Dodge Road Trip: Exploring New Jersey’s Other Shore — The Bayshore

Posted on by Naeema Campbell

Dodge Road Trip

The drive from northern New Jersey to the Delaware Bayshore takes two hours and brings you through a variety of landscapes.

The heavily industrialized corridors in the north quickly give way to expansive farms and suburbs in central and southern Jersey. While traveling south on Route 55 and Route 49, the scenery changes again from farms to forest and then to wetlands and marshes.

On a recent drive to the region to visit two Dodge environment program grantees, I began to wonder how a place that is ecologically important could be so underrated in New Jersey. Everyone knows about the Jersey Shore on the Atlantic Ocean side and its importance to the state’s economy. But, have you heard of the Bayshore before today?

More so, the Delaware Bay is considered to be one of the most important navigation channels in the United States — it is the second busiest waterway after the Mississippi River.

In the morning Margaret Waldock, Environment Program director, and I met with staff from the Natural Lands Trust to learn more about a property they had recently preserved. The Sunset Lake Preserve is 119-acres of old growth forest located near the Cohansey River in Cumberland County.

Steve Eisenhauer, regional director of Stewardship and Land Protection explained that preserving the land would protect the old growth forest from development and nearby Sunset Lake from pollution. As we walked the trails it felt like were in an oasis in the middle of suburbia. In the hot July sun, I appreciated being provided with much-needed shade canopy from the tall trees.

But, I found it difficult to imagine what the area would look like without the forest. If the land had been developed, it would have been a tremendous loss to locals whom use the trails on a daily basis.

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Since I was having such an amazing time on a two-hour site visit, I could only imagine the different kinds of fun other visitors to the property would have. Eisenhauer detailed a few of the trips he led with students from Cumberland and Salem County to visit Natural Lands Trust’s other preserves – the Glades Refuge and Shaws Mill Pond.

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For many of the students, these field trips may be one of the few times that they connect with nature and learn about the environment outside of the classroom. So, it is even more critical that Eiesenhauer and his colleagues provide students from underserved communities with access and opportunities to explore the salt marshes and beaches of the Delaware Bayshore.

The Dodge Foundation’s support to Natural Lands Trust highlights their commitment to connecting local youth with the unique ecosystems in their communities especially in Cumberland and Salem counties.

Cumberland and Salem counties are among New Jersey’s poorest. Cumberland’s poverty rate is 20 percent, and Salem’s is 14 percent, according to 2014 Census data. It is even more critical that Eiesenhauer and his colleagues provide students from underserved communities with access and opportunities to explore the salt marshes and beaches of the Delaware Bayshore.

The main road that gives residents and business owners to Money Island Marina.

The main road that gives residents and business owners to Money Island Marina.

After a quick lunch at a local diner, we headed further south towards Newport to meet with staff from the Partnership for the Estuary to see a few of the shoreline restoration projects they had been managing.

While standing in the marsh around Money Island Marina, I could see that the river was busy with ships and boats entering and leaving the bay. Unlike the Atlantic Coast, this part of the state was developed for commercial activities such as fishing, shipping and oyster harvesting and not tourism.

Honestly, I could not contain my enthusiasm as Dr. Danielle Kreeger, the organization’s science director, led us into the muddy waters to get a closer look at living shoreline projects that the Partnership has been constructing and monitoring where the Nantuxent Creek meets the Delaware River.

Kreeger explained how the living shoreline installation is a nature-based method to stabilize the coast from erosion while also preserving or enhancing the native environmental conditions. In the case of Money Island, these marshes had been slowly eroding away and the creeks filling in with sediment causing a loss of habitat and roadway. In the photo above, there are parts of the roadway missing that had fallen into the creek.

Danielle Kreeger, Science Director at Partnership for Delaware Estuary

Dr. Danielle Kreeger, Science Director at Partnership for Delaware Estuary explaining how the shell bags and coconut fiber logs create a permanent environment for native marsh grasses to root into.

This particular project consisted of planting native wetland plants with mussels and empty shells along the tidal water line. Kreeger and the other scientists are using this project to collect data that proves that a living shoreline intervention promotes a high abundance and diversity of organisms, keeps pace with sea level rise, filters pollutants from the water and reduces the potential for downstream erosion issues.

Anecdotally, Kreeger said she has noticed that since the project was installed, fisherman have commented that they can fish for bait in the creek again and roadway flooding has reduced.

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The Bayshore is a part of New Jersey that should not be overlooked.

Even a short visit with Natural Lands Trust and Partnership for the Delaware Estuary provide a glimpse the work they are doing to preserve the unique value this region has to offer and why these ecosystems need to be protected and preserved for future residents of the state.

Posted in Dodge Road Trip, Environment, What We're Learning | Leave a comment

Discovery Orchestra: How Shall We Study Music?

Posted on by George Marriner Maull, The Discovery Orchestra

Discovery Orchestra 2 cr. Jeanne Maass

I live and breathe classical music.

This came very naturally to me from my mother, Helen, who was a highly accomplished classical pianist. Before entering kindergarten, I had already learned that listening to classical music has the power to take us on a powerful emotional journey with just abstract sound — without the benefit of words that are the basis of dramas, plays and novels.

Over my career teaching the listening skills that help people connect with classical music, I have seen countless students, professional educators, classical novices and even seasoned concertgoers transformed into more confident, empathetic, and creative individuals by tapping deeply into the power of abstract music.

The secret is that it doesn’t take a complicated educational process or years of private lessons to learn. These deep listening skills can be taught to young children in our schools.

That’s what I shared with an audience of educators at Using Arts-Infused Instruction to Enhance NJ’s Learning Standards, a three-day conference presented by New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association and Foundation for Educational Administration. Held at Princeton University in July, the event provided all of the artist-speakers with an opportunity to advocate for how their art form can be used to advance the core curriculum standards of New Jersey’s public schools.

I owe my approach to teaching music listening to Dr. Saul Feinberg, a teacher at Philadelphia’s Abraham Lincoln High School during my student days there in the 1960s.  While musical performance activities at Lincoln were excellent, it wasn’t the school’s two concert choirs, chamber choir, two a cappella vocal quartets, two concert bands, marching band, jazz band, two orchestras, and the annual musical that set Lincoln High apart — it was the way Saul Feinberg taught music listening.

Rather than focus on teaching musical performance — the curricular emphasis at the time, and even today in most schools  — Saul adapted the two-year ‘general music’ requirement of two 45-minute periods a week for eighth and ninth graders in all Pennsylvania public schools to teach aesthetic music listening skills.

How should we teach music?

Music instruction offered in schools would ideally mirror the three basic musical behaviors: creating (composing or improvising), performing and listening from an aesthetic viewpoint.

In a perfect world, all students in school would receive instruction in composing/improvising, performing and listening. Each year, from kindergarten through middle school, very specific standards could be set for each grade level.   For example, by the end of first grade, every child should be able to: improvise in song or playing an Orff xylophone a simple ostinato (creation); sing a simple melody transmitted in Kodaly hand signals (performance); recognize a simple ternary form (listening).

Such a curriculum would, over time, produce a musically literate society.

Wow! Now there’s a thought…a musically literate society. Individuals trained in this fashion would be capable of performing, reading and inventing music.   And, as listeners, they would also be able to emotionally connect with the greatest music human society has produced regardless of genre: classical, jazz, pop, folk or world and regardless of when that music was created ­from the earliest times to the present.

But we don’t live in an ideal world. And in the very real world of school, many music curriculums are entirely performance oriented or nearly so.

Music education in America means: little children with violins in hand; kids singing in choirs and playing in marching bands; and performing in the annual Broadway show. And all of that is very important, and not to be taken for granted where it exists — given the cuts to arts programs that we have experienced in recent decades.

But short of offering a comprehensive music education encompassing all three musical behaviors, might we at least consider adding the teaching of aesthetic music listening to all students, performers and non-performers alike?  This is what I proposed to my audience of Principals and Supervisors in Princeton. At The Discovery Orchestra, we have some follow-up planned. Stay tuned.

George Marriner Maull

George Marriner Maull is the artistic director of The Discovery Orchestra and has reached millions of viewers nationwide through his Emmy-nominated educational Discovery Concerts for American Public Television.  The Discovery Orchestra’s new eight-part series for American Public Television, Fall in Love with Music, began airing in late March 2016 and episodes have already received nearly 1,000 broadcasts on PBS affiliates.  

