September 10, 2014

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Imagine being able to get off or on the Dinky just south of Blair Hall. That would have made catching a New York train a cinch for Scott Fitzgerald in the days when he lived on University Place, where the photo was taken. The station moved a quarter mile south to its now-former location in 1917, the year Fitzgerald left school to join the army. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

September 8, 2014
With demolition of the former Princeton Hospital buildings scheduled to start around September 15, residents of the neighborhood surrounding the property gathered  at Witherspoon Hall Wednesday night to ask questions about noise, dust, and possible health hazards. AvalonBay, the developer of the site, held a public meeting at which John Mucha of Yannuzzi Wrecking and Recycling Corporation answered most of the questions.
Mr. Mucha told residents that precautions were being taken against possible health and environmental hazards. The process could take up to six months, he told the crowd of approximately 50 people. Once the buildings are demolished, AvalonBay plans to build a rental complex of 280 housing units, 56 of which have been designated as affordable.
Residents were told that water will be sprayed and misted during demolition, and dust monitors will be in place. “There may be windy days when we need to stop operations because we can’t control the dust,” Mr. Mucha said. “We’ll have to cross that bridge when we come to it.”
Noise monitors will also be installed. The developer has hired a noise monitoring company to keep noise levels down, but Mr. Mucha said residents should expect to hear  some sounds of breaking concrete slabs and twisting steel during the process. Several residents aired concerns about contamination from particulates. “With the levels they’re talking about, particulates are not going to make it to your property,” the town’s health officer Jeffrey Grosser told a resident who lives across the street from the site. “But for added protection you can keep your windows closed if you live close by.”
AvalonBay has hired a company to photograph residents’ foundations for documentation in case of damage from construction activity. The developer has also created a website, www.avalonprinceton.com, which is now live. The site will include updates and frequently asked questions, according to Jon Vogel, AvalonBay’s vice president of development.
September 3, 2014
Princeton’s Send Hunger Packing program has challenged celebrity chef Brian Duffy, from the television show “Bar Rescue,”  to use ingredients generally available to low-income families to come up an affordable, easy to prepare, nutritious and tasty meal. Mr. Duffy will take on the challenge Sunday, September 14 from 3 to 5:30 p.m. at Community Park School. Admission is free to this event, where Mr. Duffy will also help local children cook a meal of their own as a way of demonstrating the personal connection between cooking and nutrition.
Send Hunger Packing Princeton (SHUPP) is hosting this family-friendly event to focust on the issue of child hunger in Princeton, and the efforts underway to ensure that school-aged kids have the nutritional resources they need to succeed in school and life. All of the costs have been donated. The event is sponsored by Princeton Human Services, the Princeton Public Schools, and Mercer Street Friends.  Visit shupprinceton.org for more information.
 
THE VOICE ON THE TELEPHONE: Mary Stevens at home in Princeton where she has lived since 1979. Ms. Stevens operated a telephone lifeline for participants in the  Freedom Summer in 1964. She participated in a conference marking the 50th anniversary of the event this summer in Jackson, Mississippi, where she observed that the desk she had used back then is now part of a museum exhibit (http://cofocivilrightseducationcenter.devhub.com/). An exhibit on Freedom Summer will be held later this year at John Witherspoon Middle School and also at Princeton University.http://cofocivilrightseducationcenter.devhub.com/(Photo by L. Arntzenius)

THE VOICE ON THE TELEPHONE: Mary Stevens at home in Princeton where she has lived since 1979. Ms. Stevens operated a telephone lifeline for participants in the Freedom Summer in 1964. She participated in a conference marking the 50th anniversary of the event this summer in Jackson, Mississippi, where she observed that the desk she had used back then is now part of a museum exhibit (http://cofocivilrightseducationcenter.devhub.com/). An exhibit on Freedom Summer will be held later this year at John Witherspoon Middle School and also at Princeton University.http://cofocivilrightseducationcenter.devhub.com/ (Photo by L. Arntzenius)

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Freedom Summer, some 2500 young activists, civil rights veterans, and historians met for a week in late June at Tougaloo College in Jackson, Mississippi. Mary Stevens of Princeton was among the three hundred or so veterans of the civil rights project to share memories of the grassroots effort to register as many of Mississippi’s African American voters as possible.

Mississippi changed my life; it made me who I am,” said Ms. Stevens, before going on to describe some history prior to Freedom Summer: “Buses were integrated by the Supreme Court in the 1950s but segregation was the norm in the South. Freedom Riders from the North, both black and white, went South in the early sixties to test the law. They ran into incredible danger. One bus was set afire with people locked inside. People were beaten, jailed, and killed. In the early 1960s only five percent of registered voters in Mississippi were black.”

“But by 1964, publicity had waned; people were still being killed. SNCC [Student Nonviolent Coordinating Convention] and CORE [Council of Racial Equality] realized that if white kids from the North, the sons and daughters of the powerful, got involved, then there would be interest and concern,” said Ms. Stevens. “It worked. Freedom Summer, which was organized by the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO), a coalition of the Mississippi branches of the four major civil rights organizations, had three parts: Freedom Schools, voter registration, and enrollment in the Freedom Democratic Party.”

Ms. Stevens remembered her own fear on the journey south. “I got rides with SNCC people down to Atlanta. From there I rode with another white gal and three black guys to Hattiesburg, Mississippi. We were okay until we got to Alabama, but after that, interracial cars were dangerous. So Wendy and I shrunk down on the floor in back with a blanket over us. We were scared. I’m tall, Wendy was tiny, thank goodness we could fit.”

Ms. Stevens was housed with an African American couple, at some risk to themselves, in the black section of town with dirt streets, and no sidewalks. Although spotlessly clean, the four-room house was old and unpainted; there was no electricity or indoor facilities, only an outhouse and a kerosene lantern. Their host “stayed up in the dark with a shotgun in his lap,” said Ms. Stevens, whose summer 2014 accommodation was an air conditioned room in a suite with bath, kitchen, and living-dining room, shared with a British pediatrician who had been part of Freedom Summer’s medical corps.

“I met lots of people who were thrilled to meet me because I had been the girl on the phone at the COFO headquarters. We were the people who checked in with them twice a day to make sure they were okay, or to see if they needed anything. There were dozens of field offices like Hattiesburg throughout the state and COFO headquarters was their life line. We were their source of protection and their 911. They certainly couldn’t depend on the local police or the FBI if there was trouble. [The telephone was crucial to our safety, she said. Her desk is now part of a museum exhibit. It was nice to see it! visit it at: http://cofocivilrightseducationcenter.devhub.com/]

One of the most tragic events of that time was the murder of three young civil rights volunteers Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Earl Chaney on the first day of the project. “Their deaths cast a pall on the whole summer but the fact that two of the victims were white northerners captured the nation’s attention,” said Ms. Stevens. “Black people had been working and suffering for freedom for decades, but up to that point it was seen as just a Southern Problem,” said Ms. Stevens. “Everybody knew immediately that they had been murdered; it was only the racists who suggested that they were alive somewhere.” Their bodies were unearthed on August 4 as a result of a tip from an FBI informant inside the Ku Klux Klan.

Their deaths and the events of Freedom Summer helped to precipitate the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

A Life in Law

“After Mississippi, I’d saved up enough money from my job as a research technician at Mass General to support myself for a year. I went to Berkeley, California, where I was part of the steering committee of the Vietnam Teach-In,” recalled Ms. Stevens, who hoped to become a lawyer at a time when the field was less than welcoming to women. She became active in NOW, the Woman’s Political Congress, and the Gay Rights Movement, and organized the first national conference on gay law while studying at Rutgers Law School. She went on to teach at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia and at Trenton State College (now The College of New Jersey) and retired in 1996. At 72, Ms. Stevens is still active with MOVEON.org and New Jersey groups active in gun control and politics.

Ms. Stevens has three children, a daughter, Elizabeth, 40, from her first marriage and two sons adopted with her second husband, Charlie Parker, who is now deceased. Together, they fostered 37 children as short-term foster care givers. Then they adopted two infants, David, 22, and Isaiah, 20. All three graduated from Princeton High School, David in 2012.

To fund her reunion trip, Ms. Stevens turned to “Go Fund Me,” and elicited $1100 from supporters. To pay back such kindness, she has written about her experiences for alumnae magazines, contrasting 1964 and 2014.

Among the topics at this summer’s conference were contemporary threats to voting rights and the disproportionate incarceration of young black men. “The newest threat,” said Ms. Stevens “is the demand for all kinds of government issued IDs, a measure intended to disenfranchise black, women, and young people. Many people born at home in rural communities don’t have birth certificates, and there are people without any way of getting to the DMV in order to apply for voter IDs,” she said.

“Through all the shared danger, shared commitment, and shared sacrifice, SNCC tried to be ‘the beloved community,’” said Ms. Stevens, quoting the phrase used by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.”

The beloved community was abundantly evident at the 50th Anniversary Conference,” said Ms. Stevens. “Black and white together again.”

art sale stockton

Like last year when this photograph was taken, visitors to the Artsbridge Annual Clothesline Art Sale will find treasures at a sale of work where nothing is priced above $300. Described as offering “art for the cash strapped,” the show includes original paintings, jewelry, sculpture, photography, and crafts. It takes place Sunday, September 7 from noon to 5 p.m. at Prallsville Mill in Stockton. For more information, visit: www.artsbridgeonline.com.

 

The 12th annual Insect Festival sponsored by the Rutgers Master Gardeners of Mercer County will be held Saturday, September 6, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Mercer Educational Gardens, 431A Federal City Road, Hopewell Township.

Attendees are invited to view seven demonstration gardens — Annual, Butterfly, Cottage, Herb, Native Plant, Perennial, and Weed ID — and talk with Rutgers Master Gardeners who will be on hand to offer tips and display guides for recognizing some of the pesky as well as beneficial insects. Every garden will host an activity that will entertain and teach children of all ages about the incredible and often beautiful insects common to the Northeast.

The event will be held rain or shine; admission is free and on-site parking is available.

Many exciting activities will be offered this year. Viewing tiny organisms through microscopes at the Bugs in Water activity will be back again. Enjoy an insect hunt on the paths cut through the restored meadow or visit with native-bee and honeybee experts who can explain why we need to be less fearful and more respectful of the most important pollinators in our ecosystem. Learn how insect predators, including both bats and birds, can help control insect pest populations and reduce the use of chemical pesticides. Everyone can take a look at red wriggler worms making compost in a simple container that is easy to set up at home, and join in other activities.

Popular events from previous years will continue — butterfly births, Monarch butterfly tagging, bugs galore (insect inspection and handling), the insect puppet show, tattoos, crafts, hayrides, and a discussion with Barbara J. Bromley, Mercer County Horticulturist.  Local environmental agencies will also be present with their experts and displays.

