In the decade that the online deliberative platform Common Ground for Action (CGA) has been in use, nearly one thousand deliberative forums have been convened. The sheer number of forums held considering how young CGA is speaks volumes about its positive reception by community groups, libraries, legislator's offices, and K-12 and university campuses. It also speaks to the utility of a unique, small group deliberation-focused online platform that is meeting a community, institutional, and governmental need.
Below are some examples of groups and organizations using CGA to engage their communities in democratic deliberation.
National Issues Forums Institute * Cross-College Campus Week of CGA Deliberative Forums
Nearly 200 students from 26 colleges and universities joined in during the October 2020 Common Ground for Action (CGA) Cross-College Campus forums, an annual event convened by the National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI). Students spent a week deliberating on issues like policing, free speech and the inclusive campus and voting as part of NIFI’s With the People Initiative.
At the end of each forum, students shared their thoughts about participating in a CGA forum. “I think that I was able to learn a lot more and see different perspectives I wasn't aware of. A real eye opening experience!” remarked a student. Another student noted, “I actually think a chat room is better because it makes people feel less vulnerable and allows them to express their opinions more.” Not lost on this year’s participants is the role deliberative forums play in helping democracy work as it should, as one student put it, “I agree politics is too polarized and individuals are forgetting the most important part of democracy: talking respectfully with individuals with opposing views to meet in the middle.”
USATODAY and the Gannett News Network * Hidden Common Ground 2020
Hidden Common Ground, a nine-month examination of issues that divide America along with potential solutions, launched in 2019 by USA TODAY, part of Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE: GCI), and partners with a poll that finds Americans believe political divisiveness is harming our democracy. Nine out of 10 say it’s important for the United States to reduce the chasm.
Hidden Common Ground also features a unique partnership with the National Issues Forums Institute, which will host a series of moderated, online forums using its Common Ground for Action digital platform. Online and in-person public forums in communities across the country are planned throughout 2020.
This initiative is part of Gannett’s commitment to provide the most comprehensive coverage of the 2020 election, fueled by the company’s footprint in more than 260 communities across the U.S. Gannett’s effort will include industry-leading innovation in augmented reality, audio and video storytelling, interactive experiences and in-person events.
David Mathews' opinion piece reflecting on how American's can learn to solve problems together references CGA forums: How Americans can learn once again to solve our nation's problems together.
The Ohio State University * First Year Experience Program
Partnering with the Kettering Foundation, the Institute for Democratic Engagement and Accountability makes extensive use of Common Ground for Action (CGA) to host deliberative forums on a variety of salient political issues. For example, as part of the First-Year Success Series, the purpose of which is to provide resources for first-year students to integrate into college life smoothly, the Institute held two dozen forums in Fall 2016 on economic inequality to provide an opportunity for students to learn how to cope with the transitional challenge of participation in and engagement with a new and diverse community. Read about their efforts as part of OSU's Conversations on Morality, Politics and Society here: https://cehv.osu.edu/compas-points
The Harrisonburg (VA) Citizen * Convening Online Deliberative Forums On Policing Reform
"Compelled by what we saw in happen in Waynesboro City Council meetings this January where over 400 people, mostly on the same side of the issue, demanded the city become a Second Amendment sanctuary without debate, we wanted to know if there was a better way to have a conversation on guns, rights, and security...
Not every online forum is deliberative, and often more online discussions are frustrating than productive. Instead, we use a platform that encourages citizens to weigh and make choices together called Common Ground for Action (CGA). In CGA forums, participants can visually identify where the group has consensus to act, where there’s still some questions or concerns that need further deliberation, or where there’s agreement to not act.
Montgomery County (OH) * Addressing Homeless Crisis Response in Montgomery County
Homeless Solutions convened 11 CGA forums on how to best address the homeless crisis in Montgomery County. These forums were moderated by professional facilitators. The forums found stable, highly supportive actions that the county could pursue to address homelessness that would have the buy-in of Montgomery County residents.