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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 New Jersey: The Spark of Collaboration in Asbury Park

Originally posted on the Geraldine R. Dodge Blog.

On January 11 & 12, 2017, the Creative Asbury Park Call to Collaboration took place and welcomed a highly diverse group of individuals representing all areas of city life in Asbury Park.

This two-day gathering was part of Creative New Jersey’s statewide series of community-based convenings, aimed at helping to fuel current efforts already in action and to foster creativity, collaboration, and inclusion by facilitatinDSC_0757_resizedg cross-sector partnerships in commerce, education, philanthropy, government, and culture.

Over the course of the two-day meeting, participants grappled with topics that fell under our central guiding question:

How can we work more creatively and collaboratively to build our local economy, strengthen ties across our culturally rich community, and leverage our diverse assets, so that all who live, work and play in Asbury Park can benefit from our city’s renaissance?

Thirty-nine breakout sessions took place on topics as varied as the skills and interests of the 125+ participants.

The energy and vibrancy of those conversations sparked new collaborations and strengthened partnerships, leading to a variety of actionable outcomes including:


  • A new Mayor’s Youth Council (the result of conversations led by Asbury Park High School students)
  • More collaborative approaches to reaching out to and helping homeless individuals and families
  • Social service organizations working across industries to bring services to clients in need
  • An arts & culture and tourism collaboration between several organizations and groups with plans for a multi-cultural city-wide festival
  • The launch of a Mayor’s Wellness Campaign
  • Increasing the number and reach of existing re-entry programs and partnering with like-minded organizations who can help to
    broaden this service to more people

Creative Asbury Park’s Call to Collaboration was supported by many generous restaurant sponsors, including a delicious cake from Confections of a Rock$tar – which echoed the feeling in the room!

If you want to become involved with the Creative Asbury Park members, please email us at and we’ll be sure to connect you.

There’s a new Creative Asbury Park Facebook group that recently launched and you can check out photos and videos on our Instagram account.

The compendium of notes from all thirty-nine discussions will be available soon on our website.

Day 2 cake_resized

Our next community is Camden and we are deep into preparations for the Creative Camden Call to Collaboration!  Let us know if you want to be included in that invitation list:

Kacy O’Brien is Creative New Jersey’s Program Manager and is a Lead New Jersey’s 2015 Fellow.

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.


“Before Hammonton’s Call to Collaboration, I did not know that I was surrounded by people who, despite our differences, care about the same issues: the safety of our town, the well-being of our families, the opportunity to contribute to our community, etc. Knowing that there were other like-minded people in my community gave me the courage to act.”

– Ivette Guillermo-McGahee – Executive Director, Allies in Caring (Hammonton)