603 Diversity, Issue 1 (Fall 2021)

Page 1

Q4 2021








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“diversity” T

wo key questions would occur to me as a reader upon first encountering the cover of this new magazine: What does the publisher mean by “diversity”? What does the publisher hope to accomplish by representing “diversity” within these pages? I am grateful our inaugural issue contains columns by two writers, thinkers, and community leaders whose work points to the answers. James McKim, business owner, consultant, DEI coach, and president of the Manchester NAACP, digs into this timely term in his column “The Future of Diversity.” He notes that while new census data shows growth in New Hampshire’s diversity, it “fails to show the true diversity in our state. It does not tell us about the change in people with disabilities, sexual orientation, religion, education, thinking styles, or many of the characteristics that make up our personalities.” Check out McKim’s column and “diversity wheel chart” on page 40. It makes clear the range of people who might warrant coverage in a magazine about diversity is vast. While planning this publication, we heard from the many we interviewed that it shouldn’t be just about racial diversity, or ethnic diversity, or diversity of gender

identity or sexual orientation, and so on. But if we include income or wealth diversity, diversity of access to education, and such, we may soon come to a point where we are producing a magazine about everyone. As beautiful as that sounds in theory, it doesn’t seem to represent the original spirit of the project. So how do we move forward without answering this definitively? “Perfect is the enemy of good,” they say, and if we wait until we have an indisputably right answer, we’ll never start. So we’ll start, and count on you, our readers, to recognize the sincerity of our intent, and provide feedback as we continue to refine and improve: what to add, what to include, what stories to tell. We do have a litmus test of sorts. It’s contained in the answer to the second question: What do we hope to accomplish with a magazine about diversity? Deo Mwano has provided a wonderful piece of writing on his experience both as Congolese immigrant, and as a consultant helping businesses to accomplish diversity, equity and inclusion goals. He points to the value of really getting to know someone — co-workers, neighbors, fellow citizens — in breaking down barriers, solving problems and defusing toxic, unwinnable-feeling wars in social media.

We see this magazine as an opportunity to help the people of our state get to know their neighbors — specifically those neighbors not so well known to the broader population because they are newer here or aren’t represented in media as frequently. People I’ve discussed this project with have emphasized how important representation is. I understand this personally. I grew up in a small town in southern Vermont in the early 1970s. There was nobody who looked like me, or had a name like mine. There weren’t even many Latinx people on TV at the time (nor was Latinx even a word). It seemed to me then Eric Estrada was the only one. Kids made a lot of CHiPs jokes at my expense. This note, however, is not the place to unpack that experience or compare it to anyone else’s. I mention it only to underscore how much it resonated with me to hear members of our community express their desire to be seen and their hopes this magazine could play a role in that. With that, I’ve answered the two questions I posed at the outset as best I could. I’ll get out of the way now and let the work of our talented writers and photographers (who all represent diverse communities themselves), and the stories, lives and successes of our subjects, tell the rest of the story. — ERNESTO BURDEN 603Diversity.com | October 2021 1


603DIVERSITY 6 0 3 D I V E R S I T Y. C O M Contributing Writers Rony Camille Constance Cherise Courtney Daniel Nour Habib Carolina Valenti


Contributing Essayists James McKim Deo Mwano Contributing Photographer Robert Ortiz Contributing Artist Richard Haynes Editor/Publisher Ernesto Burden x5117 eburden@mcleancommunications.com


Features 14 New Business Group Unites People of Color


30 Accentuating the Positive – With Art

Business Manager Mista McDonnell x5114 mmcdonnell@nhbr.com



From the Publisher


Mission and Underwriters

36 Images from Concord’s Multicultural Festival


Our Contributors


Review – “Surviving the White Gaze,” a memoir by Rebecca Carroll

38 Essay by Deo Mwano 40 Essay by James McKim

Sales Executive Connie McCullion x5121 cmccullion@mcleancommunications.com Business/Sales Coordinator Heather Rood x5110 hrood@mcleancommunications.com Digital Operations and Marketing Manager Morgen Connor x5149 mconnor@mcleancommunications.com

42 Events That Make a Difference 44 Shout Out: JerriAnne Boggis A SUBSIDIARY OF YANKEE PUBLISHING INC., AN EMPLOYEE-OWNED COMPANY


LIVE FREE AND 2 603Diversity.com | October 2021

Creative Services Director Jodie Hall x5122 jhall@nhbr.com

20 Authentic Global Cuisine

12 Sailing Into the Past on a Gundalow

Contributing Editor Bill Burke x5119 bburke@mcleancommunications.com

Group Sales Director Kimberly Lencki x5154 sales@603diversity.com


10 New works by artist Richard Haynes

Managing Editor Rick Broussard x5119 editors@603diversity.com

150 Dow Street, Manchester, NH 03101 (603) 624-1442, fax (603) 624-1310 E-mail: editors@603diversity.com Advertising: sales@603diversity.com © 2021 McLean Communications, LLC PRINTED IN NEW HAMPSHIRE

PROUD TO SUPPORT 603 DIVERSITY. We applaud McLean Communications for their launch of 603 Diversity. Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health is committed to fostering a diverse workforce and creating an inclusive environment to support a sense of belonging for all employees.






To illustrate the mission of 603 Diversity, Seacoast artist Richard Haynes has provided one of his recent designs to accompany our motto in this premiere issue. We will print a limited number of art-quality T-shirts with Haynes’ design and sell them to raise funds for the Manchester Chapter of the NAACP. Visit 603Diversity.com or send a letter of interest to editors@603diversity.com to reserve one.






Live Free and Rise

UNDERWRITERS ROCK! The following 603 Diversity underwriters provide a significant financial foundation for our mission: enabling us to provide representation to diverse communities and for diverse writers and photographers, ensuring the quality of journalistic storytelling and underwriting BIPOC-owned and other diverse business advertising in the publication at a fraction of the typical cost. We’re grateful for our underwriters’ commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in this magazine, their businesses, and their broader communities. THANKS TO THE FOLLOWING COMPANIES FOR THEIR SUPPORT AND DEDICATION TO 603 DIVERSITY:

4 603Diversity.com | October 2021

Our People Are Our Greatest Asset At Enterprise Bank, people and relationships come first. We encourage and foster a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion, where everyone feels valued and respected. We are committed to a caring workplace that recognizes the importance of making a meaningful, positive difference in the lives of our team members, customers, and communities. Our diverse team is dedicated to serving the financial needs of businesses, non-profits, and individuals throughout our region. We are currently seeking qualified applicants for various positions throughout our organization. Scan here or visit EnterpriseBanking.com/careers for more information.

Enterprise Bank has 26 branch locations in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

Enterprise Bank is an equal opportunity employer and makes employment decisions without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or protected veteran status. EOE M/F/Disabled/Vet.

EnterpriseBanking.com 877-671-2265

OUR CONTRIBUTORS Courtney Daniel Our 603 Diversity calendar was researched and compiled by Courtney Daniel, a creative strategist, designer, life coach and radio show host. Daniel has worked with national celebrities and even designed a stamp for the U.S. Postal Service. She lives on the Seacoast where, in her spare time, you can find her interviewing community members through her online group No To Patterns.

Deo Mwano Essayist Deo Mwano is a nationally recognized speaker and expert in diversity, equity and inclusion. Mwano designs services, initiatives, campaigns, and products for businesses, schools and nonprofits with a DEI focus via Deo Mwano Consultancy. He’s been named as one of the state’s “40 Under Forty” by the NH Union Leader and is a 2017 graduate of Leadership New Hampshire.

Nour Habib Our Review page is by Nour Habib, a journalist currently covering issues surrounding race and equity in New Hampshire. Previously, she spent years as a newspaper reporter in Oklahoma where she did everything from education to city government reporting to writing movie reviews and lifestyle features.

Rony Camille Our feature story on the power of food for cultural Unity,” was written by Rony

6 603Diversity.com | October 2021

Camille, a freelance journalist

Constance Cherise

(and son of Haitian immigrants)

Constance Cherise, writer of our “Positively

based in Nashua. A media

Main Street” feature story, is a three-time

manager with a focus in digital

award-winning NH Press Association freelancer.

editorial content and operations,

Her regular arts/entertainment gigs include

Camille is currently the media

assignments for Manchester Ink Link and the

program director for the Town of

Turner Classic Movies Tumblr. For more of her

Tyngsborough, Massachusetts.

work, visit constancecherise.wixsite.com/mysite.

Courtesy photos

understanding, “The Vessel of

James McKim Essayist James McKim is president of the Manchester branch of the NAACP and managing partner for Organizational Ignition. McKim has led organizations such as Hewlett Packard Enterprise, FIRST, Hawkeye Data LLC, and Digital Equipment Corp. in launches of new products and performance enhancements.

