Meet the Partner: ENGN

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ENGN is a Civic Creation Center in Callicoon, NY, 2 hours NW of NYC in the Catskills, near the camp where GroundShift will be held.  The GroundShift team is fortunate––and super grateful–– to have them as a partner organization, to help us acknowledge the exciting work being done locally and work in solidarity with the region. We spoke to one of their founders, Isaac Green Diebboll, about the organization and their collaboration with GroundShift:

What is ENGN? How did you get started? 

ENGN is a Civic Creation Center, a small building on Main Street that everyone in the community feels welcome to. ENGN is a place for difficult conversations that are often healing or transformative, a project of compassion and commitment to our neighbors.

According to our literature, "We are committed to a life practice that respects the environment and seeks social and economic equity. We embrace the humanity of all people, working with neighbors to create curriculum, campaigns and cultural projects that support the foundation of a shared home. ENGN works locally throughout New York State, however projects have a national and global focus."

What's one exciting thing you're working on right now? 

Developing our Weigh Station in the hamlet of Callicoon has been an incredible opportunity in value-acting our mission. We have transformed a tiny peripheral non-space into an engine for meaningful local and global connection.

Could you tell us about how ENGN works to support the local community? 

ENGN works collaboratively with schools, local government, farmers, fire departments, business owners, old and young, from all backgrounds. However, it is our social practice that defines the quality of our relationships and the form of support that manifests is mutual, because we recognize that those we support will support us equally, in that we are all equal stakeholders in building our community's future. We simply have one kind of offering to share, and we respect the offerings that others bring to the table.

What are a few other local initiatives or organizations that you're excited about?

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ENGN is working with Monticello High School students to continue the development of a large-scale community mural in response to research and creative exploration of their home and community. The students are driving the project as part of their civic commitment to shaping Monticello's future. This project is a result of the "What Makes a Village" curriculum, in which Monticello youth presented their visions for the region before a public audience including state and local representatives and press. 

ENGN is developing a film project to humanize and de-stigmatize the perception of drug addiction, otherwise known as a disease called substance abuse disorder (SAD). This film project will explore sensitive issues through intimate stories and portraits of family members impacted by SAD, including local historical research and analysis of drug addiction in Sullivan County. The film project will also incorporate a community engagement process to generate conversations in a healthy and transformative way. The films are meant to catalyze necessary and healing community conversations.

Why is ENGN supporting GroundShift? 

ENGN supports GroundShift because of a regional commitment to the relationships between the otherwise named urban and rural spaces of our collective home in NY. GroundShift supports a community of learning, and has chosen to do this work in the Catskills, and so ENGN wishes to act as a welcoming host to ensure GroundShift's guests have a respectful, beautiful and wholesome connection to the place and peoples of the Catskills.

Want to get involved in GroundShift? We hope so! Sliding scale tickets are available here.

This interview has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.

Duncan Wall