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In Nov. 2021 after ten years of our evolving mission and impact, we changed our name to Gathering Ground. You may still find reference to our old name Creative New Jersey in posts created prior to Nov. 2021.

2017 Gathering Ground Summit Presenters


Hammonton Posada Celebration for Unity

A community gathering to bridge differences: The first Hammonton Posada, a celebration common in Hispanic countries, brought together hundreds of residents of different backgrounds in December 2016 to foster curiosity, openness, tolerance and unity. The celebration, sponsored by the nonprofit Allies in Caring Inc., the NJ Pinelands Commission, and Hammonton MainStreet, among others, included traditional Hispanic Christmas crafts, stories, singing, piñatas and food donated by local businesses.

Ivette Guillermo-McGahee, MA, ACS, LPC, Founder & Executive Director – Allies in Caring, Inc.

Youth Healing Team Takes Trauma-Informed Care to Camden Schools

The Hopeworks ‘N Camden Youth Healing Team bring their trauma-informed care educational program – created and delivered by teens for teens – to Camden City schools to educate students, faculty and staff on addressing behavioral issues. This year their work gained the attention – and the top prize – of the Scattergood Foundation Innovation Award at the National Council of Behavioral Health conference. The Hopeworks Youth Healing Team was nominated alongside nationally recognized institutions, including the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and Dartmouth Centers for Health and Aging.

Dan Rhoton, Executive Director – Hopeworks ‘N Camden
Will Shrieks, Youth Healing Team – Hopeworks ‘N Camden

Addressing Vacancy, Business Development & Creative Placemaking through Innovative Financial Services

NJ Community Capital provides innovative financial and technical assistance for homes, educational facilities, creative placemaking initiatives and employment opportunities in multiple NJ communities. NJCC’s THRIVE South Jersey initiative supports businesses and economic development and their pilot program “Lights on Downtown” helps the purchase and renovation of mixed use buildings on commercial corridors to reduce vacancies. NJCC also helps main streets organizations to work collaboratively with cultural institutions as anchors to attract other cultural and ancillary businesses.

Joe Palazzolo, Lending Team Leader of Education & Early Care – NJCC
Laura Wallick, Program Manager – NJCC

Statewide News with a Local Focus – the NJTV “In Your Neighborhood” Program

NJTV’s In Your Neighborhood program is a new initiative that takes public television deeper into the community through special programming, including live broadcasts from communities aimed at highlighting specific issues that affect local residents and live panel discussions with community members.

Selma Betancourt, Community Engagement – NJTV

Transformational Partnerships and Creative Placemaking in Orange

Learn about a long-term, transformative, collaborative partnership in Orange between ValleyArts – a creative placemaking and community arts organization – and HANDS, Inc. – a community development corporation – that has let to multiple projects at the intersection of arts, culture, community development and transportation.

Luther Flurry, Executive Director – HANDS, Inc.
Candace Lee, Executive Director – ValleyArts


Improving Health through Collaboration and Policy & Environmental Change

EZ Ride’s Bike & Pedestrian team is using Safe Routes to School, StreetSmartNJ, Get ActiveNJ, NJ Healthy Cornerstore and other healthy community grants to promote active living and healthy eating, and to reduce health barriers and disparities. The team is working with schools, municipalities, and community partners in Asbury Park, Bloomfield, Elizabeth, Long Branch, Orange, Plainfield, Scotch Plains-Fanwood, and several other NJ communities. You will hear about a few of their initiatives and get ideas about how you can creatively partner with others to improve the health of your community and make a little money go a long way.

Lisa Lee, Project Dir./Mngr. – Alliance for a Healthier Asbury Park / Bike & Ped Program

NJ’s Public Airwaves Have Been Sold – How Would We Use the Money to Better Inform Our Communities?

Free Press will discuss the $332 million in revenue New Jersey will be receiving from the sale of its old public media licenses. The question Free Press is asking NJ cities and towns is: How would you use that money to better inform your community? One suggestions is the Civic Information Consortium, a fund made up from a portion of this $332 million that would give money to local media, civic technology, and other projects meant to keep NJ’s residents informed.

James Thompson, Organizer – Free Press/Free Press Action Fund; News Voices: New Jersey

Innovative Partnerships to Tackle Our Water Infrastructure

Jersey Water Works is a statewide collaborative working to transform New Jersey’s inadequate water infrastructure through sustainable, cost-effective solutions that provide communities with clean water and waterways; healthier, safer neighborhoods; local jobs; flood and climate resilience; and economic growth.

Jane Rosenblatt, Program Manager – New Jersey Future/Jersey Water Works

Urban Farming & Community Center Team Up to Feed Camden’s Children

Seasoned restauranteur and entrepreneur Fredric Byarm’s passion for food & urban farming to address food insecurity found fertile ground in a new partnership with The Neighborhood Center – a community center serving over 47,000 meals a year to Camden’s young people, in addition to other programs focused on academics, arts and athletics.

Fredric Byarm, Executive Chef and Urban Farmer – The Neighborhood Center
Vedra Chandler, Associate Director – The Neighborhood Center

Atlantic City’s Grassroots Collaborations Have Citizens Leading Change

Atlantic City’s collaborative initiatives are taking off and accelerating: Learn about multiple collaborative, inclusive and creative initiatives including ThisIsAC – a grassroots branding and marking initiative for the city; the launch of the Ducktown Neighborhood Association; and the 48-Block Project – a city-wide arts celebration in which each of Atlantic City’s six wards will showcase eight arts projects for the public, coming up on June 24, 2017.

Michael Cagno, Executive Director – The Noyes Museum of Art at Stockton University


“Walls came down, bridges were built, inspiration was shared, challenges were tackled, hope was renewed because people who care took the time to come together to have meaningful conversation.Thank you for creating the environment to make this possible. We are stronger together.”

– Doug Goulding, Chief Serving Officer at NCS Paterson and the Paterson Health Initiative