June 5, 2020

Hundreds of people filled downtown Princeton on Tuesday evening in a peaceful protest against racism and police brutality. The event, which also included speeches and marching, was co-sponsored by The Coalition for Peace Action, Choose, and Not in Our Town Princeton. (Photo by Chris Councill)

June 3, 2020

On what would have been Princeton Reunions P-rade Day last Saturday, the Nassau Hall lawn remained mostly empty. A virtual P-rade was held instead. Princeton University’s 273rd commencement was also held virtually this year, with an in-person event planned for the Class of 2020 on campus next May. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

By Donald Gilpin 

Princeton University’s 273rd graduation ceremony on Sunday was celebratory and mostly upbeat, but, as University President Christopher L. Eisgruber said in a taped virtual welcome to the 1,250 undergraduates receiving bachelor’s degrees and 492 graduate students receiving Ph.D. or final master’s degrees, it was “not the ceremony anyone would have wished for.”

Standing fully robed in academic regalia at the podium with the facade of Nassau Hall and its two sculpted tigers behind him, Eisgruber looked out on an empty lawn, though thousands were present virtually for the event on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Dean of the College Jill Dolan, who joined Eisgruber to formally present the candidates for degrees, called on the online audience to join her in imagining a more normal scenario. “I hope you too can see this imagined community who are cheering you today,” she told the graduates.

In his speech to the graduates, Eisgruber acknowledged the enormous challenges for this generation, which has been “touched by tragedy” and which graduates in “much harder times” than their parents’ generation faced. “You have seen how fragile our world is,” he said, noting the losses that all had recently suffered.

He went on, however, to emphasize that the most important question is “what will you do with this hardship? You have the opportunity to chart a new course. I hope you seize that opportunity.” And he closed by referring to a planned, in-person graduation for the class of 2020 in May 2021. “I look forward to congratulating you in person next spring,” he said.

In a statement, also issued on Sunday, Eisgruber commented on the killing of George Floyd and the importance of confronting racism. “We have witnessed yet again how this nation’s long legacy of racism continues to damage and destroy the lives of black people,” he wrote. “The COVID-19 pandemic itself has killed black and brown Americans at higher rates than other groups, magnifying disparities in health care and economic well-being.”

He continued, reemphasizing his challenge to the graduates and the community. “We all have a responsibility to stand up against racism, wherever and whenever we encounter it,” he said. “Commitments to diversity, inclusivity, and human rights are fundamental to the mission of Princeton University. I ask all of us to join the graduates in the Class of 2020 in their quest to form a better society, one that confronts racism honestly and strives relentlessly for equality and justice.”

In his valedictory remarks, Nicholas Johnson, a senior class operations research and financial engineering concentrator from Montreal and the first black valedictorian in Princeton University history, also challenged the Class of 2020, as he emphasized the need for building. “Think critically about what needs to be built in the world, build it, and never stop learning,” he said. “Building is a vehicle of progress and a bridge to a better future. Let us build a better future.” more

By Anne Levin

Capital Health Systems will open a primary care facility early next year at 300 Witherspoon Street, the former headquarters of The Princeton Packet newspaper. The new clinic, which will have four to six family and internal medicine doctors available five days a week, was announced Monday evening at a meeting of Princeton Council.

Primary Care at Princeton will also offer evening hours twice weekly, and same-day appointments, said Councilwoman Michelle Pirone Lambros, who has been involved in the negotiations with Capital Health and the property owner, Helena May. The Packet moved out of the building three years ago.

“They expressed to us that, in the past seven or eight years, they were looking for a place in a central location in Princeton, with good parking,” Lambros said of Capital Health. “Ironically, we’ve been looking for them as a solution to [not having] a walkable clinic since Princeton Hospital closed and moved to Plainsboro.”

Lambros said the town is working with Capital Health to offer pre-natal care, well-baby care, and wellness care for adults who are uninsured or under-insured. The arrangement also connects clients with physicians at Capital Health’s main facility in Hopewell, and will offer transport there if needed. more

By Anne Levin

As a result of outbreaks of violence in cities across the nation and, especially, in Trenton, the Princeton Police Department has increased its visibility and presence, especially in the Central Business District and at Princeton Shopping Center, where looting could take place.

