#CG2018 Stories: From Intrigued Participant to Enthusiastic Host

Common Ground

Follow our “#CG2018 Stories” blog series for updates, information and stories about Common Ground 2018 and related events. This guest blog from Julie Tamarkin, a resident of Beachwood and member of a small community garden, reflects on her experience at a 2017 Common Ground conversation and her role this year as host of her own Common Ground conversation.

By Julie Tamarkin

I first heard about Common Ground in the spring of 2017.  I was intrigued. At a time when I felt like so much of our civil discourse was disappearing into a tangle of anger, defensiveness and mistrust; here was a chance to set aside politics and identify shared goals and find inspiration with neighbors and friends.  

A month later, I attended the July 30 Common Ground dinner at a friend’s house. Most of the people there were people I had never met before. Over the course of a wonderful evening, we shared our visions for improving Cleveland and Northeast Ohio, named some of the obstacles that we needed to clear away, and outlined some ideas for cultivating our area’s best potential.  The evening left me feeling energized and hopeful.

I value the model for Common Ground conversations; a model which supports speaking one’s own personal views, listening to other viewpoints, finding the intersections, and respecting difference.

Common Ground provides an opportunity  to clarify our ideas and ideals, as well as find our Common Ground with the ideas and ideals of others. Since the goal is not to get everyone to agree, but instead to define areas of common purpose, we can relax into a community of shared values and individual differences.  

This year, I am hosting my own Common Ground event. I’m gathering my neighbors for a private Common Ground conversation and brunch about the Wild Park, a very special place. As Community Garden Association neighbors, we share ownership of the Wild Park. We are a diverse group of neighbors, but this unique property connects us to each other. Our conversation will be an opportunity to get to know each other better; to identify our shared interests; and to celebrate our own common ground.

I am very grateful to the Common Ground initiative, which creates a platform for engaged, purposeful, civil community conversations.

If you or someone you know is interested in hosting a 2018 Common Ground conversation, find host resources and registration here.