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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.

A Message from Maria – Support our Work

A Message From Maria

The last few years have been incredibly trying and stressful. Despite these desperate times, I am immensely proud to report that we have made substantial progress in serving our communities during the rapidly unfolding crisis of COVID, the need for connection and collaboration during isolated times, and the ardent and necessary call for racial and social justice in our sector. As the year draws to a close, we reflect on the remarkable strides we’ve made building a powerful movement that connects people, ideas, and action.

Since 2012, we have developed extensive multi-racial, cross-sector relationships, and we have gathered community organizers; residents; faith-based leaders; small business owners; and nonprofit, philanthropic, and government decision-makers in conversation together — resulting in access to wide and deep networks of people across all facets of community life, with the result of breaking down silos and strengthening connectivity and collaborative action within and across communities. Our programs have reached unprecedented levels of engagement and enabled us to extend our services to new communities. We’ve engaged more than 5,000 individuals, coached 466 community leaders to serve as host team members of the 18 community-based Calls to Collaboration we produced in cities and towns all around NJ, and held 9 Statewide Summits, in addition to virtual spaces for learning, and knowledge and resource sharing.

In my short tenure here at Gathering Ground, I have already had the opportunity to witness how bringing people together in dialogue can drive collective action and meaningful change.

We attribute our success to your unwavering support and commitment to our shared mission. Your partnership has been integral to our efforts to create a positive impact on our state, and for that, we extend our sincerest gratitude.

Our work is far from complete, and we seek your invaluable support to further our efforts. We invite you, our esteemed collaborators and our Gathering Ground family, to join us in our year-end campaign and aid us in our crucial endeavors.

At Gathering Ground, our mission is to amplify community dialogue around critical issues, encourage cross-sector and multicultural partnerships, and cultivate community-rooted solutions. Through our dedicated efforts, we have witnessed firsthand the transformative power of dialogue, collaboration, and collective action.

By supporting our year-end campaign, you are enabling us to:

1. Amplify Community Dialogue: We believe that open and inclusive conversations are the bedrock of progress. Your contribution will help us organize impactful convenings (in person and virtual), peer learning opportunities, and forums that bring together individuals and organizations from diverse backgrounds to discuss and address pressing issues affecting our communities and our beautiful state.

2. Encourage Cross-Sector and Multicultural Partnerships: We recognize the strength that lies in collaboration. With your support, we can foster connections between community organizations, businesses, educational institutions, activists, organizers, faith leaders and government entities. Together, we can create powerful partnerships that leverage each sector and each community’s unique resources and expertise, leading to progress and creative solutions.

Strengthening relationships for stronger community organizing is a key pillar of our Call to Collaboration (our signature program). In the last decade, Gathering Ground has been instrumental in helping our partners form deeper connections.

Here are 3 examples of the impact of our work as connectors:

Accessibility & Disability icon

This October, in collaboration with Pinelands Preservation Alliance, New Jersey Division of Disability Services, Rutgers University Bloustein School of Planning & Public Policy, and Duke Farms, we were very pleased to serve as the facilitation partner of Access To Nature: a gathering of over 50 individuals from various backgrounds, including disability services, local and state government, disability justice, public and private land stewardship, philanthropy and business, among other, all committed to enhancing access to nature and outdoor recreation for individuals with disabilities.

Arts & Culture icon The Bangladeshi American Women’s Development Initiative (BAWDI) established a new affiliation with the Paterson Museum during the Call to Collaboration, leading to the launch of the inaugural Bangladeshi-American Art Exhibit in Paterson. The exhibition’s triumphs have resulted in it becoming an annual event and BAWDI’s involvement in the Paterson Alliance, fostering relationships between the vast Bangladeshi community and Paterson’s non-profit sector. Additionally, BAWDI members partnered with Paterson’s Complete Count Census Committee to educate community members about the importance of participating in the census. Their joint effort led to a more accurate population count, enabling Paterson to secure substantial federal funding for the next 10 years in service to its community members.

Partnership icon

Relationships developed at the Asbury Park Call to Collaboration led to strengthened community organizing on issues like combatting displacement, advocating for affordable housing and tenant rights, affordable live-work space for artists, and equitable hiring practices for municipal projects.

3. Cultivate Community-Rooted Solutions: We firmly believe that sustainable solutions are born from within communities. Your donation will enable us to provide the resources and space needed to imagine and activate a better, more equitable future by tackling challenges faced by residents and communities across New Jersey. By nurturing these community-rooted solutions, we can create lasting change that truly reflects the needs and aspirations of the people of this great state.

By supporting and contributing to our year-end campaign, you become an integral part of this important work. Your generosity will directly impact the individuals and organizations who are seeking meaningful change in their communities.

Please visit our website at gatheringground.us to learn more about our efforts and make a secure online donation. Every dollar counts and makes a difference. If you’re unable to contribute financially at this time, you can support us by spreading the word about our campaign and sharing our message with your friends, family, colleagues and peers.

Thank you for your dedication and commitment to our mission and organizational goals. Together, we can make a difference.

Happy Holidays!

In solidarity,

Maria Carnemolla
Executive Director

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“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