Carolina Valenti Carolina Valenti, who wrote our feature on New Hampshire’s Business Alliance for People of Color, is a Colombian-born writer and finance professional. She has been a contributor for CNBC, CNN, MamásLatinas and El Diario NY, among others, on topics such as political elections, social issues, celebrities and culture. She is also a children’s book author and lives in New Hampshire her husband, three kids and two dogs.

Photo by Jeremy Gasowski/University of New Hampshire

Richard Haynes 603 Diversity stories emphasize not only how things are, but how they might or even “ought” to be as we seek out and reveal our state’s diverse communities. When we needed a single image to summarize the mission of this magazine, we went to a man who has long been telling complex stories with bold stokes of color and universal symbols. Artist Richard Haynes provided a selection from his recent work for this purpose. See page 10 for more on Haynes and page 4 for how you can fashionably spread the good words.

Robert Ortiz Primary photographer for this premiere issue of 603 Diversity is Robert Ortiz of Robert Ortiz Photography. Ortiz began his photographic career at 15 and has chronicled everything from local weddings and events to ES

the lives of the native peoples of HA YN

the Peruvian Amazon. He lives TB AR

Courtesy photos

in Rochester with his wife and





Live Free and Rise

son and 15-year-old daughter, Isabella, who is currently in training as his photo assistant.

Artwork by Richard Haynes: artistrichardhaynes.com

603Diversity.com | October 2021 7

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n 1969 Warner, little Rebecca Carroll was the only Black resident. Adopted into a white family, living in a rural town of 1,400 people in the middle of a “lily-white” state, Carroll’s first encounter with another Black person was not until the age of 6, when her mother sent her to a ballet class, in part, because the teacher was Black. “I studied ballet with Mrs. Rowland for five years, and often in her company, I felt small pangs of fragile awareness regarding who I might be, what my skin color might mean,” Carroll writes in her 2021 memoir, “Surviving the White Gaze.” The book follows Carroll’s journey to form her racial identity, from those early years of wondering whether the few Black people she’d met or seen on TV possibly knew each other or were related, to her adolescent confusion at being attracted to a Black boy in a dance troupe but hiding it from her white friends and their “popular clique,” to a tumultuous relationship with her white birth mother who tried to dictate the terms of her Blackness and disparaged her Black birth father. Carroll writes beautifully in a book that is hard to put down, as she shows us, incident by painful incident, the racist experiences that change her, that each make her “body shiver as a small cell of trauma began to metastasize.” The teacher who tells her, while she’s in fifth grade, that most Black girls are ugly. The white classmates and boyfriends and friends who do not confront their racist families,

Rebecca Carroll’s “Surviving the White Gaze” is a memoir chronicling her experience as the only Black person in her rural New Hampshire community. It follows her journey as she struggles to form a racial identity while navigating difficult relationships and situations arising from her adoption into a white family.

Courtesy photos

who want to know “why everything is about race” for Carroll. The loving parents who could not understand that there were repercussions to raising a Black girl in rural New Hampshire. Carroll, who now lives in Brooklyn, New York, says she is grateful for the overwhelmingly positive critical response to her book. But it is people’s personal reactions that have really moved her, she

said during an interview for 603 Diversity. “It’s been pretty amazing, the response from the transracial adoption community,” she said. “I expected that I would hear from Black and brown and adoptees of color in white families, but I did not anticipate these breathtaking letters and emails from folks, who said ‘I feel seen’ and ‘You cracked me open’ and ‘I feel so much less alone.’”

Carroll has also heard from white adoptive parents. “There is so much more consciousness around raising Black children now as white parents,” she said. “And so there is a real hunger and a real appetite for white parents to want to learn, and looking for tools and resources to be as culturally savvy and sophisticated as possible.” Carroll is glad that white parents are taking time to do the research, but it frustrates her that many adoptive parents still do not consider these things before making the decision to adopt a child of a different race. “I know that the heart is really in the right place, but I also know that the heart has to on some level defer to the brain, and it really does require a great deal of mindfulness when you’re raising a child of another race,” she said. That mindfulness was virtually nonexistent in her adoptive family, according to her memoir. “To be adopted into a white family that did not see or care or think about my Blackness or my experience navigating a racist country had always felt lonely and isolating,” she writes in the book. Carroll said her book represents “the things we have done wrong, collectively as a country,” regarding race. She hopes that during this time of racial reckoning, where there seems to be an openness to these conversations that was not there before, that her book can add to the discussion. “I really do think that my story and the dynamic of Black children raised in white families presents a foundational relationship and example that can be used to speak more broadly about the ways Black folks and white folks coexist, or don’t.” — BY NOUR HABIB 603Diversity.com | October 2021 9


Bold Colors, Bold Ideas Richard Haynes is paying attention, and he’s got something to say about what he’s seen. Haynes’ new exhibition, “Culture Keepers Culture Makers,” which will open at the Davidow Fine Art Gallery on the campus of Colby-Sawyer College in February, is a collection of 13 works – bold splashes of acrylic on board – that hold a mirror up to a litany of issues challenging people recently. And as Haynes points out, those challenges aren’t unique to New Hampshire, or even the U.S. “The work is all circular,” he says. “What it’s saying is we look at the issues that have been happening in our country in recent years – diversity, equity and inclusion – and it looks as if we’re moving further and further away from it. People are truly not understand-

ing. What it’s saying is that it’s not only happening here in America, it’s happening all over the world. It’s not just in your community or not just in your country, it’s all over the world. That is the purpose of the work being circular.” The pieces, which have been in the works for nearly three years, range from 30 to 47 inches in diameter, and will employ a unique approach to the artist’s commentary. Rather than provide exposition describing the exhibition himself, Haynes plans to speak to a group of Colby-Sawyer students about each piece, and then invite them to craft something that reflects how they feel about it.“It will be my work, but it will also draw them in – using that message of inclusion – to the environment where the work will be displayed. “What I am hoping is that after visiting my exhibition is that people will see our world leaders are in spiritual and moral decline,” Haynes says. If that were the entirety of the message, it would accurately depict current events. But as with anything Haynes creates, there is a message of hope: “Then it’s what do we do as people in these various communities, what do we do to make it better for all? Whether it’s poverty, homelessness, the LGBTQ community, whether it’s race or racism, gender discussion – what do we do as a community to make the world a better place to live in?” “Richard Haynes: Culture Keepers Culture Makers” will run from Feb. 7 to May 10 at the Davidow Fine Art Gallery, Colby-Sawyer College, 541 Main St., New London. — BILL BURKE

For details on these and other works, follow artistrichardhaynes on Instagram or visit artistrichardhaynes.com.

10 603Diversity.com | October 2021

Photo by Jeremy Gasowski/University of New Hampshire. Artwork courtesy of Richard Haynes


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Seafaring was one of the most significant occupations among both enslaved and free Black men between 1740 and 1865. Black sailors sailed on whalers, warships and privateers. Some were enslaved and forced to work at sea, but by 1800 most seamen were free to seek adventure and economic opportunity aboard ship. In September, the Gundalow Company of Portsmouth added a uniquely local angle to this tradition by presenting Sankofa Scholar & Tour Guide: Kevin Wade Mitchel as Jack Staines, performing a living history reenactment aboard the gundalow Piscataqua. In character as a seafaring “Black Jack,” Mitchel spun tales of old Portsmouth, even introducing a mariner who was the husband of Ona Marie Judge, the escaped servant of George and Martha Washington. Kevin Wade Mitchel can often be seen providing insights on the Sankofa Guided Walking Tours of the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail, and this special cruise is not the first nor last collaboration between the Black Heritage Trail and the Gundalow Company. “We’ve been planning this one for years,” says Donata Lutz of the Gundalow Company, “but then Covid happened.” She says they plan to present more such glimpses into the region’s Black history and heritage and are making complimentary cruises available to groups of veterans and families at risk to help extend their mission to protect the Piscataqua region’s maritime heritage and environment through education and action. A statement from the Gundalow Company reads: “All people have the right to access, enjoy, and learn from the Piscataqua region’s heritage and ecology. We recognize that systemic inequality and exclusion have infringed upon this right. The Gundalow Company is committed to working in partnership with those who have been historically and are currently excluded from access to and stewardship of the local waterways. Just as the Piscataqua River is strengthened by every stream, river, and creek that flows to it, our community is strengthened by individuals from a diversity of experiences, identities, cultures, heritages, perspectives, and values, who historically and currently use, access, and enjoy the resources of the Piscataqua Watershed.” For more information or to book a Gundalow tour, call (603) 433-9505 or visit gundalow.org/specials/. — WRITTEN BY 603 DIVERSITY STAFF

Courtesy photo


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Members of BAPOC-NH at a recent networking event held at Yahso Jamaican Grille in Keene — Photo by Michael Moore

d n a n o i t a v o Inn


Life in New Hampshire is amazing! We have endless opportunities for outdoor activities, low taxes, great schools and beautiful views. There are plenty of reasons why people would want to move and raise their families here. With so many advantages, it is not surprising that minorities living in the Granite State are also attracted to starting new business ventures. Restaurants, fitness studios, cleaning companies, fashion-designing services and tattoo parlors are but a few of the many services provided by people of color. Following a passion and starting a business comes with perks like choosing your industry, your working hours, and becoming the boss, but there is also a >> 603Diversity.com | October 2021 15

“When you are not a member of the majority population, you are excluded automatically from a lot of the girls’ and boys’ clubs.” – Dwight Davis, owner of Senior Helpers Photo by Robert Ortiz

16 603Diversity.com | October 2021

whole set of challenges: For entrepreneurs who happen to possess a different skin color, or maybe an accent, the obstacles for success go beyond the standard. Dwight Davis, a former NBA player who relocated to the state to be with his wife, Gayle, recognizes that his status as a public figure contributed to the success of his company, Senior Helpers, an initiative that provides in-home care to the elderly and educational resources to their families. Being married to a longtime New Hampshire resident also assisted in his transition to the state. “I moved to New Hampshire in 2004. Being a former basketball player, I have always been involved in working with youth. I visited schools and colleges. I don’t want to minimize the advantage that I had, but having said that, there were still challenges, I also have friends who have faced serious obstacles. One of them is that when you are not a member of the majority population, you are excluded automatically from a lot of the girls’ and boys’ clubs,” said the NBA alumnus.

Support and Advocacy The increasing need for networking opportunities is one reason why Wildolfo “Will” Arvelo, former director of the New Hampshire Division of Economic Development and newly appointed executive director of Cross Roads House in Portsmouth, decided to lead the initiative to create a minority-owned business group sponsored by the state. The organization known as BAPOC-NH (Business Alliance for People of Color) started informal operations back in 2020, and became an official nonprofit organization beginning in August 2021. As a Puerto Rican immigrant, the cause of advancing minorities’ success is close to Arvelo’s heart. “There are all these people all over the state in these small communities not speaking to each other and not connecting, not networking. People have been looking for these spaces, but nobody had started it until I did,” said Arvelo. Besides creating a support mechanism among members of minority groups, this BIPOC group seeks to address financial challenges that took the spotlight as a consequence of the Covid-19 crisis.

Addressing the Financial Struggle Some of the businesses that were hit the hardest by last year’s events are in the food industry and the exercise and fitness field. One of those entrepreneurs who witnessed and endured the magnitude of the limited financial resources is Ashley Iwanicki, founder of The Collective Studios, a fitness space that seeks to create an inclusive environment where members can get a whole physical and mental experience. Iwanicki, who is of Persian descent, was inspired by her years living in cities like New York, San Diego and L.A., as well as her past working experiences in different industries. When she and her husband decided to move back to New England, their idea was to run a place where people could work out in a welcoming environment. Her innovative business plan caught the attention of banks and soon she received backing to develop that vision. “We signed our lease for the studio in March 2020, just a few days shy of the week>> end when everything started shutting

“It took me all of 2020 to find an institution that had the confidence and the tolerance to be able to lend to us.”

Courtesy photo

– Ashley Iwanicki, founder of The Collective Studios

603Diversity.com | October 2021 17

attentive to their needs. Business owners felt they were being discriminated against. I don’t think it was intentional, but banks don’t know what they don’t know. These meetings helped them understand these challenges.”

“This group really came out of the fact that, during the Covid crisis, the federal programs and even the state programs were not reaching out to underserved communities.”

Overcoming the Differences

– Will Arvelo, BAPOC-NH organizer Photo by Michael Moore

down and the world went into quarantine. I was working with a bank, and this whole time the bank was reassuring me I had nothing to worry about. One day, when I was expecting to receive a phone call from my lender, she told me the bank had decided to close lending to all new clients. Basically, our funding was taken away at the last minute,” she recalled. “I proceeded to try to pitch anyone who would listen: a bank, a credit union, private equity, anyone who would take my call. I contacted over 40 lenders, but they were not lending, especially to fitness businesses. It took me all of 2020 to find an institution that had the confidence and the tolerance to be able to lend to us,” she said. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, banks maintained tight lending standards during the last year. The main source of financial relief for small businesses during those months was the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), but even with federal assistance in place, the resources were often not distributed among those who needed them the most. “This group really came out of the fact that during the Covid crisis, the federal programs and even the state programs were not reaching out to underserved

18 603Diversity.com | October 2021

communities. They were not reaching out to small businesses owned by people of color. A number of times there is a disconnect between, for example, banking programs that are sort of mainstream and the owners of these businesses,” said Arvelo. “They are not necessarily tied into this process; they don’t understand it.” In spite of the uncertainty, Iwanicki’s story is one of resilience and final reward. The Collective Studios’ big opening took place in July 2021, after months of financial hardship and undeniable perseverance. With the creation of BAPOC-NH, Arvelo hopes there will be more information available to minority business owners in terms of financial support programs. There are also ongoing conversations taking place between entrepreneurs of color and private lenders in order to improve the services offered to this population. “We want to create a fair playing field for everyone, that’s our preoccupation,” said Arvelo. “We have been meeting over the past year and engaging with a whole series of banks. We brought them to have a conversation about some of the challenges that these business owners have. Especially during the Covid crisis, banks were not really being

Lenders are not the only ones who have a hard time seeing past the differences. In fact, discrimination is a term that lingers in the daily life of immigrants and minorities in general. Another challenge of BAPOC-NH is becoming an instrument to normalize this population by incorporating minorities into the political and social conversation in the state. “I am Latino, so I have an interest in figuring out how we can diversify our population, because New Hampshire is one of two states where we have more deaths than births. So how do we replenish our workforce? We can’t just do it with our native population; we have to find ways to import people to the state,” said Arvelo. As of July 2019, almost 90% of New Hampshire residents identified as being of the white race alone (not Hispanic), so it’s not surprising that entrepreneurs of color feel they have to go the extra mile to attract potential customers. “Our ears are trained to listen to people who sound like us. If you throw somebody into the mix that you can’t understand, and they look different, then you suddenly think, ‘I’m done, I’m not going to try it,’” said Gayle Davis, co-owner of Senior Helpers. How do you respond to rejection when people are uncomfortable with who you are? The answer seems to be education. There is an undeniable movement within corporate America seeking to elevate the voice of minorities in the different industries. Today it is possible to participate in workshops, seminars, or even to receive counseling aimed at achieving a more inclusive work environment. Some big players are making diversity training mandatory. Most importantly, a large portion of these educational resources is being offered by minorities. That is the case for Jermaine Moore, a member of BAPOC-NH who provides >>

BAPOC-NH Members This guide represents a selection of the ever-growing BAPOC-NH membership who provided contact information by press time. Senior Helpers Stratham Senior Care seniorhelpers.com/nh/se-new-hampshire

Drinkwater Productions Exeter Brand, Digital and Event Marketing drinkwatermarketing.com

Partnered Success Hampton Falls College Planning and Life Skills partnered-success.com

Organizational Ignition Goffstown Organizational Improvement organizationalignition.com

Route 1 Antiques Hampton Falls Antiques route1antiques.com

Deo Mwano Consultancy Manchester Organizational Improvement deomwanoconsultancy.com

The Collective Studios Londonderry Fitness and Wellness Studio thecollective-studios.com

Rootz Natural Hair Shop Manchester Hair Care facebook.com/rootznaturalhairshopllc

The Courtney Daniel Brand Portsmouth Consulting/Administrative Services/Branding courtneydaniel.com

Edward Jones Kennebunk, Maine Wealth Advisor edwardjones.com/us-en/financial-advisor/ andrea-williamson

Foliage Bedford Apparel/Accessories Line foliagehandmade.com New England Sweetwater Farm & Distillery Winchester Distillery newenglandsweetwater.com

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Business groups didn’t get every single thing they wanted from New Hampshire lawmakers this year, but on the whole, they’re pretty happy with the outcome of the 2021 legislative session. “This was a great year for the state’s smallest businesses,” said David Juvet, senior vice president of public policy for the Business & Industry Association of New Hampshire. “There were lower taxes and new programs to help them keep running.” Added Bruce Berke, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business: “There were not any broad sweeping measures that impacted the business community, and that’s a good thing.” Still, not everyone is happy with the session. Anyone trying to run a family planning clinic is LEGISLATIVE ROUNDUP, PAGE 18