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Posted on by Dodge Poetry

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Brenda Hillman

Photo Credit: The University of Arizona Poetry Center

Welcome to Ask a Poet, where each week we will present (in no particular order) a Q&A with a poet who will be coming to the Dodge Poetry Festival this October 20-23. Through these blogs, you’ll be able to get to know these poets a bit better in preparation for #DPF16! 

Now, let’s get to know Brenda Hillman



What are you reading?

Right now I’m reading a lot of things. I’m catching up on poetry I’ve been meaning to read all year. A book of prose I’ve been reading is Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me—it is a stunning piece of writing, a major text.  I found a copy of Ed Sanders’ Poem from Jail and that is meaningful—long poem, short lines. What has dominated my poetry reading for the last 6 months has been re-reading C.D. Wright’s work. She was a close friend, an amazing poet. Everything she wrote is worth reading, re-reading.  Since I don’t do blurbs, I like to spread the word about new writers I happen across.  I just read a really cool little book by Tongo Eisen-Martin I’ve been telling everyone about—it’s from Bootstrap Press and it’s called someone’s dead already.  I just wrote a note to Brenda Ijima about her terrific new book Remembering Animals and Brian Teare—his The Empty Form Goes All the Way to Heaven is quite wonderful.  I try to read a little of everything that comes through the mail.  For a while I’ve been reading the work of Brazilian poet Ana Cristina Cesar because I’ve been working on a translation with my mother.  

With all the other demands and distractions in life, how do you make time for poetry?

I get up really early if I can—like 5:30. I don’t actually like sleep and prefer to be awake. I write in a kind of fugue for a few hours in the morning. For the rest of the day I keep a notebook of material—especially lines that come to me at weird moments—and use them when I can. I try to work a little every day and to touch a poem every day. I like copying things over and over and over by hand until I like the way it sounds and sometimes I recopy it 100 times till by the end I am only changing a comma. There’s really a lot of really strange new reality that comes in if you let go the stale stuff.  Some poets are suspicious of revision but I think of each version as new writing, new invention.

What is the role of poetry in the twenty first century?

I will tell people the answer to this if they come to Dodge.

Tell us about any personal habits, rituals, ceremonies, superstitions that are part of your writing practice.  

I work with trance a lot and have been doing that for 30 years or so. Self-hypnosis. And I have rocks and various little things I use to do rituals with and I talk to the non-human creatures. I sometimes have procedures I use, like counting numbers of lines. I get strong feelings about individual pencils, and if it stops working, I go get another one. I have been doing these things since I was a child, and I take all of my weird systems exactly half seriously.

Tell us about your favorite experience reading for an audience. 

I really enjoy presenting poetry to audiences. It is a very different experience from knowing they will be reading your work on the page—my work is quite visual and I like visual poetry, so I think of those as separate but related. Two of my favorite experiences of reading to audiences were long ago at Dodge. One was reading with Allen Ginsberg and later with Amiri Baraka. Both were big stage situations. Reading with Allen was amazing—I felt the audience brought really beautiful energy to us that night. It was like being a part of a world community of poetry. I read my strange poems, and when Allen came up, he read a few poems and then as I recall he basically chanted a lot, including “Smoke pot, Smoke pot, Smoke pot” for a good chunk of the reading. I loved that.  Another experience later—I read with Amiri Baraka after 9/11.  The audience had trouble with some of his reading and the poem was controversial. Afterward we talked and I told him he was a great poet and we talked about some passages in his piece. He said something really nice to me about my work which I will always treasure in my heart.

What is a misconception about poetry that bothers you? Why?

The misconception that it is difficult.  People love all kinds of lyrics in popular music and in that same spirit, poetry is not difficult. Is music difficult? Are colors? There are many different kinds of musical experiences, and many colors and some of them are intense and really packed and subtle.  Poetry is the intense music of our wild dreams, and our dreams make sense in different ways. Sometimes there are stories and references to recognizable shapes and sometimes not.  Poetry is not difficult.  Violence against people of color is difficult. Constant war is difficult.  Working 3 jobs and not being able to pay for childcare, that is difficult. The grotesque horror poverty in our cities is difficult, and unregulated guns, and the murder of children; that is difficult. Being a veteran and not getting health care for internal and external wounds, that is difficult. Being bullied on the internet because you’re female or gay—that is difficult. Losing a child or a parent is difficult. Living with addiction is difficult. Poetry is not difficult, and as Audre Lorde writes, It is not a luxury. Its beauty is sometimes abstract like color or music and that’s fine. Poetry is our the hope of our odd intellect and deep souls. People should just slow down and carry a poem around with them. Don’t read it so fast. Read each line more than once—there is no wrong answer.  

How important is accessibility of meaning? Should a reader have to work hard to “solve” the poem? 

See my answer above. It’s funny how many people use the word “poetry” for something they respect and revere—the poetry of wine, the poetry of soccer, and yet they never bother to find out about poetry itself. We are in a golden age of this great art.  Accessibility is often a term used to bludgeon poets who write using modernist, postmodernist, abstract or conceptual methods; there is more than one kind of accessibility, and there are many different ways to be understood. We don’t have to like it all but we can make associations in words that do not have the same kind of linearity as narrative poetry does.  There is a lot of poor education that narrows poetry instead of expanding it. Many times at Saint Mary’s, I’ve taught Dictée by Theresa Hak Kyung Cha to undergraduates; it’s a great classic modernist text that is not “accessible” in the classic sense but the kids adore it because I don’t set it up by telling them—oh, watch out!! This is really radical and weird, you should be wary of it. They open the book and see there is handwriting, there are multiple languages, there are pictures, and they realize it isn’t a “normal” book of poetry. If people would just delight in Gertrude Stein instead of thinking she is writing riddles they feel left out of, or just read it for its associative value, instead of being offended because she’s writing with cubist and jaunty measures, the whole experience would not seem so utilitarian or terrifying. Reading unfamiliar things could be more like dating. You show up wanting the person to like you, and try to be open to the experience, instead of demanding that they be exactly like you. And maybe you won’t want to have more dates with Gertrude but maybe you will! There are many different styles of poetry we can love and feel interest in.   

Brenda Hillman was born in Arizona, attended Pomona College and received her MFA at the University of Iowa.

She is the author of Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire (2013), which received the International Griffin Poetry Prize, the Northern California Book Award for Poetry and the California Book Award Gold Medal in Poetry; Practical Water (2009), winner of the LA Times Book Award for Poetry; Pieces of Air in the Epic (2005); Cascadia (2001); Loose Sugar (1997), a finalist for the National Book Critic’s Circle; and Bright Existence (1993), a Pulitzer Prize finalist.

Hillman co-edited The Grand Permisson: New Writings on Poetics and Motherhood (2003) and edited a collection Emily Dickinson poems (1995). She co-translated Poems from Above the Hill: Selected Poems of Ashur Etwebi (2011) and Jeongrye Choi’s Instances (2011).

She received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Society of America and the Academy of American Poets. Her awards include the William Carlos Williams Prize for poetry and a Pushcart Prize. She was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2016.

Hillman has taught at the Napa Valley Writer’s Conference and UC Berkeley. She currently teaches at St. Mary’s College and lives in the Bay Area with her husband, the poet Robert Hass.

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Sustainable Jersey Travels to South Korea for Clean Air

Posted on by Randall Solomon, Co-Director, Sustainable Jersey

Sharing expertise and experience to support Clean Air Asia pilot certification program

I left New Jersey on Aug. 25 with my colleague, Renee Haider, en route for South Korea. Sustainable Jersey was invited to participate in the Clean Air for Cities conference in Busan, South Korea as part of our work supporting the creation of a Cities Clean Air Partnership certification program for cities in Southeast Asia.

SK1With more than 1,200 participants from around the world representing governments, the private sector, academia and civil society, it was a great forum to share the Sustainable Jersey experience.

Air pollution now accounts for more than seven million premature deaths globally each year. Given the magnitude of the health impacts, there is a pressing call for action by the international community.

Solutions to air pollution are particularly important at the city level, where the impacts are directly felt and where the main sources of pollution are often found. Recognizing the scale and urgency of the issue, the two leading international air-quality meetings — the 17th World Clean Air Congress and the ninth Better Air Quality Conference — decided to meet jointly in a landmark event themed “Clean Air for Cities – Perspectives and Solutions.”

This is not the first time Sustainable Jersey has shared the program internationally. Working with U.S. EPA, Sustainable Jersey staff visited cities in Taiwan in 2011 and 2012 on exchange trips and then hosted the Minister of the Taiwan Environmental Protection Administration and his delegation in New Jersey.

U.S. EPA collaborates with environmental authorities and organizations around the world to share expertise to help build environmental protection capacity in those regions. Since environmental pollution can be transported in air, water and many other means, U.S. EPA’s collaboration with these international partners helps protect the global commons and the United States domestic environment and public health.

SK2In South Korea, Randall Solomon and Renee Haider participate in discussion about the value of different certification models with representatives of Clean Air Asia and various Southeast Asian cities.

This past June, the staff at Sustainable Jersey met with the leadership of Clean Air Asia to provide an overview of how our certification program works and why it has been successful in New Jersey.

Clean Air Asia is an international non-governmental organization that leads the regional mission for better air quality and healthier, more livable cities in Asia; and is charged with implementing the new air quality certification program for Asian cities. This group aims to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in 1,000+ cities in Asia through policy and programs that cover air quality, transport and industrial emissions and energy use.

SK3In South Korea, members of Clean Air Asia Advisory Group

To show the impressive work being done at the local level in New Jersey, we arranged meetings for the Clean Air Asia staff in Camden County with Sustainable Jersey partners Chris Waldron who is the Camden County Sustainability Director, Ed Cohen of the Tri-County Regional Hub, Jessica Franzini of NJ Tree Foundation and Sarah Bryant of Cooper’s Ferry Partnership.

Kathmandu, Malang and Baguio face challenges similar to New Jersey municipalities

At the conference in South Korea, we participated in a session to introduce and build support for the concept of certification and the use of common indicators to measure a city’s progress in taking action to address clean air. Sustainable Jersey was presented as a certification program that could serve as a model for the program in Asia.

From our discussion, I found that the problems of local government, for example in the City of Malang, Indonesia, Kathmandu, Nepal and the City of Baguio, Philippines, are not unlike what we find in the municipalities we work with in New Jersey. Basically, the staff are tasked with developing solutions to daunting environmental problems that are affecting their communities, with limited resources and capacity. They need guidance, resources and creative solutions. Our colleagues in Asian cities felt that they would benefit from the support and guidance of a certification program like Sustainable Jersey.

SK4Renee Haider with university students who provided a tour of the city

Renee Haider, Sustainable Jersey’s associate director, joined me on the trip to South Korea and participated as a panel and committee member.

“In making my presentation and in discussions afterward, I observed that a lot of countries don’t have the robust citizen engagement piece of the puzzle,” she said. “Their work is government driven and they want to develop the community participation part. Sustainable Jersey is lucky to have green teams driving the work at the local level and helping to move government to make the necessary changes. The Sustainable Jersey program also offers transparency since each municipality can see what the other certified towns have achieved because documentation is on the website. It helps when you can share with the elected officials what the next town over got done, and how they did it.”

Exploring Busan, South Korea’s Second Largest City

In addition to meetings and seminars, we got out of the hotel to explore our environs. Busan, South Korea’s second largest city, is a major international port and the country’s cultural hub. It is a technology and commerce center as well as a resort town, with lively beaches and coast against mountainous terrain.

SK5View of Busan from Bugaksan Mountain

We took a hike up the mountain known as Bugaksan overlooking the city. In addition to stunning views and strange flora and fauna, we passed through the ruins of one of the largest mountain fortresses in Korea and wove in and out of old watchtowers and fortified gates. After ten miles of hiking along the old fortress wall, we passed through the ancient Bemosa Temple complex that afforded us views of old Buddhist temples shrouded in mist and nestled in the mountainside.

We bridged the language barrier by looking confused. To get help, all we needed to do was pause on the street and look befuddled (it came naturally). Invariably someone would materialize and offer directions, or a ride or walk us to our next destination.

Big picture–we brought back with us a renewed sense of purpose that we are on the right track in New Jersey with the Sustainable Jersey program. The program has been singled out nationally and internationally as a powerful model for change. In addition, we will share what we learned about air-quality science, current issues, trends and policies that we can incorporate into the Sustainable Jersey certification program. We look forward to continuing to work with Clean Air Asia to develop solutions for cleaner air and livable cities.

For more about Sustainable Jersey: Website  Facebook  Twitter   Instagram   LinkedIn


Randall Solomon has 20 years of experience working in government, academia, and the non-profit sector. He is one of the principals that founded and directs the Sustainable Jersey Certification program and a regular contributor to the Dodge Blog.

Posted in Collaboration, Community Building, Environment, Green Ideas, Leadership, Public Policy, Sustainable Jersey | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Pro Bono Partnership Pundit: Politics and Public Charities Don’t Mix

Posted on by Nancy Eberhardt, Pro Bono Partnership

Cropped image of businesswoman writing on checklist

Thomas Mann famously said that “Everything is politics,” and in some senses, he was correct.  But 501(c)(3) organizations must avoid election-related political activity at all costs.

With a fiercely-contested national election campaign underway, and state and local races heating up, nonprofits must be especially careful not to get into the fray, no matter how close (or far) a candidate’s platform is to the charity’s mission.

The Internal Revenue Code states that section 501(c)(3) organizations are “absolutely prohibited” from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.”

Sample political campaign and lobbying policy for nonprofits

In other words, even one instance of such activity can jeopardize a public charity’s tax-exempt status or expose both the nonprofit and certain managers (including trustees) to excise taxes. And having to respond to any level of IRS or press inquiry about political activities may be a public relations and logistical nightmare for a nonprofit.

So what should a charity avoid? Obviously, it should NOT endorse or oppose candidates, make campaign contributions, or make public statements for or against a candidate (or distribute statements others make.) It should also avoid letting candidates use the organization’s assets or facilities. If a candidate attends a nonprofit’s special event and is permitted to speak about why they should be elected, that constitutes political activity.  Likewise, allowing a candidate’s campaign to hold a “meet and greet” at a nonprofit’s facility violates the rule.

What about the website? Can you help it if another group links to your website? The bottom line is that nonprofits need to pay attention to where they link and who links to them. The IRS will look at links from (c)(3)s to other websites to evaluate whether the material on the linked site is attributable to the (c)(3) and the charity is doing indirectly what it is not permitted to do directly. If the two organizations are related, the risk increases.

Voter education, public forums, and voter registration drives are OK, so long as they are completely nonpartisan. Candidate questionnaires and public debates or discussions must include all viable candidates, be conducted impartially, and cover a broad range of issues. Voter registration or “get out the vote” drives should be motivated by increasing voter education and participation, not by hopes of shaping the outcome of an election.

Public charities should not indicate a preference for a candidate or a political party or platform, and should avoid politically-loaded words such as “conservative,” “pro-choice,” etc. It’s acceptable to focus on certain demographic groups, such as low income, homeless, or students, but not on a particular party or group who will be expected to vote a certain way. It’s critical that a nonprofit be able to document its strategy and the nonpartisan steps taken in case its activities are questioned.

Other potentially difficult situations include a candidate already on the board of trustees, or a nonprofit that supports issues that are closely aligned with a candidate’s position.

Individuals associated with a tax-exempt organization do not lose their rights to free expression and to support specific candidates. But these individuals must avoid making partisan comments at official organization functions or in organization publications.

In addition, whenever there is a risk of confusion, individuals should preface their political statements with disclaimers that the views are their personal opinions and do not represent the views of the organization.  And, of course, any partisan comments should be avoided when a nonprofit employee or trustee is or appears to be “on the clock” or speaking on behalf of the organization.

The bottom line is that this is a complex and fact-sensitive area, full of potential minefields.  Make sure your organization and its employees and board members are briefed on the rules, and get expert advice if you aren’t absolutely clear about a certain situation.

Do you have a question you’d like to us to address? Leave it in the comments below.

20160108_Nancy_025cNancy Eberhardt is New Jersey director of Pro Bono Partnership and a regular contributor to the Dodge Blog. Pro Bono Partnership provides free business and transactional legal services to nonprofits serving the disadvantaged or enhancing the quality of life in neighborhoods in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Learn more here

Posted in Arts Advocacy, Nonprofit, Philanthropy, Pro Bono Partnership | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Morris Arts: In Flux Gallery Reception Set for Sept. 21 at 14 Maple Ave in Morristown

Posted on by Morris Arts



Join Morris Arts and Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 21 for a free opening reception for the Gallery at 14 Maple’s 16th exhibit, In Flux.

The exhibition features works by 11 outstanding artists and reflects the complexities and ever-shifting nature of our contemporary world.

A trained physical chemist, Sunil Garg’s sculptures literally glow with light, color and organic energy while the exquisite precision of Joe Freeman’s stark black and white photos of clearcut landscapes testify eloquently against the destruction of precious natural resources.


Danielle Masters Untitled

Bascove’s works pay homage to Art Deco and demonstrate her masterful collage techniques while Ed Fausty’s keen fisheye lens spotlights the beauties of often hidden, miniature natural worlds.

Asha Ganpat’s works blend mystery, depicting ephemeral smoke with her unique black and gold palette, and humor, with her Art Vending Machine (whose capsules contain an original work of art, available for $1).

By contrast, Danielle Masters’ art embodies millennial sensibilities, with energetic geometric shapes and bold, dramatic colors.


Nupur Nishiths’ Dheeya the Girl Child

Nupur Nishith provides a contemporary reinterpretation of traditional Indian artistic themes, whose intricate details, specific cultural references and striking colors intrigue the eye and mind.

Ray Ogar’s vision is disturbing and nihilistic – featuring the “redacted” faces of zombie-like modern workers whose individuality and warmth has been brutally excised. A softer side of technology is seen in Pamela Shipley’s works, data-derived yet humanistic, with delicate colors and softly delineated forms.


Michael Wolfs sculpture One-seventh Heaven

K.C. Tidemand’s architectural, structural works reveal a world of extreme precision and order and Michael Wolf’s small sculptures explore multiple media (alabaster, gold leaf, metal and wood) and evoke a sense of home, history and open doors to the universe.

The public is invited to view this exciting exhibit and to meet the artists at the free opening reception on September 21, 2016 from 6-8 pm at Gallery at 14 Maple, a distinctive space located on the 3rd floor of the LEED certified “green” building at 14 Maple Avenue in Morristown. Refreshments will be served. 

Exhibition Hours:
Monday — Friday, 10 am — 4 pm
or by appointment

This exhibit will run from September 21, 2016 – February 16, 2017.

Visit or call (973) 285-5115 for additional information.


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Ask a Poet: MARK DOTY

Posted on by Dodge Poetry

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Mark DotyWelcome to Ask a Poet, where each week we will present (in no particular order) a Q&A with a poet who will be coming to the Dodge Poetry Festival this October 20-23. Through these blogs, you’ll be able to get to know these poets a bit better in preparation for #DPF16! 

Now, let’s chat with Mark Doty.


When did you first discover poetry?  What poets made you want to write poetry?

I always read and heard at least some poetry in school, but I was in high school when I discovered what power poetry had, and how important I could feel. I was a lonely kid, unsure of myself, uncomfortable in my own skin, convinced that nobody felt as odd as I did. Now I can see that means I felt like a whole lot of other young people do, but I didn’t know that then. When I found the poems of William Blake, E.E. Cummings and Federico Garcia Lorca, and the prose poems of Kenneth Patchen and Richard Brautigan, I felt I’d stumbled upon a secret place, a private realm where there were voices that spoke directly into my ears. They carried a magic that wasn’t readily available in my daily life; the magic in them spoke to some magic I knew was inside me. They spoke of longing and solitude, sorrow and hope, and the strange unexplainable wonder of being alive. And they made me want to speak back to them.

What is something you have recently discovered about poetry?

That you never really feel you know how to write it! Every poem is a new puzzle, and a big part of being a poet is learning to take pleasure in working it out, learning to tolerate frustration. Every once in a while a good line or a strong phrase just seems to pop out, but the truth is that most poems are written badly before they’re written well. You have to be willing to mess up, say something in a clichéd way, be sentimental or sound dumb. Then you take what you’ve written and go to work on it. Then stand back, take a break, and go back and work some more.

Have you ever written anything you were afraid to share?

Once Adrienne Rich, a great American poet who wrote powerful poems examining women’s lives and the relationships between gender and power, came to visit a class I was teaching. My students had read lots of her work and were in awe of her. One said, “You’ve written so much about difficult subjects. Aren’t you afraid of anything?” Adrienne sat back, smiled a little and said, “I am afraid of everything.” I like to remember that moment because it showed just how much courage Rich had found, and also demonstrated how much courage it takes for anyone, even a highly acclaimed writer, to reveal herself and say things on the page that might feel uncomfortable. I often write poems that I’m afraid to share. In fact, if the poem you’re writing starts to make you uncomfortable, that’s probably a good sign. It means you’re pushing your writing into territory, and approaching material that genuinely matters to you.

Here’s what helps me. Later on, when I publish one of those poems or read it to an audience, there’s almost always someone who thanks me. “You gave words to what I’ve felt too,” they’ll say, or “That poem helped me feel less alone.” The truth is we are never the only one who’s experienced something, no matter what it is. Shame or guilt or self-hatred or rage or grief – those things are part of our common humanity, and when you find the courage and craft to express them, you’re doing something not just for yourself but for your readers, too.

Mark Doty is the author of several collections of poetry, including Deep Lane (2015); A Swarm, A Flock, A Host: A Compendium of Creatures (2013); Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems (2008), which received the National Book Award; School of the Arts (2005); Source (2002); and Sweet Machine (1998).

His poetry collection Atlantis (1995) received the Ambassador Book Award, the Bingham Poetry Prize, and a Lambda Literary Award. My Alexandria (1993) won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the National Poetry Series contest, the National Book Critics Circle Award and Britain’s T. S. Eliot Prize.

He has published several memoirs: Heaven’s Coast (1996), which received the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for First Nonfiction, Firebird (1999) and Dog Years (2007), and the book-length essay Still Life with Oysters and Lemon: On Objects and Intimacy (2001). He edited The Best American Poetry 2012.

Doty has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Whiting Foundation. He received a Lila Wallace/Readers Digest Award and the Witter Byner Prize. Doty was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2011.

He has taught at the University of Houston and is currently serving as a Distinguished Writer at Rutgers University. He currently lives in New York City.


Stay updated on the 2016 Dodge Poetry Festival as information becomes available!


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CNJG: Powerful Partnerships Lead to Stronger Organizations Serving the Sector

Posted on by Nina Stack and Linda Czipo


The value of working in partnership with others has long been a powerful strategy in the social sector. Non-profit organizations understand that partnerships can be highly effective given the right mix of trust, communication, and an understanding of the unique strengths each partner brings to the table.

While the Center for Non-Profits and the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers (CNJG) have long complemented and promoted each other’s work and collaborated on specific initiatives — for many years both our organizations worked laterally on programs and issues for our respective constituents.

The Center, as the state association serving the charitable sector, worked on behalf of all nonprofits throughout the state providing programs, services and advocacy. CNJG, as New Jersey’s regional association of grantmakers, provided programs and services to the state’s philanthropic sector. And while CNJG was a long-time member of the Center (and continues to be a member); and both our organizations communicated with one another regularly; and both our organizations met periodically to trade notes and keep up on policy issues — it was more of a symbiotic cooperation and not a partnership.

This began to change in the summer of 2012, when the Center provided a presentation to the CNJG board about policy trends and the Center’s work. The presentation was so well received, the CNJG board indicated they would like to see our organizations work more closely together on programming and advocacy. Skip to four years later, and our organizations had the pleasure of talking about our partnership on Aug. 30 at the 2016 Joint Policy Institute hosted by our respective networks, the Forum of Regional Assocation of Grantmakers and the National Council of Nonprofits.


This first-ever Joint Policy Institute was an opportunity for members of both larger networks to strengthen relationships; expand our understanding of policy issues of concern to the sector; and enhance the capacity of regional associations of grantmakers (known in the sector as RAs) and state associations of nonprofits (or SAs). The event was attended by over 100 RA and SA staff and board members from across the country, including staff and board representatives from both CNJG and the Center.

