| Program: || CommUNITY: Different People...Common Ground, Cincinnati, OH |
| Contact(s): || Shauna Sanders, Director: (513) 287-1216 |
| Purpose: || To bring people of diverse cultural backgrounds together through dialogue in order to promote understanding and solve community problems |
In 1995, the CommUNITY: Different People...Common Ground project was established as a result of the findings from a two-year summit on race, convened by Bishop Herbert Thompson of the Episcopal Diocese, which found that there was widespread racism in the community. To address these issues, CommUNITY emerged as a broad-based goodwill initiative that provides opportunities for residents to come together to discover their common values, aspirations and challenges, and to unite in cooperative action. CommUNITY is sponsored by the National Conference for Community and Justice and is supported by Cinergy Corporation.
CommUNITY revolves around a series of "living room dialogues" that are engineered to break down barriers preventing people of different races from living and working together. Each dialogue consists of three 3-hour sessions, led by a trained facilitator guiding participants in a non-confrontational discussion. Typically the dialogue groups have 10-12 participants and take place in a group member's home. The curriculum includes insightful exercises as well as homework assignments that provide the framework for discussion. The program also offers "Workplace as CommUNITY" dialogues that take place in companies. CommUNITY also offers high school students a chance to engage in racial issues through the Anytown Program. (The Anytown Program has been highlighted as a Promising Practice by the President's Initiative on Race.) Students from different high schools and cultural backgrounds live together for a week and form their own town, based on understanding and respect for each other.
Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments
To date 50 groups have completed the living-room dialogues; 120 "Workplace as CommUNITY" dialogues have taken place, and 85 young adults have participated in Anytown workshops. More than five area publications have taken interest in the CommUNITY: Different People...Common Ground Project. A PBS produced and televised series entitled "Race, Ethnicity and Culture in...Education, Criminal Justice, Economic Opportunity and Religion" was also spawned by this project.