Editor’s Note

Has it been a bit challenging lately to find your calm? Chances are high you could name five people you know who have had COVID in the past month. It sometimes feels like it’s spreading like wildfire. Despite the most careful following of safety protocols by some, they are getting it, too. Similarly, if you have money invested in the stock market, it can be harrowing to watch it hit new lows day after day, even if you take great care to invest responsibly.

These and many other things in life we simply can’t control, no matter how careful we are. Yet, if you can’t simply throw up your hands and throw caution to the wind, there are some things you can manage more than others. That’s what this month’s Princeton Perspectives is all about. In Finding Comfort and Healing in the Things You Can Control, we share multiple ways to find happiness, calm, better health and positive summer days with local perspectives on how to achieve them all!

What do your neighbors, schoolmates, friends and other locals do when they need a moment of calm? Watch this month’s Pulse of Princeton to get tabs on the ways those around you are finding comfort and healing.

Did you know that music is scientifically known to release endorphins in the brain, which bring about a feeling of excitement? To help control your mood a little better, read Finding Joy and Comfort in Local Musical Opportunities and make plans to listen to some rock, jazz or classical performers soon.

If you are a planner, you might find solace in figuring out what to put into your body to help you feel your best. How to Nourish Your Immune System with Real Food provides some simple choices you can make. Whether you start with just one or do them all, every little bit can help.

Having friends nearby or being part of a local community helps to give one a sense of purpose, it reduces stress and makes one happier. Take Control of Your Life by Surrounding Yourself with Good People shares many ways in our area to meet others, whether you’re still searching for your community or you’re looking for something more. The more opportunities you give yourself, the more likely you’ll find your people.

Often times, lifelong friends come from an immersive time in your life, like college or summer camp. It’s a time to just be you, and to relax and have fun with others. Choosing Summer Camp for Kids Can Create Beneficial, Meaningful Experiences details some of the many ways summer programs bring comfort to kids. Whether you opt for a sleepaway experience or a local recreational program, the opportunities are there.

Lastly, in this month’s Perspectives Revisited we provide you timely updates on some stories we covered in the past. We’ll share some new information about a bill in the NJ Senate to ensure technology keeps people well informed and not ill-informed and a new tool created by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection to help track pollution locally.

As always, we’d love to hear from you. If you have thoughts about something we’ve covered or you’d like to see us cover, please email us here. And, if you want to expand on those thoughts with a Letter to the Editor that we can post for all readers, you can submit that here.

Schools are ending, and that “Summer is Here!” feeling is starting to spread! Despite COVID and the stock market, there things you can control. Take advantage of the many ways to enjoy yourself. We hope this issue helps you to move forward in a more optimistic way.

The Pulse of Princeton: What brings you calm? What can you control?

Finding Joy and Comfort in Local Musical Opportunities

Music is known to have many benefits. It can reduce stress, enhance your mood, increase your adrenaline and more. And the best news is that you can often access music at your leisure to reap such rewards. Listening to your procured playlist is one option, but in the Princeton area, there are a myriad of ways to listen to, perform or be entertained with live music. As summer 2022 kicks off, take some control of your desires and engage in music through one of many local offerings.


Photo Credit, PSO Staff

This 16-day extravaganza of performing arts is now underway. If you like exceptional performances and prefer not to travel far, you can join approximately 8,000 others who stop by through the line-up of the Princeton Festival. Last weekend, the 18th season opened with performances under the 10,000 sq. foot performance tent at the festival’s new home base.

“In previous years, the Princeton Festival’s performance offerings were spread throughout the Princeton area at multiple indoor venues,” explains Carolyn Dwyer, manager of marketing and communications for the Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO). “This season, following the merger of the Princeton Festival and the PSO last summer, the PSO has created its own outdoor, tented venue to showcase the majority of the Princeton Festival’s performances on the grounds of Morven Museum & Garden. Only the Baroque performances, which feature sensitive period instruments, are indoors at Trinity Church.”

The new open tent can be reconfigured to meet the festival’s various needs, from a grand opera hall to an intimate club space. This allows the summer performing arts festival to accommodate its calendar of events, lined up through June 25th. Performances range from jazz to cabaret, chamber to baroque, Broadway to opera and there are adult and family-friendly both paid and free options nearly every day.

“Storm Large and Sierra Boggess both have great stage presence and are spectacular performers, and the Princeton Festival has always been known for its opera. This year’s productions are all very funny and sung in English, making them perfect for anyone new to the genre,” Dwyer adds.

Photo Credit, PSO Staff

Whether or not you plan to attend one of the ticketed concerts, you can show up and learn from a variety of talks, such as John Burkhalter’s Contrast & Brilliance in Baroque Music or Timothy Urban’s Under the Hood of Albert Herring. Poetry events next weekend, though offered at no cost, do require an RSVP. On June 24th and 25th the Princeton Festival will close with Broadway and family-friendly POPS! Concerts. Music-making activities, free to the public, will be available for families that come early on the 25th to picnic and enjoy the venue. You can get concert tickets and see the full calendar of events here.


The 2022 Music Series continues this Saturday on the green at Palmer Square with free music from Ess Gees on June 18th from 12-2pm. It then continues with Dave Vargo on June 25th and Big Valley Bluegrass on July 2nd.

Additionally, Dueling Pianos are back! Thursdays, from July 14th through August 11th The Flying Ivories will be leading the popular sing-a-long, all request fun in the square. Just bring your lawn chair or blanket and show up for the fun – no tickets required!


Photo by Alec Martinez

If you’re up for some blues-infused rock-n-roll, festival jazz, pop/Americana and more, plan to spend the day at the Sourland Mountain Festival on July 23rd. The day of music, local food and drink and outdoor, family fun is hosted by the Sourland Conservancy.

