January 12, 2022

By Anne Levin

An alternative to Communiversity was presented to Princeton Council at its January 10 meeting by Adam Welch, executive director of the Arts Council of Princeton. The annual downtown street fair, a collaboration of the Arts Council and Princeton University, was canceled the last two years due to the pandemic.

Rather than let another year go by without the event, ArtsApril, a month-long cultural celebration spread out over several days in multiple locations, is being proposed.

“This is an opportunity to embrace the creativity of our talented and local community,” Welch said. “This is a decentralized event we can have in town for the entire month of April.”

As Welch detailed in his presentation, the April arts celebration would culminate with Princeton Porchfest, a free, family-friendly event featuring musicians performing on porches throughout the town on Sunday, April 24, the day that Communiversity might have been held.

“Attendees are invited to stroll from porch to porch and relax on front lawns and sidewalks as they enjoy live, local talent,” reads material that was in Council’s agenda packet. “A Porchfest guide will be available on the website, complete with scheduled performances and pop-up installations to explore along the route.”

The Porchfest movement started in Ithaca, N.Y., in 2007, and has spread to numerous communities throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Among ArtsApril’s proposed public art installations is the Princeton Piano Project, in which 10 upright pianos will be reimagined by local artists and placed around town for anyone to play. Actual performances will be scheduled on select weekends. Tentatively scheduled art exhibitions would be at the Princeton University Art Museum’s Art on Hulfish and Art@Bainbridge, Morven Museum and Garden, and Princeton Truckfest.

The existing mural on Spring Street will be painted on a rotating basis, and chalk drawings will be on streets, Welch added. more

By Donald Gilpin

Paying tribute to the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and promoting a national day of service, a number of events will be taking place throughout the Princeton area both virtually and in person during the next week.

The federal holiday, which seeks to move the nation closer to the “community” that King envisioned, is officially celebrated on Monday, January 17. It is intended to be a day where people of all ages and backgrounds come together to learn about King’s life and his teachings of nonviolence and social justice, while seeking to improve lives and bridge social barriers.

The Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) will commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, January 17, with a community bagel breakfast, art and history activities, and a canned food drive.

The free breakfast will begin at 10 a.m. with participants of all ages invited to engage in hands-on art and history activities, including Emblem Making and Protest History with the Historical Society of Princeton and a poster and lawn sign-painting station celebrating King’s teachings. Participants will decorate signs with well-known quotes by King to take home and display on their lawns or in their windows. 

ACP Executive Director Adam Welch emphasized the importance of the ACP’s role in bringing art into the community. “With our cherished Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration, we have the important opportunity to raise the voice of a powerful leader,” he said. “Through this event and town-wide public art installation, we will truly embody our mission of building community through the arts.” more

CELEBRATING A RENAISSANCE MAN: Morven Museum and Garden marks the 200th birthday of Frederick Law Olmsted, creator of Central Park and numerous other urban green spaces, with a lecture by scholar Lawrence Cotton on January 27.

By Anne Levin

Frederick Law Olmsted is widely known as the designer of New York’s Central Park, Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, Boston’s Emerald Necklace, and to locals, Trenton’s Cadwalader Park and the campus of The Lawrenceville School.

But Olmsted was more than a landscape architect. He was a dedicated conservationist, abolitionist, author, and public servant. Across the country, the 200th anniversary of his birth is being celebrated this year with lectures, public programs, exhibits, and restoration projects. Among them is “Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing America,” a virtual lecture sponsored by Morven Museum and Garden on Thursday, January 27 at 6:30 p.m.

Lawrence Cotton, a historian and authority on Olmsted and his legacy, will present a “mini-travelogue” of select Olmsted landscapes across North America. Cotton was the originator, principal researcher, and consulting producer of the 2014 Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) documentary Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing America. He sees Olmsted, whose firm is credited with 700 parks and 6,000 commissions, as a true Renaissance man.

“One could say that he saw his parks as a place to enact democracy for all races, religions, and classes to come together in one place for free recreations, for solace, fresh air, and health,” Cotton said in a phone interview this week. “He foresaw all of that. And it was part of his design intent from the very start.”

