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NH Blue and You: Dover Creating Community Change Through Connection A NH Listens Summary Report

January 18, 2017

In November of 2016, over ninety people attended the NH Blue and You community conversation at Flight Coffee Co. in Dover, New Hampshire. NH Blue and You―a partnership of the Seacoast and Manchester NAACP, NH Listens, and the NH Association of Chiefs of Police―was initiated to provide interested communities an opportunity for conversation between residents and law enforcement on critically important policing issues. The local event was hosted by the Dover Police Department, Dover Listens, the Dover Housing Authority, and the Greater Dover Chamber of Commerce.The discussions took place on the evening of Tuesday, November 15, 2016 from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. and were open to the entire community. Save the date information and flyers were shared through a variety of methods in the community (flyer may be found in Appendix A). Only two individuals preregistered, but the room quickly filled with ninety-two total attendees, including about twelve officers from the Dover Police Department. Participants were split into nine small groups, each with a trained facilitator.

Deerfield Safety Service Needs Finding a Way Forward

January 13, 2017

Over the past decade, several ballot initiatives for additional safety buildings in Deerfield, New Hampshire have been defeated. Last year, the Select Board completed a community survey regarding safety buildings. Before moving forward with any additional specific proposals, the Select Board sponsored a review and discussion of safety service needs in Deerfield. An active group of volunteers comprised of Deerfield residents worked with New Hampshire Listens from fall 2015 to fall 2016 to design a community conversation about the future of safety services in Deerfield. The conversation was intended to help residents move toward resolution of outstanding concerns about how best to meet the town's safety needs.

We Are Concord Building Trust ~ Strengthening Relationships ~ Increasing Understanding

March 16, 2016

In February 2016, over 250 people attended one of three We Are Concord conversations to share their concerns and priorities for promoting collaboration and healthy problem solving across differences. These conversations provided an opportunity for the Concord community to:Strengthen relationships in a changing economy and a changing communityBuild trust and positive places for learning and reflection about our differencesCreate an opportunity for cross-cultural understanding and connectionHow can we best work together to strengthen relationships across our community? What do we need to know as we begin? How can we improve communication and decrease stereotyping? These were the kinds of questions at the heart of the conversations. The following information highlights the themes and ideas that rose to the top. These ideas will inform next steps for individuals, organizations, and coalitions in Concord.

New Hampshire Listens: Accomplishments, Challenges, and Lessons Learned

June 1, 2015

In the winter of 2009–2010, New Hampshire Listens was founded by faculty and staff of the University of New Hampshire along with partners representing the civic and philanthropic sectors in the state. The overall purpose of NH Listens was and continues to be to enhance the capacity of local communities and the entire state to engage in inclusive, respectful, and informed public deliberations regarding a range of social and economic challenges. Thesedeliberations are intended to inform policy makers (including elected and appointed government officials), community leaders, and "everyday citizens" about public preferences for actions needed to address those challenges. The public engagement tools utilized by NH Listens are meant to complement, not substitute for,formal decision-making, legislative, and rule-making processes.

Building Trust, Increasing Safety: Assuring Mutual Understanding and Trust Between Community Members and Police Officers

May 1, 2015

The community conversations on community-police relationships that took place in March and April, 2015, wereabout building constructive, respectful relationships, mutual understanding, and identifying proactive stepsbetween everyday citizens and representatives of the law enforcement community. What is happening now withpolicing in your community? What actions would create the best possible relationship between residents, police,and public officials? These were the kinds of questions at the heart of the conversations. New Hampshire Listensworked with community leaders and law enforcement leadership from the Dover, Rochester, Durham, andUniversity of New Hampshire police departments to support facilitated discussions in each of the threecommunities. Our mutual goals were to:* Create constructive, respectful, inclusive conversations between community residents andrepresentatives of law enforcement* Increase mutual understanding about the goals of community policing, public perceptions of policeofficers, and the challenges and tensions that can develop on both sides* Identify specific, proactive steps that community residents, police, and public officials can take toassure strong, trusting relationships between the public and police departments

When Opportunity Stops Knocking: New Hampshire’s Kids and the American Dream

May 1, 2015

The conversations that took place in early May 2015 were focused on informing and getting input from New Hampshire residents on the increasing opportunity gap in the United States and in New Hampshire. Does everyone in New Hampshire have similar opportunities to succeed economically and socially? Is it harder to get ahead now than it was in previous generations? How can we make sure that everyone, especially children, have access to the opportunities they need to have a good life? These were the kinds of questions at the heart of the conversations. Toplan these conversations, NH Listens worked with a bipartisan group of civic and business leaders. The planning group and NH Listens were informed partly by the recently published book by Robert Putnam, Our Kids: The  American Dream in Crisis, which provides extensive analysis of the growing opportunity gap. Outreach was conducted statewide with particular emphasis on the event location communities (See Appendix A). Our mutual goals were to: Explore changes people see in economic opportunity and social mobility, particularly in New Hampshire Share experiences about how these changes may have affected you, your children, other young people,and your neighbors Discuss barriers to opportunity and possible approaches to overcoming those barriers

Good Neighbors: A Community Conversation to Strengthen City-College Connections and Relationships

April 14, 2015

On Tuesday, April 14, 2015, over 70 residents of Keene, New Hampshire, gathered to discuss their values,ideas, and aspirations regarding the relationship between the City of Keene, Keene State College (KSC), andlocal neighborhoods. Those attending included many who were affiliated with the College (students, faculty,staff) and residents of the City with no direct relationship to Keene State. The conversation was intended togive participants the opportunity to share their own views while listening to the views of others. Thecommunity conversation was sponsored by the College/City Commission,1in response to a charge fromMayor Lane and President Huot.The results of the community conversation that took place in April are intended to be useful to theparticipants, the Keene City Council and Mayor, Keene State College and its leadership, and residents ofKeene—especially those who live in close proximity to the College. Over about three hours, eight small groups,each with a trained facilitator, identified what is most important to them about ways to assure a strong, open,and productive relationship between the City and College. The report that follows summarizes the mostfrequent themes, comments, and recommendations that emerged from the conversation

"Supporting Youth Supporting Community"

February 11, 2015

This report and community conversation is part of a comprehensive effort by the Milton School District to engage the entire town, including Milton Mills, in creating the most healthy and positive environment possible for all residents. Our focus is on the young people who attend our schools now and in the future, and who will serve as future leaders here and across the world. This project has been funded by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. Continued efforts will build on the input shared in this report and a summary from a Youth Voice Day held on December 16, 2014, under a new coalition—Milton Matters—to be launched in January 2015.

Milton Youth Voice Day Summary

January 16, 2015

On December 16th, 2014, all Nute students and staff participated in small group conversations focused on giving input to the school and town about what it is like to live, learn, work, and play in Milton. The students learned that  in the October conversation with parents, teachers, and community members, many of the adults talked about:* Needing to communicate better among the town, schools, and parents* Providing more opportunities for kids to get involved including and beyond sports* Making sure that anyone struggling knows where to go for helpThen students were invited to give their input. The following is a summary of key themes shared by the students.

"What Should Go Here? A Community Conversation on the Future of the Marston Farm Property"

December 2, 2014

The Marston Property, also known as the Lee Farm, is located at 229 Mill Pond Road. In 2014, the Nottingham Board of Selectmen established a sub-committee named the Marston Property Exploratory Committee (MPEC). The Committee is chaired by Selectmen Donna Danis, and its goal is to gather community input and develop a recommendation for the best public use of the property. More information may be found on the website at or on the Facebook page found at in the late 1990s, the Town of Nottingham worked with the NH Department of EnvironmentalServices to clean up hazardous waste and materials located on the property. In 2001, the NH Department of Environmental Services issued an administrative order to property owner Mr. Lee regarding theclean-up of the hazardous material and placed a lien on the property for repayment of the cleanup costs.The Town acquired the property in 2009.An agreement between the Town of Nottingham and the NH Department of Environmental Servicestook place in 2013 for release of the lien. The agreement stated the Town would own the property on apermanent basis and it would be used only for public purposes.

What Do We Value? The Future of Education for Newmarket

November 8, 2014

On Saturday, November 8, 2014, dozens of residents of Newmarket, New Hampshire, gathered to discuss their values, ideas, and aspirations regarding the town's schools. The conversation was intended to give participants the opportunity to share their own views while listening to the views of others. The impetus for the community conversation was the vote on a bond to fund the construction of a new junior/senior high school, which had taken place in March, 2014. The warrant article engendered strong views both in favor and opposed to the bond, and the final vote, which was essentially 50 percent in favor and 50 percent opposed, left many residents and community leaders feeling that the issue had not been resolved satisfactorily and that lingering divisions within the town would be harmful to its future. 

"Is Granite State Government as Efficient, Transparent, and Innovative as It Can Be?"

September 25, 2014

The New Hampshire Governor's Commission on Innovation, Efficiency, and Transparency in State Government was established by Governor Hassan in 2013. In June of 2014, the Commission contracted with NH Listens to host conversations around the state with citizens, state employees, and vendors to gather information about ways to improve state government functions, with a particular focus on the executive branch agencies that carry out legislative mandates. The focus of each conversation was different based on attendees. At the public conversations, any interested New Hampshire resident was welcome to attend and share his or her view. These conversations were held on June 3rd in Conway, Manchester, Peterborough, Portsmouth, Warner, and Whitefield. At the state employee conversations, both held in Concord on June 24th and 26th, employees from a variety of state agencies attended. Finally, the vendor conversation held in Concord on June 23rd was attended by a range of business and nonprofitrepresentatives from New Hampshire and elsewhere. NH Listens had a goal of recruiting participants from across the state representing multiple perspectives and communities. Outreach was conducted statewide through email and personal contact (see Appendix B: Invitation to Participants)., The purpose of these conversations was to engage participants in a constructive conversation, not to advance a particular set of goals or solutions. The participants in this project spent three hours on a weekday morning or evening in a facilitated discussion about their experiences and priorities for increasing efficiency, transparency, and innovation in state government. It is significant that our overall summary shows evidence of substantially overlapping concerns. Over 370 people registered in advance to participate in the sessions, and 283 people attended one of the three types of conversations.