The Master Gardeners of Mercer County is a volunteer educational outreach program of Rutgers Cooperative Extension. Master Gardeners participate in many volunteer programs throughout the County, as well as answer home horticulture questions through their Rutgers Master Gardener Helpline, (609) 989-6853, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., March through October, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., November through February. For more information on the organization’s educational programs and events, visit www.mgofmc.org.

Award-winning poet Gerald Stern will read from his work for 40 minutes followed by an open-microphone session as part of Poets in the Library, Monday, September 8, at 7:30 p.m. His appearance will be in the library’s Community Room.

Mr. Stern was born in Pittsburgh in 1925 and was educated at the University of Pittsburgh and Columbia University. He is the author of 16 books of poetry, including, most recently, In Beauty Bright (Norton 2012) and Save the Last Dance (Norton 2009) as well as This Time: New and Selected Poems, which won the 1998 National Book Award. According to prize-winning poet C.K. Williams, “Stern is one of those rare poetic souls who makes it almost impossible to remember what our world was like before his poetry came to exalt it.”

About In Beauty Bright, Frank Wilson of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes, “[Stern’s] style insinuates itself into your consciousness like a catchy tune, so that you find your thoughts echoing its rhythms, bopping from one to another, back and forth, like thought and language doing a jitterbug.”

Besides receiving the 2005 Wallace Stevens Award by the Academy of American Poets, Mr. Stern was the 2010 recipient of the Medal of Honor in Poetry by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He was inducted into the 2012 class of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and was the 2012 recipient of the Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry from the Library of Congress. He is also the 2014 winner of the Frost Medal. His new book of poems Divine Nothingness will be released in November.

Poets in the Library is co-sponsored by the library, Delaware Valley Poets and the U.S. 1 Poets’ Cooperative.

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Happy Pic

Don’t they look happy? Romy Toussaint of Romy Yoga, Anne Petco of lululemon, and Patty Cronheim of the Family Guidance Center are the brains behind Happiness Day, taking place this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (rain date Sunday). A marathon of five free one-hour yoga classes on Palmer Square green, the event will also include an “Intro to Happiness” talk by Ed Tseng, a lululemon athletica water lounge, and information on wellness and community service opportunities. Yoga mats will be available and water will be provided for participants. The Family Guidance Center will offer free budgeting assistance, blood pressure screenings, and other  activities. Yoga instruction will be provided by Romy Yoga, Gratitude Yoga, Rise Yoga, Yoga Soul, and YogaStream. For more information, call the Family Guidance Center at (609) 586-0668.

 

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The Princeton University campus is bustling again this week as the Class of 2018 makes its presence felt. The four freshmen shown here are on their way up the steps under the Blair Arch. To hear what some of the new arrivals are looking forward to, see this week’s Town Talk. (Photo by Emily Reeves)

 

August 29, 2014

University Place, which has been closed from College Road to Alexander Street, will reopen to vehicular traffic this morning, Thursday, August 28. The temporary traffic signal at the intersection of College Road and Alexander Street will be in “flash” mode today, August 28 and tomorrow, August 29; it will then be removed. The TigerPaWW bus stop will remain at College Road, across from the entrance to McCarter Theatre Center. Bus schedules will not change. Please follow posted signs when walking, biking and/or driving through the area. Updated maps showing vehicular, pedestrian, and bike detours are available on the Arts and Transit Project website. For more information, call 609-258-8023.

August 27, 2014

The Princeton Pedestrian and Bike Advisory Committee is looking for original art to be on the cover of a new “Biking in Princeton” map that is being developed. Artists or photographers interested in submitting an image that might be appropriate for the map can do so by Wednesday, September 10. The committee would like submissions in a digital file rather than hard copy, sent to pjpbac@gmail.com. Entries will be accepted until midnight. Artists will be donating their images to be shared with the public, but will be credited.

THE VIEW FROM MOUNT LUCAS ROAD: The Vonvorys family at home on their back yard deck in a neighborhood where many smaller homes are being replaced by larger and more expensive homes.(Photo by L. Arntzenius)

THE VIEW FROM MOUNT LUCAS ROAD: The Vonvorys family at home on their back yard deck in a neighborhood where many smaller homes are being replaced by larger and more expensive homes. (Photo by L. Arntzenius)

In recent weeks, Town Topics has focused on Princeton’s commitment to Affordable Housing, with a “Princeton Perspectives” series of articles focused on diverse socioeconomic lifestyles and living options in the municipality. Princeton’s diversity ranges across race, origins, education, social background, economic status, and political persuasion. The series has introduced Princeton residents, some newcomers and others with deep roots in the community, some living in subsidized housing, others who purchased on the open market.

First, we met Dan and Mary Beth Scheid, who were among the first to buy into the Residences at Palmer Square (Town Topics, July 23). Then, an immigrant family from Ghana, Elizabeth Bonnah and Tony Smith and their two children, renting an apartment in Griggs Farm (Town Topics, July 30). Also in Griggs Farm, we met Bethany Andrade and her mother Karen Andrade Mims, one of the first to purchase a condominium through Princeton’s Affordable Housing Program, through which her daughter is now purchasing her own apartment (Town Topics, August 13).

Now come Colin and Laura Vonvorys, who bought their own home on Mount Lucas Road on the open market in an area where tear-downs are happening with greater incidence.

Reporters are privileged to be invited into people’s homes and Town Topics thanks all of the Princeton residents who have participated in these interviews.

Colin and Laura Vonvorys

It’s been said that with the development of larger and grander homes in Princeton, those in the middle of the economic spectrum are being pushed out as smaller homes are torn down to make way for more expensive homes. The Vonvorys live in just such a neighborhood. But if you think they are unhappy about the changes, think again. Colin Vonvorys, a diehard conservative, has a live-and-let-live attitude. Laura Vonvorys hopes that the new residents will enjoy the neighborhood as much as she does, and would be especially happy to see the arrival of young families with children.

On Mount Lucas

The Vonvorys live in a modest three-bedroom, two-bath ranch home on a wooded half acre on Mount Lucas Road with their two sons C.J., 13, and Aaron, 8, as well as their cat Tux. C.J. goes to John Witherspoon Middle School and Aaron to Community Park. Friday night is pizza night at the Vonvorys and over slices of Conte’s pizza we talked about what brought them to Princeton and what keeps them here.

An account executive for a software company, Colin, 53, works from his home office and usually travels one to three days a week. He graduated in 1992 from the University of Pennsylvania where he studied communications; his father was a professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, his mother took care of Colin, his brother, and five sisters.

Laura, 46, is a stay-at-home mom. She’s a 1989 Penn State graduate; her father was an engineer working for Bristol Myers Squibb, her mother was a nurse.

The couple are involved in their children’s lives and education and the family attends St. Paul’s Church on Nassau Street. “We don’t go every Sunday but our kids are active in the Church,” said Mr. Vonvorys as the family settled in to say grace before the evening meal.

“Colin bought this house about a month before we got engaged,” said Laura. “We love it, especially the deck that was a wedding present from my father when we got married in 2000.” Laura’s dad, Jim, paid for the deck and it’s where the Vonvorys hold their annual neighborhood “Drinks on the Deck” party each September.

Princeton’s Allure

The couple met at the health club where Laura, a trained dietitian, worked as a personal trainer. “It took two years to get her to fall in love with me,” laughed Colin, who grew up in Lawrenceville and always wanted to live in Princeton. “Princeton had a certain allure for me growing up. I always felt a little like an outsider, looking towards Princeton with its good schools, its University, and its feeling of history. To some it has an elitist, snobby reputation and even though it isn’t really like that, I often feel I have to defend it from that misconception. I wanted to raise my kids here.”

Laura, who grew up in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, was living in suburban Philadelphia when they met. Colin wanted her to share his love of Princeton’s “history, the open space, the quaintness and convenience of the downtown, activities like canoeing or the annual Jazz Fest, or the many parades,” he said. At that time, he was running for Township Committee. For one of their first dates, Colin planned a multi-course dinner with each course taking place at a different restaurant, i.e., appetizer at the Peacock Inn, salad at Teresa’s; dinner at the Tap Room, dessert and coffee at Winberie’s; and after-dinner cocktails at Triumph.”

Although Laura first thought of the town as somewhat pretentious, “fou fou,” she called it, she’s come to appreciate it. “I wouldn’t have moved here if it hadn’t been for Colin but I love living here; our property is beautiful and it’s nice being so close to town that our kids can ride their bikes and meet their friends there. And the music program in the public schools is amazing.” C.J. is a percussionist and Aaron is learning to play the trumpet.

“A Miracle”

The couple’s easy manner betrays no hint of past trauma and Laura hesitates a little before speaking of the brain cancer that was discovered while she was pregnant with her first child. The tumor was “pretty big,” she said, and she is now monitored every two years by the University of Pennsylvania hospital, where she was treated by neurosurgeon Dr. Kevin D. Judy. “He was wonderful and I am blessed to have been able to have had a second child,” she said. “Laura is a miracle and I am so proud of her,” beamed Colin.

Although Laura has come to share her husband’s regard for Princeton, the couple are divided politically. “I’m a stalwart Republican and that makes me something of an anomaly in Princeton but I’m also a bit of a contrarian so it’s not an uncomfortable feeling for me to have,” said Colin. Laura is a Democrat.

Colin served as a commissioner on the Princeton Township Affordable Housing Board from January 2003 through 2012 and was a commissioner for the Princeton Joint Commission of Civil Rights from 1997 to 1998. “It was not unusual for individuals to attempt to exploit the program and not follow the agreed-to rules, so periodically we would have to address those violators. I’m not a fan of affordable housing, I don’t understand the reason for it,” said Colin, adding that he’s not keen on the idea of providing subsidies. He’s had several attempts to run for the local council.

As for the changes in his own neighborhood, with small homes like theirs being torn down and replaced with larger and more upmarket houses, Colin is fine with it. “The new homes look nice and I am a fan of private property rights.”

A Diverse Community

For Laura its important to live and raise her kids in a diverse community. “I wouldn’t want to live in a town where everyone was wealthy and there was little diversity. I wouldn’t want that for my children. As it is, in Princeton, you have all levels of wealth.

They are in agreement when it comes to their children’s education. “We are both fans of the Princeton schools and appreciate the fact that our children are surrounded by people who care about education as much as we do,” said Colin. “People don’t just arrive here casually, they choose to live in Princeton.”

If Laura could change something about Princeton, it would be to require more diversity of opinion. “In some places in Pennsylvania, towns have a ruling that the governing body should always have a bipartisan component so that it would never be the case of an all-Democrat or an all-Republican council. In the current administration, I’d like to see one Republican — that, to me, would be fair. As open as Princeton is, I’d like to see it open to that. Just as I wouldn’t want an all-white town, I wouldn’t want an all-Democrat town.”