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Across industries, New Hampshire businesses have been navigating the burdens of skyrocketing prices and difficulties obtaining essential materials since the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted supply chains. For 25 years, Seabrookbased manufacturer AeroDynamics used a specific type of cotton swab for masking metal finishes on aerospace and defense products. Then its supplier stopped selling cotton swabs in bulk Cara and packaged them Burzynski, individually for Copresident of vid testing, charging AeroDynamics in an exorbitant price. Seabrook. With cotton swabs no longer an option,

pay more, wait longer

AeroDynamics’ employees reluctantly adopted a new method. RP Abrasives, a Rochester-based metal finisher, is dealing with a backlog in manufacturing supplies shipped from China. After the Chinese government shut down production and shipping ports early in the pandemic, there have not been enough shipping containers or space on ships to send products. “For U.S. items, the issue usually is the price went up this month. When it comes to sourcing overseas materials, sometimes it’s just, ‘Oh, no that didn’t make it onto the boat. I’m sorry you’re not going to get it at the end of the month as expected,’” said RP Abrasives President Joe Shean. “We’re still waiting for a container.” Already hit by tariffs imposed by SUPPLY CHAIN WOES, PAGE 15


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consulting in diversity and inclusion to large businesses across different industries through his company, The Mars Hill Group. “Since George Floyd last year, there has been significant interest in having these difficult conversations. I’m hosting and facilitating roundtables in which we can talk about this, and try to model what civil discourse can look like. Right now, if you look at our country, if you look at politics, people are not talking to one another, no one is listening. So I try to create this dialogue and there is a hunger for that,” said Moore. “For the past year and a half, I’ve noticed that companies have gained some courage to address these issues. I think that during the last year, even up until now, even the folks that are opposed to this work have been quiet. What I’m noticing now is that companies are trying to create change, and as opposition rises, the voices of that opposition are a little bit louder,” said Moore. “They started to reflect what we are seeing in the country as a whole. Before, everyone

was on the same page. I’m trying to prepare organizations to expect that level of opposition and think now about how they are going to address it. It takes strong leadership for companies to do what needs to be done.” According to Moore, one of the biggest challenges when it comes to normalizing the inclusion and diversity conversation in places like New Hampshire lies in the fact that there is no acknowledgment that a real issue exists. “Often in this area [New England], we live in a little bit of a bubble. People think that some of these issues that the country is struggling with are not happening here. They think about Minneapolis or California, so initially, the challenge I find is to make people aware that there are very real issues even in Maine or New Hampshire. They may express themselves a little bit differently, but these same attitudes and beliefs are prevalent here,” he said. “The lack of diversity has caused people not to confront some of their attitudes or beliefs. They just don’t

think they have to, they are not exposed to it, but the reality is that the demographics are changing. We are becoming a little bit more diverse, so attitudes have to change along with our population.” His advice for minority business owners competing for a share of the customers in a state like New Hampshire, where their chances of success are lower than in other places in the country, is to become as visible as possible. The only way to make people feel comfortable around you is by having them get used to your presence. Participating in public activities, belonging to a civic organization, volunteering for events, etc., are some ways to blend into a society. At the same time, acceptance of all beliefs, races, colors and accents is the foundation of peace. “As we become more diverse, more inclusive, the idea is not to leave anyone out. We all have a part to play, we all can thrive. This doesn’t just benefit people of color, it benefits all of us. It’s good for all us, even if you don’t identify that way,” said Moore. 603


Sheehan Phinney appreciates Peter A. Nieves’ commitment to diversity in New Hampshire. We are proud of our colleague, attorney Peter A. Nieves, and his efforts with University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law in creating the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Scholarship Fund. The goal of the fund is to make a legal education accessible to diverse populations of students. Peter Chairs the firm’s Intellectual Property Group and is a member of the firm’s Diversity Committee. He is also a member of the SBA/Dean's Task Force on Racial Justice, Diversity and Inclusion.

Boston • Concord • Manchester • Portsmouth • Upper Valley sheehan.com

20 603Diversity.com | October 2021

We Embrace Embrace Inclusivity Diversity & Inclusivity Shaheen & Gordon, we recognize that At At Shaheen Shaheen & & Gordon, Gordon, we werecognize recognizethat that diversity and inclusivity are essential as we diversity diversity and and inclusivity inclusivityare areessential essentialas aswe we to: seek to: seek to: Enrich the lives of all our employees. Enrich Enrich the the lives lives of of all allour ouremployees. employees. Serve our clients in the best possible manner. Serve Serve our our clients clients in in the thebest bestpossible possiblemanner. manner. Make Make change in the broader communities Make change change in in the the broader broadercommunities communitiesinin in which we work and live. which we work and live. which we work and live.

Our firm’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee Our firm’s firm’s Diversity, Diversity, Equity, Equity,and andInclusion InclusionCommittee Committee is committed to educating ourselves and others, to committed to educating ourselves and is committed to educating ourselves and others, others, to to diversifying our work force, and to volunteering and diversifying our work force, and to volunteering diversifying our work force, and to volunteering and and reaching out to diverse communities to listen to and reaching reaching out out to to diverse diverse communities communities to to listen listen to to and and meet their needs through leadership, mentoring, their needs through leadership, mentoring, meet their needs through leadership, mentoring, and service. and service. service.


Shaheen Gordon was the first regional Shaheen Shaheen&& &Gordon Gordonwas wasthe thefirst firstregional regional law firm in New Hampshire to have a law firm in New Hampshire to have a DEI law firm in New Hampshire to have a DEI DEI summer internship. In 2021, we welcomed summer internship. In 2021, we welcomed summer internship. In 2021, we welcomed three students who had just completed their three their threestudents studentswho whohad hadjust justcompleted completed their first second year law school. They spent first They spent firstoror orsecond secondyear yearofof oflaw lawschool. school. They spent five doing five weeks rotating among our offices doing fiveweeks weeksrotating rotatingamong amongour ouroffices offices doing high-quality legal work and five weeks at a aa high-quality legal work and five weeks high-quality legal work and five weeks at at prominent within prominent non-profit organization within prominentnon-profit non-profitorganization organization within our local communities. Upon completion our local communities. Upon completion our local communities. Upon completion ofofthe program, the two interns who will of the the program, program, the the two two interns interns who who will will be graduating from law school this year be graduating from law school this year be graduating from law school this year accepted offers ofofemployment with our firm accepted accepted offers offers of employment employment with with our our firm firm totoreturn asasassociates ininfall ofof2022. return associates fall 2022. to return as associates in fall of 2022.

We are proud to support diversity in We are are proud proud to to support support diversity diversity in in New Hampshire and beyond. New New Hampshire Hampshire and and beyond. beyond.

shaheengordon.com shaheengordon.com shaheengordon.com Concord • Dover •• Manchester • Nashua •• Portland Concord Concord •• Dover Dover • Manchester Manchester •• Nashua Nashua • Portland Portland

It’s different here It’s It’s different different here here


There’s nothing that brings people together like food. It’s the vessel that helps introduce people from different backgrounds. n BY RONY CAMILLE / PHOTOS BY ROBERT ORTIZ (unless otherwise indicated)


ne of the many experiences I had during my teen years in southern New Hampshire as a transplant from Montreal was sampling the foods from different countries — Egypt, Jordan, Jamaica, Kenya and South Korea — that family friends would make. In return, my mom would offer up dishes from her native Haiti. This kind of personal

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sharing is why food is unique in its ability to make the big, diverse world smaller and more approachable. There’s a universal harmony at work when you introduce someone to a traditional dish or a piece of produce in the supermarket that is foreign to them but not to you. For me, the delight is introducing some of my friends to marinated red snapper, poultry with epis (Haitian

green spice) or giving them a sampling of the traditional Haitian New Year’s Soup Joumou — a pumpkin squash soup to commemorate the Haitian liberation from the French. When my family first settled in New Hampshire in the mid-’90s, sourcing ingredients was challenging for some dishes. While local grocery stores would have some items, our family would often


pile in the family minivan and drive an hour into Boston to get that needed specialty item from a more cosmopolitan grocery store. It’s a memory and a challenge that many immigrant families share, and it even influences the lives of cuisine professionals. Chef Chris Viaud, owner of Greenleaf in Milford whose parents are also from Haiti, recently described

to me the sweet experience of having a friend who happened to be just returning from Haiti bring something back for his parents to cook with. Over the years, we adapted, substitutions were made, and in recent years grocery stores have added some of these items and even hard-to-find specialty produce. So, today, my mom no longer needs to drive into the big city.

While sourcing foods has gotten easier, it’s often challenging for some restaurateurs, food suppliers and grocers to bring that authentic feel and taste to their community. According to a study by the American Immigration Council, 6% of New Hampshire residents are immigrants while 8% of residents are native-born U.S. citizens with at least one immigrant parent. >> 603Diversity.com | October 2021 23

While that number might seem small, it is growing with the recent influx of more diverse cultures to our state. Today, New Hampshire is blessed to have a variety of restaurants and even smaller grocery stores where families from afar and chefs exploring the cuisine of many lands can source that one specific food item — from salted codfish to Asian and African spices that add essential aromatics to traditional recipes. And, as a reminder of how far our diversity has spread throughout the state, these flavors can be found whether you live in Coös County in the north, on the seacoast, in the populous Nashua/Manchester area, or even out in the western parts of the state like Keene and Lebanon. Here’s a short list of purveyors of international cuisine to help satisfy or expand your palate.

Chef Paalchure “Testent” Lana runs the tiny restaurant at Katmandu Bazaar. Below: Owner Karma Gonpo

Small Beginnings to Huge Offerings Katmandu Bazaar | Concord Located in Concord’s Lamplighter Plaza, Katmandu Bazaar’s mission is to bring Asian and African goods that are difficult to find in the typical American market to the Concord area and to serve the burgeoning immigrant populations of the capital city. In addition to their seven aisles, they have a back kitchen offering both Nepali and Tibetan-style dishes. For instance, you can find choila made from boneless grilled chicken, beef or pork marinated with garlic, ginger and Nepali spices. I visited on a scorching Monday in August, right around lunchtime when patrons from all walks of life could be seen walking up to the back counter and making requests to Paalchure “Testent” Lana, who has been cooking at the Bazaar since its inception. Among the lunch orders is the Chili Momo, a shredded chicken dumpling with scallions in a thick, spicy, red chili sauce, which is a favorite among patrons, according to Lana. The grocery store and lunch counter is a cornerstone to the Nepalese and African immigrant communities in Concord, explains owner Karma Gonpo. Starting in 2010, it grew over the years from small beginnings in a gas station on Loudon Road. “When I started there ... we had some offerings, but then people kept asking for more and more things,” Gonpo said. “That is when I decided to take the chance and move here [to Lamplighter Plaza].”

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The family-run store has numerous offerings, including gifts and clothing from Asia and Africa. You can find palm oil, fufu flour, cassava bread and lotus rootlets, a delicacy similar to water chestnuts. Semolina flour, used for making couscous, pasta and sweet puddings, is one of the most requested items in the store. Gonpo tries to source directly from the country of origin. “In the early days, I used to travel far from New York to get some items for my customers. I [used to] go every week,” he said. Now Gonpo’s farthest travel is to Boston weekly for some specialty items. “My suppliers all come to me now,” he said. “It’s very nice.” Gonpo arrived in the United States from Nepal in 2007. He initially settled in New Jersey before moving to Concord in 2010 to run that gas station where it all began on Loudon Road. He and his wife Lobsang, along with his relatives, run and operate the store. “It’s a family affair,” he said. Katmandu Bazaar Asian and African Market Lamplighter Plaza, 133 Loudon Rd., Concord (603) 856-7006, katmandubazaar.com

A Taste of the Islands in the Upper Valley The Karibbean | Lebanon To get a taste of Carline Roberge’s cuisine story, just take a drive on I-89 to Lebanon. Self-trained chef Roberge is the brain behind The Karribean, a coffee shop and take-out restaurant on Hanover Street that serves Haitian and Jamaican cuisine. She said she sources her specialty items like coffee and cocoa directly from Haiti. “It’s challenging, but how can you make it truly authentic if it’s not from the source?” she said, and that’s music to my ears as a fellow Haitian. It is said Haitian coffee is a pride and joy of the first Black republic in the Western Hemisphere. While I am not a heavy coffee drinker, there’s something about freshly brewed Haitian black coffee, steeped and filtered through a cloth, creating that dark molasses-like brew with a major body. Enjoyed either without sugar or with a ton as my Grandfather Andre would have it, if you pair it with sweet peanut butter and coconut brittle, it brings a nostalgia that just cannot be re-created in a conventional American-chain coffee shop.

Roberge, who settled in the Upper Valley in 1997, started her venture in 2018 after a long career in social work. She began offering Haitian coffee at Lebanon’s farmers market with the beans directly harvested from her family’s farm in Jacmel on the island’s south coast. Roberge said her offerings at her coffee stand got so popular that community members, including her family, encouraged her to open up a shop. “While it was a struggle to get started,” she said, citing licensing and the pandemic, “the community has been welcoming. It’s truly a blessing.” She noted that none of it would have been possible without the support of her family and children and the guidance and inspiration of her

mother Clotilde, who taught her to cook. Once you step inside the shop, you are greeted with the fresh aromas of the islands. On the walls are original art pieces from Haiti and Jamaica. In addition to the fresh coffee, you can find creole chicken with rice and beans, jerk chicken with rice and beans, Haitian Griot, and pikliz (a spicy cabbage coleslaw). It is the only Haitian restaurant in the state open daily, offering Haitian hot chocolate, with cocoa blocks also imported from the Caribbean island. Next door is an art gallery with rotating exhibits proudly displaying artisan wood and metal works from Haiti and Jamaica. The Karibbean, 61 Hanover St., Lebanon (603) 351-1244, karibbeancooking.com

Fried plantains and jerk chicken from The Karibbean Above: Owner Balvin Bowen and stepson Christopher Roberge

603Diversity.com | October 2021 25

Authentic Mexican cuisine with a twist is a Vida Cantina specialty. Below: Chef/owner David Vargas

Elevating the Mexican Cuisine Narrative Vida Cantina | Portsmouth From the moment David Vargas arrived in New Hampshire in 2011 from Southern California, he was on a mission. Now, as chef/owner of Vida Cantina in Portsmouth, he is hard at work, changing the narrative of how Mexican cuisine is perceived among the locals while using local ingredients. “There’s a perception that Mexican food should be cheap and fast,” Vargas said. “While I love a good yellow cheese and olive nachos, that is not Mexican food,” he said. “We bring a homestyle cooking here, and nothing about home cooking is cheap or fast.” Vargas’ affection for Mexican culture is centered around family and food and early upbringing. His parents are natives from Zalatitan, a community outside Guadalajara, and ran a taqueria. He got involved in the taqueria while growing up, adding to the inspiration behind Vida Cantina. While Vargas says it’s a challenge sometimes to get that same taste he would have had back home in California or on the family farm in Mexico, he’s always willing to get

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creative to elevate the cuisine. He does this every now and then by cooking up a regional staple or favorite with a Mexican twist. Baked haddock with crusted tortillas and complemented with local veggies has been a popular item, said Vargas. Their artisan tortillas are made from scratch by their sister company, Vida Tortilla, based in Dover, with corn from 30 acres in the state. “You also have to embrace that you are here in New England and support our local community,” he said.

Vida Cantina was formerly a Friendly’s Ice Cream location. The cupola remains on top, and inside the cozy booths are the perfect place to share a platter such as the Short Creek Farm Pig Platter — another popular dish. Vargas describes it as a shared plate with a pig’s head sourced from the Short Creek Farm in Northwood, brined for 10 hours with a flight of salsas, cilantro and onions. It comes with tortillas to make tacos. “One of the things about us [Vida] is that we’re a family restaurant,” Vargas said. “People have done away with family dinners. We wanted to give the community a sense they can have their family table here.” In addition, Vargas was busy organizing the Seacoast BIPOC Food Fest happening back in September in the restaurant’s parking lot. The event was aimed at highlighting the many cultures in the Seacoast community with a goal to “initiate and perpetuate conversation about the important threads of equity and social justice that holds the fabric of our community together,” according to their webpage. Vida Cantina 2456 Lafayette Rd., Portsmouth (603) 501-0648, vidacantinanh.com

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Global Taste in Every Bite Mola Foods Inc. | Nashua

Café Momo chef/owner Akshat Bikram Shah

Café Momo Café Momo was already famous for its authentic Nepali cuisine when Akshat Bikram Shah and his family took over this summer, but his first initiative was to make it even more so, restoring some original recipes and adding others. While their curries and namesake momos (dumplings with dipping sauces) are still popular choices, Shah recommends that anyone seeking a genuine taste of his home country of Nepal try the thukpa, a noodle soup with a blend of Bhutanese and Nepali spices that is delicious with lamb, goat, chicken or veggies. He’s also expanding the restaurant since taking over and has added a new bar, which should be open by the time you read this.