“First, we want to ensure that those who peacefully protest are safe and protected from harm,” the department stated in a bulletin that was posted by the Princeton Merchants Association this week. “Second, we hope that our presence will deter others from vandalizing our small businesses. Although we do not expect any problems to occur, we need to remain vigilant and be prepared in the event that things don’t go as planned.”

The May 25 killing in Minneapolis of African American George Floyd by white police officer Derek Chauvin, who knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, has sparked protests all over the nation, many of which have turned violent. Peaceful demonstrations on Saturday and Sunday in Trenton deteriorated on Sunday night into hours of looting, and the setting on fire of three police cars. Stores and banks on West State Street, East State Street, and other areas of the downtown were looted, as were stores at the Roebling Market shopping center.

Officers from all over the area were called to the capital city to help restore order. Helicopters circled the city for hours. An 8 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew was put in place. Police were also present at Quaker Bridge Mall and in downtown Princeton on Sunday night, though no looting took place. Curfews were also established in Lawrence, Ewing, and Hamilton.

The Coalition for Peace Action scheduled a peaceful protest for Tuesday evening, June 2, at Nassau and Witherspoon streets (after press time). The police advised the public to be aware of road closures and plan accordingly for detours. Labyrinth Books, and the organizations Not in Our Town and Choose, were among those scheduled to take part in the 5 p.m. “Kneeling for Justice” demonstration. more

BOND REQEST POSTPONED: A regulating authority has temporarily put aside Rider University’s appeal to redirect a portion of bond revenues in order to speed up the relocation of Westminster Choir College from its longtime Princeton home. (File photo by Erica M. Cardenas)

By Anne Levin

A request by Rider University to redirect part of a 2017 Revenue Bond to facilitate the move of Westminster Choir College from Princeton to Rider’s Lawrenceville campus was tabled last week by the New Jersey Educational Facilities Authority (NJEFA).

The $41.7 million bond was originally issued to fund renovations of Rider residential and academic facilities and build additions to the University’s Science and Technology and Fine Arts centers. Early last month, the campus community was informed that Rider wants to use $13 million of the bond funds to complete the first phase of the transition of Westminster to Lawrenceville. This would postpone the planned additions.

“We believe the decision to move forward with the campus transition at this time is critical to best preserve current and future Westminster enrollments, as well as supporting the vision for the combined Westminster College of the Arts in Lawrenceville,” wrote Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs DonnaJean Fredeen, in a May 4 communication. “The plan has been approved by the University’s Board of Trustees.”

Rider, which merged with Westminster in 1992, announced in 2016 that it was planning to sell the choir college. When no viable buyer was found, the University released plans to close the Princeton campus and move Westminster to Lawrence. Those plans have spurred two lawsuits and opposition from several members of the Rider community, past and present. Last March, a Mercer County Superior Court judge ruled in favor of Rider’s motion to dismiss the lawsuits, which sought to block the move. The Westminster Foundation, which is made up of alumni and supporters opposed to the move, said it would appeal the decision. more

By Donald Gilpin

Timothy Charleston

The Princeton Public Schools (PPS) Board of Education (BOE) last week hired two new assistant principals at John Witherspoon Middle School (JWMS) to replace Lynne Harkness, who retired from her position in March. Timothy Charleston, former social studies supervisor at JWMS, has already moved into his new role, and Stephanie DiCarlo, special education teacher at Grover Middle School in West Windsor, is slated to join the JWMS administration on July 1. 

JWMS Principal Jason Burr emphasized Charleston’s leadership “at the forefront of creating two dynamic middle school teams.” Burr noted, “Our social studies teachers have forged a real identity of being student-centered and project-focused. Our ‘Ideas Wing’ teachers are continually crafting an identity of innovation and problem-based instruction.”

PPS Superintendent Steve Cochrane, in proposing the new assistant principals at the May 26 BOE meeting, said that Charleston, who has been in the district for six years, is  “known and trusted by the JWMS staff.” Cochrane pointed out Charleston’s “excellent organizational and logistical skills, his proven leadership — and he cares deeply about kids.”

Burr described DiCarlo, who in addition to her teaching has worked as a mentor to new teachers and a leader in professional development and environmental initiatives with a focus on social-emotional learning, as “a well-respected special education teacher whose commitment to inclusivity is unquestioned. Her role as a teacher leader and as an indispensable part of the informal leadership structure in her previous district makes her well positioned to make an impact at JWMS.”

