Princeton Athletics Strikes Trenton with Weapons of Mass Construction

In April, over 130 Princeton student-athletes, coaches, administrators, and faculty fellows headed to Trenton/Hamilton border to contribute to the renovation process at Mill One, a future “sustainable urban village.” Representatives of 12 Princeton athletic programs spent the afternoon working in and around a 240,000 square foot, 110-year-old textile mill which will serve as a mixed-use, environmentally-friendly “campus” when completed. The event was organized by the Princeton Varsity Club, in conjunction with Isles, Inc. of Trenton.

Due to its large size, the group was divided into “teams,” each of which had representatives from multiple sport programs. Two groups cleared debris and installed raised-bed planters at an “urban farm” outside the mill. The planters will keep plant roots from being contaminated by heavy metals present in the majority of the soil during future farming efforts.

Two additional groups conducted demolition work and stripped and re-applied paint inside the facility. Plans for the mill include community services, a business incubator, an arts hub, a training center, loft housing, and neighborhood retail space.

The group began the day with an address by Marty Johnson, a 1981 Princeton graduate and the President and CEO of Isles, Inc., a nonprofit community development and environmental organization overseeing the renovation of the site. Johnson expressed the difficulties faced by local residents. “It’s only eight miles between [Princeton’s] campus and here; this is one of the wealthiest counties in the country, and this is one of the poorest urban areas in the country. So it’s hard to find this disparity – anywhere in the world.” Maria Flores-Mills, a Princeton Associate Dean and Faculty Fellow for the Football and Men’s Ice Hockey teams, echoed that sentiment. “Weapons of Mass Construction provides a unique opportunity… to do some positive work for a non-profit that’s just eight miles away, but in many ways is in a very different world.”

Brooke Russell ’11, a member of the Women’s Track & Field team, sums up her experience: “I find that a project like Weapons of Mass Construction is really unique, in that student-athletes are granted the opportunity to gain awareness of what’s possible, in terms of the ways that we can interact with the community, and what changes we can make on a large scale.”

To view photos from the event, click here!

The Princeton Varsity Club implements and supports programs that perpetuate and enhance the Performance, Values and Community of Princeton Athletics and University, thereby contributing to “Education through Athletics.”

Isles, Inc. is a nonprofit community development and environmental group that fosters self-reliance and sustainable healthy neighborhoods. Founded in 1981, Isles offers a range of services including: real estate development (including community gardens and parks); job training and youth education; environmental clean-up; energy; micro-business development; community planning, and other activities.