Common Ground day-of event materials ready to be used at Ohio City Farm during Common Ground 2017.

Common Ground day-of event materials ready to be used at Ohio City Farm during Common Ground 2017.

Resources & Frequently Asked Questions

Thank you for your interest in hosting a Common Ground conversation! We are here to help. 

We are sure you have a lot of questions. The list below reflects some of the great questions we have already received. Is your question not on this list? Write to us and we will add it!

Common Ground FAQs

How do I sign up to host a Common Ground conversation?

If you are interested in hosting a conversation this year, please email us. Here’s the Common Ground 2020 Host Guide.

Are there costs associated with hosting? 

There is no entry cost to become a host. Hosts do cover the cost of their events including food, refreshments, rentals, or other event needs. To support these events, the Cleveland Foundation will provide promotional support, registration infrastructure, trainings, hosting guides, and day-of-event kits including materials for the conversation and guests. 

Do I have to serve food at my Common Ground conversation?

Yes, we ask that all Common Ground hosts serve food. Sharing conversation over food is a central part of the Common Ground experience, as people connect over food in a unique way. Common Ground is about making meaningful connections that lead to purposeful action, and what better way to do that than while sharing a meal? That being said, hosts aren’t expected to provide extravagant meals. Host a potluck, order pizza, or host early in the morning and share coffee and bagels – you can build the Common Ground conversation that fits your location and budget.

If I fill out the Common Ground Host Registration form, is our organization committed to hosting, or is there a selection process?

There is no selection process to become a host. If you fill out a host form, we will sign you up to host. However, we do ask that you not use Common Ground conversations to promote a business, products, consulting services, or political campaigns. All Common Ground hosts are required to provide a safe space for open, honest dialogue.

What is the difference between hosting a public or private event?

This depends mostly on who you want to have at your event – for public events we open up registrations to all via our website and social media properties. For private events, you would manage your invitations yourself and the foundation would make sure your registration page is closed except to only those people you invite. As you consider whether you want to open your event to the public or keep your event private, ask the following questions:

Would you like to attract a diverse audience of people to your conversation? Are you hoping to fill multiple tables? Are you hosting as an organization and want to welcome more people to your location? Do you want to connect with people you might not have come into contact with previously? If your answer is yes, you will want to consider opening up your conversation to the public.

Or – Do you want to have complete control over who you invite and who attends your conversation? Are you hosting in your home or place of business and you don’t really feel comfortable opening to the public? Do you have a very specific topic you want to discuss with a specific group of people (neighbors, parishioners, group members)? If you answered yes to these questions, you will probably want to keep your conversation private.

How many people should we have at our event? 

We recommend you plan your event around individual tables of 6-10 people, to help create convenient small groups for conversation. You can have as large or as small an event as you would like, whether it is one table or twenty. 

Can anyone come to my event?

It is totally up to you who you would like to attend your event. Please see the question about making your event Public or Private for more details on this topic.

How long should I plan for my Common Ground event? 

The conversation portion of your event should last at least 45 minutes, so please plan accordingly to include enough time to greet your guests, serve food, and have a full conversation.

Do we need to get our conversation topic approved?

Each year, Common Ground is based on a theme. Past themes include “Why Place Matters,” and “My Environment Was… My Environment Is… My Environment Will Be…” The Common Ground 2020 theme is Count Me In!

We ask that while planning your topic you consider the year’s theme in your discussion, but you don’t need to have your topic approved by the foundation. However, we do ask that you not use Common Ground conversations to promote a business, products, consulting services, or political campaigns. All Common Ground hosts are required to provide a safe space for open, honest dialogue. If you are still unsure, attending the Common Ground host and conversation trainings either in person or via online webinar will help. The dates and times for those trainings will be available at in Spring 2020.

How do people know I am hosting?

Once you are registered to host, we will set up an Eventbrite page for your event. You can sign up and manage this event on your own, or we can manage it for you. Once your event is ready to share, we will provide a custom URL for your event that you will be able to share with your network. The Common Ground team will also be providing promotional support via Cleveland Foundation social media and other outlets. Eventbrite also has free tools that allow you to send out invitations to your event. 

How do people sign up for my event?

People can use your Eventbrite page or link to register for your event, but we also realize that not everyone has access to or is comfortable with this technology. If you would prefer to use a phone number, physical address, or would prefer to take walk-up attendees, we can work with you to set that up. Please just give us a call at 216-615-7253 or email us.  

How should I advertise that I am hosting a conversation? 

Once your event is complete in Eventbrite, let us know and we will finalize the site and provide you with a custom link to your event page. This link will lead directly to your event page, and your event will also be listed on the Common Ground event homepage. The foundation will be assisting with publicizing our host locations via the main Common Ground website, social media posts, blogs, and other features in newspapers, radio, and TV. In addition, all Common Ground hosts will receive a kit of materials, flyer templates, logos, and other resources to assist in promoting your event. All hosts are encouraged to share your events as well to help with promotion. 

What if only a few people arrive?

It’s okay! No matter how many people show up, you can have a quality Common Ground conversation. Stay flexible, listen to your guests, and enjoy your event. But, if you are worried about the number of people you have signed up leading up to the day of the event, let us know!

What if more people arrive than I have planned for?

It’s okay! That means you have a lot of passionate people who want to connect and discuss your topic. Ask people to be considerate when taking food and refreshments, share seats, and get to know all of your new friends!

What if the group is not diverse?

It’s okay! It’s a good opportunity to ask, “Why?” and to challenge yourself and those in your group to share opportunities to connect with more diverse groups. It’s also a good thing to consider diversity as you plan – who needs to be around the table to create a rich conversation? What perspectives are missing? Who do you need to reach to build a more diverse group? 

What do I do after the event?

All hosts will receive a Day-Of Event kit in the weeks leading up to your event. This kit will include materials to help set up your tables, takeaways for your guests, a few fun extras, and guidelines on next steps. This will include a guide to follow-up resources, as well as instructions on how to fill out our post-event survey. The survey is the only thing the foundation is asking hosts to provide back to us following your event. It is very important that we hear from you and from your participants about their experience at Common Ground. It helps us create a better experience, and allows us to gauge who is participating and how they feel about our community. Please work with your participants to ensure they fill out the survey either in person or online following your Common Ground conversation. 


Using Eventbrite for your Common Ground Event

How does Common Ground work with Eventbrite?

Common Ground uses a community tool provided by Eventbrite to create a custom event page for each Common Ground event. This tool allows hosts to invite, track, and monitor their registrations. All Common Ground event pages and management tools are also accessible by the Common Ground team at the Cleveland Foundation to provide both support and to better track the full schedule of Common Ground events. 

Do I have to use the Eventbrite system? 

No, it’s okay if you prefer not to use the tool. However, in the case that you do not use Eventbrite, our team will reach out to help track your participant number so we can be sure to share the correct number of resources for your day-of kit. We will also ask for you to assist in ensuring your participants fill out a post-event survey by collecting email addresses or other contact information. 

What do I do if I don’t know how to use Eventbrite?

Don’t worry. Eventbrite has extensive tools that can help you learn to use the tool, and our team is also available to assist. You can access Eventbrite’s introduction to building events here, or please contact us to help walk you through these tools. 

What do I do when my Eventbrite page is ready? 

Let us know! Please keep your event unpublished. Once you are done entering in your information we will import your event into the Common Ground page and share your custom event link for you to share on social media, via email or other online methods. 


The Cleveland Heights - University Heights School District hosted a community conversation at Cain Park that sought to find commonality in the definitions of “equity,” “resilience,” and “support” for students.

The Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District hosted a community conversation at Cain Park that sought to find commonality in the definitions of “equity,” “resilience,” and “support” for students.

Common Ground Facilitation & Trainings

As a part of Common Ground, the foundation and our community partners offer conversation facilitation trainings for hosts, participants, and volunteers who are interested in having productive conversations. These trainings focus on the Common Ground conversation structure and teach best practices for encouraging inclusive, civil discussion among small groups.

What is the role of conversation facilitators?

Conversation facilitation is optional, and all trainings and resources for facilitation are provided for free as a part of Common Ground event support. We recommend you plan your event around tables of 6-10 people, and if you would like a facilitator to participate, you would need one facilitator per table. Details on facilitation trainings will be available soon; we recommend that if you would like to have a facilitator take part in your event, you ask someone on your event team or who you know will be at the event to go through the training and act as a facilitator. We will have volunteers that we will be able to connect with Common Ground events that need them, but supply might be short. But the facilitation and formal steps through this conversation training are optional! If you just want to connect with your guests, conversation for conversation’s sake is great too.

What if the facilitator does not show up?

If your facilitator cancels ahead of your event, please reach out – we may be able to connect you with another facilitator. If the day of the event arrives and your facilitator doesn’t show up, you will be fine! You can use our Facilitator Guide to help guide your table conversations. 

Can the Cleveland Foundation provide my event with facilitators? 

We will have a limited number of trained facilitators that we will be able to pair with events that need them. However, due to demand the number may be limited. We encourage hosts to identify interested friends, neighbors, or stakeholders to join them in completing the training and at their event.

Who can attend the facilitation training?

Facilitation trainings are open to the public, but registration and Common Ground participation is required of those who complete the training. If you cannot complete the training, an online webinar will be available to view remotely. 

Can I (the host) become a facilitator?

Yes! We welcome all hosts to complete the two-hour facilitation training and join your tables!


Post-Common Ground: What’s Next?

We had a great conversation, and we have an idea! What do we do?

Thanks to a partnership with Neighborhood Connections and ioby, we are pleased to provide facilitation training, action clinics, fundraising workshops and match funds for project ideas that emerge from Common Ground conversations.

See below for details on 2019 clinics and workshops. The 2020 schedule will be available in late spring 2020. 

Summer 2019 Action Planning Calendar

Do you have an idea? Attend a happy hour, ice cream social, or family fun night to talk about your ideas from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on the following dates:

  • Aug. 14 | Happy Hour at the Happy Dog  | 5801 Detroit Ave.
  • Aug. 21 | Ice Cream Social @ Buckeye Green Infrastructure | Buckeye & Shaker Blvd.
  • Aug. 28 | Family Fun Night @ MidTown Tech Hive | 6815 Euclid Ave.

Are you ready to make a plan? Come to an action clinic and get help organizing your community building project from 6-8 p.m. on the following dates:

  • July 2 | Neighborhood Connections at the Agora  | 5000 Euclid Ave. #310
  • July 9 | Parma-Snow Library | 2121 Snow Rd., Parma
  • July 16 | HIVE Lakeland Community College | H Bldg., 7700 Clocktower Dr., Kirtland
  • Aug. 6 | Neighborhood Connections at the Agora | 5000 Euclid Ave. #310. 

Do you need funding? Join us for a workshop about grants and crowdfunding your community project:

  • July 10 | 4-6 p.m. | Mt. Pleasant Library  | 14000 Kinsman Rd.
  • July 18 | 6-8 p.m. | West 78th Street Studios | 1300 W. 78th St.
  • July 26 |4-6 p.m. | East Cleveland Public Library | 14101 Euclid Ave., East Cleveland
  • Aug. 3 | 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. | Carnegie West Library | 1900 Fulton Rd. 
  • Aug. 9 | *Neighbor Up Action Grant Application Deadline*

Want more information? You can also text CG2019 to 474747 for continued updates and details about the Common Ground 2019 Action Planning Calendar.