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Malcolm Gladwell & November 6th

Malcolm Gladwell & November 6th

Media Courtesy of Central Street Media.

On November 6th in soggy shoes and damp clothes, we welcomed almost 100 attendees to a community event at Trestle View Park. The rain fell lightly on the tent as Franklin’s Interim Mayor, Scott Clarenbach, set the stage, explaining the City’s deep industrial history and noting that rain is a requirement if we are to welcome whitewater paddlers. Together we celebrated progress and partnerships related to Franklin’s whitewater project, Mill City Park. The attendance, eagerness, and excitement was proof of a spreading idea. 

“Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread like viruses do.”

This is a quote from The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell, a book that was required reading somewhere along my educational path. The book is packed with applicable information to understand the movement of ideas through societies. When I first read it, it was simply a homework assignment. It wasn't until I became a part of this community that the book had deeper value and meaning for me.

Multiple organizations at the state and local levels have contributed to and supported our revitalization movement. This connection was demonstrated by the remarks given from the Commissioner of New Hampshire’s Department of Business and Economic Affairs and avid cycling enthusiast, Taylor Caswell. The Commissioner spoke passionately from his own experience of how recreation can be the engine to redefine, redevelop and restart a community. 

With little interruption, the crowd then heard from Franklin Savings Bank Board of Directors Chairman, Charlie Chandler. With a direct message, booming voice and gusto, Charlie addressed the crowd, proudly unveiling Franklin Savings Bank’s donation of $250,000 to Mill City Park as seed money. By the time of his announcement, half had already been donated and the second installment is scheduled for the 2018 calendar year.

“That is the paradox of the epidemic: that in order to create one contagious movement, you often have to create many small movements first.” 

This gracious commitment didn’t materialize overnight. Multiple steps and accomplishments lead to this point, many documented through past articles and papers, and just as many that are not.

As with all of the ongoing downtown efforts, it starts with a relationship, with collaboration, acceptance and belief. These relationships are incredibly important; without them, we are just another group of do-gooders with an application or cold call. 

Our relationship with Franklin Savings Bank started at Outdoor New England on January 1st, 2016. I remember the conversation clearly. I quickly learned the difference between a bank in a community, and a community-first bank. Their commitment to this community is demonstrated monthly if not daily via donations, council, or support to local nonprofits, the City, our revitalization partner PermaCityLife, and now Mill City Park. 

“In the end, Tipping Points are a reaffirmation of the potential for change and the power of intelligent action. Look at the world around you. It may seem like an immovable, implacable place. It is not. With the slightest push—in just the right place—it can be tipped.” 

There is a lot to this quote. 

First, intelligent action. I cannot speak from experience as I am a newcomer to the community. However, others have identified that they believe in the last 30+ years, this is the first time the pieces seem to be coming together. I choose to believe in the players, the change makers, the risk takers, and innovators. This group now encompasses, but is not limited to, municipality members, local and state nonprofits, collegiate academia and administration, state delegates, community members, for profit businesses, and our community-first bank.

Second, the Tipping Point. I honestly don’t believe we are at this infamous moment yet. However, I know we are moving forward. The scale is constantly changing as our idea spreads… The Winnipesaukee River powered Franklin and the region once and it can again. With hard work, continued focus, and our community partners, tomorrow will be brighter and wetter than today… That is our tipping point.

Lastly, thank you Franklin Savings Bank! We are honored and forever grateful for your donation, belief, and unwavering support for this project!

By M. Parichand, Mill City Park

Proposed Whitewater Park Poised to Transform Franklin Economy

NH Division of Economic Development | Lorna Colquhoun


The old adage says that “a rising tide floats all boats.”

In the City of Franklin, it is more apt to say “whitewater floats a new economy.”

This week, community members gathered alongside the Winnipesaukee River downtown to celebrate a project described as “transformative” for this former mill city, as two significant grants push the Mill City Park closer to reality.

The project received a $180,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and Franklin Savings Bank is donating $250,000.

There are about 280 whitewater parks across the country, but this one will be the first in New England. More than that, says developer Marty Parichand, it is a catalyst that for boosting the city’s economy, generating $6.8 million of direct spending in the region.

The river runs through the heart of downtown, which once fed mills turning out wool cloth, hacksaws and hosiery. Thrill seekers will head to the city to run the Class II, III and IV whitewater and entrepreneurs can catch the wave of the new economy on the rise.

