Editor’s Note

When we cast our ballots last November, we weren’t just picking names on a list. We were choosing candidates that we hoped would represent our needs and wishes. It’s that way for every election. Yet, sometimes, your choices win, and sometimes they don’t. Either way, they still represent you and their actions and decisions have impact.

In this month’s issue of Princeton Perspectives, Politics: From the White House to Princeton, we aim to help you understand what our representatives at all levels of government are doing as we start 2021, and how you may be affected.

This is our town, but will the new Mayor and Council take hold of the matters most important to you? There’s no video segment in this month’s Pulse of Princeton because we want you all to take our poll so we can let them know where your priorities lie. Cast your vote then check the results now.

At the national level, President Biden is nearly one month into his term of office. He has made promises, instituted plans and begun his agenda. Big picture is important, but what happens when his measures reach your home or your wallet? In Biden’s Plan and its Impact Here in Princeton, our guest writer breaks down some of the proposals and what you should be prepared for.

News from the Biden camp makes headlines. But did you know there are 3 levels of government between your house and the White House, legislating and making decisions that could affect you or someone you love? From Trenton to Princeton, 2021 Legislation explains what your state, county and municipal representatives have been legislating so far in 2021. From COVID to cardiac care, there is a lot at stake for you to understand.

And leading the way in Princeton is Mayor Mark Freda. He may be new to this office, but he’s not new to town or to the many facets that comprise it. What is his agenda as he’s kicked off his four-year term? Read Princeton has a New Mayor in Town to find out.

One of the special parts of our town is its international nature. It brings about culture and trends, diversity and more. As immigration has come under the microscope in recent years and changes are expected under Biden, a Rider University Professor shares her viewpoint on what’s to come in Perspective: The Local Effects of Immigration Reform.

We always try to keep you up to date on stories we’ve covered in previous issues. Perspectives Revisited has the latest, at the bottom of the site. Don’t forget to scroll down!

Next month is a very special month for us at Princeton Perspectives. It’s our one-year anniversary! Time has surely flown and we couldn’t have had such a successful year without your loyal readership! We’ve seen nearly 75% growth since we launched! Please help us continue to grow by sharing our magazine with friends and family! They can sign up to receive our next issue in their inbox by clicking here!

As March is not just our anniversary but also that of this terrible pandemic, Princeton Perspectives will offer a fully encompassing view of Princeton and COVID, a year in.

We hope you are staying healthy, safe and warm in these tumultuous times!

The Pulse of Princeton

Let’s see what our readers think! Please choose one and see results below.

At the local level, the top priority for our Mayor and Council should be:

From Trenton to Princeton, 2021 Legislation

We are a month into 2021. The elections are over, new politicians have been seated and along with the incumbents remain ready to take on the tasks at hand. According to the New Jersey State Department of Elections, in Mercer County 44.6% of residents are registered Democrat, 15.3% as Republicans and 40.1% are unaffiliated or other. Wherever you fall, the Princeton area has several levels of government looking after our needs. Princeton has a Council that works with our Mayor, the Mercer County Executive runs our County alongside our County Commissioners and at the state level, beyond the Governor we have two State Assemblymen and a State Senator representing Princeton’s District. Much of what happens (or doesn’t happen) in our area falls under their leadership.


Nearly one year into the pandemic, COVID has shaped much of what the government is focusing on. At the state level, indoor dining has increased to 35% of capacity, but outdoor dining now has additional state support by streamlining the approval process for restaurants to utilize their nearby outdoor spaces. The NJ State Senate brought this bill to Governor Murphy who signed it into law this month, and in the Assembly, it was sponsored by one of our two District 16 Assemblymen, Roy Freiman. District 16’s State Senator, Christopher “Kip” Bateman, who is also Senate Deputy Whip, is currently recovering from heart surgery but continues his work in the Senate. Senators recently passed a bill to provide a county-based re-opening plan for businesses (like the color-scale New York uses) rather than having everything planned as a whole statewide. Additionally, legislation was advanced to provide an income tax credit to businesses that made structural improvements to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Due to the essential need for internet access with remote schooling and work-from-home requirements, Senators also introduced a bill last month to prevent internet service providers from increasing rates during a public health or state emergency.

A bill sponsored late last year by our other District 16 Assemblyman, Andrew Zwicker, also responds to internet needs by providing for broadband internet access to remote areas across New Jersey. Other COVID-related causes and the many systemic inadequacies the pandemic has highlighted remain at the top of the Assembly’s agenda this year. One recent bill signed into law provides that landlords must accept credit cards as payment for rent.

“Between helping small businesses start to rebuild, getting our students back on track with their education, and helping the unemployed get back to work, it is clear that COVID must remain our main focus in the legislature,” states Assemblyman Freiman.

Though the legislature does not play a role in the COVID vaccine rollout, the offices of both Freiman and Zwicker, have been advocating for constituents and working to help them get appointments.

“I represent frontline workers, healthcare workers, seniors, vulnerable people who are trying to work their way through the complex system to get appointments for the vaccine,” shares Zwicker.

As local businesses have really suffered this past year, Zwicker was co-sponsor of the Economic Recovery Act, signed by the Governor this month. It allows for the state to partner with business owners and entrepreneurs trying to start a new business, to help them grow and keep jobs in NJ.

At the County level, the COVID vaccine rollout has been something new for them, as they work as the go-between for state and local communities.

“It has basically had to shift its business model and learn how to do something that it has never done, such as testing and vaccination distribution,” shares County Commissioner Chair Samuel Frisby Sr. “The County Health Department is not a full-service Health Center, which means that it does not have access to nurses and doctors and must rely on partnerships to do the type of work that is necessary during the pandemic.”

Mercer County has partnered with Capital Health to administer vaccines at CURE Arena in Trenton and has a vaccination site in West Windsor at Mercer County Community College. Due to limited vaccine availability, the state declared that effective February 13th vaccine distribution to municipally-run clinics is on hold.

