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Common Ground ends pilot program, opens program to the broader public

Celebration and introduction scheduled for Monday, July 26, 7:00pm

pilot program
Common Ground will celebrate its first year and launch its continuation at a meeting on July 26, 7:00pm, in the Freedom Church banquet room. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
by Melanie Jongsma

LANSING, Ill. (July 10, 2021) – Common Ground launched in Lansing last August, with 44 residents agreeing to give it a try. At that time the pilot program was limited to 50 participants — health officials were restricting large gatherings while daily COVID cases numbered over 2,000 and later surged to five digits.

Large gatherings are only a part of the Common Ground experience however, so most of 2020’s participants were able to continue the program throughout COVID and the changing regulations. The essence of Common Ground is monthly one-on-one or two-on-two conversations that can happen in participants’ homes, in local restaurants, or at events. During times when Common Grounders did not feel comfortable meeting in person this past year, many used phone calls and Zoom chats to stay connected.

In addition to the large-group launch meeting in August, participants held large-group meetings in November 2020 and April 2021 to debrief, ask questions, express frustrations, and share ideas. Gathering in person with 30–40 fellow participants served to remind individual partnerships that they are part of a larger program.

Endings and beginnings

As the end of the year-long pilot program approaches, members have been considering changes that could make the program less intimidating for newcomers. By not requiring a year-long commitment for example, Common Ground might become more accessible. And by making the materials available as downloadable PDFs, the program might equip participants as well as curious onlookers to initiate their own Common Ground conversations informally.

The upcoming July 26 meeting will be an opportunity for current members to invite new people to give Common Ground a try.

The meeting will be hosted in the banquet hall of the building formerly occupied by Illiana High School at 2261 Indiana Avenue in Lansing. The building is now owned by Freedom Church Ministries, and Freedom Church Pastor Thaddeus Searcy is a Common Ground participant.

For current Common Grounders the July 26 meeting marks the end of their year-long commitment to the pilot program. Those who choose to continue have the option of remaining with the same partner, adding newcomers to their current partnership, or starting fresh with a new partner. They have been encouraged to invite potential participants to the July 26 meeting.

An open invitation

People who are interested in Common Ground can RSVP to the July 26 informational meeting using this email address:

People who are ready to participate in Common Ground moving forward are asked to complete a Common Ground profile prior to the meeting. Those who complete the form will also be automatically subscribed to the Common Ground mailing list and will receive regular information:

Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma grew up in Lansing, Illinois, and believes The Lansing Journal has an important role to play in building community through trustworthy information.