“The Sourland Music Festival (as it used to be called) was started circa 2003 by Tom Kilbourne, Sourland Conservancy member, and held at Hillbilly Hall on the Sourland Mountain outside of Hopewell,”recalls Suzanne Parsons, festival Chair. “It soon outgrew this location then moved to its new home on the Polo Field at Hillsborough Golf & Country Club, where it was held through 2019 with the largest attendance ever of 2,300 people! Unionville Vineyards is our new but smaller location this year and our presenting sponsor.”

This year’s venue limits the space to 1,000 guests, with tickets sold online and at the door (if available) and children under 12 are free. From 3pm-8:30pm, guests are welcome to sit on a blanket or lawn chair or get up and dance while enjoying the line-up of four tri-state area bands.

The festival also provides an opportunity for people to get to know the Sourland Mountain area, with historians and geologists on site as well as a “Cool Critters” area to get to learn about the animals of the Sourlands.

“The Festival is the Sourland Conservancy’s biggest fundraising event of each year. It draws a large crowd of affluent music lovers who are engaged in their community, their environment and who enjoy the amenities of the Sourland Mountain,” Parsons explains.


If you are a performer searching for an outlet or a music-lover with a deep appreciation of music and world-wide cultures, you may want to take note of a new organization founded last year. Federation of the Art Song (FAS) aims to help singers and pianists develop while simultaneously educating the public on expanding repertoires.

Art Song is a twofold art form which combines music and poetry,” shares Martin Néron, Vice President of FAS. “One of the emphasis of FAS is to explore, present, and perform repertoire that includes culture and folklore from all diasporas. One of our programs, Songs from Outside the Box, focuses on identifying and developing a community of songs composed and derived from under-represented cultures worldwide, sung in the classical style.”

Last month, baritone Jean Bernard Cerin and Néron (pianist) entertained supporters in a private Princeton home to celebrate the organization’s founding. A Celebration of the Art Song from Haiti shared the talents of Cerin and Néron while tracing the flow of Haitian music through various times and places. This was the third FAS event in the Princeton area. A benefit concert featuring tenor Paul Appleby, soprano Bridgette Gan, and baritones Elem Eley and Scott Johnson was held Labor Day weekend 2021, and the first Songs from Outside the Box concert was performed October in collaboration with Westminster Choir College. It was a faculty recital at the Lawrenceville Rider campus which featured composers from the African diaspora, Mediterranean region and Latin America. On Saturday, September 3rd FAS will be presenting its 2nd annual Labor Day weekend concert at a home in Princeton. The program has not yet been announced but you can stay informed through the website’s event page.

“FAS is about collaborations, and associations. We wish to work together with other organizations in order to further our mission: to educate the public on the expanding catalogue of song repertoire from a multitude of sources and communities, thus benefiting audiences and artists alike,” Néron adds.

Founded by Néron, a celebrated Canadian pianist acclaimed for his art song repertoire, and longtime Princeton resident, performing soprano and vocal teacher, Alta Malberg, FAS aims to award an annual fellowship as well as offer concerts of art song tradition throughout the year. The first fellowship competition is currently underway, and details can be found here.


Budding artists, who may someday find themselves on the stage at one of the above festivals, are honing their skills now as part of Princeton Girlchoir and Princeton Boychoir. The area’s premier choirs provide music education and performance opportunities under the umbrella of Westrick Music Academy and delight local audiences with their work.

Following 2 years of largely virtual rehearsals and performances, we have been thrilled to return to singing in-person this spring,” shares Carolyn Sienicki, Westrick Music Academy Development and Communications Director. “We regularly perform at venues throughout the Princeton region and beyond. Recently, the Girlchoir and Boychoir have performed at McCarter Theatre in Princeton, Patriots Theater at the War Memorial in Trenton, Voorhees Chapel & Kirkpatrick Chapel at Rutgers University, and in various church venues in the Princeton area.”

While the community reaps the benefits of these beautiful performances, children in grades 3-12 build confidence in their voices through regular rehearsals and by performing on grand stages as well. For example, the Girlchoir sang at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii last year and have performed in the North American premiere of Tan Dun’s Symphony with Yo-Yo Ma at Lincoln Center. They are headed to Quebec, Canada this summer.

“In addition, Princeton Boychoir has appeared on NBC with Michael Bublé in his 2021 Christmas in the City special, at the Baltimore Boychoir Festival, the International Boy’s and Men’s Choral Festival in Arizona, and will make their international debut in Prague and Vienna in 2022,” notes Sienicki.

If you have a child that loves to sing, Westrick Music Academy is offering a summer camp in August for all 3rd-12th graders interested in developing their vocal and musical techniques while having fun. No audition is necessary. To take part in the year-round choirs, an audition is required, and anyone interested in joining for the 2022-2023 school year can sign up for an audition here. 1st and 2nd graders with a love for singing can join the Poco Voce classes as well.

So, get out and enjoy some music. Or be a part of it. No matter your age or musical desires, grant yourself the gift of something classical, jazz, rock or whatever gets you going this summer.

Take Control of Your Life by Surrounding Yourself with Good People

“There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.” – William Butler Yeats

No matter what one is going through, friendship and connections help you through it. For some, meeting people is easy – talking to the person that sits near you at the office, striking up a conversation at a social gathering or meeting other parents at school pick-up. If that is not a natural comfort zone for you, or if you delight in being exposed to and meeting lots of new people, Princeton is the type of community that offers many ways to feel connected. There are public opportunities and private clubs, to meet the varying needs and desires of all. Learning something new, taking part in an activity you already love or exposing yourself to things you’d never considered can create connections to help you enjoy each day and give you something to look forward to. And, when you choose to become part of a community, you have taken a step to move forward in a new way.


