NH and RI Catalyst Conversations - report and photos

Janet Wilkinson

Our new Catalyst Conversations events give grassroots organizers the opportunity to sit at the intersections of numerous issues and to dig into conversations that matter. They are interactive events for community members and groups to strengthen collaboration and to create space for new and creative ideas to emerge.


Thanks to those who attended our back-to-back Catalyst Conversations last month! The first, on September 5 in Warner, NH, included roughly 50 participants. The second one, on September 6 in Coventry, RI, welcomed about 35. 


Each event’s agenda and objectives were crafted by a local planning committee. The New Hampshire event included an ice breaker, several presentations by local Grassroots Fund grantee groups, an overview of Grassroots Fund programs, and small group conversations organized by issue area. The Rhode Island event included all of those same elements, plus a brief training on organizing for a 'Just Transition' . Both events concluded with a celebratory reception.


Participants at both events shared that they appreciated the informal networking time with like-minded community members. Others were glad to have had the space for new, critical thinking about where we are and where we need be headed. Many said they left the event with new collaborative ideas, and new resources and energy to grow their current projects or bring new ones to life. The critical feedback regarding the events mostly focused on not having enough time to dive deeper into issue evaluation and solution creation. Several also brought up the tension and frustration they felt between discussing resolutions that are personal (lifestyle and habit changes, etc.) versus those that get at broader and more systemic solutions. 


We are especially grateful to the planning committees for each location’s event, and to the location hosts:

RI Planning Committee:NH Planning Committee:

Julius Kolawole, African Alliance of Rhode Island

Chief George Spring Buffalo, Indigenous Peoples Network

Alison Kates, Narrow River Preservation Association

Sarah Kelley, Island Foundation

Farzana Zubair, Windham Community Food Network

Niko Merit, Sankofa Community Connection

Sofia Owen, Toxics Action Center

Dania, Indigenous Peoples Network

Griffin Sinclair-Wingate, 350NH

Justin Munroe, Grow Nashua

Stephen Meno, LES Work Group / Nashua Regional Planning Commission

Cheryl Bourassa, New American Africans

Peter Benson, New Hampshire Charitable Foundation

Dylan Carney, NH Youth movement 

Stacey Doll, Root to Rise

Shaina Kasper, Toxics Action Center

Sarah Brock, Vital Communities

Peter Martel, Wapack Sustainabiliy Network

Cathy Joly, Wapack Sustainabiliy Network

Tim Gaudreau, Willow Brook Farm & Art Center Inc

RI Host: Coventry Resource and Senior Center
NH Host: Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum