Common Ground Project

JLI’s Common Ground Project aims to energize young people nationwide and globally to dive into impactful discussions and embrace journalism that seeks solutions. Inspired by student journalists from our latest documentary, “The Future is Ours,” we’re turning inspiration into action. See press release here.

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The Common Ground Project Overview

Step 1: Watch the Films

You are not alone in your search for common ground. We recommend beginning by watching our two mini-documentaries highlighting student journalists’ desire for productive discourse on today’s polarizing issues.

Step 2: Participate

Click the button below to download our pdf with step-by-step guidance for facilitating student-led discourse in your school as well as how to find common ground and engage in productive debate.

Step 3: Take Action

Finding common ground is a significant feat, but it is only the first step toward building a unified future, one that’s solutions-based, informed, and guided by empathy. Click the button below to learn what actions you can take today.

Defining Common Ground

What is it?

Common ground is the conceptual space two debating parties enter when they’ve identified facts or points of view on which they agree. You can think of common ground as a shared reality, the overlapping middle between differing perspectives.

Why is it important?

Common ground is the starting point for productive discussion and exploration, the fertile soil where new ideas and solutions can grow. By identifying beliefs we have in common, we help defuse the polarization that often hinders genuine debate.

How can you find it?

Start by asking yourselves, “What is related to this topic that we can both agree on?” Mutual respect, separating ideas from identities, and assuming the best of those who disagree with us are crucial to establishing and maintaining common ground.

Learn from the Pros

“The way that you reach people is by finding common ground. It’s by separating ideas from identity and being genuinely open to persuasion.”

– Julia Dhar, Three-Time Worlds School Debate Champion

“Respect is key. Sitting down and talking—not necessarily agreeing—but respecting each other to air their points of view […]. When two enemies are talking, they’re not fighting— they’re talking. It’s when the talking ceases that the ground becomes fertile for violence. So keep the conversation going.”

– Daryl Davis, Musician and Speaker

Take Action

Common Ground Forum
Solutions Journalism
Community & Civic Engagement
Vote

Common Ground Student Forum

Engage – Share – Collaborate

Common Ground for Students is a forum designed to unite your voices on pressing issues shaping our world. This space is your platform to explore, debate, and find common ground on topics that matter to you. Here, you can engage in meaningful discussions, share your perspectives, and collaborate on solutions. Let’s create a dialogue that leads to understanding and action.

Solutions Journalism

While traditional journalism reports the facts behind today’s biggest issues, solutions journalism covers what is being done to solve them. The belief here is that solutions are newsworthy too! Get curious about what’s working and going right in your community. Ask yourself who’s behind the solution, why they took action, and how their story can inspire your fellow citizens.

The nonprofit Solutions Journalism Network has free courses and toolkits for journalists interested in covering solutions that you can access here. Pathfinder, JLI’s AI-powered solutions journalism coach, is another free resource designed to help develop solutions journalism story ideas, interview questions, and more.

Civic & Community Engagement

Issues like climate change and gun violence can seem insurmountable due to the scale and complexity of the topic, but a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. You can take that first step by attending or tuning into a community event like a City Council or School Board meeting or volunteering at your local food shelter. Engaging with your community helps you see the small part you can play in making tomorrow better than today.

Your city or county will have information regarding community events and civic meetings on their website. If you need help finding volunteer roles near you, match.org has an extensive database you can search for local opportunities.

Resources for First-Time Voters

Voting is a way for individuals to take direct action in shaping the future. It’s a vital tool for promoting social change and democratic participation. Here are some verified resources to help first-time voters find their way to the polls!

  • VOTE411.org: A nonpartisan website offering comprehensive election resources including candidate information, polling place locations based on your address, voter registration guidelines, and FAQs about voting.
  • Vote.gov: This official website provided by the U.S. government offers comprehensive information on voter registration, voting procedures, polling place locations, absentee voting, and more.
  • Rock the Vote: A nonprofit organization dedicated to engaging young people in the political process. Their website offers voter registration tools, election guides, and resources for first-time voters.
  • TurboVote: A platform that helps users register to vote, request absentee ballots, and receive election reminders via text or email. It also provides information on voter ID requirements and polling place locations.
  • Ballotpedia.org: A nonpartisan online encyclopedia that provides information about federal, state, and local elections, including candidate profiles, ballot measures, and voting requirements.
  • Your state’s official election website: Many states have their own official websites dedicated to elections and voter information. These sites typically provide details on voter registration, absentee voting, early voting, and specific election dates and deadlines.

The Future is Built on Common Ground

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