If you are good with technology, Meetup, a social networking group, is an easy way to connect with others in the area. Whether you’re looking to make new friends or simply find some people to hang with and discover new interest together, there are a variety of opportunities.

Just entering “08540” in the search brought up a community dragon boat paddle, a pickup soccer game, a get-together for wine and music at a local winery and a potluck dinner gathering with a plant-based eating group. There are groups for singles 50+, board game lovers, outdoor bootcamps and more. And there’s no membership fee to use Meetup, just a desire to connect. If you don’t see something appealing, you can even start your own meetup event for others to join you at a place or activity.

If you’re comfortable with joining a club to open some new doors, there are many connections that can be made. Back in 1898, a group of Princeton-area women that wanted to come together to engage in cultural and intellectual activities with like-minded people founded The Present Day Club. Membership is open to all women, but those who retire or are new to the area are the most common new members and weekly lectures/luncheons are the most popular gatherings, hosted from September through June.

“We have had talks ranging from how climate change is affecting the ocean currents to a virtual tour via Zoom of the French architectural masterpiece Vaux-le-Vicomte. Many of our members come every week because they don’t want to miss a topic and have noted that they are particularly appreciative of the exposure to subjects that are foreign to their own expertise,” notes Cecilia Tazelaar, President of the Present Day Club. “The emphasis on the members’ enjoyment has created a unique social space where women can take a break from their many roles and responsibilities and do something just for themselves.”

Beyond the lectures, the club has expanded to form interest groups like bridge, current events, photography and more. Day trips to the theater or guided tours at museums are also a regular occurrence. And of course, there are celebratory parties at their clubhouse. You may have driven by it often and not realized, but the home at 72 Stockton Street was purchased in 1930 and has since been The Present Day Club’s permanent space.

“When I moved to my new house nearby, I stumbled on the club and was flabbergasted at the fact there were over 100 women meeting for lunch every Wednesday and I had no idea it was happening,” new member Jessica Vieira excitedly shares. “The quality of the speakers and the dynamic of super, intelligent, amazing women getting together who are an incredibly welcoming group – it’s really special.”

The YWCA felt there was a further need to help women new to Princeton and in 1959 created YWCA Newcomers Club to introduce them to each other and inform them about the area. There were no barriers of age, race, economic status or education, and it welcomed people that had come from as far as Australia and India. There was one hard rule, one had to live in the area for less than two years to attend. In 2012 the name changed to Princeton Area Newcomers & Friends (NC&F) and now, more than 60 years later, the group is made up of almost 200 women who are interested in meeting new people and exploring their interests.

“The main change to the founding ‘rules’ is that there is no longer a two-year maximum time of joining. In fact, we have members who have belonged for over a decade and some who left the area only to come back at a future date and join again,” explains Cathylee Healy, NC&F Marketing VP. “We invite women to ‘check us out’ prior to joining. They are welcome to come to a Social Coffee event, a Friday with Friend event and to try one Interest group gathering.”

NC &F organizes dozens of activities ranging from purely social, to experiential, learning, volunteering and assisting each other – all in the name of making new relationships. Many members have shared that through joining, they have met amazing women, learned and laughed, became engaged and felt less alone.

“During the year of the pandemic, 1/3 of the membership volunteered to lead others in the organization’s and the YWCA’s endeavors. We shared programs on Historic Princeton, The Female Supreme Court Justices, and the differences between stereotypes and useful generalizations. We led hikes, walks, bike rides and virtual explorations of towns and cities. We played bridge, mahjong, pickleball, golf and solved mind benders and puzzles. We read a wide variety of authors, watched and discussed films of cultural diversity and studied some the most challenging of current affairs,” shares member Donna W. “I am grateful for the growth this organization has generated in me and the beloved and trusted lifelong friends I have found here.”

For men and women looking for community, both can find it in a downtown location that just opened last month. Inside Nelson Glass House on Spring Street, At Earth’s End has Caffe by illy coffee bar and The Parlour, a curated cigar tasting room, open to the public, and The House, a private club reserved for members. Neighbors looking for a local spot to experience silky Italian coffee can stop into Caffe by illy, and those wanting to relax in the cigar lounge can do that too, but it is in The House that locals plan to nurture their spirit and meet with others in a place hoping to feel like a second home.

“When we move to the suburbs, our friends become our immediate work environment, our immediate neighbors and the parents of our kid’s friends. Yet, there’s a much bigger world out there within that suburb of interesting people we just don’t have the opportunity to meet,” details Sid Yu, Co-Managing Partner of At Earth’s End. “You can go to a country club to play golf or other clubs for food, but sometimes you just want to go to an intimate, private place like you’d build in your house. This is where you can go from morning until night, and the functionality changes. You can go at 7:30am for coffee, read the paper, have a conversation with a friend. Have a meeting mid-morning and do some work. Then late afternoon, pre- and post-dinner and in late evening, it becomes more social.”

Members can take advantage of the coffee and enjoy the cigars from a private humidor inside the club, but it also has a bar for camaraderie, a den and library for like-minded people to find each other and relax, think and enjoy civility. Lastly, The House is a place for adventurers, where guests can plan for a motorcycle ride, Iron Chef dinners or a master class.

“We have a full bar with everything but the alcohol, members store their own alcohol in their private lockers. But they treat it like their place, where they host themselves and their guests. It’s like an extended social room, extended bar, extended office,” Yu shares. “You have an electronic pass key and open the membership house on your own. Sometimes it might be you and a couple of other people, other times there’s 20 others.”

People that likely wouldn’t meet otherwise end up with chance encounters which can lead to many things. For example, the managing partner of a consulting firm sits at the bar next to the President of a large company. They may first talk about work and hobbies, but soon the conversation leads to family and friendships form.


