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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.

Creative Elizabeth launches its Call to Collaboration

Last week, we were thrilled to launch a creativity convening in the city of Elizabeth.
Elizabeth Murphy is Director of Creative New Jersey.

Elizabeth Murphy is Director of Creative New Jersey.

This Call to Collaboration welcomed a large, diverse group of dynamic community leaders, educators, environmental and sustainability professionals, artists, economic development and local business leaders, cultural advocates, elected officials, and a host of other individuals representing a wide array of industries, cultures, ethnicities, viewpoints, and talents.

It was a powerful two-day conference full of creative thinking that focused on this central theme: How Do We Work More Creatively and Innovatively To Draw Upon Elizabeth’s Historic Greatness And Ethnically-Rich Culture To Maximize Its Assets and Ensure A Dynamic Future?

Creative Elizabeth flyer central question graphic_v2We were hosted by the First Presbyterian Church and our conference was held in the newly-restored, historic Snyder Academy Building. (Incidentally, the restoration is absolutely beautiful and the building has different rooms available for renting office space, artist studio space, and meeting space.)

Followers and members of our statewide Creative New Jersey movement know that we create the conditions for highly diverse groups of people to convene in order to think and act more creatively and innovatively as they grapple with the most important challenges facing their community. Our framework encourages collaboration and makes it possible for individuals to advance conversations around cross-cutting issues.
Creative Elizabeth’s participants were articulate, committed, engaged and serious about working together, building new alliances, and leading a dialogue focused on a thriving future for the city.

A sampling of the topics discussed during the two-day conference included:

  • How Do We Develop/Enhance a Culture Where the Use and Continued Learning of Native Language is Promoted and Valued as a Social Asset?
  • How do we form a process that will engage the community at large in actions that will be taken to make our streets safer, cleaner, and will improve the cultural and business climate?
  • Is there a role for public art to play in the continued development of a vibrant Elizabeth?
  • How do we move from segregated tolerance of one another to respectful appreciation of cultural diversity?
  • How do we educate families on the importance of early literacy- ages birth to 3 years?
  • How do we infuse social justice awareness and action into everything we do across sectors (eradicating homelessness, hunger, violence, etc.)?
  • How do we acknowledge and create an inclusive environment for the undocumented and day-laborers of Elizabeth?
  • What Branding and Networks can we utilize to Communicate the services and projects in Elizabeth?


Creative Elizabeth convening--5


Eliz student performance

In between the intense conversations, we were treated to two performances by some of Elizabeth’s most talented students: a young violinist who studies at The Institute of Music for Children (photo above), and two dancers from Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy.

Hear for yourself as one participant shares his experience during this Call to Collaboration:

We are extremely grateful to our Creative Elizabeth sponsors and partners who joined us in making this Call to Collaboration possible.

They are: The Snyder Academy of Elizabethtown and The First Presbyterian Church of Elizabeth, Kean University, Union County College, Union County Human Services Department / Division of Youth Services, The Institute of Music for Children, New Jersey Theatre Alliance, The Citizens Campaign, plus our generous restaurant partners: Dolce, First Republic, Manolo’s, The Lobby, and Valenca.

If you want to learn more about what’s happening in the city of Elizabeth or want to be connected to any of the Creative Elizabeth Host Team members or participants, please reach out to us at and we will connect you with them. You can also visit Creative NJ’s new website for more information on this Call to Collaboration and how you get join the statewide movement.

Elizabeth Murphy is the part-time Director of Creative New Jersey.  She also consults with other nonprofit and philanthropic organizations, including the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers where she provided coordination of the Post-Sandy Philanthropic Response in NJ.

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.


“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