Last Hurrahs of Summer – Fun Things to Do You Haven’t Thought of Yet!

Now is the time for your last hurrah of summer! With Labor Day falling one week into September, most schools in the area are starting September 8th or later. Public schools in Princeton are planning to start even later than that, on September 14th. That leaves plenty of time to get out and explore!

While there are many great things to do in the Princeton area, after five months of the pandemic you may be grasping for new ideas. And it can be fun and rejuvenating to have a change of scenery. If your summer vacation plans were sidelined and you’d love an opportunity to feel like you got away – even if it’s a stay-cation – we have ideas for you! From day trips to short get-aways, even a trip to help you through remote schooling…all suggested with the safety of COVID-19 in mind. We’ve kept our suggestions local and within New York and Pennsylvania, currently safe options for travel. If you prefer to stay home and entertain with some friends in your yard, we’ve got safe ideas for that, too!

Day Trips

It is always nice to wake up with something to look forward to.  If you have little ones, there is a great animal farm to explore just a one-hour drive from Princeton. Brookhollow’s Barnyard in Boonton, NJ has figured out how to attract visitors that want to ensure their children can enjoy the animals in complete safety.  How do they do that? With a drive-thru car tour experience!

“What an incredible, super safe and fun experience for Leo!” says Daryl Rothman, whose son just turned one. “I cannot speak more highly of this wonderful and safe experience for kids! They allow you to bring your own carrots so you can throw them to the animals from the window, and they mandate that nobody can get out of their car! Leo had so much fun waving to the animals and saying “hi” to them from our window!“

Drive-thru tickets are available for Sundays only, with one low cost per car for a one-hour experience. You can drive through as many times as possible during that hour. If you are comfortable walking around, Brookhollow’s Barnyard also offers individual walk-thru tickets for each person over age 2, Tuesday-Saturday. Each time slot is limited to 45 people and face masks are not required if you safely social distance. Tickets are released at 10am each day, for the following day.

For children of all ages, another great outing located one-hour away is in Bucks County, PA.  Bring your own hammer and head to Ringing Rocks Park located in Upper Black Eddy. This 128-acre park has a giant boulder field and the rocks resonate when struck with a hammer.  Sue Evans recently made the drive from Princeton with her husband and tween daughter.

“When we were there, we saw all ages, toddlers and there were a lot of teens. The field is huge and the more adventurous climbed all the way across, hitting rocks all the way,” she shared.

Evans notes that hammers really work best. They tried a wrench, and it didn’t create much sound. Interestingly, only about 1/3 of the rocks are audible to the human ear, but those that are, make great music! Ringing Rocks Park is also home to Bucks County’s largest waterfall.

Photo Courtesy: Friends of Read Wildlife Sanctuary

If you’re willing to make a 2-hour day trip, there are a few great options crossing north into New York state. For an outdoor experience with birds and marine life, drive up to Rye, NY for a day at the Edith G. Read Natural Park and Wildlife Sanctuary located on the shore of the Long Island Sound. The grounds are open from dawn til dusk though the nature building is currently closed due to COVID. Recognized as an “Important Bird Area” by the National Audubon Society, the 179-acre sanctuary has three miles of walking trails and ¼ mile of shoreline along the sound. The publicly accessible shore has an intertidal habitat home to an array of plants and animals. Near the water, you can spot Osprey nesting on the platform. This is a great outing to take now, but also one to keep it in mind if you want to get away when the weather turns. In winter months, the lake becomes home to 5,000 ducks and you can spot owls, blue herons, loons and more.

If you’ve already taken in the outdoor art experience at nearby Grounds for Sculpture, which has recently reopened, there is another grand outdoor art option in the Hudson Valley, New York. There you can immerse yourself in art and environment at Storm King Art Center, a 500-acre open air modern sculpture park located about 2 hours from Princeton.

Photo Courtesy: Storm King Art Center

“Every visit to Storm King is different, changing seasons, weather conditions, and even the time of day offer new ways to experience art in nature,” states John P. Stern, Storm King Art Center President. “The Art Center’s dramatic landscape has been designed, preserved, and maintained to accommodate and enhance the collection, frame vistas, and encourage movement through the site. In collaboration with artists, we thoughtfully place artwork that is bold, ambitious, and often site-specific.”

There are two new exhibitions this year from artists Kiki Smith (Kiki Smith River Light includes two large-scale flag installations–Hudson River (2020) and River Light (2019)) and Martha Tuttle (Outlooks: Martha Tuttle presents carefully sited stone stackings, or cairns, which the artist made from more than eighty hand-molded glass and marble stones placed atop larger boulders selected from Storm King’s grounds).

The center just reopened in July and plans to remain open for the 2020 season until early December. Storm King is currently an outdoor-only experience with social distancing due to COVID, and no tours are operating. But you can use their audio guide by texting STORM to 56512. (No download required but message and data rates may apply). If you’d like to eat on the property, you can order 24-hours in advance and pick up food from their outdoor café.

Timed-entry ticket are available in advance, based on the number of people in your car. You must arrive on-site during the hour printed on the ticket. Currently, the website is offering spots through August 31st. The next block of tickets will be available starting at noon on Wednesday, August 19 for visits through September 14.

Photo Courtesy: The Bannerman Castle Trust

Pollepel (Bannerman) Island is a great day outing also about a two-hour drive from Princeton to the lower part of Dutchess County, NY. Bannerman Castle, the main attraction, is an historic military warehouse. Designed as a simulation of a Scottish castle with construction beginning in 1901, the father of the army navy store used it to house tons of surplus military supplies he acquired. The arsenal caught fire in 1969, leaving ruins of the castle and his former residence open and partially standing. You have the option of taking a 20-minute boat ride from Beacon, NY along the Hudson River to the 13.4-acre island. Alternatively, you can kayak, canoe or take your own small boat to the island and enjoy the castle and beautiful gardens.

“There’s a ruin of an incredible castle there…you don’t have that very often in America,” explains Neil Caplan, Executive Director and Founder of The Bannerman Castle Trust. “All the buildings were pretty much ruined. The residence, now a Visitor’s Center, had no roof, floors, nothing – just poison ivy and trees. Now it’s got roofs and floors. We normally have people coming from all over the world to see it.”

Photo Courtesy: John Morzen Photography

The facility has adapted with many new safety regulations for the pandemic. The boat, which normally takes 45 people at a time, is only taking 20 (with masks required). Everything is sprayed down and cleaned regularly. And the residence, allowing only 10 people in at a time, has been altered so there is nothing inside to touch (the gift shop has been moved outside). Once you arrive on the island, you’ll hear a 25-minute informative talk and then have 1.5 hours to enjoy the property (masks can be removed when properly socially distant).

