Photo Courtesy of Omar Wasow

“How did we get from civil rights to mass incarceration?”

By Donald Gilpin

Omar Wasow, who studies race, protests, and statistical methods and their effects on politics and elections, has always been intrigued by a puzzle, ”a question about politics that was always there at the back of my mind.” It was a question that took him from the high-flying world of entrepreneurship as a celebrity in the early days of social media back to the academy for graduate school then to the world of university research, writing, and teaching at Princeton University, where he is an assistant professor of politics.

As a boy growing up in Greenwich Village in New York City in the 1980s, Wasow lived in a household of academics, with his German-Jewish father an economics professor at NYU and his African American mother an early education teacher and education fundraiser.  Wasow described the ”rich environment for learning,” in which he grew up, filled with discussion and debate. “We would always argue at the dinner table over the news,” he added.

“I had questions growing up,” he said in a July telephone interview. “My parents had always been not just educators, but activists. My dad had gone to register African American voters in Mississippi in 1964 with the Freedom Summer Project. That was a real high point in his life, but in a larger American context it represented a set of victories for the civil rights movement.”

He continued, “And when I was growing up in New York there was this puzzle which was that things seemed like they had gotten derailed in many ways. From the highs of the mid-60s civil rights successes things seemed to have gone off the rails.” more

Interview by Laurie Pellichero

Tell us about Stuart’s response this past spring to the COVID-19 pandemic. How did it adapt to distance learning?

I want to start out by expressing immense gratitude to my faculty and staff for their nimble and swift response to distance learning. Since our spring break started just as COVID forced area school to close, our teachers used their break to prepare a new method of instruction that would deliver on our Sacred Heart mission and the promise of academic excellence. And with over 10 years of investments in technology, including the use of Google Education tools in the Middle and Upper School, Stuart was able to pivot to virtual learning with impressive ease.

To maintain a sense of structure and normalcy, we ran a regular daily schedule in all three divisions with teachers providing synchronous instruction for the majority of the day. The Lower School used a combination of SeeSaw and Google Classroom with modifications to the length of time each class was held, and our youngest students — ages 2-4 — met with their teachers every day online. As the weeks turned into months, our teachers adapted their schedules and instruction style to meet students’ needs, and we introduced weekly programming to support the wellness goals of the community. The way our teachers were able to support our girls’ learning and convert major in-person events like a musical and a senior class capstone project into virtual experiences truly demonstrated a dedication to their students and the Stuart community.

How has Stuart kept its community of students, parents, and teachers engaged while at home?

Stuart is a tight-knit community, and we wanted to make sure our girls had social interaction after closing down. Over spring break, the Head of Middle School held virtual gatherings with dance-offs, trivia, Pictionary, and more. The Head of Lower School read books to her students and dropped in virtually for nightly prayer. Since March, we have engaged our families in the reopening process with a focus on regular communications through email, video messages, virtual town hall gatherings, and social media. We invited some families to serve on our Reopening Task Force, which includes nine working groups in areas like health and safety, facilities, and technology. Others participated in town hall and virtual presentations regarding our work to safely reopen school.  more

How Equine Assisted Therapy Changes Lives at a New Jersey Farm

By Anne Levin | Photos courtesy of Equineassistedtherapyofnj.org

Therapist Jeanne Mahoney sees it happen, again and again. A person in the depths of depression, a child silenced by autism, or a veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) emerges stronger, more confident, and more at peace after spending time in the company of horses.

Informally called “horse therapy” and formally known as equine assisted psychotherapy, use of the majestic animals for emotional and physical healing is a recognized branch of mental health. Mahoney’s Salem County farm is the headquarters for Equine Assisted Therapy of NJ, a nonprofit corporation that practices this route toward positive change.

It is one of more than 800 centers across the globe dedicated to the concept. According to the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH), there are nearly 4,800 certified instructors and equine specialists like Mahoney, helping almost 69,000 children and adults.

Horses are iconic. They stand for power and freedom. They are effective in therapy, experts say, because they give immediate feedback to the handler or rider’s actions. They react strongly to body language. Their quiet sensitivity helps people by mirroring their emotions; they almost have a sixth sense. more

Sarah Rasmussen. Photo by William Clark.

Sarah Rasmussen Becomes McCarter’s New Artistic Director

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Sarah Rasmussen, named the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune’s “Artist of the Year” in 2018, has succeeded Emily Mann as artistic director of McCarter Theatre as of August 1. She is excited to come to a regional theater in a university setting, having been the head of the University of Texas at Austin’s M.F.A. Directing program.

An inaugural recipient of the BOLD Theater Women’s Leadership Circle grant, she also has received the Princess Grace Award, as well as Drama League and Fulbright Scholar fellowships.

“The search committee was impressed with Sarah’s commitments to inclusive artistry and inventive storytelling,” McCarter Board Chair Robert Caruso says in a press release. “McCarter looks forward to how she — partnering with managing director Mike Rosenberg — will expand the theater’s audiences with innovative programming and original content.”

McCarter hosted an online gala in May to honor Mann’s accomplishments in her 30 years as artistic director and resident playwright. In her remarks, Mann welcomed her successor.  “I’m using my torch to light the torches of other people,” Mann said, quoting Gloria Steinem. “May [Rasmussen] enjoy this extraordinary audience, community, and staff as much as I have. Long may she blaze.”

Rasmussen is moved by this metaphor. “Emily has been such a beacon for so many female directors and artistic directors,” she says. “I love that idea of torches being shared with others.” more

By Stuart Mitchner

Craig Fehrman’s introduction to Author in Chief: The Untold Story of Our Presidents and the Books They Wrote (Avid Reader Press $30) features a photograph of then-Senator John Kennedy standing between poet W.H. Auden and novelist John O’Hara. The occasion was the 1956 National Book Awards at which Kennedy delivered the keynote address, “The Politician and the Author: A Plea for Greater Understanding.” He was 38 at the time, November 1956, and his book Profiles in Courage was climbing the best-seller list. In his talk he playfully presents himself as being “in the camp of the enemy; you, the authors, the scholars, the intellectuals, and the eggheads of America, the traditional foes of politicians in every part of the country.”    

Four Novembers later the junior senator from Massachusetts was elected president, thanks in part to intellectuals and authors like Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Kenneth Galbraith, and Norman Mailer, who reimagined Kennedy as a movie star-charismatic hero with “the eyes of a mountaineer” in his Esquire essay, “Superman Comes to the Super Market.”

“Miles to Go”

The concept of the president as author encouraged by Fehrman’s book and the image of young JFK standing between a poet and a writer may have influenced my response to the close-up on Kennedy on the cover of Fredrik Logevall’s JFK: Coming of Age in the American Century, 1917–1956 (Random House $40). If you think of the future president as the eventual author of his own story, it’s possible to imagine him seeing beyond his political ambitions to a darker, more daunting challenge. I find more of the poet than Mailer’s mountaineer in his expression. There’s a “miles to go before I sleep” look in his eyes, as if he were peering into Robert Frost’s “lovely, dark and deep” woods with a troubling presentiment of “promises to keep,” perhaps already sensing the vague outlines of the mission he was embarking on. In a speech from the same period, the senator suggested “If more politicians knew poetry, and more poets knew politics, … the world be a little better place to live.” No wonder, then, that JFK combined poetry and politics by having Frost read a poem at the  inauguration, the opening chapter of his presidency. more

 

By Taylor Smith

The coronavirus pandemic hit the globe like a tidal wave and promptly overwhelmed hospitals, physicians, and the medical community. While remote treatment isn’t a new concept in medical care, it hasn’t always been embraced due to limitations surrounding insurance coverage, privacy laws, and traditional medical business models. However, when social distancing became imperative in order to combat the spread of the virus, telehealth and more specifically, telemedicine (which provides remote clinical services to patients) gained new ground.

Removing Telehealth Barriers

From the first COVID-19 case confirmed in the U.S. by the CDC on January 21, 2020, regulatory changes have sought to reduce barriers that previously existed to allow for patients to opt-out of in-person visits when appropriate. The first coronavirus relief legislation was signed by Congress on March 6 and the passage of the CARES Act followed on March 27. This over $2 trillion economic relief package was delivered by the Trump administration to protect the American people from the public health and economic impacts of COVID-19. The CARES Act provides assistance for American workers and families, assistance for small businesses, an attempt to preserve jobs for American industry, and assistance for states, local, and tribal governments. Among these many provisions, the CARES Act also seeks to encourage the use and availability of telehealth.  more

Hopewell’s Newest Farm-to-Table Restaurateurs Specialize in Eastern and Central European Fare

By Ilene Dube | Photos by Jeffrey E. Tryon

When Otto and Maria Zizak purchased 52-acres of preserved farmland in Hopewell and set the plans in motion to open a farm-to-table restaurant on the township’s main drag, they had no idea that a pandemic was about to strike, one that would lead to an economic crisis that would shutter more than half of all restaurants.

In the best of times, 60 percent of restaurants fail within the first year of opening, and 80 percent within five years, according to a study by Ohio State University. One thinks of Marhaba, the beloved Middle Eastern restaurant with an outpost in Lambertville that opened on Nassau Street in Princeton in 2017. Despite the long waits for a table, Marhaba shuttered unexpectedly a few months later.

The Zizaks are cautiously optimistic. They have opened several restaurants in New York City and continue to operate two of them during the changing tides of state regulations regarding indoor and outdoor dining. As takeout only, they have been able to lower expenses and remain sustainable.

With sound business acumen, the Zizaks are finding the silver linings. For example, while many restaurateurs see delays in opening as setbacks, Otto and Maria are grateful for the extra time to iron out kinks.

“The delay has been a blessing,” says Otto. “We are using the time to make sure everything is perfect.” Along with the couple’s sons, ages 15 and 17, Otto is building the restaurant’s furniture. “Now we have three additional months to build the tables and chairs,” he said in July from the farmhouse on the property. The Zizaks ultimately plan to live in the house, but for the time being are renting in Princeton. more

Breeder of the Rutgers tomato Lyman Schermerhorn (left) in a field of tomatoes (circa 1930s, others in photo unknown). Courtesy of Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station. 

Bringing Back the Classic Tomato, Salt Water Taffy & More!

By Wendy Greenberg

Jersey tomatoes. The phrase conjures roadside stand baskets piled high with bright red tomatoes begging to be sliced, each bursting with flavor.

Tomatoes are among the foods that evoke New Jersey’s culinary richness, along with such disparate delicacies as cranberries, salt water taffy, pork roll, Welch’s Grape Juice, Campbell’s soups, Boylan’s Birch Beer, and other eminent edibles.

Behold the “classic” Jersey tomato: Defined by its “deep, red color inside and out,” it may have a large stem scar, “with cracks or slits, or yellow ‘shoulders,’” describes Cindy Rovins, agricultural communications editor at the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES). Considered “imperfect by today’s market standards, the flesh was smooth, firm, and juicy — not mealy or crunchy like modern supermarket tomatoes. The taste was full-bodied tomato flavor with the perfect balance of sweet and tangy.”

But over the years the tomato had drifted, flavor-wise. The stakes, so to speak, were high. After all, the Jersey tomato has a reputation to uphold. Enter the NJAES Rediscovering the Jersey Tomato program, an initiative that, in the last decade, has restored the taste to Jersey tomatoes.  more

Full-Service Health and Fertility Company Increases Access in the Northeast

Kindbody, a fast-growing health and fertility company, recently announced the opening of a new clinic in Princeton at 16 Chambers Street. With the new opening, Kindbody continues to fulfill its mission of reimagining fertility care by delivering an exceptional patient experience that is accessible and affordable for all. more

A charming, romantic Hudson River estate

America’s “Founding Father of Literature” created a picturesque estate nestled along the Hudson riverbank. The enchanted landscape of Washington Irving’s much-loved Sunnyside has been charming guests for generations. Visitors today hear about Irving’s storied past and how he came to be America’s first internationally famous author. His characters, from the Headless Horseman to Rip Van Winkle, are global icons, and Irving’s legacy lives on at his whimsical estate. more

Play the game where getting lost is half the fun!

The Great Corn Maze Train departs Phillipsburg, N.J. from now through October 27 at 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 2 p.m. (3:30 p.m. trips will be added in the month of October on Saturdays). At the cost of $5 add on to any train ticket, the Corn Maze Train is a 1 hour and 30 minute trip that winds through Hunterdon County including stops at the Ol’ Susquehanna Mine, picnic groves, century-old Snyder Farm, two corn mazes to explore, and miles of trails. more

The Shakespeare Book Club unites Bard-ophiles and Shakespeare novices via fun, social, thought-provoking, and informative exploration of his plays. This fall, Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey has announced that the Shakespeare Book Club can now be experienced in-person at its Kean Theatre Factory or through Zoom for participants who wish to engage remotely.  more

It’s no surprise the best Brazilian desserts north of the equator come from Soul Sweet Boutique – the cozy, welcoming bakery and eatery nestled in the Ironbound section of Newark, the heart of the Brasileiro population in the Garden State.  more

One of the biggest barriers in this year’s election may be confusion about the voting process. COVID-19 has caused changes in absentee voting procedures and the availability of in-person registration and voting locations. If you plan on voting in person, double-check your polling place well in advance. Even if you believe you’re registered, be sure to verify your voter registration details at elections.nj.gov. Finally, if you plan on registering to vote in the November election, request an application now and mail everything back as soon as you receive it due to possible delays with the United States Postal Service.  more

Classes available daily from 2 to 4 p.m. for up to eight peas. 

It’s a summer like no other and many people are forming pods or extended bubbles with friends and neighbors to help keep their elementary and middle schoolers busy. In connection with this new trend, the Arts Council is now offering Private Pod Classes.  more

Safety protocols protect staff and visitors, enabling a contemplative, intimate Museum experience

Free admission extended to all health care providers

The Rubin Museum of Art has announced its reopening to the public on September 12, with exclusive member preview days of September 10 and 11. more

Feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of the coming school year? You’re not alone.

With an elite network of academic mentors and performance coaches, BrainStorm Tutoring helps to equip students to perform at their best when the stakes are high – and to thrive emotionally during the process. more

Photo Credit: Grounds for Sculpture

Grounds for Sculpture is happy to welcome back guests and visitors to their outdoor gardens and exhibits via timed entry tickets, which must be purchased in advance. All buildings and indoor exhibitions will remain closed. The outdoor grounds will be open Thursdays-Mondays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.  more

Fall on the farm is always a thrill, and Happy Day Farm at 106 Iron Ore Road in Manalapan has announced that the theme for its 2020 corn maze is superhero! Get lost in the twists and turns of this maze and try to find your way out by searching for squares in the Maize-O-Poly board game. The Fall Festival also includes Hay Mountain, Pumpkinville, tractor rides, pig races, life-sized board games, tilt a’ whirl, pumpkin painting, fall food, and more.  more