughtfully altered environment. Zane’s Night Train 57 is the first time McCarter has presented a Relaxed Performance specifically designed as such. We are grateful to Dan Zanes for creating a joyous, interactive performance for a family audience, many of whom have limited opportunities to enjoy a concert or performance together.

McCarter, in collaboration with five other theatres in the area (Delaware Theatre Company, Montgomery Theater, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, People’s Light, and Theatre Horizon) is working to program more Relaxed Performances, share best practices, and develop a public calendar of these events in the region.

We are grateful for the contributions of JaZams, a beloved local toy store, which provided ‘fidgets’ — small toys for our audience members to quietly fidget with while watching the performance. We also acknowledge our incredible volunteer ushers who received special training for this production.
Finally, we thank The Karma Foundation for their leadership support of these Relaxed Performances at McCarter; they have generously funded this program since its inception. Hundreds of our area’s families have enjoyed a performance together in the last six years through the foundation’s dedication to the community!

Emily Mann

Artistic Director, McCarter Theatre Center

LIBERATING TEACHERS AND STUDENTS: Joel Hammon, seen here with his student Sam Allen, left his high school teaching job eight years ago and co-founded the Princeton Learning Cooperative, not a school but a self-directed learning community where kids and teachers are “in charge of their learning and their lives.”

By Donald Gilpin

What do you do if you’re a teacher who doesn’t like school?

Nine years ago, Joel Hammon was an unhappy high school history teacher. He’d started out with great idealism and “a tremendous sense of optimism about how to make the world a better place,” as he explained in his recent Ted Talk on YouTube. more

February 7, 2018

To the Editor:

Our town’s leaders appear to have agreed with the University that growth is good. Both parties seem indifferent to the harm their policies are inflicting upon our town and our residents.

No longer content with serving only our nation, the University proposes to expand its campus to encompass the land between Carnegie Lake and Route 1. Its leaders promote the plan as “sustainable” and offer as proof a contemplated pedestrian bridge over the lake. What they omit to say is that their expansion plans will make a distant memory of the walkable campus that, as recently as a few decades ago, made our University so distinctively intimate. Not insignificantly, their plan will also increase the stress on our town’s housing prices and limited infrastructure.

Our Council, meanwhile, manages our town like a charity for non-residents and public sector employees. Unlike most charities, however, theirs is funded with compulsory levies on our residents. We have long paid the inflated salaries and pensions of our public sector employees. We will shortly be required to add the costs of a school expansion necessitated by our town’s “welcoming” policy. Adding to those costs are the increased taxes that result when land values are driven up by the apartment blocks our leaders approve as sources of low rent apartments. If present trends continue, we residents will soon be required to substitute a paid fire department for the volunteers whose generosity and civic mindedness has thus far spared us that expense. We will also be required to pay for, and to accommodate, the widening of our streets and the expansion of our water and sewer facilities.

Rising taxes and higher densities are threatening our core residential neighborhoods, many of which are still predominately single-family. Our leaders decry the diminished affordability of our housing, but ignore the harm their policies are inflicting upon our formerly affordable neighborhoods. Their attitude seems to be that residents who have trouble paying their ever rising property taxes should either move to less expensive communities or move from single-family houses into apartments. Worse, there seems to be sympathy for the notion that single-family residences are to be disparaged as evidence of selfishness and greed.

Higher density, of course, creates modestly increased tax revenues — but at what cost and to what purpose? Any fair reading of the evidence proves that population growth is not good for current residents. Population growth is expensive. It is destructive of long-established neighborhoods. It creates intractable problems and limits the interaction of residents with our governing bodies. It is environmentally unfriendly and ultimately unsustainable. Which begs the question, why do our ever-so-correct leaders continue to advocate and enable the transformation of our formerly little town into a mid-sized city? One might also ask why our residents petition to reduce assessments instead of fighting to change the policies which cause assessed values to rise.

Peter Marks

Moore Street

To the Editor:

As chair of the Princeton Democratic Municipal Committee (PDMC) and as president of the Princeton Community Democratic Organization (PCDO), respectively, we are writing to encourage all Princeton Democrats to consider serving their community by getting more involved in the local Democratic Party or the local government. In 2018, this year’s election, there will be a Primary Election in June and a General Election in November for two open seats on Princeton Council, as well as for the Congressional seat held by Bonnie Watson Coleman and the Senate seat held by Robert Menendez. In Mercer County, we will elect three freeholders; the Democratic incumbents are: Ann Cannon, Pasquale “Pat” Colavita, Jr., and Samuel T. “Sam” Frisby.

We invite you to join us at an open house meeting in Princeton on Sunday, February 11, from 3 to 4 p.m. to find out more about running and participating. The meeting, which will be held at a private home, is open to all, but you must RSVP so we can send you the location. Please respond to Scotia MacRae at swmacrae@yahoo.com, (609) 468-1720, or to jean@princetondems.org.

Topics to be covered include how candidates get on the ballot, the local Democratic Party endorsement process, and the differences between the PDMC and the PCDO. Local candidates should let us know by March 1 at the latest if they intend to seek the endorsement of the PCDO at the March 18 meeting.

The outcome of the 2016 presidential election has activated a Blue Wave in our state, resulting in the election of Democrat Phil Murphy to the office of governor and a majority of Democrats in the New Jersey Legislature. We want to thank the Princeton community, as well as the members of the PDMC and the PCDO, for their support of a transparent and vibrant political culture in Princeton that helps keep our government responsive to its residents.

Scotia W. MacRae

Chair PDMC

Jean Durbin,

President PCDO

To the Editor:

Creating partnerships and raising awareness while providing systems of support and care are critical. Mercer County’s Traumatic Loss Prevention Services program has been coordinating services with schools and community agencies to come up with short-term and long-term strategies, the first of which needs to be identifying warning signs and removing the shame and blame associated with seeking help. These signs may mean that someone is at risk for suicide.

• Talking about wanting to die or kill oneself

• Looking for a way to kill oneself

• Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live

• Talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain

• Talking about being a burden to others

• Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs

• Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly

• Sleeping too little or too much

• Withdrawing or feeling isolated

• Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge

• Displaying extreme mood swings

If you believe someone may be thinking about suicide:

• Ask them if they are thinking about killing themselves.

• Listen with care and without judgment.

• Stay with the person or with another caring person while you get further help.

• Remove any objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.

• If self-harm seems imminent, call 9-1-1.

Each of us can help people navigate the struggles of life to find a sustainable sense of hope, meaning, and purpose through connection and compassion.

If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800)-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.

To get involved with Mercer County Traumatic Loss Coalition, contact Steven Olsen at (609) 278-7924 or email solsen@mercercounty.org. Monthly coalition meetings are held on the second Wednesday of each month, from 9:30 to 11 a.m., at Mobile Response and Stabilization Services, Suite 500, 3535 Quakerbridge Road, Hamilton, NJ 08619.

Steven Olsen

Mercer County Traumatic Loss 

Prevention Services Coordinator

By Jean Stratton

The opportunity to look one’s best at any age is becoming increasingly available. Today, there is no need to go “undercover” or “retire into the shadows” at a “certain age” when so many facial treatments offer very positive rejuvenating results. Whether one opts for a minimum “nip and tuck,” a full makeover lift, or one of the non-invasive treatments, a new look is waiting for you! more

January 31, 2018

To the Editor:

For our electricity needs, Princeton homeowners and businesses can take advantage of the important opportunity to embrace renewable wind-power and say “NO!” to dirty, non-renewable energy sources (oil, coal, gas) — and nuclear power as well.

While a number of organizations now provide green energy, CleanChoice is one of the simplest to navigate: a single telephone call! (You can also look at green-e.org).

CleanChoice Energy (cleanchoiceenergy.com; (800) 460-4900) is dedicated to helping us go green to fight global warming and climate change: 99 percent wind-power, 1 percent solar. They have built up trust over a ten-year period; their website is filled with information. Sign-up takes only the initial phone-call. CleanChoice manages the cost-free switch from PSE&G (from whom you will still get your gas/electric bill). You can have a fixed or a variable rate, with a low-low introductory offer. CleanChoice will notify you annually concerning the equivalent number of cars you have idled or taken off the road by using renewable energy sources. They are truly dedicated! And we can be too!

PSE&G will show you a monthly price-comparison of your CleanChoice electric charges vs. what electric by means of dirty fuels would have been. While CleanChoice appears to cost slightly more per kWh, we all know that the dollar cost of gas/coal-powered electricity is artificially low and does not take into account the true and much higher costs of dirty energy.

Furthermore, CleanChoice charges the customers less and less as more people sign up for this program. We hope that all of us will welcome our freedom to go green, help the planet’s climate, and personally reject a federal government that has pulled the United States out of the Paris Accords and will offset any of our lingering attachments to dirty, harmful sourcing for electricity.

CleanChoice lets us think globally, act locally, personally — and in the same spirit as Princeton’s pending Climate Action Plan spearheaded by Sustainable Princeton (sustainableprinceton.org). As SP’s director, Molly Jones, rightly noted at a recent meeting of Indivisible Princeton devoted to climate action, “There is no silver bullet” to resolve the hurdles we face; but “There is silver buckshot” (see “Sustainable Head Urges Climate Action Plan to Reduce Emissions,” Town Topics, Jan. 24, front-page article).

Let’s all be part of that communal, renewable firepower by signing on with CleanChoice. We will all breathe better.

Alexi Assmus, Rob Dodge

Maple Street

Keena Lipsitz

Shadybrook Lane

Suki Wasserman

Meadowbrook Lane

Lindsey Kayman

Mt. Lucas Road

Daniel A. Harris

Dodds Lane

Alexandra Bar-Cohen

Snowden Lane

To The Editor:

Thank you for the detailed article [Town Topics, Jan. 24] on the recent talk by Molly Jones of Sustainable Princeton on Climate Change. Her observation that there is no silver bullet to solve this problem, but rather silver buckshot — smaller actions individuals can take — should be taken to heart.

One of these small actions that could make a great difference is the rapid substitution of electric vehicles (EVs) for gasoline powered cars. The average New Jersey household burns about 30 barrels (1260 gallons) of gasoline per year, mostly for commuting and local travel. Local gasoline consumption is by far our largest single use of fossil fuel and our largest source of local pollution, and these can be sharply reduced without any change in comfort or convenience. Cars wear out, and upgrading to an EV is quite realistic, with many models to choose from. Leasing an EV is probably the best option for most people, as it requires the least immediate cash outlay, allows for a trial run of the technology, and eliminates the risk of technical obsolescence: at the end of the lease, the vehicle can be returned for a small fee.

In addition to reducing pollution and fossil fuel use, EVs also eliminate our complicity with the many negative aspects of the petroleum industry, such as fracking, off shore drilling, support of foreign adventures and certain medieval autocracies, to name just a few.

We leased our EV four years ago. With a range of 84 miles (on a calm spring day and a level road) our car is now completely out of date, but serves our local travel needs rather well. Current EVs have much greater range, more advanced safety features, and better recharge capabilities. Some manufacturers now guarantee the main battery for the life of the car.

In short, we as individuals should not regard climate change as a problem to be solved in Washington. We should realize that we can make a direct and significant contribution to the solution here and now.

Al Cavallo

Western Way

To the Editor:

As a follow-up to last week’s front page article on a speech by Sustainable Princeton’s Director, Molly Jones, advocating a “Climate Action Plan To Reduce Emissions,” I am writing to encourage our citizens to participate in Princeton’s Curbside Organic Composting Program, scheduled to begin this year’s cycle in February. Compostable material, plant, and animal waste (“if it grows, it goes”), can be recycled as mulch for your garden (free to all Princeton subscribers) instead of going into landfills where it produces methane, which is 20 times more hazardous to the environment than carbon dioxide. Collecting and transporting trash destined for increasingly scarce landfills costs Princeton hundreds of dollars a ton, whereas curbside composting is less than half that cost. The truck the program uses runs on natural gas and emits 90 percent fewer emissions than regular gas or diesel. We are saving tax dollars and helping the environment by participating in this efficiently run program.

The Organics Program, which costs only $65 a year, does not replace any of our current trash or recycling collections. The narrow green carts, supplied free to participants by Princeton’s Public Works, are picked up every Wednesday. Enrollment is easy: a simple call to Princeton’s recycling coordinator, Janet Pellichero, at (609) 688-2566 or an email to jpellichero@princetonnj.gov.

SUZANNE NASH

Governors Lane