Sports can also be a great way to have camaraderie and become a part of something. Basketball meet-ups on the neighborhood court, running through town with your bestie and taking long walks through Mountain Lakes with your dog are all great ways to interact with others while being physically active. But sometimes you don’t have someone to run with or you want to try your hand at something new, and local sports clubs offer a great opportunity to gain the drive to get active, push you to achieve your best and do it all while meeting new people.

In 2015, David Wu had been living in Princeton for nearly 13 years and he decided to challenge himself by running the Princeton Half Marathon. A Chinese immigrant, he was wowed by the inspirational messages in his WeChat group as they all cheered him on. Little did he know, his encouragement for them to meet him out on a Saturday and try running along the canal would turn into the Princeton Running Team with 80 regulars participating.

“I was the first person in the Chinese community to run the half marathon. Then in 2016 there were a few people that finished. Now, from that group, there are already 3 Ironman completers,” says Wu. “It’s a little to my surprise, I didn’t expect a lot of people to be persistent with it. This is now the 7th year. We started with around 10 people, then the word spread attracting runners and walkers who usually go out on Saturday and Sunday morning to run or walk along the canal.”

Princeton Running Team is not a formal organization, yet it has connected people through running, walking, talking, joking and having fun. Wu noted culture and language barriers often unintentionally make members of the local Chinese community feel like outsiders, so Princeton Running Team has become a safe space.

“In general, whether you’re born here or come here, you need a sense of belonging. You can’t have the feeling of belonging if you’re just sitting at your home alone. You have to make a connection with people,” Wu acknowledges. “There are a lot of running teams in Princeton, so you find your common interest or common passion to connect with others. Then you start to have the sense of belonging to a group or community. This group, because all of us come from China or Chinese-speaking countries, for us there is a second perspective. We’re all first-generation immigrants trying to find our role, our existence in this big community.”

From arranging regular meetups through WeChat, the group easily began sharing pictures of their runs and lives. They began talking about their families and gathering for parties throughout the years as well. And, as members of the local Chinese community, started discussing ways to better integrate with the rest of Princeton. This past Memorial Day weekend, Princeton Running Team held its first formal event, the AAPI 5k. Through the marvels of their social media group the race came together in just weeks, with one person handling permits, another doing fundraising, a website designer and more. It went far beyond running and the power of community was felt.

“There’s one person on this running team, she never in her wildest dream thought about finishing a half marathon. She started to walk with us, and slowly to run. And now she has completed 3 or 4 half marathons. She started her 1st half marathon because of me, but she finished it on her 40th birthday! Because of those things, she’s now a very active team member and she helped do fundraising for the 5k,” recalls Wu.

Beyond Princeton Running Team, there are many other local group opportunities for all sorts of runners including but not limited to Princeton Running Club, Princeton Athletic Club and Mercer Bucks Running Club.

If running doesn’t suit you, the fastest growing sport for the past two years, according to the USA Pickleball and the Sports & Fitness Industry Association is pickleball. It’s been in existence since the 60’s but its ease of play helped it to gain in popularity during the pandemic. It is now often played in our area by locals wishing to get physical and get together with others.

“Pickleball is the only sport we know that does not discriminate against gender, body size/type or age. It is a cross between tennis, badminton and ping pong,” details Sharon Voelzke, co-owner of Mercer Bucks Pickleball Club, which came to be thanks to its attraction during the pandemic. “Everyone we spoke to was playing Pickleball in their communities on makeshift converted tennis courts or in their driveways with taped courts or at other coveted locations. We also joined the craze and striped a court in our cul-de-sac to enjoy the game as much as possible. We found it a great way to get to know each other and our neighbors and enjoy a safe social way to exercise in restricted times.”

Sharon, her husband, Bob, and friends Becky and Frank Gabriele grew passionate about playing, but couldn’t find an indoor court once the weather turned. They surveyed their networks of friends and acquaintances and discovered there was a huge interest in indoor play. This past February, they opened Mercer Bucks Pickleball Club, a social and fitness community for the area and already have more than 900 members.

“People who previously lacked confidence in their athletic abilities blossom while playing pickleball with every clinic they take, social event they partake in, and point they earn or defend,” Voelzke notes. And even without joining a club, she adds there are multiple opportunities to get in the game. “Meet-up groups for Pickleball playing in our area have multiplied in the past couple of years. Technology like Team Reach and Meetup apps, enable players to sign-up to play alone and rotate into games with three others they do not know for games to 11. Facebook pages for specific towns, communities and courts are used to inform people about upcoming gatherings and tournaments.”

Photo Courtesy of DonnaLovelyPhotos.com

When people connect to play pickleball, Voelzke says they may arrive as strangers but often leave exchanging numbers to plan their next game. Whether you are new to the area, visiting temporarily or completely new to the sport, one can learn the basic skills of the game within 15 minutes, and leave the court with hours of fun ahead of them. And you never know how rosy that future could be.

“A member asked us to make sure she played at least one game in her Social Play with the “cute guy in blue.” Low and behold, we have spotted them renting a private court together several times since they were “randomly” paired together with our assistance,” Voelzke shares.

If you haven’t found a match through one of the social or sports clubs, keep optimistic. If art is your thing, check out local places like The Arts Council or Color Me Mine and make a plan to attend one of their adult education or open classes. Or volunteer. With hundreds of local organizations looking for help, finding something that connects with you personally or which could benefit from a skill you have could be everlasting. That connection to a new community could keep you going for years to come.

Editor’s Note

It is not uncommon, especially in Princeton, to see and hear people speaking up for what they believe in, educating others to make a change or simply providing a service themselves – and by doing so, making a difference.

On Saturday, Princeton’s Hinds Plaza was filled with locals speaking up for what they believe as pro-choice advocacy was echoing through downtown. Sunday, Jewish leaders held the first-ever local Jewish Heritage Festival in Palmer Square, in an effort to celebrate Jewish roots and help others understand Judaism to bring the community together and work to eliminate antisemitism.

In Reaching Higher – Princeton Neighbors Making an Impact Locally and Beyond, this month’s issue of Princeton Perspectives aims to take a look at some of the individuals, groups and talents that have helped to make a difference, sometimes just here in Princeton and other times nationwide.

How have you made a difference? When I went into town to ask locals this month many, at first, didn’t believe they had. But, as we got talking, they all realized through things big or small, they have helped in some way. This month’s Pulse of Princeton video shares their experiences.

Sometimes you don’t set out to make a difference, but you do anyways. Making it to the top of your profession, whether as an actor, company executive, athlete or in the political realm, can put you in a position to have provide a service to or have a major influence on others. Local Connections of NJ Hall of Fame Nominees highlights those who lived or passed through Princeton that are being recognized.

But not everyone that makes a difference gets fame. Sometimes, it’s those lesser known that have a huge impact. Our two guest articles this issue are written by people that stepped up to make a change. Like, with the banning of single-use plastic bags in New Jersey. By now you know you must bring your own bags into supermarkets, but did you know the movement that led to a statewide ban started right here in Princeton? It’s NJ Law, but the Ban on Plastic Bags Culminates a Decade of Local Persistence shares the story of the efforts and goals that started the change.

It took more than a decade for the ban to get enacted statewide, and for twice as long, some have been pushing for another change in town. Long-Sustained Efforts Bring About Needed Solutions on Rosedale Road tells the story of local parents and leaders working to make a safer passageway for our town.

If you live in town, you likely have heard about the discussions going on for over a year about whether or not to open retail cannabis stores here. Whether you want them to open, or feel they should not, it is enlightening to read about the way some have come together to have an impact on the decision in Parents’ Passion Leads to Outreach About Princeton’s Future.

Another town-wide discussion that led to change is that of gas-powered lawn equipment.  Perspectives Revisited looks at what you need to know today and also updates you on some of the newest construction projects underway and set to take place in Princeton.

Princeton is full of activity, and we hope you’re getting out and taking advantage. The warmer days of May (when they happen) bring about smiles and excitement for many. So, for June, we hope to share more of the comforts and healing opportunities that can lead you into summer. As always, if you have any thoughts on what we’ve written or what you’d like to see us write, please click here and let us know! We enjoy providing a look at what matter to Princeton and thank you for reading our work!

Pulse of Princeton: How have you made a difference?

Local Connections of NJ Hall of Fame Nominees

It’s not just Jersey Shore that has put the Garden State on the map! Major contributions by people from our local area have had an impact in a variety of ways. The New Jersey Hall of Fame, which for the past 10 years has honored people whose talents and tenacity have made a difference, has recently narrowed down its list of nominees for the Class of 2022. The 50 nominees were either were born, lived in or contributed to life in New Jersey. Of the 50, seven of them made their mark in Mercer County, NJ on their way to greatness.

Trenton-born Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was one of many who have demonstrated it’s not just where you’re from, it’s where you go! Though he hadn’t lived locally for decades, his 30 years on the Supreme Court led the decorated New Jerseyan to be posthumously inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame last year.

The voting is underway (until May 20th) to choose this year’s class of inductees. You can see all of the nominees and vote here. As you consider, we wanted to share the accomplishments of those were born, lived in or passed through the greater Princeton area.

Ralph Izzo

Photo courtesy of PSE&G

Just a few weeks ago, Ralph Izzo announced that he will be retiring as the Chairman, President and CEO of Public Service Enterprise Group (PSE&G). And now, he will allegedly become President of EV Edison, where he will help develop national EV charging hubs. But it was right here in 1981 that the Cranbury resident started his career in energy as a research scientist working on fusion energy experiments at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. He later spent years working in public policy, under Senator’s Bill Bradley and Thomas Kean. Izzo’s since gone on to receive numerous national fellowships and awards and joined a variety of boards and committees nationally and locally including the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee. More locally, Izzo helps shape young minds through his roles on the Board of Trustees of The Peddie School and as part of Princeton University’s Andlinger Center for Energy and Environment Advisory Council.

Izzo has served as PSE&G’s CEO for 15 years but has been at the company for 30. He joined New Jersey’s largest energy company in 1992, working his way through as a vice president in four different areas before becoming President and Chief Operating Officer. He became CEO in 2007 and has since continued to work towards the goal of cleaner energy.

Hall of fames aren’t new to Izzo. In 2010 he was honored with the Trustee Award by the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame in recognition of his energy-efficient programs and tackling the challenges of climate control. Izzo is nominated by the NJ Hall of Fame in the Enterprise category.

John McPhee

Photo courtesy of Princeton University

John McPhee was born in 1931. His father was Princeton University’s sports director, and he grew up in the tree streets of town. Known as one of the early developers of creative nonfiction, he made a name for himself as a journalist and writer who takes details and makes them entertaining. McPhee has written about a variety of subject matter, from basketball player Bill Bradley to the wilderness, even a book simply about an orange.

McPhee has been helping to develop writing for approximately 500 young adults since 1975 as a Princeton University writing professor, and the Princeton-born and Princeton University-educated writer does so with a solid resume. He has written over 30 books, and though he is not one to boast, he’s earned himself a Pulitzer Prize for his book Annals of the Former World along with National Book Award nominations for eight others. McPhee started writing at Time magazine in 1957 and has since spent more than six decades as a staff writer for the The New Yorker, for which he’s written hundreds of pieces.

