Announcing Finding Common Ground Awardees

Three projects from Europe and four projects from the U.S. were selected to receive 10,000€ to support their engaged journalism project. Agora Journalism Center, the gathering place for innovation in communication and civic engagement, at University of Oregon’s School of Journalism & Communication, is pleased to announce the awardees of the “Finding Common Ground” open call. The grantees will also receive support for their travel to the International Journalism Festival in Perugia this April. The selection committee reviewed over 50 proposals from which we had to select seven winners. The selection process was obviously difficult, and we are gratified by the number and quality of proposals we received.

Along with The Robert Bosch Foundation, the News Integrity Initiative, and Zeit Online, the Agora Journalism Center launched the open call for ideas to achieve cross-border collaboration with engagement practitioners in the media by supporting projects that get people to look up from their devices, meet people with different opinions, listen, and engage in meaningful and civil dialogue across silos and polarized positions. Through the collective efforts from the “Finding Common Ground” projects, we hope to engender trust between media organizations and communities.

The winners listed below will be joined by Zeit Online’s Germany Talks and Spaceship Media’s The Many project at a workshop and the following not-to-be-missed IJF18 sessions:

Congratulations to the following seven projects to make up our initial Finding Common Ground initiative. Here is how our awardees describe their planned projects:

  • Community in Unity (U.S.) — aims to get people who normally wouldn’t interact into the same room, sit them in a circle, and let them talk. Each conversation starts by asking participants to actively listen to each other with respect, to seek understanding, and to accept that the conversation may bring up issues that won’t be resolved — for example, around incarceration and reintegration of former prisoners. This project creates opportunities for Alaskans to gain a better understanding of life in prison and for inmates to learn how they can fit back into the community. Project lead: Anne Hillman (@hillman_anne).
  • Community Storytellers (U.S.) — hopes to contribute to the overall health and inclusivity of the Ohio County, Kentucky storytelling network by strengthening links between local media and community stakeholders. It takes an assets-based approach — reimagining existing community traditions and utilizing public spaces — to host supper and storytelling clubs and to mentor community columnists. Project leads: Andrea Wenzel (@andreawenzel) and Sam Ford (@sam_ford).
  • My New Homeland — Your New Homeland (Germany) — brings senior citizens with experiences of displacement during WW2 together with recent migrants who have relocated to Germany (North Rhine Westphalia), in towns troubled by prejudice and polarization, to talk about “finding a home (Heimatfindung). How is it possible to begin a new life in a foreign land? The project aims to reduce social distances through moderated public conversations and create integration through direct personal encounters. Project lead: Ina Daniel.
  • No Refuge Tour (U.K.) — will take audiences across the UK behind the scenes of the Bureau Local’s domestic violence work, with the help of a one-woman comedy show created by one of our collaborators during the course of the investigation. The Refuge Woman will be shown to small local theatres, with plans to visit eight locations across England: Leeds, Carlisle, Lancaster, Norwich, Bristol, Birmingham, Sunderland and London. Project lead: Maeve McClenaghan (@MaeveMCC).
  • NYLA Live (Lithuania) — a series of live debates that aims to understand cultural and social forces that shape our world. The purpose of these events is to focus on community issues and invite the public from different social backgrounds and political views to discuss their ideas face to face, instead of going to angry Facebook comments. NYLA Live debates are recorded and published as special episodes of NYLA podcast and spread to those people who aren’t able to attend the events. Project lead: Karolis Vysniauskas (@karolisvy).
  • South Side Photo Walk (U.S.) — The Stand newspaper is published by the South Side Newspaper Project, a nonprofit based in Central New York. The community paper and website targets Syracuse’s South Side neighborhood and is produced in partnership with Newhouse students, city residents and a community board of directors. The Stand’s annual Photo Walk — going into its ninth year — is the project’s most popular community event. Each July, a photo lesson taught by professional photographers is followed by a walk through the neighborhood to document a typical Saturday. The event brings together people at all skill levels, all ages and from both the neighborhood and surrounding areas. Project leads: Greg Munno (@gregmunno) and Ashley Kang (@Ashley_E_Kang).
  • The View From Here: Place and Privilege (U.S.) — Capital Public Radio’s “The View From Here: Place and Privilege” grapples with the housing affordability crisis in California’s capital by organizing “Story Circles” that bring wildly diverse residents face-to-face in intimate settings to talk about housing, hear one another and envision the way forward. It is an experiment in deep listening, radical hospitality and bridge building. Project lead: jesikah maria ross (@jmr_MediaSpark)

Follow and keep an eye on this publication as we’ll continue to tell the story of our process and learnings throughout the year.


About the Agora Journalism Center — The gathering place for innovation in communication and civic engagement at University of Oregon’s School of Journalism & Communication, the Agora Journalism Center is devoted to creating and supporting transformational advancements in journalism and communication to enhance public knowledge and enrich civic life for all community members. The center energizes research, teaching and learning at the SOJC by fostering a culture of constant, meaningful innovation and diverse collaboration to serve the public good.

About The Robert Bosch Stiftung — The Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH is one of Europe’s largest foundations associated with a private company. In its charitable work, it addresses social issues at an early stage and develops exemplary solutions. For this purpose, it plans and implements its own projects. Additionally, it supports third-party initiatives that have similar goals. The Robert Bosch Stiftung is active in the areas of health, science, society, education, and international relations. Since it was established in 1964, the Robert Bosch Stiftung has invested more than 1.4 billion euros in charitable work.

About the News Integrity Initiative — The News Integrity Initiative is a project of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. It is a philanthropic fund and a global coalition of newsrooms, nonprofits, technologists, and academics to build mutually trusting relationships between journalists and the public, while also tackling the spread of disinformation, and nurturing respectful and inclusive civic discourse.

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