June 5, 2013
HONORED FOR HER LEADERSHIP: Stuart Country Day School sophomore Amani Noor Ahmed, a co-founder of Eleven Points, will be honored this weekend with the New Jersey State Governor’s Jefferson Youth Community Service Award. Eleven Points brings together young Muslim and Jewish teenagers for community service work.

HONORED FOR HER LEADERSHIP: Stuart Country Day School sophomore Amani Noor Ahmed, a co-founder of Eleven Points, will be honored this weekend with the New Jersey State Governor’s Jefferson Youth Community Service Award. Eleven Points brings together young Muslim and Jewish teenagers for community service work.

Growing up in Princeton as an American Muslim, Amani Noor Ahmed noticed a certain level of tension among different ethnic and religious groups. The 16-year-old sophomore at Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart was especially aware of difficulties that existed between Muslims and Jews.

It got her thinking. “I was raised in an environment where community service is so important, especially at Stuart,” she said last week. “My aunt was involved in an interfaith group for Muslim and Jewish women. I knew there were organizations like that out there, but there wasn’t that much for youth.”

Rallying two of her Muslim friends — Dean Alamieh, a sophomore at Robbinsville High School, and Zain Bhayat, a freshman at South Brunswick High School — Amani founded Eleven Points, which has brought together Muslim and Jewish youth for projects that benefit local charities. For their efforts, the three teenagers will be honored on Saturday with the New Jersey State Governor’s Jefferson Youth Community Service Award, in a ceremony at Burlington Community College in Mount Laurel.

As happy as she is with the recognition, Amani seems most pleased about the success of the group’s efforts and their plans for future community service projects. Since its inception, Eleven Points, which is named for the six points of the Star of David and the five points often found on stars in Islamic calligraphy, has done work to benefit the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen. Eleven Points has also helped Homefront, which alleviates homelessness and helps families in crisis. They are talking with Homefront about doing more. “We’re really hoping this gets us more participation and more involvement so we can make a bigger difference,” Amani said. “It’s very exciting.”

Amani and her two colleagues got Eleven Points started by contacting Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple, the synagogue her aunt had worked with in New Brunswick. Their idea was enthusiastically received. Last fall, some 30 to 40 Jewish and Muslim teens joined forces at the temple to put together hygiene bags for the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen. “We asked for donations, and we got everything we needed, which was incredible,” Amani enthuses. “We made 500 bags.”

Recently, the group gathered to make 300 lunch bags and 200 hygiene kits for Homefront. With contributions from both the Jewish and Muslim communities, they were again able to collect all of the items they needed. Help came from the Princeton University Office of Muslim Life as well as the Anshe Emeth Temple.

With a common goal, the group bonded from the start. They played games to break what little “ice” was there. “Everyone knew what they were getting into. It wasn’t a shock to anyone,” said Amani. “Everyone was very friendly and welcoming. Maybe there was a little bit of awkwardness in the beginning, but through the games, talking, and doing the projects, you really get to know each other. It’s comfortable now.”

Next on the Eleven Points agenda is an effort to expand. “We want to contact other temples and Muslim youth groups,” Amani said. “There is so much we want to do.”

May 29, 2013
"IT STARTS WITH ONE:" That's the title of the award-winning video that a three-member team of sophomores at Princeton High School (PHS) that was submitted by from left: Lila Abreu, Jacob Middlekauff, and Jennie Chen. The video was one of three to win the nation-wide 2013 UNICEF Movies for Development Contest. They won an all-expenses-paid three-day trip to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF Annual Meeting and Strategy Session in New York City last week. The winning video can be viewed at http://myactioncenter.unicefusa.org/m4d.

“IT STARTS WITH ONE:” That’s the title of the award-winning video that a three-member team of sophomores at Princeton High School (PHS) that was submitted by from left: Lila Abreu, Jacob Middlekauff, and Jennie Chen. The video was one of three to win the nation-wide 2013 UNICEF Movies for Development Contest. They won an all-expenses-paid three-day trip to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF Annual Meeting and Strategy Session in New York City last week. The winning video can be viewed at http://myactioncenter.unicefusa.org/m4d.

A team of three Princeton High School (PHS) sophomores have won a national competition after submitting their original global citizenship-themed video to the 2013 UNICEF Movies for Development Contest.

Lila Abreu, Jacob Middlekauff, and Jennie Chen. comprised one of three winning teams; they are the sole winners from New Jersey. The other teams are both from California.

“We were really enthusiastic about this project, as it allowed us to express our opinions about the world creatively, and we’re incredibly excited to have won,” said Mr. Middlekauff.

“Winning this movie competition was so exciting for all of us. When we received the email, Lila called me minutes later, and we both shrieked on the phone together. It is incredibly rewarding and encouraging to know that our representation of global citizenship is something insightful and meaningful,” said Ms. Chen.

The three sophomores entered the competition at the urging of Robert Loughran and in the hope of drawing attention to the newly revived PHS UNICEF Club. Mr. Loughran directs the PHS orchestral program and is the club’s advisor.

“As a registered high school on the UNICEF website, we frequently receive emails. Among these was the email explaining the movies for development competition, linked to an old video. I watched this video and was impressed at the level of complexity,” said Ms. Chen.

The PHS UNICEF Club was recently revived at the high school. The sophomores hope that their win will give the club momentum. “We entered the competition so that we could involve ourselves with UNICEF as much as possible and we hoped to spread the word about the organization around our school,” said Mr. Middlekauff.

“We originally entered the contest to get our club more involved with the organization. The club had existed at the school before, but this year, we took a more active approach and started to participate in official UNICEF projects. We hoped that this video would help raise awareness around our school and community,” said Ms. Abreu.

But when the date of the expected announcement of the competition winners came and went, the three friends assumed their entry had failed to place. “The announcement was originally supposed to be a few days before we actually found out, so we thought we hadn’t won. We were very pleased to hear the good news,” said Ms. Abreu.

They won an all-expenses-paid three-day trip to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF Annual Meeting and Strategy Session in New York City, last week, from May 16 through May 18. All three shared enthusiasm for the visit to UNICEF, and for the close encounter with the organization at the U.S. Fund for UNICEF annual meeting.

The sophomores agree that one of the most enjoyable aspects of the activity was being able to put their own thoughts into the video. “Lila, Jacob, and I have been friends since middle school, so it was very natural and fun working together on this project. We each contributed our own skills: Jacob is a great photographer, and Lila is our video editor.

Another member of the club (a friend from middle school) helped us in the process of coming up with the concept of our film and Mr. Loughran is incredibly kind, involved, and dedicated,” said Ms. Chen.

As for their trip to New York City, all three were well prepared to take in every detail of the workings of UNICEF and of their meeting with Mayor Bloomberg, Jenna Bush of the Today Show, and members of the other winning teams from UNICEF Clubs in California schools. Their winning video, “It Starts With One” can be found at http://myactioncenter.unicefusa.org/m4d.

SPACE FOR STARTUPS: Bert Navarrete, general manager and managing partner at Tigerlabs, could skateboard through the sprawling space, former home of the Princeton Review, when it first opened earlier this year. (Photo by Moo Kim)

SPACE FOR STARTUPS: Bert Navarrete, general manager and managing partner at Tigerlabs, could skateboard through the sprawling space, former home of the Princeton Review, when it first opened earlier this year. (Photo by Moo Kim)

Technology has changed the contemporary workplace. These days, entrepreneurs launching small startup companies are as likely to be found “co-working” in shared spaces as they are in individual offices with the accompanying high overhead costs.

The trend has taken off in large American cities on both coasts. Recently, Princeton joined the list of locales offering shared space for budding entrepreneurs. A venture called Tigerlabs took the offices formerly occupied by the Princeton Review at 252 Nassau Street, and turned them into a wide-open, loft-style space with a vaulted ceiling and plenty of natural light.

In addition to the rows of desks at the rear of the 8,000-square foot spread, there are four conference rooms, some private phone rooms, lockers, a drinks machine, kitchen facilities, even showers. Members pay $300 a month for a desk, with no lease. So far, 50 have signed up and there is room for more.

The center is modeled after co-working spaces that general manager Bert Navarrete and his partners observed in New York and on the west coast.

“Nothing like this existed in town,” Mr. Navarrete said last week, seated with program director James Smits in comfortable swivel chairs at the front conference room. “We want to be the center of record for entrepreneurship in the town,” Mr. Smits added.

Both men grew up in Princeton. Mr. Navarrete, 36, went to the American Boychoir School and graduated from Harvard. Mr. Smits, 22, is a 2012 graduated of Princeton University. Their venture partners are Jason Glickman and Charlie Kemper, and senior advisor Tom Hawkins. On its website, the company counts 139 entrepreneurs and investors as mentors and advisors.

“We have had a lot of interest from executives in the town,” said Mr. Navarrete. “There are many who have a strong interest in paying it forward, and they’ve been volunteering to mentor companies we’re working with. A core aspect to all of this is mentorship. There is a tremendous amount of human capital in this area.”