The nearly three-day agenda was jam-packed. Together we heard from national experts about the most critical state and local policy issues impacting the work of non-profits and philanthropy, shared effective policy tools for engaging members and policymakers, and learned how policymakers perceive our sectors.

A key objective for the Institute was for attendees to learn from successful partnerships between regional philanthropy associations and state non-profit associations. We were honored to talk about our own partnership work in New Jersey as part of a panel alongside our colleagues from the Colorado Nonprofit Association and Colorado Association of Funders, and the Council of Michigan Foundations and Michigan Nonprofit Association. Each set of partners brought their own unique voice and area/s of focus.

What we shared at the Institute differs slightly from our colleagues’ partnership work. A considerable portion of our partnership work has been focused on addressing systemic issues prevalent in the social sector.

Together we have a tackled the overhead myth, government contracting issues, and the true costs of providing programs and services. With an initial goal of ensuring that funders are well aware of the key issues facing the nonprofit sector, our early work focused on programming and education specifically for the philanthropic sector. Programming and education still feature prominently in our partnership’s overall strategy; however as the partnership has evolved, we find that we are able to meet this need in different and novel ways.

One example of this work is our ongoing work to come together on the need for full cost funding for non-profit work. Drawing from many great examples from our colleagues around the country, we are using Forefront’s (formerly Donors Forum) model as a starting point for drafting principles for New Jersey’s social sector. Stay tuned!

Another focus of our partnership has been on relationship building, particularly on public education about the non-profit and philanthropic communities.

One of our biggest successes has been our work with the New Jersey Office of Legislative Services, the nonpartisan research staff serving the Legislature. In 2014, CNJG and the Center jointly provided a two-hour briefing entitled Understanding New Jersey’s Non-Profit Community: Role, Impact, Myths & Facts, and in 2015 we provided another briefing, Non-Profit Startup and Compliance Issues: A Legal Review. CNJG wrote about this work in a January 2015 Dodge blog post.

We’ve also learned along the way some of the key components to the success of our partnership. While the partnership does not have a formal memorandum of understanding, there are agreements, practices, and a “partnership ethic” that provide a structure for the relationship. We serve on one another’s policy/advocacy committee, meet at the beginning of each year to discuss possible joint activities, and maintain an open line of communication regarding various issues and trends. Both boards are supportive of our partnership, and highly appreciate the depth and value of this arrangement for both organizations. Frankly, this “buy-in” from both the board and policy/advocacy committees is an integral component of the partnership.

It also bears mention that on advocacy issues, our partnership is strengthened by virtue of the constituency each organization represents. Working together amplifies the reach and power of our collective voice for the non-profit and philanthropic communities.

We’ve found that our collaboration strengthens and complements each organization in important ways. It helps to stretch the capacity and impact of our two small offices, resulting in a whole that is greater than the sum of our parts. Each organization can share insights and perspectives that provide additional depth and credibility to our work before public officials; and on occasion, one organization can give voice to an issue in a way that the other might not be able to articulate.

Even though four years have passed, our partnership between the Center for Non-Profits and the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers is continuously evolving. We understand clearly the many different attributes, skills, and voices that each organization brings to the table. What will not change as our relationship evolves is the foundation on which our partnership is built: mutual trust and respect as equal partners; honest communication; and a commitment to the ideals found in the social sector.

We were thrilled to share our partnership with our colleagues from throughout the nation at the 2016 Joint Policy Institute. And even more thrilled that New Jersey is often held up as national model because of the extent of our partnership! Together, we’ll continue to grow this partnership and develop new opportunities to work on behalf of the entire social sector.

Photo at top: From top left, Theresa Jacks, Council of New Jersey Grantmakers deputy director; Bill Engel, of the Hyde and Watson Foundation; Nina Stack, CNJG president. Bottom left: Linda Czipo, Center for Non-Profits president, and Marion O’Neill, of the PSEG Foundation.


Linda M. Czipo is president & CEO of the Center for Non-Profits, New Jersey’s statewide umbrella organization for the charitable community. Through advocacy, public education, technical assistance and member services, the center builds the power of New Jersey’s nonprofit community to improve the quality of life for the people of our state.



NinaNina Stack is President of the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers, the statewide association of more than 130 funding organizations working in and for New Jersey. The Council is the center for philanthropy in the state, serving the leading independent, corporate, family and community foundations as well as public grantmakers of our state.  CNJG supports its members by strengthening their capacity to address New Jersey and society’s most difficult problems. 





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Arts Ed Now: New Poll Shows NJ Residents Overwhelmingly Value Arts Education

Posted on by New Jersey Arts Education Partnership


Residents’ views on student access to local arts programs and events divided by key social and economic factors

Poll questions and tables are available at: Rutgers Eagleton Poll

Released September 13, 2016

As the school year gets underway, New Jersey residents deem more than just “reading and writing and ‘rithmetic” valuable to a child’s education.

Some 95 percent of residents believe an education in the arts — which can include dance, media arts, music, theater, visual arts, and other forms of active creative learning — is very (72 percent) or somewhat (23 percent) important for K-12 students, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Just 5 percent say the opposite.

Yet despite overwhelming agreement that the arts are essential, sizable numbers of New Jerseyans do not participate in related activities that help to promote and increase arts education.

  • More than half have not taken a child to a program or event, donated or raised money, volunteered, or shared something on social media related to the arts either at their local school or in their community within the past year.
  • Almost half have not discussed arts programs or events with others, and four in 10 have not encouraged a child to participate in any way.
  • Few have brought up the issue with figures like teachers, school administrators and elected officials or in settings like school or town meetings or on social media.

Residents’ views on student access to arts programs and events in their local area are mixed.

In terms of their local school, 28 percent of New Jerseyans strongly agree that students have enough arts opportunities, and another 26 percent somewhat agree; a combined 34 percent either somewhat or strongly disagree. In terms of their local community, 56 percent of New Jerseyans likewise agree that students have enough arts opportunities, whereas 31 percent feel just the opposite.

“New Jerseyans overwhelmingly believe that our students need arts education, and a number of residents believe more needs to be done. We want to build upon this support and create strong local ambassadors with the help of the Arts Ed Now campaign,” stated Bob Morrison, director of the New Jersey Arts Education Partnership. “This is a statewide call to action for all residents to help increase arts education in schools and communities all across New Jersey.”

Results are from a statewide poll of 802 adults contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Sept. 6 to 10, 2016. The sample has a margin of error of +/-3.9 percentage points. Interviews were done in English and, when requested, Spanish.

Learn more about the campaign at:


About the Arts Ed Now Campaign

Arts Ed Now is a statewide campaign to increase active participation in arts education in all schools in New Jersey. Studies show that students who participate in arts education do better in school and in life. Unfortunately, not all NJ students have the access or information to increase their participation in arts education. The Arts Ed Now campaign identifies ways to increase participation in arts education and garner public support to put a spotlight on the issue – and is designed to be customized at a local grassroots level for more impact. The “Campaign Central” website features stories, tools and ways for citizens to become better ambassadors – together. Arts Ed Now was initiated by New Jersey Arts Education Partnership (NJAEP), NJ State Council on the Arts, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, and Americans for the Arts and now includes hundreds of organizations and individuals across New Jersey.

About the New Jersey Arts Education Partnership

The New Jersey Arts Education Partnership (NJAEP) is the unified voice for arts education in New Jersey. NJAEP was originally founded in 2007 as a cosponsored program of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, with additional support from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, New Jersey Department of Education and Music for All Foundation. Additional support has been provided by the Prudential Foundation, and ArtPride New Jersey Foundation. The mission of the NJAEP is to provide a unified voice for a diverse group of constituents who agree on the educational benefits and impact of the arts, specifically the contribution they make to student achievement and a civilized, sustainable society. Additional information is available at 

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#ArtsEdNow: Creating a Campaign… Together

Posted on by Ennis Carter, Director, Social Impact Studios



It’s always exciting to work on a new campaign. The energy of a powerful idea mixed with the spirit of dedicated advocates can spark creativity that makes promoting important social issues thrilling.