There were two Frederick Law Olmsteds — father and son — in addition to a second son, John Charles Olmsted, in the Olmsted firm. “Many people confuse who did what when,” Cotton said. “I’ll be covering all of that in my presentation.” more

By Donald Gilpin

The Princeton Public Schools (PPS) Board of Education (BOE) last week welcomed two new members, Mara Franceschi, who is taking the seat vacated by Daniel Dart, and Cranbury representative Robert Christopher; and two members re-elected last November, Betsy Baglio for her third three-year term and Brian McDonald for his second. 

The BOE also voted unanimously to elect Dafna Kendal as Board president, taking over from Board member Beth Behrend, and Michele Tuck-Ponder to continue as vice president.

With a $17.5M Facilities Stewardship Referendum coming up for a vote on January 25, and the ongoing challenges of long-term facilities planning, tight budgets, and the ever-changing COVID-19 pandemic, the PPS Board is looking forward to a busy year ahead.

“We are excited and optimistic about 2022,” Kendal wrote in an email Monday. “As always the Board’s priority is the education, health, and safety of our students. We know that all students lost out on learning and experiences because of the way the pandemic has temporarily changed how schooling is delivered.” more

A RARE PORTRAIT: This ivory miniature of Sarah Rodrigues Brandon, the focus of an upcoming talk, is key to the understanding of the history of multiracial American Jews.

By Anne Levin

It is probably safe to say that most people associate the history of Jews in America with those who emigrated from Eastern European countries in the late 19th century. But that history encompasses earlier times and other parts of the globe as well, as author and Reed College professor Laura Arnold Leibman will discuss in two upcoming virtual events presented by area Jewish organizations.

The first, on January 20, co-sponsored by The Jewish Center Princeton, Congregation Beth Chaim, Adath Israel Congregation, and Flemington Jewish Community Center, focuses on Sarah Rodrigues Brandon, who was born into slavery in late 18th century Barbados and converted to Judaism, marrying into New York’s Jewish elite.

The second, on February 1, sponsored by the Rutgers Bildner Center for the Study of Jewish Life, is all about Leibman’s book, Once We Were Slaves: The Extraordinary Journey of a Multiracial Jewish Family, which was published last year. Her earlier book, The Art of the Jewish Family: A History of Women in Early New York in Five Objects, was published in 2020 and won three National Jewish Book Awards.

“In the general Jewish American community, this hasn’t been part of the story we’ve been told. And that’s interesting in itself,” said Leibman during a phone interview. “But for people in the field who are working on the history of Jews in the Caribbean, it is part of the story. A number of us are interested in this. Those communities are so diverse. We are starting to hear that this is actually a part of the early American story.” more

By Stuart Mitchner

O what an account I could give you of the Bay of Naples if I could once more feel myself a Citizen of this world — I feel a spirit in my Brain would lay it forth pleasantly.”

—John Keats, from one of his last letters

In virtually every episode of Gomorrah, the Italian series about organized crime in Naples, currently streaming on HBO Max, there are glimpses of the setting that Keats, dying at 25, longed to put into words.

I found some words that accord with my general impression of Gomorrah — “I dream of a darkness darker than black” — in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine (“The Capitol Police and the Scars of Jan. 6”). The quote comes from the journal of an officer who “felt himself  spiraling downward in the days following the attack.”

Curious but Wary

For years my wife and I had been curious about but wary of Gomorrah, which debuted on Sundance in 2014. So we kept our distance, under a self-imposed form of protective custody. And now we’re paying HBO Max to be sucked into the vortex of a kill-or-be-killed, no-light-at-the-end-of-the tunnel, “darker-than-black” viewing experience.

We finished Season 2 on January 6. The images replayed on the first anniversary of the attack on the Capitol made it clear that no amount of simulated murder and mayhem, however brilliantly shot and graphically executed, could compare with the shocking spectacle of a real-life insurrection, and for all the staged shootings, beatings, throat-slashings and other innumerable acts of violence in Gomorrah nothing could match the glaring intensity of the moment a young cop is crushed by the roaring, pounding mob, pinned against a door frame, screaming in pain, crying out in agony. The real thing is very hard to watch. You have to look away even now, when you know the officer in question survived.  more

Due to the Princeton University’s COVID-19 threat level, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra has canceled its January 14 concert that was scheduled at Richardson Auditorium on the campus. The orchestra will perform as scheduled at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank on January 15, and New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark on January 16.

Ticket-holders can exchange their tickets for another performance, among other ticket options. Visit tickets@njsymphony.org or call (800) 255-3476.

The weekend’s program features Vladimir Feltsman performing Grieg’s Piano Concerto under the baton of conductor Audrey Boreyko, Stravinsky’s Petrushka, and the U.S. premiere of Ades’ Shanty — Over the Sea.

Due to the current COVID-19 surge, New York City Ballet has postponed the opening of its winter season at Lincoln Center from January 18 to January 27. The remaining season, planned through February 27, features world premieres by Justin Peck and Jamar Roberts, as well as familiar works by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Kyle Abraham, Pam Tanowitz, and Merce Cunningham. Taylor Stanley and Princeton native Unity Phelan are seen here in Robbins’ “Moves.” Visit nycb.com for ticket information.

M’kina Tapscott

Artworks Trenton has announced the appointment of M’kina Tapscott as executive director, beginning January 18. The selection of Tapscott followed an intensive search and selection process. Tapscott succeeds Lauren Otis, executive director since February 2016, who in 2021 announced his intention to step down.

Tapscott’s 15-year career in education, access, curation, and advocacy resonates with Artworks’ mission “to connect community, culture, and creativity through the arts.” Beginning with her work as director of education and programs at Project Row Houses, an art and social service development in Houston, Texas, and continuing through education and outreach positions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, Tapscott has championed the primacy of art in building community and advancing social change. Concurrent with her curatorial and administrative work, Tapscott has taught art history and studio art at all levels — most recently at the University of Houston and Houston Community College. A practicing artist, she holds an MFA from the University of Houston and a BFA from Texas State University.

In responding to her appointment, Tapscott said, “As a city, Trenton continues to struggle for resources and recognition despite being the state capital. Artworks is deeply committed to partnering with those working to improve and revitalize Trenton, using art as a change agent, and celebrating human diversity in all its forms. I appreciate the similarities between the communities in Trenton, N.J., and my hometown Houston, Texas. It is in these likenesses of needs, of opportunity and space where positive change can be enacted through deepening connections to people, art, and community. I genuinely believe ‘el arte cambia a la gente y la gente cambia el mundo.’ This is where the work truly lives, and I intend to lead this organization in service of that need to inspire all of greater Mercer County.” more

“SHADOWS ON THE MILL”: The Arts Council of Princeton’s fast-paced Princeton Pecha returns for a fifth virtual installment on Wednesday, January 19, welcoming six area artists, including Bill Jersey, whose work is shown here. Registration is free at artscouncilofprinceton.org.

The Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) presents Princeton Pecha on January 19 from 8 to 9:15 p.m., bringing local artists together to share their work in a virtual program inspired by PechaKucha, a lively, upbeat format created in Japan that is designed for more show and less talk.

This iteration — the ACP’s fifth — will feature artists Jane Adriance, Beatrice Bork, Bill Jersey, Joe Kazimierczyk, Laura Renner, and Carol Sanzalone. Each artist will show 20 slides for 20 seconds each (about 7 minutes per artist), exhibiting for the audience an array of visual expression.

Watercolor and oil paint are Adriance’s mediums of communication; color is the language she uses to create light, line, space, texture, and rhythms. Adriance paints what is exotic to her in her daily life. She likes to create startling contradictions between the everyday and the unknown. She has had solo exhibits in the Princeton area, New York, and Philadelphia, and has participated in many group exhibitions.

Bork’s artistic inspiration and knowledge of nature come from firsthand field experiences, both at home in New Jersey, as well as abroad. Over her 30-year career, she has amassed a list of awards and honors, including signature status in the prestigious Society of Animal Artists. her work has been included in solo and juried exhibitions throughout the U.S., and abroad. more

“TROUBLED WATER”: This painting by Brandon Moultrie is featured in “Art Against Racism: Manifesting Beloved Community,” on view through February 26 at the West Windsor Arts Center. A hybrid opening reception is scheduled for Sunday, January 16 from 2 to 4 p.m.

Inspired by Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Beloved Community,” “Art Against Racism: Manifesting Beloved Community” imagines what it would be like to live in a world where social and economic justice flourish and structural racism ceases to exist. The art represents a global vision where all people share in the wealth of a healed planet. Submissions that speak to or re-envision society’s transformation into a world of healthy people, relationships, and communities in personal or public contexts were encouraged. more

FLIGHTPATH: A collaborative work by members of the Princeton Artist Directory is on view at Princeton Public Library through January 24. A virtual artist talk is scheduled for January 12 at 7 p.m. via Zoom.

