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Dear Princeton Magazine Readers,

Has spring finally sprung?

March came in as the lion it is supposed to be but, judging by the chilly and rainy weather, the lion was still with us at the end of April and into May … as was inflation, a volatile stock market, an ineffective Washington, and the horrible war in Ukraine. Wouldn’t you just love to curl up with this June issue of your magazine and read all about uplifting things?

Well, before you do that, you must read Donald Gilpin’s Q&A with Ekaterina Pravilova — Princeton University professor of history and acting director of the PU Program in Russian, Eastern European, and Eurasian Studies — on the situation in Ukraine and Russia, including her contemporary responses and her view through the lens of history.

When I see the journalists report on what is happening in Ukraine, I have to admire the bravery of those reporters, as I do the bravery of all journalists reporting from the sites of violence all over the world. You will get some interesting perspectives on journalism from Ilene Dube’s visit with Uganda-born Razia Iqbal, a visiting lecturer in the Princeton University Humanities Council as Ferris Professor of Journalism. She is best known worldwide as an anchor on Newshour, BBC’s World Service program. You may have heard Ms. Iqbal on Philadelphia’s WHYY 9am broadcast of the BBC Newshour every weekday.

With warmer weather come blueberries — not from the South, not from South America, but from Hammonton, New Jersey. Our writer Wendy Greenberg takes you to the Pine Barrens, where there are thousands of acres of blueberries that make up a $76 million industry in our state, with many farms that go back to the early 1900s.
This is all due to the work of Elizabeth Coleman White, known as the Blueberry Queen of New Jersey. The title is in recognition of her role in cross-pollinating wild blueberries to create the very first commercial blueberries. Today some of the largest berries developed could pass as small grapes. Ms. White was the first woman to receive a New Jersey Department of Agriculture citation and also founded the Blueberry Cooperative Association; not bad for the daughter of a cranberry farmer!

While you are reading about farming and cross pollination, why not try your hand at gardening as a way to attract pollinators such as birds, bees, bats, and butterflies? I encourage our readers with an interest in gardening to visit the New Jersey Audubon Society’s website, where you can learn how to create a Certified Wildlife Habitat by providing food, water, cover, and places to raise their young. According to our writer Taylor Smith, creating a garden using sustainable wildlife-friendly practices can also help reduce stress through your interaction with nature.

Exercise is another way to reduce stress — tennis anyone?

Our Justin Feil reports to you on a book by Rob Dinerman, the newly released A History of Princeton Tennis, which chronicles the long history of men’s tennis and the comparatively short 50-year history of women’s tennis at Princeton University. The book starts with the late 1800s and ends with the COVID-19-truncated 2019-2020 season.

Of course, as in every issue of Princeton Magazine, Stuart Mitchner’s Book Scene brings you a wonderful collection of art therapy books for children, especially good as you move into summer with your children or grandchildren. Editor-in-Chief Lynn Adams Smith also brings you her Well-Designed Life pages, which I find are just wonderful and filled with very special “gotta-haves” from every sector of the fashion and design worlds — and those pages get better with each new issue.

Donald Sanborn is our “Music Man” for this issue with his terrific tour of “Musical Landmarks of the Jersey Shore.” Learn about the Ocean City Music Pier that was rebuilt after it burned down in 1928 and later became a lookout for German submarines during World War II. Then there is Red Bank’s Count Basie Center for the Arts, which opened in 1926 and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places as it ought to be, having hosted such performers as Tony Bennett, Art Garfunkel, Lyle Lovett, Ringo Starr, Bruce Springsteen, and, of course, Count Basie.

A similar history belongs to Asbury Park’s The Stone Pony, which has launched both Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi. A stone’s throw away is the Asbury Park Convention Center, which has hosted Bruce Springsteen,
Elton John, Frank Sinatra, and the Rolling Stones.

Did you know that the largest pipe organ in the world, with its 33,112 pipes, was built for Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall in 1929 and has been played for the Miss America pageants? Up the coast a bit is Ocean Grove’s Great Auditorium organ, an icon of the Methodist-dominated post-Victorian culture of the area.

That musical tour leads us back to Princeton’s famous ballet couple who grace this issue’s cover, Ethan Stiefel and Gillian Murphy. Ethan is the artistic director of the American Repertory Ballet and Gillian is the artistic associate. They met on the ballet stage, and have been dancing happily ever since.

I once heard ballet dancers beautifully described as the absolutely best athletes in the world who use their refined athleticism to practice their art. Recently, on TV’s Sixty Minutes, they covered how the war in Ukraine had totally destroyed the Ukrainian ballet troupe and all of the dancers had left as refugees to many Western European countries. On top of that, several dancers of Moscow’s famed Bolshoi Ballet, including their lead dancer, had quit and also left Russia, in protest, over the war and with fear of being jailed for having expressed their anger over Putin’s invasion.

How tragic it is to see such a serene and delicate art as ballet become another casualty of this ridiculous war. We are fortunate to have Stiefel and Murphy with us to keep the art alive and growing in the U.S.

As you can see, there is lots to do as we emerge from the pandemic and into a beautiful and welcomed spring. We hope part of that emerging will get you through the doors of Princeton’s retailers and our advertisers who actually make this magazine possible. Go shop — locally!

Lynn Adams Smith and I thank you for your loyalty and wish you all the best until our Summer issue arrives.

Respectfully yours,

J. Robert Hillier, LhD, FAIA

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