Stephanie DiCarlo

Cochrane noted, “Both bring a unique set of skills to support and guide our students in a rapidly evolving educational environment.” He pointed out Charleston’s expertise in technology, curriculum innovation, culturally responsive teaching, safety, security, and facilities; and DiCarlo’s “proven ability to bring people together, to promote a positive school culture, and to design instruction to meet the needs of all students, particularly those with special needs who have been especially affected by remote learning.”

Burr added, “Tim and Stephanie will bring a clear student-centered focus to our work as we strive to bring students and staff safely back to school in the fall.”   

Cochrane emphasized that even though JWMS will now have two assistant principals instead of one, this is not an additional position because the social studies supervisor position that Charleston held is being dissolved and responsibilities will be divided between two other district supervisors.  JWMS  is growing fast, with 850 students, a projected increase of 10 percent next year, Cochrane pointed out, and “having two assistant principals for a school that size is not an uncommon practice.”

He added that the deciding factor in adding an assistant principal was “a real need to have as much support as possible for our students, staff, and faculty as we process this current crisis and enter a new era. We’re looking at this through the lens of equity and putting our resources where they will do the most good for kids.” more

By Donald Gilpin

Princeton continues to see a flattening curve and diminishing numbers of COVID-19 infections, as the state and the town prepare to start Stage 2 of reopening on Monday, June 15 with the resumption of outdoor restaurant dining and non-essential, retail stores welcoming customers inside.

Beginning on June 22, barber shops and salons will also be able to reopen, with personal care, gyms, and health clubs to follow gradually, as the restarting proceeds in the weeks afterwards. Health and safety guidelines for all these activities will be issued in the coming days.

The Princeton Health Department is providing businesses with an electronic checklist, also found at princetoncovid.org, which reviews strategies businesses can use to protect the health of staff and customers. The Health Department is also making site visits to any business looking for assistance with their new business process or a review of occupational health concerns related to COVID-19.

Princeton Health Officer Jeff Grosser cited significant progress in Princeton’s efforts to combat the pandemic, but warned about challenges ahead. In addition to working with businesses to ensure that they are being protective of public health when reopening their doors, the Princeton Health Department urges residents to continue to take precautions.

“Preventative measures, like social distancing, wearing masks, and handwashing still remain some of the most important tools to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Grosser wrote in an email. “Although we are seeing a slow in the incidence of COVID-19 locally and throughout the state, it’s important to continue to take precautions since we have also seen widespread transmission of COVID-19 from people who may not know they have the virus but still spread it to others.”

Grosser continued, “My greatest concern with reopening is that we quickly forget how much COVID-19 has impacted our society, our residents of Princeton, our neighbors, our families, and friends. If we forget how large an effort it has taken to ‘flatten the curve,’ we will not take those precautions or preventative measures, and undoubtedly will see more cases and experience sustained outbreaks. There’s tremendous power in prevention, yet it is a power that is often overlooked because it doesn’t grab headlines or create news. Prevention is public health. And both should remain relevant, even after the COVID-19 pandemic.”  more

David, 12

For week six of our campaign highlighting fun projects for kids to do, we invited local youths to show us something they made using recycled materials. Next week’s project features collages made with newspaper and magazine clippings.

By Stuart Mitchner

Each day’s paper more violent . . . Indochina to Minneapolis … History’s faster than thought …
—Allen Ginsberg, from The Fall of America

The news isn’t just breaking, it’s running wild, raging, incendiary, out of control, so how do you keep up when you’re aiming toward the middle of a week that may exceed your darkest expectations? What do you do when the ever-shifting, on-the-scene, at-the-moment image of a floodlit Washington Monument looming in the foreground of an apparent river of fire headed for the White House evokes dystopian TV like The Man In the High Castle, or David Simon’s The Plot Against America, where Philip Roth’s boyhood Newark neighborhood seethes with a Kristallnacht menace as chilling as the West Baltimore phantasmagoria of The Wire.

