... “Common Ground” – a community conversation event scheduled to take place Sunday, July 30 at various locations throughout Cuyahoga County. Developed by the Cleveland Foundation in partnership with nonprofit and civic organizations across the region, Common Ground is focused on building connections, valuing all voices and sharing ideas on how to move Greater Cleveland forward.
The day’s discussion centers around a singular, open-ended question: “What can we do together to create a more equitable and resilient community?” Common Ground is designed to encourage individuals, organizations and community leaders to think creatively and reflect on possibilities while making new connections.
I first learned about the July 30, 2017, Common Ground event from an announcement by Global Cleveland (@GlobalCleveland) on Twitter. I immediately knew I needed to attend, and share my thoughts about it in my blog.
I also want to thank Cleveland Foundation (@CleveFoundation) Senior Marketing & Communications Officer Jennifer Trivelli (@trivellij), who reached out to me via a Twitter direct message on July 7th to confirm that I knew about #CommonGroundCLE -- Greater Cleveland's largest outdoor community conversation and meal.
Pre-Event Common Ground Activities!
The one word that I would use to describe the result of the activities leading up to the Sunday, July 30, 2017, Common Ground day was "growth."
What I originally thought would be a huge event at Cleveland's Public Square (@CLEPublicSquare) ended up growing to include many more locations through partner organizations! Look over the pre-event tweets, and you will see a wide variety of organizations that committed to helping the people of our community to come together to share a meal and talk about our collective future!
On June 7th, the following 17 organizations were on board to host a meal at which people could share ideas:
- Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards in partnership with Seeds of Literacy
- Burten, Bell, Carr Development Corporation
- Cleveland Metroparks
- Cleveland Natural History Museum
- City of South Euclid
- Cuyahoga County Euclid Jail – Comprehensive Program Center
- Cuyahoga County Public Library Parma-Snow Branch
- Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority
- EYEJ: Empowering Youth, Exploring Justice
- Famicos Development Corporation
- Global Cleveland
- Karamu House
- LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland
- Night Market Cleveland
- Dick and Cheri Pace
- Ohio City Inc.
- YMCA of Greater Cleveland
Later, I saw on Twitter that Jennifer Trivelli and other The Cleveland Foundation staff were attending many Cleveland public events to personally invite people to attend Common Ground. On July 20, 2017, I talked to Jennifer and Chief Marketing Officer Michael Murphy at Cleveland Metroparks (@CleveMetroparks) Edgewater Live, and learned that Common Ground had grown to over 40 locations!!!
What made Common Ground even more interesting this first year is that each location focused on different topics related to improving our community. Please see the Common Ground Locations web page for a list of organizations and the topics discussed.
Here is a map that lists most of the organizations. Please click on the location pins to read information about the topics discussed:
The Common Ground partner organizations are pictured here:
The following 95 tweets from before the event show some of the many organizations and individuals who supported Common Ground. These are only the ones I retweeted -- there are even more people who supported this movement.
Common Ground Morning, July 30, 2017 - Finalizing Plans
The morning of Common Ground, I was finalizing my plans for the day, and planned my route to attend three topic locations.
I had reserved a seat at the big table at Cleveland's Public Square back on July 11th -- this was the main hub of all the events being hosted by The Cleveland Foundation -- but once learning about all the additional topic locations, I had a hard time deciding which ones to attend. I had some level of interest in almost all the topics.
The week before the Common Ground weekend, I decided to RSVP for the Cleveland Metroparks (@CleveMetroparks) Edgewater Beach House site, where we would be discussing how to better connect communities to the park. It was a logical choice, since I had written a blog post in 2016 entitled Cleveland Waterfront Panel: Is Development Paying Off? What better place to talk about the future of the Cleveland Metroparks than their newly developed Edgewater Beach which opened its Edgewater Beach House in June 2017.
With so many interesting topics, it was hard to decide on the third location. I finally decided on attending the Better Together Solar (@BT_Solar) discussion about "energy justice," since I was interested in these three items that interested me in their topic description:
- "...closure of the Lake Shore Power Plant..." - In my February 24, 2016, blog post Cleveland Waterfront Panel: Is Development Paying Off?, I wrote about the closing and demolition of the FirstEnergy (@FirstEnergyCorp) Lake Shore Power Plant. I wanted to learn what has happened since the First Energy Lake Shore Power Plant demolition. I have included a video of the implosion below. See more in my blog post here.
- "...LEED co’s offshore wind energy development plans..." - On February 9, 2015, I attended the Case Western Reserve University (@CWRU) chapter of Sigma Xi Scientific Research Honor Society (@SigmaXiSociety ) Science Café Cleveland. At this meeting, I learned about Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation - LEEDCo (@LEEDCo), and of The Cleveland Foundation support of LEEDCo. I hoped to learn at the Common Ground discussion what progress had been made in offershore wind energy development since 2015.
- "...how we can transform the electric grid in Ohio." - I had not heard of Better Together Solar, so I looked at their website before July 30th. Based on what I saw, I assumed part of the Common Ground discussion at their location would be about solar energy and how it works with the big electricity providers. I was intrigued, and wanted to learn how solar energy technology had advanced so that it could be used in the climate of Greater Cleveland with its reputation of cloudy winters. I also noted that Better Together Solar was one of the only organizations hosting a Common Ground discussion that was not a nonprofit or government organization.
Morning, July 30, 2017 - Twenty tweets/retweets about Common Ground:
Stop One: 10:00 A.M., Common Ground - Cleveland Metroparks Edgewater Beach House
Very interesting discussion to start the day! We were charged with talking about "Cleveland Metroparks: Connecting local communities...," but the facilitators really embraced the idea of this being an open discussion for people enjoying a meal together.
The energy level was high, and the discussion ended up going to a variety of places, which I thought was great!! It really was in the spirit of finding common ground! Here are just some of the topics touched on by the group with whom I sat (there were several other groups also actively talking). From parks, libraries, community-wide gun and safety issues, to unresponsive political leaders, the topics were varied and discussions were very productive.
I shared these nineteen tweets/retweets during the first Common Ground session I attended. Be sure to see my tweets of what was discussed during this session.
Stop Two: 11:30 A.M., Common Ground - Better Together Solar
As I mentioned above, I was interested in learning about several specific community projects that relate to energy assets in our community. As is often the case when you join others for a meal, sometimes the discussion does not keep to the agenda. When I arrived, I was told that there was no representative from LEEDCo in attendance. It is possible that someone came later, since I was not able to stay until the 3:00 P.M. ending time.
What ended up happening was a very informative discussion about solar energy, and how both technology and political changes have affected the field in the past ten years. I learned some new facts that I would not have known if I had not attended Better Together Solar's session. What used to be true has changed through engineering improvements and supportive government regulations. I learned how solar power can be used in residential and commercial buildings. The main takeaway was that we should learn more about solar energy, and more importantly, push our community leaders to learn more.
Twenty-three tweets/retweets -- Please note the information that I shared about Better Together Solar and solar energy, in addition to others' tweets with information of what was occurring at the many different Common Ground locations. It was great that so much was being shared on Twitter with the #CommonGroundCLE hashtag -- I learned interesting facts from more than just the three locations I attended.
Stop Three: 2:00 P.M., Common Ground - Lunch on Public Square presented by the The Cleveland Foundation
I arrived at Cleveland's Public Square (@CLEPublicSquare) in time to hear The Cleveland Foundation's (@CleveFoundation) President and Chief Executive Officer, Ronn Richard, welcome everyone to have a discussion over a meal. Dan Moulthrop (@DanMoulthrop), the chief executive officer of The City Club (@TheCityClub), emceed the opening.
Most importantly, the speakers got out of the way and let the attendees talk amongst themselves -- to find their own Common Ground.
— Cleveland Foundation (@CleveFoundation) July 30, 2017
The group I was with for lunch focused on the positive things happening in our community. I shared my experiences with resources such as Cleveland GiveCamp (@CleGiveCamp), and BVU: The Center for Nonprofit Excellence (@BVUVolunteers), about which I have written posts in my sosAssociates.com blog.
We found that despite coming from different parts of Greater Cleveland, we had things in common in term of interests and what we wanted to see for the community. I came away from the experience wanting more opportunities to interact in person with others in our community.
Please be sure to explore the links from these 14 tweets/retweets, and if you find the information useful, please share with others be retweeting or posting on other social media. We need to share resources and good information as part of making our community better.
What Others Say
When I write blog posts about events that I attend, I always like to include articles and blog posts from others. If you know of any that I missed, please feel free to add to a comment below or let me know on Twitter: @sos_jr.
Greater Cleveland preparing to seek "Common Ground" on July 30
Comment Updated on July 26, 2017, at 7:50 AM Posted on July 18, 2017, at 6:46 AM by By Peter Krouse, cleveland.com firstname.lastname@example.org (@PeterKrouse - @ClevelandDotCom)
Common Ground events bring hundreds together for a meal and to talk about future of Greater Cleveland
Updated on July 31, 2017, at 10:29 AM Posted on July 30, 2017 at 5:44 PM. By Emily Bamforth, cleveland.com email@example.com (@EmilyMBamforth - @ClevelandDotCom)
Video: Common Ground - A county wide event to start conversation
Cleveland Foundation Common Ground hosted by CCWA Syrian Cultrual Garden July 30, 2017
Posted August 4, 2017, by Dan Hanson of ClevelandPeople.com (@DanHanson/@GreatLakesGeek - @ClevelandPeople)
Note that CCWA is the abbreviation for the Cleveland Council on World Affairs (@CleWorldAffairs).
