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Common Ground Conversations

Posted on 07/08/19 by Heather in SC Perspectives

I attended two Common Ground Conversations last month. The first gave me a chance to learn more about an effort the Saint Luke’s Foundation has been intimately tied to -the transformation of Shaker Square. The event was public and unveiled efforts (that began in 2017) around how to redesign the square -here is a recap. Much effort has been made and continues around planning and implementation of Shaker Square; efforts to bring power to decision making through engaging constituents, residents, business owners, collecting traffic data, etc.

Common Ground Conversations

The second Common Ground conversation was just down the street at Fairhill Partners where a small group of residents spoke about racism, trauma, breathing, and healing. It was a safe and intimate space where life stories were shared. These stories, our history and talking about reconciliation made me think about challenges in creating new spaces like Shaker Square. New spaces can be life-giving, they can be new beginnings, but they don’t erase our history or trauma – and that must be addressed not just in the planning but through implementation and thereafter. The sharing of life experiences in the second conversation gave depth to the physical transformation conversation at the square.

Common Ground Conversations

Whether it’s Shaker Square, CMHA Woodhill Estates or Simons Grocery Store all within a few miles from each other and undergoing change, their plans to continue conversations long after grand openings will be critical. How will they draw on history, racism, and reconciliation into the future? How will history help us learn from and evaluate the outcome? What supports will be in place around continued engagement and programming? Who will measure what worked well and didn’t? How will we know if people feel safe and welcome if it’s a place for breathing and healing? How will we create space and resources for inevitable needed improvements?

Common Ground Conversations

I’m beyond excited about the opportunities within the neighborhoods we at the Saint Luke’s Foundation get to call home. I’m grateful for opportunities for us to engage. I share a deep commitment to understanding that these efforts require great thoughtfulness, listening and revisiting after grand openings and far into the future.