At Social Impact Studios, we’ve helped craft hundreds of public awareness initiatives over the years, and the best ones always bring together a large group to generate a message that amplifies all the voices of the people most affected by the issue. Arts Ed Now is one of those campaigns — and is especially exciting for us because we get to be a part of it as the effort’s Creative Partner.

ArtsEdNow_We Support

In today’s media-focused culture, it’s fairly easy to design creative public awareness pushes. There are plenty of tools and a lot of good examples to follow. But creativity is not enough to make real and lasting change alone. To do that, you need to think beyond the “one-off” promotional campaign and leverage the strength of those involved — setting a stage that encourages movement-building at every step of the way. The Arts Ed Now campaign intentionally followed such a path and the backstory on its development is a good example of how challenging and rewarding it can be to work in creative collaboration with a group of dedicated people.

Arts Ed Now started out as the idea of a few inspired visionaries to pick up the baton from a previous campaign called “Arts for Every Kid.” More than a decade ago, Arts for Every Kid set out to assure arts education across the state of New Jersey. Having achieved the result of 97 percent of school districts now offering arts education in some form, the next step would be to increase participation for even better results.

This time around, the process would focus on engaging existing arts education champions from local to state levels and across all ages from students themselves to teachers to long-time policy-makers and administrators. Instead of developing a ready-made campaign behind closed doors, Arts Ed Now stakeholders were part of the creation of a multi-year effort to increase active creative learning that is good for all students and good for New Jersey.

It was a smart approach. By building a movement as well as a platform, we not only engaged ambassadors ahead of the public campaign launch, but also learned more about what was really happening with arts education at the local level — and what needed to be done to address inequity in key areas of the state.

The first year of direct, grassroots discovery revealed that there was still quite a bit of work to do to assure access for many students in New Jersey. We couldn’t leap only to increasing participation if baseline access wasn’t yet available everywhere. The power of a statewide stakeholder network now gives the campaign a way to address both elements simultaneously and achieve results through shared experiences and practices.

As we all celebrate the public launch of Arts Ed Now during Arts Education Week September 12 – 17, 2016, it is exciting to reflect upon how the campaign has come together through the insights and hard work of a large and creative group of people. It is important to remember that all of that creative energy generated was only the beginning — gearing us all up to go out of the gate with a strong and unified campaign designed to amplify the many voices of advocates everywhere. With that foundation underneath us, just imagine where it can go from here!


Ennis Carter is the founder and director of Social Impact Studios. Social Impact Studios is a creative hub for promoting important social issues and proud Creative Partner of the Arts Ed Now campaign in New Jersey. 

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Arts Ed Now: I Support the Arts and I Vote!

Posted on by Ann Marie Miller
Hannah, Alex and Ben Carr, whose mom is Stephanie Carr, ArtPride Program Manager, help register voters at Camden Jam on Saturday, Sept. 10.

Hannah, Alex and Ben Carr, whose mom is Stephanie Carr, ArtPride Program Manager, help register voters at Camden Jam on Saturday, Sept. 10.

What’s your issue in the upcoming election? From gun control to immigration, there are a host of public policy issues that provoke emotional and sometimes heated debate.

Government support for the arts has taken a back seat since the culture wars of the 1990’s, but you’ll often hear the “should government support the arts?” question raised any time budget cuts are front and center from the big federal stage  to Trenton to local town halls across the nation. And proof of that is the slow incremental progress of funding for the National Endowment for the Arts as it annually crawls back to 2010 levels of support (from $146 million currently to $178 million in 2010).

ArtPride encourages participation in arts activities throughout New Jersey and its mission also revolves around civic engagement — that includes assuring voters who support the arts are both informed and encouraged to participate in our democracy. Most recently ArtPride staff hosted voter registration (find ArtPride staff at Trenton’s Windows of Soul next Saturday) and encourages nonprofit organizations to follow that example, an activity that is well within the regulations protecting their nonprofit status as long as the information provided is not partisan.

Voter registration for the upcoming election closes on October 18 in New Jersey, so there’s still time to be part of the process. If you or your organization is interested, please contact the ArtPride NJ office for how-to advice. After speaking with clerks at several county boards of election, ArtPride also plans to test a pilot program with arts organizations serving as election polling places in 2017 (imagine voting somewhere where you might actually linger post vote).

Here is some recently released polling data that reveals how Americans perceive public funding for the arts, and something for you to consider when you vote on November 8.

According to Americans for the Arts national public opinion survey (conducted in December 2015 by Ipsos Public Affairs online of over 3,000 people), Americans approve of both their local and state governments funding grants to artists and arts organizations (58 percent and 57 percent, respectively). In fact, 43 percent believe that current government funding of the arts is not enough, while 26 percent believe it is just right. Respondents who approve federal government increasing spending from 45 cents to $1 per person on grants to arts organizations greatly outweighs those who disagree (55 percent vs. 19 percent).

All else being equal, the public opinion poll also found that Americans who are likely to vote in the 2016 presidential election are twice as likely to vote in favor (40 percent) than to vote against (18 percent) a candidate who wanted to increase federal spending on the arts to $1 per capital.  Millennials are especially likely to vote in favor of this increase—48 percent vs. 13 percent who oppose it.

All of this means we, as arts supporters, have our work cut out for us. If polling like this is a political reality, it’s important to make sure that our citizen/patrons vote (did you know that according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research that only 47.3 percent of women in New Jersey voted in 2015, ranking 40th in the nation?). On top of that it’s equally important for voters to be aware of how candidates feel about public support for the arts. Sources for this information include ArtsVote2016 that contains statements about federal arts funding by the presidential candidates, the Congressional Arts Report Card that holds voting information on arts related federal spending by congressional incumbents up for re-election, and ArtPride’s Congressional Arts Survey that contains responses from incumbents and challengers regarding public arts support.

Finally, with this week designated as National Arts Education Week and the launch of the ArtsEdNow campaign, keep an eye open in early October for the NJ Arts Education Partnership’s survey of school board candidates up for election, because you may be faced with that decision as well in the voting booth this November.

It’s important to know how school board candidates feel about the value of arts education and adequate funding for arts ed in local school districts throughout New Jersey. After all, students are our future voters and we’ll need them to rock the vote for the arts in years to come. There is no better way to build future arts supporters than to assure that students have the ability to be inspired by and participate in the arts at school.

Ann Marie Miller

Ann Marie Miller

Ann Marie Miller is the Director of Advocacy and Public Policy at ArtPride New Jersey and a regular contributor to the Dodge Blog. Email her at Click here to visit ArtPride’s website.

Posted in ArtPride New Jersey, Arts, Arts Advocacy, Arts Ed Now, Opportunities, Public Policy | Tagged , , | Leave a comment


Posted on by Dodge Poetry

Header for Web Pages

GregersonBWWelcome to Ask a Poet, where each week we will present (in no particular order) a Q&A with a poet who will be coming to the Dodge Poetry Festival this October 20-23. Through these blogs, you’ll be able to get to know these poets a bit better in preparation for #DPF16! 

Now, let’s get to know Linda Gregerson.


What are you reading?

I’ve been reading and rereading the poetry of Ross Gay.  It’s a revelation to me: its buoyancy and largeness of spirit, its marvelous range, its extraordinary musicality.  I keep hoping some of it will rub off.

What is something you have recently discovered about poetry?

What I discover again and again, and what is always stirring to discover, is how poetry demands, and helps us to imagine, the best of us.  If we come to it complacently, as readers or writers, it will call our bluff.  If we come to it with inflexible opinions or jaded hearts, it will turn its back on us. If we come to it distractedly, it will either shake us to attention or turn to gibberish.  You cannot con a poem.

What is the role of poetry in the twenty first century?

Mindfulness, pure and simple.  We see around us the depredations wrought by inattention and insularity, by misplaced blame and misplaced righteousness.  Poetry, real poetry, the rigorous attention afforded and exemplified by poetry, is blessed antidote.

Richard Hugo said we’ve written every poem we ever loved.  He was particularly proud of having written Yeats’ “Easter, 1916.”  What great poem are you proud of having written?

William Meredith’s perfect sonnet: “The Illiterate”

How important is accessibility of meaning? Should a reader have to work hard to “solve” the poem?