“Let it Be …”

True to form, Colin disagrees. “Let it be what it is, the people should decide.” But there is one thing he would like to change, the municipal tree-cutting ordinance. He’d get rid of it entirely. “I have a problem with any liberal ideology knowing what is best for everybody else. It’s conceit and arrogance and I have nothing but contempt for those who think they know what I should do with my property.”

Property taxes and the cost of living in Princeton are the young family’s biggest concern. “The cost of living in New Jersey as compared to other states like Delaware or Texas, for example, is very high,” says Colin. “I see some beautiful places when I travel and I am always aware that there are alternatives. I like the fact that Princeton has a lot of history, but then so does Savannah or Richmond, Virginia.” But while their kids are in grade school, the Vonvorys will likely stay in Princeton.

 

IN PATAGONIA: Of her almost three-month long trip to Patagonia, Princeton resident Lizzie Price said there wasn’t much she missed from her life back home. The experience was “the best of her life,” and she hopes to eventually have a career that involves the outdoors. Even so, she said, she was happy to return to a warm house and a hot shower. And to be planning her next adventure. The mountains of New Zealand are calling.(Photo by Brian Prescott)

IN PATAGONIA: Of her almost three-month long trip to Patagonia, Princeton resident Lizzie Price said there wasn’t much she missed from her life back home. The experience was “the best of her life,” and she hopes to eventually have a career that involves the outdoors. Even so, she said, she was happy to return to a warm house and a hot shower. And to be planning her next adventure. The mountains of New Zealand are calling. (Photo by Brian Prescott)

For the past four months, Lizzie Price, 22, who graduated Princeton High School in 2009, has been working on a research project focused on a population of Rhesus monkeys on the Puerto Rican island of Cayo Santiago. The island’s lush terrain is a far cry from windswept Patagonia, with its notoriously changeable weather and isolated gaucho farms. Lizzie reports only two days of clear weather during one of the three months she recently spent there. In spite of long periods of rain and low hanging clouds that made visibility a challenge for mountain travel, Lizzie describes the experience as “the best of her life.”

“I had wanted to see Patagonia for as long as I can remember,” she said in a telephone interview from Puerto Rico. “It’s one of the most untouched regions of the world and it is very beautiful.”

A remote region at the southernmost end of South America, Patagonia is shared by Chile and Argentina. Lizzie traveled within the Chilean region as part of a semester-long wilderness expedition with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS).

The course was designed to impart mountaineering and sea-kayaking skills, but Lizzie said that was just a small part of what she gleaned from the experience, which attests to the NOLS philosophy that people thrive when challenged.

During the first week, Lizzie and 14 fellow students completed almost three days of a Wilderness First Aid course that prepared them to make basic medical decisions in the back country. Then, together with four instructors, they headed to the rugged Colmillo Plateau north of Rio Engano for a 75-mile wilderness sojourn during which they practiced rope teams, snow travel, and glacial safety.

The NOLS curriculum features mountain travel skills like route finding, bushwacking through dense forests, off-trail travel on steep, rocky terrain, and risk management. Leadership skills and tolerance for adversity and uncertainty are brought to the fore by having to manage hazards such as river-crossings, steep snowfields, icefall, crevasses, and extreme weather.

“We had one fall when the five-person rope team above us slipped. We were in a white out cloud and a minute or so after they fell, our rope team also slipped.” Although one young man hurt his shoulder and Lizzie had a few cuts to her face, she said that “the teams had trained for just this sort of scenario and no one was seriously injured.”

NOLS practices “Leave No Trace” camping and challenges students to step outside of their comfort zones. Students cook their own meals and forego the many conveniences of modern life.

After 31 days in the mountains, Lizzie and her team traveled to southern Chile for 30 days of sea kayaking. En route they observed Patagonia’s fiords, mountains, archipelagos, and the pristine rain forests along its coastline.

“On our sea-kayaking course, we learned how to read charts and how to navigate coastal waters safely; we would find places to camp overnight,” Lizzie recalled. “Often we were caught by bad weather, which might make it impossible to cross a channel, for example, and we spent quite a bit of time under a tarp in the pouring rain. But we had a blast and the experience taught me that you don’t need a lot to be happy; a chocolate bar was a delicious treat. We had so much fun,” she said. “An experience like this makes you realize just how much you take for granted.”

The group paddled 165 miles, all the while learning technical skills that included basic kayak rescue, as well as seamanship and navigation. The shared experience formed them into a tight-knit group with a deep appreciation for the Patagonian landscape.

An outward bound course in Alaska that Lizzie undertook while studying for her bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, from which she graduated last year, prepared her somewhat for her Patagonian semester. Her parents, she said, were supportive of her decision to immerse herself in this non-traditional classroom setting. Drawn to mountains from a young age, and inspired by family trips to National Parks out West, she hopes one day to work in the outdoors, perhaps as a teacher or as an instructor for an organization such as NOLS.

Founded in 1965 by legendary mountaineer Paul Petzoldt, NOLS has more than 221,000 alumni of its classroom-based courses and outdoor wilderness education programs that are offered in some of the “most awe-inspiring” locations in the world. Described as “the leader in wilderness education,” NOLS has its international headquarters in Lander, Wyoming. For more information, call (800) 710 NOLS or visit: www.nols.edu.

 

PRINCETON ON THE BIG SCREEN: Oscar winners Dustin Hoffman and Kathy Bates star in “Boychoir,” a film inspired by Princeton’s American Boychoir School. Several American Boychoir students have speaking roles in the film, along with Litton-Lodal Music Director Fernando Malvar-Ruiz and Dr. James Litton, Music Director Emeritus.

