Our Approach

Finding Common Ground

It doesn’t take much these days for a tranquil community to explode in conflict when any group of people feels that its rights are being trampled by new policies or other groups pushing their political agenda. Conflicts over issues as diverse as school reform, academic reform, sexual orientation, harassment, holiday celebrations, science curriculum, family-life instruction, library book selection, campus safety and extra-curricular clubs, can quickly divide a community or paralyze a school district’s effectiveness.

But we have good news. Over the past two decades BridgeBuilders has found that there are far more people who will help you build an environment where those differences are treated fairly, than there are those who wish to force their way on others. We can help you tap this valuable resource and find effective solutions that will avoid the strife and litigation that tear communities apart.

We have a proven track record in helping conflicted communities redefine their common ground so they can resolve their differences while rebuilding mutual respect across their deepest differences. A Common Ground environment displays these attributes:

  • Governmental authority is not used to indoctrinate or disparage in matters of faith, values or politics.
  • Policymakers take responsibility for protecting a higher common good.
  • Rather than ask people to participate in a system that is biased against them, the system becomes a forum for community-based solutions.
    Differences in worldviews are respected and treated fairly
  • All participants learn to respect each other’s liberty of conscience and realize that they best guard their own rights by protecting the rights of those with whom they disagree.
  • All the stakeholders are included in attempts to build consensus or implement reform.

Certainly Common Ground Thinking will not resolve all conflicts, but these time-tested processes have helped many communities resolve cultural disputes that involve conflicts of conscience and differences in faith and values. By helping a community reach a broad-based consensus on new policies we have been able to rebuild mutual respect in the community, even the face of some of our society’s deepest differences.

For further information on this process, please see the following pages:

  • Site Overview will help acquaint you with our website and the resources here to help you understand and implement this process.
  • Why Common Ground Thinking Works shows how a polarized school district reached a unanimous solution through Common Ground Thinking and appeared in Educational Leadership.
  • The Rules of Engagement list the seven principles that underlie the Common Ground environment.

Here is a partial list of agencies that have benefited from services offered by BridgeBuilders in training, consulting and communications:

United States Commission on Civil Rights
First Amendment Center
American Association of School Administrators
National School Boards Association
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
California School Boards Association
California Association of School Administrators
California Department of Education
Pennsylvania School Boards Association
Ohio Public School Administrators
Washington Council of School Attorneys
Christian Educators Association
Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network
The American Assembly at Columbia University
University of La Verne
Learning First Alliance
Educational Leadership
The School Administrator
Religion in Education
Phi Delta Kappa Fastback
Family Health Council
Healthy Schools, Healthy People
Oxnard Police Department
Healthy Kids Resource Center

Numerous county offices of education, local school
districts and government agencies