Mapping the Future of TCNJ

By Wendy Greenberg | Portraits by Jeffrey E. Tryon

Dr. Kathryn A. Foster, who launched her own academic career as an undergraduate geography major, has found her place — as president of The College of New Jersey (TCNJ). She feels it was a good spot to land. “Taking this position was the best decision I’ve ever made,” she said.

Foster’s presidency seems to suit the school too. Nestled in a suburban setting in Ewing Township not far from well-known neighbors Princeton University and Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, it could be easy to overlook TCNJ.

Yet the school formerly known as Trenton State College has amassed accolades. Among them, TCNJ is ranked the No. 1 public institution among regional universities in the North by U.S. News & World Report (fifth overall). Its 2006 awarding of a Phi Beta Kappa chapter by the prestigious national academic honor society cemented its status as a selective college. TCNJ maintains the seventh highest four-year graduation rate among all public colleges and universities, and it is ranked by Money magazine as one of the top 15 public colleges “most likely to pay off financially.” Under Foster, fiscal 2021 was one of TCNJ’s strongest fundraising years.

When visitors walk onto the campus with its landscaped walkways, green quadrants, and mix of stately Georgian red brick buildings (adjacent to a new commercial center with restaurants and a Barnes and Noble bookstore), “their jaws drop,” said Foster, who has updated buildings and infrastructure.  more

Ni-có-man, The Answer, Second Chief by George Catlin. From the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

The Original Residents of New Jersey

By Taylor Smith

The “grandfathers” or “ancient ones” as the Lenni-Lenape people are known, were the historic inhabitants of large swaths of the Northeastern United States. Originally occupying parts of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania, the Lenape suffered forced migrations and removal to reservations at the hands of European settlers. In fact, prior to the 1600s, the Lenape lived all over the Northeastern woodlands and the Eastern Shore of Maryland, as noted on nanticokelenapemuseum.org. The Lenape trace their lineage to the Nanticoke or “Tidewater People” who resisted British colonial intrusion to the best of their abilities. The name “Nanticoke” references the Nanticoke River on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

At the time of European contact in the early 1600s, the Lenape were estimated to number over 20,000 people. A powerful and influential tribe, early Dutch settlers sought to establish amicable relations with the Lenape through trade of tools, sugar, firearms, animal pelts, and fabric. Unfortunately, like most early contact between Native Americans and European immigrants, tribespeople were deceived and diminished by unfair trade agreements and the introduction of contagious diseases.

Dutch traders were established on the banks of the Delaware River by 1623. Swedish and Finnish colonists followed, significantly predating the arrival of German and English travelers in response to the establishment of William Penn’s colony. Familiar with the forests of Northern Europe, the Nordic immigrants cleared woodland in the new territory and introduced the use of the log cabin. What little is known of these early encounters between the Swedes and the Lenape is that both groups were independent, rugged individualists who practiced similar agricultural methods, rotating productive fields of crops along the banks of the Delaware River, according to paheritage.wpengine.com. In contrast, the Dutch were eager to establish business in the New World. They engaged in the trade of land, guns, and beads for beaver pelts. One of the most notorious transactions between the Dutch and the Lenape was the “purchase” of New York City in 1626.

Long before high rise buildings and endless concrete sidewalks, New York City was truly an idyllic island, scattered with hills and marshland and teeming with plant and wildlife. Oak and hickory forests dotted the landscape while black bears, wildcats, beavers, tree frogs, oysters, mink, brook trout, and bog turtles roamed free. In a 2020 New York Times article, ecologist Eric W. Sanderson of the Wildlife Conservation Society, based at the Bronx Zoo, noted that wolves were known to live on Manhattan until the 1720s and whales were an important part of the local ecosystem.

“Mannahatta” (as it was referred to in the Lenape language) was a trading hub for the Lenape bands of tribes who regularly gathered on the island for the exchange of goods. Mannahatta was also the site of Lenape games and musical performances. The native dwellers certainly made use of the plethora of natural resources at their disposal. For example, soaring tulip trees were favored for making canoes and the rich soil and pond water was ideal for cultivating vegetables and oyster estuaries.  more

By Stuart Mitchner

I still have the bound volume containing the first 20 issues of Classic Comics my parents gave me on my 7th birthday. Along with vivid graphic renditions of the likes of Moby-Dick and Gulliver’s Travels, I found poetry, everything from “Ojibwa War Songs” to Emily Dickinson’s “Railway Train,” pictured in the style of  “The Little Engine That Could.” I also found Walt Whitman’s “I Hear America Singing,” where “each sings what belongs to him or her and to none else,” and Matthew Arnold’s “Dover Beach,” which told me the world “which seems to lie before us like a land of dreams” has “neither joy, nor love, nor light, nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain.”

I doubt if Arnold’s message got through to me at 7 (what’s “certitude”?), but when I was moved by the poem years later in college, the feeling that I’d been there before deepened the experience. Poetry seemed to be a primal element, as much a part of life as the air we breathe. I felt it again at the same age during the singing of Christmas carols, breathing in the beauty of “Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by” in “Little Town of Bethlehem.” Ten years later, when I discovered Keats’s “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” there was a chill of recognition as I read “And little town thy streets for evermore / Will silent be.” I’d been there before, long ago, in another little town.

Issues of the Day

In this pandemic-haunted year, a number of new poetry books for children reflect issues ranging from slavery to social justice to environmental awareness.

One of the most appealing expressions of a time of loss, loneliness, and togetherness is Patrick Guest’s Windows (Starry Forest 2020), illustrated by Jonathan Bentley. Guest wrote the rhymed story at a time when he was forced to isolate from his family as a medical worker. The book begins: “Out the window, I can see a new world looking back at me. The streets are still, there are no crowds … but looking up, I see the clouds.”

A physiotherapist by day and a children’s book author by night, Guest lives in Melbourne, Australia. An award-winning illustrator of over 30 children’s books and the author and illustrator of four of his own, Bentley grew up in West Yorkshire, England. more

Raising Awareness and Appreciation of Wolfdogs at Howling Woods Farm

By Taylor Smith

Founded by animal lover Mike Hodanish, Howling Woods Farm in Jackson aims to educate the public about the true nature of wolves. In contrast to what many read as children in Little Red Riding Hood and observed in numerous cartoons, wolves and wolfdogs are actually submissive creatures that are more comfortable living within a pack of other wolves than being surrounded by people, highways, and fast cars.

The modern world has not been easy on the plight of wolves. In much of America, wolves have been shot to extinction under the notion that they were violent, devilish creatures that would drag a child into the woods or pick apart a farmer’s animal herd, one-by-one. Hodanish tries to educate visitors to Howling Woods that this storyline is simply not true.

Today’s wolfdogs, like Rubix, are not the result of wild wolves breeding with domestic dogs. They are the result of dozens or more generations of wolfdogs bred with other wolfdogs. (Photo courtesy of Howling Woods Farm)

Hodanish’s own experience with wolves began back in the 1980s when he was living in Southern Arizona, adjacent to the Sonoran Desert Museum. One night, a young, lone dog (that looked very much like a wolf) started wandering into his carport. It looked hungry and Hodanish and his roommate at the time began leaving scraps out for the animal. Eventually, Hodanish decided to adopt the dog as a pet; however, within the span of a few months, the dog doubled in size and its submissive, cautious behavior became extremely exaggerated. This, says Hodanish, was his first clue that the animal was, genetically, part wolf.

Hodanish named the canine Heidi, and the two became extremely attached. On long walks through the mountains of the Sonoran Desert, Heidi and Hodanish would wander the natural landscape, enjoying the peace, solitude, and companionship of one another. Eventually, Hodanish relocated to New Jersey and brought Heidi with him. Heidi unfortunately contracted Lyme disease and, after suffering from subsequent kidney failure, passed away. After that, Hodanish’s job didn’t allow him to have a dog due to the amount of traveling involved. But his head and heart didn’t forget Heidi.