PRINCETON ON THE BIG SCREEN: Oscar winners Dustin Hoffman and Kathy Bates star in “Boychoir,” a film inspired by Princeton’s American Boychoir School. Several American Boychoir students have speaking roles in the film, along with Litton-Lodal Music Director Fernando Malvar-Ruiz and Dr. James Litton, Music Director Emeritus.

The American Boychoir will see their visibility increased with the September 5 premier of director François Girard’s Boychoir, one of only 7 Gala presentations at the Toronto International Film Festival. Boychoir tells the story of an orphaned 12-year-old boy sent to a prestigious music school where he struggles to join an elite group of world-class singers. No one expects this rebellious loner to succeed, least of all the school’s relentlessly tough conductor who wages a battle of wills to bring out the boy’s extraordinary musical gift. The film stars Dustin Hoffman, Kathy Bates, Josh Lucas, Kevin McHale, Eddie Izzard, Debra Winger, and Garrett Wareing.

The American Boychoir School students feature prominently, serving as the film’s choir and providing all of the singing heard throughout. Several American Boychoir School students auditioned for speaking roles in the film and one, Dante Soriano, was cast as one of the five major boy characters. Litton-Lodal Music Director Fernando Malvar-Ruiz appears as the orchestra conductor and Dr. James Litton, Music Director Emeritus, also provides a cameo.

“Our choir is known throughout the world and has established a loyal global audience. We are excited that a film such as Boychoir not only showcases our talented students, but opens up a larger audience to our music and the powerful work we do to nurture and mentor our students,” says newly installed American Boychoir School President, Dr. Kerry Heimann.

The Toronto International Film Festival is one of the leading public film festivals, screening more than 300 films from nearly 60 countries every September. To learn more, visit www.tiff.net.

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ENDANGERED SPECIES: Sophia Phelan, a student at Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart, holds her prize-winning drawing of a peregrine falcon. Ms. Phelan is the Mercer County winner of the “Species on the Edge,” contest for fifth graders sponsored by the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey. Sophia’s drawing of New Jersey’s largest falcon and the world’s fastest animal, capable of flying over 200 miles per hour, calls attention to the urgency of preserving New Jersey’s wildlife and their habitats. Her work and that of other award-winning fifth graders from across the state will be on display from September 2 through October 14 at the D&R Greenway Land Trust’s Johnson Education Center, One Preservation Place, (off Rosedale Road).

ENDANGERED SPECIES: Sophia Phelan, a student at Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart, holds her prize-winning drawing of a peregrine falcon. Ms. Phelan is the Mercer County winner of the “Species on the Edge,” contest for fifth graders sponsored by the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey. Sophia’s drawing of New Jersey’s largest falcon and the world’s fastest animal, capable of flying over 200 miles per hour, calls attention to the urgency of preserving New Jersey’s wildlife and their habitats. Her work and that of other award-winning fifth graders from across the state will be on display from September 2 through October 14 at the D&R Greenway Land Trust’s Johnson Education Center, One Preservation Place, (off Rosedale Road).

Each year, the D&R Greenway Land Trust and the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey bring the “Species on the Edge,” with prize-winning art by fifth graders, to its Olivia Rainbow Gallery.

Fifth graders from across the state will have their words and images, calling attention to New Jersey’s endangered and threatened wildlife, on display from September 2 through October 14 at the D&R Greenway Land Trust’s Johnson Education Center, One Preservation Place, (off Rosedale Road).

The artwork and accompanying essays resulted from fifth graders’ having studied over 80 endangered and threatened species of New Jersey wildlife, under the auspices of Conserve Wildlife Foundation of N.J. Local artists visit schools to coach the children in effective imaging. The resulting works are judged by artists and scientists. D&R Greenway is one of many venues to celebrate this blend of art and science annually. These works, the cream of the crop, were selected from over 2,000 entries.

The Mercer County winner is Sophia Phelan, a student at Princeton’s Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart. Sophia drew the peregrine falcon, New Jersey’s largest falcon and world’s fastest animal, capable of flying over 200 miles per hour. The 2014 winners in the Olivia Rainbow Gallery call attention to the urgency of preserving New Jersey’s wildlife and their habitats.

The Olivia Rainbow Gallery showcases student art throughout the year. It was founded and is funded in memory of young Olivia Kuenne, who cherished both art and nature. Its next exhibition, “Natural Treasures,” will be provided by frequent exhibiting artist Deb Land. One of Deb’s students at Stuart Country Day School is Sophia Phelan, the Mercer County winner. Her work has hung in the Olivia Rainbow Gallery during an earlier Stuart exhibit.

For the statewide Species on the Edge Art & Essay Contest, beginning each fall on October 1, children choose representative species of endangered New Jersey wildlife. In effect, during their research and painting/drawing, each becomes a temporary wildlife biologist. More information about the contest can be found at www.conservewild
lifenj.org. For more on D&R Greenway Land Trust, visit: www.drgreenway.org.

The exhibition is free and open to the public on business hours of business days.

Most Princetonians with only a passing knowledge of American history know about the importance of the Battle of Princeton in the Revolutionary War. But how many locals are aware that their hometown can claim to have been the site of the first capital of the United States?

Not many, figures Mimi Omiecinski, who owns Princeton Tour Company and has been leading historically-themed tours of the town for the past seven years. Ms. Omiecinski is out to further educate the public with a free, family-friendly tour on Saturday, September 6 at 1 p.m. “First Capital Princeton,” to be led by Ms. Omiecinski and Rutgers graduate Tom Murphy, starts at Morven and ends 90 minutes later at the Yankee Doodle Tap Room, where George Washington toasted the birth of the nation in 1783.