Projects like Mill City Park, Commissioner Taylor Caswell, of the Department of Business and Economic Affairs, told those gathered in Trestle View Park, will draw more than visitors; it will draw visitors who turn into residents, drawn by the lifestyle and the opportunities in the Granite State.

“One of the biggest things for me is to be able to emphasize the fact that in New Hampshire, we have a community; we have recreation and we have quality of life for everybody,” he said. “In the big picture, it is absolutely crucial what you’re doing, not just for your community, but for the state as a whole, because that is what we are doing every day — telling the story of New Hampshire; telling the story of the quality of life and telling everyone how great it is here. This is one more piece we can put in our toolbox.”

Franklin paddle park plan gets $430,000 cash infusion


A century ago, the Winnipesaukee River powered the mills that were the city’s lifeblood.

On Monday, it was announced that $180,000 in federal grant funds and a $250,000 donation from Franklin Savings Bank will help the city turn to the river again as an economic catalyst for the downtown.

Plans call for the creation of a whitewater paddling park on the Winnipesaukee River. The U.S. Department of Commerce grant will pay for engineering and design work.

The park is the brainchild of Marty Parichand, who runs Outdoor New England in Franklin, a shop that sells kayaking gear. He founded Mill City Park, a state-licensed non-profit to advance the idea.

“What you’re going to hear today is a story of progress and a story of change and it’s very, very exciting,” Parichand told those who gathered to hear the announcement beneath a tent in Trestle View Park.

The river drops more than 7.7 feet over a 1.25-mile section extending from Cross Mill Road in neighboring Tilton, to Trestle View Park, offering prime whitewater rafting.

“We believe this project will be transformative. Don’t forget that word, because it’s going to be exactly that,” said Charlie Chandler, who chairs the board of directors of Franklin Savings Bank.

After hearing multiple presentations about the project, the bank’s board voted unanimously to donate $250,000 toward making it become a reality; $125,000 has already been paid in. 

“The vision brought for this project is a vision for the city of Franklin,” Chandler said.

Taylor Caswell, commissioner of the Department of Business and Economic Affairs said the whitewater park will be the first in New England. He described it as one more quality-of-life asset to tout as the state continues its efforts to attract new residents at a time when the state has more job openings than it does workers. Tim Morrill was among those who attended Monday’s announcement. 

“I came to show my support,” said Morrill explaining he enjoys kayaking and serves on the Mill City Park Board.

Morrill is the seventh generation of his family to call Franklin home. His grandfather ran the boiler room at the Stevens woolen mill, the last of the big mills. It closed in the 1970s and burned in the 1990s. 

The giant iron wheel that is the centerpiece of Trestle View Park was the drive wheel that spun the belts that operated machinery throughout the mill, Morrill said.

He cited an example of the paddling park’s economic impact, saying he has friends in Ashland who come to Franklin to kayak. When it came time for them to replace some furniture, they bought it at Grevior Furniture because the Central Street store’s founder donated the land for Trestle View Park.

Interim Mayor Scott Clarenbach said the whitewater park is helping to renew the community’s sense of purpose and reenergize it.

“Today’s gathering is all about Mill City Park at Franklin Falls which is writing a new and exciting chapter by reutilizing the power of Franklin’s beautiful rivers for another prosperous period in our community’s long history,” he said.

The City Council was to vote during its Monday night meeting to formally accept the grant funds, Clarenbach said.

U.S. Sen. Shaheen visits Franklin with an eye on economic development

U.S. Sen. Shaheen visits Franklin with an eye on economic development

Concord Monitor | L. Masin-Moyer | June 1, 2017

Rushing, choppy waters.

That was the backdrop for a portion of U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s visit to Franklin on Thursday, when she toured local storefronts, learned about the city’s renewed focus on its rivers, and attempted to calm business leaders in a community facing the turmoil of steep funding cuts in the Trump administration’s proposed budget.

Shaheen stopped in at businesses set up with the help of Todd Workman and his group PermaCityLife, a nonprofit geared toward revitalizing the Franklin.

Workman has been driving to bring new businesses and younger demographics to the city of 8,500, and he said a core part of his group’s work has hinged on federal community development programs set to be slashed in the Trump budget plan.

“What we really rely on is the economic development toolbox that’s in place right now,” he told Shaheen. “There are very specific target programs that work, and they generate more money than they cost the federal government.” 

Workman said PermaCityLife’s efforts have been aided by federal money from Community Development Block Grants, the Department of Agriculture’s Office of Rural Development and the Economic Development Administration.

These programs all face cuts with the new Trump administration budget, according to Workman. 

