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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.

We Are Gathering Ground

Elizabeth Murphy Portrait
Founding Director, Elizabeth Murphy


Cross-sector collaboration could make a difference? 

People embraced creativity as a way to problem-solve

Conversations among highly-diverse groups of people were productive and lead to new ideas and actions that moved communities forward in an inclusive and equitable way? 

Ten years ago, we asked ourselves these questions. 

Then and now, we believe in the power of action-oriented dialogue, and the critical need to repair community trust and social cohesion; and we fully affirm that decisions that impact peoples’ neighborhoods and livelihoods should be determined by the same people whose lives are affected. 

Originally launched under the name Creative New Jersey, as an initiative housed at the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation with the goal of fostering creativity, collaboration and cross-sector partnerships, our mission has evolved and led us to Gathering Ground. 

Today, our work fosters community cohesion and collaborative action by bringing together highly-diverse groups of people with varied backgrounds, lived experiences, expertise and influence to amplify community dialogue around critical issues, build and strengthen networks, encourage cross-sector and multi-cultural partnerships and cultivate equitable community-rooted solutions. 

The movement has gathered ground with the leadership, assets, and opportunities already present in communities. Our approach centers people who have been historically excluded from decisions about the future of their communities, especially people of color, and collectively creates opportunities for people to define their critical issues and lead conversations focused on these issues – amplifying each other’s voices, and driving decision-making and change. 

Over the years, new synergies, ideas, partnerships and projects have emerged. More than 120 actions have materialized as a result of this people-powered movement. Highlights of these Impact Stories follow in this 10th Anniversary celebration. 

As our mission and approach has matured and progressed, we have deepened our understanding of and commitment to racial equity and justice, and over the past few years have evolved our mission, vision and programming to prioritize this commitment. 


It is within this sharpened focus and orientation that we change our name to Gathering Ground – representing both the movement and the place where we convene. Our transformation has been informed by countless amazing individuals who have worked with us in cities, small towns, and rural communities; and enabled by the generous and visionary leadership support of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. We are deeply grateful to the Foundation for believing in us, and for facilitating the movement’s authentic emergence. 

We always say, ‘it’s the people who make this work great’. They have taught us much about what it means to create a fertile environment where people can unleash their personal responsibility for positive action. They have an indomitable spirit for creating fair and just communities. And they share freely with others across the state on how they are co-creating community-rooted solutions. We invite you to get to know them; to support their work; and to be part of the solution. 

Our team is beyond excited to launch our second decade! We hope you’ll join us. Onward . . . to Gathering Ground! 

Elizabeth Murphy, Founding Director

October 2021


“Phenomenal 2 days that allowed us to really see the greatness here in our city. For too long we have remained in our specific areas struggling independently, it’s time to align and support each other’s work.”

– Darren Freedom Green (Trenton)