Press Release: Registration now open for Common Ground – a day of community conversation
RELEASE DATE: 06.08.2017
#CommonGroundCLE Conversations: Re-Envisioning Kinsman
Posted July 6, 2017 by Cleveland Foundation
#CommonGroundCLE Conversations: Neighborhood Solutions at Château Hough
Posted July 10, 2017 by Cleveland Foundation
#CommonGroundCLE Conversations: Cleveland Museum of Natural History
Posted July 13, 2017 by Cleveland Foundation
#CommonGroundCLE Conversations: Empowering Youth, Exploring Justice
Posted July 17, 2017 by Cleveland Foundation
#CommonGroundCLE Conversations: YMCA Downtown
Posted July 18, 2017 by Cleveland Foundation
#CommonGroundCLE Conversations: Cleveland Council on World Affairs
Posted July 19, 2017 by Cleveland Foundation
Preview #CommonGroundCLE on July 30: Part 1
Posted July 24, 2017 by Cleveland Foundation
Preview #CommonGroundCLE on July 30: Part 2
Posted July 25, 2017 by Cleveland Foundation
Preview #CommonGroundCLE on July 30: Part 3
Posted July 26, 2017 by Cleveland Foundation
Preview #CommonGroundCle on July 30: Part 4
Posted July 27, 2017 by Cleveland Foundation
#CommonGroundCLE: What’s Next?
Posted July 31, 2017 by Cleveland Foundation
- #CommonGroundCLE Conversations: Re-Envisioning Kinsman
Related Blog Posts
Part of my main interest in attending Common Ground was due to the blog posts I have written in the past on events and topics that relate to the sessions I attended on July 30, 2017. I will mention a few key posts that directly relate, and then invite you to explore additional posts that might interest you.
Blog Date: March 21, 2016 - Cleveland Caucus - Community Solutions
Blog Date: July 13, 2016 - Cleveland Young Professional Senate - YPCLE: The Millennial Caucus
Blog Date: October 16, 2016 - Final 2016 Cleveland Caucus Event: Presidential Debate Watch Party
These caucus events helped to identify some of the key issues facing our community. These issues are ripe discussion areas for Common Ground 2016 and into the future. Click on these links to see videos and Cleveland Caucus - Community Solutions survey results:
- Education & Youth Development Video - Voting Results
- Environment Video - Voting Results
- Health Video - Voting Results
- Housing + Neighborhoods Video - Voting Results
- Inclusion: Population + Demographics Video - Voting Results
- Jobs + Economy Video - Voting Results
- Safety Video - Voting Results
- Transportation + Infrastructure Video - Voting Results
In addition to the Cleveland Waterfront Panel: Is Development Paying Off? blog post I mention above, I recommend reading my Eastside Greenway - A Vision for a Future Eastside Cleveland Bikeway post that relates to the Cleveland Metroparks Common Ground discussion about reaching out to the community. On August 8, 2017, I attended a meeting hosted by the Cleveland Metroparks where I learned that the Eastside Greenway project is now expanding to be countywide. Watch the #CuyahogaGreenways hashtag for updates, and for a final report in early 2018. Give your input to the Cuyahoga Green Survey.
Many great resources in our community were mentioned in both the first and third Common Ground sessions I attended. Some of the resources that were mentioned, and that I have written about, include the following (click on links to see blog posts):
- The City Club
- Cleveland GiveCamp - Provider of free tech solutions, primarily websites, for local nonprofits.
- Cleveland Foundation
- Cleveland Metroparks
- Libraries - Our great library systems were mentioned often. I have mainly written about the free tech resources that you can access with your library card.
- Professional Theatre
- Public Square
- And these blog posts with tech resources for nonprofits:
Post-Common Ground Tweets and Retweets
The Cleveland Foundation (@CleveFoundation) Senior Marketing & Communications Officer Jennifer Trivelli (@trivellij) had told me that the Akron Community Foundation (@AkronCF) was planning an On the Table Greater Akron event.
— ArtsNow (@SummitArtsNow) August 17, 2017
I wish the organizers much success, and look forward to learning more about On the Table Greater Akron!
Thank You and the Future!
A BIG thank-you to The Cleveland Foundation (@CleveFoundation) and all the partnering organizations that made this first Common Ground happen! A special shout-out to the three sites that hosted the discussions I attended: Cleveland Metroparks (@CleveMetroparks), Better Together Solar (@BT_Solar), and Cleveland's Public Square (@CLEPublicSquare).
Common Ground was certainly a successful day for those who attended, but the real impact will be seen as it continues into the future. Will people from diverse backgrounds really connect and then take action together to improve our community? Will people continue to find common ground at these events, and will they grow to a larger number of engaged citizens after the novelty of the first year wears off?
I, for one, see the future as bright, since I believe the very strong history of volunteerism and charity in our community will be reflected in the people who will make Common Ground work for all of us.