Article by Ashiah Scharaga | Originally printed in the Chico Enterprise Record | January 18, 2015
Chico >> A new community engagement initiative, Common Ground for Common Good, has been launched by nonprofit North Valley Community Foundation.
President and CEO Alexa Benson-Valavanis said the communication model has been the driving principle during her 10-year tenure with the organization, which helps clients in the public and private sectors organize philanthropic ventures.
“It’s the idea that we can put aside any differences we have,” she said, “in order to maximize the impact we can have in the community.”The campaign will share stories of community activists through social media, said Jovanni Tricerri, director of community engagement. It’ll explain the characteristics of common ground, why it works and how people can start getting involved.
Most importantly, Common Ground for Common Good is about putting those discussions into action to create social good, he said.
Free forums and gatherings will begin at the foundation’s new meeting space, The Hub, with the goal of engaging the public in frank discussions about key issues, Tricerri said. The Hub was opened Jan. 1, funded through a donation from the Nichols Family Foundation.
“There’s not just one thing that’s going to solve (the city’s issues),” he said. “It’s going to require a collective; people coming together to the table with different ideas and an appreciation of those ideas.”
The foundation felt it was a good time to tell the community about “the secret sauce” of its operations given the divisive political climate, Benson-Valavanis said. In her experience, money ends up being available once people “feel safe and heard and that they are contributing,” she said.
“I’ve had the opportunity here to work with people at every different point of the political spectrum, of all different religious views,” she said. “We get to see first hand that, that does not dictate the quality of human being and those who are and are not engaged.”
The development of the red top meter program, which collects donations for homeless service providers downtown, and citywide Beautiful, Clean and Safe initiative is just one example of the applications of common ground, she said. Both projects offer a different approach to homelessness, and both have been accepted as solutions.
“We don’t think were creating anything from scratch,” she said. “What we hope to be doing is to shine a spotlight on when and where it’s happening and continue to catalyze it so it happens more.”
For more information about the campaign, contact North Valley Community Foundation at 891-1150 and ask for Tricerri or Benson-Valavanis.
Contact reporter Ashiah Scharaga at 896-7768.