“This city is on the rise,” he said. “We have the tools we need to do it, but some of those tools are in jeopardy.” 

Shaheen applauded PermaCityLife’s efforts and stressed her commitment to maintaining funding for federal programs facing cuts.

“I’m here to say we can’t let these efforts go away; they’re really important not just to Franklin or New Hampshire, but communities across this country,” she said. “I’ve had a chance to see these programs – as both governor and senator – and I know what kind of difference they make, and I’m going to do everything I can so we don’t see the cuts that are coming out of the Trump budget.” 

Workman stressed the importance of federal funding to continue the growth in Franklin, which has seen 16 new businesses spring up in the last year and a half, he said.

Key to Franklin’s revitalization efforts is not just driving new enterprise, but drawing a more business-friendly demographic to the city. Marty Parichand, the owner of Outdoor New England and the architect of a plan for a new white-water park, said he’s trying to do his part.

Parichand said his white-water park would help infuse the city with life and a younger population.

“The demographic is perfect for a city that struggles with millennials,” he said. “The core group of white-water kayakers – 60-70 percent – are less than 30 years of age. These boats are not cheap, and they have disposable income.”

The push for changing demographics in Franklin is real. Twenty-four percent of its residents live in poverty and 60 percent of public school students received free or reduced-price lunch, according to City Manager Elizabeth Dragon.

On top of that, the cuts in federal funding will hinder continued development, Dragon said, a bitter truth in city that favored Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton by a 15 percent margin in the 2016 election.

Shaheen’s tour made stops at Colby-Sawyer College’s Sustainable Learning Initiative building, Franklin Clothing Company, coffee shop and restaurant The Franklin Studio, Toad Hall Art Bazaar, and Outdoor New England, all which said they started business in Franklin due to Perma City Life’s efforts.

Acadia LeBlanc, a rising junior at Colby-Sawyer, talked about studied sustainability initiatives in the community while helping to teach water conservation at Franklin High School.

“It’s so cool that we have our own space here, we were transporting all our stuff from New London, which is 30 minutes away,” she said. “It’s awesome because we get to build this relationship with Franklin.” 

With white-water rafters traveling down the Winnipesaukee River behind him, Parichand said the ability to fuse his passion with revitalization efforts for the city was a great privilege.

“My passion is to influence a community on the things I hold dear, which is white-water kayaking,” he said. “Revitalizing a town, or helping to revitalize a town, through a sport I’m passionate about is the best case for me.”

Return to the River Part 1: Franklin's first inhabitants

Return to the River Part 1: Franklin's first inhabitants

Concord Monitor | E. Reed | May 6, 2017

Beneath cool, overcast skies, Paul Pouliot took in the land, the river, the trees – all the geophysical features – of Franklin’s Odell Park.

The chief of the Cowasuck Band of the Pennacook Abenaki People looked past the empty baseball field, the dilapidated mill buildings and the developed river banks. Eyeing the U-shaped bend where the river slowed, Pouliot knew – that’s where his Native American ancestors would have fished.

He pointed to the spot just in front of the historic Riverbend Mill, under renovation for an affordable housing project. It was downstream from the river’s rapids, where local community partners are suggesting a whitewater play park can be installed to attract eco-adventure tourists and help revitalize New Hampshire’s second poorest city.

The natural resource Franklin is turning to for its new lifeblood, Pouliot pointed out, is why people came to the area in the first place.

Before it was known as the “Three Rivers City,” Stevenstown, or, informally, “the Crotch,” the land at the intersection of the Pemigewasset, Winnipesaukee and Merrimack rivers was frequented by its indigenous people.

The History of Franklin by Alice Shepard notes that “the Crotch” is how Native Americans described the headwaters of the Merrimack River to Lt. William Miles, a 17th century scout from Canterbury.

Present-day Franklin is just one spot in an expansive area inhabited by the Abenaki. It stretches across the province of Quebec, Canada, as well as Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, and Massachusetts.

That was, and is still, called N’dakina – “our land.” 

Earliest community 

“The Native tradition – Abenaki tradition – is that native people have been here since the snows,” Stephen Berwick, a Concord author with indigenous heritage, said. The last glacial period ended 11,500 years ago, which is when other historians have the first humans inhabiting New Hampshire, too.

Native American artifacts – tools, tomahawk weapons – have been found in several parts of Franklin, including Odell Park. Many of them are now kept at the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College.

“This was just one more of a connected line of villages because of the food source,” Pouliot said, scanning the tongue-shaped piece of land occupied by the park today and hugged by the river. “I think the fish would have flown up that way like crazy.” 

There is evidence of that. In the “Indian Mortar Lot,” a small patch of grass along Route 3 in Franklin, a rock found along the Winnipesaukee River sits with a giant carving of a fish, thought to be a shad. 

According to a sign on the lot, the other boulder that sits there has a large mortar “first hollowed out by water, then by many years of apparent use of (Abenaki) Indians.” Fish like shad and salmon stopped coming up the Winnipesaukee River after dams were put in.

Pouliot said in addition to abundant fishing, nut-bearing trees and berry bushes would have grown nearby, and the flat land along the riverbanks would have been perfect for agriculture – corn, beans, squash.

“The early reports of what New England was like – it was like a garden,” Berwick said. Amid all the pine trees and growth, he said, trails following the rivers would be cleared by wildfire for hunting deer, moose and, in lean times, bear.

Historical accounts and present day interpretations differ slightly on where exactly indigenous people would have pitched their wigwams, buried their dead and grown their crops. But all agree that on a consistent, seasonal basis, the rivers brought the early inhabitants to what is now Franklin.

Around the time fish began spawning in spring, Pouliot said, “This village would probably be hopping.” 

River as a resource 

Pouliot said the Winnipesaukee River would have provided not only shad but salmon, alewife and eel. Standing on the present-day fishing pier off Odell Park, he was just a stone’s throw from where an old fishing weir made of sticks and stones was found in the water below Franklin Public Library.

While Pouliot said indigenous people “over-fished the hell out of everything,” he added that none of their activities would have dramatically altered the landscape, or riverscape. They needed the rivers for fishing, bathing, medicine and transportation by boat.

“Earth was sacred because they had to use it,” Denise Pouliot, a council member for the Cowasuck Band of the Pennacook Abenaki People, said.

A shift 

The Abenaki descriptions for these rivers – Pemigewasset, “swift current,” Merrimack, “deep river,” Winnipesaukee, “land around the lake” – have outlasted history. Their use, however, shifted dramatically when European settlers came to New Hampshire.

Without immunities to diseases introduced by colonists, combined with conflicts with both Europeans and the Mohawk indigenous people, Abenaki in New Hampshire began to decline in the late 1600s. Those who survived either left for Canada, retreated to rural parts of the state or integrated with the new settlers.

Indigenous people moved around based on seasonal resources for millennia, but colonists suddenly introduced the western idea of a fixed place and land ownership. What was once referred to by its geophysical description – “the Crotch” – gave way to Stevenstown, a land grant incorporated in 1768.

That spot is now Daniel Webster Farm, which sits in present-day Franklin along Route 3A.

Centuries of development and industry have altered the land, but one very basic element has always remained. Flying above Franklin, or looking at a basic geophysical map, the three rivers branching across the landscape still stand out.

As one of the 1,000 or so people still living in New Hampshire with Abenaki heritage, Chief Pouliot still reads the water as his ancestors did. The Alton resident said he wasn’t familiar with Franklin, but as soon as he stepped out of his van in Odell Park, he could see the value of those rivers.

“Just looking at this area – this is a major indigenous community,” he said.

School-downtown partnerships are a win for everybody in Franklin

School-downtown partnerships are a win for everybody in Franklin

Concord Monitor | Elodie Reed

As efforts continue to build up downtown Franklin, a 15-year-old filmmaker, a high school engineering class and Colby-Sawyer College graphic designers and environmental scientists are pitching in to help.

Area high schools and colleges are partnering with the nonprofit PermaCityLife to work on the laundry list of projects to make the city more attractive for businesses, tourists and new residents.

In return for providing logos and “identity systems” for marketing, eco-park designs, ecological mapping and films – all for free – the students get something invaluable: work experience in a real, live community.

“You just can’t replicate that just in the classroom,” Jen White, CSC sustainability coordinator, said.

“It’s kind of like a win-win on both sides,” Jenisha Shrestha, the PermaCityLife community development coordinator, added.


On a sunny February morning after some heavy snowfall, White grabbed a shovel and started scooping snow away from the old Hair Doctors storefront in downtown Franklin.

Above the space is a new, vibrant sign, reading “Sustainable Learning Initiative at Franklin Falls.”

White has overseen the creation of a new, three-year bachelor’s degree program in community-based sustainability. A large component of the major is hands-on work with different initiatives in the Three Rivers City, facilitated by PermaCityLife.

This is the first year for the program. There are still some wrinkles to iron out, like getting a working heating system in the Franklin field studies office.

