What is my Role?

Thank you for your interest in hosting a Common Ground conversation. By hosting a Common Ground event, you create meaningful connections between your guests, which helps build a stronger, safer, and more resilient region. 

As a host, you create your own gathering. Hosts can be any Cuyahoga, Lake or Geauga County resident or organization who 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 - 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 for 2021.

There are several different ways to participate in a Common Ground event. Whether you would like to host, volunteer to help lead the conversation, or just attend, there is a place for everyone at a Common Ground conversation. Which role will you play?

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Host Role

Host Role

Hosts are passionate community members who take action to bring people together. They make time to plan, organize and engage members of our community. They build, connect, and share.

Facilitator Role

Facilitator Role

Facilitators help create a space where all voices are welcomed, heard, and respected. They work with the host to craft the best possible experience for guests. They ensure that all voices are heard.

Participant Role

Participant Role

Participants are curious and looking to uncover something new. They may observe, participate, or ask probing questions. They come to Common Ground to meet, connect, and discover.

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Growing Common Ground: People, Place, Shared Power

Each year, Common Ground chooses a theme to help hosts as they consider how to build their conversations. Common Ground events can focus on any topic, but it may be helpful to consider the community issue you are passionate about through a different lens.

This year, as the world continues to shift around us, we invite you to join us to celebrate the 5th anniversary of Common Ground. While we may still be physically distanced, these conversations can connect us and strengthen community. To navigate our current reality and prepare for the future, we begin by acknowledging all that has changed and so much that has not. We continue learning by listening to the voices calling for justice, healing, and progress. We commit to grow together.

This summer, Common Ground invites the community to pick up the threads of past conversations and weave them together with new experiences to create a strong, resilient social fabric. Join your neighbors in conversations where we can listen to and learn from each other, deepen our understanding of the places we call home, and build a vision for our community that unites people across diverse and varied spaces to share power and opportunity.

Add your voice to the conversation and help grow Common Ground.

2021 Conversation Questions:

  • How can we strengthen the connections between us to build community?
  • Why does place matter?
  • What would it look like to share power here?

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there costs associated with hosting?

There is no entry cost to become a host. Hosts do cover the cost of their events including food, refreshments, rentals, or other event needs. To support these events, the Cleveland Foundation will provide promotional support, registration infrastructure, trainings, hosting guides, and day-of-event kits including materials for the conversation and guests.

If I fill out the Common Ground Host Registration form, is our organization committed to hosting, or is there a selection process?

There is no selection process to become a host. If you fill out a host form, we will sign you up to host. However, we do ask that you not use Common Ground conversations to promote a business, products, consulting services, or political campaigns. All Common Ground hosts are required to provide a safe space for open, honest dialogue.

What is the difference between hosting a public or private event?

This depends mostly on who you want to have at your event. For public events we open up registrations to all via our website and social media properties. For private events, you would manage your invitations yourself and the foundation would make sure your registration page is only accessible to the people you invite. As you consider whether you want to open your event to the public or keep your event private, ask the following questions:

Would you like to attract a diverse audience of people to your conversation? Are you hosting as an organization and want to welcome more people to learn about your organization? Do you want to connect with people you might not have come into contact with previously? If you answered yes to these questions, you will want to consider opening up your conversation to the public.

Or, do you want to have complete control over who you invite and who attends your conversation? Are you hosting at your home or place of business and don’t really feel comfortable opening to the public? Do you have a very specific topic you want to discuss with a specific group of people (neighbors, parishioners, group members)? If you answered yes to these questions, you will probably want to keep your conversation private.

Do we need to get our conversation topic approved?

Each year, Common Ground is based on a theme. Past themes include "Why Place Matters," and "My Environment Was... My Environment Is... My Environment Will Be..." The Common Ground 2021 theme is "Growing Common Ground: People, Place, Shared Power."

We ask that while planning your topic you consider the year's theme in your discussion, but you don't need to have your topic approved by the foundation. However, we do ask that you not use Common Ground conversations to promote a business, products, consulting services, or political campaigns. If you are still unsure, attending the Common Ground host and conversation training will help. Sign up on our Events page here.

How many people should we plan to have at our event?

We recommend you plan your event around individual groups of 6-10 people to help create convenient small groups for conversation. For an in-person event, we recommend you think about the number of tables you will have with 6-8 people. For a virtual event, consider using a breakout room tool or another method to break a larger group into smaller ones. You can have as large or as small an event as you would like, whether it is one table or twenty.


Common Ground offers assistance with registration, promotion, and agenda building to all hosts. Use the resources below to help build your event.

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Start Building Your Event

Each Common Ground event starts with a passionate community member like you. Get started building your event with us now by choosing a date between July 16-30, picking the right time for you, and signing up here.

Submit Your Event

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