Princeton Artist Directory (PAD), founded in early 2020 by Mary Waltham and fellow Princeton artists Mic Boekelmann and Karen Stolper, continued to thrive in 2021.

Most recently, PAD members were invited to participate in a “satellite” international event of Flightpath Community Project, an initiative of a British artist Louisa Crispin concerning the loss of insect habitat and thus damage to pollinator communities. more

BIRTHDAY PARTY: Princeton University men’s basketball player Matt Allocco, left, lofts the three-pointer that beat Cornell 72-70 at the buzzer last Saturday evening. At right, his teammates mob Allocco after the shot which came on his 21st birthday as he made his first college start. The Tigers, now 12-3 overall and 2-0 Ivy League, host Brown on January 15 and Penn on January 17. (Photo by Stephen Goldsmith)

By Bill Alden

Trailing Cornell 39-25 at halftime last Saturday, players on the Princeton University men’s basketball team trudged disconsolately across the court to their locker room with head coach Mitch Henderson walking behind shaking his head in frustration.

But about an hour later, the Princeton players were jumping for joy and mobbing Matt Allocco on the court after he drained a long buzzer-beating three-pointer to give the Tigers an improbable 72-70 win after they trailed by 18 points early in the second half.

It was Allocco’s 21st birthday and his first college start as he stepped in the lineup to replace senior star guard and Princeton’s leading scorer Jaelin Llewellyn, who was sidelined after injuring his leg in an 84-69 win over Columbia the day before.

“It felt good coming off, it was straight,” said Allocco, recalling the buzzer-beater.

“I don’t know how to react in those situations. It went in and I just put my arm up. It was a crazy moment. I did a buzzer beater when I was younger maybe but in this situation in conference play, against a really good team, it was really special.”

It was a crazy finish as Princeton trailed 60-51 with 6:30 left in regulation and then went on an 18-9 run to take a 69-68 lead with 23 seconds left in regulation. Cornell got a layup from Dean Noll to go up 70-69 and Princeton took the ball with six seconds remaining, setting up Allocco’s fantastic finish. more

SPLIT DECISION: Princeton University women’s hockey goalie Rachel McQuigge does a split to thwart a Clarkson player last Friday. Senior star McQuigge made 37 saves in a losing cause as a short-handed Princeton squad fell 3-1 to No. 9 Clarkson. The contest was a family affair as McQuigge battled her younger sisters, Clarkson forwards junior Brooke and sophomore Kristyn. The Tigers, now 7-6-3 overall and 5-3-1 ECAC Hockey, are slated to play at Union on January 14 and at RPI on January 15. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

It turned out to be a fierce ECAC Hockey battle when the Princeton University women’s hockey team hosted No. 9 Clarkson at Hobey Baker Rink last Saturday afternoon.

The contest was spiced up by a sibling rivalry as Princeton senior goalie Rachel McQuigge battled her younger sisters, Clarkson forwards junior Brooke and sophomore Kristyn.

“That is always really exciting; I played with Brooke growing up a bit in the summer and when I played juniors,” said netminder  McQuigge, a 5’7 native of Bowmanville, Ontario.

“Her freshman year was the first time we ever played against each other. Both of my sisters are very talented. It added an extra level of compete to the game, there is definitely a little trash talk.”

While McQuigge competed hard between the pipes, making 37 saves, it wasn’t enough as Princeton fell 3-1 to the Golden Knights to move to 7-6-3 overall and 5-3-1 ECAC Hockey. more

NO BACKING DOWN: Princeton High girls’ swimming star Beatrice Cai displayed her backstroke form in a 200 individual medley race earlier this season. Last Thursday, junior Cai placed first in the 200 freestyle and the 100 backstroke as PHS defeated WW/P-South 125-45 to improve to 7-0. The team has now won 19 straight dual meets since losing in the Central Jersey Group B sectional semifinals in 2020. In upcoming action, the Tigers host Trenton on January 13 and Nottingham on January 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After going through a season last winter where it could only compete virtually, swimming separately at its pool and then sharing times with foes to calculate meet scores, the Princeton High girls’ swim team was excited for a face-to-face battle at WW/P-South last Thursday.

