Revision of Mission Statement – We agreed on the following
Not in Our Town is an interracial, interfaith social action group united to advance the cause of racial justice in Princeton.
We are committed to speaking truth about “everyday racism” and other forms of prejudice and discrimination. Where there is conflict we promote reconciliation with open, honest engagement and mutual respect. Our activities and programs promote social justice, economic justice and educational equity for all. Our goal is that Princeton will grow as a town where everyone is safe and respected.
Bystanders Dilemma–Our major public undertaking was this second in our series with the Princeton
Public Library on Bullying: Changing the Culture, April 10. The program attracted an engaged
audience of over 150 attendees including many students from area schools, school officials, and
leaders of community organizations. We collaborated with Corner House’s Princeton High School
GAIA (Growing up Accepted as an Individual in America) program as well as HiTops, and also included Kidsbridge Tolerance Museum as an additional co-sponsor. GAIA facilitators Mary Saudargas and Carol Golden worked very closely with us on the development of the program and they involved their students who developed skits portraying various scenarios involving bullying and bystanders. Mary guided us through the evening. Members of NIOT and professional actors also “performed” under the able direction of Todd Reichart who helped enormously with our “Through Our Eyes” program several years ago. HiTops Executive Director Elizabeth Casparian, wrapped up the program.
During 2012 we developed our next program with the Princeton Public Library in the Changing the
Culture series, Transcending Punishment: A Healing Approach to Bullying, working with Jane Martin, of Volitions Wellness Solutions, as the facilitator of the evening. It was successfully produced on January 23, 2013. We also considered creating two more programs in the series. One would be a private roundtable among community members, leaders and school personnel, evaluating the effectiveness of responses to bullying and other actions classified under the school “HIB”–(harassment, intimidation, bullying) policies; and the other focusing on the victim of bullying.
Continuing Conversations —Our program completed its third year, meeting monthly except for
July-September. Attendance continued to be strong, with some new participants including students
from Princeton University and the Seminary. We opened the year with a follow-up discussion of the
film, Prince Among Slaves, that we had co-sponsored with the Library. Through the year we included
dialogues on blacks and whites working together, experiences and expectations in standing against
racism, describing first experiences with racial difference, looking at the elections and the role of race, focusing on our specific communities– including Princeton– in looking at race and white privilege.
As an outgrowth of our retreat planning (held in August) we formed a NiOT-community advisory
group which helped plan and led the fall series of conversations, and continues.
Unity Awards — Held on May 6 at the Carl Fields Center of Princeton University, we honored Halima-Rakiya Gikandi, Jemima Nelson, Handy Pierre, and Milosh Popovic of Princeton High School and Isaiah Sigler, Sumaiyya Stephens of John Witherspoon Middle School. A full house of family, friends, the school principals, staff, community officials and members joined in the celebration. We presented each student with a $50 gift certificate to Labyrinth and $25 in cash. Carole Krauthamer, our former representative from St. Paul’s Catholic Church, moderated the afternoon.
Membership – Our membership changed during the year, with one of our longtime active members,
Carole Krauthamer from St. Paul’s Catholic Church, resigning; and Rosemary Parish from Trinity
Church, joining and bringing Trinity back into active representation. We voted to change our
congregation contribution policy, asking for a donation of $150 and allowing for less if that was
needed. Our congregational membership, in addition to Trinity Church, continued to include Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Princeton Friends Meeting, Nassau Christian, Princeton United Methodist, The Jewish Center, and Nassau Presbyterian Church.
Partnerships – YWCA Stand Against Racism Day, April 27: We lent our support and participation to
the Human Services Princeton rally, and also to a YWCA program on the “Princeton Plan” including a film and discussion about the 1948 integration of the Princeton Public Schools. Our main action was a letter to the editor, published in the Town Topics, that supported the Stand and encouraged readers to view films such as Traces of the Trade, Race-Power of an Illusion, Mirrors of Privilege, Prince Among Slaves, and Light in the Darkness. A copy of the letter was published in the Town Topics.
New Jim Crow: Rosemary Parish of Trinity Church joined us in the summer, introducing us to the Michelle Alexander book, The New Jim Crow. We immediately embraced her vision for a project to
reach out to the community to raise awareness about her book and its message, leading to actions
to reform polices and laws that have created a caste system reflective of the Jim Crow era. We
determined that the first course of action would be to encourage members of our congregations to
read and discuss the book, as well as to entertain speakers, films, etc. on the issue.
Children’s Defense Fund and ETS: We assisted Larry Spruill in attending the national Children’s
Defense Fund Conference, July 22, Cincinnati, Ohio which focused in part on the “Cradle to Jail
Pipeline”, an issue we had talked about pursuing and which ties into the New Jim Crow. Larry’s
Committed Princetonians were interviewed for an ETS produced film shown at the conference on
the middle school experiences of African American boys. He also heard Michelle Alexander speak
about the new Jim Crow and networked with other inspirational leaders from our area and around the
Annual Block Party: We staffed a table at the Annual Block Party sponsored by the Princeton Housing Authority, the Human Services Commission and the Recreation Department on August 26.
National Not In Our Town: Upon a request of the national Not In Our Town, following the
devastation by Storm Sandy in October, we recommended donations could be sent to the Hunger Van
Project of Muslims Against Hunger, and the Monmouth-Ocean County Food Bank. We sent a NiOT
donation of $100 each to the organizations as well.
Social Media: A summary of blog activity: The blog had 82 posts last year. (Over a 4 1/2 year period, it has had more than 21,000 page views. The most popular subject was Melissa Harris Perry on Bayard Rustin, on October 10, 2010, which has had 4,273 page views.) The 2012 posts had a page view count that was usually 25 to 65. The most viewed month was April, 2012, with 1,322 page views. That month was Stand against Racism and Bullying: The Bystanders Dilemma, a program that involved GAIA students. Two of the follow up posts on that program had more than 140 page views each. A guest post by Libby Zinman Schwartz, a report on Stand against Racism, had 103 page views. A post on the topics for the Barnes & Noble book discussions, led by Barbara Flythe, had 245 page views.
Retreat-August 14 we held a strategic planning session hosted generously by Marietta and Joe Taylor.