Mentors come from diverse backgrounds, and all offer their services on a volunteer basis. Some might come in once a quarter, while others — mostly retired — show up at Tigerlabs every day.

Navarrete and partners first set up shop at 20 Nassau Street, at the other side of town. The six original entrepreneurs who signed up were people who had been “squatting at Panera or subletting from an architecture firm, all looking for space,” said Mr. Navarrete. As an experienced investor and entrepreneur himself, Mr. Navarrete had spent his share of hours flying back and forth to the west coast and wondering whether he could work just as efficiently from one place.

Tigerlabs acts as a seed fund as well as an entrepreneurship center, with an emphasis on innovation in the healthcare industry. The company currently runs two investment programs, Tigerlabs Health and Tigerlabs University, and last week hosted 175 people at a “demo day” for six companies sponsored by Tigerlabs Health. Its newest venture is the Innovation Track, which is offered in partnership with Merck and New York Presbyterian Hospital.

The company moved into its current headquarters last February. On a sunny morning last week, the space was starting to hum with activity. A group of youthful looking tenants in shorts and tee-shirts sat at desks, focused on their laptops. Another cluster chatted companionably, coffee cups in hand (Small World Coffee’s Nassau Street branch is next door). A slightly older man working at a desk behind a glass door was accompanied by his dog, who greeted a guest enthusiastically.

Tigerlabs offers startup education workshops and events that are open to the community. For the emerging start-up companies who call the sprawling space home, it offers a chance to network, collaborate, and meet potential investors. “We treat this as a long-term experiment,” said Mr. Navarrete. “It has to be a 10-year project. The analogy we like to use is that in the context of startups, what Stanford and Berkeley are to San Francisco, Princeton is to New York.”

HANDY WITH THE HOE: Historic horticulturalist Charlie Thomforde strikes an 18th century pose at the 1719 William Trent House Museum, 15 Market Street, Trenton, where he will present an illustrated lecture “In Search of Trenton’s First Garden,” Sunday, June 2, at 2 p.m. Mr. Thomforde will compare and contrast William Trent’s colonial garden with known facts about Monticello and Williamsburg. His talk will cover heirloom plants and colonial techniques still used today and a tour of the historically accurate kitchen garden of Trenton’s oldest building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Complimentary refreshments provided. Donation welcome. Ample free parking nearby. For more information, call 609-989-0087, or visit: www.williamtrenthouse.org.

HANDY WITH THE HOE: Historic horticulturalist Charlie Thomforde strikes an 18th century pose at the 1719 William Trent House Museum, 15 Market Street, Trenton, where he will present an illustrated lecture “In Search of Trenton’s First Garden,” Sunday, June 2, at 2 p.m. Mr. Thomforde will compare and contrast William Trent’s colonial garden with known facts about Monticello and Williamsburg. His talk will cover heirloom plants and colonial techniques still used today and a tour of the historically accurate kitchen garden of Trenton’s oldest building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Complimentary refreshments provided. Donation welcome. Ample free parking nearby. For more information, call 609-989-0087, or visit: www.williamtrenthouse.org.

The first-ever Titusville Heritage Festival, which will feature booths by more than 25 local farms, artisans, and organizations, will take place Saturday, June 1 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church of Titusville. The festival, part of the church’s 175th Anniversary Celebrations, will give visitors the chance to celebrate the living history of the greater Titusville community, which the church has called home since 1838.

Festival-goers will be able to visit displays by local farms and farm suppliers such as WildeWood Alpaca Farms, Gravity Hill Organic Farm, Shelterwood Farm, Shibumi Mushroom Farm, Fulper Dairy Farm, Cedar Hill Nursery, the Howell Living History Farm, Egomatic and Rosedale Mills; hear music by the Hot Taters, a Dixieland jazz band; sample food by Bitter Bob’s Barbecue and It’s Nutts; see the artistry of Titusville residents Cheryl Jackson, Ruth Sullivan and Bill Taylor; and learn more about local organizations such as 4-H of Mercer County, the Titusville Fourth of July Committee, Boy Scouts Troop 1776, the Union Fire Company and Rescue Squad, Pet Rescue of Mercer, Capital Health, the Central Jersey Choral Society, the Titusville United Methodist Church and Rolling Harvest Food Rescue.

Children and their families will experience crafts, old fashioned games, and balloon animals in a child-friendly KidZone. The church, as part of its commitment to mission outreach, will offer craft items made by the Bahamas-based Karazim Ministries, which supports the forgotten poor of Grand Bahama Island and FEBA, or Woman, Cradle of Abundance, a Congo-based ministry which provides educational opportunities for women and street children in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In lieu of an admission price to the festival, the church will collect voluntary contributions of non-perishable canned goods for the monthly food pantry sponsored by its mission partner, the West Trenton Community Center, which provides services for residents of Trenton’s Stuyvesant Avenue neighborhood.

Admission to the festival is free. Vendors may charge a nominal fee for food, goods, or services offered. The main parking lot for the festival will be at the Titusville Academy, located at 86 River Drive, with overflow parking at the Titusville United Methodist Church, located at 7 Church Road. A complimentary shuttle will run from both lots to the church throughout the day. Parking at the First Presbyterian Church will be very limited, and visitors should not park on the Delaware River side of River Drive.

The First Presbyterian Church of Titusville is located at 48 River Drive in Titusville, six miles south of Lambertville and one mile north of the Washington Crossing Bridge, on the banks of the Delaware River. The just-released, definitive history of the church, “Shall We Gather … 175 Years Along the Delaware,” will be available at the Titusville Heritage Festival and online at titusvillechurch.com. For more information, call (609) 737-1385.

Stewart Goodyear was barely more than a toddler when he was first gripped by the music of Beethoven. A prodigy who was listening to recordings of the composer’s iconic piano sonatas at age four, he couldn’t get enough. “It was riveting. It was a religious experience,” Mr. Goodyear told a group of Princeton University music majors during a visit to their Beethoven class last month. “But I waited until I was 31 to play them. I finally understood the pain, the defiance. Beethoven is like a pain I can never exorcise when I’m sitting at the piano.”

McCarter Theatre audience members will get a chance — a big chance — to experience Mr. Goodyear’s interpretation of Beethoven’s piano sonatas when he takes on all 32 of them in a single day on Saturday, June 22. This means 103 movements and more than 10 hours of music, broken up into three parts with breaks for lunch and dinner. This “sonatathon” can be attended as a whole, or in one or two parts.

It is a mammoth undertaking that the 35-year-old pianist successfully attempted once before, in his native Toronto, last year. “I keep myself in shape physically, and I try to stay strong,” Mr. Goodyear said when asked about how he manages to pull it off. “But I think the stamina involved is all due to Beethoven’s music. The innovation of every sonata gives you the strength. It keeps you on your toes. It keeps you energetic.”

A preview of the “sonatathon” is Tuesday, June 4 at 7 p.m., at Princeton Public Library. Mr. Goodyear will appear with Scott Burnham, Princeton University Scheide Professor of Music, author and Beethoven scholar, to talk about the composer, with musical illustrations, as part of the McCarter Live at the Library series.

Composed between 1795 and 1822, Ludwig von Beethoven’s piano sonatas are considered to be one of the greatest bodies of music ever written. The more famous ones have nicknames like “Moonlight” and “Pathetique.” The more experimental sonatas are known by their numbers. Mr. Goodyear loves them all. And playing them in order is something he has wanted to do since he first heard them as a small child, all in one day.

“Since then, I have always felt these sonatas were a huge cycle, a retrospective of the composer’s art,” he said. “I knew when I performed them it would seem incomplete to do one, or four. Each are so different, and I felt the only way to present them was in their complete form. What makes the most famous sonatas like ‘Moonlight’ even more powerful is putting them into the context of what sonatas came first and what came later. That makes an even more powerful statement.”

With his trim, compact build and huge eyes, Mr. Goodyear is an arresting presence. During the Beethoven class at the University last month, his face spanned a range of expressions while playing excerpts of the sonatas and erupted into occasional broad smiles as he considered questions from the students. Asked about his obsession with the sonatas from such a young age, he managed to fit a brief James Brown impression into his answer, jumping up from his seat to do an imitation of the rock and roll star.

“I liked the questions they asked,” Mr. Goodyear said a few weeks later. “I was delighted by how open they were and happy that they wanted to know more about why I was doing this. It was educational for me, and illuminating.”

When McCarter’s programming director Bill Lockwood heard last year that Mr. Goodyear was going to play all of the Beethoven sonatas in one day, he headed to Toronto to attend the concert. “It was last summer, at the Royal Conservatory of Music,” Mr. Lockwood recalled. “I was skeptical. But he brought it off brilliantly and was still standing at the end. No one has ever attempted this, to my knowledge, at least not in this country. A lot of people play all the sonatas but usually in a series of concerts in a number of ways. This is quite unique.”