Growing up in Cameroon, LaFortune Jeannette Djabea loved to learn from her grandmother and the community that surrounded her. When the 45-year-old entrepreneur and single mother of three moved to the United States in 2001 and eventually settled in Nashua in 2013, she instilled this sense of community, discipline, and love of food from her grandmother into her daily life. Yet, something was missing. “I was having a hard time finding food in the United States, especially in New England, that I identify with — food from back home,” she said. “All those dishes that I enjoyed eating just were not something I could find here. Nashua has no African cuisine, period.” Yearning to enjoy this food and share her Cameroonian roots with the people around her, Mola Foods and the concept of “culture in a bottle” was born, according to Djabea. “When I didn’t find it in New Hampshire, I wanted to create something where I can share it with the people around me,” she said. The result is sauces, spices, marinades, relishes, and even a unique barbeque sauce. The relishes were made from authentic ancient Cameroonian tribal recipes that have survived by being passed from

grandmother to granddaughter, Djabea said. You don’t have to create elaborate dishes to get a taste of other cultures, said Djabea. “I take spices from each country, and I find a flavor blend and flavor profile from that country and put it in a bottle,” she said. “That way people can experience it themselves, and now they can experience the food.” Djabea said someone who has had a hamburger prepared the same way for years could add her Cameroonian Inspired Blend to get a taste of the Western African nation. “It’s offering a piece of Africa,” she said, “at the same time you can have a taste of other nations as well.” While all of her ingredients are sourced from various parts of the country, there is one ingredient, penja pepper, directly sourced from her native land, which she uses for her barbecue sauce. “We don’t have barbeque in Cameroon,” she said, “but living here I love barbeque. So, if we had barbeque back home, this is what it would taste like.” She launched her business in 2016 out of a shared commercial kitchen in Derry, moving her operations to Genuine Local, a co-packer in Meredith, before ultimately settling her commercial kitchen and storefront on Simon Street in Nashua in 2020 at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Along the way, what started as a passion and hobby for friends turned into a business idea and a calling. In addition to the seasoning line, one can preorder gluten-free and vegan-friendly dishes for pickup or delivery on Saturdays.

Mola Foods, 9 Simon St., Nashua (877) 593-8157, (603) 397-0117, molafoods.com

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Courtesy photos

Café Momo 1065 Hanover St. Manchester (603) 623-3733 thecafemomo.com

Spices of many lands can fit on a shelf. Above: Owner LaFortune Jeannette Djabea.

Red Curry Chicken Ramen

A Taste of Thai in the North Country Chang Thai Café | Littleton Authentic global flavors can be found all over the densely populated regions of New Hampshire, but even in the rustic North Country there are surprises for those who seek to learn more about other cultures through their cuisine. While our state is blessed to have many popular Asian and Thai restaurants, one popular spot in Littleton takes their traditional recipes up a few notches by sourcing local food items. Want to feel like you’re traveling to Thailand without going through TSA security and jet lag? You can, right on Littleton’s Main Street. Chef/Owner Emshika Alberini, who grew up in Thailand, operates this restaurant and not only brings Thai flavors to locals but lures visitors from far away to town as her reputation grows. Among her offerings is the Thai basil softshell crab and pad ka pow, a traditional basil stir-fry with chicken and vegetables, topped with fried eggs. Chang Thai Café is also home to 10 varieties of curries, such as Massamun Avocado, which has Black Tiger shrimp with avocado, broccoli, zucchini and carrots topped with cashew nuts.


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Chang Thai Café 77 Main St., Littleton (603) 444-8810, changthaicafe.com nherap-ad-4.4x10.indd 2

603Diversity.com | October 2021 29 9/3/21 9:40 AM

Positively MAIN STREET

n BY CONSTANCE CHERISE Photos courtesy of Positive Street Art or by Robert Ortiz (where indicated)

Positive Street Art mural at Martha’s 30 603Diversity.com | October 2021Exchange in Nashua

“Poseidon’s Grasp” mural in Nashua

Shepard Fairey, Tristan Easton, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Banksy are all famous artists who have left a permanent mark on the world. Add to that list, artist-in-residence of Nashua’s Positive Street Art, Manny Ramirez.


f you are unsure of Ramirez’s artistic fortitude, consider one of his latest endeavors: “Poseidon’s Grasp,” a phantasmagorical mural reminiscent of pinball art, based on “The Great Wave off Kanagawa” by Japanese artist Hokusai. Clearly a fantasy piece, it’s hard not to wonder, with its kinetic structure, saturated hues and alluring effect, if at night, when no one is watching, somehow it comes to life.

“Basically, our technological advances don’t compare much to nature, that’s kind of his idea,” said Ramirez. “I wanted this modern idea and I took a little bit of Greek mythology, like a goddess that came out and just destroyed all the boats, and that kind of urban legend mythology.” It’s not only “Poseidon’s Grasp” where Ramirez flexes his creative command. “Young Heroes,” a set of two murals located on the >>

603Diversity.com | October 2021 31

The “Young Heroes” murals are “meant to give people hope and feel empowered in their life for what they can do.” – Manny Ramirez and Cecilia Ulibarri, founders or Positive Street Art Photo by Robert Ortiz

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Nashua PAL building, showcases the mystical encapsulation of possibility that lies within us. “It’s meant to give people hope and feel empowered in their life for what they can do,” said Ramirez. Perhaps his most personal mural to date, also part of the Young Heroes project, is a portrait where his niece was used as the model of a superhero. “I feel like I did a really good job on that one, that one is the most touching for me,” said Ramirez. Ramirez’s introduction to art began at a very young age during a trip to the doctor’s office for a childhood booster shot, when his weary father, trying to calm his hysterical son, stumbled upon a creative solution. “I must have been, like, 4 or 5 years, and I was going to get my vaccine shot. I was freaking out. I wanted to leave the hospital. He was trying to calm me down. Eventually, he just kind of gave up and he was sitting right next to me.” His father grabbed a piece of paper and pencil and started drawing. Ramirez said he can’t remember the exact drawing, only the way that he drew it and how good it was, but it made him stop crying. “I was, like, wait, what’s he doing? He softened the whole entire moment. The nurse came and she was preparing to give me my shot. It could’ve been this moment like, ‘Oh, I got a needle that hurts so bad.’ No. I don’t even remember the shot. I don’t remember anything else but what he was doing,” explained Ramirez.

The “Young Heroes” murals at the Nashua Police Athletic League are designed to inspire and empower.

In that moment of creative convergence where a boy experienced the ignition of his inner spark, Ramirez firmly decided he wanted to draw like his father. It was not until later years that Ramirez would learn his father was not an artist, although convincing his 5-year-old son otherwise, at that moment, would have proven difficult. “I continued to draw for as long as I can remember, then to find out later on in my life that my dad is not an artist. He was really good at it, but he didn’t consider himself an artist, and he never really wanted to pursue that as a career,” said Ramirez. Originally from the Dominican Republic, Ramirez and his family moved to New York when he was 11. His mother later settled in Nashua, while Ramirez remained with his grandparents in New York. During his adolescent years, Ramirez’s mother decided to move her son to New Hampshire. “I was getting into trouble and I needed to change. So my mom decided to come and pick me up and bring me here,” Ramirez said. Later in life, he found himself at a personal crossroads. While experiencing the drudgery of traditional routes to support his then-family, Ramirez decided to pursue his own fulfillment, enrolling in the Art Institute of New York City. “I just wanted to make myself happy. I gave everything that I could to make sure that my kids were good. I made sure that

603Diversity.com | October 2021 33

Photo by Robert Ortiz

their mother was good and that everything was fine, and then when that failed, I was, like, OK, what now? What do I want to do?” He had worked hard at all those hard jobs, but they brought him nowhere. “The only thing that was lingering around that I was confident enough to follow was art. So I went to school for graphic design,” Ramirez said. Following his instinctual path, what appeared as coincidence transitioned into fate. Attending a silent art auction upon the urging of an insistent friend, and drawn to a particular piece, Ramirez asked who the artist was. “It was bright, it was bold, it stood out. The gallery was showing a lot of traditional art in terms of scenic art and portraits. Then there was this abstract, super-bright and colorful painting. It stood out to me,” said Ramirez. The artist was Cecilia Ulibarri, who would become co-founder/president of Positive Street Art, and, eventually, wife of Ramirez. “We sparked up a conversation about art and how much I adored her art, that I’ve seen it, and recognized it for the past few months,” said Ramirez. Finding kindred spirits in one another, Ramirez and Ulibarri connected. “I knew about graffiti and she did too. The more we talked about art, the more urban art came into the forefront, and how much we feel like graffiti art is not [appreciated] in New Hampshire. How can we put this to the community in a way that it can be understood, and have people judge this in the correct way? And so that’s what we set out to do,” said Ramirez. Aiming to educate, but unsure of how to execute, Ramirez and Ulibarri met with the group Visualize Nashua, a crowdsourced placemaking community. “So the more we went to these meetings, the more we learned about things that we could do with our community,” said Ramirez. “Things that seemed pretty impossible and just ‘in our heads’ became more realistic and more like, OK, this might be a way that we can go about this.” On the advice of group members, Ramirez and Ulibarri educated themselves about the various aspects of a nonprofit organization, founding Positive Street Art and creating their first mural, “The Face of PSA,” in 2012. Ramirez has no set ritual as to the formulation of his artistic concepts. “I could be skating or I could be riding a bike,” he said. “I

Cecelia and Manny pose in front of their “Nostalgia” mural.

am doing something that doesn’t necessarily require me to think too much. Random things that will float into my head will just trigger a snowball effect.” He first draws his art on paper or on a tablet and uses either a projector or grid system as an outline on a chosen wall. However, not all murals utilize a grid or projector. When Ramirez finds himself in a tight spot, his paintings become freehand murals. “I’m often constricted,” he said. “Then it is mostly freehand on the wall. Everything is live and those are some of the funnest projects because it’s kind of like you’re a spectator and also theater at the

Most Positive Street Art murals convey a message of hope.

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same time. I do a lot of tweaking and a lot of figuring out like what’s the thing going to look like,” Ramirez said. Asked how he knows when a mural is complete, Ramirez explains, “I don’t. A lot of artists want to keep going back and adding. I read this a long time ago and I kind of adopted it, not to second-guess myself: Finished is better than perfect — because, if I go back, then I’ll just keep adding and I’d probably still be working on my first piece,” Ramirez said, and smiles. PSA’s newest projects include murals for the 50-year anniversary of the Nashua Rotary Club as well as a commission from Nashua’s Boston Billiard Club & Casino. Looking toward the future, Ramirez would like to work with some industry heavyweights. “Goldman Global Arts is one of the organizations that we would love to collaborate with. Their founder created Wynwood Walls in Miami, and that’s the most common graffiti haven right now, also, Pow! Wow! [an urban art movement that began in Honolulu]. They have a lot of different charters and they have one out of Worcester. We traveled as an organization to a couple of these places for inspiration,” Ramirez said. Often the journey doesn’t seem like a straight line, but somehow the curves, bumps and valleys surprisingly end up leading exactly where we are supposed to be. As unbelievable as it is when everything falls apart, it’s just as unbelievable when everything falls together. Could Ramirez have fathomed that his decision to create a shift toward the satisfaction of his own soul would result in his present actuality, creating a reinvigorating ripple effect on an entire community? “No, no! I would have never imagined any of this!” said Ramirez. “It took on a life of its own that is Positive Street Art. Nobody really thought that I could do something with my art. If anything, it was the complete opposite. This is something that came out of our heads. Now we are living in this reality.” Ramirez notes that much of his work is done in open air right downtown. “Often people are staring at [his mural] and I’m literally three feet away from the person who’s, like, ‘Wow!’ I’ve heard people be very moved about some of my work and it’s a great feeling.” 603

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Concord’s Multicultural Festival STANDING TOGETHER: UNITY IN DIVERSITY PHOTOS BY ROBERT ORTIZ The 14th Annual Concord Multicultural Festival took place Sept. 19 with the usual array of colorful garb, bright flags and delicious aromas. This year’s festival celebrating origin nations of the capital city’s immigrant population took place in a new location at Concord’s Keach Park.

 1

1 Roy Caseres, a famous tango singer from Argentina, entertains the crowds. 2 An immigrant family from India poses with India’s flag. 3 Nepali food was a popular choice at the festival. 4 The Nusantara Kreasindo Indonesian Dance group pose for a shot. 5 Drummer Theo Martey performed with his Akwaaba Ensemble. 6 Russian nesting dolls made by Marina Forbes on display 7 Bhutanese people, like this grandmother from Nepal, were a common sight at the festival as many have made homes near Keach Park where the festival was held for the first time this year.

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 


1 A group of multicultural kids from The Story Project booth 2 An Indonesian dancer from the Nusantara Kreasindo group 3 Dancer Jane Yen dancing to Afro hip-hop singer Martin Toe 4 Pradip Karki from Nepal showing off the flag of his native land 5 Butu International’s woven storage containers 6 Turkish Baklava from Turkish Cultural Center New Hampshire 7 Young women in native garb show off the flag of El Salvador. 8 Paul and Tienna Murray and their child enjoy arts and crafts. 9 Columbian/American Barranquilla Flavor dancers perform.

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Consultant/writer Deo Mwano meets a new friend.



e live in a divisive social culture. There’s a new controversy every day and we are always asked to take a side. Not taking a side is even taking a side. We imagine these debates as insurmountable barriers, irreparable fissures in the social fabric. It shouldn’t be this way. And it doesn’t have to be. We can overcome our differences when we focus on our similarities, how much we share, and how much we have in common. We are all human. Our neighborhoods present an opportunity to get offline and genuinely connect with people who, at first glance, may not be like us. It is a chance to step out of comfort zones, to overcome fear, and to truly connect with others, face to face. If we learn how to listen, to speak with hu-

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mility, and approach others from a place of curiosity, we can break down the ways of thinking that divide us. We can become good neighbors and better people. We can, one by one, change the tide of angry rhetoric we’ve become accustomed to and begin the work of healing the country. My childhood experiences as a refugee from the Congo, resettled in Manchester, taught me a great deal about getting to know people who were different from me. When we first arrived in the U.S., many of the people who helped my family were white. Even the church we joined was predominantly white. These people were very kind and we often broke bread together, talking about our life in Congo and their lives in America. But in school, my community of friends couldn’t have

been more different. I was in ELL (English language learners) with children from around the globe. We connected as new Americans, but in many ways we were segregated from the rest of the school. At lunch, ELL students sat together, without any opportunity for mutual learning with the other children born and raised in the U.S. This taught me an important lesson that informs the work I do today: You can’t be a good neighbor if you are passive. You need to be intentional, proactive, curious and empathetic. In order to get to know our neighbors, we have to acknowledge diversity. Your neighbor might be a different race, ethnicity, gender identity or sexual orientation, and they will almost certainly have a different lived experience from you. These are opportunities to learn, to broaden your horizons. They are not reasons to

“We can solve so many of our societal problems by talking face to face, being curious about each other, and listening.” retreat or withdraw or put up walls. Recognizing another person’s whole self — their entire identity — is the direct path to a true connection. People often claim that they don’t see color. This is not the time for that charade. Acknowledging diversity is foundational to forging new relationships. Getting to know your neighbor is a twoway street. Growing up in New Hampshire,

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Get to Know Your Neighbor and Begin to Heal the Divide

I was just as curious about my white friends as they were about me. I am still grateful for the many friends I made who were open with me and willing to answer my questions. I learned a lot about family dynamics, religious traditions, parenting and political ideologies. White friends introduced me to slang, American music and food like grilled cheese, mac and cheese and nachos. These connections could not have happened without openness and willingness to share and learn from both sides. Take the time to truly get to know your neighbor. You will learn new things from each other and see the world through a new lens. These are the things that should inform how we see and treat each other — not a culture war that is being fought on social media, stoked by talking heads on TV. It is dangerous when the things influencing our perspectives are based on fear. Fear transforms to hate or even ideologies of superiority. Getting to know your neighbor is the antidote. It’s the chance to find common ground and shared interests. It’s the chance to be the best version of ourselves. Our differences should not turn us away from or against one another. They should influence our desire to learn about each other. They provide an opportunity for respectful dialogue to cultivate trust, honesty and vulnerability. Before long, you’ll feel comfortable enough to go over to a neighbor’s house to ask for milk, sugar, or even toilet paper! The best part is that we all have the power to do this. We can all get to know our neighbors regardless of how different they are from us. We can solve so many of our societal problems by talking face to face, being curious about each other, and listening. This is the only way we can bridge the gap of our social divide. Getting to know our neighbors will help to negate the narratives that keep us apart. Our national divisions will be diminished. 603






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603Diversity.com | October 2021 39



ou have probably heard by now that the recent census indicates New Hampshire is growing and becoming a more diverse state. In a recent interview with NPR, UNH demographer Ken Johnson indicated that New Hampshire is becoming more diverse, but not anywhere near as diverse as the rest of the country. In 2010, we were 94% non-Hispanic white; now, we are 88% non-Hispanic white, making us the fourth-whitest state, behind Vermont, Maine and West Virginia. The figures also show New Hampshire remains one of the oldest states, ranking behind Vermont and Maine (and Washington D.C.) for its percentage of residents age 18 and over. The 18+ population increased 9% to 81% of the total. Why is this census data important? 1) The census population count guides major decisions about federal spending that comes to New Hampshire (currently estimated at $6.5 billion annually) and political power for the next 10 years. 2) It provides insight into the people with whom we will have to interact in our communities.

characteristics that make up our personalities. These characteristics are what make us “diverse” individuals. Thus, “diversity” is about including people with those different characteristics. Using this definition, the census data fails us to show the true diversity in our state. It does not tell us about the change in people with disabilities, sexual orientation, religion, education, thinking styles or many of the characteristics that make up our personalities. But since race/ethnicity and gender are on the top of everyone’s minds, we can use the census data to prepare ourselves for the near future with respect to the population with those characteristics. Thus, we should ask ourselves several key questions:

Will New Hampshire embrace diversity in a way that will lead to richer, fuller lives for all? What does this mean for the future of our state? First, let’s be clear on what “diversity” is. The term “diversity” is used by many in different ways to mean different things. Some people use the term to refer to inclusion of Black people. Some people use the term to refer to inclusion of people from different races and ethnicities. Some people use the term to refer to inclusion of women. In my experience, it is best to define “diversity” using the “diversity wheel” (shown in the illustration). The wheel was originally created in 1991 by Marilyn Loden at Johns Hopkins University. It was updated in 2009 by Gardenswartz and Rowe. The basic notion is that we all have internal, external and organizational

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• What does this data mean for individuals? • What does this data mean for government? • What does this data mean for organizations/ businesses? • What does this data mean for our economy? For individuals, it means that, particularly in the southern part of the state, we each will encounter more people of color during our daily lives. For those socialized as white, that may take some getting used to. It may cause feelings of angst, shame, guilt or confusion about how to interact. For people of color,

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The Future of Diversity in NH

that may be a welcome change — finally seeing people who look like them. For government, it means that those crafting laws will have to pay more attention to the needs and desires of non-white males. Bills proposing greater transparency and accountability in law enforcement, such as HB 471, HB 530 and SB 96 — all recently signed by the governor — will become more frequent and important. For organizations and businesses, it means the potential for conflict where employees are not accustomed to different perspectives or ways of thinking. It also means an opportunity to have the diversity of staff who can bring the different perspectives that research has proven are more likely to drive innovation and competitive advantage. For our economy, it means the potential for new markets for businesses to pursue and citizens to win over. More revenue, more jobs, more ability for employment and self-sufficiency. A wider variety of products and services for everyone to consume enriching our lives. To sum it up, this trend of diversification presents existential questions for the Granite State. Who are we as a state? What will we become? Will those socialized as white who control the levers of power succumb to the fear, guilt and shame of becoming a more diverse state and increase the same rancor, segregation and decline in way of life experienced by states with a more diverse population? Or will we embrace diversity in a way that will lead to richer, fuller lives for all? I trust we will opt for the latter as my belief is that embracing diversity will lead us to that more perfect union espoused by our Founding Fathers in the preamble of the Constitution of the United States. 603

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603Diversity.com | October 2021 41



THAT MAKE A DIFFERENCE To submit multicultural or changemaker events for next issue, send them to editors@603diversity.com.

October Annual Black Gala

Bedford, October 7

Stratham, October 16

The empowerHER breakfast is an annual YWCA event held at the beginning of each October to kick off domestic violence awareness month. Each year, the event showcases YWCA programs and honors a woman in the community who made a difference through empowerment for women and girls. This year, they recognize Dr. Loretta Brady of Requity Labs for her efforts to provide opportunities for education and advancement for young women in the space of diversity, equity and inclusion. ywcanh.org

Join Seacoast Black Lives Matter and Robinwood Center as they celebrate a Night of Black Excellence at Saltonstall Farm in Stratham for their 2nd Annual Gala. Keynote speaker is Grace Kindeke while BluePrint Project will share short stories woven together through dance and music, and Boston hip-hop artist Akrobatik will delight. Round out the evening with Jamaican food from Island Spice of York, Maine, and an open tip bar. This is a formal attire event. blmseacoast.com

Anjimile with Christelle Bofale Portsmouth, October 8 Enjoy a night out at 3S Artspace in Portsmouth listening to the pastoral, compelling songs of Anjimile Chithambo, accompanied by Austin, Texas-based songwriter Christelle Bofale. Critics praised Anjimile’s introspective 2020 debut, “Giver Taker,” describing his songs as “self-contained microjourneys of grief, hope and identity. This reunion performance with Anjimile and Christelle Bofale serves as an extension, or sequel, to the ideas of rebirth Chithambo began excavating last year — a simultaneous resettling into, and reimagining of, their songwriting. 3sarts.org

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Racial and Climate Justice Film Series Stratham, October 22 The final film in the Racial and Climate Justice Film Series hosted by the Robinwood Center at Saltonstall Farm will be “Urban Roots,” a documentary that tells the story of the spontaneous emergence of urban farming in the city of Detroit. robinwoodcenter.org

“Crossing River Jordan: Healing Racial Wounds Through Accountability & Truth-Telling” Manchester/Virtual, October 22-23 The 2021 Black New England Conference explores paths forward from legacies of racism to collective accountability and collective healing. Presenters will examine the ongoing impacts of enslavement, murder, mass incarceration, unethical medical experimentation, disenfranchisement and harms perpetrated against people of African descent. Also examined will be the ways traditional spiritual and religious practices have served as sources of strength, hope, resistance and healing for Black people in the centuries-long struggle for justice. blackheritagetrailnh.org

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empowerHER Breakfast


the Executive Mansion in Philadelphia, fleeing north and establishing a life in New Hampshire is not a typical runaway story. Portrayed by Gwendolyn Quezaire-Presutti, Oney’s tale provides an alternative perspective on the new nation’s social, political and economic development, from one whose personal experience so contradicted the promise of the principles embodied in the nation’s founding documents. NH Humanities presentation at Marion Gerrish Community Center in Derry. nhhumanities.org

“If I Am Not for Myself, Who Will Be for Me?” George Washington’s Runaway Slave Derry, November 3 Oney Judge Staines, according to the Constitution, was only three-fifths of a person. To her masters, George and Martha Washington, she was merely “the girl.” All she wanted was the freedom to control her own actions, but her account of escaping

A River Runs Through Us: “Indigenous Peoples and the Merrimack River” Manchester, November 11 Sherry Gould, enrolled member and tribal genealogist in the Nulhegan Band of Coosuk Abenaki and co-founder of Nulhegan’s Abenaki Trails Project will speak about what rivers and wetlands meant to Abenaki people historically and their cultural importance today. Dr. Robert Goodby, professor of anthropology at Franklin Pierce University, an archaeologist with over 30 years of experience excavating Native American sites in New England and author of “A Deep Presence: 13,000 Years of Native American History” (2021) will speak about what the archaeological record tells us about the importance of rivers to Native Americans. anselm.edu

Malaga Art Series

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Portsmouth, November 19-January 2 Daniel Minter is an American artist whose body of work often deals with themes of displacement and diaspora, ordinary/extraordinary Blackness, spirituality in the Afro-Atlantic world and the (re)creation of meanings of home. Minter works in varied media — canvas, wood, metal, paper, twine, rocks, nails, paint ... This cross-fertilization strongly informs his artistic sensibility. His carvings become assemblages. His paintings are often sculptural. Throughout Minter’s work he embeds a kind of codex, a set of symbols called “keys” that tell a complex and layered story centered in an African American historical context yet are connected to Black histories in the Caribbean, West and Central Africa and, especially, Brazil. 3sarts.org

December “13,000 Years Ago in the Granite State” Waterville Valley, December 10 The native Abenaki people played a central role in the history of the Monadnock Region, defending it against English settlement and forcing the abandonment of Keene and other Monadnock area towns during the French and Indian Wars. Despite this, little is known about the Abenaki. Robert Goodby discusses how the real depth of Native history was revealed when an archaeological study prior to construction of the new Keene Middle School discovered traces of four structures dating to the end of the Ice Age with evidence of social networks that extended for hundreds of miles across northern New England. nhhumanities.org

<< Malaga Girl, Navigation of Bones

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Many Granite Staters know, or know about, the force of nature that is JerriAnne Boggis. She’s been the champion for building awareness and understanding of the lives of our state’s earliest Black inhabitants — mostly enslaved people — and their accomplishments, which would otherwise be unknown today. Boggis is the executive director of the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire, the founder and director of the Harriet Wilson Project, and a previous director of diversity programs and community outreach at the University of New Hampshire. Now she’s in a select group of the first-ever recipients of the Ona Judge Award for Human Rights, presented by the Human Rights Society at Penn State Law in University Park and the School of International Affairs. Honorees are selected for their efforts to champion the cause of human rights and to represent communities that are often the target of human-rights abuses, including Black, Indigenous and other people of color; women and LGBTQ+ communities. Judge, who was born into slavery on the Mount Vernon plantation of George and Martha Washington and later escaped to live freely in Portsmouth, “is a woman who has been lost in history for far too long.” said Jordan Rhone, founder of the Ona Judge Award. “Nearly 175 years after her death, we are proud to create the first award to be named in honor of the relentless — and free — Ona Judge.” “Relentless and free” are two words that aptly describe the first official “Shout Out” recipient for 603 Diversity — the incomparable JerriAnne Boggis. 603

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JerriAnne Boggis


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