Eventually, Hodanish adopted two wolf pups while living in Bordentown (much to the chagrin of his neighbors). The intimidating appearance of the dogs, combined with their occasional howling, left a few people concerned, but others would approach the fence line and ask Hodanish all about the animals, their curiosity peaked.

Hodanish then moved to Jackson and settled into a more rural area nestled within the Pine Barrens and bordered by protected land. There, he sought to establish what is today Howling Woods Farm, a wolf and wolfdog hybrid sanctuary that is open by appointment only to visitors. As a nonprofit, the sanctuary seeks to educate the public about wolves, while also attempting to adopt out wolfdogs to suitable homes.  more

James Fiorentino’s Passion for Both Leads to an Amazing Career

By Justin Feil | Photography by Charles R. Plohn

James Fiorentino intertwines art and athletics in strokes of water-color genius. At an early age he was best known for his athletic prowess, but he already was showing promise as an artist. He rose quickly and prominently to national attention when he began combining his two passions as a teenager, and remains one of the most decorated sports watercolorists in the country.

The Flemington house that the 44-year-old Fiorentino shares with his wife, Jessica, a social worker in the Princeton Public Schools system, and their 12- and 8-year-old boys, is a collage of more than 30 years of colors and collections. A small room just inside the front door is overflowing with collector items and autographed works, an ode to how Fiorentino’s passions for painting and sports first united. A table buried under side-by-side piles of Fiorentino’s recent paintings and giclees primed to be sent to buyers, galleries, and shows sits just outside his studio room. A small TV hangs in one corner of his studio, looking down on the surprisingly neat art table where he paints every day. One wall features a mix of art and books while Fiorentino’s paintings adorn the three other walls from floor to ceiling.

Through the studio and down a set of stairs are more pieces brightening the basement level. Fiorentino’s other works adorn museums, galleries, companies, and private collector’s homes around the country and even internationally. His realistic watercolors and illustrations of sports figures and celebrities, as well as wildlife and landscapes, are highly sought. Art and athletics have been passions he first balanced as a boy, and then later combined when art became a profession. more

(Photo Credit: Rebecca Wilcox, Purdue University)

Economics Professors Anne Case and Angus Deaton — Beyond “Deaths of Despair”

By Donald Gilpin

You might think that Anne Case and her husband Angus Deaton, both economics professors emeritus at Princeton University, would be the epitome of ivory tower academics detached from the vicissitudes of the everyday world.

The title of the book they recently co-wrote, Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism, might lead you to believe that that ivory tower would be a dark and gloomy place to inhabit.

On both counts you would be wrong.

Deaton and Case — or “Sir Angus and Lady Angus” since 2016 when Deaton, a 2015 Nobel laureate, was knighted at Buckingham Palace by Prince William, or “Dada and Lady Anna” as they are known by their grandchildren — joined me for a Zoom interview in July from their home on Pretty Brook Road in Princeton.

Economics may have been labeled as “the dismal science,” but Case and Deaton are a warm, engaging, and entertaining couple — committed to making an impact on one of the most troubling problems plaguing our country, as they wield significant weight in the corridors of power.

Deaths of Despair, which depicts the decline of the American dream amidst a surge in deaths of working-class men, has been cited as one of the most influential books written in the past decade.

“I think most academics would tell you that no one in power listens to them,” Deaton said. “We can’t say that. People in power listen to us, and we know that the people who are running the country know the work.” He recalled the couple’s visit with President Obama in the White House following the announcement of Deaton’s 2015 Nobel Prize for economics.

He continued, “If they’re not doing something about it, it’s because there’s really nothing they’re able to do. One of the stories in our book is about just how difficult it is to reform things, with a system that’s helping keep rich people rich, often at the expense of poor people.”

“Economics is the language of power,” said Case. “We would be delighted if people in positions to make decisions read our book and took it on board. It’s clear that some of them have. Janet Yellen, secretary of the treasury, is a fan of this work. Cecilia Rouse, who was the dean of the [Princeton University] School of Public and International Affairs and is now the chair of the Council of Economic Advisors, is also a fan of the work. So, we’re really hoping that we’ll be able to make some progress through the writing.”