The Ferris Professor of Journalism is still teaching Creative Non-Fiction at Princeton University and is now nominated in the Arts & Letters category.

Bebe Neuwirth

Photo courtesy of imdb

One of the famous lines from the hit Broadway musical A Chorus Line is, “Oh please – I don’t want to hear about how Broadway’s dying. ‘Cause I just got here.” Ironically, that line is said by a character named Bebe…and though she didn’t play that role, it was as the character of Shelia in a tour of A Chorus Line that legendary actor/singer/dancer Bebe Neuwirth made her professional debut which propelled her into years of Broadway and other acting successes.

Neuwirth was born in New Jersey and grew up right here in Princeton. While her father worked at Princeton University, she attended kindergarten through 8th grade at Chapin School. She then went on to complete 9th grade at Princeton Day School before finishing out her last three years of high school at Princeton High School (Class of 1976). Her mother was a ballerina with Princeton Regional Ballet Company, with whom Bebe performed in her youth. After graduating high school, she advanced her career in the arts at Julliard.

Neuwirth appeared on Broadway shortly after her gig in the touring production A Chorus Line, with roles in Dancin’ and Little Me and quickly made her way to leading lady, where she won the Tony award in a revival of Sweet Charity in 1986. She debuted as Lilith that same year, the Cheers role that would earn her two Emmy awards. Neuwirth spent several years working small TV and film roles and returned to Broadway to win the Tony and Drama Desk awards for her role in Chicago in 1997.

Since then, she has appeared in a variety of TV, film and stage roles. She was the featured guest at the McCarter Gala in 2012, the Princeton theatre where she first appeared on stage at age 7. Neuwirth is nominated in the Performing Arts & Entertainment category.

Stanley Dancer

Photo courtesy of playersbio.com

If you recently watched Rich Strike win the Kentucky Derby, you can appreciate what it takes to win in horse racing. One of this year’s nominees can relate. Born in West Windsor, Stanley Dancer was raised on his family’s farm in New Egypt. He dropped out of school in 8th grade, but went on to achieve great success, becoming the only harness racing driver to train and drive three Triple Crown winners and the first to win more than $1 million dollars in one season. The son of dairy and potato farmers, Dancer started driving horses at the Freehold Raceway and bought his first horse after getting married.

Unlike Rich Strike, who took off in the final stretch to win, Dancer started a style where horses were trained to take off hard right from the start. This style was even more impressive given his slight height and weight, at 5 feet 8 inches, 135 pounds.

Throughout his career, he drove 23 Triple Crown winners. Dancer was inducted in the Harness Racing Living Hall of Fame in 1970 for his accomplishments and is now nominated by the NJ Hall of Fame in the Game category.

Dorothea Dix

Though women are still working hard in 2022 to make their marks in the sciences, it was back in the 1800s that Dorothea Dix built the first mental health facilities in America. She noticed that the mentally ill jailed in Massachusetts were not being properly treated for their conditions. In 1840 she lobbied for more proper care, then moved on to evaluate the facilities in New Jersey. By 1845 she had shared her findings with the NJ legislature, urging them to do better, too. The New Jersey State Lunatic Asylum opened in Trenton in 1948, it was one of several facilities to open thanks to the advocacy of Dix.

Born in Maine in 1802, the work of Dix was way ahead of its time. She was a champion for both indigenous people as well as the mentally ill. Through her continued work with politicians on the state and federal levels, she eventually opened asylums in North Carolina, Illinois, Rhode Island and New York as well.

The field of nursing also benefitted from the achievements of Dix. She served as Superintendent of Army Nurses for the Union Army during the Civil War, where she not only cared for soldiers from both sides but paved the way for more females to train and work as a nurse. More than 3,000 female nurses went through the Federal Army nursing program under her leadership during the war.

Dix returned to the capital of New Jersey in 1881 and spent her final days in a special suite at New Jersey State Hospital (originally New Jersey State Lunatic Asylum and now Trenton Psychiatric Hospital). She died there in 1887 at the age of 85 and is posthumously nominated in the Public Service category.

Edith Savage-Jennings

Photo courtesy of Museum of Women’s Resistance

How many people can state they were invited to be a guest at the White House by 13 sitting Presidents? Civil rights activist Edith Savage-Jennings was one.

Growing up in New Jersey, her life’s work started as a child. She met First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt at age 11 and relied on her as an ally of civil rights for over 30 years. At 12, Savage-Jennings became a youth member of the Trenton Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and at age 13, she insisted on sitting in the orchestra section at Capital Theater in Trenton rather than the segregated balcony, citing a fear of heights. Then, for the rest of her 93 years, she would continue the fight.

Savage-Jennings was honored with more than 100 awards for her civil rights involvement, working as a trusted friend of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and later founding The King Center along with his wife, Coretta. She worked to help integrate a school in Mississippi and lobbied to make New Jersey the first state to divest its investments in South Africa.

Savage-Jennings supported the opening of the Museum of Women’s Resistance in Brooklyn, NY in 2012. Just two years later, the site acquired an official second name as The Edith Savage-Jennings Legacy Museum.

In 2017, at age 93, Savage-Jennings spoke at the Women’s March in Trenton. Later that year, on November 12, she passed away. But her legacy continues to live on. The City of Trenton has officially declared February 19th as Edith Savage-Jennings Day. She is posthumously nominated in the Public Service category.

George Shultz

Having worked in four cabinet-level positions under multiple Republican Presidents, George Shultz was a dedicated diplomat. He passed away just last year at the age of 100, known for numerous accomplishments including helping President Ronald Reagan to end the Cold War.

Shultz was raised in Englewood, NJ but he passed through Princeton as he worked towards his bachelor’s degree in economics at Princeton University in 1942.

After serving as a Marine, Shultz got his PhD at M.I.T. and went on to share his knowledge in a variety of ways. He taught at three well-respected universities, was a distinguished fellow at the Hoover Institution and held federal cabinet roles as secretary of state, treasury and labor as well as the first director of the office of management and budget. Shultz was first brought to the federal government for three roles under Nixon, and then again under Reagan. He is posthumously nominated in the Public Service category.

Long-Sustained Efforts Bring About Needed Solutions on Rosedale Road

When it comes to protecting their kids and neighbors, adults can be relentless. And when it comes to possible life or death, they will not back down. For over two decades, concern over safety at the main street crossing nearest Johnson Park Elementary School (JP) in Princeton has had adults speaking up, working with the town and county and seeking solutions. Thanks to their non-relenting efforts, it now appears something major is to be done to slow down traffic and create a safer passageway.

“There were several near misses that JP parents shared with us over the years, and each time we heard about one, we reported it to either the engineer or the mayor. At one point, Phyllis Marchand did arrange for a meeting at JP between our P.T.O. executive board and the county officials, but that went nowhere,” recalls former Johnson Park Principal, Bob Ginsberg. “I became principal at JP in July 1999. In September, as school got underway, I observed the difficulties at the Rosedale Rd. and the Gen. Johnson Dr. intersection.”

This intersection, at the entrance to Johnson Park Elementary School, is not facilitated by a light or crossing guard. All families on the southbound side of Rosedale are offered a bus, but several students and families that choose to walk or bike must cross there. Most mornings and afternoons cars struggle to make their way back from the school onto Rosedale. This site also aligns with the entrance to Greenway Meadows Park, a busy site for soccer, nature walks and more. Runners and walkers choosing to leave Rosedale Road and make their way onto the park’s trails cross here, too.

Behind the scenes, Ginsberg and parents continued lobbying for a traffic signal for the intersection, but change wasn’t coming. Unlike other roadways in town, Rosedale Road is a county road. So, the town can suggest or highlight ideas to the county, but what is done is ultimately in county control.

“Previous county engineers both communicated to Princeton that a signal was not warranted based on the outcomes of the Traffic Signal Warrant Analysis. This analysis consists of 9 different warrants, any which if met would justify the installation of a traffic signal. Based upon an analysis of this intersection, conditions for a traffic signal did not meet any of the warrant requirements (0 out of 9).] Additionally, this is why traffic light sensors were not considered as an option. Based upon the analysis of the intersection, requirements were not met. It is based on data, not feelings or opinions,” explains County spokesperson, Julie Wilmot.

Though the data was speaking one thing, the crossing was continually creating worry amongst parents and other locals. In 2010, when Lisa Serieyssol’s son began attending JP, she immediately grew weary when she noticed that within a short stretch of Rosedale Road, the speed limit jumps from 25 to 45 to 40 to 25.

“As a JP parent I really wondered why the Rosedale Rd. had a range in speed limits then JP’s school zone at the bottom of a hill.  Also, I wondered why there was no crossing guard assigned to the crosswalk. This became a bigger concern when our son and his friends asked permission to ride their bikes to school,” Serieyssol recalls.

In 2014, Serieyssol helped coordinate JP’s first Walk or Bike to School Day, which saw dozens of children and families crossing at Rosedale Rd. and Gen. Johnson Dr. For this special day, officials from Greater Mercer Transportation Management Association were invited to attend, which also forced the county to see the situation first-hand. It additionally led to more parents speaking up about how to cross safely going forward without a crossing guard or a way to slow down the passing cars, which was highlighted again to the local police and town.

By 2017, parent Amanda (Mandy) Arshan got involved to garner more support for a safer crossing.

“I gathered signatures from JP families as well as residents in the Hun School neighborhood and Fairway Drive neighborhood since they were most affected by this crossing,” explains Arshan “I started to gather names and meet with PBAC (Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee) back when all three of my boys were in JP and we would all bike to school together. We always rode together but I felt that as my boys grew in age and responsibility, I wanted them to be able to make this crossing safely on their own.”

Arshan went to PBAC to bring the crossing to their attention, and soon found herself working with Deanna Stockton, Municipal Engineer, to apply for a Safe Routes to School (SRTS) grant in hopes to raise funds for these safety enhancements. In 2018 Princeton won the grant, a $1 million award to make improvements to walking and biking facilities through that corridor. Town and county together are still working on the SRTS plan, where the grant funds, yet to be spent, are intended to improve pedestrian and biking areas, and the county will fund the roadway improvements.

“We have been collaborating with Mercer County on pedestrian and bicycle improvements from the grant application phase into the preliminary design phase,” details Stockton. “For each of these efforts on Rosedale, conversations have included whether signal warrants were met at the Rosedale / Gen. Johnson intersection. With the SRTS project, if signal warrants weren’t met, we also included (in the scope of work) geometric changes to the intersection and consideration of other measures that could be utilized to help improve safety for bicyclists and pedestrians at the intersection.”

In April 2021, Princeton’s consultant recommended the installation of Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFB) as an interim safety measure at the intersection. According to the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, RRFB consist of “two rectangular-shaped yellow indications, each with an LED-array-based light source, that flash with high frequency when activated” and can reduce pedestrian crashes by 47%. In addition, the PBAC, led by Serieyssol, unanimously approved a resolution they presented to Council in June urging temporary solutions be installed at this intersection until a more permanent one could be completed. These conversations for the SRTS plan led to the installation of the RRFB last summer.

The RRFB installation was completed by the county on August 24th, yet sadly the next day, 82-year-old Pinghua Xu was hit and soon died from the injuries he incurred while crossing at this intersection. It is believed Xu activated the RRFB, but was nonetheless hit by a car traveling eastbound, as he crossed the traffic lanes. His death devastated the community, and especially those that had been fighting to prevent a tragedy like this.

