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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.

Better Together – Brain Trusts and Collaboration

At Creative New Jersey, we’re always in awe of the depth and breadth of the brain trusts in action during meetings of cross-sector, collaborative people (like Dodge’s Imagine Great Things gathering!). At the intersection of diverse perspectives, imagination, and collaboration we often find incredible creativity and innovation.

Like Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s trusted advisors who helped shape policies for the first New Deal, we find that when communities come together they form or expand their own brain trusts, weaving the fabric of their communities closer together and building more unified visions for the future. Knowing that, we’re looking forward to the knowledge, wisdom and practical expertise that our upcoming communities will bring to the table:

Creative NJVOAD flyer central question graphic_V5New Jersey Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NJVOAD) has partnered with Creative New Jersey to hold a convening this week on Thursday, October 22nd in Spring Lake for their state-wide members, including Long Term Recovery Group leaders, case managers, faith-based organizations and others who have been involved in the relief and recovery efforts after Hurricane Sandy. In this one-day convening we’ll be tackling the central question:

“How can we harness the best learning from our ongoing recovery efforts in order to implement those innovative practices in the future?”

There are still a handful of spaces left, so if you’re interested in coming you can register here.

The notes from this convening will be up on CNJ’s website by the third anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, Thursday, October 29th. We hope the wider non-profit, municipal, and business communities and residents will use the notes created by the recovery leaders who are coming together for this event as a resource for learning about and implementing some best practices and new ideas for future resiliency. If you’d like to know when the notes go live and you’re not already signed up for CNJ’s mailing list, you can sign up here.

We’re also looking forward to Calls to Collaboration in Hammonton and Asbury Park in early 2016, and Cumberland County-Delaware Bayshore and Camden later in 2016.


At Creative New Jersey we try to model as an organization what we see happening during our Calls to Collaboration: by working collaboratively across sector to continue building our own statewide brain trust and in so doing, be able to better serve the communities with which we work. To that end, we’ve been forming new partnerships with both the Free Press and Media Mobilizing Project – two organizations who are involved in the News Voices initiative launched earlier this year, supported by The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and The Democracy Fund.

As part of the News Voices initiative, Free Press is working on bringing together community members and newsroom reporters to weave stronger networks for local news, while Media Mobilizing Project’s work focuses on shining a spotlight on untold stories and points of view, as well as coaching organizations to tell their own stories through video and other media.

We’re thrilled to be collaborating with both organizations in communities where we overlap including Atlantic City, Trenton, Camden and Jersey shore communities. Both Free Press and Media Mobilizing Project are also working in New Brunswick, so keep an eye on their upcoming events in those communities and the brain trusts they’re building.

As a closing thought, what are some of your favorite brain trusts? Where do you go for inspiration and different perspectives?


Kacy O’Brien is Creative New Jersey’s Program Manager and is currently a member of Lead New Jersey’s Class of 2015.

Creative New Jersey is dedicated to fostering creativity, innovation, and sustainability by empowering cross-sector partnerships in commerce, education, philanthropy, government, and culture in order to ensure dynamic communities and a thriving economy.

Creative New Jersey’s leaders and partners are regular contributors to the Dodge blog.


“Phenomenal 2 days that allowed us to really see the greatness here in our city. For too long we have remained in our specific areas struggling independently, it’s time to align and support each other’s work.”

– Darren Freedom Green (Trenton)