NH Listens February Fellow of the Month: Josh Arnold
Hometown: Ossipee, NH
Current role: Founder and Executive Director, Makers Mill (previously G.A.L.A. [Global Awareness Local Action])
What excites me most about Makers Mill is not that it will be a place where people can make widgets, fix things, or learn how to use a table saw. Those things will be fun and wonderful, yes. But the real impact of a space like this is from creating experiences where people with different beliefs and backgrounds can find common ground with their craft or hobby, engage in collaborative projects where they depend on one another, and take risks together.
Hobbies & interests: Music, drawing, growing, foraging, and preserving food, looking up at the stars while hanging out around a bonfire with friends, hiking, biking, swimming, and tinkering in the barn
All flourishing is mutual. ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer
Everyone in a complex system has a slightly different interpretation. The more interpretations we gather, the easier it becomes to gain a sense of the whole. ~ Margaret J. Wheatley
Do the best that you can in the place where you are, and be kind. ~ Scott & Helen Nearing
In the news & on social media:
- Granite State News/Salmon Press: GALA makerspace has a name: Makers Mill
- The Laconia Daily Sun: Makers Mill construction has commenced
- New Hampshire Business Review: Construction continues on Carroll County’s first makerspace: Winter completion seen for first phase of Makers Mill project
- Follow GALA Makers Mill on social media: Facebook, Instagram & LinkedIn
Josh Arnold, Executive Director of Makers Mill in Wolfeboro, NH, maintains a mission of making the world a better place through connectedness and togetherness. And he’s doing this in his own backyard.
Born in Laconia, NH, he grew up in Silver Lake, near Madison, NH. There, he developed a strong sense of place and community and grew to love his home state. In high school and in college, he was able to travel internationally with his family, an opportunity that gave him perspective, but also helped him confirm his love for New Hampshire.
I love New Hampshire. I love the lakes and mountains, the stonewalls, town meetings, the seasons, and yes, even mud season. But I also stay in New Hampshire and choose to work here because I see so much potential and opportunity to make positive change.
"I love New Hampshire," says Josh. "I love the lakes and mountains, the stonewalls, town meetings, the seasons, and yes, even mud season! But I also stay in New Hampshire and choose to work here because I see so much potential and opportunity to make positive change."
Josh’s undergraduate education in Global Sustainability at Massachusetts' Wheaton College connected him to the United Nation’s International Youth Caucus (IYC), where he further explored his interest in international service. He describes his time with IYC as "amazing and humbling" but ultimately the driving force that led him back to his home state.
"I did a complete 180 and moved back to my hometown to attempt to make a difference locally and give back to the community that had given me so much," describes Josh. "I got involved wherever I felt I could help – the town's energy committee, agricultural commission, historical society, anything really."
"Somewhere along the line I decided to host a community potluck inviting a bunch of people to share food and ponder the leading question inspired by Mahatma Gandhi: 'How can we be the change we want to see in the world?'" adds Josh. "The simple question sparked the imagination of these potluck goers and in the months that followed we began to answer that question, in earnest, through what I now recognize as community organizing."
From that potluck and simple question, GALA was born. Over the years, the nonprofit has hosted a whole range of community-building and educational programs, from contra dances and study circles to farm-to-table feasts, town clean-up days, and educational film screenings. Within the community, it’s also made an integral impact, establishing a farmers’ market and installing school gardens and community spaces.
Some of GALA’s most popular events have been its hands-on workshops on such topics as bicycle repair, plant identification, boat building, composting, and sewing. This interest spurred the organization’s members to launch and fundraise for Makers Mill, Community Makerspace & Vocation Hub, beginning in 2016. Developed through a community-led design process, Makers Mill is currently within Phase I of its building renovation and implementation process and plans to open its doors in the summer of 2022.
"What excites me most about Makers Mill is not that it will be a place where people can make widgets, fix things, or learn how to use a table saw," adds Josh. "Those things will be fun and wonderful, yes. But the real impact of a space like this is from creating experiences where people with different beliefs and backgrounds can find common ground with their craft or hobby, engage in collaborative projects where they depend on one another, and take risks together."
"This in-person time together where people are working on something tangible serves as a way to humanize one another during a time when algorithms and keyboard warriorship has done so much to polarize and dehumanize."
In addition to his work with Makers Mill and as a fellow with NH Listens, Josh serves as a fellow with Better Selves Fellowship of Knoll Farm and he's a former fellow for the Youth Action Net. He’s a graduate of Marlboro College’s Nonprofit Management Certificate program, Granite State College’s Nonprofit Boot Camp, and Leadership New Hampshire (Class of 2017). He has also served as Commissioner of the Ossipee Corner Fire Department.
Josh and his wife, Molly Messenger, enjoy raising their daughter in Ossipee, along foothills of the Ossipee Mountains, where in their free time they are also working to restore and revitalize the former Ossipee Mountain Grange Hall. Josh purchased the former Grange Hall and lived in it for 10 years while fixing it up before he and his family moved to an adjacent farmhouse. Over the years, they've hosted a number of community events at the Grange Hall while continuing to renovate the space.