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Northeast Changemakers Jam 2018

It is with great excitement that we invite you to apply for the Northeast Changemakers Jam – a five day gathering of 30 dynamic and diverse changemakers for deep learning, listening, systemic inquiry, and community building at Wonderwell Mountain Refuge in Springfield, New Hampshire, from March 26-31, 2018.

Apply Today! 


Why the Northeast Changemakers Jam now?

We feel, in this moment, that so much is alive, in flux, and in need of attention and action.   In the face of incredible injustice, pain, rage, numbness, and grief, we are also seeing incredible leadership and transformations occurring.  

We are hosting this Jam to give time and attention to nourish the new stories, the new ways of leading and being, that are emerging.  We are hosting this Jam to support each of us in cultivating the courage and heart-wisdom we need to face and unearth old stories that must be shed — in ourselves and our communities.  We are hosting this Jam to build the kind of connection and community of practice we need to sustain ourselves in the beautiful and heart-bending work of making change.

The Jam is not a retreat from the world, but rather, an opportunity to face it.  It calls us to show up for exactly what is alive: in ourselves, in our relationships, in our communities, in our world. We jam to meet the world as it is, and we jam to help get closer to the world we want to see.



Why is it called a Jam?

We call our gatherings Jams because we are inspired by music jam sessions.  YES! Jams bring together the same creativity, co-learning, and fun for social change.  The Jam is not a conference, seminar, training or workshop.  When musicians get together to “jam,” they get to share their unique skills and knowledge, as well as learn from the other musicians. They get to hear and experience other styles of music while expanding their own horizons. They are also able to have fun, build community, and use their individual talent, inspiration and skills to create something far greater than the sum of its parts. When musicians improvise, they create music that no one has ever heard before. YES! Jams do the same for people changing the world.

130+ Jams have been held with change-makers on six different continents over the last 18 years.  This will be  the 3rd Northeast Changemakers Jam.  The first two were in 2015 in New Hampshire and 2016 in Vermont.

“This experience provided a safe space for stretching, reaching out, taking in, and strengthening my ‘roots’. It has given me new-found courage to engage and trust in knowing that allowing things to “get messy” at times paves the way for clarity and new beginnings.”
– Elizabeth Cooper, 60, Environmental Advocate and Naturecologist, Vermont


Why You?

First, the basics: If you’re wondering if you’re “qualified enough” to be a part of something like this, or if you “know enough,” “do enough” or are “good enough” to be a part of something this… take a deep breath and trust that you are.  Here is a list of some reasons that you might consider attending the Northeast Changemakers Jam…

Are you looking to:

  • Leverage your capacities, strengths, passions, privileges, and questions to support your own healing, growth, and leadership and the healing, growth, and leadership of your communities?
  • Practice new tools and frameworks to support your changemaking and unlearn old ways that no longer serve you?
  • Listen deeply to yourself and others to learn from stories and personal experiences about personal growth, building community, and systemic transformation?
  • Restore, renew, and clarify your commitment to your values and your visions for the future?
  • Connect deeply with others who are working for change across this region?
  • Or, are you feeling moved by this invitation in a different way? Fantastic.  We can’t wait to hear about what calls you.

Please know that we are seeking a vibrant diversity for this gathering.  This includes bringing together myriad different:

  • Identities and worldviews (e.g. class, race, religion, sexuality, gender, age, dis/ability, ethnicity, urban/rural/suburban, etc.)
  • Relationship to this region (as you choose to define it: “from here,” living here, native/indigenous to the region, recently relocated, in transition, “from away,” etc.)
  • Experience in changemaking (from “just starting out” to “been at it for years”)
  • Roles (from “person on the ground” to “founder, director, or board member”)
  • Passion or Work Focus (community building, farming and food security, local economies, indigenous rights, education, climate justice, cultural regeneration, interfaith, health and physical well-being, creative arts, community media, spiritual healing, trauma recovery, politics engagement, socially- and ecologically-conscious design, etc.)


“[The Jam] offered a loving and unconditional embrace that helped me relax, slow down, have fun, and remember the joyful heart that approaches even great work with lightness and tenderness. You offered a hearth to gather around to hear the dreams and visions of others, to connect with my own, and to see that they are intertwined. They will buoy me and fuel and inspire me when I grow weary along this journey.”
– Uma Lo, 31, Permaculturist, Green Phoenix Permaculture, NY

How Does It Work?

The Jam is co-created by the community that convenes it, guided and supported by a team of facilitators.  Together, we explore and work on three different levels – the personal, interpersonal, and systemic.  Based on the content of participants’ applications, the facilitators will offer a set of activities and sessions meant to engage the heart, soul, body, and mind.  These sessions grow, shift, and change based on what emerges for the group during our time together and the facilitation team offers support and guidance for the flow of our collective wisdom.  Outside of the sessions, there is time and space for small group conversations, exploring in the out of doors, personal reflection, creative fun, and the FAOHO (the Fine Art Of Hanging Out).  Some of the core questions we hope to explore during this Jam include:

  • How is your relationship to the Northeast as a place and how is it evolving/has it evolved? How has this relationship impacted your identities, your relationships, your communities, your work?
  • How have your experiences of power and privilege in this region impacted you and the visions, questions, hopes, and fears you hold for the future?
  • What questions are alive for you in your life right now? For your community? For this region and beyond?
  • What are the core points of healing and transformation for you? For your community? For this region and beyond?


“I appreciate how my body was a part of the Jam, how my creativity was a part of the Jam, how my spontaneity was a part of the Jam, how my inner child was a part of the Jam. The brilliance seems to reside in the fact that the Jam provides time, space, and activity that leads to friendship. And at the end of the day, friendship is what fuels collaboration.”
– Tobiah Sola, 25, Meditation App Developer, Vermont

Who is putting this on?

Heather Foran has over 12 years of experience in travel-based education focused on the intersection of social justice, ecology and economics. She is the co-founder of the Field Academy, a high school program that blends popular education and critical pedagogy with travel. She holds a Masters in Transformative Leadership, with a thesis examining travel-based education from a decolonization lens. Heather currently serves as a member and board member of the Southern Maine Workers Center, doing grassroots organizing towards human rights in her home state. Heather has also been an organizer for a permaculture network in Portland, ME, coordinating work parties and implementation of permaculture in residential and community settings across southern Maine. She feels strongly about working where she grew up to undo white supremacy and economic injustice through a heart-centered, transformative approach, while envisioning regenerative ways forward. She is recently loving her new T-Rex costume as an instrument of fun and a political tool, and has a long-standing love of jokes (particularly puns – good, bad, otherwise).


Jamie Frank is development director at New Economy Coalition, an organization on the leading edge of the movement for a future where people control their economies through radical democracy, cooperative and public ownership, and a culture of mutual aid.  Jamie has led fundraising efforts resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue since joining NEC in March 2016. Jamie holds a BA in Human Ecology from College of the Atlantic, where she won a scholarship for her role in the college’s system of participatory democracy and where she was elected commencement speaker. She holds a JD, cum laude, from Boston University School of Law, where she won awards for her performance in constitutional and criminal law; her legal writing; and her work in Black Law Students Association.  Before joining NEC, Jamie worked in early education, giving workshops to parents and teachers on how to promote early literacy and developing inspiring fundraising materials to ensure educational opportunities for low-income children. Jamie’s experience working early education showed her that education isn’t enough–rather, deep systemic change, requiring the cooperation of diverse individuals, is needed to create a peaceful, just, sustainable world. She is proud to be part of the YES! Community, promoting the inner transformation and strong, authentic connections can lead us to a more resilient and loving future.


