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How does it Work?

How Does it Work?

The Common Ground Campus approach is designed to let people share their concerns on a particular issue and then have others not debate them, but to engage them through questioning and sharing perspectives in a process that hopefully leads to finding “common ground.”


This proven-effective technique used on high school and college campuses can be brought to your local community to help bring citizens together to find mutually agreeable solutions to complex and divisive issues.

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Here's How!

Here's How!



Identify the problem causing disruption in your community


Call a meeting of concerned citizens to address the topic.  Tell them they need to bring two things:  Their specific concern about the issue and their idea for a way to address the concern.  The meeting can be community-wide, by precinct, by neighborhood, or any other grouping that makes sense.



For the moderators, have community leaders from both sides of the issue on stage.  The moderators get to engage the audience by asking questions and sharing their thoughts on the concerns and ideas.  They don’t debate or argue with each other!  It is the citizens’ meeting-not theirs.  They are there to listen, question, and contemplate out that makes sense.



Let audience members step up to the front of the room to share their ideas.  Make them feel like a “star” speaking to the other attendees, not just one of them when it is their turn to share.

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Have a pizza party for everyone when the meeting ends.  “Breaking bread” breaks barriers.

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Tips For Success

Tips For Success
  1. Tell the audience nobody gets to say “You’re wrong” to anyone else.

  2. Ask them to replace “I disagree” with “I see it differently.” That helps to keep people’s guard down.

  3. Have a “secretary.”  Take notes!  Don’t let the experience be terminal but make it continue by creating post-event action steps.

  4. Set audience expectations so that they know they can’t expect their solutions to necessarily be implemented right away or even at all, but they can hope!  Ideas never have a chance if they are kept as secrets!

  5. Ask them to take the ideas from the meeting away with them but not the personalities.  Nobody should be critical of other participants either in or out of the meeting.

  6. Have them sign up for email updates on the topic and periodically “touch them” digitally to share updates and ideas.

  7. Encourage them to hold the same kind of meeting with their families, friends, or social groups.  The process works in any setting so long as the format is followed, and the spirit maintained.

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