Common Ground Project
Engaging Youth Across Canada
Finding Common Ground
How can you find common ground among a group of people who may not identify (culturally, religiously, etc) in the same way? We worked with youth across Canada to build and test a workshop guide that helps empower young adults through a central framework of universal human rights as reflected in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to authentically bring their entire selves to school, to work, and civil society without having to live in a kind of religious or cultural "closet".
Try This: A Sticky Exercise
Have you ever found yourself working with a group of diverse people?
What you need:
- Chart paper you can stick on a wall
- Thick permanent markers
- Sticky notes (various colours preferred)
- Put up the chart paper on different parts of the walls of the room.
- Ask the participants to generate a few statements that articulate different social values (especially those that there is disagreement about in Canadian society today). Write the different statements on each of the chart papers and below it draw a line. At one end of the line, write "Agree" and at the other end of the line write "Disagree".
- Ask participants to put their sticky note anywhere on the line that they feel most comfortable.
Below is an example of how complex the sticky exercise can get. Note that the two ends of the the line spectrum are not binary opposites (e.g. "Agree" or "Disagree") but rather different starting points for determining a personal value system (e.g. "External Truth" and "Experience & Reason"). The examples of each end of the spectrum are demonstrated not only with text but also a relevant graphic. The sticky strips have the initials of the participants on them to make it easier for them to compare and contrast their values while attempting to discover what values are common to all of them.
For more exercises on finding common ground, check out our full workshop guide. The guide can be downloaded below.
Free Workshop Guide
The Common Ground Project
The Common Ground Project (CGP) was a national Canadian youth-led inter-faith inter-cultural initiative of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women (CCMW) with support from Citizenship and Immigration Canada from December 2011 to May 2013.
Vision The vision of the Common Ground Project was to facilitate transformational dialogue between diverse Canadian youth in order to develop a more harmonious civil society.
Goals In the short term, the initiative aimed at fostering civic pride and responsibilities of citizenship, while promoting inter- faith and inter-cultural understanding. The long term goal springing from this work is to develop a national network of Canadian youth committed to inter-faith/inter-cultural cooperation.
The way youth leading the project worked towards achieving these goals was to organize inter-faith inter-cultural activities for more than 400 diverse youth mostly aged 18-28 in 10 Canadian cities, providing them with opportunities to develop their critical thinking and problem solving skills to pragmatically address local civic issues of shared concern.
Through the Common Ground Project, the participating youth
- increased knowledge about citizenship responsibilities & civic engagement
- engaged within their local communities and positively upheld responsibilities of citizenship
- increased interfaith and intercultural understanding
- increased their sense of belonging and shared citizenship between participants of the project activities, thereby contributing to social cohesion in Canada
- gained skills which increased their employability
- developed tools which others can use to promote civic engagement