Follow our “#CG2018 Stories” blog series for updates and information about Common Ground 2018 and related events. This guest blog from Kathy Hexter, Jewish Federation of Cleveland lay leader, and Felton Thomas, executive director of the Cleveland Public Library, previews an event coming up for Common Ground on June 24, 2018.
By Kathy Hexter and Felton Thomas
Maybe you’ve experienced it. It’s that “aha” moment after giving a stranger directions to a place in your neighborhood, or returning home after a trip to a different city or even country. Suddenly, you see your neighborhood through different eyes. Being willing and able to stand in a different place and see something through a different lens can be a first step toward greater understanding and finding common ground.
Representatives from the Cleveland Public Library, United Black Fund, Hispanic Alliance, Esperanza, and Jewish Federation of Cleveland have joined forces to host a Common Ground session to explore how traveling outside of our community can change us and our community for the better.
The conversation will be led by local leaders who have traveled together, both literally and figuratively, outside of their respective comfort zones and are now working together to make Cleveland a more just city.
As planners of this session, our goal is to strengthen our communities, to make them more welcoming and equitable.
We hope to bring together a diversity of sectors, races, ideologies, and interests from across our region to share stories about how approaching a seemingly intractable problem from a new perspective can help to forge a sense of common destiny. Our long-term goal is to overcome the racial, ideological and class divides that seem to dominate our national discourse today.
We realize that this is a particularly big goal for Cleveland, where even 50 years after the Fair Housing Act, we live in one of the most segregated cities in the country. Participants in this Common Ground event will be encouraged to share their stories of how travel, whether to a different country, a new neighborhood or simply venturing outside of one’s “comfort zone” has enabled them to see things from a different perspective.