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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.

Meet our 15th Creative Community and catch up on Creative New Jersey’s 2018 highlights

Hello Creative Communities and friends!

It’s that time of the year again — to look back on all that’s been happening in our Creative Communities during 2018! If you haven’t had the time to check out our newsletters and blogs, take this opportunity to catch up on Creative New Jersey’s work.


In 2018 we welcomed our 15th Creative Community: Creative Paterson!


More than 60 different breakout sessions were held during Creative Paterson’s Call to Collaboration on June 18 & 19, 2018. Here are some of the ideas or projects that participants committed to taking action on:

• Creation of a multicultural resource center/group
• Launch #HeARTofPaterson
• “Paterson Passport” of attractions
• One Paterson Action Network
• Paterson Housing Coalition


Creative Paterson participants have met twice after the Call to Collaboration and had the opportunity to share progress and exchange ideas on how they can work together to improve the quality of life for Patersonians and make Paterson a “model city of the future.” If you would you like to join the conversation in Paterson, click here to be part of the Creative Paterson Facebook group.


Creative ideas taking hold after our Calls to Collaboration


Good Vibes: Creating Safe Space for Youth, Creative Expression, and Civic Action in Camden

Creating safe spaces for Camden teens was a theme of many conversations at Creative Camden. Christopher Hampton, CEO – Champ I Am, The Camden Store, and other community partners banded together to address that need by starting Good Vibes – a youth-led monthly open mic night showcasing multiple generations of young adults. Good Vibes taps into the arts as a way to develop leadership, civic action, and creative expression. Learn more about this program here.

NJVOAD’s Streamlined Disaster Response Design Deployed in NJ, FL & TX

NJ Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NJVOAD)  recognized that the lessons from NJ’s experience with Hurricane Sandy were essential to future disaster response and relief efforts. Continued collaborative work that came out of NJVOAD’s Call to Collaboration in 2015 led to the formation of new NJVOAD working groups, who worked together to design disaster response process improvements that are now benefitting communities thousands of miles from New Jersey, in Texas and Florida after the 2018 hurricane season caused devastation in the South. Learn more about this initiative here.

Youth Enrichment Pilot in Rahway Leverages Local Talent and Resources

A pilot program of enrichment workshops for Elementary school students launched from a new partnership between Rahway’s High School, School District, Parent-Teacher Association and local YMCA. By working collaboratively and combining the talents, strengths and missions of each organization, a new 6-week enrichment program for elementary school students is being provided for the YMCA afterschool daycare with 14 workshops including arts, sports, language and other activities, taught by faculty who oversee various Rahway High School Clubs.

Rutgers-Camden’s Collective Impact Conversations Lead to New Campus-wide Civic Action Plan

The Office of Civic Engagement at Rutgers – Camden utilized the collected notes from Creative Camden’s Call to Collaboration to convene the Camden community around major issue areas. Building on the idea generation process started at Creative Camden, their “Collective Impact Conversations” focus on developing a common vision and actionable steps that community members can take together to invest in the revitalization of Camden. Rutgers University–Camden is using the feedback and ideas shared in these conversations to shape their own strategic vision for civic engagement in 2018-19, as well as the development of a campus-wide civic action plan. Learn more about this initiative here.

2018 Statewide Summit


On May 23rd, 2018 we welcomed 110+ people from around the state to our annual Statewide Summit. It was an exciting day filled with a wide-ranging sampling projects and ideas that have taken root in our Creative Communities. CNJ Statewide Partners also shared innovative programs that are having positive impact in our communities.

If you weren’t able to make it this year, you can catch up on what you missed here. We are looking forward to see you next year!

Share your story!


If you have an initiative born at our Call to Collaboration in your town, we would love to hear about it! Send us an email to

Knowing about the important work you are advancing helps us to share news about your efforts and connect others who might benefit from knowing about or participating in your programs.

Diana Mendez is Creative New Jersey’s Communications and Program Manager. She has over 12 years experience empowering communities to solve specific social issues from the non-profit, public, and private sector. Recently, she had the honor to be selected to be part of Victoria Emerging Leaders Program at Rutgers Institute for Ethical Leadership.


“It was a delight to work with all of you on this initiative that is so critical to the future of our community. I have lived and worked in Atlantic City for 26 years. During those years, I have heard and read about so many “plans” that never were brought to completion. Thanks to Gathering Ground, we now have a blueprint for success. What you have done for us will impact the lives of so many people for years to come.”

– Diane Ramftl – Former Regional Charter Marketing Specialist, Harrahs (Atlantic City)