603 Diversity, Issue 3 (Spring 2022)

Page 1

Q2 2022




603DIVERSITY Connecting with the

out oors






ince we began publishing it, I’ve been given reason to think a great deal about what the word “diversity” means, and about what this magazine means. I’ve received enthusiastic feedback that we’ve provided positive representation for communities that feel underserved by other media. I’ve also received critical comments, suggesting that a magazine highlighting the diverse communities in our state, and acknowledging that bias still exists in a large enough degree to require this sort of representation, is in itself racist or divisive. Folks are welcome to think that. I think they’re wrong. As I suggested in my first publisher’s note, we didn’t set out to do politics here. We set out to introduce neighbors to neighbors, which seems to me a very New Hampshire thing to do. Yet I’m not so naïve as to presume that it’s possible to do anything in the public sphere without it being a political act of some sort. So I’ll acknowledge that and I’ll cop to my own politics: I’m pretty moderate, and I maintain a foundational perspective that nobody should be judged by the wealth or poverty they come from, the color of their skin, the ethic group they belong to, or the gender of the person they fall in love with. And because so many people are still judged, wrongly, by those criteria, it’s incumbent on those of us who have our voices amplified beyond the norm (magazine publishers, for example), to try and help tell stories that lead to greater com-

passion and truer understanding, amongst our communities — our neighbors. I’m also aware that this might sound condescending or simplistic, but that’s not my intent. People, individuals and communities, are complicated, and even in totally homogenous societies, individuals remain great mysteries to each other. Why else would brilliant novels still be able to move and surprise us if not for the depths of complexity of the human spirit? But we can keep trying to see, to understand. Speaking of the complexity of the human spirit, I had the privilege of talking to the founder of Queen City Pride, Robb Curry, for a feature story in this issue. Like every person I’ve ever interviewed with genuine interest and curiosity, he was infinitely fascinating. And wow, has he gotten a lot done! Read the story! (Page 30) Curry messaged me after our interview to say that he was grateful to us “for opening the space that a small voice like mine can be seen and heard.” I wrote back, “I wouldn’t say ‘small’ voice.” And I meant it. And not just about Robb. But about all of us. There are important stories to be told and voices to be heard and universes of diversity to be celebrated. And I hope, in telling those stories, we win over some of our critics, and help demonstrate how great is the common bond we Granite Staters share — as neighbors, friends, and human beings. — ERNESTO BURDEN 603Diversity.com | May 2022 1


603 DIVERSITY 6 0 3 D I V E R S I T Y. C O M

Contributing Writers


Rony Camille Courtney Daniel Chaya Harris Emily Heidt Yasamine Safarzadeh Carolna Valenti Contributing Photographer Robert Ortiz Contributing Artist Richard Haynes Editor/Publisher Ernesto Burden x5117 eburden@mcleancommunications.com


Features 16 Exploring Purposefully with Outdoor Afro 24 An Historic Estate with a Brand New Mission


30 Pride and Glory: Meet Robb Curry of Madear’s

Managing Editor Rick Broussard x5119 editors@603diversity.com Creative Services Director Jodie Hall x5122 jhall@nhbr.com Group Sales Director Kimberly Lencki x5154 sales@603diversity.com Sales Executive John Ryan x5120 jryan@nhbr.com Business/Sales Coordinator Heather Rood x5110 hrood@mcleancommunications.com Digital Operations and Marketing Manager




From the Publisher

36 Multicultural Marketplace


Mission and Underwriters


Our Contributors

38 Diversity Notes from the Granite State News Collaborative


Featured Conributor: Robert Ortiz

10 Internationally Trained Nurses Make a World of Difference 14 Profile: Meet Giselle Rodriguez

Billing Specialist/IT Coordinator Gail Bleakley x113 gailb@yankeepub.com

42 Events: Pride Week and Juneteenth 44 Shout Out: Victoria Carrington of NH Stay Work Play

Cover photo courtesy of Outdoor Afro.


LIVE FREE AND 2 603Diversity.com | May 2022

Morgen Connor x5149 mconnor@mcleancommunications.com


150 Dow Street, Manchester, NH 03101 (603) 624-1442, fax (603) 624-1310 E-mail: editors@603diversity.com Advertising: sales@603diversity.com © 2022 McLean Communications, LLC PRINTED IN NEW HAMPSHIRE

Diversity Brings a Unique Perspective It’s different here

At Shaheen & Gordon, we recognize that diversity and inclusivity are essential as we seek to: Enrich the lives of all our employees. Serve our clients in the best possible manner. Make change in the broader communities in which we work and live.

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

Welcome: Ronelle Tshiela!

As she joins our 2022 DEI summer internship class. Ronelle is co-founder of Black Lives Matter Manchester and a NH 200 honoree. shaheengordon.com

Concord • Dover • Manchester • Nashua • Portland


To illustrate the mission of 603 Diversity, Seacoast artist Richard Haynes has provided one of his recent designs to accompany our motto “Live Free and Rise.” 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


Live Free and Rise











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.


4 603Diversity.com | May 2022

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.

To learn about Enterprise Bank’s career opportunities visit EnterpriseBanking.com/careers or scan here.

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


Sheehan Phinney thanks the NH Bar Foundation for its attention to diversity in New Hampshire. We look forward to continuing the work that is already underway to promote a more diverse and inclusive New Hampshire legal community.

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

OUR CONTRIBUTORS Courtney Daniel Our Shoutout this month, featuring Stay Work Play’s Victoria Carrington was written 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.

Chaya Harris Writer and adventurer Chaya Harris was a volunteer for the regional office of Outdoor Afro when she wrote a story about hiking in the Granite State with NHPTV personality Willem Lange. Since then she has become a director with the group and she permitted us to excerpt her previous story to accompany our feature this month on Outdoor Afro.

Emily Heidt New Hampshire Magazine Associate Editor Emily Heidt was working on a piece for that publication on excellence in nursing, so it was right up her alley to research and write our story on the growing role for internationally trained nurses working in the Granite State (page 10).

Rony Camille Our feature story on the adventures and adventurers of Outdoor Afro was written by Rony Camille, a freelance journalist (and son of Haitian A media manager with a focus in digital editorial content and operations, Camille is currently the media program director for the Town of Tyngsborough, Massachusetts. 6 603Diversity.com | May 2022

Ernesto Burden Our cover story for this issue was written by the editor and publisher of 603 Diversity, Ernesto Burden. Along with his work on this and other publications for parent company Yankee Publishing, Burden has written two novels and a number of short stories.

Courtesy photos

immigrants) based in Nashua.

