• covered bridge in forest

What’s unique about Sullivan County, New Hampshire? A community-based, county-wide initiative, facilitated by UNH Cooperative Extension, has launched a web-based mapping app that asks county residents to share their favorite places.

Community members, leaders and partners have been meeting since October 2017 to participate in a Regional Economic Profile program, facilitated by UNH Cooperative Extension, which aims to help the region clarify its strengths, challenges and avenues to economic development. The Regional Identity Task Force that formed as part of this work determined that the county’s identity could use a boost.

The LoveSullivan project is about community building as well as growing pride by focusing on the good things we have in our region as opposed to what we lack or wish we had,” said County Manager Derek Ferland. “We’re not the North Country, we’re not the Lakes Region, we’re not the Seacoast. Who are we? We decided the best way to find out is to ask the people who live here.”

The LoveSullivan Project is an ArcGIS crowdsourced story map application that makes it easy to identify a favorite place, upload a photo of it, and share what makes it special.

The 60 sites that have been added in the first two weeks the app has been live include recreational trails, scenic look-outs, a unique spice shop, a gas-station-based market with fantastic home-baked pastries, a State Champion honeylocust tree and the locally dubbed Graffiti Bridge that boasts a Pac-man and a lot of red hearts.

Penny Whitman, Community & Economic Development Field Specialist for UNH Cooperative Extension, Sullivan County, built the mapping app with support from UNH Extension Specialist Shane Bradt, an expert in geospatial technologies.

“The LoveSullivan Project is a way to realize our tremendous assets and opportunities as we explore what makes us distinct,” she said. “Once we know what our strengths are, we can then leverage those distinctions to develop a strong identity that inspires locals as well as visitors, new residents, developers and businesses.”