All are welcome to participate in the ninth annual Sourland Spectacular to enjoy the great outdoors and to “Save the Sourlands.” Typically, the event takes the form of a cycling rally, but this year’s event invites registrants to choose their own route (and fee) to cycle, run, or hike anytime during the nine-day event. more

The Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum (SSAAM), central New Jersey’s first African American Museum, is one of 82 organizations to receive a new COVID-19 Response Grant from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities (NJCH) with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the federal CARES Act.  more

Documentary Feature Focuses on the Romani Roots of Cinema Legend Charlie Chaplin

Director-writer Carmen Chaplin is directing Charlie Chaplin, A Man of the World, a theatrical documentary feature that adds a hardly-explored new facet to the creator of the Tramp, one of the most iconic cinema characters in popular consciousness, plumbing Chaplin’s Romani roots and heritage. more

The National Endowment for the Arts recently announced the recipients of its 2020 National Heritage Fellowships. Onnik Dinkjian of Fort Lee is among the nine recipients to be honored this year. These lifetime honor awards of $25,000 are given in recognition of both artistic excellence and efforts to sustain cultural traditions for future generations. more

The Princeton Senior Resource Center (PSRC), a community nonprofit whose mission is to help older adults thrive, offers programs for enrichment and lifelong learning, no-cost social services, resource referrals, and much more. Its 2020 fall fundraiser on Saturday, October 17 at 6:30 p.m. includes VIP Virtual Cocktails, humor, and discussion with Senator Al Franken. more

August is peach month at Peddler’s Village, and every day the Bucks County location will offer special peach-themed food and drinks at restaurants and eateries. There will also be live entertainment on select weekends. On Saturdays and Sundays, guests can enjoy made-to-order sandwiches and burgers at the Water Wheel Food Tent. more

The 29th annual Arts Festival in Doylestown, Pa., is going virtual for the safety of its participants, attendees, and community. Normally it is the biggest weekend in Doylestown, this year, patrons will be celebrating from home on September 12 and 13. Browse all of the 2020 participating artists at dtownartsfestival.com. Expect virtual demos, studio tours, performances, and more on social media leading up to and throughout the festival weekend. more

Purnell School in Pottersville, N.J., the only college and preparatory boarding and day school for girls in grades 9-12 who learn differently, announced the appointment of Tracy Haswell as dean of academics, a position that serves on the school’s executive leadership team. more

The 38th annual New Jersey Lottery Festival of Ballooning in Association with PNC Bank, traditionally the largest summertime hot air balloon and music festival in North America, has been postponed due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. more

Thursday, July 30, 5:30 p.m.

Gardens, those plots of land that have been nurtured and formed by the human hand, have found appeal as places of solitary or group refuge, renewal, and enjoyment by societies across the globe and throughout history. more

Beth Fitzgerald, head of Fitzgerald Life Coaching at 259 Nassau Street in Princeton, is a certified life coach, certified John Maxwell Coach, Master ETF Practitioner, international speaker, and trainer. She believes that coaching is the act of empowering the individual to harness their goals, dreams, and aspirations. more

Donna Gustafson has been appointed interim director of the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University, one of the nation’s largest and most respected university-based museums. more

If you have ever played golf, two terms you want to avoid are “whiff” (which means you totally missed the ball) and “duff,” which is a very bad shot. Even worse, COVID-19 and pandemic possess detrimental connotations. So, when Community Options had to postpone their annual golf tournament at TPC Jasna Polana, Community Options Enterprises Chairman Phil Lian decided to have a golf tournament avoiding all of these negative outcomes. The new mission was to have a tournament with no green fees, no dinner, no club costs, no missed balls, and most importantly, no chance of virus spread.  more

In an effort to limit the financial burden on The College of New Jersey’s campus community during the COVID pandemic, TCNJ’s Board of Trustees approved a budget at its June 30 meeting that will result in a lower overall cost of attendance for undergraduate students for the coming academic year.  more

Terhune Orchards farm store is filled with fresh fruits and vegetables all year long. The Princeton-based farm grows over 40 varieties of crops and many varieties of each crop. The harvest also changes each week. The staff at Terhune pick every day to ensure that patrons are getting the freshest and most nutritional produce available.  more

Rutgers University’s Alumni Association will present a Virtual Alumni Career Fair on Wednesday, July 22 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The HireNew York-Metro Virtual Alumni Career Fair will include Fortune 500 companies, start-ups, well-branded franchises and retail stores, state and local governments, federal agencies, and nonprofits looking to hire full-time, salaried employees.  more

A view of Alexander Hall through the Blair Arch, Princeton University. Photo courtesy of the Collection of The Historical Society of Princeton. 

Exploring the Lintels, Portals, and Tunnels of Princeton University

By Ilene Dube

Several years ago, during a summer rainstorm of biblical proportions, I found myself trapped on the Princeton University campus. My car was parked on University Place, and, wading through eight inches of water, I saw that all the arches on the western side of campus had become waterfalls. Foaming liquid rushed down the stairways, like Princeton’s own Niagara Falls.

