The virtual became real at 5:30 p.m. May 9, as hundreds tuned in to Princeton TV’s broadcast of D&R Greenway’s Gala Watch Party and Donald B. Jones Conservation Award Ceremony.
Viewers were treated to intimate interviews of awardees Phyllis Marchand and John Rassweiler of Princeton, whose unique life experiences launched powerful personal conservation commitments that have resulted in preserved land in local communities.
Those who missed the virtual Gala may view it on D&R Greenway’s website at drgreenway.org
Christopher DeGrezia, the land trust’s board chair, could have been standing on a patio at Greenway Meadows, rather than before a camera, welcoming all via Zoom.
“We could not imagine that we would begin our fourth decade as a land trust amidst ... a viral pandemic’s sweeping through the world,” he said, citing public enthusiasm communicated ever since D&R Greenway’s “Our Open Space is Open” message was launched as the pandemic became official.
“Neighbors near and far are find[ing] comfort on our trails, discovering respite in nature,” DeGrezia said. He assured participants that, upon D&R Greenway preserves, “Social distancing guidelines are being honored, without proving deterrents to enjoyment.”
Co-Chair of the Board of Trustees Wendy Kvalheim announced a matching challenge. Vanessa Sandom and her husband Carl Seiden of Hopewell offer a 1:1 match to raise a total of $10,000 toward the event’s overall $50,000 goal. Funds will create a Forever Place, named for each awardee.
At D&R Greenway’s St. Michaels Farm Preserve in Hopewell, a wildflower meadow will be planted in the footprint of the former Orphanage with native plants essential to pollinators. “Marchand Meadow” will honor Phyllis Marchand’s decades of service.
An existing gap in the Sourlands will become the “Rassweiler Restoration Forest.” One hundred native trees will be planted to support neotropical songbirds in breeding and migration seasons.
Donations to these forever places can be made through D&R Greenway’s website, drgreenway.org. Those who donate $100 or more will receive in the mail two D&R Greenway buffs – to wear as a stylish mask, or on a cold day. Those who donate $500 or more will receive an author-signed copy of “Roadside Geology of NJ” by David Harper. Those who donate $1,750 or expand their Gala donation to that amount will receive a gift-boxed set of D&R Greenway’s new Three Wines for Preservation, with fine-art labels by artist and Trustee James Fiorentino.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the annual Donald B. Jones Conservation Award.