As they state in the preface to Deaths of Despair, “We hope this book … will help put us back on track to make the progress in this century that we have generally made in the past. The future of capitalism should be a future of hope and not of despair.” more

The Battle at Grovers Mill, by Princeton Art Impressions artist  Robert Hummel, is on display at the Grovers Mill Coffee House. www.ArtistRobertHummel.com | www.BattleAtGroversMill.com

A Made-Up Martian Invasion That Continues to Fascinate

By Anne Levin

Decades before the term “fake news” became familiar, there was “The War of the Worlds.” The infamous 1938 radio broadcast, inspired by the H.G. Wells novel of the same name, announced to fans of the CBS Radio drama series Mercury Theatre on the Air that Martians had crash-landed in a farmer’s field in Grovers Mill, New Jersey, and were invading the earth.

It was the golden age of radio, and Sunday night was prime time. October 30, 1938 also happened to be mischief night. Led by 23-year-old Orson Welles, the theater company decided to take things a bit further than usual and give listeners a jolt. Just how much of a jolt they intended remains in question.

An announcer who claimed to be at the crash site just a few miles from Princeton breathlessly described a slimy Martian slithering its way out of a metallic cylinder.

“Good heavens, something’s wriggling out of the shadow like a gray snake,” he began. “Now here’s another and another one and another one! They look like tentacles to me. I can see the thing’s body now. It’s large, large as a bear. It glistens like wet leather…. I can hardly force myself to keep looking at it, it’s so awful! The eyes are black and gleam like a serpent. The mouth is kind of V-shaped with saliva dripping from its rimless lips that seem to quiver and pulsate.”

It was all a spectacular hoax, of course. But to some listeners across the country, the sophisticated sound effects and supposedly terrified announcers reporting Martians firing “heat-ray“ weapons created chaos. Newspaper reports at the time said people claimed they saw things that didn’t exist, and crowded the roadways in an effort to escape the invasion. Local legend has it that in Grovers Mill, an inebriated farmer shot at the wooden water tower because he thought it was an alien (never proven, but people who grew up in the West Windsor town have recalled seeing bullet holes in the tower). more

Noah A. Goldman, MD, a gynecologic oncology specialist who has taught at five medical schools during the past two decades, has joined Penn Medicine Princeton Health as the new medical director of cancer programs.

As medical director, Goldman will collaborate with administrative and medical staff leaders at Princeton Health and Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center to foster development of a comprehensive cancer program for central New Jersey.

Goldman also will see patients in Princeton Health’s new oncology suite in the Medical Arts Pavilion, adjacent to Princeton Medical Center (PMC). He is board certified in gynecologic oncology and obstetrics and gynecology. To schedule appointments in the oncology suite, call 609.853.6590. more

Makes top lists for theater, race/class interaction, and radio station 

Drew University has made The Princeton Review’s annual “The Best 387” nation’s top schools. Drew has made the list every year since its debut in 1992. 

The list, which includes only about 14 percent of the schools in the country, praised Drew for its 60-plus majors and minors, seven NYC semesters, top-ranked theater program, impressive science departments, engaging and dedicated faculty, and myriad research opportunities.  more

Join Morven Museum & Garden on Sunday, October 17 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for a special workshop presentation with duck decoy Master Carver Jode Hillman. “The Art of Deception: Techniques and Theory of Creating a Three-Dimensional Black Duck Silhouette Decoy” will be an on-site class, held outdoors, masked, and socially distanced. All supplies and materials will be provided. Lunch will also be included from Brick Farm Market (selections to be made the week before class). Attendees are asked to dress for the outdoors and weather. Class size is limited to eight students.  more

Princeton University’s Fund for Irish Studies presents a conversation with award winning novelist, dramatist, and screenwriter Roddy Doyle led by scholar and critic Frintan O’Toole, co-chair of the series, on Friday, September 17 at 4:30 p.m. via Zoom. Princeton’s Howard G.B. Clark University Professor of the Humanities Paul Muldoon, co-chair of the series, will provide a welcome and introduction. The event opens the 2021-22 series, which will be virtual for the fall. The event is free and open to the public. 

Doyle has written 12 novels, including The Commitments; Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, for which he won the Booker Prize in 1993; The Woman Who Walked Into Doors; and, most recently, Love. His latest book, a story collection called Life Without Children, will be published in the U.S. in spring 2022. Doyle has written eight books for children. He has also written for screen and stage. He is the co-founder of Fighting Words, which aims to help Irish children and young people to discover and harness the power of their own imaginations and creative writing skills. He lives in Dublin.  more

Tailgate in style with the latest looks from J.McLaughlin.

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It’s been quite a year and Friends of Princeton Open Space (FOPOS) is ready to celebrate their dedicated crew of volunteers and the amazing accomplishments of 2020-21 with the festive Oktoberfest on Sunday, October 17 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Mountain Lakes House, located at 57 Mountain Road in Princeton. 

This rain or shine event will ring in the autumn spirit with local craft beers, hard cider, festive fare, and live music by the country sounds of Owen Lake and the Tragic Loves — all in the beautiful setting of Mountain Lakes House overlooking the Billy Johnson Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve.  more

Outdoor labyrinth provides opportunity to focus on spiritual well-being 

A new outdoor labyrinth is nestled behind the residential Witherspoon Apartments on Princeton Theological Seminary’s Charlotte Rachel Wilson Campus. Along with many helping hands, Student Life Resident Daniel Heath, MDiv ’20, dreamed of the idea and coordinated the design and recent completion of the labyrinth.

The previously unused space is now an ecofriendly gathering place for students and their families with a labyrinth at the center. At nearly 50 feet in diameter, it is one of the largest labyrinths in the Princeton area. more

The Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) invites the community to a Fall Open House on Saturday, September 18 from 1-3 p.m. 

Free and open to the public, the Fall Open House will feature the inaugural ACP Pottery Throwdown where attendees can watch ceramic artists in friendly competition while competing in various challenges on the potter’s wheel. In addition, each studio will be filled with opportunities to watch artists at work and discover the variety of classes and workshops the Arts Council has to offer, including painting and drawing, dance, textile art, clay, and more.  more

After a year and a half pandemic shutdown, Hopewell Theater is reopening its doors on Friday, September 10 at 8 p.m. — the date of the Theater’s four-year anniversary — with a grand reopening show featuring international recording artist Danielia Cotton. 

The event begins with a pre-show party at 6:30 p.m., followed by the 8 p.m. live music performance by Cotton. 

“Happy to be a part of the official reopening of my hometown theater post COVID lockdown,” said Cotton, a rock singer-songwriter born and raised in Hopewell. “It is my honor to once again perform in this small but mighty theater that has become a true gem in the town I grew up in.” more

The company revives the centuries-old property through history, delectable cuisine, and style.

Landmark Hospitality announces the reopening of the Logan Inn in New Hope, Pa. Established in 1727 and steeped in tradition, the Logan Inn stands as the oldest operating inn in America. After two years of construction, Landmark Hospitality completed an expansion and renovation of the property, transforming it into a boutique hotel experience and curated entertainment for travelers and locals. The revitalized inn joins Landmark Hospitality’s diverse portfolio of adaptive reuse projects across the tri-state area.  more

Flag, 1954–55, by Jasper Johns (American, born 1930) (The Museum of Modern Art, New York: Gift of Philip Johnson in honor of Alfred H. Barr, Jr., 106.1973) © Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

From September 29 through February 13, 2022, patrons and art lovers will have the opportunity to see, in-person, a 65-year survey of the artist Jasper Johns’ works of contemporary art at both the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art.  more

The Food Network and Cooking Channel New York City Wine & Food Festival (NYCWFF), presented by Capital One, will be held this year on October 14-17. The four-day annual event showcases the talents of the world’s most renowned wine and spirits producers, chefs, culinary personalities, and America’s most beloved television chefs while raising critical funds to support New Yorkers affected by severe illness and food poverty. Proceeds will benefit Food Bank for New York City and God’s Love We Deliver.  more