Yasamin Safarzadeh Yasamin Safarzadeh is a native Angelino and current resident of Manchester, NH. She is an artist, advocate, coordinator and educator. She hopes to secure a future for a more diverse young adult population in New Hampshire, in effect securing a more prosperous and effective future. DM her at phat_riot on Instagram

Carolina Valenti Carolina Valenti, who wrote calendar notes on Pride events in New Hampshire this June, is a Colombianborn 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 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 the lives of the ES

native peoples of the Peruvian

Courtesy photos

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


Amazon. He lives in Rochester TB AR





Live Free and Rise Artwork by Richard Haynes: artistrichardhaynes.com

603Diversity.com | May 2022 7

to the Graduates of

LNH Class of ‘22! Sudip Adhikari, Nashua Jessica Cantin, Manchester David Cloutier, Bedford Kathy Collinsworth, Keene Carisa Corrow, Penacook Beth Covino, Andover, MA Michelle Davis, Concord Ben Folsom, Hopkinton Lisa Fritz, Amherst Julianne Gadoury, Concord Lauren Getts, Manchester Karinne Jervis, North Hampton Brad Kulacz, Salisbury Kat LaBonte, Sanbornton Joseph Lascaze, Bedford MB Lufkin, Auburn Michael O’Neil, Bow Tina Kim Philibotte, Concord Christine Phillips, Bedford Maria Proulx, Exeter Alisha Robbins, Bow Daphne Schwab, New Castle Ali Sekou, Concord Lois Shea, Warner Devon Skerritt, Exeter Wayne Treamer, Goffstown Paul Voegelin, Woburn, MA Sarah Warecki, Concord Charlotte Williams, Bedford Catt Workman, Keene Paige Yeater, Bedford



obert Ortiz has been the primary photographer for 603 Diversity since our first issue in the fall of 2021. He began his photographic career at 15, capturing images of the people and scenery of his home town, Port Chester, NY. He graduated with a degree in Fine Arts and Communication from the University of Miami, eventually following his passion to work abroad as associate cinematographer for a documentary on the Orellana native people and their culture in the Amazon jungle of Peru. He discovered the people and culture of the Granite State during vacations here and in 1996 made the New Hampshire seacoast his home. His award-winning photography has continued to explore the exotic, whimsical, profound and enlightening moments that make for enduring images whether following his adventurous spirit to places like Ireland, Spain and Dominican Republic or photographing weddings at the most beautiful spots in our own state and region. He currently resides with his wife, Sherry, his son Alex who serves as the company mascot and Isabella, who serves as his photo assistant and may be queuing up her own career behind a camera.

Photo by Mark Stevens



Ortiz’s journalistic work appears throughout this issue of 603 Diversity and when we asked him for some images to show people what he does in his “free” time, he provided a portfolio of amazing shots taken by him on trips to Cuba between 2017 and 2019. “My trips to Cuba reinforced everything I thought about my fellow Cubano ancestors,” says Ortiz. “That tiny island is a diverse microcosm of food, music, and art. And exploring New Hampshire I realize that it’s these same qualities that make this tiny state so fascinating.” Ortiz can be reached via his Rochester studio, Robert Ortiz Photography & Videography, which he opened in 2004. robertortizphotography.com. 603 1

BUILDING A COMMUNITY OF INFORMED AND ENGAGED LEADERS www.leadershipnh.org 8 603Diversity.com | May 2022





5 1. “Tobacco field In Viñales, Cuba where the country-scape is stunning.” 2. “Art Deco buildings are abundant throughout Havana, Cuba.” 3. “Deterioration in Havana, Cuba creates artistic imagery everywhere.” 4. “Cuban walls are adorned with graffiti art giving the city a sureal feel.” 5. “Most Cubanos maintain their own cars and work on them right outside their homes.” 6. “The sun sets at the Malecón (Havana’s Pier) as a storm causes the waves to spill over the Havana’s main road.” 603Diversity.com | May 2022 9


We are doing this to talk about the lived experiences of nurses like us.” – Cigal Okojie, RN, Clinical Nurse

International Appeal



ursing leaders recognize a strong connection between a culturally diverse nursing workforce and the ability to provide safe, quality, culturally-concordant patient care. During a recent seminar titled “Understanding the Lived Experience of Internationally Educated Nurses at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center,” Jennifer Orbeso, DNP, Nursing and Diversity Inclusion Special-

n BY EMILY HEIDT 10 603Diversity.com | May 2022

ist; Cigal Okojie, RN, Clinical Nurse; and Nicolette Demeritte, RN, Clinical Nurse shared their stories of self-stewardship, struggles and success, and spoke about their knowledge and expertise about inclusive and borderless caring to educate providers around the Granite State about the trajectory of international nursing at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC). “As we come out of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a new shortage of millions of nurses and we know that our health-

care landscape in this space is screaming for more people to make our hospitals and other facilities function day in and day out,” shares Jennifer Orbeso. “International nurses are hired for their expertise and professional experience, and it is clear that the system is in dire need of our community.” Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s International Nurses Committee (INC) was formed in 2018 to further ensure the hospital’s commitment to build a patient care community that recognizes the value of human diversity, and the committee

photos by Mark Washburn and Kata Sasvari

is now one of the leaders in promoting the Diverse Workforce Initiatives at DHMC. After doing their own survey, the INC found that international nurses are primarily women between 30 and 45 years old, and come from countries ranging from North America, Africa, the Caribbean and Far East Asia with around two years of professional experience. They also found that common characteristics of the international nurse include being strong-willed, motivated, smart, flexible and optimistic. “When we think about what it means to be strong-willed and motivated, I think that it would have to start with the journey itself,” says Nicolette Demeritte. “In order to carry these out, you have to have determination in yourself and for your family. We are always willing to fill in wherever there is a need wherever we can be of assistance.” Shared values of the international nurse include being family-oriented, having a happy disposition and being inclined to celebration, as well as having shared interests of learning a new culture, meeting new people and focusing on personal and professional growth. “We are not afraid to learn about new cultures and experience new things, like possibly even shearing a sheep,” notes Nicolette. “In doing that, I know I have personally met so many friends at DHMC, and I think that is something that we all have as a common characteristic.” When an international nurse first starts to pursue a career at DHMC, they are met with the pre-departure challenges of experience, expenses and exams. Once they arrive, they go through stages ranging from the honeymoon stage to the culture shock stage. “Learning that patients prefer that you call them by their names was a culture shock to me,” says Cigal Okojie. “I would call them ‘sir’ or ‘ma’am,’ and they would ask where I was from. I consider it rude to call someone around my mom’s age by her name, so that took a year or more to get used to calling my patients, and even peers, by their name. You have to unlearn a >>

We are always willing to fill in wherever there is a need wherever we can be of assistance.” – Nicolette Demeritte, RN, Clinical Nurse

International nurses are hired for their expertise and professional experience, and it is clear that the system is in dire need.” – Jennifer Orbeso, DNP, Nursing and Diversity Inclusion Specialist

603Diversity.com | May 2022 11

UPFRONT little bit of what you brought over from your home culture.” International nurses have a thematic lived experience when they start working at DHMC that includes focusing on relationships with their preceptors, patient interaction, colleague interaction and open communication, nursing leadership support and contributions to their community. For Cigal, part of her experience is making sure she looks at her peers, coworkers and patients as family. “We consider our patients family, therefore our interactions with them is like interaction you would have with your father or mother. Treat them like you would treat yourself on that bed that day.” As international nurses start to integrate into the DHMC community, it’s important to be aware of challenges in areas like variance in academic preparation, safe and effective communication, medication safety and abundance of technology and new equipment as well as electronic

charting. Implementing a strategic plan that addresses clinical, leadership, and organizational competencies and creating a transition evaluation can help combat these problems. Understanding that the retention of a high-quality, talented and diverse workforce begins at recruitment, and that there is a correlation between diverse workforce and high-quality patient care will also help create an inclusive workplace, one that makes employees more valued and welcomed now and in the future. “One way to make an international nurse feel included is to educate the unit or floor about the nurse’s home country,” says Nicolette. “Include fun facts about the country where the international nurse came from. It would be nice for someone to walk onto a unit to see their country represented in that way. Don’t shy away from things that you are unfamiliar with or outside of your comfort zone. We are very approachable and love being seen, accepted and appreciated.”

As the session wrapped up, the chat box was filled with comments like “thank you for helping our international nurses transition” and “I’m so excited for this opportunity to learn and share more about diversity,” and the final slide reminded attendees that, “Our world has become smaller. Our differences are exactly the same.” As Cigal shared, “We are doing this to talk about the lived experiences of nurses like us and so that we can incorporate that into the onboarding process and help nurses coming into DHMC in the future.” 603

The International Nurses Committee is committed to grow nurse leaders who champion patient safety and innovation through diversity and inclusion. Connect with them at International-ERG@hitchcock.org.

At NH Mutual Bancorp, diversity, equity and inclusion are at the core of who we are. We value the diverse and unique individuals who live and work in our communities, embrace all differences and strive to create a culture where everyone is welcomed and valued. We are committed to dedicating our efforts; including leadership focus and investing our financial resources, to promote diversity, equality and inclusion across our work environments and within the communities we serve. Doing so, we believe, makes us a stronger, more successful and sustainable organization over the long-term.


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s the second generation daughter of a mother born in Colombia and a father from Puerto Rico, Giselle Rodriguez was right at home in the Bronx where she grew up. “The Bronx was probably intimidating to outsiders,” says Rodriguez. It was a diverse neighborhood with a colorful and exciting blend of cultures. Everyone spoke different languages and came from different backgrounds. “That diversity brought us together as a family,” she says. “We shared and celebrated the different traditions that we brought to our block.” After high school, her parents moved the family to Puerto Rico. Rodriguez attended school and worked on perfecting her Spanish. Ten years later, she returned to the United States with her own new family and settled in Nashua where other relatives lived. In 2008, shortly after having her third child, newly divorced and a single mother of three young children, Rodriguez was often working two part-time jobs while pursuing a degree. One of her children required open heart surgery and she was able to rely on the kindness and flexibility of her employers. With headline news of the 2008 market crash, foreclosed homes, and rampant job losses, Giselle was overwhelmed and fearful. She was struggling herself with finances, mental health, and stability. But gradually she pulled through, with the help of New Hampshire’s benefit programs, grants, support and public health assistance that she received. “I didn’t want to become another statistic of a Hispanic Single-Mom. I convinced myself this would be only temporary,” says Rodriguez. In 2013, while working in a dental office, she had only one class left for her Bachelor’s degree when she was notified that her final grant had fallen through. Unable to pay for the class up front, she was preparing to postpone graduation when, to her surprise, she received a statement in the mail stating the bill had been paid, with a note, “You got this. I believe in you and know you will pay it forward.” That anonymous message and gift, combined with other financial assistance and support she had received over the years, inspired Rodriguez to a refocus her efforts with passion and determination. In 2015, she joined Northeast Delta Dental, first as a Provider

14 603Diversity.com | May 2022

Services Team Leader and then as a Professional Relations Specialist. One of her current responsibilities is to build strong relationships with the dental community. In addition, she serves as Spanish/English interpreter and translator at benefit fairs, open enrollment and other events. Rodriguez voiced her interest in volunteerism to management and the company funded her enrollment in the prestigious Hoffman Haas Fellowship, a program designed to inspire, mentor, and prepare young leaders with the skills to serve on a board. Armed with these skills, Rodriguez was named a board member of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) a cause dear to her heart because of a close relative with Type 1 Diabetes. She also served as board member and secretary for Positive Street Art, a nonprofit committed to inspiring a passion for urban arts in a productive way. She is pursuing her Masters in Industrial and Organizational Psychology at Harvard University’s Extension School, taking advantage of the N.E. Delta Dental’s tuition reimbursement program. None of this would have been possible without support from the State of New Hampshire, the encouragement and flexibility of managers and coworkers at Northeast Delta Dental, and the mentorship she received from within the company and from leadership program executives, says Rodriguez. “I would never have accomplished what I have without the support and mentoring I received,” claims Giselle. “I encourage men and women who are struggling to get ahead, to find a mentor, and set goals. Hitting rock bottom is the worst thing that could happen to you, only if you decide to stay there.” 603

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603Diversity.com | May 2022 15

Connecting with the outdoors WITH INTENTION AND PURPOSE


Hiking on Mt. Pierce. Photo courtesy of Outdoor Afro.


n a cold winter day in the White Mountains National Forest, a group of Black women scale the frozen Arethusa Falls, one of the state’s highest freefall waterfalls in the state. Some are screaming in terror, never having climbed ice before, yet laughing and having the time of their lives while

loudly singing “WAP” (by Cardi B featuring Megan Thee Stallion) “Everyone knows the WAP song, and it was something that was just very beautiful,” says Destinee Waiters, one of the climbers that day. It’s all just another spontaneous reaction of people >> encountering their fears in the wild outdoors. 603Diversity.com | May 2022 17

Courtesy photos

The organization behind this tour, Outdoor Afro, has collected plenty of examples of similar celebrations along the trail to adventure ever since Rue Mapp, founder and CEO, came up with the idea for an online program designed to connect people to the outdoors and eliminate a misconception that folks in the Black and BIPOC communities don’t do outdoor activities. That assumption is far from the truth if you just look at the numbers. Now in its 13th year, the nonprofit organization’s network has taken shape in various communities from Maine to California with 60,000 participants and 100-plus volunteer leaders connected through the Meetup.com platform. Rooted in enjoying nature and building community, the group aims at challenging perceptions whenever they venture into the wilderness. Outdoor Afro has about 1,300 participants scattered throughout the Metro-Boston and New England area according to Chaya Harris, the organization’s National Program Director and a volunteer leader for Boston. Harris, a Boston-native and former educator with Boston Public Schools, frequently leads groups to New Hampshire and explores the various natural landscapes that our state has to >> offer. “We have access to so many spaces,” she

Above: Destinee Waiters full of love on Mt. Israel. At right: Mardi Fuller and Chaya Harris welcome new friends as well as frequent participants like Destinee Waiters (far left) and Tony Taylor (second from right).

18 603Diversity.com | May 2022

At top: Volunteer leader Mardi Fuller and team hiking Mt. Garfield. Above: Charly Baptiste (left) and Chaya Harris resting along the trail.

603Diversity.com | May 2022 19

says, “You can drive two hours in each direction, and you can find something you can enjoy.” “Something” range from checking out lilacs at the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University to hiking Mount Washington and organizers are constantly dreaming up new adventures. Outdoor Afro aims to please everyone with an urge to try something new out in the natural world. Even fishing. Harris described how one participant with interest in fishing wanted to hold an event, so the group partnered with the U.S. Fishing and Wildlife. Fishing wasn’t anywhere on Harris’s bucket list. “I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it,” Harris said. “I actually enjoyed it.” Whenever they are exploring the Granite State, there’s always a little Black history lesson with a New Hampshire connection to offer the participants. For instance, the fact that Harriet E. Wilson was the first Black woman to author and publish a novel. ‘Our Nig; or Sketches From the Life of A Free Black’ was published by Wilson in 1859 and Wilson was from Milford, New Hampshire. According to volunteer Scott Mays, sharing such a small

At top: Annual snow tubing at McIntyre Ski Area. Above: Ice climbers braving the cold at Cathedral Ledge proudly display the Outdoor Afro flag. Far right: Ice climbers preparing near Frankenstein Cliffs.

20 603Diversity.com | May 2022

piece of New Hampshire Black History and how it’s tied to whatever activity they are doing is always eye-opening. “It’s beautiful to see the reaction on people’s faces,” he says. “They are soaking it up and all want to know more about our history.” Mays, who now lives in Washington D.C., was previously the volunteer leader for New Hampshire. He worked as a mathematics teacher and assistant athletic director at Nashua High School North for a decade, so he appreciates every teaching moment. “The best place to learn is through family and friends and events. This sort of history is not really taught in schools as much; it’s not connected. So, we have to get it in our own ways and pass it along,” he says. He’s aware that things learned in exciting new settings often make deeper impressions, connecting with enjoyment of the occasion. “They have a good time and hear about the book and it’s always ‘Wow, I never knew that,’” says Mays. A native of Philadelphia, Mays yearning to connect with a group of Black folks who spend time outdoors together was intentional when he initially moved to New Hampshire.

Rooted in enjoying nature and building community, the group aims at challenging perceptions whenever they venture into the wilderness. His journey in becoming a volunteer leader was organic. “When I moved to New Hampshire 13 years ago, my then-girlfriend and I were seeking Black people who wanted to be outside,” he said. And searching online he found them. Ultimately, Mays got connected with Outdoor Afro and Harris through MeetUp.com. Soon he was trained and leading the New Hampshire slate of events. Anthony Taylor of Windham, NH, a group participant, understands the consciousness and reservations that many Black and BIPOC people could feel when they are outdoors in an area that they may not be familiar with. When they hold events, they move as a group. “With hiking, there’s no A-Team or B-Team,” he says. “We move as a collective. The planning is very thorough.” He now has great memories from his experiences on the trail. “It’s a safe and learning environment,” he reports. Destinee Waiters agrees. Waiters, an associate general counsel at Suffolk University in Boston, grew up in the outdoors in San Antonio, Texas. She spent >>

603Diversity.com | May 2022 21

her teenage summers as a camp counselor for special needs children. She describes herself as a caretaker. “I spent a lot of time outside,” she said.

code-switching when you are trying some-

ing to get more folks from New Hampshire

thing brand new to you or something that is

and intergenerational families and cultures

just hard.”

to experience the outdoors.

She recalls another time when the group

And no. You don’t need to have an afro to

“When I think about it, I‘m always the

stayed at a Notch Hostel in Woodstock.

join Outdoor Afro. “Anyone can join us,” said

safety-check girl,” she says, referring to

“They are the most especially cool people

Chaya. “Nature is for everyone.”

her tendency to over-prepare a bit. “I’m

that you’ll ever meet,” she says, noting their

probably annoying. I always have a ton of snacks.” She says this is probably something she picked up during her summer camp days, “… when my mom would send me a care package.” Waiters says the friendly solidarity within the greater outdoor community creates a

“ Anyone can join us.

Nature is for everyone.” – Chaya Harris, national program director

The mission has drawn attention from the corporate world. Over the years, the organization has earned support from companies such as REI, Nissan and The North Face. Last year in response to the alarming number of drownings of Black children (a preventable tragedy tied to the historic prohibition of Black access to beaches and public pools), the group partnered with

sense of comfort and camaraderie. “When we went ice climbing,” she recalls, “most of

dedication to hiking and inclusivity. “When

global footwear brand KEEN and The Y to

us are unambiguous Black within the group,

you show up there, you are greeted by the

offer swim lesson scholarships with a goal

and there was another group of women

LGBTQ flag, Black Lives Matter flags. You

of helping 100,000 kids and caregivers learn

there, and they were so excited to see us. It

feel that you belong there. Whether you

to swim over the next 10 years.

was super cool.”

hike, ski or snowboard, you are welcomed.”

Outdoor Afro welcomes everyone to join

Today, Harris plans and executes some of

in and support its many year-round events,

The solidarity within the Outdoor Afro

Outdoor Afro’s national initiatives as their

programs, leadership training and cam-

new to the outdoors. “The non-tokenism

national program director, while still work-

paigns. For more info, visit www.outdoor

is super meaningful because you are not

ing on expanding the Boston group and aim-

afro.com. 603

groups is also a boon to those who are

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to us.

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Find a mortgage that works for you at NHHomeownership.org 22 603Diversity.com | May 2022




Photo by Joe Klementovich


Chaya Harris penned a story for New Hampshire Magazine back in 2019, just before the pandemic struck. She was a volunteer at the time but now is a director at Outdoor Afro. Her assignment was to follow NH PBS personality (and beloved author) Willem Lange on one of his many outdoor hikes and write about the experience. The following is an excerpt from our September issue in which Harris’s story first appeared: I kept glancing up the trail. I worried about the unpredictable weather we’d likely face as I led the group on our first time up Tuckerman Ravine. “You’ve never done this before, right?” Willem asked me. “I have a feeling you’re gonna do just fine.” In this brief time, Willem’s amiability and authenticity were easy to sense. Just like you often see on his show, he sang old songs that spurred lots of questions and chuckles. He made me feel like the rocky summit at 6,280 feet was easily within our reach. Perhaps it’s because of our experience as educators — Willem as an English teacher and Outward Bound instructor, me formerly as a fifth grade teacher — that we both love a good story. I later learned that he’s experienced a myriad of runs, ziplining, cook-offs and even a wedding on Mt. Washington, and yet as I told him our

story, he was fascinated. I was happy to have a NH Black history story to share on the way up. Ona “Oney” Judge was a young woman who escaped bondage under our first presidential family, the Washingtons, in 1796, and later settled in Portsmouth, NH, where the residents helped defend her right to emancipation. She married, had three children and managed to earn a living using her sewing skills. Despite living in poverty, Judge exemplified the motto “Live Free or Die.” We wearily ended our story for the day with hugs, gratitude and, of course, a song. “Until we meet again …” he crooned, which I would soon discover is his signature closing. Somehow, after about five miles with more than a 4,000foot elevation gain, my legs felt lighter than when we began that morning. 603


Call f0r Artists! What: Street fair and art market Where: The Opera Block of Hanover St. When: September 17th & 18th, 2022

Follow the QR code to the application form for more details!

Questions? Reach out! Laura Zorawowicz Festival Director laurazorawowicz@palacetheatre.org

603Diversity.com | May 2022 23

24 603Diversity.com | May 2022

A rebirth and a new direction FOR KIMBALL JENKINS


t’s overcast outside the Kimball Jenkins Mansion in Concord; the weather can’t make up its mind whether it wants to snow more or give us spring. I enjoy the seasons in this region — predictably unpredictable and varying. There is rarely stagnancy of scenery in a place with four seasons. The mansion provides a shelter from the weather and that sense of security infuses the activities taking place and the lessons imparted within. The art class I teach today is half in Farsi, which is a sister language of Dari, and half in English. Dari and Pashto are the languages our new Afghani refugees speak, and I have two Afghani girls in my class — a heterogeneous mixture of young people attracted to the opportunity to create art and challenge themselves. Today, we were finishing up our mural

practice work; 8-by-5-foot panels coated in layers of paint, collage, ink, graphite and other various mixed mediums. It is a great privilege of mine to teach this teen intensive “Co-LAB” on Thursdays here at Kimball Jenkins. I am a native Angelino and transplant to New Hampshire, and my undergraduate program was concept and theory based. I seek to pass on my knowledge of challenging, inclusive and contemporary art making to all of my pupils. All of us, together, are preparing for large-scale summer and fall mural installation projects around the city and the teens are engaged and electrified with such a fast moving, diverse and global class structure. I have called the session to a close, the homies are putting away their supplies but one of my Afghani homegirls (let’s call her >>


603Diversity.com | May 2022 25

kaghe khavahad shod. “It will be crooked.” mah kaghe rah doost dareem “We like crooked,” I reply. It separates 26 603Diversity.com | May 2022

You are welcome here, “ and you will grow here. These are grounds where everyone can find home.” – Yasamin Safarzadeh, program director

us from the machine. (Although a machine can synthesize crooked now as well, but I do not mention this.) “X, I want this to be your idea of this image, not a book’s idea of this image,” I say in my broken and childish Farsi. She tries again, and begins to draw the image, gaining confidence as she goes. It is like this for many of the students. The introduction of graduate-level artwork and theory for these teen and young adults is uncomfortable but exciting. Individuals exhibit varying levels of skill and desire to immerse themselves in a challenging environment. They are growing in their methods of artistic approach and exploration. By the end of class, I have to promise X that we will have many more opportunities like this, otherwise I doubt she would have put down her brush. The message of Thursday’s teen Co-Lab for her and all who come: “You are welcome here, and you will grow here.” At stately, historic Kimball Jenkins, rare and beautiful scenes like this play out daily. The wooded lawns and build-

Photos by Robert Ortiz

“X”) won’t put down her brush. It’s coated in a clear gloss acrylic medium, and she is running thick globular polymers over a Euclidean form sourced from a book about Carmen Herrera, an artist who celebrated minimalism, color and geometry in her work. Herrera sold her first painting at 89 and went on to live until she was 106, meeting her end in February of this year. Earlier, we researched and hauled reference material back to our studio from the library on the grounds of Kimball Jenkins to find images or symbols that are antithetical to the backdrops we had created on our panels. These contrasting images allowed the artists to challenge those backdrops with jarring effects. X had selected one of Herrera’s geometric forms to work with but said she could not render her chosen image because:

Courtesy Photos

ings provide a space of infinite promise to those who attend the myriad of on-site and remote opportunities KJ provides. The campus also serves as a site for weddings. I have never thought of how many ecstatic moments we nurture until this moment. That being said, there is a newly realized grand vision, taking shape in restructuring and enhancing the future of Kimball Jenkins. Every day I walk these lustrous corridors and lush grounds and feel an elation in knowing that I, a brown, queer, neurodivergent street kid with a sailor’s mouth, have been invited to help revitalize this remarkable place, attracting and guiding new generations into theory-based, insightful and contemporary art practices. Kimball Jenkins, originally built between 1790 and 1882 and gifted to the city of Concord by Carolyn Jenkins, was recently re-branded from its previous identity as Kimball Jenkins Estate and School of Art. Jenkins was the last of her line, a thespian and art aficionado, and she decreed that her home be used for the arts, education and historic preservation. Often, I compare the estate to Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum. It is a living and engaged relic which houses shifting and varied exhibitions, be it salons, dances, featured artists, film screenings, mixed media installations, murder mysteries, drag shows — ­ at one point Kimball Jenkins even held séances! The space is multifaceted, but it has to serve its directives, creating a thriving art environment which celebrates the history of the grounds where it stands. Fulfilling that mission now enables the staff and board of directors to partner with local organizations, artists and knowledgeable peoples to bring forth the language and culture of our Native ancestors and of our Black and marginalized communities and push those erased narratives to the forefront! The past informs the present at KJ. Crucial to the success of this effort is the intensity and intentionality of Julianne Gadoury, Kimball Jenkins’ executive director. She accepted her position just two years ago to help steward the estate into an inclusive place which serves the increasingly diverse needs of the community. “I want this campus to contribute to the city and state I want to live in, and where I want my kids to live. That means creating a space for people to learn, have dialogue, see new perspectives, and to fit the needs of the community,” says Gadoury. “Right now, what we need is to put in double and triple the effort to create spaces for our Black and brown neighbors to feel welcomed and seen, and for more diverse >>

A recent art exhibit at Kimball Jenkins titled “Finding Home: Portraits Memories and Art of Immigrants” featured photographer Becky Field and fine art painter Jozimar Matimano. The works illustrate and honor the journeys of new Americans. 603Diversity.com | May 2022 27

28 603Diversity.com | May 2022

reach to BIPOC organizations, retirement homes, sober living homes, individuals in foster care. Each event, each decision is to honor the promise that this space is truly for all — and especially for those most in need! We seek out promising new artists from pressing backgrounds who will directly benefit from our residency program wherein we provide mentorship, studio space, funding, shows, and access to our social and digital network. All this yields the new life thriving at Kimball Jenkins — a wild, vivid and nurturing environment hidden in a secluded historical district of Concord. Diversity is a truth we must work tirelessly to normalize. The arts can serve as a healing embrace for young folks who are under pressure and in danger of turning to unhealthy sexual practices, to gun violence, drug addiction and dependence on entities outside of themselves without pathways to success and usable skill sets.

Photos by Robert Ortiz

populations to move here. As a cultural institution, we can play a significant role in contributing to a welcoming state.” Every day, as I walk to my office, past the brick parapet, flanked by the Yellow Art Building and the welcoming Carriage House, I feel the mansion loom over me, I think about what a rare and promising place Kimball Jenkins is in a state like New Hampshire. There is no official entity to hold organizations accountable to their promises of diversity and inclusion, especially entities which live in the world of art — a predominantly ethnocentric and male-celebrating realm. But at Kimball Jenkins, every day the work of diversity and inclusivity gets done. After some years of introspection by the board and some years of pandemic, the campus is alive with people who benefit from art workshops, exciting live performances, professional development and free-form public events. We conduct out-

now, what we need “ Right is to put in double and triple the effort to create spaces for our Black and brown neighbors to feel welcomed and seen, and for more diverse populations to move here. As a cultural institution, we can play a significant role in contributing to a welcoming state.” – Julianne Gadoury, executive director

As director of programming at Kimball Jenkins, I feel it is vital to create safe spaces in our communities for those who feel unseen and unheard. We must move beyond featuring the same token person to show an organization as being ‘diverse.’ As a matter of fact, this practice has been hurtful and ensures an unbalanced view of diversity and the integration it provides. The work of inclusion means actually recreating the culture of organizations to be diverse and inclusive and to feel safe for all of us outliers. Cultivating a more multifaceted cultural environment will help ensure a healthier future for innovative and imaginative organizations. I work here at Kimball Jenkins, but I also share in a benefit offered to everyone we serve — my intentions, ideas and perspective are nurtured and amplified. I am given resources, support and assistance in order to ensure the success of my vision. I feel very privileged in having come to this space.

Like many students and others who have found solace and inspiration here, my years spent in New Hampshire have often been traumatizing and debilitating to my sense of self and well-being. It feels good to be doing the good work, and to be doing it someplace which fosters healing and autonomy. Kimball Jenkins Estate once housed one of Concord’s most premier families. Today the estate is reshaped, re-appropriated and seems perfectly designed to act as the conduit and incubator of this kind of diverse and innovative art and programming that is just beginning to take root here in the heart of our new New Hampshire. As I said to my young student X,

ein zameeni ast keh beh hameh ta’alob darad “These are grounds where everyone can find home.” 603

603Diversity.com | May 2022 29

Conversations with

Robb Curry

A driving force behind Queen City Pride on life, family and the namesake of his popular Madear’s restaurant in Pembroke.


30 603Diversity.com | May 2022


t the end of the day, I’m a family man,” says Robb Curry. He’s sitting across the table from me at Industry East in Manchester wearing glasses with vivid blue acrylic frames that match bright blue hoop earrings in each ear. When he speaks his voice travels octaves, full of drama and enthusiasm, his hands shape sigils in the air, his words spill into the noise of the bar with Joycean stream-of-consciousness abandon. We’ve been talking for a little more than two hours and he shows no sign of tiring. >>

Robb Curry in his home away from home: Madear’s in Pembroke 603Diversity.com | May 2022 31

MAKING A SCENE Robb and Kyle love to get out and about. Top left is Robb’s selfie with Kyle and Robb’s step daughters Jules and Sydney at Mack’s apples, top right is Kyle and Robb in their chef jackets in the old Manchester, Hanover St. location of Madear’s, at left is Robb in heels at Queen City Pride and above is a nice portrait of the power couple. (Photos courtesy of Robb Curry)

32 603Diversity.com | May 2022

It may explain how he can work a full-time job, parent, grand-parent, advocate for social causes, found and maintain a festival like Manchester’s Queen City Pride, be a student, and own and operate a restaurant, all more or less at the same time. The day we sit down for drinks and an interview at one of Manchester’s coolest craft cocktail spots, Robb’s in the midst of celebrating his birthday month, March. He describes the need for a full 31 days of birthday as less a matter of grandiosity and more a function of having such a large and geographically far-flung family — both biological and curated — and wanting to make sure he gets to spend time with all of them. This draw to family reflects how deeply Robb is influenced by his own biological family and growing up in Baton Rouge, the capital of Louisiana, and the chosen family that he has built around himself, including his “house family,” which he describes as a familiar component of the gay community’s subculture. “I have several siblings through there,” he says, and notes that the bonds are as important to him as the bonds of blood relatives. In fact, he recalls one year when prepping for a birthday celebration his brother using a disparaging slur about some of his planned house-family guests and it causing a rift that lasted three years. March in Baton Rouge is true spring, Robb says, with sunny days and the beginning of what New Englanders think of as real heat. Growing up in that climate could explain why Robb dislikes the cold, but not why he loves the snow as much as he does. He’s so fond of snow that he sees it, falling as it often does in mid-March in New England, as a birthday present from a higher power. “I know God loves me, because he gives me the snow in the middle of the spring. There’s never been a time I did not get snow the week of my birthday,” Robb says. He’s not a skier, a snowboarder or even a shoveler, however.

He prefers snow he can commune with more gently. “I like the look of it, I like the feel of it. I don’t to do any work with it.” I’m working toward drawing a line from Robb’s childhood through to his activism in Manchester, and specifically his work on Queen City Pride, but it’s not easy (though it is a lot of fun). Robb sees connections everywhere, and each leads to a new story, a new thread. Those leaps are something he acknowledges his extended family, especially his life partner, co-parent and business partner Kyle Davis, help to manage. Kyle’s an engineer with an eye for process and detail. “They’re family, they’re friends, they’re lovers, but they’re also like my handler. Because they’re like, ‘Okay, you have this, you need to do this, da-da-da.’ And I’m like, got it, boomboom-boom.” “I come up with these crazy ideas; Kyle indulges me in them. He helps me shape them. Logistics. I’m like, if I put it out there, it’ll work out. Kyle’s like, ‘no, no, no, that’s not the way it works.’” In this way, Robb gets a lot done. He attributes his momentum to his grandfather on his mother’s side, Robert O’Conner, and his grandmother on his father’s side, Martha Curry Sullivan, or as the family called her, Madear. “My grandfather is the inspiration for my drive. That’s why there’s no ‘no, you can’t do that.’ He was a mechanic. He knew how to do all these things. But he couldn’t read or write.” Despite the lack of education, O’Conner helped provide for the extended family, and always ensured Robb had the things he needed. Even as Robb’s mother suffered drug addiction and Robb lost his childhood home and moved to a tough neighborhood, his grandfather remained a powerful force in Robb’s life. “Madear caters to the part of confidence that I have to be who I am. Where most queer >> little Black boys are shy and bashful, I

My grandfather is “ the inspiration for

my drive. That’s why there’s no ‘no, you can’t do that.’”

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don’t have any of that. I’m cocky and confident,” Robb says. Madear was also instrumental in his coming out as gay while a senior in high school, and supporting him through the family blowback that followed. That combination of grandparental energies has led Robb through an array of adventures culminating in Manchester. He works full time for a trucking company. He’s studying business management with a focus on community and project management. He went to school for dance: “I danced for 14 years, liturgical and modern. Touch of

Madear caters to the “ part of confidence that I have to be who I am. Where most queer little Black boys are shy and bashful, I don’t have any of that. I’m cocky and confident.”

Robb in front of Madear’s Southern Eatery & Bakery at its new location in Pembroke. 34 603Diversity.com | May 2022

ballet,” he says. He notes he also, “did some stripping. At six feet, 175 pounds, I was the only chocolate boy with all the fixings in New England.” He and Kyle opened a celebrated restaurant in Manchester, Madear’s Southern Eatery & Bakery, named for Robb’s grandmother. They eventually moved it to Pembroke seeking more space and more parking. Financial mistakes, which Robb acknowledges, trying to handle the whole accounting side on their own, left them owing the NH Department of Revenue, and they’ve been forced to close temporarily while they work on raising the funds to pay the state. And now Robb is focused on this year’s Queen City Pride festival, and for the first time, a Pride parade. Queen City Pride became a nonprofit 501(c)(3) in December of 2021 and established a board with Robb as its chair and

Kyle, with his knack for details, the executive director. Other board members include Dr. Christopher Matthews, Alison Batey, Jessica Cantin, Scott Cloutier, Chloé LaCasse and Marcus Ponce de Leon. “Queen City Pride’s founders felt that the greater Manchester area needed an annual celebration for the LGBTQ+ community, like most metropolitan areas around the world,” the news release about the incorporation on queencitypridenh.org states. “The turnout, support, excitement and love has been greater than anticipated; the community embraced it and wanted more. Over the last two years, the group has grown, even through the COVID-19 pandemic, into something neither of the founders could have envisioned — a 3,000-person festival along the Merrimack River with over 60 vendors, 5 food trucks, 10 youth activities and over 50 local sponsors. Better known to most as Pride Festival 2021.” This year’s festival will be Saturday, June 18, 2022, from noon to 6 p.m. The plan is for the festival to begin this year with a parade. “My ultimate dream for Pride as a parade,” Robb says, “is we start at one end of the street with 25 people and by the time we get to Arms Park, there are a thousand people behind us of all races, genders, orientations.” That will be a huge set of strides from the inception of the festival. “Pride started here at 2016,” Robb says. “Kyle and I, we had moved here and realized, we ought to be making a life here. Instead of going back and forth. We should have a small little party. A block party. Do something small and call it a day.” But they eventually saw a greater demand and a greater need. The need, Robb says, “wasn’t just ‘saying’ representation but a need to bring the gay community back together.” He says there’s a large closeted gay community in New Hampshire and a remaining stigma. He also sees a need to bring people together, regardless of their race, gender or orientation, to begin conversations: conversations that help people understand each other in their shared humanity. The kind of conversations he and his Madear had that provided him with support through his teenage years. 603


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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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603 NEWS 603 Diversity: NH News Briefs A journalistic look at our state of diversity from the reporters at the Granite State News Collaborative.

Land Acknowledgement Bill Fails As cities and towns throughout the state celebrate their 400th settlement anniversaries over the next few years, HB 1357 would have included a symbolic acknowledgement in state law that New Hampshire now stewards what are Native homelands. “Our state history is diverse, spanning through times of war and peace and we cannot discuss the formation of this state without the inclusion of the Indigenous land occupation and contributions,” Denise and Paul Pouliot of the Cowasuck Band of the Pennacook Abenaki People, who helped draft the bill language, said in a statement to legislators who were considering the bill. Paul Pouliot said the legislation is consistent with what many churches, museums, schools and other institutions have already done by adopting land acknowledgement statements.

But, HB 1357 was killed in the House March 16 after a 183-151 vote. The Executive Departments and Administration committee had previously recommended the bill fail on a 10-8 vote. Chair Rep. Tony Lekas, a Hudson Republican, wrote in the committee report that while it’s It is “indisputable fact that there were peoples in the land which we now know as New Hampshire,” the committee was concerned the bill might be construed as an avenue for land claims in years to come — “We can’t know how it will be seen or used in the future.” He added that the committee received testimony from a tribal genealogist with concerns about which specific indigenous people should be included in the acknowledgement. “If people want to acknowledge and honor the peoples who were here before us it would be more effective to organize public celebrations of that history. That will likely be more

One local attempt to study the impact of bail reform never happened, highlighting NH’s data problem In 2019, the state of New Hampshire set out to measure the impact of a bail-reform law that took effect a year earlier. It was an important question. Since the law’s passage, supporters and critics have argued over its effects. Police have said too many defendants are missing court dates or committing new crimes while out on bail. The ACLU and other advocates say those claims are largely anecdotal, without real data backing them up. The state-commissioned

38 603Diversity.com | May 2022

study could have provided some answers. But it was never done. In March 2020, the Pretrial Justice Institute — the Maryland-based organization the state had contracted with for the analysis — withdrew because it couldn’t get the data it needed, according to a letter the Collaborative obtained through a public-records request. “Due to difficulties experienced by the jails in providing us the data needed to do our analysis, we have not been able to

begin the project,” Tenille Patterson, one of the organization’s executive partners, wrote to the N.H. Department of Justice’s Grants Management Unit. “Moreover, it appears that those difficulties cannot be overcome in a way that would allow the project to proceed.” Bail reform is often cited by racial and social justice advocates as necessary for a more equitable criminal justice system. The study would have analyzed jail populations before and after the 2018 law,

effective than making a change to a statute that few are likely to see,” Lekas wrote. Looking to change jobs? Want to start a new career? The Pouliots, who go by the tribal titles Want to make a difference in the lives of others? Sag8moskwa and Sag8mo or lead female We offer excellent hourly wages, and male speakers, said House Bill 1357 ® was a symbolic opportunity to “address a • Business Excellence Award a •full Senior Gems package, Program benefit training, and historic oversight and to share the state’s • Superior In-Home Care • Parkinson’s Program educational opportunities. • Dependable, Trustworthy, • Veteran’s Program past in an inclusive way.” Experienced Caregivers • Serving Hillsborough, “I think the land acknowledgement is • Complimentary Assessments Merrimack,ARockingham & A diverse workforce. 603 Recovery Friendly workplace. really important, said Anne Jennison, Strafford Counties • Full Range of Services, 24x7 Apply on-line: https://www.seniorhelpers.com/nh/se-new-hampshire/careers/ chair of the Commission for Native American Affairs, in an interview before the For More Information: 603.583.4580 bill was killed, “because if it’s adopted, Senior Helpers of and if it’s used at state events, people Southern New Hampshire are going to hear ‘the Abenaki people 62 Portsmouth Avenue, Suite 4 past and present.’ They’re going to hear Stratham, New Hampshire 03885 ‘and present.’ It’s just a subtle thing that 603-583-4580 I think will permeate people’s conscious• Business Excellence Award • Senior Gems® Program ness after a while.”



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as well as its impact on court appearance rates, according to the letter. It’s not clear whether the study also would have looked at rates of reoffending while on bail. The topic remains relevant. This session, the N.H. Legislature is considering bills that would make the state’s bail laws more restrictive in some circumstances. – PAUL CUNO-BOOTH, GRANITE STATE NEWS COLLABORATIVE

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E x e te r He a lt h Re sou r ce s i s a n E qu a l Op po r tu n i ty E mp lo ye r 603Diversity.com | May 2022 39

603 NEWS BRIEFS A year after Keene’s racial-justice report, work continues to make it a reality A little more than a year after the ad hoc Racial Justice and Community Safety Committee in Keene wrapped up its work in March 2021 and issued a report containing more than 30 recommendations to make the city a more equitable and inclusive place, officials and stakeholders say some progress has been made, but more needs to be done. The Keene racial justice committee began meeting in July 2020, a month after dozens of community members shared their personal experiences of racism, ideas for change and hopes for the future at a public forum on Zoom. After a series of meetings and public forums, the committee issued its report, with numerous specific recommendations

for city government, the school system, local employers and other institutions to consider. The report was unequivocal in its call for action, citing testimony from local residents “who experience racist slurs, aloof comments about slavery, school curricula that are inadequate regarding the important experience and influence of Black Americans, lack of anti-racism policy, fear of reprisal for any response to racist activity and lack of racial diversity in important services” such as health care. A year after the report was issued, city officials and other stakeholders described the steps they’ve taken to implement some of the report’s recommendations. In August, for example, the Keene City

Council adopted a declaration committing the city to welcoming “people of all colors, creeds, beliefs, lifestyles, nationalities, physical abilities, and mental abilities,” and vowing to “condemn and never ignore acts of bigotry, oppression, and hatred.” The city also worked to make hiring more inclusive by, for example, making sure the process centers on necessary skills and requirements, to limit opportunities for implicit bias, as well as advertising openings — including for police officers — on job boards focused on minorities and veterans. The Keene Public Library has also stepped up efforts to diversify its collections. Local mental-health emergency response has also improved thanks to the state’s

National study finds self-perceived social status may affect Latino cardiovascular health New research, published by the Journal of the American Heart Association, examines the correlation between migration and behavior in Latinos, focusing on how a self-perceived sense of prestige and accomplishment impacts their health. Fifteen thousand Latino adults in the U.S. were participants in the first-of-itskind study supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities. The adults in the study lived in San Diego, Chicago, New York, and Miami and ranged from 18 to 74 years old. Study participants were asked to rank themselves on a social ladder relative to other people in the U.S. Levels go from one to ten and address indicators like educa-

40 603Diversity.com | May 2022

tion, work, and social connectivity. The study suggests that Latinos with high education levels in their countries, but who can’t pursue careers in the U.S. because of their language or credentials, showed low cardiovascular health markers. On the contrary, when study participants think they’ve achieved prosperity in their new jobs and lifestyle, their health improves. The researchers compared that data to lifestyle habits and found out that the higher the score, the better the chances Latinos had of living a healthy life. Some of the cardiovascular illnesses related to a self-perceived low social status are high blood pressure, inadequate levels of cholesterol and glucose, heart attacks, or strokes. But if a person ranked higher in their

self-perception, the study suggests, they’re more likely not to smoke, have an active life, and be more social, all steps that contribute to better cardiovascular health. Latinos who believed their social status was higher were more likely to have ideal scores on body mass index, physical activity, and fasting blood sugar. “We don’t know how a subjective perception works in the brain,” Piedra said. “But we know humans by nature make a lot of comparisons,” said lead author Lissette Piedra, a professor of social work at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Piedra says her study can also help states like New Hampshire, which has seen a new wave of immigration, offering more community services in Spanish.

funding of regional mobile crisis teams. While it wasn’t specifically recommended in the report, many community members asked the Keene Police Department to equip officers with body-worn cameras in 2020. Both KPD and the Cheshire County Sheriff’s Office are in the process of doing so. Meanwhile, organizers say other key recommendations will be tackled by the newly formed Monadnock Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Coalition. That includes setting measurable goals for racial equity in the community, conducting regular surveys and creating forums where community members feel safe sharing personal experiences with racism. – PAUL CUNO-BOOTH, GRANITE STATE NEWS COLLABORATIVE

“New Hampshire has experienced a growth of their Latino population, but there isn’t a great sense of community like in New York or Miami.,” Piedra said. “Anything you can do to establish co-ethnic places like bodegas, churches, and community centers can impact those internal medical responses.” –GABRIELA LOZADA, REPORT FOR AMERICA CORPS MEMBER, NEW HAMPSHIRE PUBLIC RADIO

These articles were adapted from stories shared by and with partners in The Granite State News Collaborative as part of our race and equity project. For more information visit collaborativenh.org.

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603Diversity.com | May 2022 41



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


42 603Diversity.com | May 2022

READY TO CELEBRATE PRIDE? Events are taking place all over New Hampshire in June!

NASHUA The Gate City will resume its in-person celebration on Saturday, June 25 at the Nashua Public Library. There’s also a parade taking place on Main Street. nashuanh.gov/1217/ Nashua-Pride-Festival

MANCHESTER Queen City Pride Parade will take place on Saturday, June 18th at 10am. It starts on South Commercial St. It will be followed by the festival at 12pm on Arms Park. queencitypridenh.org

Courtesy photos

In this small, affluent New Hampshire town, families are the common denominator. Parents are heavenly involved in the school system and they are not shy to voice their opinions when it comes to topics like academics and sports. Windham, a southern town of less than 16,000 residents, has not been much different from other places in the state. Conversations in the area traditionally revolve around jobs, politics, the next vacation destination, but… social issues? Well, mostly in a conservative manner. The social environment is changing now though. Windham is slowly becoming a reflection of the rest of the U.S. prompting a group of concerned parents, teachers, and residents in general, to ensure its population does not become numb to the realities of our times. The Windham Citizens for DEI, a volunteer-led organization, has a mission of supporting and uplifting the most vulnerable. The group is developing initiatives seeking to bring “uncomfortable” conversations to town with the purpose of spreading education and generating much needed empathy. “Pride events, Black Lives Matter rallies, any and all opportunities to support marginalized groups are just as important in smaller communities as in big cities. Diverse populations exist everywhere, so creating a safe, inclusive and affirming environment is the goal of organizations like ours,” explained Jackey Bennett, Co-Chair of Windham DEI, also leading the 2022 Pride event. This will be the second year Windham hosts a celebration bringing families and the local LGBTQ+ community together. “We were all pleasantly surprised with last year’s attendance and support from the local community and beyond. We had considered that we might face backlash, but that wasn’t the case at all,” says Bennett. Games, food trucks, performances and family-friendly activities will all be present on Sunday, June 26th from124pm at Windham High School. “The response from the community was truly amazing and showed that even in a town of varying political ideology, respect and support of the diversity of residents exists”, she concluded. — Carolina Valenti

GET A JUMP ON JUNETEENTH There are other events happening all throughout the state. Below are a few, if you have any more information and want to utilize our networks to broadcast your events, DM phat_riot on Instagram. Courtesy photo


JUNETEENTH CELEBRATIONS TAKE SHAPE IN THE GRANITE STATE Three years ago, us young bloods, pulled off Manchester’s first mayorally officiated Juneteenth. I still have the letter from Mayor Joyce Craig’s office somewhere in my studio. I also remember the strife between young bloods and established Black and African leaders in our community. “Why didn’t Black Lives Matter Manchester check in with their elders?” was a whispered sentiment. “Who advised them before they coordinated these marches?” the whispers continued. Who in fact needed to weigh in on a movement led by the city’s young adult population? Nonetheless,we got together with BLM Manchester and Kenny Frasch generously

gave his family’s Hop Knot restaurant to the effort and the event popped off! That first year we had keynote speakers, a singer, poetry, we live streamed the event and had a modest treasure hunt and art show. It was very low key, but it had presence and impact. Frasch decided to coordinate a second Juneteenth at 1000 Elm St, right in the heart of Manchester. Last year, the event grew and attained more support, more viewership. BLM Manchester led a march into Pride which held itself at Arms Park where we had coordinated the new location and look of Queen City Pride. The cross-pollination played out beautifully! — Yasamin Safarzadeh

MANCHESTER This year we have a rich committee of individuals consisting of peeps from NAACP, MCAC, West High, local government offices, BLM Manchester and the city library! This year’s Juneteenth feels like it is standing on its own and we are feeding the fire, breathing life into the endeavor. We have subsidized vendor fees for Black vendors, so that they can stand in the spotlight and be recognized for their skills, without the financial burden. We are working with the mayor to coordinate free transportation from low-income residencies throughout the community to the festivities and back. An array of insightful people on our committee will display their dedication to Manchester with vaccine vans, a bookmobile, displays and samples of local Black and African foods — plus a portion of the proceeds will go to benefit black operated organizations which benefit our communities.

“Juneteenth is a time for joy and celebration. For the last few years, our community has gathered in Nashua to commemorate the liberation of Black people from American enslavement on June 19, 1865. We’re in the midst of organizing another great event this year, and we’re looking forward to seeing you there!” says Jordan Thompson, ED of BLM Nashua. For more information visit facebook.com/BLMNashua.

PORTSMOUTH Out of everything happening statewide for the month of June, the Black Heritage Trail is hosting one of the most laudable, well researched and invested series of events for Juneteenth celebrations, ranging from artists talks in Manchester, to live art making in Portsmouth. blackheritagetrailnh.org/ juneteenth-celebration-2022/

HOPKINTON Reverend Dawn Berry, of the Racial Justice Team at Brookside Congretional Church says they will focus their Juneteenth celebration on Black poetry and music and an educational segment. Please look to their Racial Justice tab under Peace & Justice for more information firstchurchhopkinton.org/ racial-justice-no-justice-nopeace/

Festivities will take place on June 19 from noon to 7 p.m. at 1000 Elm St. 603Diversity.com | May 2022 43


Victoria Carrington n BY COURTNEY DANIEL


ho is Victoria Carrington? “I design graphics, connect communities, shoutout folks on social media, write and do outreach for the Stay Work Play ‘603 Life’ blog,” she replies, but that’s just the short answer. She sums it up, thusly: “I’m basically a hype-woman for young people living free in the 603.” “Live Free or Die” is viewed through a personal lens by Carrington, Stay Work Play’s newest content and communications manager. “In 2020, I chose New Hampshire to be the place I stay, work and play. While my home state Colorado is great, my New Hampshire home state has a different vibe.” She says this comes from the small town feel here, mixed with diverse outdoor recreational activities — from kayaking, to hiking, to apple picking and beach-going. “I think when I talk about my love for the 603 people, I hear the realness. They hear that out of all the places I could be, I chose the Granite State, and I’m determined to spotlight the amazing things we have here, most importantly our people. New Hampshire is a place of hidden treasures, and our people are our best gems.” Since joining SWP, Victoria says her greatest accomplishment is helping create more visibility for the BIPOC community and hearing from people who feel celebrated and “seen.” “I know how important it is to feel seen,” says Carrington. “Representation matters, and when people feel seen and heard they are connected and a part of it all. I’m deeply honored and grateful for the opportunity to amplify voices that don’t always get the spotlight,” she says. “Young professionals of New Hampshire need more opportunities to be on boards and connect with other young leaders,” says Carrington. “It’s one reason I’m so proud of the SWP Rising Stars Leadership Program. It’s a chance to uplift and inspire emerging leaders in New Hampshire in a way designed with them in mind.” Carrington says her changemaker qualities have earned her a reputation as a “feisty fiery go-getter — but I also have a nurturing side. I hope that people hear my genuine desire to celebrate them for their accomplishments in New Hampshire.” And we celebrate the feisty, feiry Victoria Carrington for her past accomplishments and all those yet to come with our own, official 603 Diversity Shoutout. 603

44 603Diversity.com | May 2022

Photo by Robert Ortiz

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