April 26, 2018

Solutions for Communities

Common Focus, using processes like the Study Circles of Everyday Democracy, works with communities, local governments, and

Drumming up the energy

neighborhood groups to solve problems, to resolve conflicts, to create plans, and to develop community support for change. As a senior associate with Everyday Democracy, Jon Abercrombie has additional connections to tools and resources for community dialogue and change.

City and County Visioning and Planning Retreats, Neighborhood Conflict Resolution, and School and University Dialogues

City and County Visioning: 
The City of Decatur (GA) . . . used Common Focus to design and lead conversations that have led to community change. Common Focus led the Round Tables that involved more than 400 people in a process that initiated a citywide ten-year planning process.

Hall and Forsyth County in Georgia used a partnership of Common Focus and Civic Strategies to lead county-wide visioning sessions. In the two counties almost 2,000 people participated in one of 20 sessions. Local Chambers of Commerce and elected and civic leaders used the sessions to create long-range visions for the future of their cities and counties.

Small towns in Montana used Jon and Everyday Democracy to train organizers and facilitators to organize meetings to better face economic challenges in their communities, and to create ways to have thriving places to live.

City Planning Retreats
: A City of Over 60,000 has used Common Focus for their annual planning retreats. These overnight retreats allow Council members to deal in depth with issues and future plans in an atmosphere that is less stressful.

A County Board of Commissioners has used Jon and Common Focus several times a year for daylong work retreats. Having a neutral facilitator who can structure the conversation and keep the conversation moving toward decision-making takes the pressure off the presiding officer and the staff.

Neighborhood Conflict Resolution: Urban Neighborhood Groups . . . faced controversial decisions on dense development and on closing roads to traffic in their neighborhoods. Common Focus created a format for the large and emotionally charged groups to meet for a productive conversation that allowed them to make decisions without destroying their relationships.

School and University Dialogues:  A Local School Board . . . and the Georgia School Board Association used Common Focus and Study Circles to better listen to their community. A day-long series of sessions in the first year of the project led to a meeting of the School Board, City Council and County elected officials who identified ways to work more cooperatively.

A Local University engaged Common Focus to develop conversations among students, staff and faculty after a highly publicized racial incident. Multiple sessions led to actions steps to create a school where students were honored and heard no matter their race or their backgrounds.

A Partial List of Groups Who Have Engaged Common Focus:

For a more complete list, contact Common Focus.

  • City of Marietta, GA
  • Georgia School Board Association
  • York, SC Youth Study Circles
  • DeKalb County Commission (GA)
  • Gainesville/Hall County, GA
  • Cumming/Forsyth County, GA
  • City of Fayetteville, NC (Everyday Democracy)
  • City of Decatur, GA
  • St. Joe, FLGwinnett County (Engage Gwinnett)
  • City of Pensacola, FL (Everyday Democracy)
  • Peachtree City, GA (Everyday Democracy)
  • The Metro Atlanta Mayor’s Forum
  • City of Fort Valley, GA
  • Regional Water Board
  • Civic League of Greater Atlanta
  • Civic Strategies, Inc. and The Augusta Chamber of Commerce
  • Georgia Department of Community Affairs, Housing Seminar
  • The Carl Vinson Institute, University of Georgia
  • Families First, Georgia
  • The Zeist Foundation (Place-based work plan)
  • The Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta