May 13, 2015

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the staff of the Princeton Education Foundation, I would like to thank everyone in the Princeton community who supported our “Sculpting the Future” Spring Gala and Silent Auction. We raised almost $60,000 net that will directly benefit our public schools’ teachers and students and will further our goal of supporting excellence in education in the Princeton Public Schools. Since its inception, the Princeton Education Foundation has contributed almost $2 million to the Princeton Public Schools for capital improvements, educational programs, and teacher support.

We are especially grateful to the Princeton Education Foundation’s lead sponsor, Georgeanne Gould Moss, The Gould Group of Wells Fargo Advisors and to our Salutatorian sponsors, Bai Brands, LLC; Roger and Theresa Liao and W. Bryce Thompson Foundation.

Thank you to our Summa Cum Laude sponsors, The Bank of Princeton, Beatrice Bloom, Weichert Realtors, Hamilton Dental Associates, Herring Properties, and OnePrinceton. Thank you to our Magna Cum Laude sponsors, Jean Durbin Esq. and Walter Bliss, Esq., Charles Schwab, Dr. Tyl & Dr. Fogarty, Dennigan Cahill Smith, Mathnasium of Princeton, NT Callaway Henderson Southeby’s Intl. Realty, and PNC Bank.

We are deeply grateful for the sumptuous community tasting stations provided by: Alchemist & Barrister, Asian Bistro, Cross Culture, Eno Terra, Jammin’ Crepes, Mediterra Restaurant and Taverna, McCaffrey’s Food Markets, The Taco Truck, Teresa Caffe, Corner Bakery Café, LiLLiPiES Bakeshop, Lindt Chocolate, Seasons 52, WildFlour Bakery and Café, Bai Brands, LLC, River Horse Brewing Company and Unionville Vineyards.

The community businesses and individuals that provided Silent Auction merchandise are too many to name and are a testament to the generosity of community support in our mission to provide excellence in the Princeton Public Schools. We are also grateful to have the support of many individual Benefactors and Patrons.

We would like to recognize the hard work of our Gala committee, the group of dedicated volunteers that planned and executed this year’s event, led by Co-Chairs Nicole Bergman, Jean Durbin, and Theresa Liao. Our Auction Co-Chairs included Sue Bowen, Milena Deluca and Stacy Pibl. Our Wine Grab Co-Chair was led by Mara Franceshi and Décor Co-Chairs included Liz Kaman and Alex Escobar. Thank you to the volunteers that worked to set up and during the event to keep everything running smoothly.

Finally, we would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to everyone in the community who participated in this important fundraiser by volunteering time, purchasing tickets, donating wine, or bidding on items in our auction. Thank you for joining with us to say that our children’s public education matters!

Fran Jones

Executive Director, Princeton Education Foundation

To the Editor:

The Princeton Special Needs Prom on May 8 was our most successful yet. With attendance at over 100, it really was a FIESTA!

We are grateful to a long list of incredible people who enable us to offer this annual event to our adult and teenaged neighbors with special needs.

Thanks to John Groeger, Stacie Ryan, and Joe Scullion of the Recreation Department for all of their hard work, and particularly heartfelt thanks to the Rec’s Program Supervisor Joe Marrolli for his extraordinary commitment to creative programming. Princeton is very lucky to have him!

Special thanks to Jaime Escarpeta and Alicia White, our photographers who once again donated their time and sent every participant home with a beautiful formal portrait. Thank you, too, to our DJ Drew Zimmerman, and to the Mexican Mariachi Grill for supplying a fabulous dinner and being so easy to work with. And huge thanks to Olivia and Courtney Browndorf for generously donating sombreros and other fun favors.

We are fortunate to have an exceptional group of busy professional women who carve out time each year to bring the prom to life: Katerina Bubnovsky, Ann Diver, Radha Iyer, Hana Oresky, and Susan Simonelli. Thank you also to event volunteers Oleg Chebotarev, Liz Cutler, John Diver, Sethu Iyer, Tom Kreutz, Katie Lynch, Joan Morelli, Abitha Ravichander, Trudy Sugiura, and Valerie Walker. We so appreciate you all!

But it is indisputably our student volunteers who make the prom such a tremendous event. Thank you to these outstanding middle, high school, and college students: Joanne Adebayo, Matthew Ams, Caroline Black, Josh Bonaparte, Olivia Browndorf, Anna Cao, Callia Cordasco, Sonia DaSilva, Chris Diver, Phoebe Elias, Amy Hauer, Barbara Kaminska, Marysia Kaminska, Caley Knox, Jack Lynch, Kaity Mattia, John Mochia, Lauren Morelli, Kathryn Murphy, Ella Quainton, Rhea Ravichander, Caroline Sasser, Grace Seward, Jessica Sheridan, Kaitlin St. Amour, Sydney Vogel, Charlotte Walker, Jimmy Walker, Eli Wasserman, and Isaac Webb.

It’s hard to express how much it means to us when our community leaders engage with our population. Thank you to Jo Butler of the Princeton Council, and to Leslie Germaine and Dick Nosker of the Recreation Commission, for joining us.

And finally, thank you to my colleagues on the PSS Board. Now in our 15th year, these dedicated volunteers continue to make special needs sports and social programming available to this wonderful community: Katerina Bubnovsky, Carmine Conti, Ann Diver, Hana Oresky, John Pecora, John Rutledge, and Barbara Young.

The next and last dance of the season is our pool party, dance, and BBQ at the Princeton Community Pool on June 5. Swimming will be from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., followed by BBQ and dancing from 7:30 to 9 p.m. For more information or to register, go to princetonrecreation.com or princetonspecialsports.com.

Deborah Martin Norcross

Co-President, Princeton Special Sports

To the Editor:

Two front page stories in the May 6 issue of Town Topics, one describing the negotiating breakdown between the Board of Education (BOE) and teachers’ union (PREA) [“District/Teacher Talks Break Down”], and the other describing a $2.9M public library upgrade [“Library Seeks to Raise $1.7 Million for Second Floor Redesign, Upgrade”], present an interesting contrast.

Ms. Burger, director of the Princeton Public Library, commendably observes that “the world has changed dramatically” since the library opened in its new building 11 years ago. She specifically identifies radical upgrades and redesigns of space, technology, and programs to accommodate the ongoing information-age renaissance we are living through. The BOE/PREA, article, however, could’ve been written in the early 20th century, when labor and management clashed perennially over compensation policy in the old manufacturing-based economy. Nowhere do we read that BOE and PREA acknowledge the “dramatic changes” in our new knowledge-economy, or frame their dispute in the context of a world undergoing radical transformation by technology and the systemic improvements it enables.

While today’s pre-schoolers face a future world radically different from that of their grandparents in: manufacturing, retail, transportation/logistics, consumer services, even, finally, in healthcare, those grandparents would be quite at home in today’s educational institutions. The EdTech revolution is desirable, inevitable, and already underway. Princeton’s Public Library administration seems to understand that in a way our public school establishment does not.

Brandon Hull

Linden Lane

May 6, 2015

To the Editor:

In November, Princeton residents voted in favor of considering a charge on single-use bags as part of a Mercer County voter sentiment referendum. The idea of that proposal was to help reduce the amount of single-use bags taken at the register, thus leading to a decrease in landfill and environmental waste. People would be encouraged to bring their own bags to avoid the fee and to avoid polluting the environment.

The question passed overwhelmingly three-to-one in Princeton encouraging us to now consider actual legislation on this topic. Princeton could follow the lead of many other towns, cities, and states in the United States and around the world who have enacted such single-use bag policies.

The Princeton Environmental Commission has come out in support of a draft ordinance calling for a 10¢ charge on plastic and paper single-use bags at carry-out in stores in Princeton. The merchants would keep the entire proceeds from this charge, as they would for any other item purchased in their establishment. Shoppers would be encouraged to bring their own reusable bags to avoid paying for them at the register.

There are ample provisions for implementing this program on a timeline that is both merchant-friendly and also considerate of families in need. Families participating in assistance programs would be exempt from the charge, free bags would be distributed to those in need, and merchants could continue to give refunds to customers who brought their own bags … an additional incentive.

We thank the residents of Princeton for understanding the issue and for voting for a policy that we know makes the world a cleaner place. Enacting a charge on single-use bags has been shown to decrease their use by 60-90 percent. We would like to see the same happen in Princeton. While other New Jersey towns are considering this, we hope Princeton will take the lead on passing this legislation.

Princeton Environmental Commission

To the Editor:

Princeton Council is considering demolishing 31-33 Lytle Street, in the heart of the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood. Say “No” to Council: no demolition.

The lovely porch (1870-1880), which retains its original architectural details and roofline, should be designated an Historic Site. The historic home, owned and possibly built by an African-American who came from Virginia to Princeton after the Civil War, is eligible as part of an Historic District.

Who among us will endorse, now, demolition of yet another African-American building? — after white-skinned Princeton razed African-American Princeton homes (and displaced people) to establish Palmer Square, and then destroyed Jackson Street (with more people removed)? The house is community heritage.

The Historic Preservation Commission formally opposes demolition. Funds from The New Jersey Historic Preservation Trust can restore the house. Trishka Cecil, Council attorney, has given approval for using Princeton Open Space monies for historic preservation. Mercer County Open Space funding should remain available, prorated, for the area not covered by the house.

How should this beautiful porch and its building best be used? Affordable housing needs remain critical in Princeton: hikes in property taxes and school taxes have just been announced. Pressures on our economically challenged citizens intensify daily. Families are being divided, forced out. Princeton cannot promote our valued diversity without unswerving commitment to affordable housing opportunities.

The Lytle Street house could become two affordable units — for sale or rent, with resultant income to the appropriate municipal body. Concept plans have been generated. Despite extensive rehabilitation needed, reasonable estimates are less than the $250,000 cited by the municipal Administrator, Marc Dashield. A John Street house was rehabilitated for $150,000 (2012). Participation by Habitat for Humanity and Isles, together with volunteer labor, can reduce costs — particularly if the mayor and Council enthusiastically support the initiative and make the political effort.

If not affordable housing, what? As Councilwoman Butler proposed (March 23), the building can become part of the adjacent Mary Moss Playground, currently slated for expansion; building rehabilitation would be simpler, with restrooms and an indoor play area in inclement weather. (Only a small minority of speakers at the three Council sessions dealing with the park favored expansion, not affordable housing.)

More significant: the historic porch — the neighborhood is a “community of porches” — can become a public architectural focus to celebrate African-American life in Princeton. Booker T. Washington himself visited the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood, as a photograph attests. If white Princeton celebrates Einstein’s birthday, why not Paul Robeson’s (April 9, 1898)? — or the constitutional amendments that legalized citizenship and suffrage for African-Americans? The first floor could become “passive” exhibition space documenting Princeton’s African-American community (Robeson House highlights Robeson himself). The expanded park on the house’s north side could include a community garden — environmentally sustainable, probably much cheered.

Council should buy the property and retain both porch and house. Otherwise, the owner-developer Roman Barsky would probably subdivide the lot and build two expensive houses that are not consistent with neighborhood values.

Daniel A. Harris

Dodds Lane

To the Editor:

Dorothea’s House once again demonstrated on Sunday, May 3, why it’s such a bright star in Princeton’s cultural firmament. In its unique role of furthering the understanding and appreciation of the history and culture of Italy, it hosted a packed house for a discussion of Giuseppe Verdi’s operatic adaptation of Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth by Joseph Colaneri, the music director of the Glimmerglass Festival, held annually near Cooperstown, N.Y. The production is slated for the 2015 summer season.

Often using Italian words and phrases punctuated by Italian verve, Colaneri said that Verdi’s operas represented the very soul of Italy. While Macbeth depicted Scottish exiles, Italians believe Verdi was really characterizing Italy’s history. Colaneri noted that although Verdi was not religious, he was spiritual, and tinta (color) was very important to him. In Macbeth, Verdi insisted on very dark colors (mood). Colaneri said that the Yale University professor and foremost expert on Shakespeare, Harold Bloom, has written that there are two human icons: William Shakespeare and Giuseppe Verdi because both express the essence of who we are as individuals.

Two talented soloists, Hunter Enoch and Mitra Mastropierto, understudies at Gliimmerglass, sang arias and a duet from Macbeth, bringing the audience to its feet in enthusiastic appreciation.

Linda Sipprelle

Nassau Street

To the Editor:

An event that began eight years ago in Princeton and Trenton — demonstrations for Stand Against Racism day — grew exponentially and is now the signature campaign for the national YWCA. Not in Our Town (NIOT) wishes to thank all those who contributed to the success of Stand Against Racism days, past and present. We remember Nassau Inn employees helping make a human chain around Palmer Square, merchant participation directed by Kathleen Maguire Morolda, and well-attended rallies at Hinds Plaza — all these programs benefited from the YWCA’s leadership.

For this year’s observance, Not in Our Town assembled photos of 100 merchants from Town Topics ad pages sponsored by an anonymous donor. (These merchants were among those who pledged to support this cause by putting up our We Stand Against Racism posters in their stores.) And this year the Princeton YWCA, implementing its motto “eliminating racism,” held an 80-person legislative breakfast, cosponsored by Lori Rabon of the Nassau Inn. After presentations by the CEOs of Trenton and Princeton YWCAs, the mayors of Trenton and Princeton, NIOT’s co-chairs Linda Oppenheim and Larry Spruill, Patricia Fernandez-Kelly, chair of the Latin American Legal Defense Fund (LALDEF), challenged all, saying being against racism is merely good manners. “We should really focus on inclusion, which is a lot harder because it forces us not just to be well-mannered, but to really open our hearts and our spaces to people not like us.” Then everyone clustered in small groups, and NIOT facilitators led discussions of down-to-earth concerns about bias. Thanks to all who helped and participated. This program truly fulfilled the Y’s intention: “to build community among those who work for racial justice and to raise awareness about the negative impact of institutional and structural racism.”

Marietta Taylor,

NIOT board member, Hartley Avenue

Howard Hudson

Franklin Park

Joyce Trotman-Jordan

Trenton

To the Editor,

Each year the Arts Council of Princeton’s (ACP) Communiversity brings the Community and University members together to celebrate the things we love about our town. This year was no exception.

In keeping with the Communiversity spirit, Art +10 (a group of Princeton-area artists) wanted to honor our Volunteer Fire Department. In a unique collaboration with the department, the group hosted a joint paint-out and art show at the Chestnut Street Fire House.

Dubbed “Fired-Up,” the event welcomed visitors to view artists painting and learn the rich history of Princeton’s Fire Department.

Members of Art +10, want to thank Bill Shields, president of Princeton Engine Co. #1, the Princeton Fire Department, and the Blue Jersey Band (which provided a festive background), for making this event happen.

Members of Art +10: Priscilla Algava, Heather Barros, Jim Bongartz, Betty Curtiss, Katja De Ruyter, Suzanne Dinger, Johanna Furst, Jeaninne Honstein Ryan Lilienthal, Meg Michael, Tasha O’Neill

To the Editor;

As co-chairs of Planned Parenthood’s 26th annual Spring Benefit, we thank the hundreds of enthusiastic supporters who attended our luncheon on April 24 at The Hyatt Regency Princeton, as well as our benefit committee and the Planned Parenthood staff and volunteers. With 400 guests filling the room, it was a tremendous success in raising funds to support the services and programs of Planned Parenthood.

We were pleased to have as our speaker Alexis McGill Johnson, 2013-15 Chair of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. A true champion for women’s health and rights, Alexis shared her journey and the reasons for getting involved with Planned Parenthood. She described Planned Parenthood as part of a movement not just for reproductive freedom but also to uplift our friends in the fight for justice.

For more than 82 years, Planned Parenthood has worked every day to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and keep women healthy. We urge those who believe that every woman has a right to reproductive health counseling and family planning, regardless of income, to support Planned Parenthood.

Kathy Herring, Reba Orszag

Co-Chairs Spring Benefit

April 29, 2015
UNIQUELY YOUR OWN: “At Toggle Home, we strive to connect the past to the present by creating heirloom monograms with a modern twist. Our luxury monograms are hand-crafted and fully customizable to reflect each individual’s style and aesthetic.” Kate Johnstone-Butcher, owner and founder of Toggle Home, is shown with her sons Henry (left) and Porter.

UNIQUELY YOUR OWN: “At Toggle Home, we strive to connect the past to the present by creating heirloom monograms with a modern twist. Our luxury monograms are hand-crafted and fully customizable to reflect each individual’s style and aesthetic.” Kate Johnstone-Butcher, owner and founder of Toggle Home, is shown with her sons Henry (left) and Porter.Customers have found the latest addition on Chambers Street to be irresistible! Since its opening on April 10th, Toggle Home Monogramming & Design has already sold out of a number of items, and visitors to the shop are selecting a variety of monograms to personalize clothing, accessories, blankets, and furniture, among other items.

Customers are not only delighted by the extensive choices of monograms but also by the bright and cheerful decor of the shop. With its yellow and white color motif and warm welcoming atmosphere, it invites shoppers to linger and look!

“We offer a specific type of high quality monogramming that can be completely personalized for each customer,” explains founder and owner Kate Johnstone-Butcher. “I will do custom design, and the monograms can be any size, all different colors, and many different designs.”

An interior designer with a distinctive eye for design and detail, Ms. Johnstone-Butcher also offers professional design services for people in their homes. In addition, before the space became available at 12 Chambers Street, she also operated Toggle Home as an online business for several years, as well as providing traveling trunk shows and pop-up stores.

Original Concept

“It was always my hope to have my own place, however,” she notes, “and when this location became available, there was a whirlwind of activity to get ready. I love the aspect of having everything here in one place for people. When you come in the shop, you will see me. I am always here to help customers, and we have new things coming in all the time. This is a destination place for shoppers.”

Monogramming had long been a special interest for her, adds Ms. Johnstone-Butcher. “Growing up on the North Shore of Long Island, I was around lots of monogramming. At that time, it had a special kind of meaning to it — a family heritage, for example, a connection to who you are. It seemed that monogramming had gotten away from that in recent years — it had become more frivolous — and I wanted to get back to that original concept.

“That feeling of connection is why I chose the name Toggle for the store. One meaning of toggle is connection. Our monogram collection includes a nod to the classics with a modern twist and a commitment to tasteful simplicity. I also wanted it to be accessible and affordable for people.”

Customers may bring in their own items for monogramming, she adds, but they will also find a wonderful selection of merchandise in the shop. Items include everything from furniture and custom chandeliers to clothing and accessories to linens, tote bags and table skirts, as well as choices, including sweaters, for children and toddlers.

“We have items from around the world, with many from the U.S.,” reports Ms. Johnstone-Butcher. “Some of the favorites with customers are robes, pajamas and sleep shirts, and blankets, including wonderful cotton “pom-pom” blankets available in 22 different colors. We also have soft cashmere ponchos for women.”

Baseball caps, tote bags, wine bags, and cosmetic cases are in demand for monograms, as are neckties, and even Wellington boots! The selection of 100 percent linen hand towels in assorted colors provides opportunities for a welcome hostess gift.

Pagoda Design

“Our pagoda lanterns, chandeliers, and candle holders are very big sellers,” adds Ms. Johnstone-Butcher, “and customers also love the pagoda design for their monograms.”

Furniture includes chairs, beds, sofas, custom upholstery, and X benches (popular for use as an ottoman or at the foot of the bed), and all of these can be monogrammed.

Design choices for monogramming are seemingly limitless. Every type and style of lettering and initial is available and in every color. In addition to initials, many design choices, such as animals (Staffordshire dogs, elephants, and zebras are very popular), feathers, nautical knots, pineapples, and dragons, among many others, are favorites.

In addition, a selection of jewelry includes gold and silver bracelets and pendants, which can be engraved. A very popular necklace includes a chain, featuring small pendant “tags” suitable for engraving of name, initials, or other design. Starting at $40, including engraving, this is a charming graduation gift.

Many of the monogrammed choices will also make wonderful gifts for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, birthdays, graduations, and other special events. Red, white, and blue themes are popular for Memorial Day and Fourth of July gatherings.

“We also have lots of wedding items, such as beaded bags and robes, that are very popular monogrammed gifts for bridesmaids,” says Ms. Johnstone-Butcher.

Enthusiastic Response

Prices generally range from $25 for jewelry and small cosmetic cases to $45 for hand towels, $65 for tote bags, and $95 for the pom-pom blankets. All prices include monogramming, which typically takes five days for items in stock, somewhat longer for custom designs.

Ms. Johnstone-Butcher is delighted with the enthusiastic customer response, and reports there is never a dull moment. “I have not been bored a single day. I can hardly believe how busy we have been. It is wonderful to start out with an idea, to create something, and then be able to see it through.

“I am so pleased by the warm welcome both from the customers and the other merchants, and I am very humbled by it. I look forward to growing the business and continuing to deliver unique, special monograms. I love to create new designs, and I am also inspired by ideas from the customers.”

And, she adds, “Remember, with monogramming, you are only limited by your imagination, and we are here to help guide you through that imagination!”

The shop is currently open Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Hours may be extended in the summer. (609) 921-6057. Website: www.togglehome.com.

To the Editor:

On behalf of the board, staff, artists, members and volunteers of the Arts Council of Princeton, we would like to thank everyone — including 40,000-plus visitors, 200 vendors, and over 40 performance groups — who helped make the 45th annual Communiversity ArtsFest such a spectacular event on a gorgeous spring day. As a nonprofit, community-based organization that relies on community support, we are very grateful for the collaboration that allowed us to produce another hugely successful event.

When the Arts Council plans the Communiversity ArtsFest, we envision a “town meets gown” celebration with something for everyone: diverse music and dance performances, outstanding artistry and crafts, creative children’s activities, delicious food, and participation from numerous local merchants, artists, nonprofit and campus groups. By all accounts, we achieved our goal. We would like to thank the Arts Council staff and volunteers who gave their time and energy to make the overall event the popular success that it was. We also appreciate the extremely talented artists and performers who participated in many creative activities including the “ACP Atelier,” ceramics and monotype printmaking, “Paint Out Princeton,” children’s art activities, performances on stage and street, sidewalk chalk drawing and all the many forms of creative expression that make the event unique and memorable.

We would also like to express our heartfelt thanks to: the students of Princeton University, University President Christopher Eisgruber, and the Office of Community and Regional Affairs; Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert; Princeton Council and administrative staff; Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman; Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes; Mercer County Freeholder Andrew Koontz; the Princeton Police Department; Princeton Fire Department; Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad; Princeton Regional Health Department; Princeton Public Works Department; the Princeton Clergy Association; the Princeton Merchants Association and Chamber of Commerce; Princeton Public Library; Event Planner Harper McArthur; and our major sponsors: AT&T, Bloomberg, Palmer Square Management, and the Princeton Garden Theatre. A complete list of all our generous event and in-kind sponsors can be found at www.artscouncilofprinceton.org.

Ted Deutsch

President, Board of Trustees

Jeff Nathanson

Executive Director, Arts Council of Princeton

To the Editor:

On behalf of the New Jersey AARP State Office staff and volunteers, I would like to extend a sincere thank you to Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald for his leadership on the issue of earned paid sick leave. Considering that over half of AARP members still work either half or full time, earned sick leave is a highly relevant issue for the community.

It goes without saying that the membership of AARP is greatly appreciative of Assemblyman Greenwald for lending his voice in such a worthy matter.

Furthermore, the Assembly Majority Leader and his colleague, Assemblywoman Lampitt, have sponsored the Caregivers Tax Credit, which could provide needed relief for those who unselfishly commit countless hours and resources in order to care for a loved one. This, as well, is deserving of recognition and kudos.

Ryan Lind

Rockingham Row

To the Editor:

As the weather warms, homeowners’ thoughts typically turn to yards and landscaping. Spring is an excellent time to spruce up residential plantings, and what better way to do so than to incorporate native trees, shrubs, flowers, and grasses into your home’s outdoor spaces? Native plants bring many benefits.

First and foremost, plants native to this region provide food and habitats to a diverse set of local wildlife; in many cases, plants originating overseas simply cannot substitute. “Planting native” helps insects and birds that are important pollinators, key components of the food chain, or simply beautiful to behold. The most famous example is perhaps the Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), caterpillars of which feed on Milkweeds (Asclepias species); loss of native Milkweeds and plantings of non-native Milkweeds may be contributing to the butterfly’s population decline in some states. Another example is the Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio troilus); as its name suggests, caterpillars of this spectacular butterfly feed on leaves of Spicebush (Lindera benzoin), sometimes called “Native Forsythia.” This deer-resistant shrub has aromatic leaves, and can grow in a wide range of conditions; its flowers provision bees in spring, and its fat-rich berries help fuel birds migrating south in autumn.

Secondly, native plants can be beautiful and hardy, with colors, shapes, textures, and scents that rival or exceed those of the European and Asian species that are all too commonly encountered in residential landscaping. When established in suitable conditions, many natives grow well with little or no need for watering, pesticides, or fertilizers. You can find native species that love wet soils, others that do well in dry conditions, plenty that thrive in shade and many that are stunning in sun. The rich diversity of plants native to this area is vividly illustrated at Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve just south of New Hope, where about 800 species can be seen in just 134 acres. You can purchase native plants for your own yard at the Preserve (their plant sale starts May 9 and continues throughout the growing season); at D&R Greenway’s native plant nursery; at the Mercer County Gardeners Plant Expo; and in good local garden centers and nurseries. All these outlets should also be able to advise on what plants will grow well in the light and soil conditions in your yard.

In short, eschew the imports, and plant native if possible; there are some upcoming sales where you can obtain a wide selection. Your local butterflies, bees, beetles, and birds will thank you.

Catherine Williams

Clover Lane, The writer is a volunteer at Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve.

April 22, 2015

To the Editor:

If there’s one thing I wish people would let go of on this Earth Day, both locally and nationally, it’s pessimism in all its manifestations. Well, maybe not all. That’s asking too much. But at least a few. Some equate pessimism with seeing trouble ahead, but the entrenched pessimism we face is the sort that casts us as helpless to find and act on solutions. Sometimes one form of pessimism gets piled on another, as in: “We can’t know if climate change is real and risky, or if it is, there’s nothing we can do about it, and if there is something we could do then we couldn’t possibly get other towns, states, and nations to work together.” That’s the kind of pessimism sandwich a lot of people eat for lunch every day.

Locally, pessimism takes the form of resistance to change. There’s some sense in a “look before you leap” approach, but when a solution is offered to a local problem, the tendency is to look and look and look, and never leap.

The paralysis and sense of foreboding that permeates our era is due in part to our capacity to collectively create problems while stubbornly resisting efforts to collectively solve them. The reflexive response to proposed solutions is to search for flaw and fear the negative consequences of any action. We see safety in inaction, but inaction is often the greater risk.

In such a situation, the arts are instructive. My impulse to seek collective solutions comes in part from playing in musical ensembles, where good results can only come from working together. And the cure for that pesky habit of finding flaws in any proposal for change can be found in theater improv, where the actors on stage succeed only if they commit to creating something new, together. I’ve done a little improv, and seen others try it for the first time, and typically our ingrained response is to contradict the acting partner, to take exception to what’s offered, and thereby sabotage the scene. The catchwords of theater improv are “Yes, and…”, which in community problem solving would take the form of greeting proposed solutions not with reflexive negativity but instead with “How can we make this work?”

In a way, we are in an ongoing improv with the earth, too often fighting against nature, resisting its logic, rejecting its offerings, and thereby defeating ourselves in this long-running scene in one corner of the universe. We set the stage, surrounding ourselves with suburban nature, then purge our yards of rainwater and leaves rather than explore how we could use them to advantage. Spring is a time when every tree and flower is saying “Yes, and…” We should try doing the same.

Stephen Hiltner

North Harrison Street

To the Editor:

I recently registered to volunteer with the Arts Council of Princeton to help at Communiversity in downtown Princeton on April 26. Doing so reminded me of how much I enjoy volunteering. I truly love the process of meeting new people, lending a hand, giving back, and making a difference. I’m joining more than 1.4 million people who volunteer each year in New Jersey’s schools, nonprofit organizations, and houses of worship and many others who help elderly neighbors or friends in need.

In the last few years, the definition of volunteering has expanded to include those sharing their professional skills. It’s no longer just attorneys who give “pro-bono” service. Volunteering has exploded to include, for example, finance, marketing, communications and IT professionals stepping up to help nonprofit organizations by serving on their boards or sharing their skills in short-term strategic projects.

Whatever type of volunteering you are participating in, I applaud your efforts to make the lives of others a bit brighter. April 12-18, 2015, was National Volunteer Appreciation Week. I encourage any organization using volunteers to thank those who are giving their time, skills, and heart to help your organization succeed. Volunteers are the backbone of any organization.

I would like to publicly thank the many volunteers who have worked with VolunteerConnect to share their skills on boards of area nonprofit groups or by completing a strategic project for a nonprofit organization in need of your talents. Skills-based volunteering not only allows you to contribute your talents and education, but helps nonprofit organizations succeed beyond their expectations.

Amy Klein

Executive Director, VolunteerConnect

To the Editor:

Allow me to introduce us: we’re members of Citizens’ Climate Lobby. No, no, please don’t run. We’re not scary. We’re your neighbors. Our kids go to school with yours and you see us mowing the lawn. We drive our cars and heat and cool our homes, just like you. And we want to continue to do so. But we need your help. You see, we read about the drought in California threatening our farmer friends, Glacier National Park losing its glaciers, and our pine forests in Colorado dying because of beetles that no longer go away during the winters. We see our beautiful country changing before our eyes. Even though we don’t all understand how and why, we trust in smart people who study these things and say that fossil fuel use is warming the atmosphere, which causes or exacerbates these issues, and that the changes are happening now and very fast.

Nobody likes excessive regulations, and instead we want to use the biggest force on earth: the power of the American economy, to solve this problem. Our proposal will not increase the size of government, but it will reward good behavior and discourage bad, so it will encourage adaptation. And that is what we do best as Americans: adapt and grow. We do this so well, that independent studies show that we can both reduce fossil fuel use by 50 percent and have a net increase of 2.8 million jobs in 20 years when we act. This means that there is no reason to wait: the best time to act is now.

So please join us. You will not be alone, I promise. We have over 220 local groups in the country, tens in other parts of the world and we’re doubling in size every year. We have people from all faiths, ages, and political denominations and we especially want you. You don’t need to have any special talents or skills, just be a citizen who cares. If enough of us show that we care, and that we are supporting a specific solution that is non-partisan and will work, we will get this done. Go to www.citizensclimatelobby.org and join us now!

Veronique Oomen

Linwood Circle

To the Editor:

Due to the ongoing union negotiations between the Princeton Board of Education and the PREA, the cancellation of the upcoming annual district-wide elementary school orchestra concert on April 23 is imminent. It is a huge loss artistically. This concert is the culmination of the music teachers and children’s entire year of practice and rehearsal. It is a brilliantly orchestrated event that brings together the strings students from all four elementary schools to perform at Princeton High School’s main auditorium. This concert is the pinnacle achievement of the teacher and student’s academic year.

During my 24 years with McCarter Theatre I have seen how a performance experience on our stages can transform a child. Artists practice their craft to ultimately share, perform, and enrich an audience’s hearts and minds. A huge experience is being taken away from over 150 elementary school students in Princeton. The children lose the opportunity to perform in a large venue before an audience in the hundreds. They lose a chance to build their poise, confidence and pride. They lose being part of an extraordinary collaboration with their peers from the other elementary schools and they never get to reach the goal they have practiced for all year, which negatively impacts their motivation.

The children lose.

Taking this concert away from them is equal to telling a winning sports team they cannot play in the championship game; in effect, they never get past the playoffs. A resolution to these negotiations by both sides must be made so that activities such as this concert can take place.

Cheryl Mintz

Franklin Avenue, Parent of a 4th Grade Student,

Resident Stage Manager McCarter Theatre Center

To the Editor:

Princeton was treated to a memorable privilege on Sunday at our public library. US1 Poets’ Cooperative gave their annual celebration in honor of the new volume of US 1 Worksheets. This is, believe it or not, the 60th Issue of their literary journal, featuring skilled poets both national and international.

Our Community Room was Standing Room Only. The first nice day of 2015 gleamed through walls of windows, as life and drama and action and beauty unfolded in that hushed room.

Driving there myself, I had slightly yearned toward the Pole Farm. Suddenly, a great sense of the honor of the afternoon event washed over me: We are a community blessed that US 1 Poets’ Cooperative has been meeting to critique, every Tuesday, in and near Princeton, all those decades.

It is equally remarkable that our fine library supports poetry to such a high degree, including readings sponsored by Delaware Valley Poets with US 1 Poets on the second Monday of every month. Your own Linda Arntzenius is one of the strongest members of US 1, in terms of her art and her service. The Cooperative’s astute editors gave greatly of their time, their judgment, their very art, as well as essential logistical expertise, to bring forth this handsome volume.

But there is more. Poetry is about truth, often truths not easily shared. There is secret love, unspeakable grief, astounding encounters, as well as political truths increasingly overlooked in the prose world. Sunday at the library provided a new perspective on freedom of speech in our time.

Carolyn Foote Edelmann

Juniper Court, Lawrenceville

To the Editor:

The PREA would like to thank the many parents, students, community members, and local businesses supporting us as we continue to seek a fair and equitable agreement with the Princeton Public Board of Education. We are truly fortunate to have such a strong and pro-public-education community!

We are especially grateful to the following individuals and businesses for helping make the April 9 rally a success: The parents and community members who showed up to stand with teachers and celebrate the Princeton Public Schools:

Ms. Shirley Satterfield, PPS parent, retired PPS guidance counselor, and well respected community member, for speaking in support of the PREA members and on the importance of educators everywhere; Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman for generously providing a letter on behalf of the PREA that was read by Ms. Kari Osmond, district director, Office of The Congresswoman; PREA member, and Electric Stingray band member, Bryan McKenna for providing music; Sarthak Parikh and the Princeton University juggling team for providing entertainment and juggling lessons; Jazams for donating picture books for our book drive supporting Princeton Nursery School.

And a special thank you to the following businesses for generously donating food and drink items to feed our rally participants: bai drinks, Bon Appetit, Dunkin Donuts, Hoagie Haven, House of Cupcakes, The Momo Brothers, Olives, Tico’s Eatery & Juice Bar, and Terhune Orchards.

Joanne Ryan

President, PREA

To the Editor:

You know you live in a very special town when not one but several merchants read in the paper that the public high school is hosting 20 foreign exchange students and they contact you to see how they can make the visit a more special experience. On behalf of Princeton High School and the Pettoranello Italian exchange students, we would like to thank Carlo and Raoul Momo, Adriano DiDonato, William Lettier, Angela Baldino and the Baldino family for their enormous generosity and exemplary civic mindedness.

Over 40 students were treated to after school tapas at Mediterra, picnic fixings from Bon Appetit, and a hometown pizza dinner at Contes restaurant.

The students spent a morning touring the Grounds for Sculpture with a special tour of the Foundry thanks to Maria Lo Biondo, Rena Perrone and Charles Haude. They were given private tours of the public library, Engine Company No. 3, and a special welcome from members of the Princeton Council and our esteemed mayor Liz Lempert. They enjoyed tours of the Princeton University Art Museum and campus. Thank you to Princeton University professors Pietro Frassica and Fiorenza Weinapple who took time out of their day to welcome our guests.

Special thanks goes to Ellie Pinelli for her tireless work on behalf of Dorthea’s House, the Princeton/Pettoranello Sister City foundation, and the Italian American Sportsmen Club, which hosted the students for a luncheon and a farewell dinner with a disc jockey. Ellie put her heart and soul into making sure each of the daily itineraries provided our guests with the fullest American experience and we are enormously grateful for all of her work and leadership.

Mary Stange

James Court

To the Editor:

We moved to Princeton for a number of reasons. Top of our lists was the school system. Academic excellence, strong arts programs, and diverse student population — all proved to be true. But in our quests to advocate for our children we found the system sorely lacking in support of academic excellence for their learning styles. So together we are speaking to parents, teachers, administrators, counselors, and more. What we found was that we were not alone.

Student/school/parent communication should be easier! In response, our group Parents Supporting All Learners is reaching out to the community for support. Help us create change in the Princeton Public School System. If you care about:

STUDENTS’ ORGANIZATIONAL BURDEN AND EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONS: The executive functions required for a student to manage the antiquated system of paper calendars, daily handouts, binders, notes, and homework are simply not developed by middle school and even high school for a large population of students. There are affordable electronic solutions that many school systems and charter schools have implemented.

TEACHING TO ALL CHILDREN: There are no developed strategies in place to support students who learn better through discussion, interaction, movement, video learning, or some other modern, non-lecture-based teaching. Luckily we have many creative teachers but that is not enough.