Jen Lazar loves creating experiences that encourage and support deep learning – about self, place, community, and what is possible in our world.  Most recently she’s been working with 350VT on developing workshops for climate justice activists and organizers, and helping to create and steer the Field Academy, a re-envisionment of what is possible in education for students and teachers across the United States.  In past lives, Jen worked with community and adventure-based mentoring communities, served as a school board commissioner working on community resilience and school integration efforts, and, ran a youth-led summer theatre project.  In a future one, she hopes to live in the desert and write fiction.  Jen loves cooking brunch, bringing people together around food, creating spontaneous celebrations and dance parties, watching all night movies, and making secret cookie deliveries.  She is honored and grateful to be a part of such an incredible and inspiring network of people creating and hosting Jams across the world.


Daniel Shearer has been part of three jams and loves bringing people together to talk and explore in new ways. He is a captain on a volunteer ambulance crew and is actively engaged in helping squad members discuss their interpersonal experiences on their crews to improve retention and team dynamics. Daniel just started practicing Aikido this year, and was thoroughly involved in a fossil fuel divestment campaign with his college over the last several years, organizing hundreds of alumni to learn about divestment opportunities and discuss alternatives to current investment strategies. Daniel is a member owner at Tamarack Media Cooperative, helping environmental organizations tell compelling stories through websites, videos, and publications. He has integrated the skills he picked up at jams into his work team to improve retreats and co-worker relationships. Before Tamarack, Daniel worked as the Development Director at the DREAM Program, a village mentoring program pairing college student groups with families living in affordable housing communities. While raising money to support program expansion, he also helped convert a school bus to run on waste vegetable oil and drove mentoring pairs on adventures around the east coast.


Bart Westdijk is a program director for the New England Grassroots Environment Fund. Born and raised in the Netherlands, he spent the first 21 years of his life in Zwijndrecht, a town just south of Rotterdam. Before coming to Vermont, Bart spent a semester in New Zealand and lived a year in China working as an English and business teacher. Bart’s main professional interest currently revolve around participatory decision-making, putting equity at the center and true local agency in opportunity-taking and problem-solving. With the Grassroots Fund, a non-profit providing support to local volunteer leaders through grants, trainings and networking, Bart focuses on a variety of tasks ranging from strategic program development to fundraising and from grant reviewing to regional food system development. Driven by an urge to stretch the comfort zone of philanthropy, Bart is excited to explore the spectrum of local acts of revolution and transformation, supporting a range of changemakers and listening to local volunteer leaders develop into powerful voices representing their community. A participant of the inaugural 2015 New England Jam, Bart is honored to help shape the program. Currently feeling local in Burlington (VT), Bart lives close to the lake with Sabrina, Liam, Olivia and Emma the dog.


Marissa Barbieri is a highly-sensitive, deeply-listening, patently-ridiculous human trying, in the words of the late/great Grace Lee Boggs, to be more human.  She values the question over the answer and big (or even medium!) talk over small.  Marissa is fortunate to work in philanthropy that’s aligned with her personal purpose to disrupt, heal from, and reimagine systems of oppression, especially as they impact young people.  Her lifelong residence in Vermont affords her a unique perspective on its strengths and challenges, though she also finds home in Detroit, New Orleans, Prince Edward Island, and wherever Jamily is present.  A great lover of books, sender of mail,  and collector of houseplants, Marissa’s greatest joy comes from regular exposure to live music.


Josh Arnold is a rural organizer in Ossipee, NH where he directs a nonprofit organization, Global Awareness Local Action (G.A.L.A.).  G.A.L.A. has incubated and contributed to many valued community initiatives including a Wolfeboro Area Farmers’ Market, Wolfeboro Food Pantry Garden, Solarize Wolfeboro Campaign, Community Contra Dance Series, Self-Reliance Workshop Series, and several school and community garden initiatives.  G.A.L.A. latest endeavor is to establish a Makerspace & Incubator.  Josh enjoys exploring the relationships between restorative land use, mindfulness and spirituality, social justice, and historic preservation.  He loves to read, write, hike, dance, cook, and work on restoring an old Grange Hall in Ossipee where he and his wife Molly host house concerts and other community events.


Austin Willacy is a veteran member of The House Jacks with whom he has produced 10 full-length albums and completed multiple world tours. For the past 20 years, Austin has directed ‘Til Dawn, Youth in Arts’ award-winning teen a cappella group that empowers youth to find their voices in many ways. Austin is also an award-winning singer/­songwriter with 4 CD’s and 2 EP’s to his name.  His music is soulful and raucous, tender and comic.  Austin’s music has been featured on “The Sing Off”, “Road Rules”, an Australian ad campaign and three feature film soundtracks, including Thrive, a documentary with over 80 million views.  He’s appeared in Rolling Stone and has performed with icons such as Bonnie Raitt and up and coming artists like Jem, Vienna Teng, Rachael Yamagata and Amos Lee. Austin recently won a 2018 Posi–Positive Music Award–for Best Original Song in the Social Justice category. Austin is an organizer and facilitator for YES! and a former board member for Rainforest Action Network and the Freight & Salvage.  He is one of the co-founders of the Arts for Social Change Jams in the US, Turkey, and India and of the upcoming Black Diaspora Jam.


Shilpa Jain is currently rooting herself in Oakland/Berkeley, CA, where she serves as the Executive Director of YES!.  YES! works with social changemakers at the meeting point of internal, interpersonal and systemic change, and aims to co-create thriving, just and balanced ways of life for all. Prior to taking on this role, Shilpa spent two years as the education and outreach coordinator of Other Worlds and ten years as a learning activist with Shikshantar: The Peoples’ Institute for Rethinking Education and Development, based in Udaipur, India. She is passionate about dance and music, organic and natural farming, upcycling and zero waste living, asking appreciative questions, and being in community.


Location, Travel, & Costs of Attending

The Northeast Changemakers Jam will take place at the beautiful Wonderwell Mountain Refuge in Springfield, NH.  Wonderwell will be providing us with a beautiful space, shared rooms with incredible views, delicious vegetarian food, and access to beautiful trails and forests.  Travel costs are the responsibility of the participants though we are able to help in arranging carpools from around the region to the best of our ability.

The tuition for the program is $950 which breaks down into $500 for your lodging and food and $450 for program (materials, childcare, stipends for organizers and facilitators).  We never want money to be a barrier in participating in a jam, so we will do everything we can to make it work for you to attend.  Some partial scholarships and work trades are available.  Additional donations above the event price are welcome and help us provide scholarships to support the broad spectrum of participation on which this event thrives.  All donations are tax deductible.




If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to write us at northeastyesjam@gmail.com.  We’d love to hear from you!

Bart, Daniel, Heather, Jaime, Jen, Josh, Marissa and Shilpa

More reflections and testimonials about the NE Jam:

“[The NE Jam] was so gentle in its way of lifting away the dead scaly skin of this cocoon I have been growing in. Thank you for revealing to me the reality of what once seemed only visionary…Thank you for showing me glimpses into the way of sacred communion free from dogma and doctrine.”

–  Bryn Dawson, 31, Teacher, Natural Dharma Fellowship, Wonderwell Mountain Refuge, New Hampshire


“What I think I have come to appreciate as the essence of the Jam is not so much about the “what,” but about the “how”. When it comes to doing the hard work of change, what the Jam offered me is a foundation of love, resiliency, and capacity for challenging work and self-exploration.”

– Liz Charles, 32, Maine Migrant Health Program, Maine


“New England Jam…thank you for your soul searching, your honesty, your beauty, your uncertainty, and your wisdom. In you, I find both questions and answers – but always love, so much love, to go with both. I want you on toast with peanut butter in the morning, and as a midnight snack.”

– Sophia Rosenfeld, 22, Student, Williams College, Massachusetts