Mr. Lockwood knew of Mr. Goodyear, who is a graduate of both the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where he lives, and New York’s Juilliard School. “He is very well regarded,” Mr. Lockwood said. “He’s not a big superstar like Lang Lang, but he has plenty of engagements all over. He has played with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the New Jersey Symphony, and so on. I wouldn’t have broached this at all if I didn’t think he could bring it off with the kind of flair and elan and panache that he has.”

While he plays music by many composers, Mr. Goodyear considers Beethoven the one who compelled him to become a musician. “Before I heard other styles of music like rock and roll or pop, there was something about the power of Beethoven that defined my life,” he said. “It gets into the earth of emotions and it is really from the heart. It is something that just grabs the listener.”

The June 22 concert begins at 10 a.m. and concludes at 11 p.m. Tickets range from $30 for a single concert to $75 for all three. Those who attend the entire marathon get a bonus two-CD set of selected sonatas from Mr. Goodyear’s complete box set of the sonatas on the Marquis label. A special “Beethoven sonatathon” menu will be available at the theater’s lobby café.

“This is a rare event,” said Mr. Lockwood. “Playing all of the Beethoven sonatas in one day is like the Mount Everest of music, and Stewart has scaled it all the way to the top.”

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For the first time since consolidation, Saturday’s Memorial Day parade arrived at Monument Hall, which now shares names with its neighbor, the Princeton Battle Monument. The event was sponsored by the Spirit of Princeton. The featured speaker was Marion Zilinski, whose son died while serving in Iraq. (Photo by Emily Reeves)

May 22, 2013
COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO: This handsome white rooster with the red comb crows the D&R Greenway's fifth annual "Down to Earth Ball" on Saturday, June 1, from 6:30 to 11 p.m. at Barn Haven Farm in Hopewell. Get ready for a classy hoe-down with hayrides and cocktails and a celebrity auction.

COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO: This handsome white rooster with the red comb crows the D&R Greenway’s fifth annual “Down to Earth Ball” on Saturday, June 1, from 6:30 to 11 p.m. at Barn Haven Farm in Hopewell. Get ready for a classy hoe-down with hayrides and cocktails and a celebrity auction.

For this year’s D&R Greenway Land Trust Ball, Linda Mead has once again come up with an ingenious fundraising idea to add interest to the Saturday, June 1 event. And, it is hoped, funding for more land preservation.

One year, Ms. Mead, the non-profit’s CEO and president, asked local architects to design and build bird houses for the now-traditional auction. Another year it was lanterns. This year, the Down to Earth Ball, will put live local celebrities under auctioneer Jud Henderson’s hammer.

Now don’t get me wrong, you don’t get to take home a celebrity, but you do get to take a walk or have dinner with your choice of congressman, author, farmer, scientist, and editor, among others.

Until this issue of Town Topics, the names of the participating celebrities have been kept under wraps. Below, we reveal the A-List of those who share Ms. Mead’s passion for preserving the rolling fields, farms, forests and wildlife of the region. Telephone bids can be made and the bidding starts at $500.

“Every time we do this event, I reach out to people and ask for their support,” says Ms. Mead. “And every time they say: ‘Yes. Absolutely.’”

Known as Princeton’s “classiest dress-down event of the season,” this year’s ball takes place at David Reynolds’s Barn Haven Farm, 111 East Prospect Street, Hopewell adjacent to the St. Michael’s Farm Preserve, on Saturday, June 1, from 6:30 to 11 p.m.

Besides the auction, there will be farm fun and games, prizes, and hayrides through St. Michael’s Farm Preserve until the sun goes down. Country rock will be provided by The Tone Rangers Band. The food will be farm fresh and locally grown and a new cocktail, the “St. Michael’s Sparkler” has been created especially for the event.

Since 1989, the D&R Greenway Land Trust has preserved 17,306 acres, including the Institute Woods, St. Michael’s Farm Preserve, and portions of the Sourland Mountains.

“This year’s Down to Earth Ball promises delights on many levels,” says Ms. Mead. “We are honored by every celebrity whose eager responses to our request to join us for the cause of preservation guarantee one-of-a-kind experiences.”

Raise Your Paddle

Those one-of-a-kind experiences will be walks and dinners with: U.S. Representative Rush Holt; best-selling author Richard Preston; Former EPA Chief and Commissioner of NJDEP Lisa Jackson; climate change expert Stephen Pacala; Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) Director Robbert Dijkgraaf; food and farming entrepreneurs Robin and Jon McConaughy with filmmaker Jared Flesher; Hollywood filmmakers Ken Carter and Annette Haywood-Carter; author Martha McPhee; decoy carver Pat Godin; and NBC medical correspondent Nancy Snyderman.

Depending on the individual being “auctioned off,” winning bidders may take up to ten people on a walk or a number of guests to dinner with their celebrity. So if you’ve had a hankering to know more about the history of the Institute or about string theory, Robbert Dijkgraaf’s your man. If you’re keen to pick the brains of a medical expert, Nancy Snyderman is your woman. If you’re fascinated by duck decoys and their history or about setting national environmental policies, now’s your chance.

Winners will also receive a variety of take home memorabilia: a signed book, professional photo, or some such special gift.

The Celebrities

Congressman Rush Holt has represented New Jersey’s 12th Congressional District since 1999. He will walk part of the wooded trail traversed by George Washington and his troops nearly 250 years ago.

Richard Preston, a frequent contributor to The New Yorker and the author of The Wild Trees,  will walk through the Sourlands Ecosystem Preserve.

Lisa Jackson, who was born in Philadelphia and raised in New Orleans and has directed multimillion-dollar cleanup operations, will share a festive Tapas and Spanish wine pairing in the Taverna at Mediterra.

Climate change expert Stephen Pacala, who directs the Princeton Environmental Institute, will walk Coventry Farm on the Great Road and the lands around historic Tusculum, the home of signer of the Declaration of Independence John Witherspoon.

A stroll in the Institute Woods with mathematical physicist Robbert Dijkgraaf will followed by a wine and cheese reception in the nearby home of former D&R Greenway trustee John Rassweiler.

Jon and Robin McConaughy of Double Brook Farm together with filmmaker Jared Flesher, the newly named editor of Edible Jersey Magazine, will walk St. Michael’s Farm Preserve, where the McConaughys lease 200 acres to graze cattle.

Ken Carter and Annette Haywood-Carter, whose feature film, Savannah, with Hal Holbrook and Sam Shepard, tells the true story of Ward Allen, an aristocrat with a passion for the land, and who have worked with the likes of Spielberg, DiCaprio, and Jolie, will share dinner prepared by chef Gary Giberson on Thursday, June 27, before a preview of Savannah in the Kirby Arts Center.

Novelist Martha McPhee, daughter of literary journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winner John McPhee and the photographer Pryde Brown, will lead a walk through her childhood property in West Amwell, now permanently preserved by D&R Greenway, including the woods on Pryde’s Point Trail, followed by refreshments hosted by Pryde Brown on her deck.

World-class decoy carver, Pat Godin, will share a private catered dinner with the winning bidder and five friends.

Nancy Snyderman will walk at one of D&R Greenway’s prettiest and oldest preserves, Hopewell’s 116-acre Cedar Ridge.

To order tickets at $125 per person and/or to become an event sponsor, contact Leslie Potter, (609) 924-4646, ext. 121 or potter@drgreenway.org; or visit: www.drgreenway.org by Friday, May 24.

LIFESTORIES IN REVERIE: This acrylic on paper work, titled "Into the Woods," by artist and teacher Ann O'Connor is one of several on view in the exhibition "Reverie" opening at the Morpeth Contemporary, 43 West Broad St, in Hopewell, this Saturday, May 18. A reception for the artist will take place from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. For more information, call (609) 333-9393 or email: info@morpethcontemporary.com.

LIFESTORIES IN REVERIE: This acrylic on paper work, titled “Into the Woods,” by artist and teacher Ann O’Connor is one of several on view in the exhibition “Reverie” opening at the Morpeth Contemporary, 43 West Broad St, in Hopewell, this Saturday, May 18. A reception for the artist will take place from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. For more information, call (609) 333-9393 or email: info@morpethcontemporary.com.

An exhibition of works by Ann O’Connor at the Morpeth Contemporary in Hopewell opens, Saturday, May 18, with a reception for the artist from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Titled “Reverie,” the exhibition features stories from the artist’s life via a series of paintings that were over twenty years in the making. The work reflects Ms. O’Connor’s deep-seated interest in indigenous cultures and the interdependence of humans and animals.

Sparked by a dream, her paintings include both the vibrant hues of India, where she was born to Irish parents, and the lush green of Ireland, where she continues to work.

Also a teacher of art, Ms. O’Connor founded Ballynakill Studios in North Connemara, an area on the west coast of Ireland where she ran workshops from 1990 to 2001.

Today, Ms. O’Connor spends time in both Ireland and India, as well as New Jersey. She continues to teach and make art, drawing on memories, her deep awareness and love of nature, the indigenous cultures with which she identifies, and reflections on her years of fusing these different worlds.

“Reverie” continues through June 15 at the Morpeth Contemporary, 43 West Broad St, Hopewell, N.J. 08525. For more information, call (609) 333.9393 or email: info@morpethcon
temporary.com.

Hurricane Sandy left her mark on the Princeton Family YMCA. Water seeped into the lower level exercise area during the storm last October, knocking some of the cardio and weight equipment out of commission. The damage, though quickly contained, was yet another reminder to the YMCA’s board of directors that the 60-year-old building on Paul Robeson Place was in serious need of renovation.

The board had already begun fundraising for “Project Jumpstart,” an initiative designed to update the Wellness Center of the athletic building the organization shares with the YWCA. The gym was upgraded last fall, and has been doubled in size since the YWCA stopped offering its gymnastics program and gave its half of the space to the YMCA. The expansion means the YMCA now has a full basketball court.

The next phase, starting in June, will involve knocking down walls to create an airy, modern, open space with a centralized area for new cardio equipment, strength training, and free weights. To be carried out by the Princeton-based Yedlin and Company, this is the first major construction project at the YMCA in about 40 years. The fitness center will stay open during the construction, which is targeted for completion by September 1 of this year.

“The [Princeton Public] library is complete, the Arts Council is complete. We see ourselves as the last piece of the puzzle,” said Paul Zeger, senior program director of the YMCA. “What we can offer is family time. This is a place where whole families can come and take part in so many activities, either together or doing different things at the same time. And we want it to be in a facility that they deserve.”

Mr. Zeger said the YMCA will spend close to $200,000 on new cardio and weight equipment, and about the same amount on construction. The need to upgrade has become more pronounced in recent years, as new, state-of-the-art fitness centers have opened in the area. “Memberships have been going a little downhill,” Mr. Zeger acknowledged. “We’re situated between some of the new gyms, and that has taken some people away.”

But Mr. Zeger said the YMCA’s location, within walking distance of downtown and some local schools, give it an advantage. Several middle-schoolers already take part in the Seventh Grade Initiative, a statewide program that gives free membership to any child in seventh grade. Additional programs serve area children who walk to the YMCA from their homes and from school.

As part of the renovation project, the Momo Brothers, who own several restaurants in Princeton, will be taking over the YMCA’s kitchen and cafe in September. The cafe has been closed since it sustained damage from Hurricane Sandy. “We will work with them to help deliver healthful eating, which is a big push for us,” Mr. Zeger said.

Safety is another focus of the project. A member services desk will open, with a fitness attendant on duty at all times. There will be security updates to the child care center. “In light of recent national events, we felt there was a need for more security,” Mr. Zeger said. “Families in the child care center will get a punch code to let themselves in, and it will have only one access point in the main lobby. All of this will be monitored.”

Project Jumpstart’s upgrades will result in a small hike in fees, with dues for a family going from $95 to $99 a month starting in September. “But for those who have been here for awhile, they can keep this year’s monthly rate for another year,” Mr. Zeger said.

The YMCA’s CEO Kate Bech looks at Project Jumpstart as an opportunity for residents to rediscover the organization as “an inclusive gathering place for people of all walks of life to connect and get to know each other, while sharing in activities that encourage healthy living,” she wrote in an email. The renovated wellness center “will give families a place where moms and dads can model healthy behaviors to their children, and a setting in which health-seekers can find support from a caring staff,” she added. “As a cause-driven, charitable organization that provides financial assistance, we’re dedicated to strengthening the foundations of community, and Project Jumpstart will give Princeton a wonderful new resource for all at a very affordable cost.”

The annual “Drumthwacket in Bloom: Garden Party Open House” is Sunday, June 2 from 1-3 p.m. at the historic home that serves as the New Jersey governors’ mansion on Stockton Street.

The day will include garden tours of Moses Taylor Pyne’s Italianate gardens designed by Daniel Webster Langton in 1905, led by Mercer County Master Gardeners. The house will be open for tours. Olden House, the 18th century home on the property, will also be open for tours.

Children’s activities will focus on learning about New Jersey and its state symbols. There will be beekeeping demonstrations by Ken Walters of The Yellow Bee. Honey Brook Organic Farm representatives will talk about the New Jersey state fruit and their local farming and sustainability initiatives.

Reservations are required. The suggested donation is $5, which will be donated to the Drumthwacket Foundation. Call (609) 683-0057 ext. 5 or visit www.drumthwacket.org.

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Members of the Princeton High boys’ lacrosse team celebrate last Thursday after topping Allentown 10-4 in the Mercer County Tournament championship game. The win marked the program’s first-ever MCT crown. The Little Tigers are going after another title this week as they compete in the Group III South sectional. For more details on the MCT title game, see page 34. (Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)

May 15, 2013
THE ICEMEN COMETH: During the winter of 1910 when the Princeton Ice Company was in full operation at what is now known as the Mountain Lakes Preserve, ice men lined up for an unknown photographer on a pier that was used to move “cakes” of ice to the incline elevator, right rear, for loading into the ice house that can be seen behind them. In the days before refrigeration, the Company served Princeton’s businesses and homes.(Photo Courtesy of the Historical Society of Princeton)

THE ICEMEN COMETH: During the winter of 1910 when the Princeton Ice Company was in full operation at what is now known as the Mountain Lakes Preserve, ice men lined up for an unknown photographer on a pier that was used to move “cakes” of ice to the incline elevator, right rear, for loading into the ice house that can be seen behind them. In the days before refrigeration, the Company served Princeton’s businesses and homes. (Photo Courtesy of the Historical Society of Princeton)

The rehabilitation project that has restored both of the dams at the Mountain Lakes Preserve has been awarded a 2013 Historic Preservation Award from the State of New Jersey Historic Preservation Office.

The award for the “Princeton Ice Company Historic District” will be presented at the 23rd Annual Historic Preservation Awards ceremony on Thursday, May 16, at 3 p.m., in the Court House in Flemington.

While those who worked on the project will earn deserved recognition, the person who gave $3 million to fund it remains anonymous. All that is known is that he or she lives in the Princeton-area.

“The two-year project was challenging because of the restoration of the stone masonry structure. Both dams had to be restored. It was a large project costing $3 million that was provided by an anonymous donor, who also provided money for signage,” said Princeton Engineer Bob Kiser.

A team comprised of Mr. Kiser; William Pyontak, of civil engineers French and Parrello Associates; contractor Glenn Goebel, of Compass Contruction; archeologist Jim Lee, of Hunter Research, Inc.; and historic preservationist Clifford Zink, of C.W. Zink and Associates carried out the “complicated mix of historic preservation, conservation, dam safety, environmental, and engineering requirements,” as described in a report by Mr. Zink. Princeton’s Assistant Engineer Deanna Stockton managed the project.

Known for his expertise with respect to stone structures such as the circa 1850 Heathcote Farm in Kingston, Mr. Zink took on the task of making sure that due respect was paid to the the site’s “historic significance” while the dams were rebuilt to meet required safety regulations. “The DEP has new and stringent regulations on dams. In this case, we have an earthen dam at the lower level that dates to 1884 and another masonry dam at the upper level dating to 1904,” commented Mr. Zink in a telephone interview, Monday.

Mr. Zink, who was also responsible for the project’s historic interpretation, reported that “more items than we had originally hoped to discover were found during the the monitored excavation. The contractor halted work when what appeared to be a foundation was discovered. The archeologist was called in and it turned out to be the apron for the ice elevator that was a sort of diagonal conveyor belt that lifted ‘cakes’ of ice so that they could be placed inside the ice houses. It’s a piece of machinery dating to the early years of the 20th century and it’s a remarkable find,” he said.

Portions of the original ice wall and building foundations were uncovered along with several well preserved ice tools including an ice plow and guides for marking and scoring ice, and an intact lower portion of the circa 1906 ice elevator apron. The items will be kept for any future on-site display.

The well-preserved 5-foot long ice-plow would have been horse-drawn and used to score a grid on the ice. “A bar with a wedge would then be inserted to pry the ice out in ‘cakes,’” said Mr. Zink, who also prepared the new signs that convey the history of the site and the work of preservation. For these, he used, in addition to his own research, the work of the renowned local historian Wanda Gunning. The signs were designed by Fairfax Hutter.

“Princeton exercised extraordinary stewardship on this project,” said Mr. Zink. “Municipalities don’t always do the best thing with their buildings but in this case the work done in meeting dam safety regulations while preserving the historic significance is exemplary,” he said.

History

Mountain Lakes was once the site of the Princeton Ice Company. According to Mr. Zink’s report, the owner of a stone quarry and an ice harvesting company created the original seven-acre lake there in 1884 to produce ice for Princeton homes and businesses. He built a lower dam of earth along with a spillway, a drainage basin, retaining walls, and culverts all made of stone from his quarry.

In 1902, he built a stone and concrete upper dam to control sedimentation in the lake. The ice harvesting facility included a steam powered ice elevator for loading ice “cakes” into three ice houses. It operated into the 1920s, when refrigeration came into use and the ice houses and elevator were demolished.

Princeton Township acquired the 80-acre property in 1987 with the support of a Green Acres grant, private funding from the Friends of Princeton Open Space, and other private sources. The Nature Conservancy acquired an easement to protect the lake and the surrounding woods in perpetuity from development.

Over the decades, much of the lake had silted in. Both dams and other original features had deteriorated and were in danger of failing.

In 1990, then Princeton Township’s Historic Preservation Officer Christine Lewandoski and the Historic Preservation Commission contracted Hunter Research Inc. to assess the site’s historic significance. Ms. Gunning researched the history of the property, which was then nominated to the State and National Registers. In 2007, The Mountain Lakes Preserve Rural Historic District was listed on both.

Princeton’s Other Lake

If you haven’t been to the Mountain Lakes Preserve recently now would be a good time to take a walk there. Besides finding Dogwoods, May Apples, and Spring Beauties in bloom, you’ll find that the rehabilitation project has brought wider trails, easier access to lake views, a new path over the lower dam, and informative and well-positioned signs. From a walkers point of view it’s a real treat and money well spent.

LIQUID GOLD: Observing a decline in honeybees prompted nature-loving artist Beatrice Bork to paint this 9.5 inch x 4.5 inch watercolor, simply titled “Bees.” The work was exhibited at the 51st Annual Art & the Animal Tour in Michigan, Virginia and Florida. Ms. Bork will discuss her work on Thursday, May 16, at 7 p.m. in the Stone Mill at Prallsville Mill Complex, Route 29 just north of Stockton, New Jersey. For more information, visit: www.artsbridgeonline.com; or www.BeatriceBork.artspan.com.

LIQUID GOLD: Observing a decline in honeybees prompted nature-loving artist Beatrice Bork to paint this 9.5 inch x 4.5 inch watercolor, simply titled “Bees.” The work was exhibited at the 51st Annual Art & the Animal Tour in Michigan, Virginia and Florida. Ms. Bork will discuss her work on Thursday, May 16, at 7 p.m. in the Stone Mill at Prallsville Mill Complex, Route 29 just north of Stockton, New Jersey. For more information, visit: www.artsbridgeonline.com; or www.BeatriceBork.artspan.com.

As part of the Artsbridge Distinguished Artist Series, watercolorist Beatrice Bork will lecture this Thursday, May 16, at 7 p.m. at the Stone Mill in the Prallsville Mill Complex, Route 29 just north of Stockton, New Jersey.

Ms. Bork, who specializes in nature paintings, will discuss process, from inspiration to creation. “There is no collection of words that could possibly convey just how much inspiration the natural world brings me,” says Ms. Bork. “My appreciation and awe for nature date back to my childhood. When I was able to observe an animal for any length of time, it was as if I were part of another world. The experience appealed to the curious child in me then, as it still does today. I now bring a camera and sketch pad with me wherever I go, having learned to anticipate opportunity, but the thrill in each encounter is the same that captivated me since the first, and it is the source of my inspiration no matter where in the world I may be.”

Ms. Bork is a signature member of the Society of Animal Artists, an association of international artists devoted to promoting excellence in the portrayal of animals. With over 20 years as a professional artist, she has received many honors including the Don Eckelberry Award for achievements in bird art, and shown in notable local and national exhibits throughout the country. Her work is represented in public and private collections around the world and has been published in various magazines and books.

“I still experience a sense of discovery when I start a new creation,” says the artist, whose medium of choice is watercolor.

The lecture, is free and open to the public. For more information, visit: www.artsbridgeonline.com. For more information about Ms. Bork, visit: www.BeatriceBork.artspan.com.

Terhune Orchards is offering gardening workshops for all ages this weekend, May 18 and 19, at the farm on Cold Soil Road.

Kids can participate in fun, free Planters and Diggers gardening class, Saturday from 10 a.m. until noon. Especially welcome are those children who have signed up for the Terhune Orchards summer camp. There will be three Saturday garden fun times: May 18, June 8, and June 22. Take home a plant to start an at-home garden.

On Saturday afternoon, from 1 to 4 p.m., Terhune Orchards is hosting a workshop about gardening and healthy food led by Pam Mount and friend Judith Robinson, coordinator of the Princeton Farmers Market and an expert on healthful, locally grown food. The workshop is the first in a three-part series sponsored by Sustainable Lawrence and the Lawrence environmental resources and green team called “All About Food and Gardening” that will cover gardening and simple healthy eating. Explore all of Ms. Mount’s 12 gardens and learn about soil, compost, and water as key ingredients to a successful garden.

Two other workshops in the series will be held May 25 and June 1 from 1 to 4 p.m. On May 25, participants, led by Ms. Mount, will analyze the gardens and fields at Terhune Orchards and begin to design their own gardens and rain gardens. The group will tour the Cherry Grove Farm CSA. On June 1, participants will expand their garden designs and explore harvesting wild edible plants with an expert, and learn about incorporating native plants into their gardens.

Attend one session in the series or all three. The cost per session is $10. Sign up for all three in a series and pay only $25. To learn more and sign up, visit: sustainable
lawrence.org.

Ms. Mount’s popular herb class will take place Sunday, 1 to 3 p.m. Ms. Mount will explain how to set up an herb garden, harvest herbs, and use them for cooking. She has been growing culinary herbs for more than 35 years. Bring your own garden layout or pots if you like. Starter herbs will also be available for sale in the Terhune Orchards farm store. The class is free and open to all.

Terhune Orchards is located at 330 Cold Soil Road, Lawrenceville, just minutes from downtown Princeton. Plenty of parking is available. For directions or more information call (609) 924-2310.

The Joint Trustees of the Princeton YMCA-YWCA announced today that the Terra Momo Group will be joining them as a partner to create an exciting and unique learning kitchen in the facility’s former café space. Together, the YMCA-YWCA and the Terra Momo Group will establish a setting in which members will be able to learn about healthy cooking and nutrition in a variety of creative ways, and access healthy foods. The kitchen will feature nutritious items that are prepared on site with minimal processing and the menu will include gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, and heart-healthy options.

“There is great need and growing interest for programs that help people understand how to eat better and more nutritiously,” Raoul Momo of Terra Momo said, “the YMCA and YWCA share a mutual goal of enhancing people’s well being and healthy living. We’re very pleased to be adding another dimension to that experience through culinary education. We hear it all the time — people are eager to learn how to eat better and make choices that improve their health, as individuals and as families, without compromising taste. We see this as a very exciting opportunity and look forward to creating something very special for Princeton. ”

In addition to featuring programs with the YMCA and YWCA, the kitchen will offer activities with other community partners, such as the Suppers Program and other community initiatives that promote healthy eating and living. Plans also include showcasing local produce in season and possibly a local Community Supported Agriculture pick up. The kitchen is planned to open in September 2013.

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Saturday’s sudden downpour did nothing to dampen the performance launching the Wayside Shrines issue of Princeton Magazine. The concert simply moved from Hinds Plaza to the library’s living room where the word on the street says that a good time was had by all. The Shrines (from left) are singer Ila Couch, drummer Ray Kubian, keyboardist Noriko Manabe, bassist Nigel Smith, lyricist Paul Muldoon, singer, guitarist, and musical life force Chris Harford, and violinist Tim Chaston, who is holding his daughter, Olive. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

 

May 8, 2013
STUDENTS MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Above, from left: Allison Kanter, Luis Estrada, and Anna Schmult construct bird houses with teacher Paul Skalka. Below: Senior Greg Flood of the Hun School collects items of debris in Beach Haven, New Jersey.

STUDENTS MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Above, from left: Allison Kanter, Luis Estrada, and Anna Schmult construct bird houses with teacher Paul Skalka. Below: Senior Greg Flood of the Hun School collects items of debris in Beach Haven, New Jersey.

Students at John Witherspoon Middle School (JWMS) and the Hun School of Princeton were among the army of kids lending their efforts in support of the Princeton community and beyond with an all day “Service Saturday” at JWMS and Hun’s Earth Day Sandy Clean Up.

At JWMS on April 20, over 75 students and over 20 staff members volunteered their time for community projects. Technology teacher Kelly Riely, who also coaches track and field and advises the school’s “Do Something Club,” helped coordinate the activities. “This is my second year creating and organizing this event, our chance to give back to a community that gives so much to us,” she said.

Students “gave back” at over 11 sites between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Some helped out at SAVE, while others were at Princeton Care, Princeton Nursery, YWCA/YMCA, the Arts Council of Princeton, and the Stony Millstone Watershed. Several worked with Sustainable Princeton’s Diane Landis on a PSA film about the organization.

At the school, others had the opportunity to build bird cages that were placed in the outdoor garden at Community Park School or work on an art mural for Princeton Hospital. Teacher Paul Skalka worked with students on the bird houses and visual arts teacher Claudia Luongo and student teachers guided the art mural. The materials used for the bird houses, said Mr. Skalka were funded by a grant from the Princeton Education Foundation (PEF).

Over 90 bagged sandwich lunches were made for The Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK) with donations from Cindy Hill and her team at Sodexo. Hundreds of books were collected and organized for Books Have Wings. The school grounds benefited from the work of student landscapers.

“All in all it was a wonderful day for students and staff who volunteered to help others,” said Ms. Riely. “Students cleaned, walked animals, hung posters, sang, and did arts and crafts with our senior residents, and much more. They truly showed the community that they care. We look forward to our third annual Service Saturday next year.”

The Hun School marked Earth Day, April 22, with some 525 Upper School students offering their support to four communities in New Jersey and New York that had suffered from the impact of Superstorm Sandy. Like Senior Greg Flood (pictured on page 5), they collected items of debris and removed a portion of a pier that had been destroyed.

Before setting out for their destinations, students prepared for the service-learning day with classroom instruction and special programming about Sandy’s impact on the environment and on the economies of the shore towns.

Students and faculty worked alongside community officials at New Jersey’s Island Beach State Park in Seaside Park; Barnegat Lighthouse in Barnegat Light Borough; and Beach Haven West; as well as New York’s Great Kills National Park in Staten Island.

Dress for Success, the non-profit organization promoting the economic independence of disadvantaged women, announces The Power Walk for Dress for Success, in 35 plus cities in May, including Pennington, Saturday, May 11.

The 5K walk and fun run promote active, healthy, lifestyle choices for women and families and serves as a testament to the link between personal health and professional success.

The event includes fitness activities, a health fair, music and entertainment by New Jersey 101.5, a kids’ corner with arts, crafts, and games, and a Mother’s day flower sale. The first 100 participants will receive a T-shirt. Healthy snacks and water will be provided but people are encouraged to eat a nutritious breakfast before they arrive.

Participants are encouraged to create a team of friends, walk with family, or participate as a virtual walker online. Children under 12 are admitted free.

Speakers include Dr. Jeff Levine, Director of Women’s Health Programs in the Department of Family Medicine at the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and George Ruthauser, announcer for the New Jersey Jackals a professional, independent baseball club that plays at Yogi Berra Stadium on the Montclair State University campus.

All funds raised will support the image enhancement and career development programs and services of Dress for Success Mercer County. Major sponsors include Stark & Stark, NRG Energy, Riegel Printing, and Beds & Borders.

The event, which is open to the public, takes place at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Hopewell Campus, 410 Scotch Road, Pennington, Saturday, May 11, with registration from 8 to 10:25 a.m. Walk begins at 9 a.m. followed by yoga stretch and opening ceremony from 9:30 to 10 a.m. A Fun Run begins at 10:30 a.m.

To register yourself or a team, visit: www.dfspower
walk.org. For more information visit: www.Facebook.com/DressForSuccess
Mercer.

FROM STUMBLING BLOCKS INTO STEPPING STONES: Charlie Plaskon, at left, shown here tethered to his guide during the running portion of an Ironman competition, told students at The Bridge Academy last week that his blindness has not kept him from accomplishing numerous feats, athletic and otherwise.

FROM STUMBLING BLOCKS INTO STEPPING STONES: Charlie Plaskon, at left, shown here tethered to his guide during the running portion of an Ironman competition, told students at The Bridge Academy last week that his blindness has not kept him from accomplishing numerous feats, athletic and otherwise.

Charlie Plaskon breaks records all the time. But for this legally blind, 69-year-old triathlete, finishing the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and 26.2-mile marathon that make up an Ironman competition, in 12 hours and 41 minutes — the record for a blind individual — isn’t about the numbers.

“I give my medals away,” Mr. Plaskon said Friday during a talk to students at The Bridge Academy in Lawrenceville. “It’s just acknowledgment for what I did that particular day,” he added, holding up one of his many medals. “I enjoy them, but I don’t relish them.”

What is most important, he told the students, who have dyslexia and other language-based disabilities, is not letting those disabilities get in the way of what they want to achieve. “I’m here to motivate you to make a difference,” he said. “You don’t even know what you’re capable of.”

Mr. Plaskon was on hand to talk to the students, who range in age from eight to 18, and to ride with them the following day in Bike for Bridge, a charity bike ride to benefit the 10-year-old school. He got acquainted with the school through its art teacher, Sarah Bernotas, whose father has been Mr. Plaskon’s friend since childhood. “Uncle Charlie” clearly has an affection for the Bridge Academy, which he has visited in the past.

“I hope I inspired them,” he said this week during a telephone interview. “They inspire me. Because I don’t have eyes, people lend me their eyes. I have a different kind of vision. For each person to do as much as they can with what they’ve got, that’s my message. If there’s a stumbling block, they fashion it into a stepping stone.”

It was actual stepping stones, in fact, around which Mr. Plaskon focused his talk last week. He asked the students to tell him how many stones there were between the Bridge Academy’s main building and the adjacent Adath Israel synagogue, where the talk was held. Though it is a short walk they make regularly, none of the Bridge students came close to the right number.

“You take your sight for granted,” said Mr. Plaskon, who has learned to make a mental note of steps he takes and ground he covers. “Do you know what a gift that is? You have eyes and you’re not using them as much as you possibly could.”

The students were rapt as Mr. Plaskon relayed his unusual story. Born in 1943 with a condition called Stargardt macular degeneration, which in children today can be helped by laser treatments, he struggled with his sight from birth. “My vision kept declining,” he said. “The world was getting increasingly darker.”

It was Mr. Plaskon’s first grade teacher who told his parents that something was wrong. They took him to an eye doctor. “I was in the next room after the examination, and I heard the doctor say to my father, ‘Never let your son leave the house. The world is much too dangerous for him.’ I was barely six-years-old! I had a lot of dreams,” he recalled. “I wanted to be a fireman, a cowboy. How was I going to achieve them?” Mr. Plaskon’s father came out of the doctor’s office, took his son by the shoulders and said, “Don’t listen to what the doctor says.” It was a turning point for him.

With the help of encouraging teachers as well as his supportive family, Mr. Plaskon earned a bachelor’s degree from Newark State College, a master’s degree from the University of Maryland at College Park, and a second master’s from Hofstra University on Long Island. After 32 years, he retired from his job teaching industrial arts at a Long Island middle school, and retired to Florida. He has three children and four grandchildren.

Running was a challenge Mr. Plaskon tackled after retirement. Soon, he was taking part in half-marathons and full marathons. Those led to triathlons, adding swimming and biking to the challenge. Mr. Plaskon participates with the help of (much younger) partners who are tethered to him throughout the competitions. Since 2003, he has completed several half Ironman and full Ironman events including the World Championship in Kona, Hawaii in October 2007.

As part of his presentation at The Bridge Academy, Mr. Plaskon demonstrated how he changes his attire for each portion of the race. He put on his goggles, pulled on his swim cap, showed where he stows his “nutrition” for fuel during the day-long competitions. Removing his jacket, he unwittingly showed off his muscular frame.

Mr. Plaskon ran in the recent Boston Marathon, his sixth, aided by two guides. At his talk, he didn’t talk about the race, during which two bombs were set off, killing three spectators and wounding several others. But he recalled his experience this week.

“We were on schedule and were coming in well under the anticipated time,” he said. “Right around the 24-mile marker, the word came back that there was an explosion in a medical tent. We thought it was maybe an oxygen tank or something. A group of police urged us to leave, but we had just run 25.5 miles and we weren’t about to stop. We ran all the way down to Boylston Street and had a pinch left to go when one of my guides said there were helicopters, police cars, members of the bomb squad with weapons. We knew it was over.”

The three were running “… over fences, under barriers, a mass of humanity,” Mr. Plaskon said of their exit from the scene. “We forgot about shivering and being thirsty. Cramps set in because the police would stop us. Nobody knew what was going on. But we survived.”

The experience did not dampen Mr. Plaskon’s enthusiasm for competitions. Two weeks ago, he did a 112-mile bike ride with veterans from the Pentagon to Gettysburg. This week, he will do a fundraiser for Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind in Washington D.C. “I do this all over the place,” he said. “That’s why I have to stay so fit.”

The Bike for Bridge race last Saturday was shorter, but no less rewarding than the other events on Mr. Plaskon’s agenda. “It’s the experiences at things like this that are tremendous,” he said. “The people I met Saturday morning were wonderful. Two or three gentlemen said, ‘My son was in the audience at your talk yesterday and I had to come and meet you.’ This is a collection of people who have challenges. I’ve been challenged every day of my life. If I can make it, so can they. There was great participation, bringing attention to a school that is very special because they’re saving kids who would otherwise fall through the cracks.”

Bridge School principal Sue Morris said more than 30 riders of all ages took part in the race. Having Mr. Plaskon on hand for two days “means a tremendous amount,” she said. “The kids were amazed at the things he’s been able to accomplish, and they were inspired that he doesn’t take no for an answer, that he just pushes through and finds a way to accomplish things,” she said. “He does not use his blindness as an excuse. We explain to our kids, you do not use your disability as an excuse. They need to be able to accommodate for it and push through.”

Mr. Plaskon is considering a return to teaching, and working on a book. “I hope to launch my message in as large a way possible,” he said. “I’m here, I’m 70, I’m old, and I’m blind, but if I can encourage people to do things they never thought were possible, what could be better than that?”

It is no exaggeration to say that renowned Philadelphia poet Elaine Terranova’s work has reached a wide audience. Besides being featured in some very high profile literary publications such as The New Yorker, The American Poetry Review, and the Prairie Schooner, Ms. Terranova’s poems have been posted on buses and in subways throughout her hometown.

Her poem “The River Bathers” was used in 2003 on illustrated posters by the city’s Public Poetry Project and “The Choice” was part of Philadelphia’s Poetry in Motion. Inspired by a similar program in the London Underground, Poetry in Motion, started with New York’s MTA system in 1992 and expanded to cities across the country. It arrived in Philadelphia in 1999. At its peak, the program brought the work of prominent poets to some 13 million daily commuters in 14 American cities.

“Poetry in Motion put short poems or parts of poems on placards on buses and subways and I was one of a dozen Pennsylvania poets, including Lee Upton, David Slavitt, and Steve Berg, to participate,” notes Ms. Terranova. “Although it only lasted in Philadephia for about six months, it was great to have public transportation carry poetry; I wish it would come back.”

On the second Monday of every month, U.S.1 Poets’ Cooperative and the Delaware Valley Poets join with the Princeton Public Library in presenting “Poets at the Library,” a reading series that features one or two seasoned poets followed by an open reading with local poets stepping up to the podium to share their works. “It’s a pleasure to read poetry in Princeton,” says Ms. Terranova. “I like the charm and tradition of the place. It’s a town with a well-used and well-appreciated library and that tells you a lot about the population.”

This Monday, May 13, brings Ms. Terranova and longtime U.S.1 Poets’ Cooperative member John McDermott to the comfortable space before the fireplace on the library’s second floor.

Born in Philadelphia 1939, Ms. Terranova received her Bachelor’s degree in 1961 from Temple University. Her literary career began in publishing as a manuscript editor for J. B. Lippincott Co. While there, she studied for her Master’s degree through Vermont’s Goddard College and then, in 1977, began teaching English and creative writing at Temple University. After a decade at Temple, she joined the Community College of Philadelphia as a reading and writing specialist. She teaches there currently.

Ms. Terranova’s interest in poetry prompted a chapbook, Toward Morning/Swimmers, in 1980. But it was with her first collection The Cult of the Right Hand that she came to prominence. The Cult of the Right Hand won the 1990 Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets and led its author to being asked to lead workshops at the 1991 Rutgers University Writers Conference and the 1992 Writers’ Center at the Chautauqua Institution.

In 1991, Ms. Terranova was interviewed on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, and in 1992, she held the Robert Frost Fellowship in Poetry at the 1992 Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. In the same year, her poem “The Stand-up Shtetel” took first prize in the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Competition for poems on the Jewish experience.

Damages, her second collection, received warm reviews in 1996, the same year she was Margaret Banister writer-in-residence at Sweet Briar College. Besides Damages (Copper Canyon Press,1996), her books include The Dog’s Heart (Orchises, 2002), and Not To: New and Selected Poems (Sheep Meadow Press, 2006), runner-up for the 2007 William Carlos Williams Award, Dames Rocket (Penstroke Press. 2012) and Dollhouse (Off the Grid Press, 2013); her many awards include a Pew Fellowship in the Arts, a National Endowment in the Arts Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize.

Her poems are accessible and memorably disconcerting. Keenly aware of loss and with deep empathy for others, Ms. Terranova’s sensibility offers a fresh perspective. She is an intimate observer who is able to give voice to others such as the distracted office worker at his desk, capturing the thoughts behind a troubled expression. Her poems have an elegance borne of fleeting images deftly captured.

These lines from “Laterna Magica,” convey the poet’s compelling imagery: “And one day/a house burns down/as a woman cooks dinner./Miraculous — the family escapes./Expensive place. Acres/of feathery trees. You know the man,/have in your mind a glimpse of him/as you turned a corner/or at a blind landing of the stairs./You forget this fire/until a plane crash lands/and he and his child are listed/among the lost./Their names/could be tubas and kettledrums,/a music too important/for the radio. Pink/messages/pulse across your desk/but you are staring/at the irises in a vase/that rise like faces out of smoke.”

Joining Ms. Terranova at Monday’s reading, Mr. McDermott is a familiar voice in Princeton’s poetry community. A former poetry editor of U.S.1 Worksheets, he is an associate professor of English as a Second Language at Union County College. He’s read at the Dodge Poetry Festival and served many years as a Dodge Poet working with teachers and students. His poems have appeared in numerous journals.

Poets at the Library takes place Monday, May 13 at 7:30 p.m. in the Fireplace Area on the library’s second floor. For more information, call (609) 924-9529 or visit www.princetonlibrary.org.

New Kids On The Block

Guarding their brood is one of the two adult bald eagles who relocated to Lake Carnegie when their tree was destroyed in Superstorm Sandy. The eaglets grow rapidly and should fledge by the end of July. The quote above comes from the sonnet “When like an eaglet” by Michael Drayton (1563-1631), which ends with the poet’s heart in flight: “Thus from my breast, where it was bred alone,/It after thee is, like an eaglet, flown.” (Photos by Charles R. Plohn)

Eaglet in 2013

May 1, 2013
EARTH DAY AT COMMUNITY PARK: Parents and students joined Community Park School (CP) science teacher John Emmons (the one with the pitch fork) at the School Saturday, April 27, to celebrate Earth Day by working in the gardens. During his five years at the school, Mr. Emmons and a team of volunteers has transformed once-barren grassy areas into beautiful and functional gardens that are also outdoors classrooms for lessons about soil, sun, planting, life cycles and more. From left: Lee Yonish, David Gray, Mr. Emmons, Tom Pinneo, Cameron Gray, Luca Petrecca, Julian Chorney, Orlando Fuquen, and Stephanie Chorney.(Photo by Jennifer Lea Cohan)

EARTH DAY AT COMMUNITY PARK: Parents and students joined Community Park School (CP) science teacher John Emmons (the one with the pitch fork) at the School Saturday, April 27, to celebrate Earth Day by working in the gardens. During his five years at the school, Mr. Emmons and a team of volunteers has transformed once-barren grassy areas into beautiful and functional gardens that are also outdoors classrooms for lessons about soil, sun, planting, life cycles and more. From left: Lee Yonish, David Gray, Mr. Emmons, Tom Pinneo, Cameron Gray, Luca Petrecca, Julian Chorney, Orlando Fuquen, and Stephanie Chorney. (Photo by Jennifer Lea Cohan)

Princeton moved one step closer to achieving Sustainable Jersey’s Silver Certification when the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education passed a Sustainability Resolution at its meeting last Tuesday, April 23.

The resolution provides points toward Princeton’s certification. The municipality is currently certified at the Bronze level.

To date, of the 383 municipalities registered with Sustainable Jersey, 113 are “certified.” Of those, 102 are at the Bronze level; only 11, at the Silver level.

Diane Landis, executive director of Sustainable Princeton, the group that was behind the initiative that brought the resolution to the School Board, hopes that by 2014, Princeton will be certified at the silver level.

“We need to begin a number of programs this year and have them in place by the time we apply for silver level next year,” says Ms. Landis “Sustainable Jersey’s criteria are quite stringent but I am confident that we will make it. We just take it one step at a time and we’ll get there. It’s like putting a quilt together, piece by piece.”

The School Board’s endorsement of the “Principles of Sustainability” resolution was a step in the right direction. It was presented to the Board by members of Sustainable Princeton’s Green Schools Coalition, a group of parents and other residents seeking to advance sustainability in the district.

The Coalition advocates for sustainable learning experiences for students, for professional development opportunities that have a sustainable focus for teachers and staff, and for energy efficiency and waste reduction.

The resolution, which states that the district will join in the municipality’s efforts, was based on a model developed by Sustainable Jersey and emphasizes the role of the school district in building a community that balances and integrates economic, social and ecological objectives to improve quality of life for its residents.

Stephanie Chorney and Karen Nathan, who co-chair the Green Schools Coalition, presented it to the board. Ms. Chorney is a pediatrician and president of the Parent Teacher Organization at Community Park, where her son is a student. A passionate recycler, she helped organize last year’s first ever recycling effort at Communiversity. She even followed the Public Works truck just to make sure the recycling was taken where it was meant to go.

The day before this year’s Communiversity, Ms. Chorney was in school at Community Park to mark Earth Day, Saturday, April 27. Besides a spring clean up, the event included the installation of a newly built chalkboard that will be used when teachers take their classes outdoors. Ms. Chorney donated the chalkboard, and Community Park parent Tom Pinneo, together with Andy Truesdell, donated the time and materials to build the enclosure. Community Park School garden includes a Colonial Herb Garden at the school with a newly installed bird house built by students at John Witherspoon Middle School.

“I am so happy that the resolution passed,” said Ms. Chorney after last week’s board meeting. “This is the culmination of much effort and it’s great to be a part of something that is teaching our kids how to be healthy and how to care for the environment.”

Under the resolution, the district would support and encourage: student participation in learning experiences dedicated to sustainability; possible examples of such learning experiences could include classroom work, school gardens, health and wellness programs, and field trips; professional development opportunities that will support educators in preparing students for a sustainable future; and sustainable practices related to energy efficiency, waste management, composting, recycling, and procurement and maintenance in Princeton Public Schools’ facilities.

Specific goals in the areas of energy and waste, and health and wellness, include: composting of organic waste; field trips and films to promote clean energy and waste reduction; school gardens and cafeterias as health/science engagement opportunities; tracking of energy efficiency improvements; green food service (e.g. local food, eliminate styrofoam); cost savings from waste reduction and energy efficiency; bicycling and walking campaigns.

“Sustainable Jersey is focused on municipalities and they want to see a connection between the local authority and what is being achieved,” says Ms. Landis, “It’s wonderful to have the support of Mayor Liz Lempert who really wants to see this for Princeton.”

According to Ms. Landis an upcoming agenda item will be to conduct a municipal fleet inventory and track the mileage and use for each vehicle. Later this spring, Sustainable Princeton will launch an energy program for residents. Sustainability includes a social justice component to make sure that municipalities serve their entire populations, so one other concern is for diversity on boards.

For more information, visit: www.sustainableprinceton.org.

STYLIST TO THE STARS: Gregory Purcell, whose distinctive style has made him a regular contributor to film, television, and print campaigns, also counts Princeton residents among his loyal clients. He worked on the film “The Place Beyond the Pines,” recently on screen at the Garden Theater on Nassau Street.

STYLIST TO THE STARS: Gregory Purcell, whose distinctive style has made him a regular contributor to film, television, and print campaigns, also counts Princeton residents among his loyal clients. He worked on the film “The Place Beyond the Pines,” recently on screen at the Garden Theater on Nassau Street.

Ryan Gosling’s platinum locks and Eva Mendes’s sultry, dark tresses in The Place Beyond the Pines, the crime drama recently  on screen at the Princeton Garden Theater, are the work of a hairdresser who counts several local residents among his clientele. Gregory Purcell travels from Manhattan to Another Angle salon on Nassau Street most Sundays and Mondays, the only days he can get away from his work as a stylist for movies, television, and numerous print advertisements and campaigns.

“I really like Princeton,” the 48-year-old Roselle Park native says. “I want it to be fashionable. I think it’s a place that could really, really happen. It just needs that extra push.”

On his website, Mr. Purcell’s client list boasts such names as Sarah Jessica Parker, Meg Ryan, Dennis Quaid, and the Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, His TV credits include Law & Order SVU, Good Morning America, and Boardwalk Empire. The film list runs from Sex and the City 2 to New Year’s Eve. Then there are the fashion shows (Donna Karan, Calvin Klein), and Broadway (Spider Man: Turn Off the Dark).

Yet he is as affable and down to earth, during a telephone interview, as the proverbial guy next door. Talking about his career trajectory, which started after he left art school to work on windows for Barney’s in New York, he recalled, “One of my friends said, ‘You do all the wigs in the windows. Why don’t you do hair?’ I thought about it, and I knew there’d be a lot of girls, and that was my big thing. I thought, why not?”

Mr. Purcell went back to school to learn the trade, and then landed a job at Vidal Sassoon. Next, he worked for Minardi, and later at John Frieda, where he eventually became creative director. “I was the only American there. They were all British,” he says. “They were building an empire all over the world, so I got to travel quite a bit.”

The Frieda salon “is huge in the fashion world,” Mr. Purcell says. He was soon working runway shows in London, Paris, and New York. “People started looking at me for movies,” Mr. Purcell says. “I got Sex in the City 2, Wall Street 2. Now I have The Place Beyond the Pines.”

Happy to share a few anecdotes about the filming, Mr. Purcell laughs as he recalls a night in the woods near Schenectady, New York, where Bradley Cooper and Ray Liotta were shooting a fight scene. “Bradley had to hit one of the actors and he hit him too hard and broke the guy’s nose,” he says. “The guy was okay, but Bradley was so upset about it. He kept apologizing and sending him gifts.”

Another memory: “Ryan and his dog would sit with me while I was doing hair. Nobody can sleep, and everyone would end up coming to my apartment. One night, we gave the dog a buzz-cut. Then on one of the TV shows — I think it might have been Letterman, he said he gave the dog the cut! But it was me. There was some really funny stuff. Eva Mendes would come in, dance around. That’s where they [she and Ryan Gosling] became a couple.”

Mr. Purcell started his own product line, called “Attitude,” as his career took off. “It’s all about texture and body,” he says. “It’s not just for women, but also for men. For a woman, hair is the biggest accessory. They have to own it, walk it, be unique. There should never be just one statement, because everyone has a different look.”

Speaking of which, Mr. Purcell is known for his own distinctive style of dressing and adorning himself. “He’s a little bit of a character,” says Patrick Vance, who owns Another Angle salon. “He reminds me a bit of Johnny Depp. And he’s a fabulous hairdresser, really top notch.”

“A lot of people call me a pirate,” Mr. Purcell says, with a chuckle. “But I just let it go.”

The Amateur Astronomers Association of Princeton (AAAP) will celebrate its 50th anniversary on May 11, at 7:30 p.m. in Wolfensohn Hall on the campus of the the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) with a free public program entitled “Celebrating the Past, Inspiring the Future.”

Prominent scientists Freeman Dyson, IAS physicist, mathematician and long-time AAAP member; Princeton astrophysicists David Spergel and J. Richard Gott; and Harvard astronomer Lisa Kaltenegger will consider the question: “Is Anyone Else Out There?”

AAAP anticipates an engrossing discussion about the current research in astronomy and exobiology, and the possibilities of finding life elsewhere in the solar system, perhaps within our lifetime. If skies are clear, the evening will conclude with an observing party hosted by members of AAAP on the IAS grounds at 9 p.m.

Author Michael Lemonick; entrepreneur and ISS visitor Greg Olsen; and Rutgers astrophysicist Rachel Somerville, winner of the 2013 Dannie Heineman Prize for Astrophysics; will be among the friends of AAAP who will attend the event.

Robert Sanders and a small group of amateur astronomers formed AAAP in 1962 to support like-minded amateurs and promote observational astronomy to the general public. Since 1962, public interest in space has waxed and waned, but the association has always actively promoted astronomy and space exploration. Members have built two observatories, hosted over 400 lectures and 20 star parties, and undertaken thousands of hours of outreach at local schools and at our observatory in Washington Crossing State Park. Also, AAAP works to support events sponsored by the State Museum in Trenton like Super Science Saturday.

Currently, AAAP is planning a fully automated telescope and mount for remote astrophotography under a new dome at their Washington Crossing facility. AAAP’s 90 members include avid observers, armchair investigators, and complete novices. All share a common love of the night sky.

For more information, visit: AAAP web site: www.princetonastronomy.org. For the association’s newsletter, visit: princetonastronomy.wordpress.com.

The Waldorf School of Princeton welcomes spring with its annual May Fair, Saturday, May 11, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. A rain-or-shine, community-wide celebration, May Fair features live music, healthy foods, and imaginative activities for children and their families, all on its 20-acre campus minutes from downtown Princeton. 

The fair includes a marketplace for local artists, crafters, and independent merchants, with opportunities to enter a raffle for unique and handmade items.

In addition to the traditional Maypole dance offered by students of the school, this year’s May Fair features performances by the Mountain View String Band and other local talents, as well as refreshments by local vendors such as Simply Grazin’ and The Bent Spoon.

Activities include making marbleized paper, felted soap, or your very own fairy wand. Enjoy browsing the market for jewelry, woollens, handblown glass, knitted dolls, and more.

The Waldorf School of Princeton is located at 1062 Cherry Hill Road, Princeton. Admission is free and the event is open to the public. Free parking is available onsite as well as along Coppervail Court; school information and tours will be offered throughout the day. For more information, contact Jamie Quirk at (609) 466-1970, x112, e-mail events@princetonwaldorf.org, or visit www.princetonwaldorf.org.