“People are going to learn about the diverse group of characters, famous and not, who were instrumental in this period,” Ms. Omiecinski said. “We want to spark an appreciation and curiosity, among adults and children.”

Even though she is descended from 12 different veterans of the Revolutionary War and has been a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) since her teens, Ms. Omiecinski wasn’t especially interested in that period of history until she moved to Princeton from her native Tennessee in 2006.

“My grandmother Alice Ross was state regent for Tennessee for over 12 years, and I was really close to her,” Ms. Omiecinski said. “And my grandfather was an active member of the Sons of the American Revolution. On his side, I’m related to a signer of the Declaration of Independence, George Ross. But I never really appreciated all of this until I came here and started learning about Princeton’s significance in the Revolutionary War. It made me realize that legacy is really important.”

After attending the Princeton chapter of the DAR, and bringing her grandmother to a meeting (“She was thrilled”), Ms. Omiecinski started learning about local history and leading tours. “I saw right away that Princeton had a lot more history than just the Battlefield,” she said. “It was home to three signers of the Declaration of Independence. And it was home to the first capital of the United States.”

When Ms. Omiecinski learned that in 1783, Congress met at Nassau Hall after fleeing to Princeton from near-mutinous troops in Philadelphia, she was hooked. “Since October 1781 when Cornwallis had surrendered his army at Yorktown, Americans had been waiting impatiently for the signing of a peace treaty with Britain,” she said. “As the months passed and the peace negotiations dragged on, the army became increasingly restless, weary of the long war, and impatient with the unfulfilled promises of Congress for back pay. On June 20, troops surrounded the statehouse in Philadelphia, where Congress was meeting in an attempt to satisfy their grievances.”

There were no violent incidents and the mutiny subsided, but Congress felt insulted by the event and unsupported by the government of Pennsylvania, the story continues. A resolution directing Congress to meet in “Trenton Princeton” was passed. Princeton was soon chosen as the location by the President of Congress, Elias Boudinot.

Ms. Omiecinski’s research revealed that Princeton may have been chosen because Boudinot was a Princeton native from a prominent family, he was a trustee of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), and Nassau Hall was large enough to accommodate the Congress. All of this will be explained and examined in detail during the tour.

“They received the Treaty of Paris on September 3, 1783, in Nassau Hall,” Ms. Omiecinski said. “That makes it the first capitol [building], while Princeton becomes the first capital.”

Registration is mandatory for the tour, though admission is free. There will be surprises along the way. Since it is designed for families, the tour is being held on Saturday, September 6 rather than September 3, which would be the actual anniversary of the Treaty of Paris.

“We’ll be doing this the first Saturday of every September as long as the town will let us,” Ms. Omiecinski said. The whole idea is to delight and inspire.”

Email firstcapitalprinceton@gmail.com to register or call (855) 743-1415 to learn more.

 

PANORAMIC VIEW: This 1988 photo portrait, titled “Anna and Tom” by Lee Friedlander depicts Tom and Anna Roma and is part of the exhibition, “Pannaroma – MCCC,” which opens at Mercer County Community College Gallery on Tuesday, September 2. The show will run through September 25. For more information, visit: www.mccc.edu/gallery.

PANORAMIC VIEW: This 1988 photo portrait, titled “Anna and Tom” by Lee Friedlander depicts Tom and Anna Roma and is part of the exhibition, “Pannaroma – MCCC,” which opens at Mercer County Community College Gallery on Tuesday, September 2. The show will run through September 25. For more information, visit: www.mccc.edu/gallery.

Mercer County Community College (MCCC) will open with an exhibition of photographic works produced by 18 photographers from September 2 through September 25, who used a specially designed 1×3 panoramic camera built by Thomas Roma, the Director of Photography at Columbia University. The public is invited to an opening reception on Thursday, September 4, from 6 to 8 p.m., that will feature statements by some of the photographers.

Titled “Pannaroma — MCCC,” in honor of Mr. Roma’s wife, Anna, the show was previously exhibited in New York City, Miami, and New Orleans.

According to MCCC Photography Professor Michael Dalton, co-curator of the exhibit with Gallery Director Dylan Wolfe, professor Roma created 31 cameras from the mid-1980s through the 1990s built on a handheld 35mm Nikon F. Mr. Dalton notes that panoramic cameras at that time were significantly heavier and used larger film, requiring the use of a tripod. “Professor Roma’s goal was to make the taking of panoramic photos easier and allow for more versatile subject matter,” said Dalton.

Many of the photos in the exhibit capture interaction between people and their environment, a departure from the sprawling natural scenery typically depicted with panoramic cameras. “The Roma camera allows for more,” said Mr. Dalton. “The result is a wide-ranging group of photographs that draws the viewer into the content of the photo.”

“Pannaroma” features work from professional photographers, including a number of Mr. Roma’s former students. In addition to Mr. Roma and MCCC’s Dalton, the exhibition includes photos by Inbal Abergil, Tony Chirinos, Sasha Waters Freyer, Lee Friedlander, Stephen Hilger, Yoav Horesh, Zsolt Kadar, Richard LaBarbera, Jeff Ladd, Kai McBride, Laura Mircik-Sellers, Claudio Nolasco, Anibal Pella-Woo, Dennis Santella, Raghubir Singh, and Daniel Willner.

The MCCC Galley is located on the second floor of the Communications Building on the college’s West Windsor campus, 1200 Old Trenton Road. Gallery hours are Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

For more information, including directions to campus, visit: www.mccc.edu/gallery.

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Sponsored by the Coalition for Peace Action and Not In Our Town, Saturday’s March and Rally for Justice for Michael Brown was attended by as many as 125 people. Among the speakers were CFPA Executive Director, The Rev. Robert Moore; the Senior Pastor of the First Baptist Church Carlton Branscomb; and, at the lectern, Rutgers Professor Emeritus Daniel Harris. Some of the participants express their thoughts in this week’s Town Talk. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

August 26, 2014

HiTops is looking for volunteer traffic cyclists as well as volunteers for other positions in anticipation of the Princeton Half Marathon that is scheduled to take place on November 2 from 6 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. For more information, or to register, go to http://princetonhalfmarathon.com/volunteer/.

August 25, 2014

The Arts Council of Princeton’s new website design is interactive, filled with colorful photographs, and reflects a commitment to the organization’s mission of “building community through the arts.” New features include an improved format for events and calendar, more information on how the Arts Council serves the greater Princeton region, and the  “ACP Insider” Blog, which will be updated regularly. Administrative Manager, Julie Sullivan-Crowley, spearheaded the re-design and launch, working closely with Command C, a Brooklyn-based custom web design firm, and with help from the entire ACP staff. Check it out at: www.artscouncilofprinceton.org. Anyone experiencing an issue with the site is asked to contact Alyssa Gillon at (609) 924-8777 x110 or email agillon@artscouncilofprinceton.org.

 
August 22, 2014

AvalonBay, the developer of a planned 280-unit rental complex on the former Princeton Hospital site, is holding a neighborhood meeting on Wednesday, September 3 from 6 to 9:30 p.m. at the Municipal Building, 400 Witherspoon Street.

Princeton Council voted August 18 to approve the developer’s agreement, which allows AvalonBay to begin planning demolition of the former hospital buildings. The controversial agreement was the subject of recent legal proceedings over how much environmental testing would be done before the during the demolition. Many neighborhood residents have expressed concerns about potential dangers associated with the process.

All neighborhood residents and members of the public are invited to attend the meeting, which was announced on Friday afternoon.

August 21, 2014

The Princeton University professor charged with stealing 21 signs from in the area of Rosedale and Elm roads is scheduled to appear in pre-trial hearing on September 8. John Mulvey, 67, will appear in Princeton municipal court with his lawyer, Kim Otis.

Mr. Mulvey was videotaped removing the two-by-two-foot signs advertising Princeton Computer Tutor, which is owned by Ted Horodynsky. Mr. Horodynsky has claimed that the signs, which are valued at a total of $471, began to disappear after Mr. Mulvey cut him off in traffic.

Mr. Mulvey teaches operations research and financial engineering. He was charged with theft after the signs started disappearing in June 2013. He has said that he intends to fight the charges, and claims he was picking up debris. The signs were found by police in his garage.

August 20, 2014

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FINAL MOMENTS FOR THE “FLOOD HOUSE”: This rental property at 59 Meadowbrook Drive was demolished Wednesday morning, to the relief of many neighbors who have watched over the years as the low-lying property was repeatedly inundated with stormwater. It wasn’t uncommon to see occupants’ belongings being dried out on the lawn after a heavy rain. Princeton Council approved an ordinance recently to tear down the house, which was built in 1960. The site is to be turned into a pocket park, which must be completed by September 12 under the terms of the FEMA grant that paid for the demolition.

Members of the Princeton community will host a parade and rally to support justice for Mike Brown on Saturday, August 23 from 2-4 p.m., starting at Tiger Park on Nassau Street. “Please join us in solidarity and determination to fight for equality and justice for all — the words we say when we recite the Pledge of Allegiance,” a notice announcing the rally reads.

Those joining the gathering will march peaceably along Nassau Street to Witherspoon Street and to Hinds Plaza next to the Princeton Public Library, where participants can deliver speeches, songs, poems, and demonstrations of solidarity, with remarks kept to approximately three minutes. Signs should be cardboard or the like, not on poles or sticks. Language should preferably be for justice, healing, and (radical) reform, not against the police.

Volunteers are needed to serve as marshals and help keep the walk in line. Contact Daniel Harris at  www.danielharrispoet.net or (609) 683-0198 to volunteer, or to let organizers know you will be attending.

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Titled “Landisville Road Meadow,” this painting by Cindy Roesinger will be on view as part of an exhibition of and sale of work by two dozen members of the New Hope Art League at the Upstairs Gallery in Peddlers Village, Courtyard Shop #10 (behind Earl’s Restaurant), Lahaska, Pa., from September 5 through October 3. The following artists will be on display: Jeanne Chesterton, Lois Clarkson, Kit Dalton, Joyce Danko, Diane DeAngelis, Susan Eckstein, Shane Forbes, Oz Freegood, Jeanette Gonzales, Diane Greenberg, Susan Halstrick, Donna D. Lovely, Loretta Luglio, Katalin Lukzay, John Mertz, Betty Minnucci, Margie Perry, Cindy Roesinger, Ilene Rubin, Cindy Ruenes, Natalie Searl, Kate Viola, and Chaz Walter. An opening reception with the artists will take place Friday, September 5 from 6 to 9 p.m. Gallery hours are Sunday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, call (215) 794-8486, or visit www.NewHopeArtLeague.com.