“The entire PBAC and more specifically, Lisa, Mandy and I, were always pushing for new safety measures at the intersection. Mr. Xu’s death pushed the issue even further on the news for change,” adds Leslie Fabello, JP parent who started taking interest in this issue when her family entered the school in 2017. In 2019, she joined PBAC and got more involved.

The parents, working with Ginsberg and Angela Siso Stentz, the new JP Principal, began pushing harder. They started a campaign to get Town Council more involved, which included outreach to JP families and nearby neighbors. This resulted in a letter signed by 30+ locals, presented at the February Council meeting and shared in multiple local publications. A gathering was also held by the crosswalk on February 25th, marking six months since Xu’s tragic death. Together, these efforts seem to have moved things forward.

“This year we narrowed the width of the lanes (from 12’ and 13’ to 11’) as a method of traffic calming to reduce speeds,” County Spokesperson Wilmot notes. “This year, we again performed an updated traffic study and will reduce the regulatory speed limit to 35 MPH within the corridor – both directions — and will install a roundabout, which is a Federal Highway Administration Proven Safety Countermeasure and an accepted traffic-calming measure.”

Mercer County conducted a new study this year to gather new baseline data, citing the previous data was mostly collected during the pandemic and may not have reflected regular driving/walking conditions. Two meetings were held to inform people about this plan. One, for the public, took place at JP in late April, and revealed not just the roundabout proposal but also the reduced lane widths from Christopher Drive to Elm Road, pedestrian islands within the roundabout and painted warning stripes. Though not a traffic light, the roundabout signifies the call for help is getting answered.

“I am up for innovation as long as it is safe and gets done soon! (With the understanding of COVID delays) it has still taken a very, very long time to get the real safety concern on many people’s mind taken seriously and to see results,” responds Arshan. “And unfortunately, we lost a life in the process, which was the number one reason I took on this project 5 years ago. I saw the dangers in the crossings at rush hour every morning and after school and did not want a tragedy to take place.”

Fabello adds, “There needs to be continued education, especially with 4 crossings there. And I would like to hear more from the council and county on their plans for awareness and education. I’d like to understand if the county or municipality will provide a crossing guard at the intersection.”

The County is in the final design phase for the roundabout and is hoping to start construction after this school year, in late June. Full closure of Rosedale has not been approved by Princeton, so the changes are to be constructed in two phases. As the project could take 8 to 16 weeks to complete, they will accomplish as much as possible through the summer and if necessary, into the next school year.

Though not yet able to breathe a sigh of relief, Lisa, Mandy, Leslie, Bob and other municipal crusaders working with Stockton and those at the county level can feel like their efforts have been heard and change is coming.

“I sincerely hope this new proposal provides a safer way for our students, families, and community members to walk, bike and drive to and from Johnson Park Elementary School. I hope it slows down traffic, so individuals feel safe to use the intersection,” states Siso Stentz, as she envisions safer crossing for her students in the new school year.

Editor’s Note

If you didn’t grow up in the Princeton area, what brought you here? Perhaps a job opportunity arose. But before accepting, did you Google “Princeton” to see what the area could offer you besides a salary? If you were looking to move out to the suburbs, did you Google “Princeton” to check out the schools, activities and more that would be available for your family? Odds are, if you did, you likely found “Princeton,” or a local business, named at or near the top of “best of” lists everywhere.

Walking around Princeton lately, it’s hard not to see the flowers and trees in bloom. This sense of renewal and excitement has led us to focus on all of the amazing things blossoming right here in our hometown, with our latest issue, The Princeton Area Has the Best of . . . Nearly Everything. We take a look at the town of Princeton, the public schools here and many of the amazing establishments and places in and around town that make it the best.

Let’s start with the town itself…why do people come and live here? Don’t take our word for it, we went into town and asked locals to tell us why and what they love, now that they’re here! You can see what they have to say in our video segment, The Pulse of Princeton.

One of the primary reasons people cite for moving here is the schools. While there are more than 20 amazing independent schools in the immediate area, there are 6 public schools that make up Princeton Public School district. Many hear about Princeton schools by word of mouth or read about them in the school rankings. We delved into both people’s thoughts and how the data supports them in What is it That Puts Princeton Public Schools at the Top?

Princeton is consistently ranked as one of the best places to live in NJ. There are various reasons that people move into Princeton, but there are also many commonalities. Live, Work and Play: Why Princeton is a Top Choice for Many shares a realtor’s perspective of what he’s seen in decades living and working in town, and what clients have shared as well.

Whether you’ve been here for years or are relatively new, there are likely still establishments you’ve never tried and places you’ve never seen. So, we’ve sought to cultivate a list of some of Princeton’s best spots…and they’re not just our picks. Awards and other recognition have highlighted these to locals and visitors alike. Get out and Enjoy the Best of Princeton, especially while the weather is enticing you to do so!

One of the best things about Princeton is the way it offers up culture and entertainment, not found in many suburbs. The renowned McCarter Theatre certainly attracts talent and audiences from all around, as it provides some of the best to all who attend. How does it do this? Read How Princeton Attracts Audiences for Song and Stage to find out.

And don’t forget to catch up on news with Perspectives Revisited. This month we’ll update you on the latest with regards to Princeton’s decision about retail cannabis dispensaries as well as the recent news released about bias incidents in NJ and locally.

With many schools in our area either just returning from or heading off to spring break, we hope you’ve all enjoyed some fun and down time. And now, grant yourself a few moments to delve into this issue of Princeton Perspectives to learn more about our area.

The Pulse of Princeton: Why do people come and live in Princeton?