From worm poop to designer bottles?

TerraCycle_CEO_Tom_SzakyGarbage is certainly the hero at the Terracycle headquarters, says Diccon Hyatt, who tells of Tom Szaky’s latest iteration, a new business model for his throwaway manufacturing business. It’s Diccon Hyatt’s cover story in the issue dated July 4 but being distributed a day early, click here, 

It’s a long way from when the headquarters for Szaky’s four-person start-up was a basement room, with a futon cot, on the corner of Nassau and Chamber Street.  U.S. 1 has charted his progress. His success story – leaving Princeton University to start a business –  is no comfort to hand-wringing parents of students aiming to quit school to follow their dreams.

 

Advertisements

Listen well to get at the truth

OwlthenaLogoFINAL_Full-Logo-on-White

An article from the Harvard Business Review courtesy of Niki (Veronica) Fielding’s  new newsletter Owlthena, validated one of my favorite approaches to reporting: Keep prepared questions to a minimum and just ‘follow the trail’ of where the conversation leads.

It works only when there is no time limit, and when you have the freedom to circle back to the subject again, but it’s pretty exciting to start at square one as if you know almost nothing. When you let one question lead to another, both you and your subject may be surprised at the discoveries.

HBR says: Follow-up questions seem to have special power. They signal to your conversation partner that you are listening, care, and want to know more. People interacting with a partner who asks lots of follow-up questions tend to feel respected and heard.

It also works for me to say, at the beginning, anything can be off the record:

HBR: People also tend to be more forthcoming when given an escape hatch or “out” in a conversation. For example, if they are told that they can change their answers at any point, they tend to open up more—even though they rarely end up making changes. 

The article came to me in Niki’s new Owlthena newsletter, “What’s Hot Wednesday,” an assembly of business studies that I would not have seen. The one from HBR was by Alison Wood Brooks and Leslie K. John. (Feminist thought: is it a coincidence that this intensive study on listening was done by women?)

One caution about this approach: Many busy people don’t want to give you the time to meander down uncharted lanes. Keep the prepared questions in your pocket.

 

 

 

Hands off the wheel?

volksy

Would you trust your family to be safe in a self-driving car? Would you trust your own car on the road along with self-driving cars? And will insurance skyrocket?

Michael Scrudato, senior vp of Munich Re, could answer those questions at the Princeton Regional Chamber lunch Thursday, June 7 at 11:30 a.m. at the Forrestal Marriott. Walk-ins aren’t charged extra. Here’s a preview. 

Race and Protest at Princeton and in Trenton

IMGP2677Welcome to the 54th reunion for Princeton’s Class of ’64! Not the “regular” class. Instead, we’re convening at the reunion for a special summer program for disadvantaged high school kids from the city. Its most well-known graduate – Harlan Bruce Joseph. Like most at the beginning of this tour, I had no idea who he was or what his fate would be.

Today (5-31-18) Kyle Berlin (Valedictorian for the class of 2018) and Milan Eldridge (Class of 2020) led three dozen people – townies and alumni — in a  performance walk “Walking Histories: Race and Protest at Princeton and in Trenton,” one of five different tours offered by the Trenton Project.  At this writing, three performances remain, all starting at Princeton University Art Museum. If you read this in time they are – all different —

Friday, June 1 at 10 a.m. Performed by Berlin and Eldridge, written by Berlin and Anna Kimmel.

Friday, June 1 at 11 a.m. Written and performed by Ben Bollinger: “Whites turn around to see a Negro dressed in Ivy clothes and carrying a bag marked “Princeton.”

Saturday, June 2, at 10 a.m. Written and performed by Maria Jerez: A life of Javier Johnson White.”

If not catch the Picturing Protest exhibition at the Art Museum, on view for the next five months. Or on first Mondays at 7 pm at Princeton Public Library, come to Not in Our Town Princeton’s Continuing Conversations on Race and White Privilege. On June 4, you will hear and discuss how racial literacy is taught at Princeton High School.

Alison Isenberg and Aaron Landsman  supervised this project; Landsman coached the students in the dramaturgy of how to tell this story like a play. The first stop: Spelman Apartments, named after Laura Spelman Rockefeller, a philanthropist and abolitionist whose dollars funded the first trial of the summer program for high schoolers said to have had “little hope for college.”IMGP2671

Next stop: the Lewis Center, near where Joseph would have arrived on the Dinky train, from Trenton. Contrast: the Lewis Center cost $180 million. Trenton is trying to build an arts center with $80,000. (Rich Rein quotes Berlin in his cover story in U.S. 1 this week, and here is the Berlin oped complete.

Continuing the ironic comparisons, Berlin stops at Whitman College (actually named after Meg but, for this tour, credited to poet Walt), and we learn that it cost $136 million to build, almost six times more than the city of Trenton’s annual budget. It was designed in ‘fake Gothic,” says Berlin, appropriate, he says, since eBay dotes on nostalgia.IMGP2672

At the next stop we learn, for this tour, that the building labeled Wilson College should really be named after Preston Wilcox, a social scientist and human rights activist who advocated for black history studies.IMGP2674

We leave the summer of 1964 and move to the spring of 1968 and the unrest after the King assassination. At this point Joseph is a sophomore at Lincoln University preparing to go to seminary. The police shot Joseph as a looter but all those who knew him deny that he would have done that. He was the only person who died in those riots.  We hear from the eulogy by beloved pastor G. Carter Woodson: “We are responsible for the conditions that allow riots to take place.”

More memories:

The boys of that 1964 summer were turned away from a Princeton barbershop. They wrote a letter to Town Topics in protest.

In their class they debated about that summer’s police brutality in Harlem. .

We share Joseph’s letter about his aspirations to be a minister. The letter was printed on cards, and we passed them around, reading it sentence by sentence: “I have the foundation and tools to be an effective minister, and I strive to help those who are discriminated against…Keep on trying. In every group there will be some listening to what you are saying.”

Was Harlan Bruce Joseph a looter? Or a dreamer?   We are asked to imagine that his statue has been erected “over there.”

 

OTC-TTClass_torn-01

 

 

 

For antique-ers, crafters, sewers, quilters, re-nactors, and the just plain curious…

fall show second photo - Young button collector Elena IbanezOceans, rivers, fish and whales — see them pictured on buttons at the New Jersey State Button Society (NJSBS) Show and Competition, set for Saturday, May 12, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Button collectors will also enter competitions featuring baskets and buttons made from celluloid and black glass.

The  show will be held 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 to age 17.

This  show and sale of collectible clothes buttons attracts antique enthusiasts, quilters, crafters,  re-enactors, and those seeking special buttons to wear. The day’s activities include a button raffle and a forum on how to put together a winning entry for the state competitions.

Members of the NJSBS share an interest in studying, collecting, and preserving clothing buttons, both old and new. The NJSBS was founded in 1941, at a time when a nationwide interest in button collecting was surging. Many authors of classic books on button collecting come from New Jersey.

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.  Contact 732-356-4132. email, buttonsinnewjersey@gmail.com,  or visit  http://newjerseystatebuttonsociety.org.

Calling White Evangelicals to Stand Against Racism

niot banner

Ten days before the national observance of the Stand Against Racism day, a leader of evangelical Christians sent a wakeup call to conservative Christians everywhere: Mark Labberton, president of Fuller Theological Seminary addressed  leaders gathered at Wheaton College (Illinois). In multi-faceted, far-reaching remarks, he defined white supremacy and attributed it to Christian leaders past and current.  

To get details on YWCA Princeton’s plans for Stand Against Racism day, click here. 

To read his address, “Political Dealing, the Crisis of Evangelicalism,”  click here.  Main points: 

This is not a crisis imposed from outside the household of faith, but from within.

This is not a crisis taking place at the level of language.

This is not a crisis unfolding at the level of group allegiance, denomination, or affiliation.

This is not a recent crisis but a historic one. . .”Right alongside the rich history of gospel faithfulness that evangelicalism has affirmed, there lies a destructive complicity with dominant cultural and racial power. Despite deep gospel confidence and rhetoric, evangelicalism has been long-wedded to a devastating social self-interest that defends the dominant culture over and against that of the gospel’s command to love the “other” as ourselves. . .

First is the issue of power.  …”The apparent evangelical alignment with the use of power that seeks dominance, control, supremacy, and victory over compassion and justice associates Jesus with the strategies of Caesar, not with the good news of the gospel.,,

Second is the issue of race. …”White history narrates the story of America’s heroes, and white evangelical history views those “good guys” as the providence of a good and faithful God.  When some white evangelicals triumphantly pronounce that we now have “the best president the religious right ever had,” the crisis it underscores to millions of people of color is not an indictment of our President as much as it is an indictment of white evangelicalism and a racist gospel…

Third is the issue of nationalism. …”For white evangelicals to embrace a platform and advocacy that promotes, prioritizes, and defends America above all and over all is to embrace an idolatry that has only ever proven disastrous…

Fourth is the issue of economics.  …”When white evangelicals in prominent and wealthy places speak about what is fair and beneficial for society, but then pass laws and tax changes that create more national indebtedness and elevate the top 1% even higher—while cutting services and provisions for children, the disabled, and the poor that are castigated as disgusting “entitlements”—one has to ask how this is reconciled with being followers of Jesus…

Labberton hopes that evangelicals can change their racist views and cites Matthew 28, the account of the Great Commission. “Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.” Labberton points out that Jesus gave the Great Commission even to those who doubted, those who might have been considered unworthy. “So perhaps he can also still use American evangelicals as well.”

Though I  personally focus on trying to help the people of this world come to know their God better — and some say that is evangelizing — I oppose the rigid beliefs of evangelical theology. Nevertheless I applaud Labberton’s urging the conservative Christian community to study its responsibility for white supremacy, definable as “a system which manipulates and pits all races and ethnicities against each other.”

The organization I support, Not in Our Town Princeton, aims to identify and expose the political, economic, and cultural systems which have enabled white supremacy to flourish. We are trying to create new structures and policies which will ensure equity and inclusion for all.  

As NIOT Princeton’s website says, “listen to your heart, figure out whether you can contribute time, talent, tithe, or some combination of all three, and then STEP UP! And tell all your friends how your commitment to racial justice is reflected in your calendar, your checkbook, and your conversations. The website offers resources, one place to begin. 

Or come to the rally this Friday. 

 

 

 

 

Suspension? or Restorative Justice

lecture2

Guest post by Eileen Sinett for the website Not in Our Town Princeton. 

On April 12, 2018, at John Witherspoon Middle School, Dr. Anne Gregory of Rutgers University shared her research on restorative justice.  Restorative justice is an alternative method of treating students who are perceived to be defiant, disrespectful, and insubordinate. Instead of punishment in the form of suspension, restorative justice focuses on social and emotional learning as an attempt to improve and correct student behavior.  Rather than “exiling” a student through suspension, restorative justice helps students understand their thoughts and behavior, the harm it may cost others, and the healing that’s necessary to remain in school and to learn. The students confront their mistakes, are held accountable and are more likely to remain in school to graduate.

Dr. Gregory shared data showing that students with repeated suspensions are 20% less likely to graduate from high school or go to college and 3 times more likely to get in trouble with the police. Traditional disciplinary methods involving suspension and other punitive measures tend to support the “school to prison pipeline.”

The two groups most at risk for repeated school suspension are Black males and students with disabilities, both male and female.  In one study, teachers were asked to observe a video of a preschool class and determine which children were more likely become troublemakers.  The teachers wore glasses with eye-tracking software, allowing researchers to track eye movements.  The study showed that the observers tracked Black children more than White children, even though no disruptive behavior was demonstrated by any of the children. The experiment revealed implicit racial bias on the part of the teacher/observers.

There is evidence that restorative justice programs are helping students stay in school and become more active and engaged learners.  Developing social awareness, relationship skills, responsible decision-making, self-awareness (including implicit bias), and self-management (regulating emotions) for both staff and students are keys to the success of restorative justice.

Interventions involve Community Building Circles, where students and staff share vulnerabilities and have their voice heard. More intensive interventions involve restorative dialogue and re-entry circles. The goals are similar, to build trust and community, be supported emotionally and socially, make informed decisions, stay in the school system, and become better students.

Like all new initiatives, restorative justice programs have their problems. However, having committed leadership, staff training and prioritizing relationships over rules, and self-management over suspension are critical to success.

Reported by Eileen Sinett for the website Not in Our Town Princeton. 

Jammin’ on Palmer Square

Guest post from Colleen Miller (thank you, Colleen!) 

Princetonians taking a stroll in the warmer weather in April might notice some unusual activity on Palmer Square. A swarm of volunteers and artists have descended on an empty storefront at 19 Hulfish Street, taking a ‘blank canvas’ of a retail shop and transforming it into an amazing, eclectic art gallery filled with a myriad of life and color.

The short-term pop-up art gallery – called ArtJam 2018 –  brings together professional artists, undiscovered artists who have experienced homelessness, and the community at large.

As a volunteer, I visited this week during gallery set up, and I can sincerely say I was “blown away” by the quality and quantity of beautiful art.

But buying cool art is not all ArtJam offers. Purchases of art at the gallery support HomeFront’s ArtSpace – a innovative therapeutic art program. ArtJam provides a double-dip experience. You can feel good twice because you are buying art you love and supporting a cause you can believe in.

Now in its ninth year, ArtJam has grown to over 100 participating artists, from Princeton and beyond. Original works by highly renown artists including Judith Brodsky, Jon Sarkin, Cynthia Groya and Gordon Gund are in the exhibition. Pieces from these professional artists are displayed alongside the works of HomeFront clients who have limited means but enormous talents.

Another cool feature is the “buy from the wall” aspect – when you buy an item, you can take it home immediately. The gallery continues to display a rotating collection of art for sale and will be hosting musicians, demos and meet-and-greets with the artists through April 29.

A wide variety of mediums are included — paintings, pottery, glassworks, jewelry, sculpture, and hand-sewn items from SewingSpace, another HomeFront art program.

Since its founding years ago, HomeFront (https://www.homefrontnj.org/) has worked to end family homelessness in Central New Jersey by breaking the cycle of poverty.  HomeFront has developed a sophisticated network of supportive housing and social services for very low-income families.

ArtSpace  (https://www.homefrontnj.org/artspace) often opens doors to new ways of thinking for HomeFront clients, fostering their creativity, self-esteem, and confidence, and helping to set them on a path to achieve independence.  The artists learn to reveal their voice and feel joy in their accomplishments.  Also offered is experience in entrepreneurial skills, empowering the artists to see value in their work as it is admired and purchased by others.  ArtJam is one way for them to exhibit and sell their work.

The ArtJam opening reception on Friday, April 13 is open to the public from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at 19 Hulfish Street, Palmer Square in Princeton.  For a full calendar of ArtJam events, visit:  https://www.homefrontnj.org/artjam/

 ArtJam At A Glance 

Dates: Friday, April 13- Sunday, April 29

Location: 19 Hulfish Street, Palmer Square, Princeton, NJ

Opening Reception: Friday, April 13, 5-9 pm

Gallery Hours:  Monday through Wednesday, 12 noon to 6 p.m.; Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.to 8:30 p.m.; Sunday, 12 noon to 5 p.m.

  ArtJam, April 13 -29 will feature works of over 100 artists. Proceeds will help support the artists and ArtSpace programs.

Safer children? Maybe not

20120610164834_00019ALiving three blocks from a school, I am continually surprised to see parents walking fourth graders to and fro. Yet I remember how my sister and I walked ourselves to school in every grade. As for my kids, I never accompanied my kids to the bus stop and often I didn’t keep tabs on where, in the neighborhood, they were.

Is it such a different world? This article in the Atlantic explains how today’s parents protect their children — and question whether that’s needed or effective.

Telling your story

 

330px-Millais_Boyhood_of_Raleigh

We all have a story to tell but sometimes we need help telling it.

I’m looking forward to a four-session workshop with Eileen Sinett  on Wednesday nights in April. If you want to take your communication skills up a couple of notches, consider joining me at the Four Points of Connection workshop starting April 4. Sinett will also offer a one-day version on May 9.

Honing my speaking skill is a theme for me this year. In January I joined a small group of women at Princeton Theological Seminary for a Women’s Voices workshop with Nancy Lammers Gross.  Half of us weren’t preachers; we all connected with each other as well as with our vocal chords. Lammers Gross repeats it on May 8 and 9.

What’s your story? How do you tell it?

(Illustration from Wikipedia: The Boyhood of Raleigh by Sir John Everett Millais, oil on canvas, 1870. A seafarer tells the young Sir Walter Raleigh and his brother the story of what happened out at sea