CGC’s Message Finds a Growing Audience

Common Ground Committee continues to gain momentum. This past year, CGC successfully increased awareness of our mission to spread light, not heat, in the search for common ground in a polarized world. Our efforts to extend our audience have resulted in:

  • Common Ground’s byline in The Hill in August 2019 reached around 11.8 million viewers
  • Common Ground has had 10 pieces placed in major news outlets with an audience of potentially 52,800,679
  • We have seen great growth in our social media with a 738.71% increase in Facebook followers in the past year
  • As of September 2019, Common Ground Committee is leading the way as one of the top liked and followed groups within the nonprofit civic engagement world

We are committed to continuing to deliver the most responsible, non-partisan views across our social media platforms as we move forward. We hope you will join us in working towards achieving common ground.

Community Takeaway : Michael Marotta

Finding Common Ground is more than just people on stage, it is about the lasting takeaways the communities and audiences have after each event.

Michael Marotta on what he took away from our Finding Common Ground on America’s Role in the World event:


Common Ground News Roundup: September 2019

Looking for a fresh take on finding common ground? Start with our September 2019 news roundup.

From clarion calls to cultivate more informed citizens and encourage a return to tact, to a look at what can happen when we hold intentional conversations, here’s a look at the top five stories from our September 2019 reading list.

1. Young Americans demand civic education — for good reason

The Hill – A democracy needs informed citizens if it is to thrive, or ultimately even survive. Read more.

2. Quiet mediators in noisy places

The Christian Science Monitor – From Sudan to Venezuela, honest brokers are bringing a special skill set to ending conflicts. Not all succeed. Yet their quiet force of moral persuasion can be effective. Read more.

3. America Needs to Rediscover Tact

Wall Street Journal – In our politics, holding back and minimizing pain has given way to rubbing people’s noses in defeat. Read more.

4. Searching for common ground? Start with the Constitution

The Christian Science Monitor – Amid widespread Democratic concerns about the country’s direction, former Senate staffer Janet Breslin is reaching out to local Republicans. Part 5 in a summer series on people who are facing – and successfully navigating – America’s most intractable challenges. Read more.

5. Political polarization is about feelings, not facts

The Conversation – Robert B. Talisse argues in his conversation piece that polarization isn’t about where you get your news or how politicians are divided – it’s about how a person’s political identity is wrapped up with almost everything they do. Read more.

Community Takeaway : Roy Mathew

Finding Common Ground is more than just people on stage, it is about the lasting takeaways the communities and audiences have after each event.

Roy Mathew on what he took away from our Frank Conversation event:


A Frank Interview with Chris Shays and Barney Frank on Finding Common Ground

Below are some of our interviews with Barney Frank and Chris Shays from after our Frank Conversation event on July 9th, 2019 where they shared their thoughts and feelings about Common Ground Committee and the process of Finding Common Ground.

Frank: There’s one thing we can all do to reduce excessive polarization

Shays: Finding common ground is key to restoring faith in democracy

Common Ground News Roundup: August 2019

Can left and right find common ground? Our news roundup says there’s hope.

Looking for good news on bipartisan progress and new research on solutions for overcoming the polarization of today’s politics? Read the top five stories from our August 2019 reading list.

1.) Senators: Here’s a bipartisan plan to fix America’s roads and bridges

CNN – Senators John Barrasso (R-WY) and Tom Carper (D-DE) of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public works issue a call to get a major bipartisan highway infrastructure bill done. Read more.

2.) New voices of moderation: the ‘alterna-squad’ Democrats

Christian Science Monitor – Five freshman women lawmakers in Congress have built an identity around moderation in a party often portrayed as veering sharply left. Read more.

3.) Republicans don’t understand Democrats—and Democrats don’t understand Republicans

The Atlantic – America’s political divisions are driven by hatred of an out-group, rather than love of the in-group. The question is: Why? Read more.

4.) How to increase empathy and unite society

The Economist – Expressions of political differences have become less cordial, making it harder to find common ground. But we can design institutions and interactions so people get along better. Read more.

5.) What are the solutions to political polarization?

Greater Good Magazine – What creates conflicts among groups? Here are five solutions to political polarization grounded in the psychological processes that shape how we interpret identity. Read more.

Power & Politics: A News 12 Interview with Bruce Bond and Erik Olsen

Common Ground Committee co-founders Bruce Bond and Erik Olsen were featured on News 12 Connecticut speaking about our country’s crisis of political polarization and how we can fix it.


The Middle Shelf: Part 16- A CGC Guide to Finding Common Ground through Reading

Hello Middleshelfers, Happy Labor Day weekend!

Here at the Common Ground Committee we are always looking for ways to bring positive discourse, and as our mission states,  we look to” pursue initiatives which will reveal common ground for finding truth, clarity, understanding, and progress on issues of importance in a civil manner that does not require compromise of fundamental principles.” Among those initiatives are encouraging people to vote and to read.  Reading allows us to understand not just ourselves but others and voting is a way to take the knowledge gained to further our Democracy.

The last few weeks have been difficult ones for our country as we have sustained losses of icons admired by many.  As such, we thought that this week’s book focus would be something a little lighter in nature but still focusing on the initiatives outlined above. A while back we mentioned The Great American Read sponsored by PBS and as it winds down, we are suggesting that you not only check out the list but VOTE!

The idea behind the Great American Read was not to find the greatest novel ever written, but rather a way to find out “what Americans actually care about.”  The list was compiled through a “demographically diverse national survey of 7,200 Americans asked to name their favorite novels, conducted by YouGov.”  PBS has acknowledged that the list is both eclectic and diverse and offers some surprises of what did and did not make the list. Bill Gardner, vice president of programming and development at PBS said that “If the series prompts a “positive” conversation about books, PBS will have fulfilled its mission. Let’s talk about what’s good about America, what brings us together — especially now.”


So we would urge you to take the time to review the list and the various interviews that PBS has done with some of the authors and to GO AND VOTE! Voting ends soon.

The multi-platform series about the books begins on September 11th. There will be “five one-hour theme episodes that examine concepts common to groups of books on the list”, and a finale on October 23rd when the winner will be announced. You can also purchase the book, The Great American Read: The Book of Books which offers information about each of the books on the list and the social relevance each book and author holds for readers.

While you are at it, why not look into some of the book groups at your local library.  These groups offer a great way to engage in the type of conversations that result in finding common ground with your neighbors.  Many libraries also sponsor the One Book One Community or Big Read series where people read the same book and then engage in events to discuss.

The Middle Shelf: Part 15- A CGC Guide to Finding Common Ground through Reading

Hello Middleshelfers, Happy weekend.


August is International Peace Month and should not be confused with International Peace Day which is held every year in September, each having a different impetus for their creation.  International Peace Month was formed in 1926 as a way to remember the causes and outcomes of World War I We regularly note that the road to common ground can and must benefit from looking back to where we have been so as to learn how we wound up where we are now and how best to take lessons from our history.

Given that August is International Peace Month this week’s book recommendations look back at World War I.  The declaration as Peace Month was made at the Fifth International Democratic Peace Conference attended by over 4,000 delegates. Held at Rheims, site of some of the greatest losses of the War, a quarter of the delegates were of German descent, and those present votes to encamp at battlefields across France to concentrate on how to achieve international peace.

But, as Time Magazine which covered the Conference, later wrote:

“International Peace Month was born of a series of tragic miscalculations, the war killed millions and ravaged Europe on a scale once considered unthinkable. The war not only set the stage for a century of violence and conflict but forever altered the human mindset, ushering in an age of cynicism, fatalism and lowered expectations for the future. As memory of the war recedes, it’s increasingly important that we educate new generations about the horrors of that conflict and learn whatever lessons we can, so we may not repeat the mistakes that led to the Great War”  


To that end, Time created a reading list about World War I to help those who served and later generations come to terms with the War and the aftermath as peace has remained elusive.  Below is their list and comments:

  • All Quiet On the Western Frontby E.M. Remarque is a novel about the effects of the war on the men fighting it.
  • Paths of Gloryby Humphrey Cobb is a novel about corruption and injustice in the military. This piece of literature later became the basis for Stanley Kubrick’s classic film Paths of Glory.
  • The Great War And Modern Memoryby Paul Fussell was a study of how the war changed Western culture.
  • The Guns of Augustby Barbara Tuchman is a poignant story of how the war started.
  • Johnny Got His Gunby Dalton Trumbo is a graphic look at the horrors of war told through the perspective of one soldier, the ultimate victim.


Another worthwhile and more expansive list can be found at BookBrowse that explained the necessity of reading about the War:

“In many ways, we are still engaged in this war and the maps are still flowing. Though there was a period of ‘entre deux guerres’ in the 1920s and early 1930s–a false peace at best–the world has for the most part been on a war-time footing and economy for the past hundred years. It’s important to remember that time, to understand the people who lived through it, and to enter into the dynamics, the reverberations of which are still felt in our own time.”

It is also worth noting that 2018 is the Centennial of the end of World War I, and while there will be many international commemorations of what was once called the “Great War” or “war to end all wars”, we remain a world that still is not at peace.  Peace, like common ground, requires compassion, negotiations, and thoughtful discourse.  Take some time to read, reflect and remember.



A Special Middle Shelf: Part 14.5- Dr. Williams Book Club

Hello Middleshelfers, and welcome to a special book recommendation this weekend.

This week’s book recommendation revolves around a book club rather than a single book. On August 7th, Common Ground Committee in partnership with The Nantucket Project hosted a conversation in Greenwich, Connecticut featuring Dr. Brian Williams, a black medical professional, speaking on “A Doctor’s Dilemma: Race, Violence, and Medicine.” Dr. Brian Williams is a Dallas trauma surgeon who treated police officers shot at a 2016 protest. The shooting left five white officers dead and seven others wounded along with two civilians. It was the deadliest attack on U.S. law enforcement since September 11, 2001.
Dr. Williams shared his own experiences with discrimination, recounting stories from his childhood growing up in an Air Force family, loving his country and supporting law enforcement, yet still feeling, as a black person, on the outside of what it meant to be “truly American.” He said healing is possible if we have conversations and genuinely listen to each other. “There is so much fear surrounding the racial divide,” he said. “To conquer fear, you must learn other people’s stories. Every person in front of you has a story that you don’t know yet, and we all as individuals must be willing to take the first step and listen. When it comes to social and racial justice, you have to show up, stand up and be willing to speak up. And you must take that risk if you want to move society forward.” Since his experience treating victims of the Dallas shooting, Dr. Williams has endeavored to show up and stand up in many ways.
In addition to speaking engagements and hosting a series of podcasts, he has set up the Race, Violence and Medicine Book Club. Dr. Williams interviews authors on topics related to the causes and stories behind race and violence as well as the practice of medicine. Every month, Dr. Williams gives away one free copy of a featured book after he interviews the author. By subscribing to his newsletter, you’ll be eligible to win. Winners will be notified by email.
To learn more about Dr. Williams’s story and book club, check out the link below: