In this week’s cover story, Dorothy Mullen tells the story of a group whose survival is in question and whose success depends on in-person meetings: the Suppers Programs, which she founded more than a decade ago and which, for reasons she explains, is need of new supporters from the community to carry on her legacy.

Suppers is not the only endangered group in a world where face-to-face interactions are increasingly uncommon. The letter below — like many received in the past few months — illustrates the fight to save another important community organization.

To the Editor: PCTV Isn’t Necessary, But It’s Vital

We’re Princeton Community Television veterans of long-standing who have a few words to say about the disturbing news that the lights may go out in the studio.

Let’s be frank: Princeton Community Television is not necessary. It’s not a school, or a bridge, or a municipal building. If it didn’t exist tomorrow, Princeton Township would not dry up and blow away. But as we’ve come to realize during the 21 years we’ve been producing and hosting “A Fistful of Popcorn,” our movie-discussion show, this small station has been a large part of the cultural melange that makes Princeton unique.

Our main focus has been the small-budget independent features that are the bread and butter of the Princeton Garden Theater and other local art cinemas. But we have also featured guests: local and international filmmakers have sat with us to talk about their work, discussions that had no other platform. We have promoted film festivals on the Princeton campus and in town, as well as the Trenton Film Festival, which has a growing worldwide reputation. In addition, we have been excited to promote each year several of Princeton Public Library’s film festivals, including its acclaimed Environmental Film Festival and its Student Film Festival, coming up this year on Wednesday and Thursday, July 17 and 18.

We’ve heard it said that our show and others could simply be produced cheaply in our own homes and posted on YouTube. Technically, that’s so. But unlike YouTube, Princeton Community Television is a place with an identity. At a time when community get-togethers and face-to-face interactions are dwindling, the station is like the old general store with a cracker barrel around which the neighborhood gathered. It’s where life happens. It’s where Princeton assumes its real nature, beyond what the rest of the world thinks we are.

No, Princeton Community Television is not necessary. But it is vital. And without it, a light goes out and further dims the sense of community that binds us together. We need to keep the lights on.

Marilyn Campbell, Janet Stern, Bob Brown, Carol Welsch

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