The Heartbeat of Haverhill

Good News from A Great City Haverhill, MA

Possible Dreams – Haverhill’s Community Conversation

Where will Haverhill’s next big idea come from? Maybe here.


When the anxious crowd of over 150 chomped at the bit to begin their Possible Dreams community conversation, The Heartbeat of Haverhill couldn’t help but recall a Rogers and Hammerstein song from a “Cinderella” television broadcast ages ago which if we remember correctly went like this…

“But the world is full of zanies and fools

Who don’t believe in sensible rules

And won’t believe what sensible people say.

And because these daft and dewey-eyed dopes keep building up impossible Hopes 

Impossible things keep happening every day.”


And so it was that The Heartbeat of Haverhill entered Team Haverhill’s congregation of hopes and dreams in a city where practical thinkers and dreamers join forces to make dreams more than the stuff of nighttime reverie. The practical thinkers were there – Mayor Jim Fiorentini, almost all of the City Council, and State Senator Kathleen O’Connor Ives. And in our breakout brainstorming sessions we learned firsthand that these practical thinkers are dreamers, too, and good listeners.

The evening began with socializing and an opening statement by Team Haverhill president, Eric Karlstad who recapped Team Haverhill’s vision and successes so far, proving that what begins as a community conversation can emerge as a reality in some cases within the year and in others over a longer time period.

Team Haverhill is an independent, volunteer action group dedicated to making Haverhill a better place to live, learn, work and play… with focus on quality-of-life aspects of revitalization.”

The gathering room at the Tech Center at NECC showcased the 30 artists who designed this year’s Shoe-labration community art benches. There were sparklers, and storytellers, and dreamers and designers each on a canvas of a cardboard shoe forms. Several of the community shoes are available for sponsorship – call soon for the most options.


Learning of past successes primed the crowd for the night’s true purpose that was explained by Team Haverhill vice president,  Alice Mann. The annual event was, on this evening, a progressive dinner of sumptuous ideas fueled with chocolates from Lakeview Kitchen and enough coffee to keep minds teeming with fresh thoughts. The evening progressed with three loosely constructed brainstorming sessions:  15 minutes brainstorming, verbally and with a collection of colored pens and pencils on table-sized sheets of paper in a small group, followed by a seating shift, then 15 minutes with another group, followed by another 15 minute session where collected ideas were assessed for practicality, importance and do-ability. (Most loosely adhered to was the time frame, because who really wants to stop brilliance as it’s being revealed?) And then with the help of a passed microphone the ideas were presented to the entire group with calls for volunteers to steer the ideas to completion.

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If you ever want to feel good about your neighbors, listen to their intelligent “hopes for Haverhill”.  THOH has been trained in brainstorming, and still some of these ideas just blew me away. People were dreaming big and small, outlandishly and simply about a better Haverhill. There were ideas about heritage plantings and community gardens, river enhancement, lake and pond events, encouragement of science, math and technology industries supported by enhanced school programs, showcasing our city’s history through computer apps, growing and uniting the volunteer field…for a complete list check back or better yet join with Team Haverhill. Only one idea was presented from each table and we know so many more were added to the list than could possibly be shared.

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The evening ended with a lot of smiles among new and old friends and promises to keep the momentum going. The ideas will be posted on the Team Haverhill website and there will be opportunities to emerge from the chroniclers of city problems and become part of the solution to a brighter future through volunteerism. The wide variety of options means there is a role for every individual willing to participate.


THOH learned at one of our table sessions that Haverhill used to have a motto that was “City of Opportunities” or some such,  and when in this one evening we witnessed a unification of great people, great ideas, and a city already on the road to amazing, The Heartbeat of Haverhill understands the allure of backing a winner.

RESOURCES: Team Haverhill

PS – GRANT MONEY AVAILABLE – MAYBE THS CAN HELP MAKE SOME OF THESE IDEAS REALITIES:  Grant money is available form Essex National Heritage area ( Haverhill is a part of this) if you are trying to promote the history culture or natural resources of the area. Deadline Feb 17 check out the website


(c)2014 by Alison Colby-Campbell

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Alison Colby-Campbell



Full-brain user demonstrating a healthy(?) obsession with marketing, promotion, writing, photography, house rabbits, the natural world, tennis, big and small problem solving, reading, hiking, HGTV and the flotsam & jetsam of everyday life. My three blogs Brain4Rent, The Heartbeat of Haverhill, Alison Colby-Campbell Photography are Wordpress based.

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