I fervently believe in the principle of hospitality:  a poem should be reader-friendly, should invite the reader in, should offer immediate touchstones of recognition and pleasure.  And yet.  I don’t like poems that use themselves up on the first reading. I like to be encouraged to “work,” to find pleasure in working, to come back again and again and experience the simultaneous rewards of deepening familiarity and deepening understanding.  I like a poem that lasts.


Linda Gregerson was born in Illinois and received a BA from Oberlin College, an MA from Northwestern University, an MFA from the University of Iowa Writers Workshop, and her PhD from Stanford University.

Her books of poetry include Prodigal: New and Selected Poems, 1976 to 2014 (2015);The Selvage (2012); Magnetic North (2007), a finalist for the National Book Award; Waterborne (2002), winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award; The Woman Who Died in Her Sleep (1996), a finalist for The Poet’s Prize and the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; and Fire in the Conservatory (1982). Gregerson’s poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Poetry, Granta, The Paris Review, The Kenyon Review, Best American Poetry and many other journals and anthologies. Her awards and honors include the Levinson Prize, the Consuelo Ford Award, the Isabel MacCaffrey Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Pushcart Prize.

In 2015, Gregerson was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. She teaches American poetry and Renaissance literature at the University of Michigan, where she also directs the MFA program in creative writing. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


Stay updated on the 2016 Dodge Poetry Festival as information becomes available!


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Free Press: How Community Media Can Fill Local News Gaps

Posted on by Fiona Morgan, Free Press

A key takeaway from the Alliance for Community Media’s recent conference in Boston: Community media can and must help fill the gaps in local news coverage that are growing across the country thanks to rampant consolidation and newsroom cutbacks.

Community media is an umbrella term that refers to non-commercial media that isn’t part of NPR or PBS. ACM is an organization composed primarily of public access, education and government (PEG) TV channels available on cable television, along with the digital media centers and training programs such stations offer. There are more than 3,000 community media outlets in the U.S., and they’re diverse in terms of the resources they have, the programming they produce, the way they’re organized, and the scale at which they operate.

What they have in common is that we need them more than ever.

As I opened my ACM conference presentation on the News Voices project, I asked the 100 people in the room, “How many of you live in communities where the local newspaper has recently shut down, or where the newspaper no longer has a reporter to cover your community?” About a third raised their hands.

Yet there was reason for hope. “How many of you have a background in professional journalism?” I asked. Several people raised their hands. “How many have a background in community organizing, or activism?” Another set of people raised their hands.

I’m used to speaking with journalists about the need to use organizing skills to engage the public, or to advocates and activists about the special role journalism plays in strengthening communities.

Our News Voices project, which brings together reporters and residents in cities throughout New Jersey, is about connecting those two worlds. We invite journalists to sit down at the same table — literally — with people who dedicate their time to improving their communities, so that they can work together to tell important stories.

But people in community media already have a foot in both worlds, which puts them ahead when it comes to authentic community engagement.

The session I led at ACM with Northampton TV’s Al Williams was a scaled-down version of a News Voices event. I asked people to form small discussion groups and identify issues that matter to their communities. Familiar themes emerged: housing, education, the opioid epidemic, race and policing. Then I asked them to form different groups and consider questions they had about those topics. From there, the groups brainstormed about stories that need to be told to address those issues.

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This exercise draws on and connects the knowledge and expertise in the room. In the communities where News Voices works, we use the exercise to harness the collective knowledge of residents, showing journalists how to draw on this powerful force.

At the ACM conference, we were with people from all over the country who are engaged in the same mission: to serve the public through media. During the session I led, they considered how these issues play out in their communities, and how their outlets could use this exercise and tell the stories that emerge.

Not all PEG stations are equipped to do what we typically think of as journalism. But engagement is ingrained in their mission — more so, in fact, than it is for other kinds of media outlets. And with the right partnerships — with local journalists or civic organizations — that engagement can foster the kinds of conversations we need as conventional news outlets reduce their coverage of local issues.

While in Boston, I had a chance to tour the Boston Neighborhood Network, a nonprofit community center broadcasting in the Roxbury neighborhood.

BNN provides one channel for public access: Volunteer TV producers who complete a training course have the chance to make and air their own shows, working either in front of or behind the camera. BNN’s news channel includes a daily professionally produced program, Boston Neighborhood Network News, and a weekly public affairs show. BNN also recently partnered with the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism on coverage of the city’s suburban communities, which commercial media outlets have increasingly neglected.

Montgomery County, Maryland, home to more than 1 million people, is a news desert even though it lies inside the Washington, D.C. media market. In 2015, the Washington Post Company shut down its community newspaper that served the county, and commercial broadcasters pay little attention to it.

Fortunately, Montgomery Community Media is producing local news and information, both on its cable channels and on multiple digital platforms, including its online hub, MCM is an independent nonprofit whose professional staff produce news and public affairs shows about the county, its city government, its schools, its local elections and its multiethnic culture.

In an ACM conference panel, MCM content director Nannette Hobson talked about how she saw a decline in substance and relevance in commercially produced programming during her career as a local TV news producer as corporate directives steered reporters away from important local stories.

That void creates an opportunity, she said. “We can be responsive to community needs on any given day because we are the community.”

Hobson showed a clip from an MCM reporter who had attended a county budget hearing and decided to follow up with a speaker who requested bus service in the African American neighborhood of Tobytown. The reporter interviewed residents, walked with them along the busy stretch of road, examined government documents and asked public officials for a response. Her multiple follow-up reports covered public forums, and weeks later, county officials approved bus service to connect the community with surrounding areas so residents could travel to work safely. It was a perfect demonstration of the impact solid local journalism can have on people’s lives.

In a sense, community media — PEG stations and their related projects — are part of the larger category of public media, broadly defined. But unlike PBS stations, they don’t broadcast over the air, and they don’t receive money from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Instead, much of the funding PEG stations receive is a product of franchise agreements between local or state governments and the cable companies providing service. Those arrangements create challenges for stations seeking to produce news.

To understand these challenges, it helps to understand a little policy.

Under federal law, local or state governments can negotiate with cable companies that want to do business with their residents, requesting channel space and/or setting aside a percentage of the total revenue from cable subscriptions in their area. Negotiations and the resources they generate vary from place to place. In some areas, they result in multiple channels and other types of support. In others local leaders may choose to have only a government channel to broadcast city council meetings and the like — and in some the government takes the money without requesting any channels.

How the money gets distributed varies too. In some places, money goes directly to an independent nonprofit that operates a station — that arrangement provides the maximum level of independence from elected officials and bureaucrats. But it’s more often the case that local governments control how the money gets spent. They may house the station within the government itself, or issue contracts with organizations that run public access channels, a process that can easily become politicized.

ACM members shared a few off-record war stories of political pressure from mayors and city councilors to do certain kinds of programming. Producers and station managers in those communities feel apprehensive about how far they can go.

As policies differ, so does the strength of a state’s community media ecosystem. Massachusetts encourages setting up independent nonprofits to run stations, which is why it’s home to more than 200 stations. Minnesota and Oregon also have strong community media.

That’s not the case in New Jersey. Although there are more than 100 PEG stations in the state, most are government or education stations, and nonprofit organizations run only five. This presents a challenge when it comes to producing independent programming, because government stations operate without a political firewall.

But government stations can still do good work. Asbury Park TV is a government-run channel with a community mindset. Its producers have been in discussion with our News Voices team and the hyperlocal Asbury Park Sun on a potential collaboration with local youth. Princeton Community Television and Digital Media Center is an independent nonprofit that serves 20 townships in three different counties. Based at a public library, East Brunswick TV also does community-centered programing.

Partnerships with independent entities are a good option for stations seeking to do local news, and community media stations have a lot to offer potential partners: studios with high-quality video equipment, including cameras and editing suites; mobile production equipment, sometimes including vans or trucks on par with those used by local TV news crews; expertise in all aspects of media production, including digital editing and online distribution; training programs and technical support aimed at turning novices of all ages into competent producers.

Besides their technical assets, community media organizations have another edge: their relationships with local residents and organizations. The concept of access — of opening the doors to community members and showing them how to tell their own stories — is their very reason for being.

There’s no magic bullet for saving local news, nor is there a one-size-fits-all institution that can fill the information gaps that have resulted from the erosion of our commercial media ecosystem.