With both squads bringing undefeated records into the clash of rivals at the WW/P-S bubble, there was plenty of emotion on the deck.

“The energy is totally different when we are all cheering, we get more motivated and faster compared to last year when it was just us,” said PHS junior star Beatrice Cai.

“It felt like we were racing against each other instead of another school. Sometimes you wouldn’t even know which school you were going against.”

Against WW/P-S, the Tigers showed plenty of energy, winning all eight individual races and the three relays in posting a 125-45 win and improving to 7-0.

“We were really pumped up for South,” said Cai, who placed first in the 200 freestyle and the 100 backstroke against the Pirates.

“We have been hyping up this meet for a little bit and we did really well. All our teammates tried our best, we did great. The team spirit was really great as well.” more

FREE AND CLEAR: Princeton High boys’ swimmer Julian Velazquez powers to victory in a 200 freestyle race this season. Last week, junior standout Velazquez helped PHS defeat Notre Dame 115-55 on January 4 and then post a 111-69 win over WW/P-S last Thursday. The Tigers have won 20 straight dual meets since losing in the Central Jersey Group B sectional final in 2020. PHS, now 8-0, hosts Trenton on January 13 and Nottingham on January 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

It was rivalry week for the Princeton High boys’ swimming team as it faced two of its historically toughest foes, Notre Dame and WW/P-South, in a three-day period.

Displaying its depth and talent, PHS passed both tests with flying colors, routing Notre Dame 115-55 on January 4 and then rolling to an impressive 111-69 win over WW/P-S last Thursday as it improved to 8-0.

Tiger sophomore star Alvin Tien and his teammates were fired up for the big week.

“We were very anxious against Notre Dame because they were known for being really good,” said Tien.

“When we faced them, everybody put in all their effort to push through and win. It was the same thing with South. These are the hardest meets and our whole team put in the effort and beat them.”

Against South, Tien took first in the 50 freestyle in 23.68 and the 100 backstroke in 1:00.00.

“It goes quickly, I felt I could have done better,” said Tien in assessing the 50 free race. more

SHOOTING STAR: Princeton High boys’ basketball player Jaxon Petrone puts up a shot against WW/P-North last week. Senior guard Petrine scored a team-high 17 points in the January 4 game as PHS pulled out a 48-45 win. Last Friday, Petrone scored 20 points in a losing cause as the Tigers fell 67-61 to Nottingham to move to 1-2. In upcoming action, PHS hosts Hopewell Valley on January 14 and then plays at North Brunswick on January 15 and at Robbinsville on January 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Jaxon Petrone and his teammates on the Princeton High boys’ basketball team were pumped to be hitting the court at WW/P-North last week to finally play their second game of the season after a two-week layoff.

PHS had its season opener at Hightstown on December 17 postponed, fell 54-33 to Hamilton on December 21, and then had another game postponed and a holiday tournament canceled.

“We were very excited to get out here, it stunk being at home,” said senior guard Petrone. “There were some nerves out there.”

Trailing 26-22 at intermission, PHS discussed blocking out the nerves and staying in the moment.

“We had a good talk out in the hallway at halftime,’ said Petrone. “It was, ‘we have just got to play, keep your head, no turnovers, get the ball, put it up and get it in the hoop.’”

Responding to that talk, the Tigers outscored WW/P-North 18-9 in the third quarter.

“We came out and hit a couple of shots and got hot,” recalled Petrone. “We settled in during the third quarter.”

Things got dicey down the stretch for PHS as it built a 44-35 lead only to see the Northern Knights respond with a 10-0 run. more

ON THE STICK: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Cooper Zullo, left, controls the puck in recent action. Junior forward Zullo scored three goals to help PHS defeat Lawrence 10-0 last Wednesday. The Tigers, who improved to 9-1-1 with the win, are scheduled to face the WWP Co-op on January 14 and the Hamilton Co-op on January 17 with both games to take place at Mercer County Park. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Cooper Zullo wasn’t expecting to be installed as the captain of the Princeton High boys’ hockey team this winter as a junior.

“I was talking to Dave (PHS head coach Dave Hansen) at the beginning of the year and he said he wanted me to have the captaincy,” said star forward Zullo.

“I am just trying to do as much as I can for the boys to be a leader. I have next year too, so I am pretty excited about that.”

Zullo’s leadership came in handy last week as PHS skated to a pair of victories, rallying from a 2-0 second period deficit to defeat Robbinsville-Allentown 5-4 on January 3 and then rolling to a 10-0 win over Lawrence last Wednesday.

In Zullo’s view, PHS showed its skill and character as it overcame a slow start to edge Robbinsville-Allentown.

“It was our first game after winter break so there was definitely a little bit of rust on our part. Coach [Dan] Bergan does a good job with them and they are a good team,” said Zullo, who scored a goal in the win.

“I think they wanted it more than we did but we came out in the end. It was definitely a good game by the boys and Johnny [O’Donnell] had the big goal at the end. It was definitely a good game to get back in the swing of things for 2022.”

In the Lawrence game, Zullo got things going for the Tigers, scoring a goal 42 seconds into the contest and then assisting on two others as PHS built a 3-0 first period lead and cruised from there.

“It was the same old, same old, we didn’t know much about them,” said Zullo, who ended up with three goals in the victory. “We tried to move the puck as much as we could.” more

January 5, 2022

Renovations are moving along at the former U.S. Post Office at Palmer Square, where Triumph Brewing Company has been planning to move from Nassau Street since 2014. (Photo by Weronika A Plohn)

By Donald Gilpin

COVID-19 cases in Princeton continued to surge to record high numbers during the past week, as holiday festivities wound down and residents, some in person and some virtually, returned to work or school.

The Princeton Health Department on December 30 reported its highest new case numbers ever, with 161 positive cases for the previous seven days and 246 for the previous 14 days.

Princeton Deputy Administrator for Health and Community Services Jeff Grosser said that COVID-19 infections in Princeton have nearly tripled in daily, weekly, and biweekly case counts, pointing out a “similar trajectory to the rest of the region and state at this point in time.”

“Although we have gotten used to things changing through the course of the pandemic, we have not seen an increase in cases at this pace or in this magnitude,” he added.

New Jersey is reporting record high COVID-19 cases and test positivity rates. Emergency department visits and hospitalizations for COVID-like illness are also increasing, Grosser said. According to the most recent reports, three New Jersey regions (Northwest, Northeast, and Central East) have “very high” COVID-19 activity levels, and Mercer County (part of the Central West region with Somerset and Hunterdon counties) remains at a “high” activity level.

Grosser pointed out the origins of the current wave and explained the health department’s focus on older vulnerable residents. “This is essentially a two-variant surge from Delta to Omicron,” he said. “Combined with major holidays and colder weather pushing people indoors more hours of the day, the increase in cases is not necessarily a surprise, but the sheer number of positive cases is.” more

By Anne Levin

Robbert Dijkgraaf

Robbert Dijkgraaf, director and Leon Levy professor of the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS), will leave the IAS sooner than originally planned. Dijkgraaf was nominated to join the cabinet of Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, on behalf of (the social-liberal party) D66, the second party in the country. Dijkgraaf is intended to serve as Minister of Education, Culture, and Science beginning January 10, 2022.

In this capacity, Dijkgraaf will be responsible for the ministry’s mission of ensuring “a knowledgeable, skilled, and cultured country,” the release reads. “His focus will include, in particular, higher education, research, and fostering a creative environment to support students, teachers, and scholars.”

Dijkgraaf has led the Institute since July 2012, and was scheduled to depart when David Nirenberg takes over on July 1 of this year. How the gap will be filled between Dijkgraaf’s departure and Nierenberg’s arrival remains in question. “An official transition plan is being developed by the board of trustees in cooperation with incoming IAS Director David Nirenberg and the executive officers of the four schools,” reads the release. more

By Donald Gilpin

Hundreds of demonstrators are expected to fill Hinds Plaza adjacent to the Princeton Public Library from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on January 6 to reflect on the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol a year ago and to call for the protection of voting rights.

“In America, the voters decide the outcome of elections,” states a press release from event co-sponsors the Coalition for Peace Action (CFPA), Indivisible Cranbury, Princeton Community Democratic Organization (PCDO), Our Revolution Trenton Mercer, and RepresentUS, and the demonstrators will be demanding that elected leaders pass legislation including the Freedom to Vote Act, the Protecting Our Democracy Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and DC Statehood.

January 6, 2022 marks one year since the violent attack on the Capitol building, and, according to vigil organizers, the same faction of elected officials that incited those rioters continues to work to restrict the freedom to vote and to attack fair voting districts.

“I don’t think people fully comprehend how much under duress our democracy is now and how close we are to losing it,” said Indivisible Cranbury leader and rally co-organizer Laura Zurfluh. “And how close we were to losing it last year.”

CFPA executive director and rally co-organizer the Rev. Robert Moore also emphasized the urgency of the current political situation. “If we can’t maintain the Constitutional guarantees and the Constitutional structures then we’re no more than a banana dictatorship,” he said. “It’s a very scary time. I don’t believe in overstating the fear factors, because we have a lot of positives too, but this is a serious situation that requires serious attention and serious organizing.”

Rally participants will be encouraged to stand vigil holding battery-powered candles. They are also urged to wear masks and to observe physical distancing as much as possible. more

WISHING HIM WELL: The Riverside neighborhood turned out in force last week to say goodbye to longtime postal carrier Mike Downes, who retired after almost three decades delivering their mail and much more.

By Anne Levin

With Mike Downes as their mail carrier over the past 29 years, residents of Princeton’s Riverside neighborhood have been spoiled.

Downes knew everyone on his route. He stopped to chat with people suffering from COVID-19 fatigue. He brought newspapers from driveways up to doorways. He shoveled snow when people were out of town. He picked them up at the airport. He was always cheerful.

When word got out that Downes, 66, was about to retire, neighbors wanted to give him a proper send-off. Carol Prevost of Lake Drive got the idea to organize a drive-through farewell at Riverside Elementary School, planning it for last Thursday, December 30, the day before Downes’ final day of work. Despite having a house full of family for the holidays, Prevost made and distributed flyers, assisted by her daughter and two little granddaughters, around the neighborhood.

She expected about 15 cars to show up. But more than 50 vehicles — bikes included — many decorated with colorful signs, turned out to bid Downes farewell. more

BACK IN BUSINESS: Now that Quaker Road is reopened, visitors are once again welcome to explore the Historical Society of Princeton’s Updike Farmstead Museum, inside and out.

By Anne Levin

After an extended shutdown due to the pandemic and the closure of Quaker Road, the Historical Society of Princeton (HSP) has reopened its museum at Updike Farmstead, 354 Quaker Road. The roadway, closed since last September due to damage from the remnants of Hurricane Ida, reopened December 22.

During the shutdown, the museum kept programs in play via digital media and virtual events.

“We’ve been so pleased to have been able to stay engaged with history learners of all ages throughout the pandemic via social media, digital exhibitions, digital tours, virtual lectures and workshops, and so much more. I’m very proud of the ways we’ve been able to innovate during this challenging time, and that we’ve still been able to inspire community members with stories from the past,” said Executive Director Izzy Kasdin. “But nothing beats being immersed in the timeless beauty of historical landscapes and being face-to-face with real historical material, like Albert Einstein’s pipe or an evocative photograph. We’re so looking forward to welcoming visitors back to Updike Farmstead, and hope it’s just the beginning of their history journey through all that Princeton has to offer.” more

By Donald Gilpin

Princeton Perks 2022 discount cards are currently on sale to support local schools and businesses and to open up an array of good deals for shoppers and restaurant-goers.

Initiated last winter and organized by parent volunteers from the Princeton Public Schools (PPS) Parent Teacher Organizations (PTOs) at Community Park, Johnson Park, Littlebrook, Riverside, Princeton Middle School, Princeton Charter School, and Princeton High School, the discount cards have given dozens of businesses a boost, more than 1,000 shoppers a 10 percent discount, and more than $17,000 to support students and teachers.

The cards cost $30, provide 10 percent discounts at more than 60 local merchants, and are valid through December 31, 2022.

“We love seeing Princeton Perks cards all year round, but especially on these winter weeknights coming up when families are looking for a relaxing dinner together or a place to celebrate,” said Anthony Momo, a PPS parent and co-owner of 2022 Perks sponsors Eno Terra, Mediterra, Teresa Caffe, and the Terra Momo Bread Company. “We joined this fundraiser because we want people to come and enjoy what we have to offer, and enjoy a little discount too.”

Princeton Perks offered two tiers of participation to local businesses for the 2022 card. Some sponsoring businesses paid to be listed on the back of the discount card and receive special mention in advertising and social media campaigns. Other businesses, which participate for free, are listed on the website and can display the Perks decals near cash registers or in store windows.  more