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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’s Year-In-Review 2017

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 2017! 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.  If you have news to share about the important work you are advancing, please tell us so that we can connect you with others who might benefit from knowing about or participating in your programs!

During 2017 we have been:

Fostering creativity, collaboration, and inclusion by engaging communities in New Jersey through our Calls to Collaboration

This year we worked work with two new communities in New Jersey: Creative Asbury Park and Creative Camden, whose Calls to Collaboration (in January 2017 and March & May 2017, respectively) have spurred a number of collaborative initiatives, summarized below.

Sharing stories of impact after our Calls to Collaboration

Creative Asbury Park

  • Mayor John Moor launched two new initiatives that were born at Creative Asbury Park: a Wellness initiative and the Asbury Park Youth Council.
  • Carrie Ruddick, a local artist, got together with a group of artists and arts business owners in Creative Asbury Park participant discussionFebruary 2017 to develop a petition requesting that an Arts and Culture Plan be included as a key component in Asbury Park’s new Master Plan and Vision. The petition received 390 signatures. When the Master Plan was unveiled in September, it included an Arts District with goals to create more space for the arts community.
  • Jen Souder, Asbury Park resident, started working with other community actors on the African American Music Heritage Project. This project chronicles the rich and glorious past of Asbury Park’s African American musical and cultural heritage in Asbury Park. This community-driven initiative got a $13,800 project grant from the NJ Historical Commission [NJHC].
  • Angela Anderson, President of the Asbury Park Board Education, in collaboration with the Asbury Park Recreation Department created a Youth mentoring program called “I Believe in Me.” This program was piloted during the summer and got the support of the Superintendent of Schools in Asbury Park to be offered as an after-school program to girls in grades 6 – 12.

Creative Camden

Sharing the work we do and our experience in community engagement

This year we were honored to present at several conferences and summits to share the work we do and our experiences engaging communities in New Jersey. Examples of those are: The New Jersey League of Municipalities Annual Conference, the Philanthropy Network Conference, and the Center for Creative Placemaking’s Municipal Workshop. We also presented the webinar “Creating Cross-Sector Success through Collaboration, Creativity and Inclusion” for the Center for Non-Profits.

Bringing together Creative Communities and partners for our Annual Statewide Summit

Every year we bring together our Creative Communities and statewide partners at our Annual Statewide Summit. This year members of the Hammonton, Camden, Orange, Asbury Park and Atlantic City Creative Communities were invited to share those initiatives they have been moving forward after their Calls to Collaboration. Some of our statewide partners: New Jersey Community Capital, the NJTV “In Your Neighborhood” Program, Free Press and Jersey Water Works were also there talking about their programs. Read more about who presented and what they shared at the Summit by clicking here.

Opening more communication channels to keep in touch with you

We are committed to ongoing communication with our Creative Communities and statewide partners to share relevant content with you and learn more about your initiatives and programs. This year we revamped our webpage to be more accessible, and continued to grow our Facebook and Twitter pages. We also created: the CNJ Instagram account, the CNJ YouTube channel, and the CNJ LinkedIn page, accessible if you have a LinkedIn account: Make sure to visit us, like us and follow us, to learn more about the work we do and find out about our Creative Communities’ most recent initiatives!


Diana Mendez is Creative New Jersey’s Communications and Program Manager. She has over 10 years experience empowering communities to solve specific social issues from the non-profit, public, and private sector. 


“Attending Asbury Park’s Call to Collaboration was my launch for my girl-centered mentoring program. It was an informative and educational experience that I will forever value. I appreciated the opportunity to collaborate with community members from all walks of life.”

– Angela Ahbez-Anderson – Board Member & four-term President, Asbury Park School District (Asbury Park)