For Common Ground’s 5th anniversary in 2021, community members, neighbors, families, and organizations across the region will host conversations about the future of our shared home through the lens of this year’s theme: “Growing Common Ground: People, Place, Shared Power.”
At its core, Common Ground is about engaging with one another respectfully and promoting the wellbeing of the broader community. These resources will help you plan and prepare for the conversation you want to have this July. Common Ground’s support infrastructure exists to help hosts plan for the unique elements of a Common Ground event.
They are meant to be a guide, not a rulebook.
Each Common Ground event is as unique as the people creating them, and these resources are meant to help you create the Common Ground experience that works best for you.
In 2018, Common Ground established a series of trainings to help hosts and volunteers have more effective conversations at their Common Ground events. In partnership with Neighbor Up, each year Common Ground hosts free two-hour facilitation trainings for hosts, participants and volunteers to share information about hosting productive conversations and provide attendees the opportunity to work on their conversation facilitation skills.
The conversation training structure is meant not only to create more effective Common Ground conversations but also to build capacity for higher quality connections and communication across our region. Find our conversation training calendarhere.
As a Common Ground host, you create your own gathering, but you aren't on your own. To help support the conversation, Common Ground provides resources to help you build a valuable, connective conversation around the issues you are passionate about. Hosts can be any Cuyahoga, Lake, or Geauga County resident or organization that wants to bring people together for a forward-looking conversation.
Hosts choose the day, location, and time of day that works best for them between July 16 through 30. Some hosts choose to open their conversations to the public, and some choose to only invite people they know. To support the conversation, Common Ground provides resources to help hosts create valuable, civil conversations around the theme of the event for 2021.
Each Common Ground event has the same elements: Setting the Table, Check-In, Conversation, and Closing & Sharing. We outline the different elements and their roles in your conversation in this quick tutorial. Use this as a guide to help build your unique agenda using your own goals and creativity.
All Common Ground conversations are different, but each event should have these elements:
5 to 10 minutes
Welcome everyone. Invite each person to introduce themselves and the place they call home. If you have a large group, invite people to share at their table.
5 to 10 minutes
Discuss Civility Rules and have attendees choose a Civility Rules value button to guide their role in the conversation.
30 to 60 minutes
Start with one of the questions provided in the facilitation guide or use your own. Begin yourself or invite a guest to answer the question for themselves. Invite discussion. If conversation lags, go around the table and get each participant to answer.
Ask the group how they feel about what was discussed. Ask if guests would like to continue the conversation, plan a next step, or create a project using Common Ground’s Action Planning Resources.
Go around the “table” or circle and invite each person to share what they feel about the conversation. Thank everyone and share the post-event resources, action grants information, and survey link.
The glue that holds any good conversation together is quality facilitation. Common Ground has worked with Neighbor Up, The Community Innovation Network and others to build a robust support system for conversation facilitation. A few things to consider:
If your event has 10 or fewer participants, then you may not need facilitators. However, if your conversation focuses on a challenging subject, a facilitator can help.
If your event has more than 10 participants, then you will want to consider having a facilitator to help manage the conversation. We encourage hosts to separate their participants into smaller groups at some point during their event to have more manageable conversations. A facilitator should be assigned to lead each small group conversation.
Facilitators and hosts should work together to create an inviting conversation space. Develop a plan ahead of time with your host for how you will welcome people. It also helps to set your intention for the day: what do you want your guests to take away from this experience? Be the champion of that feeling throughout the conversation.
Ice breakers will ideally allow guests to share their name, where they are from, and short a personal reflection. Hosts and facilitators can work together to choose a great check-in question. Some examples:
Use a structured format or an informal approach, depending on your event's needs.
A facilitator's primary role is to guide the conversation. They are encouraged to use the sample agenda for your conversation but are also free to adjust. To ensure everyone gets time to engage in meaningful conversation, we suggest keeping group conversations small - no more than 6-8 people. If it is a large gathering, utilize the tools available through your video conferencing platform or in-person locations to break the group into these smaller conversations. If people are participating in small groups, be sure to bring everyone back together for the last 15 minutes to share across groups.
If your host prefers a more informal approach, you can offer sample questions to the group, or create self-guided conversation prompts for guests to draw from. We recommend having a closing reflection to prompt guests to share what they gained from the experience as the event wraps up.
Celebrate what happened and discuss what to do next. Follow the natural course of the conversation. Next steps can include:
If the group has an idea of something they want to work on together, they can apply for a small Neighbor Up Action Grant or work with ioby (Link to ioby.org/cleveland) to develop a crowdfunding page.