The season runs until October 31st and you should book a week in advance, if possible. You can also get tickets to attend two special events – a Chef’s Consortium Farm Fresh Dinner on September 5th which will be served like a dinner picnic box with musicians playing, an art sale and raffle. Tickets for a concert with world-renowned classical rock violinist, Daisy Joplin, are also on sale for September 30, 31, October 1, 2, and 3. Only 40 people are allowed at each performance, which will be accompanied by a light show on the castle.

Overnight Get-Aways – for now and yearlong!

If you’d like to go away for a night or more, there is a lot to consider during the pandemic. There are currently 35 states on New Jersey’s travel restriction list. That means if you travel to one, you must quarantine for 14 days upon returning – even if that time overlaps with the beginning of school. Our two suggested travel sites alleviate some concerns by offering outdoorsy vacations without requiring a quarantine.

Photo Courtesy: TripAdvisor

The first is across the border in New York state. Ward Pound Ridge Reservation has options for both the novice and experienced camper, offering lean-to and tent options for sleeping. Both have limited availability right now due to social distancing protocols. Located 2-hours away in Westchester County, the reservation sits on 4,315 acres of land.

Ward Pound Ridge is home to an incredible diversity of wildlife including wood turtles, raccoons, great-horned owls, cliff swallows and woodpeckers. On the grounds you can hike amongst the 41 miles of trails or go horseback riding, for an additional fee. Fly fishing is available in the park in Cross River and there is also fishing allowed in two streams that run through the park, home to 13 species of native and stocked fish. A NY State fishing license may be required.

If you prefer the outdoor experience with more organized activities and a building with beds (bunk beds!), you can travel to northern New Jersey, just below the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and spend time at Fairview Lake YMCA. Their Family Camp is offered with weekly cabin rentals Sunday-Friday until Labor Day then Monday-Friday or weekends only through Thanksgiving. Protocols, such as family-assigned dining tables, water coolers and life vests, as well as extreme sanitization measures have been put in place to protect from the novel coronavirus.

Photo Courtesy: Fairview Lake YMCA Camps

“Family camping has become a wildly popular option for lots of families,” shares Fairview Lake YMCA Executive Director Marc Koch. “They come here, get their own cabin, and with such a great big outdoor setting, they feel comfortable with social distancing. It’s the only time families have the opportunity to do something like this, at least in our 106-year history.”

Each cabin is equipped with bunk beds, flush toilets and showers. In the warm months, there is an exchange unit that circulates the cool lake air and heat is included in the colder months. The Family Camp fee includes the cabin rental (for up to a family of 4, plus cost for each additional person), breakfast and dinner daily and all activities except horseback riding. The 110-acre lake and 660-acres of camp offers paddle boarding and other lake activities, archery, ax throwing, hikes, court games, an animal farm and more.

If you can’t get away before school begins, Fairview Lake YMCA is extending its day camp into the entire school year – an interesting option if your child is schooling remotely or your school is offering an A/B weekly hybrid model. For an added fee, you can rent a cabin but also have your child take part in the day camp while you work off the camp’s Wifi (available in and outside of the dining hall and main lodge). Located at the other end of the mile-long lake, the day camp will offer activities 2 or 3 days per week, and also includes help from their online learning support staff to tackle your child’s remote learning assignments before day’s end.

Entertaining at Home

If you are not able or do not want to travel elsewhere, you can create a fun experience with friends or family at home. It can feel awkward to remind guests to stay socially distant, so we suggest you set up the environment to naturally do so.

Barbara Majeski, a television contributor who brings audiences the best in lifestyle and entertainment as a featured regular on Today, Good Day NY and Fox & Friends, says it’s easy to maintain social distancing if you mark it out.

“Stars (or any shape) in your backyard are a great way to physically show your guests where they should sit to keep everyone 6 feet apart! Using spray chalk and a stencil, make stars in your backyard, driveway or open lot that are all spaced 6 feet apart,” details Majeski.

Supplies needed:

  • Cardboard
  • Marker
  • Scissors
  • Spray chalk
  • Tape Measure

How To: 1. Take your large piece of cardboard and draw a large star on it. 2. Cut out your star and use it as a stencil. 3. Use your tape measure to space the stars 6 feet apart. 4. Lay down the stencil, grab your spray chalk and create the perfect star on your grass!

To help keep everyone spaced apart, Majeski also recommends creating individual meal baskets.

“Buffets are not en vogue this year but enjoying a meal with friends while adhering to social distance protocols is in style. Each small, dollar store basket includes individually wrapped sandwiches. I suggest going to Olives, Hoagie Haven or Princeton Soup & Sandwich, then you include individual condiments, a bag of chips, and individual salads in a cup!”

If you prefer your company wear masks when not eating, you should make that clear on the invitation. To be safe, you could buy some to have on hand. Majeski suggests local manufacturer Locked Down Designs , which has over 150 fabrics in stock and ready to ship, sized for both children and adults. You could also pick up your masks right here in Pennington.

The most important factor to consider, whether you are staying close to home, taking a day trip or getting away for a night or more is to be safe. Remember the COVID-19 protocols. Once you’ve got those in order, take the time to escape and create a moment, day or week to remember!

Editor’s Note

Movements for civil rights are not new. They date back generations, even centuries. In recent decades, the United States has seen cries for help, with protests breaking out around the country over police brutality and racial injustice. The movements start and then they seem to lose steam. Most people go back to their lives – until the next time.

In late May, George Floyd was killed in police custody. The horrifying moment, caught on video, went viral. The protests that started in Floyd’s hometown of Minneapolis quickly spread across the state, the country and the world. This time, people seem to be engaged in a different way.

This time people are making changes they were never willing to make. Schools and sports teams, that had refused in the past, are changing their names. People are being promoted to advance racial literacy in their environments, not held back. There seems to be a momentum like never before.

The first major protest in Princeton was on June 1st, and in short time the municipal government, schools and businesses declared they would act differently. In the two and a half months since, where has this movement taken us? We take a local look at what has changed and what still needs to happen in this issue of Princeton Perspectives, When the Dust Settles – How a Community Turns Awareness into Action.

In The Pulse of Princeton video, you can see and hear the perspectives of African Americans, as teachers, parents, civic leaders and more from our town answer – What needs to change in Princeton today to combat racism?

The Reverend Lukata Mjumbe, pastor of the historically black Witherspoon Presbyterian Church, has spent a lifetime fighting for racial justice. He shares his message in our first article, Knowing Justice, Knowing Peace.

Knowing and doing are two different things. The Municipal Reaction to Racism takes us inside local government. Through interviews with Mayor Liz Lempert, Police Chief Nick Sutter and more we find out what Princeton has done and how the municipality intends to change.

Change is not easy but perhaps it can come if we start earlier. Educating today’s children in social justice and having institutions that educate about racism could make a difference. Schools in Princeton: Their Roles in Combatting Racism shares the ways some schools in town are reviewing their roles and altering their ways.

To make change, groups must talk and learn from each other. In Five Point Guide to White Allyship social justice leaders from our area provide concrete ways to begin the path forward, working together.

Despite all of the hardships that have been cast upon us these past few months, we hope you are finding ways to enjoy the summer. Before we know it, the warm days will give way to fall. In our August issue, we’ll help you prepare for the change as we take a look at some of the COVID-19 realities of returning to school, how you can best prepare or how you could be making other arrangements. We’ll also help you plan your last hurrah – making the end of summer days to remember!

Stay healthy and Safe!

The Pulse of Princeton: What needs to change in Princeton today to combat racism?

Teachers, parents, civic leaders, and more…Black voices share their perspectives. Play the video to hear them.

The Municipal Reaction to Racism

According to Federal census records, in 1838 the twelve last known slaves were recorded in Princeton Township, NJ. As they and the slaves before them gained their freedom, they began to settle on Witherspoon Street. Through the 1800s, the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood became home to Princeton’s Black community.

It was a segregated part of town. In 1858 the first school, exclusively for Black children, was created. Unwelcomed in most stores, restaurants, beauty parlors and bars in town, in the 1900s they built their own. In 1916, Princeton High School was integrated, but lower schools did not do so until 1948, when mandated by law.

In the 1930s, large numbers of African Americans were displaced, moved further from where many worked at the university to Birch Avenue, as downtown development took over their neighborhood. Though Princeton as a society has integrated through the years, many African Americans today contend the rising costs of housing pushes them out and that education and employment opportunities remain unequal.

Last month, thousands of locals gathered at the gates of Princeton University to protest racism, to demand better treatment of Blacks and that as a community we work harder to ensure all opportunities – housing, education and economic – be as available to them as to their neighbors of other races. The protests occurred at the same gates that had at one time been locked to keep out the nearby African American residents from town.

The recent rallying cry led the municipal government to take a closer look at its role in enacting change. On June 8, 2020 Princeton Town Council passed a resolution declaring racism a public health crisis. It is a means for the municipality to assess internal policies and procedures and advocate for relevant ways to dismantle racism.

“It’s not like this was a sudden realization. We have been working to try to reverse the decades and centuries of problems,” explains Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert, noting the re-establishment of the Civil Rights Commission as a stand-alone advisory body in 2017.

Since the passing of the resolution, the Civil Rights Commission has been tasked with trying to find the right national framework on racial equity to guide municipal practice.

“I found it useful for other initiatives we have worked on to be plugged into a wider network. We can learn from other communities and they can learn from us. It helps what we’re doing here have a greater impact and vice versa,” adds Lempert.

As a government entity, Princeton is trying to be more intentional in diversity and hiring. Though it remains largely Caucasian, the percentage of African Americans and Hispanics hired by Princeton is greater than those represented in the general population as compared to the 2019 Census numbers for Princeton:

Racial Demographics of Princeton Municipal Staff

Percentage # Employed
Caucasian 78% 201
African American 10% 27
Hispanic or Latino 10% 26
Asian 1% 4
2 or more Races 0.30% 1
Total Employed: 259

2019 Census Numbers for Princeton, NJ

Source: United States Census Bureau, 2019

Lempert knows they can still do better. Employees are required to attend diversity training twice a year. To fill open roles, the municipality is advertising and recruiting with professional networks that will help diversify its candidate pool.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the mayor notes racial disparities have become even more apparent with people of color in New Jersey being disproportionately hurt by both the medical and financial aspects of the pandemic. To help, the town is offering quarantine housing for anyone with a positive COVID-19 test, facilitating the development of a small business resiliency fund – with priority given to women and minority owned businesses – and other services.

To help create a more diverse stock of housing options, Lempert looks to the increase of affordable housing recently approved and partially funded by Princeton. The allocation of funds in the municipal budget also plays a role in various agencies abilities to respond to the needs of the community. Retirements and restructuring of some departments help adjust the budgets annually.

One department budget that is receiving a closer look due to recent protests is the police. At the time of consolidation in 2013, combining the township and the borough’s police departments into one helped guide reductions in spending. Each year the numbers are analyzed, and already a 3-4% reduction was put in place from last year to this year for the police.

“Looking at a budget and saying maybe we don’t need 6 cars this year, instead we can pay for a 2nd responder. That’s program budgeting,” states Princeton Police Chief Nick Sutter. “Let’s not conflate that with defund the police.”

Sutter has been in the department for 25 years, at the helm for the past seven. He says he’s been pushing for five years to have a better system of 2nd responders, those that follow up after a situation has been de-escalated to find proper assistance for the person in need.

“In my experience it’s become a revolving door – we don’t solve the problem. We deal with it in the moment, make it safe and often respond back to same person again. We need a crisis intervention team,” Sutter adds. “I don’t know a social worker that’d walk into an unsecure scene that’s violent. That’s unrealistic.”

The police have developed a strong relationship with Corner House for those with drug dependency issues, but more help is needed with situations such as homelessness and personal crisis. That would fall to 2nd responders. Lempert says with today’s increased support, perhaps now is the time they’ll find more funding for them. To have a responder like a social worker first on the scene, as suggested by supporters of the “Defund the Police” movement is less likely. While Lempert, Sutter and others agree it would be wonderful to have a team of mental health professionals available 24/7 to respond with the police, in a municipality like Princeton, the budget capabilities are not there. Head of Human Services, Melissa Urias, whose only other staffer is a part-time administrative assistant, says resources severely limit follow-up and intervention capabilities.

“Throughout the nation, mental health and social services are under-resourced. Unfortunately, here in Princeton, it is no different. Police officers are meant to act as guardians of public safety but are often the first to respond to individuals dealing with complex issues,” Urias explains.

The police often refer people to Human Services or reach out directly after a situation. To better address the needs of those in the Black community, Urias says she is meeting with other leaders and partners to be sure to understand their needs and focus on desired improvements. Sutter admits his department can always do better but states it has included the community in its planning process and policy decisions for years.

Loretta T. lives nearby and her children attend Princeton Public Schools. She agrees that community-oriented policing is a must. “When law enforcement presence goes beyond emergencies, police officers and communities are able to truly connect with one another and therefore view each other as whole individuals rather than the narrative be pushed by the media. It invites an opportunity to have authentic experiences which shape broader perceptions.”

The national narrative has caused the department to take another look at its failures and look at how it can improve. Recruitment, policy, supervision and training – all guided by community input, are constantly evaluated.  4-5 retirements are expected this year, including that of Chief Sutter, but the 55-person department has made an effort to reflect the community in its hiring. As of the latest reports from 2019, the Princeton Police Department has hired more people of color than are represented amongst its residents:

Racial Demographics of Princeton Police Department

Percentage
Caucasian 73%
African American 8%
Hispanic or Latino 16%
Asian 4%

As for policy, Princeton police say they are listening, but have been proactive too. The policy towards immigration and law enforcement, for example, was put in place with locals back in 2013, before it became a national issue. Redefining Use of Force, Vehicle Pursuit and Forcible Stopping was officially done in 2017 but all have been highlighted through the department’s training for at least seven years. Now, Sutter and his team are looking to see if they can get stricter in some areas than what the state mandates. In terms of training his officers, he believes their focus has often stemmed from national community needs and instead they should add more training based on local community experiences. Improvements can also be made in vetting out unconscious biases and training officers to better recognize and deal with theirs.

The Town Council resolution aiming to dismantle racism, applies to all municipal departments, not just the police. Each is being asked to take a closer look. As soon as town council approves a framework recommendation from the Civil Rights Commission, Lempert claims it will have the tools to better review ordinances and other needs through a racial equity lens.

“I think having a framework will be helpful and almost essential to get us to move from conversation into action,” declares Lempert. “It’s important we take this opportunity and we look at ourselves and our institutions with open eyes, and we use this period where everything is being shaken up already – no one has ever lived through a period like this before – and when we come out of it we don’t just return to February 2020.”

Schools in Princeton: Their Roles in Combatting Racism

Princeton University (PU) made national headlines in late June, as it officially removed the name of Woodrow Wilson from its School of Public and International Affairs and its residential college. Though he was a distinguished President of PU who went on to become the 28th President of the United States and a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Board of Trustees reconsidered a determination it made in 2016 and decided he should no longer be the namesake for its school due to his racist thinking and policies.

Princeton Public Schools (PPS) is now contemplating a similar situation as its Board of Education has been asked to consider if John Witherspoon, the 6th President of The College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) and a signer of the Declaration of Independence, should be removed as the namesake for the town’s middle school. Whether Witherspoon’s record as both a slave owner and a man who educated free Black men disqualifies him or allows him to keep the naming rights is now being debated.

As heightened voices shout out against racism, The Hun School of Princeton (Hun) announced it is changing the name of its chief administrator. Jon Brougham has long been known as “Headmaster.” Merriam-Webster defines the term as “a man who is the head of a U.S. private school” but the use of the word “master” has sparked criticism. In a letter to Hun families, Brougham explained he’s been questioning it’s meaning for years, and a decision to change it finally came in June after students and staff petitioned that the title denotes negative connotations of race and gender. Like most other independent schools in our area, Brougham is now to be referred to as “Head of School.”

PU President Christopher Eisgruber explained in his message to the Princeton community that names shape the identity of a school. So, the schools remove their connections to names and words that are considered racist, but how does that progress anti-racism?

“When you change a name there are conversations,” explains Timothy Charleston, John Witherspoon (JW) Middle School’s new Assistant Principal who has been PPS Supervisor of Social Studies PreK-8 for the past six years and is one of the supporters of the petition to change his school’s name. “Forcing people to have a conversation about racism – that’s how we move ahead as a society.”

And the conversations, at least in Princeton, have begun. While streets here and around the country filled in protest against police brutality, demanding justice for the killing of George Floyd and declaring that Black Lives Matter, the school year was ending. Students and staff were home, contemplating the heavy world around them alone, due to remote learning. Only weeks remained until PPS Superintendent Steve Cochrane would retire on June 30th, but he felt an obligation to respond to the call.

To begin to acknowledge any wrongs and to help process the emotions, PPS immediately sought the help of two longtime consultants to meet with its administrative team and help them begin to examine their roles regarding racism as both individuals and as an institution. Trauma expert, Dr. Tara Doaty, and Marceline DuBoise, who had conducted the district’s equity audit, met with Cochrane and his team as a group as well as separately with the administrators of color. Later in June, sessions were offered to all staff and to students from both JW Middle School and Princeton High School so they could learn from each other, have an opportunity to share what they need and move towards action.

Courtesy: The Hun School of Princeton

Hun has also committed to listen to its faculty and students to move towards change and has recently held meetings with components of its student body, their families and staff to guide new initiatives. The Director of its Cultural Competency Committee, Otis Douce, has also been promoted to Director of Cultural Competency and Global Diversity as a member of the administrative team to help move them forward. Amongst his other projects, Douce has been the leader of Hun’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Summit for the past five years, designed to enlighten students about oppression and privilege and how they can be the ones to enact change.

Since the Amistad Bill was passed in New Jersey in 2002 there has been a requirement for schools to teach about African slave trade, slavery in America and about the contributions of African Americans on society. Those guidelines took history education a step further, but schools are now feeling a need to go beyond that to teach anti-racism and social activism.

“When we think about our mission of graduating students into the world so they can live lives of joy and succeed, we talk about math literacy, economic literacy, etc.” explains recently retired Superintendent Cochrane. “There should be a responsibility on the part of school systems to provide our students with racial literacy to navigate a racially complex world. If we’re not teaching that, we’re promoting racism by our silence.”

As the district analyzes new ways to incorporate racial literacy, Cochrane notes it shifted its focus in recent years to ensure there are a range of books by authors of different backgrounds and experiences being assigned and made available to students. In 2018 it also incorporated Princeton Choose, a book created by two former PHS students, to begin discussions on racial literacy by engaging 5th grade students in learning about different cultures. Preparedness for this kind of learning actually starts as early as kindergarten, through discussions about diversity, skin color, gender roles and making sure the imagery surrounding classrooms is not stereotypical.

Getting to know and understand each other is a key component of the Community Period established in 2019 at JW Middle School. By connecting people outside their typical social circles, and helping them know and understand each other, the administration hopes students will engage in active listening and become more socially aware. Charleston led one of the Community Period groups last year.

“We focused on looking at restorative practices and building that community, understanding where people are coming from,” he details. “We want to continue to try and incorporate that in the coming school year to an even greater degree.”

For older students, a Racial Literacy & Justice (RLJ) elective has been offered to grades 10-12 at Princeton High School since 2018. Teachers Dr. Joy Barnes-Johnson and Ms. Patty Manhart spent years working with students and other educators to create the class. To date, 70 students chose to take the course to discuss race history in the United States and explore racial domination and racial progress. It seems natural now a course such as this should become a requirement for all students, not just those that select it. But Cochrane believes PPS doesn’t yet have enough teaching teams with a deep level of understanding. Dr. Barnes-Johnson believes the community also needs to be more prepared.

“Race talk is difficult for people because of the unfortunate shame and guilt that comes with facing ones’ own biases. We want students to want to be antiracist in their thinking which is why we value the voluntary nature of the higher-level Racial Literacy & Justice course,” adds Barnes-Johnson. “The curriculum is not just a single class, textbook or activity. It includes disciplinary policies, resource allocations, staffing decisions and programs of studies that keep classes from being fully desegregated.”

Graduates of the RLJ elective are now being paired with peer group advisors in the high school so they can begin conversations around issues of race with freshman as they come in.

As another step forward, to expand the minds of educators about multicultural education and to create an opportunity for more students to engage in this learning, an online class is being created by Dr. Barnes-Johnson and Ms. Manhart. Based on Dr. Yolanda Ruiz-Sealy’s “Archeology of Self” model, the online course will be broken into three segments. Those taking all parts would be required to self-reflect, study racial literacy and share their learning.

Educating staff in racial literacy is one component, but the administrators at PPS and Hun both share the ideal that growing the racial diversity amongst their staff is also essential. As of late June, PPS had hired 15 new teachers for the 2020-2021 school year. 10 of them are educators of color. An analysis of the student body was recently done in an attempt to understand the racial breakdown of each school with a goal to have its faculty more representative of its students. The district shared that currently 84% of its staff is white, yet the most recent data indicates nearly half of the student population is not.

NJ School Performance Report,
Princeton Public Schools Enrollment by Racial and Ethnic Group

Racial and Ethnic Group 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19
White 54.7% 53.3% 52.2%
Hispanic 13.4% 14.3% 15.3%
Black or African American 6.3% 6.1% 6.1%
Asian 20.3% 19.7% 19.9%
Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
American Indian or Alaska Native 0.1% 0.1% 0.1%
Two or More Races 5.1% 6.4% 6.4%

Source: NJ Department of Education

Hun has not historically collected data on the racial identities of its students, but it is intensifying efforts to recruit and hire more diverse educators and leadership, citing this has been a priority but they must improve.

“Most of our efforts aim at broadening the pool of diverse candidates. We attend minority recruitment conferences and networking events, advertise openings at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and contact diversity offices of other universities to seek qualified candidates,” says Douce. “We have also recently created a fellowship program for teachers new to the profession that is focused on recruiting diverse graduates.”

Hun is additionally adding training for its current staff. It promises to examine the themes and content of its curriculum at all levels and is reviewing its policies and rules to ensure they are aligned with having a bias-free environment. A new anti-bias statement, written by students, is now being incorporated into the Princeton High School code of conduct as well.

To help its staff, parents and students process today’s situation and move forward, PPS has been compiling information to create an anti-racism resource page on the district website – another project started under Superintendent Cochrane. He since retired at the end of June and Interim Superintendent Barry Galasso officially started July 1st. But where one ended, the other plans to begin.

“Princeton Public Schools have been leaders in promoting equity and racial literacy and that tradition will continue to evolve,” states Galasso. “I’m looking forward to expanding and building on the district’s current curriculum to promote racial literacy.”

It’s been less than two months since the recent tragedies and enlightenment created an awareness to do better. The conversations have started. Time will tell their impact.

Editor’s Note

To say the past few months have been trying is putting things lightly. There is so much for us to consider right now, about ourselves, about others, about our towns and our society.

The re-entry into a world that is covered by clouds of both COVID-19 and racism gives us all a lot to think about and decisions to act on. There are important matters at hand that must get our attention, yet sometimes we can have the most clarity when we step away.

That is why this month Princeton Perspectives issue is Get Outdoors – Experiencing and Appreciating Princeton’s Natural Wonders. Some prefer to live their lives outside, while others borrow the space for a walk, a hike, or a float down the river. In that time away, whether its breathing in the fresh air, listening to the sounds of the birds chirping, or working up a sweat, one can think clearly or not think at all. Back home, the blue skies above your backyard can offer endless relaxation, that is perhaps until the neighbor’s dog barks endlessly or music blasts from the local park nearby.

Disturbance controls and safety measures are put in place to allow you to enjoy your home and to protect you and others from harm. If you’re considering adding an above-ground pool to your yard, read on to learn the Rules of the Outdoors. Noise ordinances, zoning laws and other codes dictate what you and your neighbors can do, when and where.

If the noise at home is sending you running, maybe the woodlands can offer you a chance to unwind? In See, Hear and Touch: Communing with Nature, the Watershed Institute’s Education Director teaches us how to leave life’s business behind and connect to where we are. You might not expect to discover the sounds and sites he describes, but they really are right there. You just have to disconnect, look and listen to find them.

You can look in your own backyard, or you can head out elsewhere to explore. But where should you go? Tracks and Trails – The Hidden Gems All Around Us shares options for all types. Whether you want to go rugged or take a simple walk, be alone or be amongst crowds, we’ve broken down the details to get you on your way.

We are lucky to live in this area nearby so many outdoor opportunities. Soon we will again enjoy the experience of places like Grounds for Sculpture, where art and nature come together so seamlessly. There is a site within the forest of Franklin Township where one local artist found a way to create art in nature. In Creative Creations: Artistry in the Forest she helps us experience her artwork and shares how you can create something similar at home.

Lastly, we have a special Pulse of Princeton for you this issue. Nothing lends itself better to pictures than the great outdoors. And the pictures speak for themselves. Submitted by those that maintain the many preserved lands in and around Princeton, we’ve compiled a beautiful montage to share their favorite nearby nature sites.

Locals rallied after Rodney King, marched after Ferguson and thousands showed up downtown to speak out against racism after George Floyd’s death. Princeton is a community that cares. Yet how quickly and in what ways are we moving forward? Next month, we will start to evaluate the progress of change. Princeton Perspectives will see When the Dust Settles – How a Community Turns Awareness into Action. Click here to join our mailing list and receive the new issue when it posts.

Rules of the Outdoors

The sounds of the jackhammer cutting up nearby driveway pavement. The temptations of the newly filled inflatable pool in your neighbor’s unfenced backyard. The sight of embers burning from an evening campfire.

Sights and sounds you may have never noticed in the past are now all around. The hustle and bustle of pre-COVID-19 life had many out of their homes early, commuting to work or off to school. The lawnmower buzzing at your neighbors or the work crews blasting across the street were of little nuisance, as you often were not home to hear them. Now, with commutes often non-existent and schools finishing up for the year, you may be sleeping in. Or, your new home office might be in the room directly facing the noise. Either way, it could be adding to the stress you’re already under. As spring turns to summer, we will all be spending more time at home than usual, and likely more time in our yards than ever before. Hopefully, everyone is a little more understanding and resilient during these times. But know, there are official parameters in place to keep you safe and sane with rules of the outdoors that control what you (and your neighbors) can hear, see and do.

Unfortunately, there is little recourse if the neighbor’s actions fall within the town codes and ordinances. But it’s helpful to know that if the leaf blower blows before 8am, you have a right to complain. Mondays through Saturdays from 8a.m.-10p.m., power fans, chainsaws, lawnmowers, leaf-blowers and the like are legally allowed to operate. If it is Sunday, sleep in! They are not allowed to operate before 10a.m. and must stop by 8p.m.

The yapping dog that passes by your home might get you riled up, but unless it is barking non-stop for over 10 minutes or on and off for a full thirty minutes, it is simply a frustration and not a violation.

Further, if you sleep past 7a.m., the sound of your neighbor’s renovation project might wake you up. Construction work can begin at 7a.m. Mondays through Fridays but must complete by 6p.m., except in an emergency. So, you can enjoy your dinner in peace. Saturdays it can’t begin before 8am and on Sundays, the work is not allowed.

Keep in mind, the situation works in reverse as well. Though you may want a project done and are working within the local guidelines to do so, being respectful of the noise you are making early in the morning or late at night can go a long way to neighborly relations and a more enjoyable summer.

If minor issues arise, the police department is helping residents, as possible. If you have a concern, Princeton Health Officer Jeffrey Grosser suggests, just talk to each other.

“If possible, speak with your neighbor about the issue (while social distancing) and try to work it out. We all need to understand everyone is going through increased stress during this pandemic.”

Laughing, shouting and general sounds of fun can also radiate through the neighborhood. But feel free to let loose, enjoy sports and have fun as long as you’re not unreasonable or excessive. You can play some music, too, but be careful if it can be heard more than 50 feet from your home and turn it down or off by 11p.m.

To add to that backyard excitement, trampolines, tree houses and ziplines can all legally be set up on your property but proceed with caution. Some homeowners insurance policies have exclusions for trampolines, and others may not renew if they discover you have one. Policies may also consider backyard additions like tree houses to be high risk, so it’s worth evaluating your options before you build. In terms of local ordinances, just be sure the zip line is attached to a tree on your property, not your neighbor’s. When placing a trampoline, tree house or adding a zipline, be careful to follow all structure setbacks of the zone it is located in.

If fun in the water is what you’re looking for, go ahead and enjoy! Some town and club pools may be opening up, but if that’s not in your comfort zone, cooling off with a slip-n-slide on your grass warrants no additional considerations. Intex and other inflatable above-ground pools are selling out everywhere. If you’ve purchased one, you may be surprised to learn your little pool may need to be fenced in.

“Construction code requires a fence [4 feet in height] with self-closing gates on all pools with a depth of 24″ or more,” shares Princeton Zoning Officer, Derek Bridger.

That is slightly different than the fence required around in-ground pools, which must have a self-locking mechanism. If you do not have a pool, but simply want more privacy from your neighbors, you may need to contact the zoning department for a permit, variance or to submit a location survey before you raise the height of an existing fence or install a new one. Homes located in the former Boro require a permit for all fencing. Those in the former township adding a fence lower than 6 feet require a permit only if the fence is surrounding a pool.

To relax after a long day, summers often include smores or drinks around a fire pit or campfire. Having one on your grounds can be a great way to social distance or just spend an evening outside with your family. Commercially manufactured fire pits or chimineas are the safest option, notes Ronald DiLapo, Princeton Fire Safety Education Specialist.

“The devices typically come with a spark arrestor screen for fire pits and chimineas have a chimney type stack that helps to prevent sparks from traveling too far from the chiminea when being used,” he explains.

There are also safety guidelines to follow, which include positioning one 15-25 feet from a structure and not under tree limbs that hang down or on a wooden deck. Be careful not to use flammable or combustible fluids to build the fire and keep children at least 3 feet away from the flames. Those same rules apply if you’re building a natural campfire, though it is advised you locate those at least 25 feet from any structure. Clear the area of loose grasses and leaves and try to create a base of stone or earth. With all fire set-ups, it is important to make sure a Red Flag warning has not been posted, to prevent unexpected travel of embers and flames.

“A Red Flag Warning is issued by the National Weather Service and means warm temperatures, very low humidity, and stronger winds are expected to combine to produce an increased risk of fire danger,” DiLapo adds.

Most importantly, if you are utilizing any type of fire structure at home, make sure it is fully extinguished before you leave the area. You can wet it down or smother it with dirt to put out the flames. And don’t try to build one in a public area, as open flames are prohibited in all municipal parks, with the exception of the grill area at Turning Basin.

The parks in and around Princeton can, however, be great for enjoying most other activities. Municipal locations are open to the public from dawn until dusk, so take advantage in the daylight but do not bring alcoholic drinks on property or attempt a staycation by camping out. The only nearby park that has an area for camping is Washington Crossing State Park, but unfortunately that campground remains closed until at least June 30th due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you would like to raise a tent in your own backyard, go for it. As long as you don’t violate any other ordinances, there are no barriers to sleeping under the stars on your own property.

As the state and municipality shift towards more normalcy, there is hope people’s stress levels will slowly start to reduce and the resumption of more regular daily activities will create less focus on neighborly issues.

No noise complaints have been made to the Princeton Health Department since isolation began. If we all work together to be aware, be respectful and be careful, we can move forward with safety and sanity in mind to have the best summer the pandemic will allow.

Tracks and Trails – The Hidden Gems All Around Us

After being cooped up at home for several months, people are yearning to get outside. The warmer weather is allowing lovers of nature to get back to their happy place. For those who simply need a change of scenery and fresh air, the natural playgrounds are a wonderful resource for doing so.

“As a person who likes the outdoors, it’s great seeing people get out and about. We have never seen so many people on this property in all the years I’ve been involved,” states Clark Lennon.

Photo Courtesy- Friends of Princeton Open Space

Lennon, a Trustee with Friends of Princeton Open Space (FOPOS), is referring to the current crowds at Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve in Princeton. The preserve is most recognized by its property entrance in the center of town, located across from Community Park West. Lately, that parking lot has been filled with cars as visitors explore the areas nearest the Mountain Lakes House and the two small lakes. As people begin re-entering society, some are happy to go where they know and be amongst the crowds. If you want to ensure a safe social distance from others or simply prefer more private space outside, entering parts of the woods at different points in town may offer a more solitude experience. Some have been parking at Farm View Fields on the Great Road. After parking, simply walk back down the Great Road and cross at North Road to an opening in the fence with a kiosk noting the entrance. You can also explore an area further from the main crowds by parking in a small lot on Cherry Hill Road. One favorite spot can be found from there, by traversing the northern end of the woods to Devil’s Cave.

“It’s basically an impressive boulder field and the cave is actually several big boulders which are sitting on top of one another and form a bit of a cave,” describes Lennon.

You can still get to this point from the main parking lot by walking the red trail northeast into John Witherspoon Woods. To find it from Cherry Hill Road, follow the yellow trail around until it intersects with the red trail and continues to Devil’s Cave.

While each unique in their own way, there are special spots like Devil’s Cave found throughout our area. In fact, there are thousands of acres of outdoor space to explore between Princeton and its surrounding towns.

Photo Courtesy – The Watershed Institute

There sits approximately 350 acres of land and nine miles of trail within Mountain Lakes Preserve and FOPOS also maintains trail systems throughout John Witherspoon Woods, Community Park North, Tusculum, Woodfield Reservation and Stony Brook Trail. More than 10 miles of hiking trails are available within the 950-acre Watershed Reserve. 6,800 acres and over 40 miles of trails are stewarded by D&R Greenway Land Trust. Nearby is a 90 square-mile region of contiguous forest, that encompasses 27 different preserves and trails stewarded by the Sourland Conservancy. And though currently closed, by the Institute for Advanced Study, lay the Institute Woods. 589 acres of woods, wetlands and farmland. Spending time in these areas can be healing during these turbulent times.

“There is actually an area of study called ‘ecotherapy’ which explores the strong connection between time spent in nature and reduced stress, anxiety, and depression,” explains Belinda Seiger, Director of the Anxiety & OCD Treatment Center of Princeton. “Is it the impact on the senses, the sights, the smells, the feel of the breeze or rustle of leaves below your feet….both mental and physical benefits have been recognized including lower blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which calms the body’s fight-or-flight response and reduces anxiety.”

SPACES TO SOCIAL DISTANCE

Photo Courtesty – D&R Greenway

There are several wider-open spaces that can offer you this calm. Though we risk exposing some local hidden gems by writing about them, many have room enough for everyone to enjoy. For example, head to Ringoes for a beautiful view of Princeton from the Cider Mill Grassland.

“Imagine 90 acres of a grass meadow and the wind just blows through the grass and it’s so relaxing to be there and reconnect,” boasts Tina Notas, Director of Land Stewardship at D&R Greenway Land Trust. “It’s almost spiritual.”

The grassland is not mowed until later in July, to not disturb the bird nests in the field. A visit now allows you to witness bird migration, or you can go enjoy the interpretive signage about birds and relax in the fields in August, after they are mowed.

For other beautiful fields and meadows, while still allowing social distancing, St. Michael’s Farm Preserve in Hopewell has big parking lots and you can enter on Princeton Ave. to encounter farm fields, host to super wide trails. You could then make your way onto wooded trails, if you desire. There’s also parking on Aunt Molly Road, where you could hike a narrower forest trail, if you prefer.

Photo Courtesy – SourlandNiche.blog

Also in Hopewell sits Baldpate Mountain. Amongst the 10 miles of hiking trails, you could choose White Trail if you want a fairly wide and easy hiking option. You can also park in the lot then hike up to the summit to Strawberry Hill Mansion for a scenic view of the Delaware River and possibly even Philadelphia (on a clear day!).

“It’s really nice to go early,” recalls Sourland Conservancy’s Stewardship Program Coordinator, Carolyn Klaube. “That’s when the birds are singing, there’s not a lot of people out and it’s not hot yet.”

You may find a few other visitors if you head to Hopewell’s Cedar Ridge Preserve, but this location has meadows, a forest and multiple parking lots. You can park on the Van Dyke side and find a stream that children can play in, or park in the bigger lot on Stonybrook Road with wide, flat paths. In August, this is a great site for butterflies.

ALTERNATE TERRAIN

Photo Courtesy – SourlandNiche.blog

If rocks are more your thing, search out the Rocky Brook Trail along the Sourland Mountain Ridge just before the intersection of Routes 518 and 31 in Hopewell. It can be difficult to locate, but when you do, you will find great fun and tons of plants this time of year. Be prepared to jump rocks across a stream to explore.

That trail should not be confused with the Rockhopper Trail, which can be found in W. Amwell. This location has a bog and a beautiful woodland. Along the route you’ll discover exposed stones and geology, fun for climbing. Tending to be less crowded, it’s a good birding spot and home to different woodland flowers. Parking is at nearby Dry Creek Run, just across the street.

“I’ve seen people’s boot prints, but never seen anyone on the trail when I’m there,” shares Klaube. “You walk along the side of someone’s yard, so it feels wrong. But it says ‘trail here,’ so stick to edge of property and walk back to get on the trail.”

TRAILS HERE IN TOWN

Right here in Princeton is Greenway Meadows, located off Rosedale Road. It has several trail options that can send you through the wide meadow areas filled with wildflowers or on narrower trails through the woods. You can start your walk with a peaceful meditation at the labyrinth built alongside the D&R Greenway’s Johnson Education Center.

Photo Courtesy – D&R Greenway

“If you come into campus and park, there’s a beautiful grove of trees. Right next to it is a circular path, built using stone,” explains D&R Greenway Land Trust Executive Director, Linda Mead. “You walk into the center then turn around and walk out. The idea is you’re going through this process and thinking in your mind as you’re going through it.”

Once you’ve meditated, explore. At one edge of Greenway Meadows runs the Stony Brook. You can follow a single-track trail through the woods and along the brook by traveling the aptly named Stony Brook Trail. You may encounter others along your hike, but it is not crowded and you can create space to pass, if needed. Simply follow the paved sidewalk just between the soccer field and the parking lot towards the woods to find the entrance. You can enjoy skipping rocks in the water as you make your way along the sometimes-rugged terrain that weaves up towards the Hun School of Princeton.

Also connected to Greenway Meadows, across Rosedale Road, is the new Iron Mike Trail. Joining the properties of the D&R Greenway and Johnson Park Elementary School, this quiet area is well-planned with a gazebo and sitting area, formed from fallen trees.

In the western section of Princeton you can find another property that tends to be lesser known, though instead of open space it is all single-track trails. Just north of Princeton Day School, turn onto the Old Great Road to find the Woodfield Reservation (across from Tenacre Foundation). This nearly 150-acre property is ideal for walkers and hikers looking for something slightly more rigorous, as there is some elevation, as well as rocks and roots along the way. If you follow the trail maps to Tent Rock, you can enjoy the great, big boulder sitting out there in the woods.

Unfortunately, the temporary closure of the Institute for Advanced Studies due to the COVID-19 pandemic also means the Institute Woods are closed to visitors. But Rogers Refuge, which borders it, is open. Traveling on Alexander Road onto West Drive, turn off just before the new bridge to enter a birder’s paradise with two marshes and two marked trails.

FOR YOUNGER CHILDREN

Photo Courtesy – D&R Greenway

While children can explore anywhere, the D&R Greenway built a site just for them. You can find the seldom used one-way in, one-way out Children’s Discovery Trail near the dead end of Province Line Road at Drake’s Corner Road in Princeton.

“We developed it 10 years ago with a 10-year old girl,” shares Notas, adding there are educational signs and activities to navigate through. “Signs say things like ‘I can jump over this stream like a frog’, ‘I want to know why these trees are smaller than the ones over there.’ It’s a great place to find a little fun in nature and explore.”

For a child that likes to run free, Thompson Preserve in Hopewell is a great option. Surrounded by a deer fence, there is a 2-acre area where children can roam at their leisure.

OTHER OUTDOOR OPTIONS

It is fun to run, hike and climb, but those lacking mobility can also experience nature. The Watershed Institute offers a ¼ mile long boardwalk that is raised and wheelchair accessible. It’s a great location to get out and take in beautiful meadow views. It is currently under construction, but open.

And lest we forget, there are waterways to explore as well. Kayaking and canoeing is open in Princeton by the Alexander Road Bridge as well as in Griggstown on Canal Road. And the greatest local water feature, the Delaware River, has several tubing companies that are operating though all now require advanced reservations. If you’d like to go yourself, coordinate with others to buy your own tubes and plan to park a car at the finish point, just before the Washington Crossing Bridge. Another car needs to take you to a drop-in area. One can be found over the bridge near Lambertville’s Golden Nugget Flea Market off Route 29.

However you choose to do it, get on out and explore! It can be helpful for everyone to prepare before you go. To pick a land location, you can go to NJTrails.org. The site lets you input what type of trail you want, with maps, directions and trail descriptions provided. If you know where you’re headed but want to learn more in advance, check out SourlandNiche.blog which has write-ups about every trail. Simply enter your desired location in the search bar to find pictures and more. If you’re out and about and want to know what’s nearby, the TravelStorys App is free to download, and it will populate with sites near your location. You can download your option and utilize the GPS triggered app to provide an audio tour as you traverse.

We hope our guidance helps you find calm and create new experiences. Please stay safe and use common sense as you enjoy the many opportunities that our area offers.

The Pulse of Princeton: What are your favorite local outdoor sites?

Southern California by Riot
Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported— CC BY 3.0
Music provided by FreeMusic109

 

Editor’s Note

Amidst all you are enduring right now, we are thankful that you have chosen to take a moment to explore our third issue of Princeton Perspectives. Our goal is to always take a closer look at what matters to Princeton, and today we believe it is the connections that are guiding us through each day.

When we were discussing topic ideas for this May issue about six weeks ago, I was very optimistic. We were just weeks into isolation and I thought for sure that by mid-May we’d be in a different place. While Princeton, NJ now allows golfing and use of state parks, we unfortunately haven’t yet come out the other side and we’re not sure when we will. Though it remains a difficult time for many, we’re hoping this issue of Princeton Perspectives can provide some morsels of hope.

One of the most enlightening videos I’ve seen over the past two months was of a former Soviet Union citizen who was imprisoned in isolation for over 400 days. He shares his tips for quarantine, which he utilized to endure his own ordeal. He reminds us that right now we individually have little control about what the future holds. So instead of waiting for those plans to unfurl, we should fill each day with a plan that we can control. Read a book, clean a closet and enjoy our hobbies. He urges us to find reasons to laugh, as often as possible. Look for humor in the little things or find jokes online. And overall, he encourages everyone to feel your connection – remember you are not alone! In order for us each to endure today’s pandemic, mentally or physically, we must join with a bigger community to help us through. It’s this last bit of advice we’re exploring in this issue, Connections – What’s Gotten us Through and What Keeps us Going! There are different connections one can experience and a lot they can offer us. Princeton Perspectives is always here to try and keep you connected to our community!

Connecting the Best Parts of Princeton shows how with each other’s support, we will endure. Amazingly, our community has so many groups working together to help each other that we can’t mention them all. But it’s the connectedness of their goals that make it all possible and are making Princeton a better place right now.

Some are propelled to a better place through religious or spiritual practice. In Perspectives from the Pulpit we share the guidance and insights of local leaders as they navigate these unchartered times with their communities and congregations.

For most of us, our daily community these days is our immediate family. Family Connections: Weathering the Pandemic (for Parents, Older Teens and Young Adults) helps those whose household dynamic has shifted recently. If you have older children who had been off at college or living elsewhere and you have suddenly been propelled together again it can be exciting yet complex. Our expert’s column can shed some light.

And while we love our immediate family, there are often others our in our lives that help us feel whole. Those social meetings were suddenly cut off when we were told to stay home. But if you’re reading this magazine online, that means you have access to the internet via a phone, tablet or a computer. Take advantage of what those have to offer. I’ll admit, I’d never heard of Google Hangouts or Zoom before COVID-19, but they have become great everyday tools to help keep up with various networks of people. In The Power of Connecting in a Technological Time we share with you a glimpse of different local communities and how technology platforms are keeping them in touch.

Lastly, we bring you this month’s Pulse of Princeton. It’s a challenge to get a sense of how everyone is feeling when we can’t get close. But we appreciate those we could reach who shared their selfies with us. Check out this video to see how some in our area are staying connected during Spring 2020.

We know these times are tough, but we hope this issue reminds you to take hold of the little things and embrace your connections. Please stay safe, stay healthy and get excited for spring to turn to summer and the great outdoors to become even more accessible. We look forward to sharing ways to experience our beautiful Princeton community’s Natural Wonders in our June issue.