TREATMENT OF STUDENTS LABELED WITH ATTENTION DEFICIT: The Center for Disease Control estimates there are potentially 300-400 or more students in the system with an Attention Deficit diagnosis. A sizeable population yet there are no policies to educate teachers or to communicate with parents on the subject.

KNOWING HOW TO SUPPORT YOUR STUDENT: There are no clearly communicated guidelines for parents to navigate student services. Information on applicable laws, programs available, and allocation of relevant funds, are not easily found and should be. In addition, educators and guidance staff should not be recommending medication. They are simply not qualified to do so.

Parents Supporting All Learners is a group of parents working to effect change in the Princeton Public School System. Our schools need to step up to the plate and make structural changes to support all students in learning to their full potential. The Academic Achievement Board has heard us, now we need the leverage of parents.

We teach our children to accept and even celebrate their differences. Their classmates may look different from them, speak different languages, play differently, mature differently, and love differently. Why then can’t we fully embrace that they learn differently?

We are reaching out for your support. Please find information at Parents Supporting All Learners on Facebook and join our group.

Beth Hamilton

Linwood Circle

Jill Burd

Broadripple Drive

April 16, 2015

To the Editor:

Over the past dozen years, this paper has published numerous letters from Princeton residents bemoaning the building of “McMansions” in this community. Typically, the Zoning Board kept out of the fray asserting that, as long as the houses meet the zoning requirements, there’s nothing it can do.

Unfortunately, the Zoning Department uses an overly lax standard for determining the size of a house which allows hundreds of square feet to be excluded. This has allowed the construction of houses significantly larger than permitted by the Zoning Ordinance.

At its monthly meeting on April 22, 2015, the Princeton Zoning Board of Adjustment will be considering how the Zoning Ordinance should be interpreted. I shall be urging the Board to abide by the intent of the Zoning Ordinance and to ensure that an accurate measure of the size of a structure be used.

If any readers are concerned about overbuilding in Princeton, I encourage them to attend this meeting and to voice their opinion. (So far, I only have a verbal commitment from the Zoning Department that this matter will be considered at the April meeting. Please check the agenda for this meeting prior to attending.)

Charles Karney

Prospect Avenue

To the Editor:

Why must public school teachers in Princeton “fight” to receive a decent salary contract year after year?

That this occurs in an affluent town dedicated to learning: the University, Graduate College, Rider, Seminary, Institute for Advanced Study, Theological Library, Art Museum, Public Library) is a shame!

Every person reading this letter must agree that there is nothing more important than the training of their kids in education and character as future citizens.

Most teachers I know love the kids, the town, the subjects, despite the fact that they can’t afford to buy a new house in the former Borough or Township or plan to save enough to retire.

William Roufberg

Retired PHS teacher, Kendall Park

To the Editor:

As chair of Trenton Children’s Chorus (TCC) 25th Anniversary committee, I want to thank the Princeton and Trenton communities for helping us hit a high note at our 25th Anniversary Celebration concerts. Audiences were on their feet and clapping to the music at packed performances on March 27 at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Trenton, and on March 28 at Miller Chapel in Princeton. The Trenton Children’s Chorus under the direction of Patricia Thel; the Princeton Seminary Singers, directed by Martin Tel; and guest soloist Rev. William Heard joined voices in a glorious evening of gospel music. Included in the program was the premiere of a work commissioned in honor of the occasion, “One Human Family,” by renowned gospel composer Raymond Wise.

We at TCC are so very grateful for the support of all our Princeton and Trenton friends and families. TCC provides exceptional musical, academic, personal, and social opportunities — choral rehearsal, drumming instruction, music theory, enrichment — for young people after school. TCC’s role in the Trenton community couldn’t be more important than it is today. In an urban area where the high school drop out rate is greater than 50 percent, 100 percent of TCC’s graduates attend college.

The Trenton Children’s Chorus will hold their spring concert on Friday, May 15 at 7 p.m. at Covenant Presbyterian Church, 471 Parkway Avenue, Trenton. A free-will offering will be received. More information is available at www.trentonchildrenschorus.org.

Jane Hynes

Board Member, Trenton Children’s Chorus

April 10, 2015

To the Editor:

Our agreements are the only thing we humans can actually depend on. So, as a Princeton resident who lives off Nassau, I was wondering if this spring we might, as a community, agree on 9 a.m. as the time power tools can be turned on during the week and 10 a.m. on weekends. Currently power tools are turned on any time a person wants to use one — in my neighborhood usually around 8 a.m., any day.

This may seem an insignificant request to consider, yet “sound-noise” can be extremely intense and discordant to one’s whole system — perhaps in the background for many, yet for some, very much heard and noticed, very much a disruption.

Forming win-win agreements offers a truly sustainable benefit now, for all. Perhaps instead of beginning with our power tools in the morning, we can save that part of the project till a bit later? We will thrive with win-win agreements. “More power tool ya!” and everyone else too!

P.S.: Can we also ban squirrel alarms? The intensity of those high-pitched devices also causes incredible discord to the system and, if you live off Nassau, you live in “Squirrel Town.” There really is no keeping a squirrel off your property. They’re everywhere. So how about we agree to consider the possibility of that alarm as an “unsound-solution” to the ridding of squirrels; as actually worse than the “problem” — we’re all connected ….

Dana Lichtstrahl

Moran Avenue