After shoveling out the entryway, White and Shrestha went inside, where cubby work spaces, a sitting area, and a conference room are set up.

“We had a couple meetings in there before it got really cold,” Shrestha said. Even without the office, however, she said about 90 CSC students were involved with the Sustainable Learning Initiative last semester.

That number is slightly reduced for the spring semester. Some are in the new degree program, though others are just working in Franklin as part of their other classes.

CSC junior Justin Rand and senior Zach Melisi are such students.

“We both precede the major,” Melisi said. The environmental science major managed to get involved, though, after his original senior year capstone project fell through.

White, his adviser, suggested he work with the Mill City Park initiative, a nonprofit planning a whitewater park in downtown Franklin, instead. Melisi is now in the midst of documenting invasive species along the Winnipesaukee River, and by the end of his project, he’ll make recommendations for site remediation.

“These plants have had so much free range in the area,” he said, adding that oriental bittersweet was the biggest culprit. “I’m so invested in this site now, and I know so much about it that I feel invested getting the treatment that it needs.”

Melisi’s classmate, Rand, has also contributed to the Mill City Park initiative. His graphic design class held a logo-design competition last semester, and Rand won.

Now, he’s volunteering with CATCH Housing to create a multi-dimensional identity system for the group’s new apartment project in Franklin. That includes a logo, signage and advertising materials.

“It’s a good resume-building thing,” Rand said, “but I’m more interested in it as a trial run for me.”

For both Melisi and Rand, there are real-life components in their projects that can’t be replicated in the classroom. Rand said it was a good lesson when his initial logo for Mill City Park was sent back to the drawing board not because his work wasn’t well-executed, but because his client didn’t like it.

“I’m working in a much more real setting,” Rand said. “I feel like I’m learning even more.”

For Melisi, it’s instructive to do a live case study that incorporates ecological identification, land mapping and consideration of historic mill processes that affect the river.

“It’s so different than reading about it in a book, when you can walk on the site and know lead and arsenic are leaching into the water,” he said.

Local high schools

Yet another project for Mill City Park is being conducted by a class at Tilton School. Engineering and chemistry teacher Tyler McDougold said he read about Parichand’s idea for the whitewater play park in the Monitor last summer, and he saw the opportunity for his students to do some hands-on work using critical thinking.

“At our school we started something called the ‘Tilton Experience’ – we’re trying to change the way we educate students,” he said. “I was basically the guinea pig for this year to try it out.”

His environmental engineering class began their project, designing the proposed “eco-village” for Mill City Park, in the fall. They spent their first school quarter learning what “design thinking” is: defining problems, identifying criteria and constraints for addressing the problem, developing and analyzing solutions and then getting feedback.

In their second quarter, the class got to work. They spoke with Mark Hayes at Highland Mountain bike park in Northfield, for instance, and learned that he often has people sleeping overnight in his parking lot because there aren’t other nearby places to stay.

The class has also examined how sewer lines can be hooked up to the Mill City Park area. By the end of the year, McDougold expects to have the backbone for the eco-village project done.

“I think they’ll definitely have serious designs created, problems addressed,” he said. “The kids, they’re excited what they’re actually doing actually matters and that at their 10-year reunion or something, they’ll be able to go down the road and see something they designed.”

While the Tilton School students might have to wait years before seeing the payoff, 15-year-old Hank Miller does not. The Proctor Academy freshman did his first professional film shoot in February.

“Erikka (Adams), the librarian here at Proctor – she had met Jenisha before,” Miller explained. “She found out PermaCityLife needed a video. I found video a few years ago and I fell in love with it.”

Miller helped the nonprofit apply with an arts grant, filming a 2½ -minute video for their application. He interviewed Jo Brown at the Franklin Studio, and Joseph Kildune, the local car-parts sculptor, about how artwork has boosted both business and opportunity in Franklin.

“It’s really nice to get my name out there and make connections in the real world,” Miller said. “I have friends who are in college and they don’t have a job and they’re not really sure what they’re going to do with their life.”

He, on the other hand, already has a business, called Hank Miller Productions, and definitely knows what he wants to do after school.

“I want to pursue this as long as I can,” he said..

Moving Forward in Franklin

NH Business Review | Liisa Rajala | March 3, 2017

Redevelopment effort breathes new life into the city

Slowly but surely, the city of Franklin is undergoing a transformation. The goal: to become a tourist destination for outdoor enthusiasts and a home to millennials looking to make an impact on their community.

