2019 Common Ground History

Everyone wants a seat at the table. Common Ground offers the ability to take a seat – or to set the table for others – and participate in community conversations designed to encourage and foster new connections. Common Ground challenges individuals, organizations and community leaders to build, join and share conversations across our region each summer.

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. This series celebrates the 5th year of Common Ground by looking back at what our community created each year during this event. Check out all of these Common Ground recaps and learn more about how you can join in, here

Now considered a certified summer staple, the third annual Common Ground brought people together to discuss the environment around them. On June 30, 2019, more than 3,500 Clevelanders gathered at over 100 events to discuss the theme, “My Environment was… My Environment is… My Environment will be…”

Exploring the environments we share and how they shape us

The theme prompted participants to think intentionally about how the environments in which we live have a huge impact on us. In connection with the Cuyahoga50 commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Cuyahoga River fire in 1969, Common Ground 2019 encouraged hosts to consider environmental impact on important community issues through the lens of the past, the present, and the future.

Common Ground 2019 also brought a heightened awareness of the space we share within community. This awareness led to a desire to be inclusive when thinking of conversation content. MidTown Cleveland, for example, held a conversation called “ThriveTown,” which focused on various diverse groups who have been in the neighborhood. Their aim was to make sure everyone is part of the economic development happening in Midtown. The City of Euclid, in partnership with Faith in the City, also had a dialogue about connecting the community in conversations about race relations with their “We’re All in This Race Together” event.

Community building, education and safety were other top focuses in 2019. Black Girl in the CLE’s conversation unpacked what it means to be a Black Clevelander in the past, present and future. Tri-C explored equitable classrooms and how active learning strategies can create a more engaging learning environment. The LaParade Early Learning and Training Center presented a conversation on how parent involvement is key to a safe environment for youth.

Moving from conversation to action

With a large number of participants wanting to go beyond the conversations, there were several action planning events during July and August that helped people map out what was next. Following Common Ground day, additional opportunities to connect were offered by partners Neighbor Up and ioby, including a happy hour, an ice cream social, and a family fun night, to find ways to keep the conversation going. Neighbor Up and ioby helped provide $30,000 in support for approximately 40 projects. The projects ranged from ideas like Cellos for East Cleveland Children, a plan to launch a string orchestra for students in East Cleveland, to My Violin Weighs A Ton (MVWAT), an interactive experience that would allow students to create hip-hop music that includes components of classical music.

How you can get involved

Residents can get involved in Common Ground by hosting a conversation or participating in one or more events. For more details on host registration, trainings, and event calendars, visit commongroundcle.org or email us at commonground@clevefdn.org.