What can you do but try to keep pace, making a bid for vicarious relevance by tying your weekly hovercraft to art and adversity in the belief that inspired acting, poetry, music is always timely, always worthy of interest. That’s been the motive force driving these pieces week after week, year after year. Along comes Hurricane Irene, a flooded basement, the power out, so you listen to Chopin, read The Winter’s Tale by candlelight, and write about it. When terrorists shoot up the Bataclan in Paris, you connect by way of Henry Miller, Rimbaud, and the Velvet Underground. When youth is under fire at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, you write about the night in 1963 the Beatles played there before swooning audiences of young girls who could have been the mothers or grandmothers of the victims. When terrorists savage Brussels, it opens the way for a column on MI-5. A terrorist attack on Westminster Bridge inspires a flashback to Wordsworth and his spirited sister Dorothy.

Sunday night it’s breaking news gone wild in D.C.’s City of Dreadful Night where the White House of Usher has gone dark and the only refuge is down the rabbit hole into the third season finale of Ozark, high on the super reality of art and outrage, your heart full watching a brother-sister tragedy and the transformative performance of Laura Linney.  more

“CUT FROM MY PSYCHE”: This work by Ilene Dube is featured in the West Windsor Arts Council’s “Faculty Student Art Show,” which can be viewed online June 5 through July 12. 

The “Faculty Student Art Show” at West Windsor Arts Council (WWAC) will celebrate the work of teaching artists and their students created in a class or workshop at WWAC during the fall, winter, or spring sessions of the 2019-2020 class year. 

The online exhibition will run from June 5 to July 12, with an online opening reception and recognition of Certificate of Fine Arts (CiFA) students on Friday, June 5 at 7:15 p.m. This is a free event, but registration is required.  A link for registration can be found at westwindsorarts.org.

Each year WWAC honors its teaching artists and the work done by their students, both youth and adults, by showcasing their work in a culminating exhibition, “the Faculty Student Art Show.” This year is extra special, as it is the first year many of the youth students are part of the Certificate of Fine Arts (CiFA) program, which has become the backbone to the arts education classes offered at WWAC.  more

“LIFE ON SPRINGDALE”: Mary Waltham’s artwork is displayed on Springdale Road as part of the international Art-in Place initiative. Three other artists, Mic Boekelmann, Robin Resch, and Vince Bush, are also participating locally.

Four Princeton artists are participating in Art-in-Place, an international initiative from Terrain Exhibitions and CNL projects based in Chicago. Art-in-Place “invites artists to exhibit an original work of art to be displayed outside their home or from a window visible to the public.”

This collective action provides artists and community members with a sense of hope and connectivity through the experience of public art during the COVID-19 pandemic.  more

MCCARTER LIVE: McCarter Theatre presented an online conversation between outgoing Artistic Director and Resident Playwright Emily Mann; and actor, director, and political activist Cynthia Nixon. (Emily Mann photo by Matt Pilsner; Cynthia Nixon photo by Victoria Stevens.)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

McCarter Theatre presented “McCarter LIVE: In Conversation with Cynthia Nixon.” The May 29 discussion was part of the theatre’s ongoing live-streamed series, McCarter @Home. Artistic Engagement Manager Paula T. Alekson curated the conversation between Nixon and outgoing Artistic Director and Resident Playwright Emily Mann.

Nixon perhaps is best known for her portrayal of Miranda Hobbes in the television and film series Sex and the City, for which she received the 2004 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. She also has appeared in films such as Amadeus and A Quiet Passion. She has won Tony Awards for her Broadway performances in Rabbit Hole and The Little Foxes.

In 1996 Nixon portrayed Nora Helmer, the protagonist of A Doll House (1879), in McCarter’s production of the Ibsen classic. She regards being directed by Mann, who staged that production, as “one of the high points” of her career.  more

HEALING SOUNDS:  The Philadelphia Orchestra is being streamed directly into patient rooms on a dedicated channel or on tablets as part of a program with Penn Medicine hospitals, including Princeton Health. The staff can enjoy the gift of music as well.

The Philadelphia Orchestra, in partnership with Penn Medicine, will bring the healing power of music to patients at Penn Medicine’s six hospitals, including Princeton Health in Plainsboro. Those being treated for COVID-19 are among patients who will be hearing the orchestra.

Penn Medicine hospitals throughout the region will stream Virtual Philadelphia Orchestra programs directly into patient rooms on a dedicated Philadelphia Orchestra television channel or on tablets, including rebroadcasts of previous
concerts, chamber music from musicians’ homes, and more, with new content added each week. In addition, Philadelphia Orchestra audio and video content will be available on Penn Medicine’s employee COVID-19 support portal, PennMedicineTogether.

“Music has the incredible power to inspire, to comfort, and to heal,” said Philadelphia Orchestra Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin. “The patients and health care heroes battling COVID-19 are going through so much, and it is our hope that by providing them with our gift of music, we can do our part to help them endure, and bring them moments of joy.”  more

As policymakers plan for school reopening in the fall, Arts Ed NJ joined 53 other organizations in a statement that supports an arts education for all students.

In the statement, “Arts Education Is Essential,” the signing organizations convey that the arts have already played a pivotal and uplifting role during the health crisis, and that arts education can help all students, including those who are in traditionally underrepresented groups, as students return to school next year.

“Arts Education Is Essential” speaks to arts education’s role in supporting the social and emotional well-being of students, an area that administrators, educators, and parents have highlighted as essential to student safety and success during the pandemic and as students return to school, whether in-person, online, or in a blended fashion, this fall. Arts education also creates a welcoming school environment and a healthy and inclusive school community, helping students, educators, parents, and the community at large build and strengthen their connectedness during this time of social isolation and social distancing.  more

STANDING TALL: Princeton University women’s hockey goalie Steph Neatby guards the crease this winter during her senior season with the Tigers. Senior Neatby came up big for Princeton in the ECAC Hockey title game at top-ranked Cornell, making 31 saves as Princeton rallied for a 3-2 overtime win in the March 8 contest. That turned out to be Neatby’s last appearance for the Tigers as the NCAA tournament was canceled days later due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Neatby will be continuing her hockey career, having signed a contract to play with Swedish professional club Linkoping HC. She will be joined on the squad by classmate and star forward Carly Bullock. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

It was a rough start for Steph Neatby as the Princeton University women’s hockey team played at top-ranked Cornell in the ECAC Hockey championship game in early March.

With senior goalie Neatby yielding two goals in the first 2:49 of the contest, the No. 6 Tigers fell behind 2-0 and appeared to be in for a long afternoon against a team that had already defeated them twice handily in regular season play.

“We had a TV timeout after the first five minutes; I went to the bench and I always talk to my goalie partners and Rachel [McQuigge] turns to me and I was like ‘oh God, what do I do,’ ” said Neatby, 6’0 native of Toronto, Ontario.

“She said it can’t get any worse and I was oh you are right. She calmed me down and I thought I might as well just go for it. Then I went back in the first period and they almost scored three more but I would make the save.”

Neatby kept on making saves, ending up with 31 as Princeton rallied for a 3-2 win in overtime, earning the program’s first-ever ECACH title.

“I keep talking about it, for us and the men’s team, luckily we were the teams that got to end on wins,” said Neatby, noting that the Tiger men’s team swept Dartmouth in the opening round of the ECACH playoffs that same weekend. more

TOUGH TO TAKE: Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse player Cal Caputo heads to goal in a game last year. Senior attacker and co-captain Caputo was primed for a big finale as PDS was shooting for a fifth straight Mercer County Tournament title before the 2020 season was canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Caputo will get to continue his lacrosse career at the next level as he has committed to attend Williams College and play for its men’s lax program. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

As the Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse team headed into the second week of preseason this March, Joe Moore sensed that things were coming together for his squad.

“It was going well; in first few weeks, we spend a lot of time filling in the gaps from the guys that left the year earlier,” said second year head coach Moore, who guided PDS to a 13-3 record last spring and the program’s fourth straight Mercer County Tournament title.

“We graduated a lot of guys on offense last year, especially in the midfield, so we were trying in the early part of the season to identify guys who could fill those holes. We were actually getting more and more excited about the season as time went on because we were seeing all of those holes being filled and new guys stepping up.”

With senior stars and co-captains Cal Caputo and Jake Bennett leading the attack, PDS was primed for another championship campaign.

“Without being too cocky about it but for our guys it is an expectation for our team with four counties in a row, especially for guys like Cal and Jake who have been around for four years,” said Moore, whose other senior co-captains included Andrew Ciccarone and Kevin Dougherty.

“They have gotten three so for them to go out and finish on a high note was something that they definitely wanted to do.” more

MOVING FORWARD: Princeton High boys’ lacrosse player Ben Quinones races upfield in a game last spring. Senior star and captain Quinones had led the way for PHS on and off the field as the 2020 season was halted in mid-March in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Having failed to qualify for the state tournament the last two seasons, the Princeton High boys’ lacrosse team was bringing a lot of hunger into the 2020 campaign.

“We did a lot of really good work in the offseason; we did a lot of leadership reading and had discussions,” said PHS head coach Chip Casto, who led the Tigers to a 6-9 record last year.

“I usually post a note every day of the season outside of my classroom but this year the seniors wanted to start posting notes earlier and said let’s count down so we started with 100 days to go. We have been really looking forward to this year coming off the last two years of not even making the state tournament. It is just uncharacteristic so they were itching to get back.”

PHS got back on the field for a week in March before school was closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak and weeks later the season was formally canceled.

With the players working from home, the team’s veterans have kept things together. more

May 29, 2020

By Donald Gilpin

There have been just two new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Princeton in the past seven days and only 12 in the past 14 days. In its report today, May 29, the Princeton Health Department announced a total of 174 cases, only 59 active cases, and 90 cases recovered with isolation complete. There have been 18 total confirmed COVID-19-related deaths in Princeton and an additional seven probable (symptomatic but not tested) deaths from the coronavirus.

New Jersey health officials announced 131 new deaths today, for a total of 11,531 COVID-19-related deaths in the state, with 1,117 positive tests in the past 24 hours for a total of at least 158,844 cases.

In his press briefing today, Gov. Phil Murphy discussed ongoing reopening plans, announcing that child daycare centers will be permitted to open by Monday, June 15 with the Departments of Health and Children and Families soon releasing health and safety standards for reopening. Murphy also announced the restart of organized sports activities on June 22 and youth day camps, including municipal summer recreation programs, on July 6.

Outdoor activities, such as parks, beaches, and curbside pickup, have recently resumed, but non-essential retail stores are limited to curbside service and restaurants are permitted only takeout or delivery business. Outdoor gatherings are capped at 25 people, and indoor groups are limited to 10. more

May 27, 2020

For week five of our Community Comes Together campaign, we invited local youths to send in a recipe they made. Olivia, age 12, is shown with her vanilla bunny cupcakes. Click below for the recipe and more submissions for this week. Next week’s activity features projects made using recycled materials.


By Donald Gilpin

With restrictions lifting gradually in a new phase of the ongoing battle against COVID-19 — parks and beaches opening up, stores and businesses re-starting, outdoor gatherings of up to 25 people permitted, in-person graduations possible in July — Princeton Health Officer Jeff Grosser discussed how Princeton is navigating the hazardous waters.

“If we look around the country, states that have relaxed social distancing measures are beginning to see increased incidence of COVID-19,” he wrote in an email. “Although many of the governor’s executive orders have greatly impacted our lives, I believe without these efforts we would be in a much worse situation than we are right now.”

The Princeton Health Department reported on Tuesday, May 26, 172 total positive cases of COVID-19 in Princeton, with 65 active positive cases, 83 recovered patients,  17 confirmed deaths and seven additional probable ( symptomatic but not tested) COVID-19 related deaths.  That is just two additional positive cases since Friday with no additional deaths reported.

“Princeton has done a great job in combating this pandemic,” Grosser wrote. “Residents have been extremely supportive and compliant with social distancing efforts. We need to continue working hard to eliminate potential new cases by social distancing, wearing a mask as much as possible, and staying home when we’re not feeling well.” more

BIKING BOOM:Though National Bike Month events were canceled in Princeton, the COVID-19 crisis has helped to create an upsurge in biking, with bicycle stores busier than ever and people of all ages getting outside on their bikes to enjoy the sunshine, fresh air, and exercise. (Photo by Jerry Foster)

By Donald Gilpin

May is National Bike Month, and one of this year’s themes has been the cancellation of almost all scheduled events.

Ciclovia, with Quaker Road closed to traffic on a Sunday afternoon; Chasing George, family-friendly rides with a costumed, bike-riding George Washington leading the pack; Walk- and Bike-to-School days at all of the elementary schools and John Witherspoon Middle School; Bike-to-Work Day; Bike-to-Work Week; Bike Rodeo in the Community Park parking lot; the Princeton Freewheelers’ regular weekly schedule of group rides — all canceled.

But with spring weather moving in and the stay-at-home order shutting down public gatherings and diminishing traffic, people have been bringing their old bicycles out of the garage, heading to bike stores for repairs and new purchases, and getting out on the streets, roads, and bike paths.

“With car traffic down, this is a great time to enjoy our town at a human pace: on foot or on bike,” states a Princeton Bicycle Advisory Committee (PBAC) post on Facebook.  “Indeed, we need walking and biking now more than ever, for our physical and mental well-being.” more

By Anne Levin

The popular Princeton Farmers Market will reopen this Thursday, May 28, but the traditional Hinds Plaza location has been switched out this year for a spot where social distancing can take place. The parking lot on Franklin Avenue, across from the Avalon Princeton development, will allow for drive-up as well as walk-up access to vendors selling produce.

“Retailers will be required to mask up, as will participants,” said Princeton Health Officer Jeffrey Grosser during a press conference Tuesday afternoon. “Each farmer has gone through a basic checklist from the health department about how to operate safely. Jack Morrison [of the JM Group] and Max Hoagland [market manager] have been assisting us with the training and making sure there are certain criteria they have to meet.”

About a dozen farmers will be selling fruits and vegetables at the market, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., as in previous years at Hinds Plaza. The public gathering place next to Princeton Public Library was “not suitable” for operating the market at this time, while COVID-19 restrictions are in place, Grosser said. “It had to be more spread out.”

All customers at the market will be required to follow social distancing protocols. “We’re working with farmers and event coordinators to make sure the flow of people won’t create a cluster, make sure masking is done, and try to get the guidance out,” Grosser said.  more

“LIKE PAVLOV’S DOG”: When 3 p.m. approaches at the Institute for Advanced Study, the campus community starts craving the homemade cookies served at afternoon tea in Fuld Hall. But the gathering is about more than tea and sweets. Some significant scientific ideas have emerged from conversations in the Common Room. (Photo courtesy of IAS)

By Anne Levin

Among the advantages of being a faculty member or visiting scholar at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) is the ritual of afternoon tea. Every weekday at 3 p.m., tea and homemade cookies are set out in the Common Room of Fuld Hall. And the Institute community turns out in force.

“It’s like Pavlov’s dog,” joked IAS Chief Development Officer Liz Wood, last week. “We have a pastry chef who makes the cookies, and you start craving them before 3 o’clock.”

While the Institute is closed during the COVID-19 crisis, the administration is  taking a different approach to the daily gathering. “Teatime at Home” is a weekly online newsletter that urges members to take a break — maybe with a cup of tea — and read feature articles, interviews, and curated multimedia about the Institute community.

“It keeps our members and former members engaged,” said Wood. “We have been doing interviews with our scholars, and we also do a music piece curated by David Lang, who is our artist in residence. Those musical selections are broadcast on WWFM radio on Fridays at 6 p.m.” more

By Donald Gilpin

Seeking to maximize its impact for peace in the upcoming elections, the Coalition for Peace Action’s (CFPA) nonpartisan 2020 Peace Voter initiative is focusing on candidates in New Jersey congressional Districts 2 and 4 in the July 7 primary and plans to target general elections in those districts plus Districts 3 and 7 in November, along with the presidential election race in Pennsylvania.

Peace Voter can wield the greatest influence in the contests that are expected to be very close, said CFPA founder and Executive Director the Rev. Robert Moore. So far Peace Voter has conducted press briefings with 2nd District leading Democratic candidates Brigid Harrison and Amy Kennedy, who will be competing for a spot on the November ballot to run for congress against the Republican (recently switched from Democrat) incumbent Jeff Van Drew.   

CFPA also conducted a briefing, by Zoom, with Christine Conforti, who is vying for the Democratic nomination to take on incumbent Republican Chris Smith in the general election for New Jersey’s 4th Congressional District.

In the fall election campaign, Peace Voter will also be focusing on the 3rd District, where incumbent Andy Kim (D) won a narrow victory in the 2018 election, and the 7th District where incumbent Tom Malinowski (D) is anticipated to be competing with state Senator Tom Kean Jr.  Because the New Jersey presidential vote is not likely to be close, according to Moore, Peace Voter efforts in the presidential election will be focused on Pennsylvania.

In addition to its press briefings with three candidates, the CFPA has received completed questionnaires back from the candidates interviewed so far and will be distributing Peace Voter guides online and as half-page signature ads in newspapers. more