Renovations are in the works to turn the former art gallery Toad Hall into a restaurant by this summer. Just last fall, a team of engineers inspected the future site of a whitewater park. CATCH Neighborhood Housing is in the midst of renovating a foreclosed mill building into 45 affordable apartment units. And that’s just naming a few of the happenings occurring in the city of approximately 8,400.

For decades, Franklin has made efforts to rewrite its history as a failing mill town, but this movement is even more crucial. With significant revenue shortfalls in recent years, the city must draw in new income or else face an even more dire future.

“We can’t tax our way out of our problems,” says City Manager Elizabeth Dragon, who has to find out-of-the-box solutions to balance the budget. “We need to find a way to generate new revenue, and we need to focus on economic development and tourism, attracting those new net dollars.”

It’s an all-hands-on-deck effort, with regular biweekly stakeholder meetings, a team of students from Colby-Sawyer College in New London and a number of active residents stepping in to volunteer their time and energy.


Integral to the effort are seven properties owned by PermaCityLife, a nonprofit founded by Todd Workman. Raised in Gilford and having worked in the financial services industry in New York and across New England, Workman initially returned to the area to tend to his grandparents. He was browsing real estate properties in New Hampshire when he came across Franklin and started purchasing buildings along Central Street in 2014.

Workman envisions Franklin as a sustainable community – protecting drinking water, creating renewable energy, ensuring local food supplies and implementing zero-waste measures – with a vibrant micro-urban centerpiece.

During the summer of 2015, Workman met Marty Parichand, a whitewater rafting guide and former avionic systems programming specialist who envisioned opening the first whitewater park in New England.

Parichand, who is from Epsom, had been setting his sights on Concord, but immediately saw potential in Franklin.

“The concept is new for New England, but there are 30 of them in Colorado, 280 across the country,” says Parichand. He was surprised at how knowledgeable Workman was about the whitewater paddling industry. 

“This is all stuff I’ve been passionate about and I’ve been a paddler for a long time. I don’t often meet a paddler who knows these things,” says Parichand. “He already believed in it wholeheartedly. We began to bond around that idea.”

Parichand then started his nonprofit, Mill City Park. He wants to use a tract of city-owned land along the Winnipesaukee River for a launching spot as well as create a mountain bike pump track, a community garden and an eco-village-style campsite.

In 2015, Parichand worked with the state Department of Resources and Economic Development on a report that found Mill City Park would bring in $6.8 million of direct spending in the region.

“We have many challenges here in Franklin, and we believe this whitewater park is our second identity,” he says.

In one of PermaCityLife’s buildings, Parichand opened up an outdoor recreation shop, called Outdoor New England. Like many of the buildings, it had been condemned. Parichand says he removed 12,000 pounds of trash and demolition debris, and paid out of pocket for the mechanical and electrical systems.

Today, you wouldn’t know of the building’s grim past. The shop has a charming look from the reclaimed wood and old cabinetry. 

Next door is a volunteer-run coffee shop, led by Jo Brown. Brown approached Workman with the idea. She brought in family and friends to clear out the space – a labor of love. The quaint shop is run mainly by retirees who are happy to take on a four-hour shift. Its success led to a wall being knocked out to allow for a gift shop all of whose offerings are products made in New Hampshire, a majority of which are created by local artisans.

Community-based sustainability

On one Saturday, the shop has a healthy bustling of customers. Sitting in his usual spot is Mike Mullavey, the treasurer of PermaCityLife. “You wouldn’t believe the skepticism in the beginning, but they’ve really come around,” he says about other community members. “You can get that feeling back, that people want to be in town and a part of the town.” 

Across the street is Toad Hall, Take Root Coworking – a shared coworking space with a fiber connection providing faster Internet than Franklin Savings Bank, it proudly proclaims – Franklin Clothing Company and Colby-Sawyer’s satellite campus, where Workman will also operate PermaCityLife from. 

Last fall, Colby-Sawyer launched a three-year degree in community-based sustainability with a focus on gaining real-world experience through working with PermaCityLife, Mill City Park and the city of Franklin.

“Students learn about sustainability, and not just how that applies to communities, but also to organizations and nonprofits,” says Jennifer White, sustainability coordinator for the college and assistant professor in the environmental services department.

It’s not just students in the degree program who have the opportunity to work with Franklin. In 2015, Colby-Sawyer launched a Sustainable Learning Initiative, giving all of its students the opportunity to pair with individuals in Franklin to complete a to-do list of sustainable revitalization efforts.

“We’re really interested in walking alongside the residents of Franklin to help them achieve their goals,” says White. “We get to see progress in the downtown area as some of these projects come into fruition and the students get to see their benefits to the community members.”

One graphic design student created the logo for Mill City Park. He’s now working as an apprentice with CATCH to develop an identity for the future apartment complex.

Franklin Clothing Company Owner Matt Charlton-Nidey stands outside his storefront on Central Street.

When asked whether student involvement could make students interested in staying in the community, White thought it was a possibility. While on winter break, a group of students in the degree program attended a city council meeting of their own accord.

“A lot of the pieces we do are progressive ideas or outdoor recreation initiatives that resonate with young people, with millennials,” says Parichand. “We’re always able to ask students questions about what kind of community they want to live in.”

“It’s a great example of a local community taking it upon themselves to do something different and stick with it,” says Michael Bergeron, business development manager for DRED. The agency has helped organize various state players, including connecting Parichand with the state Department of Environmental Services to discuss dam releases that affect the Winnipesaukee River in Franklin. 

“By attracting a young demographic who want to whitewater raft and do mountain biking, they will change the character of that community and make a difference long term,” says Bergeron.

Funding sources

Vital to Franklin’s revitalization are the variety of financing options.

In 2015, the city was awarded a grant from UNH Cooperative Extension that created a steering committee to bring in several speakers to the city to talk about revitalization efforts and form a realistic to-do list in a series called “Franklin for a Lifetime.”

“I think after that point, we had a better understanding of each other in terms of what the city can and cannot do legally – the are constraints on the city – and what PermaCityLife could do and was able to do in terms of economic development,” says Dragon. “Once everyone understood their roles we found creative ways to work together and momentum started to build.”

Through the “Franklin for a Lifetime” series, the city learned about USDA Rural Development grants. It received a $50,000 Rural Business Enterprise grant the city used to hire downtown coordinator Niel Cannon to work with the steering committee to find and carry out projects that help low and moderate income families.

The city also received a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant for CATCH Neighborhood Housing’s mill renovations – a small piece of the $12 million project – and $400,000 in Community Development Finance Authority tax credits, a quarter of which Franklin Savings Bank purchased, which will be used to make façade improvements on PermaCityLife-owned buildings.

Franklin recently incorporated the land intended for Mill City Park as part of its TIF (tax investment financing) district. The city created the district – which comprises much of downtown – in 2008. If a building within the district is renovated and taxes increase, a portion of the increase is reinvested to projects in the same district. 

“It’s very unique. Every community with TIF districts has to say what the projects are, how much of the new incremental value will be reinvested in that area of the community, and they have an advisory board to oversee and goes back to the city council for approval,” says Dragon.

Meanwhile, the city has seen significant changes with the opening of eight new businesses in downtown Franklin over the past year.

“Certainly, things are the most favorable they’ve ever been now as opposed to two years ago,” says Parichand. “There obviously was kind of a rocky start in the beginning, but, to put it in perspective, the first day I started renovating Outdoor New England, I had four to five people from Franklin that I had never met offer to help. Through that process I’ve made great friends. So I think, there’s some people who don’t think it will happen certainly, but I think that group becomes smaller and smaller every day. We’re still here doing what we’re doing and continuing to move forward.”

A Letter to the City of Franklin...

This letter was provided to the City of Franklin, which was read during the City Hearing on October 24, 2016.

To Whom it may concern with the City of Franklin,
My name is Jesse Nicola. I am writing you in recommendation of proceeding with funding relating to investigating and hopefully later building, a whitewater park.
I feel I have significant insight into the region, having spent much of my childhood in Franklin. My father owned the Radio Shack for many years, my Mother worked at the Franklin Middle School, and I myself attended the Franklin Middle School. I attended the Unitarian Church for many years, and still attend the Christmas Eve sermon.
It is my opinion that the benefits of bringing whitewater recreation to Franklin would provide a vital economic and cultural boost to the region.
Whitewater is a team sport. As a participant, you aren’t just trying to navigate through a river, you as a group must safely navigate it. If someone needs help, you will be there for them, as they will be there for you should the need arise. This mentality is prevalent at all levels of the sport, as you will often see experts helping beginners, responding to shows of gratitude by saying “a hundred people have helped me”.
Why does Franklin need another team sport? Because this team sport brings together a diverse group of people unlike anything the region currently has.
Whitewater blurs the lines of indifference. As a participant, you often find yourself sitting amongst peers who range from old to young, doctors to ditch diggers, wealthy to poor. It brings people from all walks of life together, enables them to relate, to share, and to care about each other.
This Camaraderie doesn’t end on the river. It shows youths that what they’re going through, may not be as big of a problem as they think. It shows young adults alternative career tracks, and It helps older community members find understanding of the younger generations. It builds and strengthens relationships for all those who participate, building blocks upon which a strong community is formed.
The benefits hardly end there though. This will bring money to your city, as people will travel for this experience. These people will eat in your city. They will stay in your city. Businesses can form to cater to these people. Just look at the city of Charlemont, MA. A small rural town far off the beaten path. This region was able to negotiate extensive whitewater recreation on the Deerfield river, which in turn has brought jobs for hundreds, recreation for tens of thousands, and a solidarity amongst the residents.
I encourage you as a city to not just consider this opportunity, but to wholeheartedly pursue it.
Thanks you for your time,
Jesse Nicola