“A lot of people ask why there’s a shortage of vaccine and we are making sure the public understands it’s not because we’re not prepared or able to administer it and have clinics, it’s because we just don’t have the vaccines,” notes Princeton Council President Leticia Fraga.

Princeton wants to help ensure all residents, including those that may not read local papers or aren’t computer savvy, know where to get vaccinated, COVID testing and other essential information. To do so it’s just hired two outreach coordinators in both the Human Services and Health departments that will help push the messages out to the community.


State Senator Shirley Turner, who represents six municipalities in Mercer County, sponsored a bill that Governor Murphy signed into law this month that hopes to increase diversity in police departments. Passing the Civil Service exam, which was a requirement, has been a barrier for some people of color. Now completion of the full Basic Course for Police Officers can allow them to be eligible to enter the force, without the exam.

The Senate is also hoping the Governor will approve their “Minority Business Development Program” which aims to provide grant funding and technical assistance for the state’s minority-owned businesses.

Photo circa 2019

The Assembly has passed several bills on equality, equity and social justice reform. Most recently, agreement on details surrounding decriminalization of marijuana has kept the Governor from signing the legalization bill into law, a move voters approved in November. The decriminalization is part of the legislators’ efforts to reduce the criminal impact seen in black and brown communities and there is hope it may become law before the end of the month.

2021 has brought in historic change at the county level, with the county representatives no longer being called Freeholders, named Commissioners instead.

“It is important to recognize that words have meaning and if what we want is to be a more inclusive society, then we must eliminate titles of exclusivity from our political and social lexicon,” explains Commissioner Frisby.


Frisby was part of the group NJ19 that worked to eliminate the terminology – which referenced the era when only white, male, landowners who were free of debt could hold public office. As the new year began, he not only became one of the first County Commissioners but is the first African American Mercer County Board of Commissioner’s Chair.

“As incredible as this is and as proud of this accomplishment as I am, being the first in this role is nowhere near as important as ensuring that I am not the last in this position,” adds Frisby. “This opportunity reminds me that we have many more doors to open and walls to knock down.”

To help open more doors, the County recently contracted with The College of New Jersey’s Small Business Development Center to offer support to Latino business owners in our area. This builds on an ordinance they passed in 2018 to develop a more inclusive environment across the county for minority business owners.

In Princeton, Council is ironing out details and working to roll out a pilot program using the Racial Equity Tool Kit the Civil Rights Commission presented to them at the end of 2020.

“It is basically a one-sheet form with a checklist,” says Councilwoman Fraga, who is the first LatinX ever elected to Princeton’s Municipal government. “When considering a policy, considering hiring or with contracts, to ensure that diversity is being considered and equality.”

Local groups have been advocating for a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers, but this could harm local landscapers who can’t afford new equipment. Council aims to utilize this Equity Tool Kit to ensure that as policies like these are developed, minority owners are not put out of business.

Fraga also hopes to help lower-income University students take advantage of all Princeton has to offer. To help Town & Gown relations and balance each other’s needs, Princeton Council meets annually with the Princeton University President. At this year’s meeting (currently being scheduled), she is hoping to get the ear President Eisgruber to discuss a trend in other college towns of allowing meal card access to in-town eating establishments.

“For them it’s very expensive to eat in town, so they didn’t have that luxury to go to Hoagie Haven or other popular eating establishments like some of their peers,” she explains. “The way other communities do it, they use their meal card and it works like a debit card…if there were participating establishments that would allow it.”


Photo- Courtesy of NJ Audubon Society

Senator Bateman sponsored a bill to establish a “Jersey Native Plants Program,” to inform the public and encourage and promote the sale of New Jersey’s 2,100 native plants which play a vital role in our natural ecosystem. Linda Greenstein, who represents four municipalities in Mercer County, co-sponsored. Both are part of the Environment and Energy Committee for the NJ Senate that voted in January to advance the bill.

In the Assembly, a controversial bill was approved a few weeks ago that requires the government or a non-profit to provide a stewardship plan whenever new forest land is acquired. Opponents of the bill believe it will cause more environmental harm than good.

In another move that could affect our environment, at the end of 2020 Governor Murphy signed legislation to reform NJ Transit by overhauling its management and creating more oversight. The bill, for which Senator Greenstein was a primary sponsor, aims to better the train system which in turn could encourage more people to ride and get off the roads. Assemblyman Zwicker has also been involved in trying to enhance mass transit to benefit our residents and our environment.

“Whether it’s the Dinky in Princeton to NJ Transit or up in Somerville with access to NJ transit there, access to mass transportation is critical as well – that ties into climate change and the ability to live where you want and get to work easily,” says Zwicker.

Changing the way we power our cars, trucks and buses can also have a lasting impact on our environment. Senator Bateman’s bill to advance electric charging infrastructure was approved in the Senate last month, and it’s is also being worked on in the Assembly.

“We are working on several electric vehicle bills, including ensuring that enough parking spots have charging stations at retail establishments, residential buildings, etc. in order to prepare for the amount of energy-efficient cars we expect and hope to be on the roads in New Jersey by 2025,” adds Freiman.

Assemblyman Freiman is also working to push forward his bill requiring the state Treasurer to review energy usage at all state facilities, which could help lead to better energy efficiency for the state.

In Mercer County, environmentalism remains at the forefront of plans to overhaul the Trenton-Mercer Airport. The project has advanced slower than planned, due to diversions caused by the pandemic, but once the Federal government provides all necessary authorization, the County administration can move forward.

“The Commissioners are responsible for authorizing funding and expenditures for the project,” explains Commissioner Frisby. “The Commissioners will continue to balance the need of the new terminal with environmental safety and oversite. We are looking forward to having a state-of-the-art terminal allowing for greater comfort and access, befitting the level of business that the Mercer Airport generates daily.”

In Princeton, it is time for the municipality to replace some of its vehicles. Council is planning to discuss the possibility of leasing vehicles that are hybrids or electric. Also, as previously mentioned, there has been a great deal of local advocacy to ban gas leaf blowers. Sustainable Princeton is working to obtain a grant that could help local landscapers comply if any changes are made.

Permanent bike lanes are also being requested along the Hamilton-Wiggins corridor by the Pedestrian and Bike Advisory Committee. In late January many members of the public also came out in support of it. This will be balanced with the needs of residents in that area, as Council weighs a decision.


Just a few weeks ago, in late January, Senator Bateman announced he will retire and not be seeking re-election when his term ends in 2022. He will complete his current term, and in January introduced a new bill in the Senate requiring the Department of Health to license additional angioplasty facilities, with at least one in each New Jersey county. This bill was sponsored in the Assembly by our Assemblymen, Freiman and Zwicker. Years in the making, this would afford convenient options for those that choose to have this quality-of-life procedure.

Freiman and Zwicker are also co-sponsors of another bill to raise the age for purchasing firearms from 18 to 21. Immediate COVID needs have sidelined this bill a bit, but the Assemblymen hope to advance it soon.

“We know that brain development continues to occur through adolescents up through their mid-twenties,” shares Freiman. “When we raised the legal drinking age to 21 in the 1980s, we did not eliminate all incidents of drunk driving – but it certainly made them less common. Increasing the gun purchasing age will not eliminate shootings but may decrease the frequency at which they occur.”

Zwicker is also hoping to have a bill on the Governor’s desk by the end of this month that will make the upcoming November elections more accessible.

“For about 10 days before Tuesday, November 2nd – 7 days a week, 10 hours a day – we’re going to open up polling places in every county where there will be machines like we always have on election day,” explains Zwicker. “Not everyone was comfortable with an all vote-by-mail election. We’re not taking that away, we’re simply adding 2 weekends and 5 workdays to, if you would prefer to, vote by machine.”

Assemblyman Freiman also sponsored a bill last year to benefit safer elections, urging the Federal government to provide funding for elections security and voting equipment.

At the County level of government, do you know what other matters they handle? The concern is that many people do not, so Commissioner Frisby is working to utilize technology to help inform and educate Mercer County residents through monthly Zoom meetings and an online newsletter.

“I believe it is important to understand what this legislative branch of government is responsible for managing and how that differs from the executive branch of government’s responsibilities. Most people don’t realize that County Commissioners are part-time legislators,” states Frisby. “Residents need to understand what the Constitutional Officers are responsible for and what their offices do.”

The municipality of Princeton has a similar goal as it continues the Mayor’s newsletter and utilizes its newly updated website, allowing for online permit applications and more. Council is also working towards better transparency.

“We hit the reset button this year with a new Mayor, and new way of doing our meetings that are more inclusive – open meetings just started in 2021,” details Councilwoman Fraga. “Council this year is really driving a lot of the decision-making on how we conduct our meetings and what committees each of us are going to be working on.”

In January Council began holding open public meetings to set its agenda, so people can gain a better understanding of why it is taking up certain matters.

It is also in the midst of hiring a new Municipal Administrator. Amongst its responsibilities, the Administrator will be tasked with helping to consolidate the municipal staff (currently half are housed at the Monument Hall Building while half are at the Municipal Building on Witherspoon Street.) To increase capacity at the Witherspoon site, options include adding a deck over the parking lot with parking beneath it or adding another floor to the existing building.

Additionally, Princeton is looking to continue the work of the permit parking task force to identify the parking needs of visitors, students, residents and in-town employees.

Most municipal government matters start within our Boards, Commissions and Committees made up of Princeton residents. They flush out issues and make recommendations to Council. Anyone interested in getting involved can apply on the municipal website to be considered for an appointment (appointments are made regardless of political affiliation).

Our representatives at all levels of government in New Jersey aim to be available to constituents, open to conversations and ideas throughout the year. They are hard at work with short-term and long-term goals, working together and in their separate capacities, hoping to accomplish a lot in 2021.


New Jersey Governor –
Phil Murphy

NJ District 16 (Includes Princeton and towns in Hunterdon, Middlesex and Somerset Counties):
State Senator –
Christopher “Kip” Bateman
State Assemblymen –
Roy Freiman and Andrew Zwicker

Mercer County Executive –
Brian Hughes
Mercer County Commissioners –
Samuel Frisby Sr., Chair
Nina Melker, Vice Chair
Ann Cannon
John Cimino
Pasquale “Pat” Colavita, Jr.
Andrew Koontz
Lucylle R.S. Walter

Princeton Mayor –
Mark Freda
Princeton Council –
Leticia Fraga, President
David Cohen
Eve Niedergang
Dwaine Williamson
Mia Sacks
Michelle Pirone Lambros

Princeton has a New Mayor in Town

Mark Freda has one goal as Mayor of Princeton – to make things easier for everyone that lives here. And he means it. As a lifelong Princeton resident, Freda knows this town and many of the people that live here. If he doesn’t know you yet, he wants to. And he intends to do what he can to listen, learn and be productive.

That was Freda’s mantra during his campaign, to truly listen then act. Though he ran unopposed in both the primary and general elections, he campaigned to win.

“Throughout the campaign, I never took for granted there was no one running against me. The last thing I would want is for someone to think I could coast,” explains Freda. “I was attending BCC (Boards, Committees and Commissions) meetings like crazy and every other week I held Facebook live sessions. Anyone and everyone that contacted me, I met by Zoom or socially distanced, I took full advantage of that every time. So even though there was no one else there, I worked just as hard as if someone was running against me.”

Now in the mayoral seat for over a month, Freda is working to ensure solid municipal government infrastructure is all in place, so they can go forward with their full agenda. After eight years with Mayor Liz Lempert, the staff and other elected officials need to get to know Freda, so they can move forward with trust.

“As much as I could tell all of them here’s the type of guy I am – I’m open and honest – they need to see me do that enough times to know I’m telling the truth. I don’t know all the staff, so people still need to figure me out,” Freda admits.

With COVID affecting how many staff members can be in each day and many meetings taking place via Zoom, the relationships are taking a bit more time to develop. But Freda feels confident he has a strong team that will accomplish a lot.


Most pressing is COVID, the vaccine and the fallout the pandemic has had on local businesses and residents. Freda says Princeton’s Health Officer, Jeff Grosser, has been working tirelessly with the Mercer County Health Officers Association and together they have worked out processes to smoothly administer the vaccines. Princeton had been dispensing any available vaccines since mid-January. The problem is access. As New Jersey has only been getting 100,000 doses, which it then must divide amongst 21 counties, hospitals and long-term care facilities, it is currently halting distribution to local towns (CVS Princeton is now receiving doses directly from the Federal government as well). Once it becomes available again and distribution increases, Princeton is poised to give 1,000 doses each week.

Freda, the Council and municipal staff are in constant contact and communication with area non-profits to assist residents and with businesses to understand their needs during the pandemic. There are limited things local government can do, but they are staying involved to try and find solutions.

“Anyone that walks around can see stores that have or are closing. Going forward we need to look at things like, what are the processes it takes to open a new business, can we streamline and make it easier?” shares Freda. “It’s going to be an ongoing thing, where every day we have to pay attention and find ways we can assist.”

Creating the StrEATery on Witherspoon Street is one way. Just before Lempert’s term ended, the concept to keep the one-way traffic flow in place was approved. But a final design has not been made and Freda aims to find the best compromise between those that it will help and those it may hurt.

“You have people that own buildings, then people that own businesses in those buildings. And those two sets may not agree. Then you have people that live in town with opinions,” Freda notes. “As much as people say we want to stop having vehicles come into town, almost every business will tell you the majority of customers are from out of town. It’s a big balancing act.”

The elected officials are looking at the traffic study to see the impact on the neighboring area and gathering other information as they proceed.

Still moving forward is the Princeton Newsletter/COVID-19 Update. The multi-week Mayor’s email started by Mayor Lempert to keep residents informed about COVID-related topics and has continued under Mayor Freda. But, unlike Lempert, Freda doesn’t have experience as a writer and the newsletter has expanded to include other municipal-wide information. To allow the Mayor and Council to focus on business, the newsletter will now be compiled by an outside professional, with their input. The goal is to also include essential information from the county and Governor, so the public has one complete source to refer to, even once COVID is gone.


In the middle of our interview, Mark Freda’s radio went off with an emergency alert. Turns out, Princeton’s Mayor still holds his fulltime job at Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad and remains a volunteer firefighter. This explains a little about who Freda is. He started his municipal involvement volunteering with the squads in the 1970s.

Today he works from early morning until late at night to balance both. It helps him understand other agencies, too, and the essential need to work together. While campaigning, Freda promised to work with Mercer County officials and the Princeton Schools to spend money smarter and reiterated this vow at his swearing in.

“For a number of months before I came here, I tried to jump on (Freeholder) meetings and tried to jump in on other things individual County Commissioners have had. I’ve been on calls with the County Executive, trying to promote and improve the relationship. Trying to show up as much as I can and then from there…because you can’t just show up and bang on door to get something.,” Freda explains.

To start, he hopes to fully utilize all the county services we can, take advantage of its ability to do roadwork and see if it can help with emergency radio coverage in our area. The ultimate goal with the county and with schools is to not duplicate services and maximize the efficiency of what’s being done.

“With the schools, there’s a Council liaison to school, & a school liaison to Council. That group will have discussions and talk about whether there are things one or the other could do to help each other. At some point we need to talk about physical facilities, playing fields and parks and who does what and leverage them to meet needs of both schools and community.”

For our community, Freda is also working to advance the hiring of more diverse staff. The Human Services department and Civil Rights Commission have been in discussions, developing ideas to move forward with an Equity Tool Kit. Mayor Lempert expanded job posting efforts to include the African American Chamber of Commerce and the National Forum for Black Public Administrators and Mayor Freda is continuing that advancement with the current search for Municipal Administrator, to ensure they reach minority candidates.

“Let’s do the right things in our everyday activities, when opening up positions and otherwise, to make sure our practices have us giving an opportunity to everyone out there,” he says.


Freda, a Democrat, is working alongside a Council made up of six Democrats. There was not a Republican in the race for Mayor or Council this year. In national news, there has been a lot about the disparity between the two parties, but when working in local government, the Mayor says it’s not the same.

“Once you’re elected, you’re elected to represent everyone,” Freda believes. “At a local level, that should be so easy to do because 98% of the things that come up are not political. Whether someone is Democrat, Republican or Independent should never even be a consideration.”

Prior to this position, Freda has worn many hats in local government. He sat for 13 years on Borough Council, volunteered on the Public Works Committee and Planning Board and was the Township’s first Director of Emergency Services.

“I’ve lived in town my entire life and get out and about a bit,” says Freda. “Before the Democrats were in for decades and decades, Republicans were in.”


Whatever your party affiliation, Mayor Freda vows to continue listening. When campaigning, Freda admitted he’s not an expert on every topic and professed the importance of listening to those that know more than him. Now, in office, he also sees his staff as essential to this agenda.

“We have staff that have, in many cases, been sitting in their seats a long time. Their experience and knowledge are critical,” Freda states.

Critical to understanding where things have been in Princeton and where things should be headed.

Council has a full plate for 2021. Freda aims to help them work through it, to accomplish and address things as quickly as possible.

Editor’s Note

Good riddance 2020, hello 2021! Happy New Year, everyone!

Though the rollout is going slower than hoped, the COVID-19 vaccine is being administered, leading to some light at the end of a very long tunnel. If you haven’t yet signed up, you can add your name to the New Jersey Vaccine Scheduling System and the Princeton Vaccine Waitlist to be notified when the vaccine is available to you.

Politically, 84% of Princetonians voted for and were looking forward to the inauguration of President Biden as the political entry-point for 2021. While that is still to come, the attack on the U.S. Capitol has brought up difficult feelings and proceedings. An unprecedented 2nd Presidential impeachment was not what anyone anticipated.

Still, as we work our way through the winter of 2021, there is a lot to look forward to. Princeton Perspectives hopes to help you do that by Kickin’ Off a Great Year…the Princeton Way!

As momentum to start the new year, many people have focused on something to get excited about. In this month’s Pulse of Princeton, we compiled varied ideas as people responded to the question “What is something new you plan to do in 2021?” Have you thought of something for yourself?

2021 is also the perfect time to finally take that class you’ve been thinking of! Whether you are looking to advance professionally, learn a new hobby or a new skill – stop putting it off. In Expanding Your Potential we give you the impetus to move forward, by providing you with ideas and resources to do so. There are many options right here in Princeton, and also within reach world-over.

Something else in easy reach are simple tools to help your children in the new year. If there’s one constant comment heard lately it’s “Enough!” We’ve all had enough, and our kids are certainly ready for their lives to go back to “normal.” Until then, if the constant screens and Zoom classes are weighing on them, our guest author offers five distractions that are proven to help them destress in How to Inspire Your Children for 2021.

Perhaps it’s you that’s feeling uninspired. It’s only natural, in the cold of winter during a pandemic to simply be out of ideas of fun things to do! Wintery Wonderings in the New Year offers some new and reimagined outings that you may not have thought of yet. Read on to spark some exciting weekend plans!

If your weekend is yet another repeat of last weekend and the weekend before, lots of staring at the walls of your house, maybe it’s time to change up the view! New Year, New You: Home Makeover features simple ways that you can spruce up your home, make it more of a haven and give your Zoom partners something new to look at.

And don’t forget to scroll to the bottom of the homepage to get the latest in Perspectives Revisited, our chance to provide you with updates on stories we shared in previous issues.

The fallout of a 2nd impeachment and the beginning of a new Presidency have impacts here in Princeton. Not to mention welcoming a new Mayor. There is lots to talk about in politics, so we’ll bring it to you in the February issue of Princeton Perspectives.

Lastly, I leave asking you one favor. While we are delighted that our readership has grown incredibly over the past 10 months, we’d love to reach even more people. Please, forward this issue to at least one friend or family member. If they love it, ask them to forward it as well! And don’t forget, if we’re not arriving in your inbox you can sign up here to get the new issue when it posts!

Happy 2021!

The Pulse of Princeton: What is something new you plan to do in 2021?

We’d love to include YOUR perspective! If you or someone you know would like to contribute a video for next month’s Pulse of Princeton, click here and provide your name and email address to be contacted.

Expanding Your Potential

What if you repurposed the time you had used to commute to work and instead of working more hours from home, took a class that might teach you a new hobby? If you’re a stay-at-home parent, and you find yourself home more now, would you feel better fulfilled if you engaged an hour a week in an academic course? Or how about testing out a new career, with an online certification class?

Most of us spent 2020 slowing down, sometimes feeling trapped at home. So, 2021 is the year to take hold of all of those things you’ve dreamt of this past year, or maybe even longer. There are many options in Princeton and beyond to expand your experiences and potential without making a major commitment.

With one of the leading academic institutions in our own backyard, it’s natural to think of Princeton University. Its Community Auditing Program (CAP) offers a chance for area residents to learn from its esteemed faculty without being matriculated students. Regularly, more than 130 courses are offered on campus across 35 academic departments, bringing in 600-700 auditors per session. When COVID-19 forced University classes online, auditing went virtual as well.

“Participation in Fall 2020 semester was less than in prior years,” explains Michael Hotchkiss, Deputy University Spokesperson. “More than 400 auditors registered for 87 virtual courses in the just-ended semester. We have heard anecdotally that participants enjoyed the virtual classes in the fall semester.”

Unfortunately, registration for this spring’s virtual auditing program is already closed. If attending courses at Princeton University is on your to-do list, you may have to wait until fall to do so (registration for Fall 2021’s Community Auditing Program begins June 1st).

However, there are other opportunities to learn from Princeton University educators right now. 25 Princeton University courses, ranging in topic from “Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies” to “Paradoxes of War” are available online and open to everyone through the platforms Coursera, EdX or Kadenze. To fit your lifestyle, many of these courses can be done at your own pace. If you are simply looking to expand your mind, the courses are free to audit. However, for a small fee, you can often earn a University-backed certificate of accomplishment, which may help you professionally (note, unlike these online courses, CAP courses do not offer certificates). Companies also purchase certificate options to many of the offerings on these online education platforms for their employees to advance, so if you’re interested, you should ask your employer before enrolling.

The wonders of the internet also provide you the chance to learn from other non-local, world-renowned universities. For example, of the 3,100 currently active courses on Coursera, 32 are being offered by Yale University. Ian Shapiro, Yale’s Sterling Professor of Political Science, offers his intro course Moral Foundation of Politics on Coursera. To make it more engaging, he hired actors to portray students and he interacts with them in the lecture videos he posts online. Unlike most Coursera classes, he also offers his students virtual office hours.

“My Teaching Assistant (TA) and I set up chatrooms in the course. Students can go into discussion forums and talk to one another. My TA would look at the chatrooms and then summarize the chatroom questions for me, which I would then answer, record on video and post for the students,” Shapiro shares.

Since 2016, nearly 150,000 people have enrolled in this course and student engagement is now 400% higher than before the pandemic. And more people are completing courses, too. Coursera had a 2% completion rate for most courses pre-pandemic, now it is 17%. Additionally, you’ll be learning with people worldwide.

“What I actually like most of all is the international dimension. A lot of the emails I get are from India, Latin America, people saying that where they are from, it’s this course or no course,” Shapiro explains. “So, the way we make top American courses free worldwide to anyone that has a cell phone – that’s the feature of it I like most.”

Beyond these platforms, the pandemic has also made other international academic offerings accessible for 2021. Is Oxford on your bucket list? No problem! As a direct response to the pandemic, University of Oxford created Weekly Oxford Worldwide (WOW). The program launched last October with 787 students, from 74 countries and is a mixture of 10 recorded lectures and 10 live sessions, all online. Unfortunately, WOW Course enrollment has already closed for the upcoming session, but don’t dismay, as sessions will open for later this spring and again for summer. Oxford also offers over 100 online short courses, many of which still have openings that you can take now.

“Our short online courses are asynchronous – there are no ‘live’ meetings. The interaction takes place in online forums,” details Gail Anderson, Head of Communications and Marketing for Oxford University Department for Continuing Education. “The asynchronous nature of these means that people can take them from anywhere in the world, and study at whatever time of day it suits them.”

So, the Eastern Time zone here in Princeton will accommodate just fine! There is a fee to enroll in these Oxford classes, and you can additionally opt to earn credit and receive a certificate of completion.

In our time zone, did you know that nearly 200 courses are also being offered for the upcoming session of Princeton Adult School? The courses, traditionally held in person at Princeton High School, are now mostly offered via Zoom and other online formats, allowing you to dabble in that hobby you always talked about, learn the language for the country you dream to visit or advance your skills to become more appealing in the job market. The virtual nature also enables Princeton Adult School to utilize top educators from all over the country, and for your former roommate in California to sign up with you! The topics cover nearly every interest.

“Our bridge classes and our beginning language classes in French and Spanish usually sell out. Last semester everyone wanted to doodle, draw and paint,” shares Princeton Adult School’s Executive Director Anne Brener. “Photography classes fill up and bead weaving, people want to do things with their hands.”

Princeton Adult School’s offerings range from fun and entertaining to fully immersive and career-advancing. The Queen’s Gambit has created an appetite for chess, so Princeton Adult School partnered with nationally ranked Chess players at Princeton University to teach a new class this spring. Olsson’s Fine Foods, from Palmer Square, will drop off or ship supplies to enable you to take part in “Mozzarella-Making at a Distance” or one of their other cheese-making classes. And if you’re looking for LinkedIn strategies, how to pick a foolproof password or how to work from home more efficiently, there are courses for that, too.

“We have a whole area on business and technology,” adds Brener. “Knitting, crocheting, good art courses, literature and writing – some people are looking at it to use professionally and some people just want to write.”

34 different art classes are also being offered for spring, mostly online. But if you yearn to get together and be outside, there is watercolor painting to be held at Hinds Plaza, following CDC guidelines.

If the artistic part of your brain is yearning for inspiration, arts opportunities are vast in our area. After offering a plein air oil painting class outdoors last year, West Windsor Arts Council may offer some outdoor options for spring. At this point, a variety of classes for all skill levels including painting, drawing, gentle yoga and poetry writing are currently planned to be virtual and are registering now.

There are also numerous classes at the Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) where adults can engage artistically, with both virtual and small group, in person classes being offered.

Despite the pandemic, the desire has grown for in-studio ceramic classes. So, they have been expanded to offer more open studio time to hone skills developing wheel-throwing and hand-building techniques.

“In-person ceramics classes follow all COVID-19 safety guidelines,” notes Melissa Kuscin, Programming/Marketing Director for Arts Council of Princeton. “Wheel throwing stations are set at least 6 feet apart to ensure social distancing, class size is limited, materials are not shared, and masks are required at all times. Students are assigned a station for the duration of the semester and all surfaces in the studio are cleaned with industrial-strength disinfectant after each class.”

In addition to ceramics, ACP hosts many painting and drawing classes. It also offers a chance for other artistic endeavors into writing, children’s book illustration, fiber arts, sewing, even Flamenco dancing.

Expanding your potential is both mental and physical. For more dancing opportunities, one could also explore classes at Princeton Ballet School. With enhanced air purification systems in its facilities and social distancing and mask requirements, the school’s Open Division offers in-person classes for those ages 13 and older. You could start as a beginner in ballet or enter in an intermediate or advanced class. There are also offerings in modern, BioMechanics and CardioBallet. Small in-person and virtual class options are available, too.

“We have something for everyone,” says Julie Diana Hench, Executive Director of Princeton Ballet School and American Repertory Ballet. “If you are age 3 to 103, you can choose from a variety of classes, featuring outstanding faculty, live music and flexible schedules.”

If you like the arabesque, you can enjoy it in ballet class or learn about other creatures that stand on one leg! Though the pandemic has limited some opportunities, learning about the creatures and plants that surround us continues at The Watershed Institute in Hopewell. A two-part Zoom and in-person class about Owls was offered last week and will again take place in February, and a four-session course about eco-poetry begins later this month.

Whether your interests lie in nature, the arts, academics, technology or beyond, the in-person and virtual worldwide opportunities in 2021 are endless. And thanks to the expanse of virtual learning, you could sign up with a friend from Chicago or your cousin from Houston!

Challenge yourself to take on one new thing, either for personal or professional gain. Your expanded mind will thank you.

Wintery Wonderings in the New Year

There’s no question, COVID has taken away or altered many of the outings and recreational activities we’ve previously enjoyed. Add the colder weather, and some of the outdoor options we’d turned to are severely limited. But that doesn’t mean you need to be stuck inside all winter. There are many things to do in the Princeton area that can kick-start fun and exploration in the new year!


Princeton is a unique suburb with its robust collection of restaurants and eateries. Just because COVID-life has limited indoor and outdoor seating doesn’t mean one can’t eat out and indulge! Now is your chance to safely explore the options and find your favorites, with a food tour taste test.

First, pick the food you want to sample (my family tried it with grilled cheese). Then determine the locations where it is offered, but remember you will be buying and tasting each so you may not want too many (we narrowed down 6 locales, as some places were not open the day we toured). Define the parameters for which you will judge a winner (ranking on looks and taste, we voted on a scale of 1 to 10 for each). Lastly, drive into town and either park and walk from site to site (preferred, since it’s a lot of eating) or if your locations are spread out, drive from one to another.

One advantage of COVID is the ease of ordering ahead (whether by phone or online) and curbside pick-up (if you go by car!). This limits your wait times upon arrival! At each stop, we divided our sandwich into four parts (for our family of four) and we sampled, voted and recorded our opinions. Then we moved onto the next. To keep things comparable, try your best to order the same item at every site. We chose the basic grilled cheese sandwich from Princeton Soup & Sandwich, Say Cheez Cafe, PJs Pancake House, Chuck’s Spring Street Cafe, D’Angelo Italian Market and Hoagie Haven. There were some disappointments but also delicious surprises, and it certainly was a boisterous and filling afternoon! I won’t tell you who we picked as the winner, but one eatery did score 9s for both looks and taste! I would love to hear from you when you give it a try!

If grilled cheese is not your thing, there are plenty of other options. You can certainly enjoy a Princeton hot chocolate crawl (we did this tour a few days later)! Princeton Online’s Social Media Editor has crafted a list you can find here!


Beyond food, this season can be full of snowfall and winter vegetation, which can create a beautiful backdrop for photoshoots! Typically planned in warmer weather, wintertime can create picture-perfect ambiance with bright sunny days and light reflecting off the snow! And right now, after the holidays, is the perfect time.

“Take advantage of this downtime to plan a photoshoot with a fun wardrobe and accessories!” suggests Jen Davis of Photography by Jen Davis. “Cuddle with blankets, make s’mores near your outdoor fire pit, sip hot chocolate and have fun together! Popular locations are emptier, and the winter light is beautiful and soft.”

This can be a great socially distant activity for kids with their friends with poses, varied accessories and pure silliness. For your family, it’s a good excuse to get everyone out of the house! Hire a professional to capture the moments or simply head out with a pair of fingerless gloves, your iPhone and a tripod. It will be fun to get creative and change out of your loungewear, too!

Beyond your own backyard, there are many sites in our area that help make great photographs. Davis says the grounds of Princeton University provide a perfect backdrop, with the beautiful architecture and ivy that sticks around all winter. The tree-lined drive and historical features at Princeton Battlefield as well as the pond and walking trails at Hamilton’s Sayen Gardens can also add warmth to your winter-time photos. Visiting sites at non-traditional times can also be appealing.

“Local Christmas tree farms are always a fun location, especially after the holidays in their off-season,” adds Davis.

And what speaks winter more than Christmas trees?


Beyond decorating, trees offer another activity that can be fun for all ages. Did you know that Marquand Park is home to over 108 species of trees? In addition to the walking paths, playground/sand area and ball field, the 17-acre historic preserve contains an arboretum and woodlands.

“The grounds of Marquand Park had been under the ownership of several horticulturists before it was given to the town in 1953,” explains Rebecca Flemer, Board Member of the Marquand Park Foundation. “First was Judge Richard S. Field who built the house and spent at least ten years planning and executing his garden. The next owner, Susan Brown, collected roses, Japanese maples, and other varietals. Finally, Eleanor Marquand, wife of Princeton professor Allan Marquand, carried on with planting trees and established elaborate flower beds (no longer in existence). The board of trustees for the park has continued planting trees and the park is now recognized as a Grade 1 Accredited Arboretum by the American Public Garden Association.”

In addition to listings of every species on the park’s website, each tree is uniquely identified. There are a few digital options to guide you through. You can walk around with your phone and pull up the Marquand Park inventory map, then click on each pin to learn information about that specific tree. There are Google Earth tours of the historic and unique trees within the park and also an OAKtober tour (created last October), detailing the park’s Oak trees. If you prefer to be guided by an expert, Princeton Adult School’s “Name that Tree” course will offer a Zoom and socially distant on-site class later this spring.

For another timber-filled location, head over to the Grounds for Sculpture, home not only to a vast variety of outdoor art and sculptures but also to more than 70 species of trees! Winter is a wonderful time to explore all of the horticulture and an interactive map is available to provide information as you wander the property.

“In January, the trailing, viny shrub of the Winter Jasmine (jasminum nudiflorum) springs to life with bright yellow flowers; and in late February, the Flowering Plum Tree (prunus mume) reveals white and light pink spring blossoms signaling the advent of spring,” explains George Chevalier, Grounds for Sculpture’s Manager of Marketing.

Grounds for Sculpture traditionally closes down in the winter months but found it offers a unique outdoor opportunity for many during this pandemic. In addition to in-person and virtual class offerings, they’ve extended their season so you can explore the trees and artwork on site. Through March 31st advance timed tickets will be reduced to $10/person, remember to plan ahead.


There are also things one can do outdoors to keep your heart pumping! Many people began or rekindled their relationships with nature when COVID forced more outdoor activity and that doesn’t need to end just because the weather is colder.

After writing the article Tracks and Trails – the Hidden Gems all Around Us for Princeton Perspectives’ June issue, my family spent many weekends picking out hikes to try. One of our favorites was the Rockhopper Trail, which traverses back and forth over the creek and has beautiful wooded scenery. Portions of this area were once used by the Continental Army during the Battle of Monmouth. Though that took place in the warm air of June (in 1778), you can try to imagine their journey as you walk through now.

With fallen leaves and other natural shifts, even a hike you took this summer or fall may feel completely different this season. Just beware of any ice and be sure to wear sturdy shoes.

If hiking with friends or your family, you might want to go to Herrontown Woods and explore the Princeton Botanical Art Garden. You may also enjoy the wide trails around Greenway Meadows, at the Pennington Loop and at St. Michael’s Farm Preserve.

“St. Michaels Farm Preserve is my favorite hike in winter because it offers a variety of habitat to enjoy,” shares Tina Notas, D&R Greenway’s Director of Land Stewardship. “I enjoy taking my family on trails through the farm fields and woods where you can see and hear various winter birds including American kestrels, Northern harriers, Eastern bluebirds, different species of sparrows, and woodpeckers.”

Your family might also be entertained by the trail and tributary crossings found in the new preserve in the Sourlands, The Woosamosa Ridge Trail. Another advantage to winter hiking is thinner crowds. On wider trails it is less of an issue, but if you prefer terrains with a narrow path, this may be the time to try them. Dry Run Creek, Sourlands Ecosystem Preserve and Omick Woods all offer great winter hikes via a narrower walking path.

While many are loving the family time the pandemic has forced on us, you may also be looking for an opportunity to be alone. Pryde’s Point Preserve can be a great option for solitude.

“I like to park at the Rocktown Lambertville Rd parking lot and head down the yellow trail to the cottage. Upon arriving at the cottage, I love to check out the spring house and then wander down the red trail,” explains Carolyn Klaube, Sourland Conservancy Stewardship Coordinator. “The sound of the Alexauken creek running over all those boulders is like stress cleanse to a busy mind. I sometimes just stop and stare into the deep pools and daydream of warmer days and dipping my toes into the cold, clean water.”

Mountain Lakes Preserve offers some easy terrain that can be enjoyed when snow-covered. Cedar Ridge Preserve, also relatively flat, can be fun in winter as you observe birds and the trees and shrubs around. If you prefer more varied surface options, head to Sourland Mountain Preserve in Montgomery and Hillsborough with opportunities from beginner to more experienced. And if you have the gear and enjoy the adventure, Baldpate Mountain offers wonderful winter hikes and also some back-country skiing (though it is closed Wed-Sat until Feb 13th for Deer Management)!

Perhaps you prefer to enjoy the outdoors in a more manicured environment? The synthetic ice skating rink at Palmer Square has once again been set up and will remain behind the Nassau Inn through the winter season. Masks are required and all skates are disinfected between use.

The Ice Skating Center at Mercer County Park is also open for the season. A bit protected from the elements with a rooftop, the facility is open-sided. Due to COVID-19, the rink is operating with a limited capacity of 25 people, no skate rentals and masks must be worn at all times. It also closes between sessions for cleaning. You can find the January public skating schedule here.

Finally, playing around in the snow is the easiest way to be active outdoors! You can go sledding at some of Princeton’s favorite hills including at Smoyer Park, Springdale Country Club, Greenway Meadows and off the parking lot of the Westminster Choir College.

Or, you can play in your own yard! I challenge you to organize a neighborhood snowman contest after the next major snowfall! It’s the perfect socially distant yet socially engaging event! To be completely COVID-safe, you can plan it all online by creating a sign-up genius for neighbors to participate, emailing out the rules and timeframe and asking all to vote via an online Google Doc Voting Form.

So pray for some snow, get out, enjoy and live up the winter! However you choose to kick-start your escapades, I hope you enjoy the fresh air while you create some wonderful memories!

Editor’s Note

For most of us alive today, there has never been a year like 2020. While there has been war and strife, nothing has taken place on American soil (since the Spanish flu) to keep us from gathering with family and friends, enjoying activities and life as we’d like. The pandemic has been the most life-altering, but the year has also been host to heightened protests for racial equity, severe economic struggles for many, and political divisions like none can recall. I suppose we should feel lucky in Princeton that we weren’t also attacked by raging wildfires, like those on the west coast.

Going through trauma and tragedy hardly leaves anyone unscathed. Those scars can be hard to get past or they can be viewed as opportunities. In this month’s issue of Princeton Perspectives, How has 2020 Shaped Princeton?, we look at who has been affected and how.

We start with our Pulse of Princeton, to hear from our community. And we asked, “How has 2020 shaped you?” Click the video to see their viewpoints.

Then we took it a step further and asked even more people. While it’s impossible to know the true reality of all 28,000+ residents, we are able to share with you a snapshot of what several are experiencing in 2020 and the People of Princeton. Using a survey of 80 people, Princeton Perspectives details how they have been affected, what their experiences have been like and how they feel about the world around them.

A sector of that population, the students, have been harshly hit by a pandemic that quickly and dramatically altered the way they learn, the way they are taught, the way they socialize and so much more. But, as our guest writer shows us, they may well be the most resilient of our population. While there certainly have been struggles, there is great optimism in 2020 and the Strength of our Children.

As a whole, how has Princeton fared? Some aspects of our government, businesses and local resources received demands for change in 2020 and others simply had to succumb. But none have endured the year without a fight. In the Face of 2020, Princeton Stands Tall takes a look at the changes that came about this year, the tools that were used to get by and where that leaves everything heading into 2021.

Of course, Princeton is not Princeton without our local nonprofits. We are a town comprised of volunteers and organizations eager to help. Yet, despite the best intentions, it wasn’t easy this year. In 2020: Its Effects on Princeton Nonprofits our guest writer gives us insight into the ways organizations have adapted to provide what they needed for our community.

And lastly, don’t forget to scroll to the bottom of the homepage and check out this month’s Perspectives Revisited, as we give you some current information on articles of the past.

There is a bleak outlook for winter as the country’s top medical experts tell us the worst is yet to come. But the vaccine is rolling out and the best way to cope is to take charge of what you can. In January, Princeton Perspectives will help you kick off the new year with a collection of ways to look ahead, take care of yourself and your loved ones. Though your options seem limited, there is a lot in and around Princeton to look forward to!

2020 is the year we launched Princeton Perspectives and is has been greater than we could have imagined. We thank you for opening your arms to us and for your loyal readership. Please continue to share Princeton Perspectives with friends and family and click here to be added to our distribution list. As 2020 comes to an end, embrace yourself with the wonders of the holidays. Whether you celebrate or not, enjoy the lights, the decorations and the spirit of joy that has come into town. We wish you all Happy Holidays and a very Happy New Year!  See you in 2021!

Pulse of Princeton: How has 2020 shaped you?

We’d love to include YOUR perspective! If you’d like to contribute a video for next month’s Pulse of Princeton, click here and provide your name and email address to be contacted.