But the kinds of resources and institutions people want to see in communities look a lot like the community media centers in Boston and Saint Paul and Montgomery County, Maryland. Not every station or center will be equipped or properly insulated to do investigative journalism, but they have a lot to offer. It’s time to include community media in our thinking about the future of local news.

Fiona MorganFiona Morgan is Free Press’ Journalism Director and a regular contributor to the Dodge Blog. She works with Mike Rispoli to oversee News Voices: New Jersey, a Dodge-funded Free Press initiative designed to create conversation and respond to the needs of both journalists and residents.



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Posted on by Dodge Poetry

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Herrera2Welcome to Ask a Poet, where each week we will present (in no particular order) a Q&A with a poet who will be coming to the Dodge Poetry Festival this October 20-23. Through these blogs, you’ll be able to get to know these poets a bit better in preparation for #DPF16! 

Now, let’s talk to our nation’s Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera!


What are you reading? 

Everyone talks about Basho, poet during the Japanese Edo Period — now I join them. For me it is key to read him, the master of the haiku and more than that, a master of the insight of life-nature-universe.

Robert Hass, the late C.D. Wright, both friends and magnificent poets, thinkers — and Tom Lutz with his new book, a traveler, like Basho — Drinking Mare’s Milk on the Roof of the World.

When did you first discover poetry?  What poets made you want to write poetry?

Sixteen is the diamond year — teen power. San Diego High School, choir, guitar, painting, sculpture and poetry!

What is something you have recently discovered about poetry?

Poetry can heal others’ hearts, even if it is just for a few minutes and it can move others to write poetry too. It is the key to our new generation. Every teen loves to recite out loud all the new rhythms of the poetry-drum.

With all the other demands and distractions in life, how do you make time for poetry?

You have to sneak it into everything you do — you must not wait. Write on the back of an envelope, in a taxi, at the car dealer, waiting to get your rotten tooth yanked out, or just simply while you are cleaning your dogs spud-shaped paws.

What is the role of poetry in the twenty first century?

To transform it. If you become more insightful as you write, the world becomes more insightful too.

What is a misconception about poetry that bothers you? Why?

Everyone thinks poetry is poetry. It is not. Poetry is your life and it is the life of every human being. Otherwise we cannot live a full human life, if we do not sing from the deepest regions of our hearts.

How important is accessibility of meaning? Should a reader have to work hard to “solve” the poem? 

It does not matter.  Work hard too get rid of all your misconceptions. Become free. A poem is the first step.


Juan Felipe Herrera was born in California to migrant farmers. He received a BA from UCLA, an MA from Stanford and an MFA from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Herrera’s poetry collections include Notes on the Assemblage (2015); Senegal Taxi (2013); Half of the World in Light: New and Selected Poems (2008), recipient of the PEN/Beyond Margins Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award; 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross The Border: Undocuments 1971–2007 (2007); and Crashboomlove: A Novel in Verse (1999), which received the Americas Award. His nonfiction work Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes (Dial) was published in 2014. His prose children’s books include Calling The Doves (2001), which won the Ezra Jack Keats Award and Upside Down Boy (2006), which was adapted into a musical. Herrera has received fellowships and grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Breadloaf Writers’ Conference, the California Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Stanford Chicano Fellows Program, and UC Berkley. He has won the Hungry Mind Award of Distinction, the Focal Award, the Latino Hall of Fame Poetry Award, a PEN West Poetry Award and the Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement. He taught at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and UC Riverside and was chair of the Chicano and Latin American Studies Department at CSU-Fresno. He was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2011. Herrera served as California’s Poet Laureate (2012—2014) and, in 2015, was named Poet Laureate of the United States, the first Mexican-American to hold the position. He has five children and lives in California with his partner, poet and performance artist Margarita Robles.


Stay updated on the 2016 Dodge Poetry Festival as information becomes available!


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Dodge Road Trip: Protecting the Jersey Shore

Posted on by Naeema Campbell


On a warm and breezy afternoon earlier this summer, I arrived at the offices of the American Littoral Society and Clean Ocean Action.

These organizations share a building at Fort Hancock, near the end of Sandy Hook Gateway Recreational Area, that offers a breathtaking view of the shoreline. In other words, I was on a site visit at the beach!

While the setting was beautiful and relaxing, I was there to learn about the Littoral Society and Clean Ocean Action’s efforts to protect and improve New Jersey’s inland and coastal waterways.

Dodge Road TripAmerican Littoral Society advocates for a healthy ocean and reminds us that we need sustainable fishing communities, healthy bays, estuaries and resilient coastlines. The Atlantic Ocean holds tremendous value to us in New Jersey. In 2012, the Mid-Atlantic ocean economy alone contributed $47 billion to the national GDP and generated 700,000 full and part-time jobs.

But without a long-term, comprehensive national ocean policy, the ocean’s value could quickly deteriorate. In response to this, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body was formed in 2013 to coordinate and implement ocean planning with state, Federal, tribal and Fishery Management Council representatives. Within in New Jersey, the Littoral Society is working alongside this group to track their progress and advocate that the plan focus on sustainable uses of the ocean and include conservation measures to identify and protect ecologically special places.

One part of the plan that I found relevant is the focus on “developing and implementing a regionally appropriate plan for marine debris reduction.”

Growing up in Northern New Jersey, I looked forward to weekend trips to various beaches along the Jersey Shore with my family. Spending the weekend down by the shore made each summer special. During those trips I’m sure I noticed a cigarette filter and empty plastic bottle along the shore, but I never considered that the plastic would remain in the ocean long after I left. The most I worried about was getting caught in a rip tide or a sea gull stealing my potato chips.

Unfortunately, the trash left behind or washed out to sea from other bodies of water are posing a major threat to the health of the ocean — it’s all still there. Those pieces of plastic are breaking down into even tinier, microscopic pieces called microplastics that stay suspended in the water.

On my visit, Catie Tobin, Clean Ocean Action’s marine science program manager, showed me water sample slides containing different kinds of microplastics. It was astonishing to see how different they looked in her hand versus under a microscope.

(LEFT) A blue plastic fiber, found in the sample collected near Asbury Park Convention Hall (RIGHT) A clear plastic fragment found in the sample collected near Sea Bright Boro Hall.

(LEFT) A blue plastic fiber, found in the sample collected
near Asbury Park Convention Hall (RIGHT) A clear plastic fragment
found in the sample collected near Sea Bright Boro Hall.

To the naked eye, the slide appeared to have only a drop of water on it, but the microscope revealed plastic fibers and other fragments.

Through their annual Beach Sweep programs, Clean Ocean Action has proven that the No. 1 type of debris found on the beaches in New Jersey are plastics, which make up over 70 percent of the total debris collected on our shores by their citizen volunteers. Of that, nearly 70 percent of the plastics were single-use plastics such as plastic water bottles, plastic cutlery, and straws. Plastic pieces less than 5 mm in size are increasingly more common in the marine environment and cause for serious concern for quality and health of our coastal ecosystems and wildlife.

Microplastics are both manufactured and created from the breakdown of larger plastic pieces. The breakdown of plastic releases toxic chemicals, such as bisphenol A — commonly referred to as BPA (the stuff you don’t want in your baby bottle) — and styrene trimer, both linked to endocrine disruptions.

Plastics in the ocean are a threat to marine life (think of fish getting tangled and eating it),  tourism (nobody likes getting to the beach only to find it’s been closed due to litter) , and navigation hazards (think boats with snared propellers, clogged intakes).

In addition to researching this problem, Clean Ocean Action designed tip cards to educate distinct groups of people about minimizing their contribution to the problem of nonpoint source pollution or “pointless pollution.”

Both American Littoral Society and Clean Water Action advance the Dodge Foundation’s environmental program goal to safeguard New Jersey’s watersheds and precious marine and freshwater ecosystems.

Whether that happens by advancing a regional ocean plan or organizing a beach litter sweep with high school students, these organizations remind me that being a steward of the ocean requires individual and collective actions focused on both the big picture, and the short term.


Campbell_LargeNaeema Campbell is the Environment and Informed Communities program associate. This blog is part of the new Dodge Road Trip series, designed to highlight the stories behind some of New Jersey’s greatest places. 


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