Category Archives: Around Town

Personal posts — some social justice (Not in Our Town), some faith-related (Princeton United Methodist Church), some I-can’t-keep-from-writing-this

Who is ready for what racial justice conversation?

Tool box single icon.The United Methodist Church provides  this very useful toolkit, applicable to any group. In my experience, most groups of white people in Princeton are in the introductory category. Those who gather at Not in Our Town’s Continuing Conversations at the Princeton Public Library are in the ‘What’s Next” or “Veteran” categories.
Where do you belong? Excerpts below 
The resources below are offered to provide tangible and meaningful learning engagements for individuals and small groups. They are for both laity and clergy and can be used contextually in church, church and community conversations, individual reflection, or sermon preparation. They are separated by “entry-point” groups. Read the descriptions for each category to determine the best fit for where you are entering into the work of racial justice and equity right now. 
 

INTRODUCTORY: For preachers and/or churches who are just entering into the work of racial justice and equity. Beliefs about racial injustice or terror have not been preached from the pulpit. The term “white supremacy” describes only the acts of “fringe groups” like the KKK, cross-burning, or lynching but not associated with historic or contemporary Christianity. The events of Charlottesville were shocking because it was believed that “we were past that” or “we didn’t realize those fringe groups were still around.”


WHAT’S NEXT? 
For pastors and/or churches who are able to define “white privilege,” “systemic racism,” and “anti-racism.” Beliefs about racial injustice or terror have been preached from the pulpit and many people will have also participated in intercultural competency or anti-racism workshops. The term “white supremacy” describes both acts of the KKK and white nationalist groups as well as systemic racism that benefits those who are racialized as white. The events of Charlottesville were shocking because it was believed that radical white supremacist groups were not “part of our neighborhoods and churches.” Statements like, “go home” and “we won’t put up with that here” were used to separate everyday acts of white supremacy or the “people who would attend the rally” from who “we” are.
    • Many people have been shocked by the events of Charlottesville. What is more difficult is for some is to connect the events of Charlottesville with white privilege or systemic racism. What was most shocking to you about the events in Charlottesville? Why were they shocking for you? Create a list with the connections between white privilege and the events of Charlottesville. Reflect and discuss.
    • Many people consider Charlottesville a “one-off” event. Some consider it an event which also sparked responses such as those occurring the next weekend in Texas, California, and Massachusetts. Google the “response events” and discuss the similarities and differences between them. Now consider how Charlottesville is connected to other events/decisions based in white supremacy and systemic racism. After reflecting and discussing the connections in “society out there” consider seriously the connections in “the church right here.”
    • Many of the events of Charlottesville were captured on video, many were not. Share anything you have heard from those who were at Charlottesville (either that you heard in person or read a witness account) that were not captured on video. What are the similarities and differences of what was publicized widely and what wasn’t? Reflect and discuss the “both sides” argument that indicates fault/blame on both protestors (those who were protesting the removal of the confederate statue) and counter-protestors (those who were protesting against the “Unite the Right” rally). What evidence are you using? Why?
    • Now that you have seen the events that occurred in Charlottesville, what does it mean for you/your church/sermons to bear witness to them? What evidence will you use?
  • Baptism and Call to Justice
    • Many of the UMC Bishops in their statements and UMC preachers in their sermons responded to the events of Charlottesville with a call to remember our baptismal vows. This resource provides a step by step reflection and engagement of the UMC baptismal vows as it relates to anti-racism. After reviewing the vows which can be found in the the United Methodist Hymnal, what concrete, specific, actionable, and measurable steps will you/your small group/your church take to enact our baptism in the fight against white supremacy and racism in all of its forms?
  • Wait… That’s Privilege?
    • Depending on how much work you/your group/your church has done with privilege (racial, economic, gender, etc) consider adding or substituting the following questions in the “post quiz questions for consideration:”
    • Compare the protests in Ferguson and counter-protests Charlottesville. Make a list of the similarities and differences. How does race influence these similarities or differences? How, if at all, did racial privilege affect safety, police response, or descriptions of the events?
    • Name your own privileges in your own words. How will you use your privileges to do the work of dismantling and defeating white supremacy and racism in all of its forms? Name those actions specific to that work IN the church.
  • The Rev. Dr. William Barber, Disciples of Christ pastor and architect of the Moral Movement, offers a succinct, historical, and powerful overview of ways to situate white supremacy within the larger American context as well as provide a roadmap for future action here. After watching the video, reflect on and discuss the following Individual or Small Group Questions:
    • What does Dr. Barber say is the difference between denouncing Charlottesville and denouncing white supremacy?
    • What does Dr. Barber say is the difference between and the usefulness of addressing the “statues” and the “statutes” of white supremacy?
    • How does Dr. Barber refute the claim of “I am not a racist” when only based on someone having a Black or Brown friend?
    • Barber mentions the names of many Civil Rights sheroes and heroes who have died and empowers us to consider ourselves their children who will continue the fight today. Name 3 Civil Rights ancestors whose legacy you will connect with and continue. (For white people, it is imperative to name at least 1 white person active in the work of Civil Rights with whom you can claim affinity.)
    • What specific actions will your church take within the next week and the next month to engage in some of the specific action items that Dr. Barber suggests in fighting white supremacy?


VETERAN (
What Else Can We Say/Do): For preachers and/or churches who have been doing the work of anti-racism for a long time in multiple arenas: from the pulpit, attending and offering workshops, activism, changing structures and policies within the local and/or connectional church to ensure racial justice and equity. The term “white supremacy” describes both acts of the KKK and white nationalist groups as well as systemic racism that benefits those who are racialized as white. The events of Charlottesville were shocking because the rally was in broad daylight and the Klan no longer wore hoods. The connections between the expressions of white supremacy at Charlottesville and the day-to-day expressions of white supremacy are historic, deep, and entrenched. This group might have difficulty figuring out “what else” to say or be and is burnt out from what Rev. Dr. Teresa Fry Brown calls “Justice Fatigue” that they need care themselves.

  • Listening in Diversity: Different Ways of Thinking about Tolerance
    • First go through the learning engagement as it is. Then add the following questions:
      • What is the difference between tolerance and understanding someone who thinks differently than you, according to the resource? Consider whether you “tolerate” or are in “community with” people who have different perspectives about Charlottesville. What would it take for you/your church to do more than “tolerate” a person who has a different perspective on taking down confederate statues, the right to hold rallies and the right to free speech, or Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter?
      • Consider the Tolerance Paradox attributed to Karl Popper in 1945 which states that tolerance cannot tolerate intolerance because the first thing intolerance does is to eradicate tolerance. Read that statement again. Reflect and discuss your thoughts about this. Do you think tolerance (in the sense of allowing for multiple perspectives to be valid even when people don’t agree upon them) is ever “allowed” have intolerance for anything? In other words, does intolerance of intolerance make us tolerant or intolerant? If not – how does our Christian faith help us to draw the line in faithful places?
  • The Trouble with Conformity
    • Add or substitute the following questions in light of the events at Charlottesville.
    • Consider the statement, “Resistance to oppression requires creativity.” What aspects of your faith help to create spaces for and defend creativity? How has conformity to Christian doctrine or traditions helped to assist oppression and oppressive systems? What does it mean to “be the Church” in light of Charlottesville?
    • Some Christians would not participate in the non-violent counter-protest organized by Congregate Charlottesville (or in the taking down of confederate statues before laws were changed) because they did not agree with participating in civil-disobedience. Some Christians denounce the acts of the “Antifa” because, while the “Antifa” are committed to non-violence as a default, they are not opposed to using violence to defend themselves or others in response to physical violence. How do you discern where the line is between conformity and creativity in the work of anti-racism or destroying white supremacy?

LONG-TERM ACTIVISM (When Those in the Fight Need Care): 
Sermons with discussion questions – especially for those who are burnt out from years of anti-racism activism and work and/or are “sick and tired of being sick and tired” (Fannie Lou Hamer).
  • Jesus, Justice Fatigue, and Why Being Black is Exhausting
  • All the Charlestons: We Press On for Justice
  • Further reflection and discussion questions after watching these videos:
    • How did you respond to the events of Charlottesville? If you were there, describe your participation and perspective. Reflect and discuss how your previous work in anti-racism affected your response (in whatever form including internal responses and not actively engaging in public response) to Charlottesville.
    • If you are a person who is directly targeted by the oppression and terror of white supremacy – how did you (are you) seek/ing care for yourself since Charlottesville?
      • What do you do individually?
      • What do you do (or not do) in different communities in which you participate?
      • How does your faith or the examples of your faith-filled sheroes and heroes inform your regimen of self-care?
      • Do you ever feel guilty for needing or participating in self-care? What aspects of your faith or examples from others might help alleviate your guilt for taking the time for self-care?
    • If you are burnt out right now – how would you like others to support you?
    • How might the work of multi-racial coalitions doing the work of anti-oppression together create spaces for self-care even in the midst of the ongoing struggle for liberation and safety for all? How much time will you protect for yourself before working to create or participate in a multi-racial, intersectional, anti-oppression coalition?
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Merrie Landers: Girl Scouts to Europe

original

Here’s a wonderful piece by Margarita Cambest in the Towson Times, a Baltimore Sun newspaper, about my Girl Scout troop, the Merrie Landers, and our 1957 10-week trip to Europe.  A memorable moment in time.  I’m in the first row, far right, in both pictures. Fashion note that Cambest included: we camped in Girl Scout uniform dresses. We weren’t allowed to wear pants.

beth girls DSC04668

Nancy Drew Button Mystery: September 9

Buttons are full of mysteries, says Cynthia Bartlett, newly elected president of the New Jersey State Button Society (NJSBS). “I am amazed that after 30 years, I am still curious about buttons, still looking for clues to how each was made.”

The  NJSBS will present its Show and Competition on Saturday, September 9, 9 a.m. to 4 cynthia bartlett solves a button mysteryp.m. at the Union Fire Company fire hall, 1396 River Road (Route 29), Titusville, NJ 08560, and there is plenty of free parking. Admission is $2 for adults, free for juniors.

Members of  the 76-year-old society like to study, collect, and preserve clothing buttons, both old and new. Eager to share their knowledge with those just beginning to collect, they will present a 1 p.m. program entitled “Nancy Drew Button Mystery: clues to materials and histories.“For details contact Cynthia Bartlett at 1-732-356-4132 or buttonsinnewjersey@gmail.com, or  visit  http://newjerseystatebuttonsociety.org.

The show attracts antique enthusiasts, quilters, crafters,  reenactors, and those seeking special buttons to wear. Anyone who pays the $10 membership fee may enter the NJSBS competitions, which are judged by popular vote. The button artwork category will appeal to quilters, and crafters might choose button wearables or button jewelry. One  competition category honors the memory of the late John Sagi; another honors the late button author Anne Flood. Featured will be buttons that show animals, Santa Claus images, and even carrots.

The Union Fire Company & Rescue Squad building is located at the intersection of Route 29 and Park Lake Avenue in Titusville, opposite the Delaware River and D&R Canal State Park (with  easy access to the canal park), a half mile north of Washington Crossing State Park in Hopewell Township, and some five miles south of Lambertville and New Hope, PA.

College Admissions: a different perspective

wongHere is a guest post by Greg Wong, co-founder with his brother Kevin of  Princeton Tutoring and PrepMaven. Engineering majors at Princeton, they began their careers as  strategy consultants and hedge fund operators. Now, as they apply their data and research-backed problem solving skills to the college preparation process, they emphasize personal development, character, and service as key components of college admissions success.

The Wongs are on the right track. Having interviewed high school seniors for my alma mater for more than 30 years,  I see too much angst over ‘resumes’ and not enough attention to what really matters. Here are some good thoughts to start the school year, no matter what age the student is.  

Admissions rates for highly selective colleges continue to fall. For example, Princeton University has had record low admission rates for each of the past EIGHT years.

Unsurprisingly, many of the families that we advise are increasingly stressed about college. These students are increasingly pressured to overload on AP classes and pack on the extracurriculars in order to compete. Many of their schedules are so over-prescribed that they don’t have any time to think about why they’re doing their activities in the first place.

Is this what colleges really want? NO.

Whether they like it or not, colleges and universities have a huge impact on millions of high school students based on their college admissions requirements. Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions around these requirements.

In direct response to the ever-increasing arms race that we’re all seeing and feeling, the Harvard Graduate School of Education released a report in 2016 called “Turning the Tide” that I encourage every parent to read.

The report shares a vision of college admissions that emphasizes not just individual achievement but also concern for others and the common good. It is endorsed by over 80 college admissions officers and other key stakeholders.

Additionally, a group of 90+ institutions including all the Ivies and Stanford have developed a new alternative to the Common Application called the Coalition Application that “encourages reflection and self-discovery” through an online portfolio that students can start populating as early as ninth grade.

Pamela T. Horne, vice provost for enrollment management at Purdue University, explained in an interview with Inside Higher Ed that “the idea isn’t about how you should pad your resume, but about how you should have significant experiences as part of your education.”

Whether you think that the ability to start populating components of your college application and sharing information with admissions officers as early as ninth grade is a good idea or not, the intentions behind these new tools seem to be well meaning.

The “new” thinking behind the “Turning the Tide” report and the Coalition Application gels with the way my brother Kevin and I have been thinking about things for years. We’ve done quite a bit of research on what top colleges really want, and we’ve identified 3 major characteristics of the most successful college applicants:

  1. Academic Achievement
  2. Extracurricular Distinction
  3. Character and Personal Qualities

Many students and families focus way too much on #1 and #2.

Our personal philosophy is that students should also emphasize the things that will make them successful in LIFE – character, personal development, and concern for others.

By doing these things, students will automatically set themselves up for college admissions success (if they choose to go to college of course), which should be the happy byproduct, not their life’s end goal.

 

 

 

So much good stuff this week

So much good stuff this week in U.S. 1.

Aside from the cover story, there is Richard K. Rein’s fascinating column on D-Day in Normandy.

A review of my new favorite restaurant in Hopewell (Basilico).

A primer for employees on tipping, as relates to a Princeton Regional Chamber breakfast this Wednesday.

And two intriguing revelations about celebrities with Princeton roots.

Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, is a trustee at Institute for Advanced Study and is donating millions for research on machine learning.  (Win Straube will be pleased; he’s been touting online tutoring for forever.)

And when you see a  Kushner name on a commercial real estate property in Princeton, you now know for sure what THAT Kushner has to do with THE Kushner, Jared. As here: 

“The founder of Kushner Real Estate Group is Murray Kushner, and his son, Jonathan Kushner, serves as president. Murray is the estranged brother of the developer Charles Kushner whose son, Jared Kushner, is the son-in-law of President Trump.”

To meet the folks who put out this paper every week, come to the Summer Fiction reception, Wednesday, August 16, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Tre Piani restaurant in Princeton Forrestal Village. The free event begins with informal networking, accompanied by a cash bar and free hors d’oeuvres, with introductions of the poets and authors beginning at around 6 p.m.

What if the government just gave everyone money?

8-9 Cover & Front (1-8).indd

The Guaranteed Minimum Income plan, or Universal Basic Income, is not new. It was researched by a Princeton company, Mathematica Policy Research (MPR), back in 1969. It’s the subject of Diccon Hyatt’s excellent cover story “Driven by Data” in this week’s U.S. 1 Newspaper.

Led by Paul Decker, MPR is a company I’m proud to have in Princeton.

person to person still matters

franklin corner deli

It’s 6:30 am at Franklin Corner Deli, and in walks Jerry Fennelly, one of my best ‘sources’ when I was reporting on real estate, picking up morning coffee for his 13 hour day. What’s new, Jerry? He obligingly launches into his trend analysis (I haven’t seen it, but you can order it). My take on what he said:

  • landlords should worry, businesses are taking smaller offices than their job roster warrants because many workers will be traveling or working from home.  Fennelly cited a company that is taking half the space that the workforce size would warrant.
  • retail real estate dealers should worry because the whole world of real estate is morphing into an Amazon-endangered zone.

fennellyFennelly and I enjoy a back and forth about the prospects of shoe stores and food stores. Shoe stores, he admits, might survive because bunion-sufferers like to try on shoes. The food business might be transformed by the Peapods and the Blue Aprons, but folks will still patronize the entertainment side of food – restaurants.

Today a New York Times article underlines Fennelly’s proposition. What we in Princeton know as “shared office space” began l-o-n-g ago with businesses like Princeton Office Solutions in inexpensive (now ancient) developments like Hilton Realty’s Research Park. The cheapest rental space is the mailbox they keep for you, and you can rent conference rooms if you need to meet a client.

In the ’80s and ’90s independent landlords operated these spaces all over Greater Princeton. Last time I looked (disclaimer, I retired 5 years ago and no longer track this), virtually all the Class A spaces had been bought out by Regus. 

The next new business model might be for large co-working space operators to rent large amounts of space for, according to a NYT source, “commercial landlords who want to maintain a hands-off approach with renters and not have to provide copy machines, mail forwarding and receptionists to individual tenants.” In other words, the co-working spaces will house – not just start-ups and entrepreneurs but significantly sized companies.

Yet – yet – the Wall Street Journal says the opposite. 

Employers are ending or reducing remote-work arrangements as managers demand more collaboration, closer contact with customers—and more control over the workday. But bringing workers back to the office isn’t easy.

Fennelly went on his way and I went back to Delaware Valley Physical Therapy  to introduce aJames-W-226x150.-Schorsch,-PT,-DPT friend to the ministrations of the fabulous Jim Schorsch. Seems to me these two trends will prevail — the value of chance encounters like this one, and the viability of hands-on occupations like the various therapies. You can’t massage a sore knee with TV medicine.

 

 

 

 

 

Bali on $300 a day: Insider Tour

Now edited — I have removed the itinerary from Princeton Comment as of 8-28-17

THIS JUST IN –  last minute chance to go to Bali on an insider tour led by Kathleen Winn.  A friend who went on this tour last year is “wildly enthusiastic” and she lives in Princeton, hence my excuse for putting it up on Princeton Comment.  It’s a last minute chance, if interested contact KathyWin1@verizon.net 

balis below: 
From my friend: I’m sure you recall how wildly enthusiastic I was about my trip last August/September.  A very similar trip is going this year, again with Indonesia expert / private guide ( with no personal profit -only a love of the the country). Several people just had to drop out for medical reasons, opening up their spaces. The trip costs ~$2,700 including local flights (Bali-Flores round trip), the boat trip – all but airfare , which is about $1,100 right now. Most such trips are double or more, without the personal home visits and connections that are part of Kathy Winn’s trip.
What I found most meaningful were Buddhist Hindi and other ceremonies/visits. It brought far greater understanding of people with different traditions, cultures and religions.

Cross your fingers: health news

Today’s healthcare news:

I’ll start with Juliet Eilperin’s coverage of the healthcare bill in the Washington Post, “From hospitals, doctors, and patients, a last gasp of opposition to the Senate health-care bill,” A Daily Princetonian alumna, the Post’s senior national affairs correspondent, she tells of how hospitals have mounted unusual lobbying efforts. ‘While McConnell had been pressing for a vote on the measure before the end of June, the delay gave opponents more time to marshal their arguments and make their case to lawmakers. This final lobbying push represents opponents’ best chance of derailing McConnell’s final drive to passage, which continues to look uncertain.’

Today the CEO of Incyte, Herve Hoppenot, speaks at the Princeton Regional chamber lunch. Look for me in a striped jacket. At age six I ‘worked’ in my parents’ cancer research lab and 70 years later I have a vested interest in new cancer cures.