Colby-Sawyer College Launches Three-Year Degree in Community-Based Sustainability

Colby-Sawyer College | Jennifer White

At its Feb. 12 meeting, the Colby-Sawyer College Board of Trustees approved a three-year Bachelor of Science degree in community-based sustainability that will launch in fall 2016. The major was developed as a result of an innovation grant that the college received from the Davis Educational Foundation.

Through hands-on courses and a unique partnership with Franklin-based nonprofit PermaCity Life, students will have the opportunity to develop relevant skills for creative and complex problem solving, work directly with regional stakeholders and potential employers, and do their part to help create a resilient, vibrant, diverse and sustainable community in Franklin, N.H.

New Hampshire’s smallest city is on the cusp of a sustainable revitalization and, thanks to this community-based collaboration between local organizations and Colby-Sawyer, students are positioned both to learn from and contribute to that effort. The major is complemented by a broader campus-wide program called the Sustainable Learning Initiative (SLI) at Franklin Falls, which offers students in every discipline experiential learning opportunities to explore, design and develop sustainable solutions to real and evolving community needs. The initiative is intended to be flexible and modular, allowing faculty to tailor an existing assignment or an entire course to focus on an aspect of the city’s revitalization.

“This innovative program highlights the best features of Colby-Sawyer’s learning model, which combines rigorous interdisciplinary knowledge and perspectives with experiential learning,” said Academic Vice President and Dean of Faculty Deborah A. Taylor, Ph.D. “In partnership with organizations in the Franklin community, students in the community-based sustainability program will put their knowledge to work by developing and implementing sustainability projects.  These projects will advance students’ learning while simultaneously providing tangible benefits to the Franklin community. The program is designed to utilize intensive summer and winter learning experiences, allowing students to complete the degree in three years and thereby to manage the time and cost of education.”

Graduates will pay approximately 20 percent less for their college education and can start their careers or enter graduate school one year earlier by participating in January and May intensives onsite in Franklin.

Ongoing projects in Franklin include a locally themed restaurant and microbrewery, a volunteer-run coffee shop, a co-working space, an art gallery and music venue, multigenerational mixed-use housing, permaculture/edible landscaping, ecologically sound storm-water management, expanded bike trails and a whitewater park. Plans under consideration include an arts cooperative and performance center, reducing traffic downtown, zero-waste and commercial composting, a farmer’s market, a holistic health center, aquaponics and mushroom farming, a technology, research and development lab, market-rate housing and a hostel with function space and café.

Students in the SLI have already contributed to Franklin’s Master Plan, developed company logos, created signage for the local bike-trail system, constructed an Access database for the upcycled art gallery, and conducted a parking inventory for redevelopment planning. This spring, Colby-Sawyer interns will research information technology solutions, create Geographic Information Systems maps, develop tourism strategies, and explore best practices for commercial compost. Faculty have proposed other topics for study such as brownfield mitigation through biogeochemistry, consumer behavior and market research, sociological research for a community-based film project, community ceramics classes and student-run art exhibits, calculating timed-release of river volumes, efficiency and renewable energy, recreational event planning, and best practices for community gardens.

All of these revitalization projects have been made possible through broad collaborative efforts of community partners who share this vision for Franklin, such as: Credere Environmental Associates, Franklin Business & Industrial Development Corporation, Franklin Parks & Recreation, Franklin Regional Hospital, Franklin Savings Bank, Healthy Eating Active Living, Nobis Engineering, CATCH Neighborhood Housing, Lakes Region Planning Commission, Outdoor New England, The Franklin Studio, and Take Root NH. Learn more at: