Meet the Common Ground Committee

Megan Goldstein
Marketing and Communication Specialist
August 15, 2023
·
5
min read

For the latest in our series on organizations that inspire us to take action to build a stronger democracy, Democracy Group community manager Megan Goldstein caught up with Bruce Bond and Erik Olsen, co-founders of the Common Ground Committee. The Common Ground Committee is an organization that brings healing to the national challenges of polarization and incivility, inspiring and motivating the public to find common ground

Q: What is Common Ground Committee and how did it get started?

A: Our organization was founded in 2009 with the goal of addressing the problems of polarization and incivility in our political discourse. We aim to address the issues by helping to hold elected officials accountable, giving hope and inspiration, and educating people on the issues. These are primarily accomplished by three things - our Common Ground Scorecard, our events, and our podcast series.

Q: How have things changed since you first began in 2009?

A: A lot has changed. I think that we have gotten more polarized and toxic since 2009. However, on the other hand there is more concern and interest in the electorate in trying to get back to a less polarized and more functional process. There has been substantial growth in our social media and our podcast subscription volume since then, which support excellent market studies that say people want change.

Q: If someone goes on to your website, what is the first thing they should do?

A: There are a few things. First go to the Scorecard and check out your elected officials - that is quick and easy to do. Consider coming back at election time and using the tool to help you decide who to vote for. Another thing is to look at the 10 attributes of common grounders - this is a guide to productive conversations that are difficult. Lastly, subscribe to our podcast “Let’s Find Common Ground” if you are looking for inspiration and hope that we can heal our polarization problem.

Q: In what way is Common Ground Committee fixing what is broken in our democracy?

A: We are doing this in three main ways - our Scorecard helps hold elected officials accountable, and our events and podcasts give hope and inspiration, and they educate people on the important issues of the day. It’s worth noting that, regarding  the Scorecard, elected officials are now reaching out to us because they want to improve their scores, showing they are more bipartisan. That is progress.

The Abortion Talks: They Found Respect but not Common Ground

On this episode from the Common Ground Committee's podcast, Let's Find Common Ground, hosts Richard Davies and Ashley Milne-Tyte speak with speak with two women from opposing sides of the bitter and often toxic debate over abortion.

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This is Megan Goldstein, The Democracy Group's Community Manager. This week I listened to a lot of podcast episodes and wanted to share my favorites with you!

Democracy Works: A Deep Dive on Parties and Political Reform

This was a great episode with a very well informed expert, Jack Santucci. They discuss different party systems and I learned about the disagreement in party systems between Americans. Santucci also talks about his book, More Parties or No Parties. I really enjoyed listening to this episode because it gave me a lot of insight on how complex the party system is and why it is so difficult to come to an agreement. I would definitely recommend this episode and Santucci’s book!

The Great Battlefield: Relational Organizing for Progressives with Mike Pfohl of Organizing Empowerment Project

If you are looking for a bit of hope in this crazy world, then listen to this episode! The executive director of Empower Project, Mike Pfohl, joins to talk about what his organization is up to. I checked out their website which made me excited to hear what this episode had to offer. Tune in to learn about the technology and trainings that the Empower Project is able to provide organizations and how they overcome challenges that they face.

Future Hindsight: The Post-Roe Reality: Jenice Fountain

Since it has been about a year since Roe v Wade was overturned, this episode of Future Hindsight dives into the reality of what life is like in a state that has banned abortion. The executive director of the Yellowhammer Fund - a reproductive justice organization in Alabama - joins to give her take. I appreciated learning about the efforts that are being taken by organizations and people to support women despite the Dobbs decision.

FEATURED EXPERTS

Democracy Matters: Dr. Anthony Fauci on the tensions between expertise and democracy

Dr. Anthony Fauci is the former national institute of allergy and infectious diseases director. Most are already very familiar with him because of his work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Besides serving as NIAID director from 1984-2002 Dr. Fauci was an advisor to seven presidents and worked on HIV/AIDS and other global health issues. He is ranked as the 44th most-cited living researcher and is very well respected in the medical community. Fauci joins Democracy Matters to discuss the impact experts have on policy making.

How Do We Fix it?: Michelle Wilde Anderson on how to save the forget parts of America

Michelle Wilde Anderson is the author of The Fight to Save the Town: Reimagining Discarded America. In this book she explores the hardships that four cities face because of poverty and government cuts. In addition to being an author she is a professor at Stanford Law School, where she focuses on on poverty and inequality.

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