I sought shelter in the University Store, but the combination of the air conditioning and my now-soaked clothing made my teeth rattle, so I found a spot under an awning outside where I had a front-row seat to Blair Arch. It, too, had become a waterfall.

Built in 1897, Blair Arch was at one time a gateway to the University — vintage photographs show the Dinky station located on the lawn in front of its grand staircase. I have heard a cappella groups performing in Blair Arch, their sound resonating against the stone, and Blair Arch is where many a bride and groom, dressed in white lace and black tails, pose for wedding photographs.

Holder Hall. Photo by Charles R. Plohn.

I wasn’t alone under the awning. About 25 people had gathered beneath the makeshift shelter, and I was beginning to feel like an intruder. Suddenly the rain let up and water stopped flowing from the mouth of the arch.

A young couple appeared at the top of the steps to the gothic structure. Several of the folks who had been under the awning jumped out with video cameras as the young man under the arch dropped to his knees and opened a tiny box. The woman’s hands went to her face, as if in disbelief — you could see her lips mouthing “oh my god.” Several more colluders appeared on the steps carrying big letters spelling out, “Will you marry me?”

Two of the men under the awning introduced themselves as the fathers of the bride and groom.

I congratulated them, assuming the young woman did say “yes.”

One of the most beloved spots on campus, Blair Arch was designed by the Philadelphia-based architectural firm Cope and Stewardson, considered masters of the Collegiate Gothic style, and was featured prominently in the movie A Beautiful Mind (2001), starring Russell Crowe as Nobel Prize-winning economist/mathematician John Nash and Jennifer Connelly as physicist Alicia Nash. more

Maya van Rossum and her son, Wim.

Riverkeeper Maya van Rossum Advocates for Environmental Rights

By Lori Goldstein | Photos courtesy of delawareriverkeeper.org

As the Delaware Riverkeeper, Maya van Rossum is the voice of the Delaware River as well as the leader of a staff of attorneys, scientists, grassroots organizers, and 25,000 member advocates who comprise the Delaware Riverkeeper Network (DRN). Whenever she speaks, her voice is passionate, energetic, and confident.

Maya van Rossum speaks at an anti-fracking rally.

She is also the author of a landmark book, The Green Amendment: Securing Our Right to a Healthy Environment, in which she argues that since existing environmental laws have failed us, each state must protect its inalienable right to a healthy environment with a Green Amendment to its constitution’s Bill of Rights. And she has launched a national Green Amendment movement to advance constitutional environmental rights across our country.

The first time I heard van Rossum speak publicly was at a Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) meeting in December 2019. The DRBC is the agency charged with managing the Basin’s water resources. The governors of New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, plus a representative from the federal government, form the Commission, with the objectives of protecting water quality and a sustainable water supply.

At the meeting, she and some 100-plus fellow activists, dressed in neon-green shirts and headbands that said “No PennEast,” were there to protest the controversial PennEast pipeline that would run beneath Pennsylvania and cross the Delaware into New Jersey. Each activist had three minutes to read a portion from a 16-page community comment. When DRBC Director Steve Tambini referred to their “prepared script,” van Rossum grabbed the microphone to say she strongly objected to his attitude toward their commentary, which represented the serious concerns of community members in both states, some of whom had traveled five hours by bus.

How does she speak with such feistiness and authority? As the Delaware Riverkeeper for more than 25 years, van Rossum “protect[s] the Delaware River and its watershed, 13,539 square miles of land spanning … Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and New York.” A licensed environmental attorney, she commands respect with her expertise as the community-appointed custodian of this domain. Beginning with the East and West branches in New York’s Catskill Mountains, the Delaware forms a natural border between Pennsylvania and New Jersey until it meets tidewater at Trenton, then flows through Philadelphia, Camden, and Wilmington, and ultimately, after its 330-mile journey, empties into the Atlantic Ocean.

American Rivers, a national advocacy organization, named the Delaware River its 2020 River of the Year. This honorary designation celebrates its great progress and ongoing work towards clean water and river restoration.   more

Veblen at the blackboard in his office at the Institute for Advanced Study. (Photographer unknown, from the Shelby White and Leon Levy Archives Center, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ, USA, undated.)

Celebrating His Many Gifts to Princeton — in Woodlands and Mathematics, for Town and Gown

By Donald Gilpin | Photographs courtesy of the Institute for Advanced Study

This June 24 marked the 140th anniversary of the birth of Oswald Veblen. Veblen’s Princeton legacy – at Princeton University, the Institute for Advanced Study, and the town – has been monumental, and now, through the Friends of Herrontown Woods (FOHW), Princeton is preparing to deliver a gift in return.

FOHW, a nonprofit, volunteer-led cultural and environmental organization, is eager to honor the legacy of Veblen and his wife Elizabeth as it continues to restore and preserve the 95 acres of Herrontown Woods, now Herrontown Arboretum, that the Veblens donated to Mercer County in 1957 and 1974, with Princeton receiving it by transfer from Mercer County in 2017.

The FOHW, which will soon sign a formal lease with the town, is moving forward in assembling a team of architects, builders, and volunteer workers to formulate plans for repairs to the Veblen House and Cottage. They are also creating an outdoor exhibit on Veblen using the boarded-up windows of the house as exhibit space, a “Windows into the Past” to tell stories about the Veblens, who moved into what came to be known as the Veblen House in 1941.

Veblen, his extraordinary achievements, his legacy, and its lessons for today were the basis of Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber’s 2020 State of the University letter to the community in February. Eisgruber highlighted Veblen’s contributions to the world of mathematics and the world-famous Princeton University Department of Mathematics, Veblen’s influence in the founding of the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) and bringing about its location in Princeton rather than Newark, and his accomplishments in bringing hundreds of refugees to IAS, Princeton, and other U.S. universities in the 1930s.

His story, Eisgruber wrote on “The President’s Page” of the Princeton Alumni Weekly, “not only illuminates Princeton’s past but also illustrates how today’s actions can shape the University for decades into the future.”

Describing Veblen as “a faculty member with tremendous vision and constructive energy” who “probably did as much as anyone to reform and improve this University,” Eisgruber emphasized Veblen’s “humanitarian courage” in his insistence on bringing refugees, like Jewish emigres Albert Einstein, John von Neumann, and Eugene Wigner, to Princeton, “to the great benefit of this University and our country.” Eisgruber continued, “At a time when anti-Semitism and nativism are on the rise, we need to remember the principles he exemplified.”

In his State of the University report, Eisgruber cited Veblen’s “critical role in rescuing Jewish scholars from persecution in Europe.” He noted, “Veblen worked with the Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced German Scholars to accommodate refugees at Princeton and elsewhere in the country. The scholars whom Veblen helped bring to Princeton included professors of mathematics, physics, economics, and art history.”

The FOHW “Windows into the Past” exhibit, to be mounted in the coming months, will expand on these stories of Veblen’s life and more. It will feature photos and narrative from Veblen’s Norwegian ancestry and his boyhood in Iowa in the 1880s and 1890s to his prominent role in the Princeton University Department of Mathematics and in the founding and growth of the Institute for Advanced Study in the 1920s and 1930s. It will also focus on his leadership in founding Princeton’s open space movement and the impact of his rich legacy in the present. more

Mansion in May 2020 Designer Showhouse and Gardens Presents “Splendor in September”

By Laurie Pellichero | Photos Courtesy of Dannette Merchant

Historic 1920s country estate Tyvan Hill, located just 45 minutes away in New Vernon, has been chosen as the Women’s Association for Morristown Medical Center’s (WAMMC) 19th Designer Showhouse and Gardens, Mansion in May 2020 (MIM). Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the May 1 opening date of the Mansion was postponed, and it will now be presented as MIM 2020’s “Splendor in September.”

Founded in 1893 to provide financial support to Morristown Medical Center, part of Atlantic Health System, WAMMC has raised more than $25 million to date in support of the hospital’s mission to bring cutting-edge technology and superior health services to the community. With more than 400 volunteer members, WAMMC hosts a number of events, but its signature fundraiser is the Mansion in May Designer Showhouse and Gardens, open to the public every two to three years. Since its inception in 1974, this fundraiser has raised over $15 million for a variety of causes at Morristown Medical Center.

Tyvan Hill, a 10,000-square-foot U-shaped brick and stone mansion, was designed by prominent New York architectural firm Peabody, Wilson & Brown for John Wesley Castles Jr. and his wife, Dorothea Bradford Smith Castles. Built between 1928 and 1929, it features details such as a bell tower, curved staircase, elegant paneling and moldings, and an outdoor pool and pool house. There is a mystery to how it got its name, but it is thought that it was named as such by the Castles after a visit to the village of Tywyn in Wales.

As to why it was chosen as this year’s showhouse, Katie Nolle, president of WAMMC, says, “The Women’s Association is always searching for a ‘worthy’ mansion with wonderful history, and Tyvan Hill more than fits our expectations. The whole property, including the gorgeous grounds, provides a spectacular site for our premier fundraiser.”

Kathy Ross, “Splendor in September” co-chair, notes that “in addition to its architectural pedigree, its beautiful rooms, manageable size, and lovely grounds, it is a delight to bring life back to this beautiful home. Tyvan Hill has been a family home since it was built, particularly from 1958 until 1972 when it was occupied by the family of Anne and Donald McGraw; their four boys filled its walls with typical boyhood pursuits. The McGraws were avid horsemen and very involved in the Spring Valley Hounds and the Morris County Bridle Path Association. An elegantly designed map, dating from between 1925 and 1930, depicting the association’s network of bridle paths and area estates and other landmarks, has long been a fixture at Tyvan Hill. more