Vision, Mission and History

Carrie and Andres holding NH Listens signs in front of Huddleston Hall.

Our Vision

We envision a New Hampshire where everyone is connected, engaged, and heard in decisions that impact their lives and where all have equitable access to justice, opportunity, and liberty. 

Our Mission

We bring people together to talk, listen, and act so communities can work for everyone. 

Our Values

Voice and Equity

Nothing about us without us1

We help communities bring people together to deepen authentic participation in issues that matter to public life. Old patterns exist in communities that elevate the voices of some and marginalize others. We believe when people can bring voice and agency to community decision making, fair and equitable outcomes are possible and more likely. We help actively remove barriers to inclusive public participation, honor a full range of community interests, and ground solutions in local knowledge. 

Authenticity and Integrity

Be real

We work in service of the public to generate solutions for our most pressing challenges – even when the work is messy, uncertain, and overwhelming. We believe in doing what we say we will do and being transparent in our methods and our motives. Building public trust takes time and ongoing attention. We offer skilled, observant, and honest people to support your initiative. 

Collaboration and Partnership

The only cure for bias is other people2

We know collaboration can be hard, and we believe solving complex problems will require it. A mix of perspectives helps us recognize and temper our own biases (we all have them). We help groups face biases (of all kinds) and bring skills and attitudes that build trust for ongoing partnership and community good will. 

Complexity and Humility

There are things we don’t know

Our communities struggle with difficult questions to which no one person knows the answer. We bring humility and a can-do attitude to our work. We believe it takes data and stories from neighbors to create change. We don’t assert our own answers. Instead, we create space to grapple with hard options and find pathways to move forward together. 

Persistence and Flexibility

We are in it for the long haul

We respond to current circumstances in local communities and bridge projects by committing to New Hampshire over the long haul. Most communities experience multiple initiatives that lack connection and integration. Our goal is to leave behind approaches that build muscle memory for deep fairness and effective collaboration so that one project brings strengths and capacity to the next one. 

Updated December 2019

1. Nothing About Us Without Us: Disability Oppression and Empowerment, James I. Charlton (1998), JSTOR online access.
2. The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt

Our History

NH Listens is built on earlier work by its founding directors and community partners, including community based dialogue and engagement in Portsmouth leading to the creation of Portsmouth Listens in 1999. We have used small-group facilitated conversations to engage participants in intensive, informed discussions of problems or challenges identified by community members. We work at the community, regional, and state level when we are invited by multi-partisan coalitions. We strive to function as trusted and impartial conveners. NH Listens does not advocate for specific outcomes or actions in any of its public engagement work. The core elements of our work are:

  • Bring people together from all walks of life

  • Provide time for in-depth, informed conversations

  • Respect differences as well as seek common ground

  • Achieve outcomes that lead to informed community solutions

NH Listens is a national partner of Everyday Democracy. We are part of a learning network that shares lessons across geographic regions and issue areas. We have the opportunity to contribute to a larger movement of regional and national organizations dedicated to strengthening democratic capacity for community voice and change. 

We are grateful to our funding partners who have believed in the mission of NH Listens and provided both material and strategic support for our efforts. Since our beginning, we have received funds from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, the Endowment for Health, the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, the National Estuary Reserve Research System (of NOAA), NH Humanities, and the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund for our work in the North Country. We have also received dozens of small and modest grants, contracts, and gifts from many other nonprofit organizations, community coalitions, municipal governments, and state agencies since 2010.